October 2019 saw the very first BlogOn Visits trip to Hull and since then we have teamed up with Visit Stoke to explore another area of the UK. Five bloggers spent a weekend in Stoke-on-Trent before Christmas to see what it had to offer.
Gladstone Pottery Museum
Something that Stoke is famous for is ‘The Potteries’ so it was only right that our adventure started at the Gladstone Pottery Museum. Everyone had travelled from various places for the weekend and after some quick introductions for those that hadn’t already met, we started our journey to find out more about what Stoke was known for.
The Gladstone Pottery Museum is the last complete Victorian pottery factory in the country and it was quite something to experience the giant bottle kilns and to see where bone china was once made. We also got to see some items being made, such as delicate flowers and a pot!
After a look around we had time to get creative in the studio. With plenty of pieces to choose from, we were able to paint a piece of pottery ourselves and take home a souvenir to remember our trip by.
Stoke specialities for lunch
After a busy morning, we all worked up an appetite and headed to The Glost House for lunch. As we walked in the delicious cakes on the counter caught our attention immediately and the Victoria Sponge was one of the biggest any of us had ever seen. Of course, we had to ask for enough slices to be put aside for us to make sure that we didn’t miss out.
The Glost House has quite a simple menu but there is something for everyone from jacket potatoes to a regional classic, Staffordshire Oatcakes, which a few of us sampled. Some of us hadn’t heard of these before so it was interesting to discover something new!
After our main course, we had the challenge of the Victoria Sponge and it did not disappoint. I think all of us struggled to finish the piece.
Time to shop!
The Glost House is set on a small shopping area where we found the Portmeirion Factory Shop. Although we didn’t have a long time we were able to shop for some incredible bargains. Here you can find hugely discounted Portmeirion products ranging from mugs to full dinner sets.
With our bank balances a bit lighter, we then headed off to the Emma Bridgewater Studio to try our hand at decorating some pottery. Emma Bridgewater is a hugely popular brand and there is also a shop on-site should you wish to purchase any other finished items!
We got set up in the Emma Bridgewater Studio and showed how it all worked. You are able to paint freehand, use stamps and stencils or you can create a real masterpiece if you are more creative. There was a lot of different items to choose from to decorate and we had a really varied mixture between us; from dog bowls to egg cups, we had a bit of everything.
It’s easy to say that we all really enjoyed this activity and although it was a little trickier than we first thought, it was great fun to spend time chatting while putting our own touch on a product. The studio is really beautiful but also relaxed so it’s a great place for a group like us or somewhere to go to do something with friends. We saw children painting their pieces too so the Emma Bridgewater Studio is a really family-friendly activity.
Before our evening activity, we had time to head over to our hotel, the Premier Inn Stoke/ Trentham Gardens. It had been a long day so it was nice to have some time to freshen up and grab a drink at the bar before heading into the city centre.
A night at the panto
What better way to spend a Saturday evening in December than at the theatre to watch a pantomime. The Regent Theatre in Stoke offers a really great range of shows for all the family and panto is something many people think of when it comes to Christmas. We got to see Sleeping Beauty starring Jonathan Wilkes and Christain Patterson and we were all crying with laughter the whole way through!
A late dinner
After the panto, we headed back to the hotel where we had a late dinner. Premier Inn hotels do a great deal that can include breakfast, dinner and a drink in their restaurants. We let the hotel know that we were at the theatre and when we would be back and they very kindly kept the kitchen open a bit later for us. We did pre-order our meals to make things easier but we couldn’t have asked for better service.
Winter walks and Christmas shopping
After a much-needed sleep and some rest, and filling breakfast at the hotel, we took a short stroll across the road to the Trentham Estate.
It might have been a bit cold in the middle of December but that didn’t stop us. We had a lovely walkabout Trentham Gardens, discovering the beautiful fairies that were there at the time as well as the Christmas baubles! Being bloggers, we couldn’t resist stopping for a few pictures. Trentham Gardens is an absolutely stunning place to walk around and it’s huge. You could easily spend a whole day there and it would be a lovely place to spend time with the family.
The Trentham Estate also has a really great shopping area. The shopping village is home to lots of outlet shops homed in wooden lodges. As we visited before Christmas we took some time to see what we could find and if we could do some Christmas shopping. There’s really something for everyone here too!
Our final stop of the trip was to Middleport Pottery, where you are able to book a factory tour, visit the Burleigh Factory Shop or have lunch in the fantastic tea room.
It was so interesting to look around and especially to visit the Mould Store, where you can find Europe’s largest collection of ceramic moulds. Middleport Pottery is also home to various studios where artists can showcase their products such as pottery, art and furniture.
To finish off our day, and our exploration of Stoke-on-Trent, we stopped off at Middleport’s tea rooms. Be surrounded by beautiful murals on the walls and enjoy a hearty meal from the simple menu. You’ll be able to find more regional favourites such as Lobby or you might fancy treating yourself to a slice of cake from a wide variety!
A huge thank you to Visit Stoke, who put on such a fun and interesting weekend and thank you to all of the bloggers who joined us Me, Him, The Dog and the Baby, Tired Mummy of Two, Boo Roo and Tigger Too, Unconventional Kira and Kirsty Leanne