Saturday, August 29, 2009

Happy Birthday.... to me!

I was born a long time ago on a dark and stormy night in England. It really was dark and stormy, and such was the fury of the storm that I was born at home before the doctor or midwife could intervene. Mum says the absence of the doctor probably saved my life as I would have been a forceps delivery, and my cord was wrapped around my wind pipe. Dad helped bring me into this world, and the photo above is one of me in the pram some time in my first year of life looking like I am about to be sick whilst my sister poses charmingly for the camera.

The balding couple of gents are me, on the right, and James a good friend of ours, on the left. We both have birthdays at a similar time, so often share a cake. If you are wondering, our combined ages are now around 107 years (he is a little older than me).

James arrived yesterday in a splendid blue Morris Minor, his pride and joy. James is a chair maker who has a workshop in Lawrence, Otago, New Zealand, here is a link to his web site, The Village Chairmaker.

Laura has been away to stay with her parents in the North Island, to celebrate her mother's birthday. Laura got back on Thursday, and I took a few photos. As I neared the airport, the weather turned from a very windy day with lots of blue sky, to a very, very windy day with a great slab of gray cloud, and squally rain showers.

Her flight was late arriving. In fact her real flight didn't arrive at all. I had a phone call before 7.30am which I answered clad in..... well, nothing at all, having heard the phone go as I got out of the shower. The conversation went something like this.

Me "Er, hello....?"
Craig "Yeh, Gidday, Craig from Air New Zealun' here. Have you got a contact number for a Laura Gregory, her flight has been canceled!"
Me "Er, yes it's ** *** ****. Why was her flight canceled?"
Craig "Er, engineering difficulties. Er look Mate I'll have to go, I may have to get her on the early flight!"

In the event, Laura turned down the "early flight" offer when Craig contacted her a short while later. The early flight would have entailed driving at an average speed from Te Kuiti to Hamilton of about 320 miles per hour in order to board the 8.30am flight. So she went an hour late in stead. A lot of aeroplanes in New Zealand still have propellers. Watching the blades go round is reassuring to the passengers and boosts morale! At the airport we waited for an aeroplane to arrive that had propellers...

Laura had a bumpy few moments in the climb out of Wellington airport, which has a reputation for being a little "hairy" at times, but an otherwise enjoyable flight. This is her plane arriving at the terminal at Dunedin airport.

And there is She Herself in red back on terra firma.

It really is Spring now, and the plum blossom is out.

Ginger looks good surrounded by plum blossom, which is why he agreed to be photographed.

Ginger has adventures nearly every day after breakfast. In this adventure he became sure that he was stuck on the roof. This proved not to be the case, and after many daring maneuvers, he found a progression of lower to lower to lower roofs, and then he was down.

We went for a little drive to Hampden on my birthday, and had fun visiting the second hand shop there. It is in an old grocery shop, and is full of old tools, pumps, chairs, watering cans, old china, and the like.

We all bought something!

Of course looking at second hand shops, eating fish and chips, blowing out birthday cake candles, and looking at the sea (which we did when we ate our fish and chips at Hampden), the effort of this all takes its toll.

We slumped into a chair afterward, and Ginger too, he had obviously had a busy day, joined us for a bit of a slumber.

When I am not sleeping or eating or looking at second hand shops, I am getting my hands in the clay again. These two pots are earthenware. The pot in the front is 20 inches high, and the one further back is 16 inches. I'll be sloshing some slip on them this evening.

The black and white photo of the aeroplane is the Southern Cross flying over Dunedin airport. Southern Cross was piloted by Sir Charles Kingsford Smith.


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday! Those pots are Beautiful! I love the curvy quality.

Hannah said...

Happy Birthday to you too. Would you look at that moggy minor, what a beauty, I just love them. I have this dream of having a morris travelor to take my pots to shows in but Paul says no way is he doing all the work on it that it would need to keep it running.
I love seeing the pics of New Zealand, give us more, I like it.
We sat on my cousin three times removed (ish) 's balcony in Wellington watching the planes across the bay arriving and taking off again. They have a great view where they are, the beach and the hills. Fabulous place.
Good looking curvy pots too.

Judy Shreve said...

Happy Birthday Peter!! I love reading your posts - I feel like I've had a visit. You spent your birthday doing what my husband & I like to do -- friends & food & visiting second hand stores. It sounds like a fun celebration.

Your new earthenware pots look great. Are you going to slip & fire in oxidation? Looking forward to seeing them finished.

Eleanor said...

Happy Birthday Uncle P!!!
I'm having a good time over here. I'm off to a scottish celebration day tomorrow I think which should prove to be fun. I like the front pot, it looks like a female form with love handles, or a cross one.
Anyway I best get on with my chores so I can go deliver coffee before 3.

