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A Potter's Moll: An Old Caravan And An MG

...Our little old caravan comes into its own on these occasions – hearing rain on the roof when you are warm and dry inside is one of the nicest sounds I know...

A potter has to go out into the world to sell his wares, as Liz Robison reveals. Mind you, there's also time for holidays. A luxury villa with a view of the Alpes Maritimes. Touring Ireland in an MG...

Do please visit potter Jim Robison's Web site http://www.jimrobison.co.uk/

This morning, Jim, the potter, is back in his studio, putting the finishing touches to four ceramic tables, before letting them dry and firing them in the kiln. The pottery process is such a slow one from making through drying, firing, glazing and sometimes firing again, that planning has to be done well in advance. These tables will figure, with some seats, in a garden exhibition in August.

Next weekend we will man one of the stalls at ClayArt, an immense pottery fair at Denbigh in North Wales. Last year it poured all weekend (though the organisers still got the crowds out in their thousands) and the forecast at the moment does not look too good, so ‘take your wellies’ is the best advice.

Our little old caravan comes into its own on these occasions – hearing rain on the roof when you are warm and dry inside is one of the nicest sounds I know.

We’ve had two short holidays recently, one in France and one in Ireland. The French trip presented a bit of a moral dilemma. We stayed in an a villa owned by a friend’s daughter, where luxury and splendour were the key words – cars in garage, heated swimming pool, stunning views of the Alpes Maritimes. Part of me felt guilty at such excess but equally part of me felt lucky and grateful to be there.

Tourettes-sur-Loup is one of several ‘villes perchees’ in that area and the medieval streets and alleyways are charming as well as looking mind-blowingly impossible as the town teeters on its pinnacle over a huge limestone gorge.

Our Irish trip was with the MG Owners’ Club; our fourth tour in Ireland with them, exploring a different area each year. Kerry was the destination this year with great driving on the Beara, Dingle and Kerry peninsulas. The scenery is so majestic but there is also a melancholy note in the memory of so much hardship in wresting a living from such a remote and difficult landscape. Nowhere conjures this up for me more than the view of the now uninhabited Blasket Islands from Slea Head.

We were accompanied on our trip this year by two friends who had taken delivery of their MG only on the morning of the day we took the ferry from Holyhead. They were thrilled and we all felt we were in a bit of a dream as we drove, tops down, through the sunshine from Dun Loghaire to Killarney. However, as the driver’s wife remarked, now that the two men both have ‘character’ cars: ‘We have spawned a monster!’

Ireland has changed out of all recognition since we first visited in 1973. All around are signs of growth and prosperity – cranes on every urban horizon: Irish building workers no longer need to leave home. You notice also the bungalow-isation of Ireland, not always all in the best of all possible taste!

The old song praises Killarney’s ‘lakes and fells’ and the landscape is magnificent. There’s a favourite vista called ‘Ladies View’ which reputedly was thus named after Queen Victoria’s Ladies-in-Waiting were captivated by the view across the lakes to McGillicuddy’s Reeks. I did not discover the origin of this intriguingly named range of mountains.

At Muckross House (impressive Victorian summer home of wealthy Dublin family) we had a fascinating little guide, a younger version of Mrs Doyle from Father Ted, who was so funny, enthusiastic, informative and original that she carried the whole party with her. Pointing to a stuffed eagle under a glass dome, she said: ‘Now, if anyone is interested in ornithology………oh yes! I’ve some words for you!’

Outside a pub we asked a patron if he thought the weather would hold. He replied that his nephew said it was going to rain, ‘but he’s an eejit.’ Later our friend wondered how the nephew could know about the weather in Ireland if he was in Egypt!

I love the Irish accents and the different words and sayings. And I will long remember the look on the waitress’s face as our friend, eating sausage, bacon, eggs, black pudding etc, asked for skimmed milk for his tea.

Back home the swallows and the heron are busy, and a fledgling chaffinch spent a day trying to fly through the (closed) living room window. So even though it is wet and windy today (the Holyhead ferries were cancelled the day after our return) spring has sprung, and grass, blossom and flowers are all making their annual progress. More from me in a fortnight.

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