Monthly archives: October 2015

What’s on the PP stereo…

This is what’s been in our headphones at PPHQ this week. We hope you enjoy. Please send us your song tips for next week’s playlist.

Happy weekends everyone.

Taste Tuesday(s)

We’ve been a bit lax of late at blogging our Taste Tuesday recipes. Soz.

In case you were worried, we haven’t gone hungry. Taste Tuesday continued throughout, we were just too busy eating to tell you about it. So here’s a quick recap on what you missed in the PPHQ kitchen…

George made a heavenly, melt-in-the-mouth, oops I accidentally ate another piece chocolate tart…

George's marvellous medicine.

George’s marvellous medicine.

Bhavini cooked up a spicy delight with deliciously moreish tangy, tomatoey Chilli Mogo Cassava Chips but refused to tell us how she did it. Until a week later when she sheepishly admitted the secret ingredient was ketchup. LOTS of ketchup.

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What is that delicious tomato taste…?

Hanna made us wait until Friday for her Taste Tuesday but wow was it worth it when she whipped up luxurious chorizo Mac&Cheese.

Return of the mac n cheese.

Return of the mac.

Francesca has shared her recipe for the Pistachio and Feta Dip which maintained her position at the top of the Taste Tuesday Chef’s table.

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FM’s pistachio dip, served with homemade flatbread and spicy beef patties. YES.

Ingredients /
100g shelled pistachios
60g olive oil
200g feta cheese
Handful of dill, leaves picked out
3 handfuls of coriander, leave picked out
1 garlic clove
1 long red chilli, deseeded
145g greek yoghurt
Grated rind of a lemon, juice of ½ lemon

Method /
1. Blitz pistachios and oil on turbo for 2 sec at a time until powdered.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend 30 seconds /speed 8.
3. Scrape down the sides and blend another 15 sec/speed 8 until smooth but with still some grainy texture.
4. Serve with flat bread.

Newest member of the team Simone impressed on her first Taste Tuesday with a mouth-watering vegetable curry.

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Simone’s spicy, veggie curry with homemade chapati.

Next week it’s Rachel‘s turn to don an apron and take up the Taste Tuesday challenge, and George has specifically requested ‘something Scottish’! We’ll make sure the result is shared with you right here just as soon as we’ve had our siesta.

Roundabout Round-Up

We can hardly believe it, but Roundabout opened it’s doors for the final time this year earlier in the month. What a whirlwind it’s been as our portable, plug-in-and-play auditorium has undertaken a whistle stop tour, taking it all across our green and pleasant land.

Audiences of all ages have been delighted by our wide-ranging repertoire and now we’re looking back at all the moments that made us laugh and smile.

Newbury

Salford

“A masterclass in storytelling that had every audience member lapping up every word…”★★★★★ The Reviews Hub

The Human Ear is a fine piece of drama” ★★★★ The Reviews Hub

“…gives us real food for thought.”★★★★ The Reviews Hub

Lincoln

Lungs is “clever, excellent, and powerful”” (The Linc)

Kendal

“Portable dome will be home to cutting-edge theatre” (Cumbria Live)

“Students’ actors get an inside ‘view'” (West Morland Gazette)

“ARTS: cutting edge theatre in a Roundabout way” (West Morland Gazette)

Margate

Stoke

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“​Pop-up theatre ‘the Roundabout’ set to wow crowds in Hanley” (Stoke Sentinel)

And you can listen to Hanna on BBC Radio Stoke here, at around the 2hour 15 minute mark.

We’ve been thrilled and humbled by the responses from everyone who has visited and taken in a show and we want to say a massive THANK YOU for coming came along. We’ve loved every minute! Now we’re off to plan next year’s Roundabout programme and we’re determined to knocks your socks off – see you then!

Team PP x

We’re off to… Bromsgrove

All aboard the EVERY BRILLIANT THING bandwagon as we bound into Bromsgrove. We’re still on a high from last night’s lovely show in Farnham and can’t wait to see what is in store for us tonight.

The lovely team at the Artrix have given us the inside scoop on the best of Bromsgrove and we’re excited to get exploring.

Where to stay

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Both the Premier Inn Central and the Holiday Inn, Bromsgrove are ideal destinations and within easy travelling distance to the venue.

