AD | Press Trip
Earlier this month I had a very last minute opportunity to go on a press trip to discover Stoke-on-Trent at Christmastime. Deciding to say yes at around lunchtime and leaving at 7pm the same day was a bit manic, especially as it meant being away when my Mum moved in. The lovely Sarah from Boo Roo and Tigger Too who also lives in Norfolk came to pick me up before making the journey up to Stoke. The drive may have been long but we had such a giggle in the car and before I knew it we were at the Premier Inn we’d be staying at. Although we arrived at 11pm it didn’t stop us from staying up chatting until 2am!
Even though we’d had a late night we got up relatively early to get ourselves sorted and ready for a busy day ahead. Before heading out though we had a lovely breakfast at the Premier Inn. I love a hotel breakfast and this one had just enough options and it seemed like there was always fresh food being brought out.
Gladstone Pottery Museum
Our first stop on the press visit was the Gladstone Pottery Museum where we met up with the other bloggers Laura, Kira and Kirsty. Having not really done something like this before I was a little nervous but everyone really made the effort to make sure we were all comfortable and at ease with each other.
While at the Gladstone Pottery Museum we got to watch a few pieces being made. We were shown how a pot was made from start to finish and, with the added addition of a few giggles, we were all really impressed. He made it look so easy and was really very good and what he did. I would hate to think what mine would have been like if I’d have had a go! We also got to speak to a lady who makes bone china flowers. She has been doing this for a really long time and the speed at which she made the flowers was incredible. She told us that what she earned depended on how many flowers she made so she worked on being as quick as she could!
After watching some things being made we got the chance to paint a piece for ourselves. With it being Christmas I chose a Christmas tree but there was a lot of other options available. Prices started at £1 and I liked how there was a lot of ‘pocket money’ options so children could join in as well. I’m really not very artistic and I think it shows in my design but I know Erin appreciated me trying to make her something.
The Glost House
Next up we had a short drive to The Glost House where we stopped for lunch. The Glost House is an adorable cafe bar with a quite simple menu that included regional favourites such as Staffordshire oatcakes. If you don’t know what these are, they’re definitely not flapjacks! Myself and Sarah opted for a simple jacket potato while the others all had Staffordshire oatcakes with various fillings.
As delicious as lunch was, it had nothing on the cakes that we had afterwards. Walking in to The Glost House we had all spied an amazing looking Victoria sponge and with only 5 pieces being left, we made sure they were reserved for us. The size of each piece was quite crazy and I ended up with the biggest piece of them all. I didn’t quite finish it but I only left a little bit of the fresh cream that had been in the centre of the cake!
Portmeirion Factory Shop
Just across the way from The Glost House was the Portmeirion Factory Shop and this was somewhere I had really been looking forward to visiting. I’ve already got a few beautiful pieces but I knew that the savings here would be massive. I went into the shop with a mission to find a cake stand but I was immediately distracted by everything else!
Not only was everything heavily discounted but there was also additional savings on whatever the last marked price was. Sometimes this was 50% and sometimes it was 25% depending on the product. I managed to get a cake stand as well as some other pieces to go with it, as well as quite a bit that I hadn’t planned on buying. For me, a trip to this shop was worth going to Stoke-on-Trent for alone.
Our next stop of the day was to Emma Bridgewater and I think everyone was quite excited about this. Before heading to the decorating studio we all wanted pictures with the beautiful wings that you can see below.
Stepping inside the Decorating Studio was pretty magical. It was so beautifully decorated with twinkly lights on the ceiling. There was lots of large tables laid out ready for people to get down to decorating and to get creative. We were able to pick a piece of pottery to decorate and I went for a plate and egg cup for Erin.
The Decorating Studio has loads of different coloured paints to choose from, along a massive range of stamps. I was a bit worried that I was going to have to pain freehand and my pieces would be a complete mess. However, before we started we were given a demonstration and I felt a bit less worried about what I was doing.
