‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ is the full title of the art installation that saw over 800,000 clay poppies surround the Tower of London to mark 100 years since the first world war began, though it seems to be more commonly known to most as just the ‘Tower of London Poppies.’ Now, parts of the display are set to tour a variety of towns and cities across the country in order to encourage even more people to engage with the sculptures and reflect on the conflict that ravaged the globe between 1914-1918. They will then find a permanent home at the Imperial War Museums in London & Manchester in 2018.
However, The Sentinel sadly reported earlier this week that Stoke-on-Trent’s bid to be one of the host cities for the poppy display had been rejected by 14-18 NOW, the organisers of the national tour. This decision was met with outrage across the city, and rightly so, as Stoke played an integral part in the production of the final masterpiece. Without our clay, supplied by Potclays in Eturia and our skilled workers at Johnson Tiles, Tunstall (who made a whopping half of the total amount of poppies!) the installation would have been near impossible to open. Considering the important connections that clearly exist between the city and the flowers, the verdict is somewhat inexplicable.
On the contrary, The Sentinel isn’t prepared to shut up and accept this decision and so they have relaunched their campaign to bring these iconic poppies back to the potteries! They are asking everyone to register their support either online or by filling in the coupons found in the print editions of the newspaper and I am joining them in asking for your support too. Our city has been overlooked enough and we’ve missed out on one too many events of national importance. For Stoke, hosting the poppies could remind us of even more than the soldiers who bravely gave their lives for our country in World War One. It could reaffirm the skills, talents and resources that remain in our city and the contribution that they can still make to modern Britain.
Poppies found at Emma Bridgewater
REGISTER YOUR SUPPORT FOR THE POPPY CAMPAIGN: http://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/Stoke-Trent-earned-right-host-WWI-Tower-London/story-27466477-detail/story.html
More information on “Blood swept lands and seas of red”: http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/poppies/about-the-installation
14-18 NOW website: http://www.1418now.org.uk/
Don’t get me wrong, there is far more to the Emma Bridgewater Factory than just the cafe. You can book a factory tour or look around the gift & seconds shop and even decorate your own pot in their decorating studio. You can essentially make a whole day of it but the cafe itself is just so quirky that it deserves a post of its own.
The coffee shop can be found overlooking the factory courtyard, sandwiched between the gift shop and the seconds shop, which can be accessed via the front gates on Lichfield street or from the car park round the back. Through the doors of the cafe, the counter lies right in front of you with a mishmash of different tables and chairs to both the left and right. The decor is undoubtedly the first thing that catches your eye- there are trademark Emma Bridgewater spots everywhere! And everywhere is no exaggeration; the cupboards, the shelves, even a giant aga hasn’t escaped the paintbrush! The walls are covered with various prints, including EB designs and wartime posters – the whole room just screams homely.
Once you’ve chosen your table you can settle down with the menu, although I can almost guarantee that it’ll take 10 minutes to decide on what you’re having because you’ll still be looking around the room in awe. All the drinks are served in the iconic EB half pint mugs and are very reasonably priced. A filter coffee is just £1.70 and definitely some of the best in Stoke but there are still lattes and cappuccinos and hot chocolates available too. As for snacks, their toasted teacake is definitely my favourite, not least because they serve it with an overly generous hunk of butter but also because the teacakes themselves are enormous. Their oatcakes are also a good choice with a range of different fillings and the cafe might just be the prettiest place in the whole of Stoke-on-Trent to eat them.
Emma Bridgewater Pottery
The Emma Bridgewater afternoon tea is something else altogether. They pile sandwiches, cakes and scones with jam and clotted cream onto one of their patterned cake stands and serve it with tea or coffee for a minimum of two people but it would easily feed four! However, I can’t pretend that it’s not pretty steeply priced so it’s definitely more of an occasional treat than a regular order.
The Emma Bridgewater Afternoon Tea
All things considered, the Emma Bridgewater Cafe has a lovely, cosy atmosphere and is the perfect place to while away a Saturday afternoon over a hot drink and an excellent slice of something. Be sure to pop in soon, preferably with a big group of friends so that you can nab one of the big kitchen tables and benches!
The Emma Bridgewater Factory: http://www.emmabridgewaterfactory.co.uk/
The Emma Bridgewater Cafe menu: http://www.emmabridgewaterfactory.co.uk/i/content/cafe_menu.pdf