Gerry Grant

Gerry Grant
On The Wheel

Saturday, 30 May 2020

The pottery is looking more like a builder's and decorator's store......

Taking advantage of the nice weather, I carried on painting the outside of the pottery - wishing we had had plastic windows fitted.......

Gerry carried on upgrading our porch -insulating it and moving switches. It will be more of a utility room when he has finished.


Then this evening we went down to Jubilee Park to water the plants we had planted back in March. Since then we have had no rain so have to carry water in containers down there every night to keep them alive. Now Yorkshire Water are saying we need to conserve water and are asking people not to water their lawns - you cannot believe that it rained everyday from November to March..... There were floods all around us - where has it gone?

And nature is a wonderful thing. Two weeks ago the heavy night frost killed off all the new leaves on some of the trees down in the Park. We thought the trees would die - but no! They've grown new leaves.

Friday, 29 May 2020

Do squirrels like strawberries?

Yes they do!! I only found this out when I went out today and saw a grey squirrel sitting eating a wild strawberry from the plants around the pottery. It scarpered when it saw me, and I think I might have stopped it coming back by moving the car nearer to the door of the pottery....

We've got a problem with starlings too - I have never seen them around Fangfoss before, but they're here in force this year. They seem to go for the little dried maggoty things in the bird feeder, so I didn't put any out, but they now go for the seeds. The other birds seem to be frightened of them and only come down when they're not there.

....and then there will be the trouble with the cherry tree later on in the year. Blackbirds love them!

Thursday, 28 May 2020

If you go down to the Park today.....

In Fangfoss we have a lovely Park run by the village called Jubilee Park. This week, half term week -( if anyone notices a difference), Gerry and I are hiding 12 little pottery animals a day for visitors to find. The park covers an area of about 9 acres, yet everytime we go down there, the little animals have gone.... Some people must be spending ages looking for them

There are lots of different types to find - these photographs show just a small selection.

  We have really enjoyed putting these out for  (mainly)  children to find. We were so disappointed today to see that some of the things in the Park have been vandalised - the dog equipment is smashed, trees have been snapped and signs uprooted.

I know this blog is "reasons to be cheerful" - and I was until this evening!!!!

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

and out goes another little order

Some lovely blue bowls left the pottery today - along with a couple of tankards.

We managed to dry some more pots outside in the sunshine to go in the kiln tonight.

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Best view in England?

Today we did a delivery of pots to Robert Thompson's Mouseman in Kilburn. They buy a lot of ceramics with little mice on and wanted some bigger items to display on their furniture.

Kilburn is home to the Northernmost carving of a white horse in the cliff face. While we were up there we decided to take advantage of the lovely weather and go for a hike along the cliff edge, dropping down to the lake  and back round again through the woods- a distance of about 6 miles.

The views from the top along the cliff edge are meant to be some of the best in England and are certainly, even on a cloudy day, awe -inspiring. You can see right across the vale of York to the Pennines, picking out the peaks such as Whernside.


We are so lucky to be living in an area with easy access to such beautiful countryside.     

Monday, 25 May 2020

Lovely day, lovely pots

I'm sure it wasn't mean to be a hot day today, but it's been great.

Tomorrow we are going to do a delivery to Robert Thompson's Mouseman up at Kilburn in North Yorkshire.

"Robert (Mouseman) Thompson (7 May 1876 – 8 December 1955) was a British furniture maker. He was born and lived in Kilburn, North Yorkshire, England, where he set up a business manufacturing oak furniture, which featured a carved mouse on almost every piece."

The workshop still produces highly sought after furniture and a few years ago opened a visitor's centre and tea room. Although these are closed at the moment the workshops are still working on orders. We have been supplying their gift shop for years with pottery featuring mice and before the lockdown they had placed an order. I got a phone call last week saying they wanted to take the order now, and  they wanted to have some "signature pieces" to display on their tablkes and dressers etc. 
So today I have been packing up their order.