I honestly had so much fun decorating Erin’s plate and egg cup. I was surprised at just how easy it was. I think picking the design and the stencils was probably the hardest thing. We saw some people drawing their design on in pencil first but I am definitely not creative or steady enough for that.
After you’re done you can pay to have your items sent out to you once they have been finished off. This is great for anyone visiting from quite far away like I was.
A quick stop at the hotel
We had a little bit of time before our next activity we had a bit of time spare to we headed back to the Premier Inn Stoke/Trentham Gardens to check into our rooms (we had a different one to the night before). This gave us a little bit of time to freshen up and have a bit of a sit down after a busy day.
Our last stop of the day was to see Sleeping Beauty at the Regent Theatre. Before last year it had been years since I last saw a panto and I really couldn’t wait. What I love about the theatre is that is completely takes you away from your normal life and that’s exactly what Sleeping Beauty did.
All of us were laughing so hard throughout the majority of the show. Some of it was absolutely hilarious and I hadn’t laughed that much in a really long time. However, some of the jokes went a bit too far for me at times and it definitely wasn’t a child friendly show.
Dinner at the hotel
Although we got back from the panto quite late we still had to have dinner, which is what we did at the hotel. We’d already told them we would be back a bit late and we gave them our orders in advance to make things easier. Still, even late on nothing was too much trouble and my meal was a lot nicer than I was expecting it to be. Afterwards, I was very ready for my bed and to have a peaceful night of sleep.
I felt so refreshed the next morning and I was ready for another day of exploring. Of course, this was helped by another great breakfast at the hotel.
Just across the road from the hotel was the Trentham Estate, which has gardens and a really cute shopping area. We started off at Trentham Gardens for a lovely winter walk.
It might have been a bit chilly but that didn’t stop us from having fun. Trentham Gardens is absolutely stunning and the views were pretty amazing. We walked past some of the smaller gardens, along the lake and discovered some of the different areas such as the barefoot walk.
Trentham Gardens has loads of great places for photo opportunities. As a group of bloggers I think a few of us (mostly me) got a bit excited when we discovered somewhere new or a new place to take a photo. I was particularly taken with the fairies that were dotted around and I did walk out into muddy grass to have a photo with one.
While we were visiting there was what I think was Christmas baubles with fun designs. I was particularly taken with the reindeer but the monster (I think) was also pretty adorable. We were very lucky to have a passer by take a picture of us all as a group.
I think if we’d had the time then we could have spent all day at Trentham Gardens. There was so much of it that we didn’t see and if I was ever back in Stoke-on-Trent then this is a place that I would definitely revisit. It was somewhere that I can imagine being really different in each season but there was also a lot for both adults and children to enjoy.
After the gardens we spent a bit of time in the shopping village picking up some last minute bargains. I was expecting this area to be quite small but there was so much to look at and so many shops to go in. After spending quite a lot the day before I made sure I was a bit more careful with my spending but it really was a great place to do some Christmas shopping.
Our last stop on the trip was to Middleport Pottery, where The Great Pottery Throw Down is now filmed. The whole place was really beautifully decorated and the lights everywhere made walking around really special and a little bit magical.
Middleport has a factory shop with some really stunning pieces, as well as a steam engine, pottery studios and a tea room. As we walked around though we made the most of the super festive decorations and took a few more photos. My Instagram feed ended up being full of lovely Christmas themed photos thanks to this trip!
Before our trip was over we had time to stop in the tea rooms at Middleport for some lunch and cake. I enjoyed a sandwich with chips and a slice of Millionaire’s Shortbread while others enjoyed things like Lobby or more Staffordshire Oatcakes!
Before we knew it our trip to Stoke-on-Trent was over and it was time for us all to part ways. Although this was a very last minute trip for me I am so glad that I said yes. I got to spend time with bloggers I’d met before but not got to know properly, meet someone new and explore a whole place that I might not have picked before.
Want to find out what the others thought of Stoke-on-Trent? Read their posts below:
Boo, Roo and Tigger Too – Visit Stoke | A Weekend Exploring The Stoke Potteries