IN THE NEWS: Northern Quarter, eat your heart out…

During the obligatory 3pm scroll through my Facebook news feed at some point last week, a new Sentinel article caught my eye as they had likened Hanley’s very own Piccadilly to Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

At first, I was thrilled. The Northern Quarter is the epitome of cool. A quick wander around and you will find more hummus, start-up coffee roasters and craft beer than you can shake a stick at. However, you can’t help but notice that the overwhelming demographic roaming the area is bearded, cardigan-clad hipsters. Anyone who’s not wearing a rainbow-coloured, crocheted jumper and carrying a shopping bag full of quinoa and avocados might feel slightly out of place…

And I think here lies my slight objection to the comparison of these 2 places. The difference between Piccadilly and TNQ is that anyone can walk down the former without feeling too ‘uncool.’ Evidently, we have some incredible independent retailers, original galleries and unfathomably good food but I’m not sure we’ll ever be as polished or edgy as Manchester’s creative district…and that is no bad thing.

Part of Stoke-on-Trent’s charm is that it’s messy around the edges. We are a city that has been built with clay, and you don’t have to be a quality potter to know that you will struggle to create something beautiful without getting your hands dirty. Stoke will forever be a work in progress and that truth is what makes us unique. We’re in danger of cities becoming indistinguishable from one another, of one urban sprawl looking very much like any other, so let’s not exacerbate it by constantly comparing their strengths and weaknesses.

So, with this in mind, I’m proposing that we stop these cross-city comparisons and simply celebrate the fantastic things that are happening here. After all, we can have delicious coffee without it needing to compete with a cafe in Manchester and visit quirky pizzerias without worrying about fellow eateries in Birmingham. The atmosphere on Stoke’s Piccadilly is refreshing, welcoming, exciting…let’s just leave it at that!

tsp cafe

(tsp.)

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Klay Pizzeria


The original Sentinel article this post is based on: http://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/Piccadilly-Hanley-s-answer-Northern-Quarter/story-29217287-detail/story.html

My reviews of (tsp.) and Klay which are both featured in The Sentinel’s article:

https://stokeingthefire.wordpress.com/2015/07/18/review-tsp-cafe-hanley/

https://stokeingthefire.wordpress.com/2016/04/05/review-klay-pizzeria-bar/

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IN THE NEWS: Jason Manford & Phil Jupitus’s mission to get Stoke off the UK’s “top ten worst towns”

I’m absolutely over the moon with Jason Manford and Phil Jupitus this week- who knew that we three had so much in common?- as they have tasked themselves with a mission to knock Stoke out of the list of “top 10 worst towns in the UK” and champion the city. The pair are currently touring in ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ which has pitched up at The Regent in Hanley until the 9th of April and they intend to fill the next week and half with as many tourist attractions, restaurants, museums, cafes and ‘things to do’ that Stoke has to offer.

The idea has certainly captured the imagination of many Stokies (near and far!), as Manford’s first Facebook status appealing for places to visit in the city received over 2,000 comments and 3,000 shares. They even made it on to the 6 o’clock ITV news! During the item, they argued that after having toured many times and in many different towns across the country, they could certainly think of at least 10 that were far worse than Stoke…

The pair’s twitter feeds reveal what they’ve been up to today, and boy have they crammed a lot in. By the looks of things, they’ve visited (tsp.) cafe (which was my first suggestion, of course!) and popped down the road to the AirSpace Gallery; they’ve tried an Oatie Moston oatcake and browsed around the Potteries Museum where they were particularly taken with the spitfire. The day was all topped off with a visit to Emma Bridgewater with Jason trying his hand at pottery decoration, the success of which I’ll leave for you to decide… Alton Towers, Trentham Gardens and Gladstone Pottery are all still on their to-do list but I’m sure they’d still welcome any other suggestions. Phil & Jason, if you’re reading this, I think my restaurant recommendation for you would have to be Roberto’s Italian. It’s literally a stone’s throw from the Regent and you are definitely in with a chance of ending up on his wall of fame!

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Photo credit: Phil Jupitus’s Twitter @jupitusphillip

Joking aside, perhaps the most poignant observation that they’ve made so far is that some of Stoke’s harshest critics are actually those living in the city themselves. Don’t get me wrong, Stoke-on-Trent drives me absolutely bonkers sometimes (don’t get me started on the snail’s pace that people walk through Hanley at, for instance, or the compulsory police presence that is required across half the city when there’s a Stoke home game on) but even in those moments I’m still proud to be part of such a warm, city-wide community. After all, we can’t lament other people for calling us a top 10 worst town to live in if we ourselves aren’t prepared to shout about our assets. Thank you Mr Manford & Mr Jupitus for highlighting some of Stoke’s best bits! (and break a leg this evening!)


