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Pottering around - Louise Flind

Blog | By Louise Flind | Dec 06, 2022


Stoke-on-Trent is the best place on earth for clay, tableware and potters, Emma Bridgewater tells Louise Flind

Is there something you really miss when you’re away?

In the past, that was my kids. I’ve discovered the middle-aged thing of worrying about the tomatoes in the summer months.

What’s your favourite destination?

Sicily and, non-specifically, France and that might just involve getting the ferry over and having lunch in Boulogne or Cherbourg – or a week in the South…

Why did you choose Stoke for your factory?

Because it’s the Potteries. It’s where the skills and traditions were. Although it was already much broken when I went there in 1984, there was and still is a lot of local knowledge – that’s what I was tapping.

What do you most like about Stoke and the surrounding area?

The people.

Do you use local materials?

All the supplies that you need are there in Stoke-on-Trent.

Can the British still make better pottery than rest of world – and if so, how?

We make the best tableware in the world because we have the right clay and highly developed skills and traditions.

How have you dealt with recent deaths of mother and half-sister Nell Gifford, founder of Giffords Circus?

As a family, I think. If you’ve got a lot of siblings, cousins, uncles and aunts whom you adore, you therapise one another.

Where did your creativity come from?

I grew up with a lot of conviction that I was artistic. My great-grandmother was a painter. Granny sketched, as did Mum. And even though I did only O-level art, I knew what I was about.

Any Christmas pottery planned?

We’ve got tons of stuff – an enormous shallow dish that says, in gold, ‘Possibly the crispiest roast potatoes in the world’.

Are you a traveller?

I travelled for work ridiculously. We lived in North Norfolk and I’d schlepp across to the West Midlands, down to London and back most weeks and that was pretty dreadful. I don’t yearn for foreign climes and I absolutely bloody loathe flying.

Do you like being/working away from home?

These days, it doesn’t have the guilt. If I do go to Stoke for a few days, it’s good fun.

Do you go on holiday?

I love it when I’m on holiday but I’m not someone who lives by planning the next outing. Our best holidays were great big thousands-of-miles drives across America with the children or sometimes we’d camp in Suffolk.

Do you lie on the beach?

I’m more likely to be wandering around markets and churches, looking for a bit of architecture, or reading a book under a tree.

Are you brave with different food abroad?

Yup – I’ll eat anything.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?

In the American Midwest, longing for some lunch at a diner in the middle of nowhere, we asked about vegetables – blank. Fruit – total blank. Salad? It was cubes of jelly and marshmallows.

What’s your favourite food?

Toast.

What’s your best experience in restaurants when abroad?

For ages Matthew [her ex-husband] and I, if we only had two or three days’ holiday, went to Venice. It gets rather bad press, foodwise. I think it’s rapturously delicious.

Have you made friends when you’ve been away?

Yes, I do now – travelling on your own you’re much more likely to make friends than travelling with your noisy children.

Do you have a go at the local language?

Our third daughter, Margaret, lived in Rome in her gap year and said, ‘Mum, you and Dad took us on great holidays to France, Italy and Spain and I thought you could speak those languages and then I realised that you absolutely can’t.’

Biggest headache?

The way airlines’ websites are so dishonest. You have to use a friend’s phone to look up the flight and then your own phone to book it, otherwise they put the price up when you go back a second time.

Do you like coming home?

I’ve got that Mr Mole propensity for suddenly yearning for home.

Top travelling tips?

Maps are really important – there will be clues on a map that you’ll never find on your wretched telephone map.

How are you coping with this second lockdown?

Well, I’m in Norfolk – we bought a house here ages ago and never spent enough time in it and now I’ve moved in and it’s amazingly nice. I can see the sea from the room where I’m working. Norfolk was home for my mum and granny.