The Macclesfield Branch is the first of my annual trip to the Potteries – an appropriate name given my new found interest in pottery, related of course to cactus pots.
It just so happens that my recommended supplier of clays is Valentine Clays who are based in Stoke-on-Trent. They were extremely helpful when I returned from my little speaking tour in California, where I picked up the Pottery bug and after some research came up with suitable clays available in the UK that compared to the clays used in California by Tom Glavitch who was kind enough to give me some insights to making the pots he makes. ‘It really is no rocket science!’ he told me, before admitting that he work at the Mars Project for NASA. However, he is not on the rocket building side! He also warned me that the first 1,000 pots that I’d make would not be good enough to use, but probably due to the teaching of our private potter in the UK, Jennie Gilbert, my first eight efforts have all proved good enough for me to use for plants in my own collection.
So it comes as no surprise that I made a quick visit to Valentine Clays to buy a special clay that I had seen a sample of at their Exeter distributor. Time only allowed a brief visit but it was good to check out the place as it is a small but well stocked industrial unit rather than a large shop and showroom where I could have shopped for pottery tools and some of the pottery samples displayed on their website. I had planned to come back on the way home if there had been any exciting browsing facilities.
I arrived at my hosts for the night, Margaret and Alasdair Glenn. One of the nice aspects of my presentations is the great hospitality I am treated to at every branch. I really don’t want to single out any one in particular as I’m bound to overlook somebody but will mention any special collections that I come across and where I obtain permission to share the experience – not everyone is willing to show off their plants – unfortunately there have been some incidents where plants have been stolen.
The next day Margaret and Alasdair take me around some member collections and this time, as often in the past, we visited the collection of Chair Person Julia. She has a large Auracaria tree in her garden and in the past had given me fruits (or are they seeds?) that sadly failed to germinate. This time I was given some seeds that had already germinated in the tray where they had been left and forgotten after coming from the tree. They have been potted and look to be enjoying life.
These visits are often followed by lunch at a nearby pub. This time, due to a comedy of errors I lost contact with the lead car, turned back to Julia’s who had already disappeared. The nearest pub/restaurant with the same name was reported by SatNav to be 51 miles away – so clearly not where we supposed to lunch. I do not possess a mobile phone, so had no numbers to contact or anything to contact them with – phone boxes have all but disappeared and if found are usually vandalised.
So I resolved to go to my next contact point in the hope that he would be home so early – he was!