Why do I insist to hand carry Portmeirion from England; when it can be found in Marshall’s in Richfield, Minnesota, USA?

Why do I insist to hand carry Portmeirion from England; when it can be found in Marshall’s in Richfield, Minnesota, USA?.

So after thinking I had a rant about this, an educating rant, I realised the blog evaporated into thin air which might be the Universe’s way of telling me I write rubbish.  But here I go again; as it came up in a discussion I was having when I carried it all to Richfield last week and delighted in explaining the difference. (BTW; it all sold. WoHoo!)

I live in England; I have a Passion for Portmeirion.  Botanic Garden; but also Pomona Goddess of Fruit, John Culley pieces (it’s a great story!); Pat Albreck National Trust; but never Sophie Conran. Call me rigid in my belief system.

I live near a Marshalls in Minnesota.  I know I just told you I live in England; but I just happen to live in two places.  I am not a simple person.  I went into Marshall’s the other day, as it was damn cold and I was walking to the post with seven boxes of Portmeirion finds to post out to lucky buyers.  I am carbon neutral to negative in my passion (except for the airplane….but I never claimed perfection).

Cruising the housewares; I find PBG (Portmeirion Botanic Garden) O&V cruets.  I don’t recognise the shape; immediately when I lift one up; I know what it is.  MADE IN CHINA. Along with the highballs, wine glasses and tumblers I spotted.

So, Ms. Upper Crust Smarty Pants PBG Snobette; what is this big deal??  Why does anyone in the USA wait for you to come back from your travels to see what treasures you have unearthed of REAL PBG from Stoke on Trent? Not to mention that they might be drooling.

I blog to educate.  Stoke on Trent; this lovely little spot on Earth where one finds Portmeirion; Wedgewood; Spode; Blakensley; and a number of other less known but equally adorable potters is home to the Big P after it was relocated from Portmeirion (the town) in Wales.

Real PBG is weighty and solid.  Real PBG has thick glazes that the only thing I have ever seen to penetrate it was butter; probably from Jersey or Channel Island cows, second in happiness only to French cows.    Real Portmeirion – all series, is salt of the Earth Village Made Locally Loved pieces created by people who not only get to hang out in a pub after work….but have a pension plan and work a decent week.

What goes on at “Portmeirion” in China?  What is the supply chain?  Governance?  Quality control?  I can tell just from piking it up that it ain’t the real deal.  It is lighter.  The glaze is not the same.

What really gets me going is those who sell Portmeirion on ebay; whatever; not really disclosing the difference between what they are selling and what is made over here (England).  Even a real Portmeirion second from the factory here is much better quality that some of what I see across the pond.

So ask questions.  Ask to see the “mark”.  Educate yourself on the crests.  Don’t take it for granted that just because it says Portmeirion on the tin…..that it is what most of us have come to expect.

Full Stop!Little Napkin Rings all in a row.  Old Mark.

beautiful (sold).

beautiful (sold).

Birds of Britain

Not even the robins are the same!!!

Not even the robins are the same!!!

Dumpster Diving in the Duchy (Grand!)

Doing what I do the best. And dressed for it as well – after all – it is a Grand Duchy!

We went to Luxembourg for a week; to visit friends we have not seen in some time (in person, at least!) and have a break from frenetic London.

And, admittedly, because although I adore to cruise the charity shops in London – nothing has ever compared to Dumpster Diving at Deshetterie in the Duchy.  And, I am certain that nothing ever will.  My DD in the Duchy stories had all my friends asking me to take them there when they visited from the States.

You see, life is a treasure hunt.  Firstly and mostly – friends are the best treasure.  M and her son D hosted our stay and M revives my spirits and soul.  D went to school with my daughter.  They are still very sweet together.

But then – a real treasure hunt, especially when you have NO IDEA what you will find – is the second best!  And although this is akin to sharing a trade secret – Luxembourg is the best.  I had not been there in five years; and part of me feared that it would not be like I remembered.  So much so that I did not go for the first two days.  You know – like when you visit something you remembered so well and when you get there – somehow you think what you remembered has been replaced by the bad house faeries.  And this time – “If it’s Tuesday, it must be Luxembourg – so off I went.

