Updated: Nov 23, 2019
On the train heading to north, people are taking photos of Eclips. Sitting next to the window that sheds mild spring sunshie on me, I was feeling excited. After quite a bit of research on the city, Stoke-on-Trent seems to be a fascinating destination that offers diverse attractions.
The most prominent among them is the pottery industry. Wedgewood, Emma Bridgewater, Moorcroft etc, yes, all the internationally famous manifacturers are based in this city. But as a football pilgrim, it's not enough to visit all the organised factory tours... So I thought.
A few days back, I was thinking how I could make a connection between the city's pottery indursry and Stoke City FC. I knew club's nickname is 'The Potters.' So I hesitatingly inquired the tourism office this question. 'Do you by any chance know the real potters who support The Potters?' I didn't expect a positive answer, but to my surprise, the helpful gentleman, Tim replied to me. 'I think I know just the person!' WOW!!!
Anita Harris Art Pottery
Unit 154 intu Potteries, Hanley, Stoke on Trent
So I paid a visit to Anita Harris's pottery studio. As I got lost in the neighbourhood and failed to find her studio, Anita came out onto the road and waved at me as she found me still on the phone with her. Welcomed by Anita and her business partner Sam's cheerful voice and smile, my worries of getting lost in drizzling rain had immediately dissapeared.
As soon as walking in their studio, I spotted the famous 'I Love Stoke City FC' collection beautifully displayed on a shelf in the entrance hall. Distinctive shiny red and gold pottery caught my attention. They are really pretty, even to girl's eyes! Well, I often think football memorabillia would be too much for me to actually deck my home with them, but I honestly don't mind having them on my bedside dabinet ;)
Soon I understood where this lovely collection comes from getting to know Anita and Sam's warm and hospitable personality. 'I am really happy that the red of our glaze and the red of club colour are very similar!' says Anita. They started collaborating with the club since they were commissioned to make the official tile panel to commemorate Stoke City's 150th anniversary.
They donate some percentage of the sales of the Stoke range to the club's community charity funds and their pottery has raised quite a bit of money at the club's christmas event, too! I should also mention that the manager Mark Hughes owns their pottery at home. If you would like to purchase one, you can oder it for yourself online!
They are extremely hardworing and it's a real shame that because the success of the Stoke FC range made them even busier they no longer have time to go and cheer the club at their ground... Well, but wherever they are working, t the studio or at the shop, they always listen to the radio and follow the games! So the love of the club is literally glazed onto their works, I guarantee that! Generous Anita and Sam gave me lovely souvenirs to take home with me. One of them is a beautiful tile that I chose as a gift for my mum in Japan. Not Stoke City range of pottery, but their distincitive red is used for the work and it would look beautiful at my my parents home in Japan.
High Lane Oatcakes
597 - 599 High lane Burslem Stoke-on-Trent ST6 7EP
Prior to the departure to Stoke-on-Trent, I came across this newspaper article about Oatcake on Daily Mail. I am usually looking for 'Stadium Gourmet' and this is exactly the one!
And even better is the name of Stoke City's fanzine is 'Oatcake' as well! So I searched around the best Oatcake place in Stoke. Although there seem to be quite a few shops arcoss Stoke-on-Trent, I narrowed down to one that I woul really like to visit, High Lane Oatcakes. Why? Because even the singer Robbie Williams admires their oatcakes!
As soon as I got off the bus, I could smell something delicious filling the street and it wasn't so difficult to trace down the shop following the appetite-stimulating aroma.
While I was being indecisive about the choice of my oatcake at the counter, many local customers popped in and bought the oatcakes away. I didn't expect oatcakes so popular among the locals!
Finally having made up my mind, I ordered a oatcake with bacon, cheese and garlic mushrooms, which is the most expensive among their menu, and I thought it's quite a greedy choice! Well, I was hungry.
But what a surprise, it cost only £2.27?! And further surprise is, the combination of crispy bacon, melting chsse and aromatic garlic mushroom is indeed exquisite! It really is tasty!!! Sorry to say this, but from my British experiences, local delicacies tend not to be so good nor popular, but oatcake is obviously the exception. I even regretted that I did order only one oatcake, I could have eaten even two more...
Amazing thing Jane the owner told me is that they sell about 100 packs of oatcakes every hour. It means they sell roughly about 900 packs (either 12 or 6 in one pack) every day. Generous Jane also gave me a free pack of oatcakes to take home with me. I later hugely appreciated this because the pilgrimage expoloration really makes me hungry!
If you are planning to visit Stoke City FC, I recoommend you to have a few oatcakes before heading do the stadium. It's part of their culture, too, since their time at old Victoria ground.
Speaking to the Stoke fans around the Britannia Stadium, I am quite impressed with the fact that most of fans say this Premier League club is in fact quite generous. Stoke City hasn't raised its season ticket price 8 seasons in a row and also the club provides the coaches for away matches for freee. Recent years, Premier League clubs are generally notorious about the money related issues. Ticket price, marchandise, TV rights, even matchday programme, tea and pie's prices. Over all, Stokies are very generous, aren't they?
Anita also mentioned that the club's support for their business is great. I like to think the football clubs is truely connected to the community and share something with the people around it.
Britannia Stadium stands facing the west. It's really beautiful when the slightly orangey setting sun sheds the light on the stadium facade. It's definitely a great distination if you are looking to follow my pilgrimage path.