Category Archives: Travelling in England

My Cat Pottery cats

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As I mentioned, I’m posting now to show you my own Winstanley Pottery cats, which I bought because they were so like my own beautiful mother-and-daughter moggies.  The photo above is my pottery cats, of course, and just below this paragraph are my own beautiful cats:  Jessie, the stubby-legged daughter, and Willow, the aristocratic-looking grey one.  She was just as much a moggy as her daughter, her littermates were all sorts of colours, but she came up trumps (well, I think so) in the genetic lottery.  The two of them were very close, and they lived together all their lives.

Starting to settle in

The photo below was taken in the middle of a house move, and once they saw the empty cupboard, it was irresistible.  Willow, of course, claimed the top spot, she always did!

Cats and moving house, Jan 98a

And the house move photo shows exactly why I bought the particular statuettes I did, the big grey one looking directly at me, and the anxious little black and white deferring:

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The colours were off the shelf, the direction of the eye movements were individual, and they expressed very clearly what my own lovely cats looked like. They’re made of ceramic, with glass eyes, and the glass is described as cathedral glass. I don’t know if that means they’re made from glass with the same chemical breakdown as cathedrals in this country, or whether some collapsing cathedral somewhere has sold off their windows to finance a renovation, but the result is gorgeous, the eyes definitely feel alive.

Close up, the eyes might look a bit spooky, like the photo below, but in truth this is exactly what Willow looked like first thing in the morning as she peered over the top of my duvet, demanding that I get up and provide her with breakfast, in the manner to which I made her accustomed.

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I’ve got to hand it to Winstanley Pottery, they’ve done a marvellous job of showing the different characters cats can have.  Thank you, Winstanley.

The Cat Pottery, North Walsham, Norfolk

Last year, I made a repeat visit to a hugely important site in Norfolk for cat lovers: the Cat Pottery in North Walsham. It’s just outside the centre of this beautiful little market town, I’m sure it was only a five minute walk. I went along there with family, and even my mum, who now uses a walking stick, found the walk easy enough.  The entrance is entrancing, let’s say, as you can see in the pictures below.  There’s love and thoughtfulness in the welcome – beautiful displays of plants and railway memorabilia, and a few cats peeping out too, hinting at the riches within.

2014 Norfolk Cat Pottery

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And what riches! The finished products are on display – apparently about 30% of the business is now hares, but that still leaves cats with 70%, so that’s okay.

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The detailing is exquisite … I took a close-up of this one, in a display cabinet, it’s a little different from their normal range.

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The moulds, and some unpainted work just out of the kiln, are also to be seen – not just hares, but I could see a few meerkats as well, and a frog, and a dog, and … and … lots of things.  I got very excited at the time, and I’m excited all over again now, it was such a beautiful atmosphere there.

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Luckily for me, I came across Nick Allen, the son of the founders of the Pottery, Ken Allen and Jenny Winstanley, and he was happy to have his photo taken by me.

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I love this place. It’s world famous, and deservedly so. I mentioned the Pottery’s “normal range” in the first part of this post, and it’s the eyes of the cats in that range that are most striking. They’re like nothing you’ve ever seen, deep, luminous and full of expression.  The photo below, taken from one of the cats in the cabinet, is an attempt to show how beautiful they are.

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The first time I went, years previously, I just had to buy a couple that were like my own cats, and I was able to find cats that were just right, already in stock, I didn’t even need to use their bespoke service. I’ll post again showing the comparison, and showing the luminosity of their eyes.

It was lovely to be in a place where little cat movements are captured so well, and where the markings of the cats are so finely distinguished. A blissful experience.

Brighton loves cats too

I often pop to Brighton – it’s a pretty normal destination for anyone in London and points south. There are lots of cutey-cats in shops, like this one, for instance:

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Cutey-cats in the shops

as well as some funny/rude ones, like the teatowel holder on the left of this pic below:

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Genius tea towel holder on the left

There’s this shop called Pussy, even though it actually seems to be a Moomin shop:

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Pussy Shop

But Brighton Museum, whose entrance is in the Pavilion Gardens, has definitely had fun with cats. It started with these, a pair of ornamental cats from the 1880s, “wearing chintz kimonos and lace bonnets”. That sounds horrendous, but they look great:

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Brighton Museum Cats

with their description:

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It’s strange that their little medallions should have dogs painted on them, but they do. One of the cats has become a fund-raising icon for the museum – a five foot version is planted in the shop, on a plinth. You can see that he’s nearly as big as the full height windows behind him in the photo below. And it’s even stranger that the medallion on the five-foot-tall version looks completely out of place – to me, anyway. Is it an anthropomorphic cat? Is it a dog? But the ears are too cat-like. Is it a Yeti? It might be. I took the photo, and I really don’t know. Next time I’m in Brighton, I’m going to talk to a museum attendant about it.

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Fundraising Cat in the shop

He’s much more recent of course: the plaque underneath him says he was named Brummel by the listeners of Southern Counties Radio in 2002. I’m guessing here, but a lot of that must be about the dandyism of Beau Brummel and Brighton – these cats are pretty dandified!

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Brummel The Cat

The final note, however, belongs to a street painting – it can’t possibly be called a piece of graffiti. Its on this building here, right at street level:

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Just near the railway station

I’m pretty sure this one’s a cat, it definitely has a cat aura.

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Street Cat

And it has a lovely little face.

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Street Beauty

A surprisingly cat-friendly place, Brighton.

 

Cley Next The Sea, Norfolk

I was there earlier this month, meeting up with family, and we had a great time there.  I took an hour or so out from family meet-ups, however, to wander about with camera in hand, looking for cats worthy of worship.  And I found quite a few.

 

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Aristocratic cat

There was this one, a panther I suppose, guarding the entrance to a house that was right on the main road.

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Sculpture at Pinkfoot Gallery

The Pinkfoot Gallery window was dominated by this simple, beautiful sculpture.  I decided to use the photo that showed my reflection, I quite like the effect.

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Cat at Letheringsett Mill

The mill is water-powered, a couple of hundred years old, and guarded by this little black cat.  This is the closest I got.  That cat is good.

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Cat stickers!

And they are just stickers, the kind you can get in any poundshop.  But they were fresh, and they were placed at adult height, so I thought it would be much wiser to co-operate with the universe than not.

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Windvane at Cley

I thought the windvane was pretty special.  It’s on the trackway that leads to Cley Windmill, if you’re in that neck of the woods.

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“I can see you”

This lovely black and white cat was in a local gallery, and saw this dog outside.  It was a nice dog.  Very quiet, very civilised.  The cat was much more determined.  This is what happened next:

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“I always get my way”

I told the nice man in the picture I was going to put it up on my blog, he was quite happy.

Clover Greetings, from a photo by Richard Clover 2009

And finally, this is a greetings card I bought at the bookshop – a Clover Greetings card, from a photo by Richard Clover.  And it shows the cat that lives in the bookshop, who’s worshipped by all and sundry, including me – adorable!  They got so many requests for photos, they had the card commissioned, and she still holds court today, six years after this photo was taken.

Wonderful cats.  Wonderful place.