Tea for Three

I had a lovely invitation earlier this month and a chance to meet with two ladies whose blogs I have visited for quite some time now. Knowing that our hostess had recently moved house I thought it would be good to buy her a little housewarming gift, which occasioned a great excuse to go shopping. I live very close to what is referred to in these parts, as “the pot bank” although the potteries are now in very sad decline, there are a few still standing and working. Middleport is England’s last working Victorian pottery and the home of Burleigh who still makes uniquely hand crafted products out of earthenware. The factory has a shop, which is well worth a visit if you are ever in these parts. As you step through the factory gates you step back centuries, it has been faithfully preserved and rescued from closure several years ago by the Dorling family and more recently by Prince Charles. It was good to see regeneration in the streets around the factory, many of the original Victorian terraced houses are being rescued and repaired to their former glory.
As I mentioned, I had the chance to meet with two fellow artists/designers who blog, can you guess who they may be? There are clues in the photograph below.
The card designs belong to Gretel Parker from “Middle of Nowhere” and the lovely Christmassy crochet was designed and created by Sue McLoughlin from “Mouse Notebook” I have written about Sue’s work before and have been carrying my belongings around in her “Mouse” bags for several years now.
It was a joy to sit and dine with these two friends and I believe we could have chatted away into the early hours. We were given a guided tour of Gretel’s newly acquired cottage and despite the fact that she has had scarcely enough time to unpack, the place has a great character and homeliness, lots of light and stunning views across rural Shropshire. We sat, surrounded by cats and books, drank tea, munched on cupcakes made by Sue and I had my very first lesson in needle felting. If you visit Gretel’s website you will see her gorgeous creations and it was great delight to meet some of her felted characters in person. She illustrates children’s books and often paints the toys she has created. I bought one of her original paintings some time ago and I treasure it, she occasionally has original art for sale but not surprisingly they get snapped up by eager collectors.
Before I go I must say a quick thank you to Annie from Knitsofacto for organizing her blog giveaway, I was delighted to win one of the prizes, hooray!
Also many thanks to Heather from "Inkflorishes"for the most beautiful Christmas card and envelope. You may think it strange to thank somebody for an envelope but Heather’s are hand written with the most exquisite calligraphy. If you visit her blog you will see what I mean. Thankfully Ted (my Jack Russell) was sleeping when the postman called!
Last but not least, I have several illustrations now available as framed/unframed prints from Encore Editions. They are having a pre-Christmas sale with 20% off; all you need to do is follow the link and type in the code prancer12 at the checkout.
“The Mouse Prince” illustration was originally commissioned by Royal Worcester as part of a series of "Nutcracker" designs. Shortly after their completion the factory in Stoke closed its doors and the project was never finished.


  1. Your visit sounds like heaven! Shropsire, cats, tea and cupcakes oh my! This factory looks like a museum. How fantastic that it's still in production and that people can visit to see how REAL pottery is made.

  2. It is always so satisfying to know that an historic site has been reclaimed, restored and renewed. I've followed Gretel's blogs for years, and own one of her books, recognized her style right away. How wonderful to meet like-minded folk and chat away the hours. Especially in a cottage in Shropshire! I would LOVE to meet you all, but alas, I am across the pond.

  3. How wonderful to visit you and read that you have met blogging artists, one of which I recognised instantly from her artwork. It seems to me I found Gretel eons ago, and I am so happy she's doing well.

    Heartwarming to learn about the Middleport Victorian pottery still producing their hand crafted ware. And even better that village homes are being restored!

    Warm greetings,

  4. Isn't it lovely meeting other bloggers with like minds? Wish I lived near enough to join you.

  5. I only wish you could have stayed longer, we would have sorted the world out! It was a pleasure to have you and I am already looking forward to a meet up at yours next time, hopefully before long. :)

  6. I love everything about this teatime! The pottery factory and shop remind me of one we visited years ago - lovely! And so nice to meet Sue, Gretel and your "Mouse Prince." :)

  7. I loved the Burleigh pottery when we visited such a fascinating place, so pleased it is still surviving. I'm glad some of the houses are being restored too, so many of those houses have disappeared now and nothing as yet has replaced them. Your meeting with fellow bloggers sounds wonderful. What a lovely thing to do:)

  8. More loverrley stuff to gaze at - and you always do such interesting things! I have put both Gretel and Sue on my blog list - thanks Valerie! Loving the Mouse Prince:)

  9. Valerie, what treats are contained in this post!

    I am a fan of Burleigh china, and hope that it will continue to be made for many years to come. A friend who was having a clear out recently gave me an old Burleigh Asiatic Pheasant teapot...I was absolutely delighted, of course.

    Having met both Sue and Gretel myself, I can well imagine what a fine time you all must have enjoyed together. Each of you is such a fine artist with your own particular creative spirit and style. I am sure that the time must have flown past.

    How I would love to be at the next get together....


  10. Beautiful post Valerie. Thank you for the most amazing Christmas card. Your work is pure magic. Like having a glimpse of a fairy tale!!!!

  11. So many good things in this post.

    And you lucky thing! I know both Gretel and Sue through their blogs, and greatly admire the work of all three of you talented ladies. How lovely to share tea and cupcakes and gossip with them.

    Thanks for the mention Valerie, I do hope you enjoy the book :D

  12. I very much enjoyed my first visit to your blog today, and read many posts. Your art is lovely, and how good one of the factories was saved. I read lots of your posts and found them interesting; I would like to visit Hungary, but it is rather farther for me, as I live in California.

  13. What a treat to spend time with like minded friends... that sounded lovely.

    ...and I know your exquisite design "The Mouse Prince" is much appreciated by everyone who visits your blog.. your work is very fine!