Stoke-on-Trent is the home of the Potteries; with its residents famously gaining the nickname of the Potters. Though, there is much more to do and see here than just the pot banks and museums. Before we get onto everything else Stoke has to offer, I have to talk about the history of the Potteries. The Potteries was and, as far as I’m aware, is still the main producer of pottery and fine china in England.
Many of the pot banks and factories are now closed for work, but have since opened as museums and activity centres where you can learn about the city’s history and get in on the action yourself. A visit to the Emma Bridgewater pottery centre to paint a plate was a common school trip for all children who grew up in the area. No matter what school you went to, you could guarantee that this would be something you could talk about. Though places like the Wedgewood estate are now hidden in housing estates, the artistic history of the area remains to be fully hidden from view.
Throughout the UK, there are so many places where you can go for a nice walk round the lake and through the forests. Though I can bet there aren’t that many places where you’ll be kept company by monkeys going about their daily lives at the same time. Trentham Monkey Forest is only a short way out from the centre of Stoke and is home to over 140 Barbary macaques. The monkeys are entirely free-living in the forest with the only cage being the fence around the grounds, keeping the monkeys safe from the main road at the boundary. The walk round the forest is just less than a mile long but it’s incredibly easy to spend hours wandering round, watching the monkeys as they play with one another and listening to the guides as they explain about the monkeys’ lives. Barbary macaques are currently listed as an endangered species due to habitat loss and the illegal pet trade. Therefore, it’s nice to think that there’s such an effort for their conservation so close to home.
I could spend ages telling you all the other places you could visit like Alton Towers or Shugborough Hall. But without fail, the final stop on our tour of Stoke just has to be the North Staffordshire tradition of oatcakes for breakfast. Everyone has their own recipe for oatcakes, and most keep their recipe a closely guarded secret, not even sharing it with family members. At one point, you could guarantee you’d find an oatcake shop at every street corner with some even operating from people’s front rooms. The best way to serve them is hotly debated though the general agreement is they have to be savoury and filled with an almost ungodly amount of melted cheese, and none of this sweet oatcake lark that some places have tried popularising recently.
Typically Stoke isn’t the first place I’d think to recommend to anyone when they ask for travel advice. When you spend so long in a place, especially your hometown, you start to forget all of the amazing things about it and why you love living there in the first place.