This pick of the best Stoke-on-Trent has to offer could leave you feeling giddy – with red-brick, bottle ovens kissing the grey skylines and local ceramics master Emma Bridgewater’s bright polka dots breaking out in a feverish rash in your kitchen.
A once industrious – but now sadly overlooked – part of the Midlands, the city offers visitors and locals a surprisingly kooky combination of colour and culture.
Says Stoke North MP Ruth Smeeth: ‘Here we have a rich cultural heritage, a fantastic local workforce and we’re located right in the heart of the country.
Be sure to look out the window when your train pulls into Stoke-on-Trent station – you’ll see an unmistakable bottle oven, once used to fire pottery, now one of 47 listed kilns that make up the landscape.
Stoke-on-Trent is otherwise known as The Potteries and is officially the World Capital For Ceramics.
Some of the most notable ceramics are by designer Emma Bridgewater, and she is famed across the globe for her colourful polka dot creations.
It’s not just pottery Stoke-on-Trent can turn its hand to – as part of a series of regeneration schemes there are many arts projects that exhibit locally and encourage the community to come together and get involved.
There are two major footy teams in Stoke – Port Vale and Stoke City FC.
We do things in pairs here as there are also two higher education institutions – Keele University and Staffordshire University.
Keele students are said to be slightly more genteel.
You can pick up a two-bedroom terrace house for as little as £50,000.
As well as the rows and rows of small, terrace houses, built way back when for potters, there are more affluent, tree-lined streets, notably around The Trentham Estate.
The Chiron Institute
A quirky entry, but something you can’t do in other, smaller cities in the Midlands.
Pull up your yoga mat and blanket at The Chiron Institute, close your eyes and journey through a soundscape of gongs and the like.
It’s a new-age thing, and it’s right in the centre of Stoke town.
We’re a friendly bunch around here and call each other ‘duck’.
Stoke-on-Trent Literary Festival
This annual event takes place every June to celebrate books and authors – and it styles itself as the UK’s only ‘festival in a factory’.
A two-metre-high bronze statue of novelist, playwright and essayist Arnold Bennett was revealed in Hanley this year to celebrate the writer’s 150th birthday.
Lemmy’s Blue Plaque
Burslem-born Lemmy, former Motörhead frontman, has just had his own Blue Plaque unveiled at the nearby Port Vale ground.
Biddulph Grange Gardens
It’s worth visiting this attraction, which is part of a stately home north of Stoke, just for the cheeky, all-gold cow that greets you at the entrance to the Japanese quarter of the gardens.