Hope you have a great week.

Arkansas Patti said...

Happy Birthday Peter,
My, you certainly had a wonderful day and I am glad Laura had no serious problems. It was so smart of her to wear red so she stood out so in the picture at the airport.
I just love the picture of the three of you crashed on the couch.

I dated a guy in the 60's who had a Morris Minor and I loved it more than him.
Just love your pots, the 20 incher the most. Glad you are keeping your hands dirty.
Lovely post as always.

Ron said...

Happy Birthday Peter!! Thanks for the post of your day. What fun. The second hand shop looks like it holds many treasures. Wishing you many more to come. Ron

Peter said...

Hi Mary,
Thanks for the Birthday greetings and encouraging comments, it was lovely to hear from you. Those new pots are an attempt to challenge myself and to play with larger forms. I wasn't too sure about the handles on the big curvy pot, I could sort of visualize them as I did them, and they seemed like they had to be there, but I'm liking them more that I have lived with them for a few hours!

I've been popping over to your site from time to time by-the-way (, and really like what you are doing with those square Canister sets and the glazes on your new coffee mugs. Best Wishes, P.

Peter said...

Hello Hannah,
Lovely to hear from you, I was glad that you survived your soaking in the Scottish rain the other day and shoulder charging your door! Ahh, the "moggie minor"! Dad used to have a Morris Traveller when I was about 8 years old, it was a cheery shade of gray, and had all that nice woodwork. We did some memorable family holidays in it, including two visits to Charmouth in Dorset. I loved that bit of the country, and have wanted to go back for more than 40 years! I'll definitely keep up the NZ pics!

Hi Judy, glad you enjoy the posts, and feel like you've had a visit. Of course it would be really great if you could actually visit! It would be really fun talking potting and so on. I enjoy seeing what you are up to as well, and catching up with your tests of glazes and so on. I poured white slip over the pots last night and did a little decoration with my fingers. I'm hoping that they haven't collapsed in the night or split, this pouring of slip is fairly new to me, I've carefully applied it with a brush in the past. I'll post some more photos very soon of progress. Hope to fire in the wood fired kiln in oxidation.

Dear Eleanor,
Thank you so much for your comment here. Hearing from you is a real birthday treat. It is really lovely for me to know that you are in touch through the blog, and we do think of you often down at the OPO. The Scottish Celebration sounds fun! Pipes, Haggis and dancing, na doot! You're right about that front pot, it is distinctly female in form. It is funny how much pottery does echo the human form and can express human character (you've only to think of round cuddly jugs, or tall austere vases, to know what I mean!). Best wishes and hugs to you Eleanor, uncle P & and auntie L.

Hi Patti,
Nice to hear from you. I was thinking of you yesterday morning (and wished I had got my camera with me) as a huge gathering (herd, flock, mob, conglomeration) of motorbikes, gathered in Waikouaiti to buy their icecreams and coffees at the local shop. The bikes and their riders were most impressive, and there is something about the visceral BLAART of a Harley motor that is rather invigorating! The thing was that I don't think there was a rider there who was under forty. Most were balding and getting craggy and saggy like me! Ahh, love and a blue Morris Minor..., there's a story in that Patti!

Hi Ron,
Thank you for the birthday greetings, lovely to hear from you. I've been really enjoying your photos of your recent visit to the UK. It will be interesting to see how the trip reverberates through your work over the next months. Keep the information coming about glaze and slip issues, I see that you had problems with crazing and crawling recently. It is really helpful and instructive to read of such things and the solutions. Just like in the States, in NZ there are similar reservations and worries amongst potters and public about glazes that have lead content (which is sad and limiting). So it is really useful to see how you work through getting good slip and glaze combinations for earthenware, with other low fire glaze varieties.

ang said...

happy birthday peter, hope you had a good one...

Peter said...

Gidday Ang,

Thanks for the happy birthday wishes, It's been a really nice one, and good having James to stay. I love how your teapots have turned out, and I'm just downloading "where's wally", it takes a while on our notso broad band, that behaves at dial up speeds!

Angie said...

I have just found you through reading the 3 ginger cats blog ...I am so glad I did ...what an interesting read. I love your pottery especially the white slipped jugs on the previous post.
I hope Ginger stays with you ...cats make a home. That photo of G with the plum blossom is stunning. I look forward to reading your next post and capturing a touch of NZ through your pictures.

Your wife's work is vibrantly beautiful... what a creative couple you are.

Linda Starr said...