Where to eat

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If Spanish cuisine is your style try Casa Med for delicious tapas, or you can get a taste of the orient from Maekong Thai which does lovely Thai dishes. Get some spice from Zingas, our top-notch, local Indian and there’s also Prezzo which is ideal for a special pre-theatre dinner.

Where to drink

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There’s a wide selection with the Little Ale House to sample the local ales and The Red Lion for a friendly atmosphere. If you’re after something a little more spirited, you can head in to the Slug and Lettuce for cocktails.

Where to get coffee

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We have delicious coffee at the Artrix and if you’re out and about in town you can pop in to Plaza Coffee where you’ll find friendly staff and yummy food too!

Hang out at

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Enjoy a crisp autumn walk in Sanders Park and go for a stroll by the pond. There’s also the Avoncroft Museum where you can find out about the history of local ancient buildings. If sports are more your thing, check out the local David Lloyd gym where you can play tennis and go for a swim, or pamper yourself and have your hair done at Saks.

Must see

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We highly recommend taking a visit to the statue of the poet Housman in the town centre – he’s Bromsgrove’s Bard. There’s also the Farmer’s Market for a wide array of fresh local produce – the next one will be on 31st October.

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EVERY BRILLIANT THING is at the Artrix, Bromsgrove tonight and you can get tickets here. Be fast though – there were only 12 left when we last checked!

We’re off to… Farnham

We’re in to the final week of EVERY BRILLIANT THING on tour (WHAT?!) and today we’re heading to Farnham to share the show with audiences in Surrey. The lovely team at Farnham Maltings have given us their top recommendations on how best to spend our time there and we can’t wait to get exploring!

Where to stay

The Bush Hotel is right in the centre of Farnham but is somehow tucked away to create a beautiful and quiet hotel with a lot of history.

Bush hotel

As a former coaching inn, the hotel has been there for over 400 years but just to warn you one of the bedrooms at the hotel exhibits ghostly manifestations with several guests saying they have seen an elderly Georgian servant lady in the middle of the night.

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We recommend you ask at reception not to have that room if you are a light sleeper!

Where to eat

Not sure whether this is against the rules but we would have to recommend our very own Riverside Café!

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Open all day long, the café is full with people enjoying coffees and homemade cakes and now, as of this season, we are offering pre-show evening meals with every performance.

Riverside Cafe Bar

For the Every Brilliant Thing performance on Tuesday 27 October, our chefs will be making breaded pork escallops served with apple gravy or ratatouille crumble.

Where to drink  

Farnham was once regarded as having more pubs per person than any other town in England and although numbers might have dropped a little there are still a large number of excellent pubs to choose from in the town.

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However we would have to recommend The Hop Blossom which has been a constant in CAMRAs Good Beer Guide for many years. With great beer and a nice roaring fire, it provides a cosy retreat on a cold evening. If wine bars are more your sort of thing, then Borelli’s is a really great place on Borelli Yard; one of Farnham’s secret corners.

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Where to get coffee

I would be tempted to say our Café once again but guess I should put in a little variety! Caracoli is a high quality coffee house and food store on the very pretty cobbled streets of Lion and Lamb Yard.

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We would have to recommend their mochas as well as their Passionfruit cake which is absolutely delicious and great for those with a sweet tooth.

Hang out at

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Lion and Lamb Yard is the central pedestrianised shopping part of town with lots of independent stores and little cafes and restaurants where you can spend a pleasant couple of hours.

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In the summertime, everyone in town heads to Gostrey Meadows at lunchtime for a picnic down by the river surrounded by the beautiful flowers that are well tended every year by the Farnham in Bloom team.

Must see

Farnham is a town full of history and you can see that around every corner. The Castle may not be open all year round but if you happen to be here when it is open make sure to take a look at the lovely grounds and walk the walls. You can also learn a lot of the town’s history of hoppers and craft-makers as well as its role as an important stopping point on the road west in Georgian Britain in the Museum of Farnham.

Museum of Farnham

It has free entry and is situated in one of the lovely listed 18th century buildings along West Street. Farnham is also perfectly located for a walking trip of the Surrey Hills with the beautiful villages of Elstead, Tilford and Churt all close enough for a visit.

EVERY BRILLIANT THING is on tour until the 31st October. Next stop: The Artrix, Bromsgrove.

