Slow Cotswolds

  • Whichford Pottery Christmas Sale

    I don't 'do' Christmas, or anything associated with it, until we are at least into December. There is, but, one exception - the Whichford Pottery Christmas Sale, which begins in November and runs, this year, through until 6th December.

    There is, thankfully, nothing especially Christmassy about the sale - there's no out-of-season yuletide tunes playing in the background, no over-the-top Christmas lights and definitely no silly Santa hats. What there is however is an occasion that's worthy of a visit, if only to grab yourself a bargain though otherwise to soak up creative vibes.

    This is the time of year when Whichford Pottery (page 71) sells off it's Seconds and 'Pot Luck' collection at greatly reduced prices. You're in for a treat, for there may be little wrong with the cast offs: a tiny blemish or indeed, what I love the most, the unique prototypes that never made it to full production. And you'll find it's not just the ornamental flower pots, which the Pottery is so famous for, on sale, but Dominique Keeling's elegant Sgraffito glazed plates and crocks alongside new lines of glazeware. There's also always discounts and special offers on all flowerpots in stock.

    I simply love visiting the Pottery, particularly for the Sale. However mundane and bureaucratic the outside world appears to be, a visit to the Pottery is soothing, even if it's buzzing with activity during the Sale. The creativity is inspiring - to be among such artists and skilled people with oodles of imagination and enthusiasm. It's also inspiring to find a company where all the employees live either in the village or within a handful of miles, and where the products are genuinely British made on the premises.

    Since Slow Cotswolds was published, Whichford Pottery has an addition to the fold that will captivate visitors for even longer than a wander among the potted gardens or the pots on sale, so beautifully placed on display. The Straw Kitchen Cafe is run by one of the Keeling's daughters and her partner. Like the rest of the pottery, The Straw Kitchen, too, is an inspiration. Made from straw bales and rough lime plastered inside and out, your eyes may be drawn to any number of things - the much-loved sofa, draped with a hand-crocheted blanket, beside the wood-burning stove; the bookshelf brimming with reading matter for customers; the piano pushed into the corner; the pictures hanging on the walls, created by friends and family; the long refectory table and lovingly mismatched chairs; the dried herbs dangling from the beams; the wild flowers that deck the tables. Whatever you find, it adds character to a place already oozing originality. Sitting here a while revitalises the soul and sparks the imagination.

    The food and drink within The Straw Barn is not bad either! Its wholesome lunches, prepared using genuinely seasonal produce, are very popular as are the divine collection of cakes and sweet treats. The cafe is open Wednesdays to Sundays (and closed completely in January and February).

    To linger longer at Whichford Pottery, you could always have a go at one of the Adult Pottery Workshops. On selected dates (see the Whichford Pottery website for details), the workshops are designed to be fun and for all levels of experience. In a morning programme, you'll be taught both throwing and hand-building techniques by two of the Pottery's highly-skilled potters. Each workshop costs £75 to include tuition, materials, firing of your pottery and refreshments - those yummy homemade cakes I was talking about earlier! If you've been watching the BBC's Great Pottery Throw Down, you're sure to have been inspired to have a go, but if you haven't seen any of the television series, well, a visit to Whichford Pottery will be quite sufficient to drive you on and let yourself loose with a ball of clay.

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