 

The Sentinel’s coverage: http://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/Jason-Manford-appealing-best-places-visit/story-29032241-detail/story.html 

http://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/Phil-Jupitus-Jason-Manford-tuck-oatcakes-taking/story-29033283-detail/story.html 

 

In the news: “The Sentinel’s 20 unbelievably cool shops and cafes in Hanley”

When people mention Hanley, admittedly I don’t often think ‘unbelievably cool.’ Usually, it’s pigeons and innumerable cigarette butts that first spring to mind., however, having given it some thought the city centre actually has a lot of quirky outlets on offer. The Sentinel recently published their list of the 20 “coolest” shops in Hanley, some of which I’ve already reviewed (like NOM and my all time favourite (tsp.)) and others which are now on my to-go-to list, like Blondie’s Twisted Tearoom.

Inspired by the above list, here are my own top 5 coolest businesses in Hanley (excluding (tsp.) of course, because I’ve blogged non-stop about them already…):

  1. Brassingtons, Picadilly.

Considering they’ve been a family business since 1901, it’s fair to say that Brassington’s should be seen as a Hanley institution by now. They are synonymous with quality shoes and the only place to buy Dr Martens. I had my first pair of Docs for Christmas from this shop & the chap serving me couldn’t have been more helpful. Even if you only pop in to admire the impressive Dr Martens display, you should definitely pay them a visit the next time you’re passing by.

2. Melice, intu Potteries

Melice is still a relatively new cafe on the scene but brilliant nonetheless. The best place in Hanley to tuck into a proper French crepe (possibly the only place in Hanley that serves French crepes?) and they also sell a variety of French pastries which are always displayed so nicely in their window. Undoubtedly, Melice is bringing a touch of class to the Potteries centre and the city’s food scene as a whole.

3. The Potteries Museum Gift Shop, Bethesda Street

This may seem like a weird addition to the list, but they stock a cracking range of Moorland Pottery’s “Stokie-Ware” along with other bits and pieces of Stoke Pottery, local history paraphernalia and postcards. Just as a side note, the actual museum and gallery is pretty cool too.. Even if you’re an avid museum-avoider, you’d be hard-pressed  not to be impressed at Stoke-on-Trent’s story.

4. Roberto’s Italian, Pall Mall

I love this restaurant. It’s like a little slice of of authentic Italy right in the middle of Stoke. Inside the unassuming building, Roberto’s serves delicious cuisine with friendly service. If I was to recommend a particular dish, it would have to be the calamari. I don’t know how they make it so fresh (seeing as we are absolutely nowhere near the sea!) but it’s fantastic. Best of all, they have very reasonable prices. Te Amo Robertos!

5. Webberley’s Bookshop, Percy Street

I know. It’s closed. I’m not over it yet, so this is an ode to perhaps Hanley’s coolest shop of all time. It’s range of books was second to none and I could spend entire afternoons browsing the art & stationary supplies upstairs. I’ll just make a quick plea to anyone reading this with a spare million lying around (is that unlikely?)… please buy the building and develop the concept scheme that an architect has drawn up! The building is too important to stand empty for too long…

webberleys

Webberley’s Ltd. (Image from: webberleys.net

 

It’s true that Hanley might have too many pigeons, but it’s also got some one-of-a kind eateries, cafes and shops. Perhaps it’s about time that they start springing to mind first…


 

The original Sentinel article: http://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/20-unbelievably-cool-shops-cafes-Hanley/story-26514611-detail/story.html

Websites for: Brassingtons  http://www.brassingtons.co.uk/

Melice http://www.melice.co.uk/

The Potteries Museum http://www.stokemuseums.org.uk/visit/pmag/

Roberto’s http://www.robertopizzeria.com/

Webberley’s http://www.webberleys.net/#about

http://www.rightmove.co.uk/commercial-property-for-sale/property-55879574.html

IN THE NEWS: SUPPORT THE SENTINEL’S NEW POPPY CAMPAIGN

‘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

Poppies found at Emma Bridgewater


REGISTER YOUR SUPPORT FOR THE POPPY CAMPAIGNhttp://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/