Santiago tour diary

The British Council invited our Artistic Director James to the EDEC conference in Santiago to met Chilean playwrights and see LUNGS make its Latin American debut. Here’s his tour diary.

Santiago from the top of San Cristobal.

Santiago from the top of San Cristobal

Monday 28 September
This morning I watched the sunrise on Orkney at the end of EVERY BRILLIANT THING’s Highlands and Islands tour. Tonight I’m at Heathrow heading for Santiago as a guest of The British Council at Encuentro de Dramaturgia Europea Contemporánea – a conference bringing together European and Chilean theatremakers to discuss contemporary European theatre and showcase plays from across Europe. I’ve never been to Latin America so this is exciting.

Tuesday 29 September
The approach to Santiago over the snow-peaked Andes is sensational. Chile’s capital lives in a big bowl of a valley stretching 50 miles across with mountains all around it. The blanket of smog makes it look like the crater of a volcano until the plane ducks underneath to reveal the sprawling city. My host Alex – the British Council’s international projects manager here in Chile – meets me at my hotel and whisks me straight to Santiago staple Emporio La Rosa, voted one of the top 10 ice cream parlours in the world for a quick introduction to Chilean theatre and a delicious introduction to Lúcuma ice cream.

The opening event of the conference sees critic Jürgen Berger give a talk on current trends in German theatre, which is translated into Spanish and then very kindly by Alex into English for my benefit. Everyone repairs to a beautiful roof garden for wine, canapés and speeches to officially open EDEC 15. Cameras flash as the culture minister turns up to make an address.

Ana López Montaner who is directing the reading of LUNGS on Saturday invites me to join her at The Clinic, a bar famous for political debates. Ana’s excellent English makes up for my shameful lack of Spanish and we set to discussing Duncan’s wonderful play.

This way for my workshop, apparently...

This way for my workshop, apparently…

Wednesday 30 September
I’m running workshops at the beautiful Universidad Católica – a huge old monastery with trees and fountains adorning courtyards and cloisters surrounded by lecture halls and art studios and rehearsal rooms. Playwright collective Interdram has invited playwrights from across Chile to attend the conference and meet delegates. It is fascinating to hear experiences from top to bottom of this huge and varied country (Chile is 2,672 miles long), and to discover the obstacles and anxieties writers face here are largely the same as at home. We focus on politics. What makes a play political? How do the personal and political coexist in great plays? It’s a fascinating discussion here where the scars of the Pinochet dictatorship are still so clearly seen. And it’s a tough workout for my heroic translator George who simultaneously translates the discussion as everyone contributes.

Thursday 1 October
Today my workshop focus is on LUNGS, or rather PULMONES as it is in its Spanish translation. The group has read the play and really love it. It’s exhilarating to be part of a passionate debate about a play in a different language and culture, sensing how well it translates and how relevant and poignant its themes are even on the other side of the world.

Ana invites me to see a production of Camus’ LOS JUSTOS. I don’t understand a word but I’m struck by the very European aesthetic – big, bold, physical, colourful and expressionistic storytelling. It’s staged at the home of Theatrocinema who I’m excited to meet. Their productions of THE MAN WHO FED BUTTERFLIES and HISTORIA DE AMORE have wowed the Edinburgh International Festival with ground-breaking fusions of film and live performance, so I’m thrilled to get a peek behind the scenes of their super cool converted cinema home.

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Friday 2 October
This morning I’m accompanying Alex at a meeting of the Arts Council and artistic directors of regional theatres. Once again I’m struck by the similarities in the discussions here and at home – a desire to see more work tour, a frustration at city hotspots attracting money and talent at the expense of the rest of the country.

Then we meet a group of playwrights who had been part of the Royal Court’s workshop programme in 2012, culminating with their plays being staged as readings in London in 2013. The experience had been transformative for them and it was great to get their take on the state of Chilean theatre. The common theme is the lack of producers, or producing infrastructure, which means writers often have to produce their own work. In fact, they quite often produce, direct and perform in their own work, and tear the tickets at the door.

This evening I’m at GAM, a magnificent modernist arts centre – Santiago’s answer to the Barbican – to see a dance piece EMOVERE which sees performers hooked up to sensors which trigger music to match their physical movement.

