I like to believe my home is cosy, colourful, warm, inviting and well supplied. I spend a lot of time at home, and it is a priority to have things around me that I enjoy using, like being around, and that mean something to me. Far from immaculate, our house is quite scruffy. The paintwork is chipped, the furniture is a bit battered, and anything more than a cursory glance into the corners of any ceiling will reveal dusty cobwebs. The flooring in the sitting room needs replaced, there are always heaps of laundry; a lack of utility room means ironing baskets live in the sitting room (except on high days and holidays, when I dump them in my bedroom out of the way), plus a constantly shifting landscape of books, magazines, sewing and knitting projects, not to mention all the boys' discarded clothes, shoes and other belongings that make their way into the kitchen and sitting room, and somehow never make it back to their rooms.
I would, however, much rather the cheerful chaos, with occasional tidiness, than an impressive, antiques laden, gilt-edged, precious environment, where shoes must be taken off at the front door, edges of chairs perched on, and sighs of relief drawn on leaving. I also still shudder occasionally at the memory of the Royal Doulton Lady encrusted apartment of a late Aunt of Derek's, where I once spent the most stressful afternoon of my life with a newly-toddling Jacob, whose sole aim was to grab, lick, knock over and smear his lunch on the crinoline-swirling ladies adorning every surface.
Part of creating a cosy, colourful, warm home is filling it with things we enjoy touching, looking at and using, be they made, bought, or received from kind friends or family. Particularly close to my heart is crockery. Shelves laden with piles of dishes, serving bowls and dishes, jugs and mugs, make me sigh with happiness. To me, they indicate that this home is one of plenty, where welcome and sustenance are always assured. Surely all those plates, bowls and mugs would not be there unless to fill with good things. Mugs of hot tea; plates for biscuits, cakes or savoury snacks, bowls to pile high with fruit or sweets, serving dishes to load with vegetables or fat golden chips at dinner time.
When choosing crockery, I like to mix vintage and charity shop finds with family hand-me-downs, and new crockery, usually Emma Bridgewater pieces. I can't remember the first piece of Emma Bridgewater pottery that I bought, but in my mind it approximates to 2004, when we moved to our current home. Visiting the (now sadly closed) shop in Edinburgh for the first time was a pivotal retail experience and branded my home-maker's heart with the Emma Bridgewater logo for ever.
Derek and I recently attended a wedding in England, and our route home brought us to within 10 minutes drive the Emma Bridgewater factory in Stoke on Trent. Naturally, a detour had to be made, and Derek demonstrated admirable patience in the on-site shop as I swooned, then revived sufficiently to make a few purchases. Refreshed by tea and delicious home made cake in the café, I returned for a second forage, eventually staggering back to the car with several weighty carrier bags and most of my Christmas shopping complete.
It being a Sunday, the factory was closed, but perhaps one day I will be fortunate enough to visit during the week and enjoy a factory tour. In the meantime, allow me to share some photographs from the factory shop and café with you.
(doorway to factory shop)
(display wall in café)
(display wall in café)