We feel very privlidged to supply such a well known shop.

Sunday, 24 May 2020

all kinds of everything remind me of?

There were all sorts of things in the kiln that was emptied today.

A customer had asked us to make a teaset that reminded her of the set her parents had bought in the late 1960's.

Here is our version....

 We had an order from an online coffee company called the Dog and Hat Coffee Company. They sell a range of different types of coffee and associated gifts - like our espresso coffee mugs.

And some things for us - like this multi coloured large fruit bowl.

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Rooks and Crows - 1, Red Kites - 0,

Today we were in the yard when we heard a carcophany of noise and the sky was full of squawking crows and rooks.

What had happened was a baby rook had fallen out of a nest in the tall trees in the churchyard and a Red Kite was swooping down trying to get it. (We were later told that Red Kites do sometimes take baby crows from nests)

The crows and rooks were having none of this and were buzzing around the Red Kite which eventually gave up and retreated.

We went out again a few minutes later, but the baby rook was no longer there......

A resident from the village told us that he had seen three of the birds in the area lately. I hope the incident with the crows didn't put them off from visiting again!

Friday, 22 May 2020

Pots to fire

Today Gerry has loaded the replica La Tene vases into the kiln. We have applied a red slip on the outside and burnished this to make it shiney. We will be firing them to a biscuit temperature of 1,000
which will retain the red colour.

This afternoon we joined the queue at B & Q to buy some materials to complete the work started on the porch before lockdown. That's a projecy for Gerry next week......

Thursday, 21 May 2020

York as we've never seen it before.

We had to do a delivery of pots into York today. We supply a lady who uses our pots to make refillable candle holders. She is called Alex Hall and runs the Little Yorkshire Candle Company and has a shop down Goodramgate, and although that is closed she still sells online.
We have never seen York so deserted and have lived here for 43 years! Here are some photos of the city at 3pm this afternoon


Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Ice cream and strawberries

Not just any ice cream and strawberries.....

Lyn's homemade chocolate ice cream with home grown alpine strawberries! Perfect after a hot day in the pottery.

These are the first of our wild strawberries that grow in between the paving slabs in front of the pottery.

Ice cream sundae - sliced bananas at the bottom topped with caramel sauce. Then home made chocolate ice cream with chunks of chocolate in, topped with the strawberries and served with a chocolate flake. Then all washed down with a glass of ice cold lager.This is not a recipe for those on a diet - but delicious all the same.

Monday, 18 May 2020

photos, photos and more photos

Has anyone devised a system for storing old photographic prints so that you can access them easily?

Today we started the onerous task of sorting through our old photographs. Why did we keep so many blurred, out of focus and just badly taken photographs? We decided to sort them out into "holidays with just Gerry and I", "family holidays," "pictures of family" "events in Fangfoss" and so on. Then we came stuck as to what to do when we went on holiday with family as they would go in both envelopes!!!     This is work in progress and we will still be doing it tomorrow!                                 


Sunday, 17 May 2020

Archives from the attic

We have spent the whole day bringing things down from the attic -
  •  boxes and boxes of photographs - some of family members now forgotten, and more recent ones - 
  • boxes from Gerry's dad which contained letters dated to 1943 when he was in the army.
  • old exercise books from when my brother and I were in primary school (60 years ago!)
  • things from Africa given to me by my Aunty Betty Craig
  • programmes from gigs that I went to when a teenager
  • junk

A selection of some of the things we came across.

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Hurray - we can get some raw materials at last...

We were down to our last couple of bags of clay, but managed to get a ton delivered yesterday afternoon, so Gerry reckons that will last a year at this rate!

This was quite a small lorry that was sent into the village. Sometimes they send the clay on huge articulated lorries that can hardly turn around in the area - and we have some impatient neighbours in the village that object to waiting 5 minutes for the lorry to unload!

Then today we went up to Sedgefield Pottery supplies to buy some raw materials and some storage buckets. We have had some of the buckets so long that the plastic has started to disintegrate - time for a sort out!