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Saturday 3 October
I have some spare time today so I climb San Cristobal hill which looms over central Santiago and offers panoramic views of the city from the huge white statue of the Virgin Mary at its peak. I push through the crowds and marvel at the colours and aromas in the city’s two vast markets La Vega and Mercado Central before tucking into delicious ceviche and chowder.

Then it’s back to GAM for the reading of PULMONES which Ana has staged beautifully with the two actors reading the play from iPads and each scene assuming different relationships with two chairs on an otherwise empty stage. There are around 100 people listening and they love it. I know the play so well that I can follow it even though I don’t understand word-by-word and it is thrilling to hear big laughs come at exactly the points I hoped and a silence descend on the room as the play bewitches its audience just as it does back home. Proof that great art is truly universal.

We repair to an incredible wine bar called Bocanariz that serves tasting glasses from its vast menu and toast Ana’s production and Duncan’s wonderful play.

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PULMONES on stage in Chile

Sunday 4 October
I spend my last morning in Santiago at the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos, a museum dedicated to remembering the victims of the Pinochet regime. It’s a stark, powerful evocation of Chile’s dark recent history and a deeply moving memorial to the many who lost their lives.

It’s been an honour visiting this wonderful country and meeting so many talented, passionate playwrights. Muchos gracias particularly to Alex and Ana for being such generous hosts. Our hope is that this trip is just the beginning of an ongoing relationship between Paines Plough and theatremakers in Chile that will foster the exchange of ideas and see plays like LUNGS/PULMONES cross continents.

Now, I’ve got 48 hours to get to Bristol to see another Duncan Macmillan play. Here goes.

Goodbye from Natalie…

Last month we bid a fond farewell to our wonderful Administrator, Natalie, as she took up an incredible new role as General Manager of Coney. Sobs rang out all over the office this morning as her goodbye blog arrived in our inboxes. Here, in her own words, she has summed up her time with us. Sad as we are, we know it’s not really au revoir, just à bientôt…

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What an incredible two years it’s been. It’s hard to know where to begin and I won’t be able to cover everything that I’d like to. So, I’ll just share some of my fondest memories from my time at Paines Plough in the hope that it’ll highlight how much of an incredible company and inspiring team they are to work for and with.

My very first PP show was Duncan Macmillan’s EVERY BRILLIANT THING. I travelled with Alex Wood our playwright-in-residence at the time, where we found ourselves in the lovely little village of Ledbury at The Market Theatre. It was so close to where my mum lives (out in the regions) that my brother came along. I remember introducing him to both Alex and George and instantaneously thinking, “wow this is really cool, my family can see our work where they are and where I’m from, we travel to them”. Coming from an area with limited access to the arts and a low-income family, I immediately saw how important and impactful touring theatre and new writing was, and knew that I had made it into the right company.

I joined PP as the Admin and Finance Assistant in 2013 through Creative Access, a charity who provide year-long traineeships in the creative industries for people of BAME backgrounds. This marked the beginning of my career in the arts. Without this opportunity, I’d probably be in an industry that I’m not passionate about, struggling to find my way in. Paines Plough were the first theatre organisation to partner with Creative Access, actively addressing lack of diversity in the industry. Unafraid and open – two major qualities that extend way beyond their work.

Watching an intimate dress rehearsal of Andrew Scott in SEA WALL over the bridge in one of the rehearsal studios at The National was a truly unforgettable experience.

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I didn’t know what was happening to me when I watched for those 30 minutes, no more than a metre away from him, sucked into his performance and trying really hard to hold floods of tears back. This had never happened to me watching a play before.

Valuable lessons learned:
– I’ll never get left behind in a hotel in Hull after press night again.
– Even though you’ve planned for everyone to meet at the station in good time to catch your train, you’ll always need to run for it #touringPPstyle.
– Pork scratchings vary in taste and texture from region to region. Scottish pubs don’t stock them.
– How to change florescent strip lights and chargers.
– I still can’t do puns…
– Accents, canoeing, ‘being in the lift’ mimes, street dance, the odd prank call and cake really help when you all need a little group pick me up.

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COME TO WHERE I’M FROM at the Southbank Centre was a beautiful installation and interactive map designed by Amy Cook, where audiences and passersby could pop in and listen to plays by writers from all over the UK, for free.

