Time for the annual American Women's Club outing to what is officially called the Ceramic Capital of the World, or more often, The Potteries--the town of Stoke-on-Trent. Since the early 17th century, the area has been known for its pottery production due to its abundance of clay and coal, and then once china clay was imported in, the manufacture of bone china also began and has carried on to this day.
Today--it's all about the factory shops and bargains galore!
Our first stop was to the Leeds shop, or Royal Creamware, where the beautiful piercings of many of the pieces distinguish the look of its openwork.
Moving down the street, we visited the factory shop of Aynsley, a prominent maker of bone china,
where there were still remnants of Royal Wedding china.
At the time of the Royal Wedding, Aynsley was known as the china maker who had used an unflattering photo of Kate Middleton. Doesn't even begin to show how beautiful she really is.
Since 2012 is the year of the Queen's Jubilee, celebrating her 60th year of being queen, the first of the commemorative pieces are beginning to roll out of production.
One of my favorite stops is always at Burleigh pottery,
where its chintz-look delighted us, and its prices pleased us.
Every piece of Burleigh is made in their authentic Victorian pottery using the original machinery and process.
The blue pottery is a crowd favorite,
but a lot of us were selecting some of the black,
and red, my personal favorite.
My purchases included a couple of bowls and a creamer to add to my collection.
Back on the bus, where we gobbled down a quick sandwich, and continued on our way. Next stop was the Wedgewood Outlet, which also carries Royal Doulton, Minton and Waterford.
I couldn't pass on this Wedgewood china--the plates were marked down from £32.50 ($50) to £5 ($8,)
so ten of them went home with me.
Next, on to Portmeirion, who also now owns Spode and Royal Worcester.
Stacks and stacks of traditional patterns to choose from,
making decisions of how much we could carry home an issue!
Some were drawn to the traditional Spode Blue Italian
or the ever popular Pimpernel place-mats,
but I was searching the Pomona pattern to add to my collection,
this time buying some soup bowls for just £3 or $4.60 each and a pretty tray.
Deals and steals!
Finally, how much we LOVE thee, Emma Bridgewater!
your polka dots,
and your bold classic Black Toast pattern thrill us, especially at Factory Shop prices.
And with great JOY, I found another JOY bowl to add to my Christmas cake stand I bought this year.
JOY--found in simple places and definitely in Stoke-on-Trent!