I carried the cobalt oxide very carefully into the pottery. This is a kg of cobalt and it costs £70. Thank goodness you don't need a lot to colour a glaze.

Looks like we're watching the Eurovision song contest tonight - all be it in a different format... Who knows, it might be better.

Friday, 15 May 2020

Things in the attic!

We have been in Fangfoss 43 years and like everyone else we use the attic space as a dumping ground for "things that might come in useful" , things that we use once a year, and archives etc. In all those years I don't think we've had a sort out - so why not use this opportunity to do so?

We'd thrown out obselete video recorders, old aerials and other things and then we came across some old files that belonged to Gerry's mother - she died in 2006. We had emptied her room and put everything up in the attic to look through at a later date and never did - until today.

What we found was a revelation - she had written an autobiography starting when she was a little girl. We haven't read it yet but are going to in the next few days.
Accompanying the autobiography were sme old photographs:-

We think this is Gerry's mother as a baby with Gerry's grandmother.

 This may be Gerry's great granmother - possibly on his father's side.

We have no idea who this is. It was a very old sepia photograph and must be of some family member.

It has made us realise that it is important to write names on the back of photographs otherwise the people in the photographs get forgotten. So this is another job we are going to do during lockdown - and we have boxes of them!!!!

Thursday, 14 May 2020

A good firing

There are times when you open the kiln and think "That's great", and today was one of them. I have been waiting a year at least for a new "potato" pot - my old one had boken. Today my new potato pot came out of the kiln!
There were a few new designs that came out well too. Julie has been experimenting with little titchies to add to our range, and I glazed these in a white colour.

Gerry has been making a different type of planter - thrown on the wheel and decorated by me.

Now all we need is for somewhere to open so that we can sell them!!!!

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Reasons to be cheerful - Jubilee Park

We are so lucky to have a wonderful park near us. It is called Jubilee Park because it was set up by the villagers in Fangfoss in 2002 - the Queen's 50th Jubilee year.

The Park is managed by a group of volunteers - of which Gerry and I are two. Everyday during lockdown we have been going down there and doing some work - as part of our daily exercise. We've planted a tree, and lots of wild flower plants. To make sure they have a fair chance of survival we have dug up all the surrounding docks and thistles in their immediate areas, and each day we have watered them.

When lockdown was first announced, we worked on the willow tunnels with Geoff from Yorkshire Hurdles to get them into shape. Of course they were completely bare then. The two pictures underneath show them in March and now today.

The Park is still open  to wander around in, and government guidelines now state that you can meet one other person outside, but still retaining the 2m distance rule. Unfortunately the play equipment and the outdoor gym is still out of bounds but hopefully this situation will change soon.

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Reasons to be cheerful? It feels like a normal day....

Today has felt like a normal day, with both of us doing work inside the pottery.

Yesterday we got an order for a few eggcups and bowls with mice which I said to the customer that we had in stock. Whoops - not the right colour.
So today I made some more to glaze in the right colour and rang up apologising....

Gerry has spent the morning mixing some thick slip (clay with iron oxide in it) to apply to the surface of his replica La Tene vases. The picture below (left) show him mixing and then sieving the clay to get rid of any impurities. After he had done this he applied the slip onto the leather hard vase, and is now waiting for it to dry before it gets fired.

After dinner we had to pack up a small order of mugs and a teapot to go down to Nottingham for another customer. During the lockdown, like many other samll businesses, we have noticed an increase, all be it a small one, of online orders. It takes quite a long time to pack up pots to send via a carrier. They have to be really carefully wrapped up in bubble wrap and polystyrene chips to avoid breakages, as you cannot get insurance for ceramics. So the boxes always look enormous for what they contain!

Then out for our daily exercise down to the Park. We always carry a couple of containers to water the newly planted wild flowers we have put down there - things like foxgloves, feverfew, violets, poppies .... and a bit of mint.