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Invitation to interact with the space, watch some of the writers read their plays live and to hang out with a beer in an open space is my kind of art. This was a lovely weekend.

Touring from all corners of the UK from the Isle of Eigg to Ipswich, Liverpool to Lyme Regis and Newport to Nottingham involves a lot of trains…

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ROUNDABOUT is by far my favourite thing to have been involved in. From its launch in Edinburgh in 2014 to its current Autumn tour, THE HUMAN EAR to LUNGS, Visitor Services to the Street Team, and tea dances in Margate to TORYCORE, the breadth of what Roundabout can do and give is phenomenal.

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EVERY BRILLIANT THING in New York and my (and Francesca’s) first ever trip to the US! We had a whirlwind of five days in New York during the opening at Barrow Street Theatre last December.

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It was very surreal to think how it was only a year before that I was in Ledbury with an audience of 30 to then being Off-Broadway with an American audience of 250! And of course we visited the amazing sights, hung out with Jonny and ate a lot of meat…

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My Paines Plough round-up in numbers:

17 productions

3 Arts Council Annual Reports

1 Big fat 40th anniversary year

2 ROUNDABOUT seasons

2 Edinburghs

2 Latitude festivals

1 Bestival

1 European festival… Wiesbaden

10,220 miles commuted to and from PPHQ by bike

And a lot of miles travelled up and down the country.

And of course there are the people that make all this happen and I’m so privileged to have worked with such a driven and dedicated team. Under the Artistic Directorship of James and George, I’ve constantly been inspired and driven by their vision and resilience. Working with Hanna and Francesca has been like attending free producing workshops everyday, Aysha has shown me how brilliant being a General Manager is and I take from her into what I do now with Coney, Bhavini and Rachel are the two amazing trainees who like me joined PP though Creative Access; all together they are an incredibly strong, fearless and focused team. I’ve also been lucky enough to work with Claire, Tara, Bene, Bernd and Sean. Paines Plough attracts the most amazing people and I’m just happy to have been a part of the family. Thank you for having me.

TeamPP

For now its goodbye from me as I retire to the red cupboard with my digestive biscuit tin, muji pens and a new picture to hang on the wall…

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Natalie x

Every Brilliant Thing: Review Round Up

EVERY BRILLIANT THING has been zig-zagging its way across the country this Autumn from the Highlands of Scotland to the coast of Brighton. The tour is coming to an end and once again we’ve been bowled over by the overwhelming response to the show.

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Here’s a round-up of some of our favourite tweets and reviews so far…

“crisp and dynamic… never will two performances be the same” ★★★★★ Fix Magazine

“…builds a wonderful feeling of inclusivity… with its ordinary, everyday drops of happiness” ★★★★ Broadsheet Boutique  

“Uplifting, honest, and surprising. Not to be missed.” ★★★★ Intermission Bristol

“as far as evenings go, this is a practically perfect piece of theatre.” Bristol 24/7

“moving, funny, sad and highly enjoyable; the actor was energetic, enthusiastic and full of emotional understanding” Spalding Today

“beautifully written” Guide2Bristol

“guaranteed to make you laugh out loud and keep your eyes brimming…” Bristol Post

“Jonny Donahoe is ebullience incarnate.” StageTalk Magazine

“told with such tenderness and humanness that it makes you very, very pleased to be alive.” Weston SuperMum

“a show that covers aging, music, depression, love and much more”  Theatre Bristol Writers

#EveryBrilliantThing was just a bit gorgeous tonight. Loved it A photo posted by holly (@hollsenberg) on

“A lovely warm glow of a work.” The Reviews Hub

One of the best things about touring is seeing the response to shows that we bring to audiences – we love nothing more than sitting in the office and reading through reviews and hearing what people thought!

Find out where the show will be arriving in the final few weeks and grab your tickets here.

And don’t forget to let us know what you think using the hashtag #EveryBrilliantThing or sending us a tweet – we’re @painesplough.

40 years of PP in print

Last year we celebrated 40 years of Paines Plough with a programme of top new plays and a host of special events and occasions. We also set about celebrating this great company on paper, and we’re proud to unveil the result.

