I haven't mentioned it on this blog before, but I have a bit of a soft spot for blue and white china. Our everyday plates and bowls are white, but our mugs are a mismatching collection in shades of (mostly) dark blue made by local potters, picked up on my travels around New Zealand.
When it comes to "fancy" china, my favourite pattern is the blue calico floral, made by Burleigh of England. It's an old-fashioned, all-over pattern which is transfer-printed by hand onto earthenware, as opposed to bone china - as a vegetarian, the idea of buying bone china grosses me out a little (though strangely I don't feel quite the same way about the vintage bone china I've inherited from family). Until our recent holiday however, my collection of Burleighware consisted of one cake plate, as it is rather expensive to buy in New Zealand.
Anyway, when I heard from a friend a couple of years ago that Burleigh actually had a factory shop that you could visit, I decided that next time I was in England, I would have to make a special trip. Just over 3 weeks ago, I finally made it there, and I'm so glad I did!
The Burleigh pottery is located in Stoke-on-Trent, which luckily for us, was on the way from Liverpool to London, so we didn't have to go too far out of our way. Stoke-on-Trent is also the home of Royal Doulton, Wedgewood, Spode and a number of other well-known English names in pottery.
The shop carried a wide range of factory seconds, a lot of which didn't seem to have any visible faults (at least to my inexperienced eye), all at half retail price. Despite sussing out what I wanted to buy before we got there, I still took a long time to pick out just-the-right milk jug or the perfect teapot. While I was dithering, Alex patiently took some great pictures of the shop, which I have uploaded to Flickr.
We managed to leave my well-wrapped purchases with friends in London while we were in Italy, but travelling back through Hong-Kong, I cradled my full day-pack like it was a newborn baby! Luckily I managed to get it all home with no breakages.
I think a tea party is now in order - what do you think?