Marmite explained

The view from CJ’s bench on Bradlow Knoll was appropriate for the day, after all it was St Leger’s, the day of the famous horse race (Saturday 16th September) established by Colonel Barry Saint Leger in 1776 and named for him in 1778. An event for three-year-old colts and fillies, it is run annually at Doncaster, Yorkshire. The winner this year was Continuous, the last horse was Alexandroupolis. They say that Winter comes in on the tail of the last St. Leger horse, but global warming may have done for this old adage.

the last horse at the St Leger

The view was grey, misty and damp, and the leaves on the trees have yet to start turning, but the faint mulchy whiff of tired greenery was hinting at Autumn. Somebody had obviously felt the cold recently as they had left traces of a firepit in front of CJ’s bench. Or perhaps it was an impromptu BBQ. Whoever it was had also forgotten his or her disposable vape – I wonder if CJ would’ve approved of the cherry flavour.


Given the weather, I don’t believe that a bonfire would have spread and caused a conflagration in Frith Wood. Apart from a few hot days earlier in the week, it’s been mild. Unhappily that’s not been the story in Greece or Libya, or even Canada, and tramping through the cool damp wood seemed so far removed from those weather extremes. However, even in this neck of the woods, manmade calamity lurks in the shape of the River Wye and its slow poisoning by nutrients leaching from livestock manure (about 70%) and sewage treatment works (20%). Most of the agricultural phosphate pollution is from intensive poultry production (from “What’s polluting the Wye?” – Herefordshire Wildlife Trust blog).

Wye pooper

In order to counter any black outlook that may be developing here, may we urge you to join the fight to save the river by subscribing or following Save the Wye on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Here is the link:

Large black and white scrawl vase

Spiro is shouting in my ear that this blog is about marketing ceramics. I have pointed out to him that having unwittingly introduced the word “black” in the context of global warming, I will now exploit its presence in the blog in as measured and respectful a way possible, and with none of the in-your-face cynicism that he always advocates.

Black and white juggler vase at there Palais des Vaches

It is hard to believe Spiro is a 3rd century Bishop of Trimythous, as well as the patron saint of potters, and frankly I am not entirely convinced by his marketing skills. Last month he joined the Ledbury Bank Holiday Carnival Parade saying it was an opportunity to sell pots to the hundreds of Ledburians lining the High Street and was deeply insulted by the pennies people were throwing into the pots he held out, unaware that this the traditional way the parade gathers income for local charities. I had to drag him away when he started berating them in his local Archaic Greek dialect, much to everyone’s amusement who thought this was part of a comedy act.

Poseur vase (Vulcan clay)

Ahem, there is an exhibition at the Palais des Vaches Gallery in Exbury from 29th September, and the theme is “Black & White”. In response to this challenge, Peter Arscott Ceramics (PAC) have made a number of pieces for the show, some are black and white glazed stoneware, and some are made from a dark clay called Vulcan stoneware which comes out of the kiln in a rich dark chocolaty black if left unglazed.

My oh my vase (Palais des caches)

One piece in particular cannot be explained, and for some reason is called Buffoon Vase and wears a top in the shape of Napoleon’s hat. It looks even more inexplicable if you remove the top and insert a flower in it (it can only take one flower, and no water, as it has a leaky bottom). It’s a “marmite” piece – some people will simply like it without having to understand its impractical character, others will just think it’s strange.

Buffoon vase

For those of you unfamiliar with marmite, it is a dark brown yeast extract spread, much liked by half the UK population, and much disliked by the other half. It is used as a metaphor for something that is an acquired taste, or something that divides opinion, like, say, Elon Musk or Nigel Farage or morris dancing.

Buffoon vase with flower

In a neat bringing-together of various themes in this blog (fish, ceramics, rivers), a recent visit to Wales included a fly-fishing lesson with Mr Jones on the banks of the beautiful Dyfi river (unpolluted and very clean, thus salmon and sea trout are happy to swim in it).

Fly-fishing lessons on the Dyfi

The result was a brown trout fished from a smaller river nearby, which was cooked and served to fourteen people on a PAC dish. Thank you Mr J.


A man walks into a fish and chip shop with a happy trout under his arm.
“Excuse me, do you sell fish cakes?” he asks.
The owner replies, “Yes, of course we do”
“Great” the man responds, smiling at his trout, “It’s his birthday.”

With apologies for that old chestnut, farewell and goodbye.

Unhappy trout