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PP40 is a beautiful journal celebrating four decades of Paines Plough. We didn’t want to produce one of those boring, glossy coffee table books. We wanted to do something a bit more, well, Paines Plough. A bit all over the place, but all the more beautiful for it. A kind of scrap book, or travelogue. A journal of ideas. A catalogue of miscellany.

Within its pages you’ll find articles, anecdotes, opinions, photographs, quotes, infographics, insights, drawings, memories, extracts of plays, memories, folklore, humour and roll calls of honour. It features contributions from many of our illustrious alumni including Dame Harriet Walter, Vicky Featherstone, Stephen Jeffreys, John Tiffany, April De Angelis, Abi Morgan and Mike Bartlett.

We hope it captures the spirit of Paines Plough – fun-loving, far-reaching, forward-thinking and completely obsessed with new plays and touring. We hope you like it.

You can find out more and order your copy of PP40 here.

We’re off to… Stoke

Roundabout arrives at Appetite in Stoke-on-Trent today on the final stop of the year (sob!). Tonight’s performance of EVERY BRILLIANT THING is sold out, but fear not as we have a plethora of plays and specially programmed one-off events that you can still grab tickets for.

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For those of you coming to join us, our friends at Appetite have compiled a compendium of what to see, do, eat, and drink while you’re in town.

Must see

Stoke-on-Trent (otherwise called The Potteries) is having something of a ceramics renaissance at the mo, so whilst you’re here check out the British Ceramics Biennial, in full swing over in the grand surroundings of the former Spode Factory. A 5 minute walk from the train station, you’ll find the latest in cutting edge ceramic art.

In the City Centre, check out Entrepreneurs, an artist led shop with a public exhibition space upstairs. And just down from Roundabout (opposite the beautiful Bethesda Chapel) you’ll also stumble upon a fauno-tastic new mural (below) by graffiti artist Faunographic, commissioned by Entrepreneurs for Appetite’s Big Feast.

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Also in Piccadilly there’s contemporary art gallery Airspace currently featuring the exhibition ‘Icon’.

If you have time why not stroll along the canal to Burslem and have cup a tea in the recently renovated Middleport Pottery, the home of the world-famous Burleigh, soon to be seen on BBC’s The Great British Pottery Thrown Down, or take a factory tour at The Emma Bridgewater Factory.

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If you’re feeling historical why not pop your head into the famous Staffordshire Hoard exhibition at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery. If you’re with kids or fancy a splash around, on Festival Park just outside the City Centre, you’ll also find the epic Waterworld.

Where to stay

The Quality Hotel is in stumbling distance of the City Centre and there’s also the Great Western Moat House Hotel just a little further away.

Where to eat

In Hanley head to Cafe Zest, café by day and bistro by night or The Exchange, which does burgers and typical pub fare. There’s also Roberto’s for Italian, The Church Bar and Restaurant for upscale British food and Peter’s Tavern for authentic Czech food.A little outside the City Centre there’s also the fantastic Med Bar for authentic Italian.

While you’re here of course don’t miss the world famous Staffordshire oatcake! For the ultimate hot crispy oatcake head to the Oatie Mostons stand, 2 mins from Roundabout, and ask for a cheese and bacon. Warning: only get the large if you’re feeling ravenous!

Where to drink

Stoke’s home to some great pubs. Why not try The Holy Inadequate in Etruria or The Bulls Head in Burslem, the brewery tap of the local Titanic Brewery.

There’s also the reputedly haunted The Leopard in Burslem if you’re feeling spooky or the cosy surroundings of The Glebe in Stoke just 5 mins from the station.

In Hanley there’s the recently opened Bottle Craft which has a tasting room, The Exchange bar and the historic Coachmakers Arms. If you like your ale real, The Hop Inn in Newcastle is 2015 winner of Potteries CAMRA pub of the year.

Where to get coffee

Try tsp. for great coffee, cupcakes and nice surroundings down in Piccadilly in Hanley, also featuring murals by local artist Eight.bit. There’s also the Spitfire Café at the Mitchell Arts Centre a little further down the road and Blondies Twisted Tea Room, in the centre of Hanley. Hang out at The Bread in Common café at the British Ceramics Biennial, run by community arts company B-Arts, it’s a great place to chill and munch on some fantastic bread made in their unique bread oven.