Happy Birthday Peter, isn't it so like you to be thinking of others rather than yourself. so glad Laura made it back safe and sound. The ginger photos are wonderful, what a great cat. Your two pots are stunning, particularly love the one in the foreground especially how you have attached the lower portion of the handle, how neat to see you and your sister in the black and white photo of you in the pram. A thoroughly delightful post.

Peter said...

Hello Angie,
Welcome to our site, and thank you for your very encouraging comments about both our work. You are right about cats making a home, it is a special time for us having a cat again, our last one died about 2 years ago, and the place has been rather sad, empty and gray without her around. Ginger has a warm and outgoing personality, he has a great sense of fun, and also likes to be cuddled several times a day. I'm looking forward to exploring your blog.
Best Wishes to you, P.

Hi Linda, thanks for the birthday greetings it is really good to hear from you. I'm happy to report that the two new pots have survived a liberal poured slip application and are looking rather splendid adorned in white! Photos will follow. I've spent most of today making a series of teapots and experimenting with new shapes. All the Very Best, P.

Kitty Shepherd said...

Happy belated birthday to you Peter. I have enjoyed reading your post and seeing the photographs, particularly the one of the early aeroplane.

I will let you into a secret,the dog formally know as "Big" (see latest post) belonged to Chris Stewart of Driving Over Lemons fame, he lives very near to us here.

Peter said...

Hello Kitty, belated birthday or not, it is always lovely to hear from you. Actually your birthday greeting has arrived in time for an "official" unbirthday celebration I am having at lunchtime, as my parents are able to visit us today.

I was very tempted to spin a fiction about the early aeroplane being a standard Air New Zealand plane, but risk being deported...., however a couple of hours or so south of here is a wonderful place that restores old aircraft, particularly DH Moths of all kinds. I hope to visit it some time and post photos.

Mmm, Driving Over Lemons..., that is something that you often do in the North Island of NZ as some houses have lemon and grapefruit trees close to their driveways!

Best Wishes, P.

doug Fitch said...

Many Happy Returns Peter. I'm just trying to catch up on all these blogs - I've been too busy playing with blogging visitors to keep up. Lovely pots on here as ever. It'd be great to have you here some time, I'm sure we'd have some fun. Cheers, Doug

Peter said...

Hi Doug,

Thank you so much for that, it is good to hear from you. It would be so much fun to meet up one day and talk potting, music and plants! I've been learning all sorts of really useful things from your blog, and that has been a great help to me as I try to take my first steps as a potter down here. Best Wishes, P.

Christine H S said...

Happy birthday, Peter, and it looks like you had a good one, second hand shops, friends and cat cuddles- bliss!.....and I do like the tall pitcher with handles, there is something a bit Picasso-esque about it.

cindy shake said...

Happy Birthday from Alaska! My birthday will be on Thursday 9/3 -Virgos we are :o) I love the blue car! wish I had one here -if it was 4 wheel drive! I enjoy reading your Blog.

Peter said...

Hello Christine, thanks for the Happy Birthday greeting, and it was! Talking of cat cuddles, Ginger is a really cuddly cat, and asks to be picked up and cuddled several times a day, which is really nice.
I must do more tall pitchers, it feels good to be working larger.

Lovely to hear from you Cindy, and all the way from Alaska too! Welcome to my site. I probably should have been a Leo, with the way cats seem to be an important part of my life! Happy birthday to you for Thursday. The blue car was rather gorgeous, James does seem to have quite a talent for tracking down interesting vehicles, and I will assemble some photos on here soon of some of them. Sadly the blue Morris Minor, is only rear wheel drive so it probably wouldn't suit the challenges of Alaska, but it will cruise at 60 mph and is fairly economical on petrol as the motor is just under 1000 cc. Glad you enjoy the blog, I will pop over to yours and see what you are up to!

Best Wishes, P.

Pat - Arkansas said...

A belated Happy Birthday to you, Peter! I'm glad you had such an enjoyable day.

Ginger looks like he is settling in quite well with you. I enjoyed the photo of him sitting on your leg, resting with the rest of you after the festivities.

Your 20" pot is gorgeous! Am looking forward to seeing the finished product.

Pat - Arkansas said...

P.S. I hopped over to James the chairmaker's web site; he is indeed an artist. His work is beautiful, and would grace any home. I can dream can't I?: a home decorated with pottery by Peter and chairs by James.

Peter said...

Hello Pat,

Lovely to hear from you, thanks for the Happy Birthday, and your encouragement.

The photo of Ginger is hilarious if you enlarge the part with Ginger, he was fast asleep at the time, with one front paw raised in a very elegant gesture!

Glad that you hopped over to James the chairmaker. He is a clever fellow and a very good friend. I will pass on your comment to him, I know it will be a real encouragement to him. Maybe we should visit Arkansas laden with pots and chairs!

All the Best to you, P.