I remembered to put some recycling into the car; fortunately the practice is de riguer so there is no issue in finding things to take.  The security guy waves me through.  Tuesday is not a busy day.  The two bins I love are right at the end; but I busy myself with the bottles (we have been enjoying wine and champagne), paper and karton.  Each time; my eyes grazing the treasure bin.  Pretty full – and a lot of building material.  Not a good sign.  They chuck heavy things in there without a thought; often shattering something that is a treasure.

Finally – my turn.  When I first started doing this five years ago – I wasn’t certain I should.  I kept thinking that one of the big guys was going to come over and ask me “WTF do I think I am doing” (but in Luxembourgish)…..but I have learned that if you bring something to the centre; you can leave with something.  Maybe not an official rule; but one I adopted.  (See “Dumpster Diving in the Duchy” which I wrote years ago but decided to post for background.)

Much is broken – but today I am “La Reine au Deshetterie”; the Queen of the Dumpster.  I have found a wonderful Villeroy and Boch bowl with an ancienne mark; one I don’t even recognize.  You see V&B has been made here in Luxembourg for years; and I can’t even afford what is in the factory store!  But today I have found something of beauty; something with a story.  That sadly someone has put in a dumpster.  For me.  The Diva.  I am fulfilled.

Now the bowl cradles fruit, candy, whatever needs to be on the counter in my home; a reminder of friendship – and treasure hunting.  You see; except for knickers; I am convinced we do not need to buy things that are “new” when so many beautiful items already exist, waiting to be loved.

Perfection. A little crazing to show the history. J’Adore.

moi

What will I find today?

Back into the dumpster; and having a great time!

Aside

Portmeirion

I dug up a Diamond, rare and fine

mug
I dug up a diamond, rare and fine…

Back in the saddle again.  Rear end up while diving into, well, not a dumpster this time.  I’m not in the Duchy.

It’s been awhile.  So many things can get into the way of  true passion – and when it goes too long, that little voice draws you into somewhere, and then down where no one else is looking.  It is truly where you find the best – what no one else has eyes for, unless it is upfront and centre; and therefore gone.  Like so many things in life.  Like Mark Knopfler’s song “I Dug Up a Diamond”.  Metaphor for paying attention.

Charity shops have “bins” or “tubs”, where what isn’t selling goes for cheap.  I cruised the shelf; then my eyes caught a design that was pleasing.  Not to mention the size of the mug; perfect for my friend D’s black bean soup recipe with lots of garlic (which i just happened to have bought at the French Market the weekend) and some creme fraiche.  You see – I am not disciplined like my friend.   I don’t even go for the reduced fat. 

Retrieving it from the yellow plastic tub filled with the plain and functional cups people drop off and no one really wants – I found a lovely “old mark” Portmeirion . (www.portmeirion.com) If you are not familiar – this is a pottery company that encompassed an entire town in southwest England (which is still there) although today the pottery is made in Stoke-on-Trent, England.  Along with Wedgwood, Emma Bridgewater, most of the rest of them.  But the best thing about finding this one was that I had not seen the pattern before.  But somehow, my eyes recognized it without my knowing.  I dug up a diamond. 

So this leads me on a new mission to track down which design this one is – and when it was made.  Speaking to the lovely ladies at the main store in Stoke-on-Trent (I love how they call me “luv”) I learned that there is not really any compilation of Portmeirion designs – but suggested a paperback book that has most of the older ones in it.  I also learned that “Mistletoe” was discontinued years ago – as well as napkin rings; and if I come for a visit I should bring a checkbook.  Oh dear.  I am already familiar with Botanical Garden; the Heirloom Roses; Queen’s Hidden Garden; (never found one yet in a charity shop) Birds of Britain.  But I look forward to a new search; this one is going to need a sister so I can serve black bean soup for two.

garlic

Ail Rose