what is it like to live in stoke-on-trent?

when i moved to stoke-on-trent about 1 and a half year ago, i knew almost nothing about the midlands. the only thing i knew, was that there was a team called stoke city (which i am a big fan of) and that i had gotten a full-time job as a translator there. i was 22 years old, i knew nobody in my new hometown and i was pretty nervous.

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you’ll see this owl everywhere in stoke!

stoke-on-trent, also known as the potteries, is a city by the river trent in staffordshire. the place is has six smaller towns, called stoke, hanley, burslem, longton, tunstall and fenton. stoke-on-trent is greatly recognized for their pottery industry, a thing you understand that the average stokie is still quite proud of. i used to live up hanley, which has most of the shopping oppurtunities (including the shopping centre intu potteries). i used to work when these were open, so i didn’t really spend much time shopping, but i can definitely recommend this to visitors. this because the shopping centre has a great stoke city fc-shop!

as i mentioned earlier i was quite nervous when i arrived at the city of oatcakes, but luckily this passed quite fast. i got settled in hanley, i lived in a traditional english brick house and i also got in the routine of work really fast. working in stoke-on-trent i had varied days, because i did not have to speak a lot of english at work. i worked in a scandinavian team, which meant that i learned a lot more danish and swedish, than english on a daily basis. the company had a lot of different employees from different countries, like the netherlands, poland, greece, spain and a lot more. this definitely made the working experience a lot more fun, because you learned bits and pieces from all the other nationalities.

Skjermbilde 2015-03-06 kl. 22.34.43  the building on the left is where i used to live.

but in my spare time, i got to speak a lot of english. i really fancy the stoke-accent, i must say. especially their use of the word “duck” which originally came from the word duke. this is a common designation of affection towards both men and women. this word is mostly used at the end of a sentence. one of the sentences you hear most often is “ay up, duck?”, which can mean “whats happening?”, “how are you” and “hello”, it all depends on the way you say it. try it next time you meet a stokie. i think i’ve never met anyone from stoke who does not find it fun to make a foreigner speak the stoke-accent.

when i moved to stoke, i thought my english was quite good, but i had a hard time understanding what locals were saying to me in the shops, on the bus, at the pubs etc. but i believe that one can get used to almost anything, and now i almost feel like a “duck”.

Skjermbilde 2014-08-21 kl. 21.12.37britannia on a friendly match day.

i have heard that journalists often does research for their articles, so that is why i decided to do the same. i asked a lot former foreign colleagues what they liked about living in stoke, and i got a lot of great answers:

– it is really easy to get to stoke city matches, both home and away (because they have free transport to away games).

– if one is originally from a foreign country, stokies tend to find us exciting and it is easy to make friends.

– rent and travelling is really cheap. stoke-on-trent is in the middle of england, so you can travel anywhere cheap and fast. it is also a great place to groundhop!

– indian food is great in stoke (the best restaurant is called sangam)

– student-night in hanley on mondays, where the alcohol is almost free!

– oatcakes – a type of pancake, but with oats in it. you can buy these almost anywhere. they are served hot with some type of filling. this is often cheese and bacon. stokies love them so much, and get offended if you make fun of them.

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one of the greatest games last season, against arsenal.

i would really recommend living in stoke. it is a great place, with great people. if you do a quick google search, you will find out that not a lot of englishmen like stoke. the readers of the telegraph named it the 10th most ugly place in all of england. i have experienced that englishmen in general make fun of stoke-on-trent when i say that i’ve lived there, the funny thing is that over 50% of those people have never been or plan to go to stoke-on-trent ever. so their arguments are not really valid, i guess that stoke-on-trent is just a place with a bad reputation.

after reading this experience, i hope you will take the time to someday visit the home of the great potters!

PS: you might not know what these famous people are from stoke:

– lemmy kilmister (motörhead vocalist)

– slash (most known as the guns n’roses guitarist)

– robbie williams (known from take that)

Skjermbilde 2014-08-21 kl. 21.45.35picture from the robbie williams exhibition at the local museum.

have you ever been to stoke-on-trent?

/fredrikke

tips on saving money before christmas

it is getting close to christmas, and you probably plan to spend tons of money on gifts for all your friends and family. but when you realize how little you actually have to spend, you need to come up with a great plan to fix this. here are some tips for saving money:

do you have spotify or another streaming program? well, end your subscription. the library has tons of CDs, all for you to borrow. i do this myself, i go to the library every day and borrow a certain amount of CDs which i save in my music library. this also is great for putting on your ipod. this is also a great way of going to the library and actually staying to read a bit, cause if i am at a library, i do feel that i have to study, at least for a while. and why stream music? streaming tends to never work on trains anyway.

do you collect anything? well, if it is valuable you could trim off your collection. everyone has duplicates of something, and they never use them, so go a head. SELL SELL SELL. i certainly know a few things i could sell out of my collections. luckily those things are at my parents.

do you shop at stores? sign up for their reward program. (a good idea is to create a separate e-mail address for this, because you’ll receive tons of spam.)

do you like making things? this is like the oldest trick in the book. people do enjoy homemade gifts, often more than new things. so start cooking, painting, drawing or whatever you’re the best at.

do you have a lot of stuff? this trick seems kind of rude, but i personally am a huge fan of it. do you have a book you’ve read or a movie you’ve seen that you don’t need anymore, give that away as a gift. people like to get things they know their friends/family likes.

do you like books? well, join this site, where you can swap books for free.

after you’ve done all of that, you’ll feel like this:
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i could give you more tips, like: make a shopping list and stick to it, repair your clothes instead of buying new ones and cut up your credit cards, but we all know that those things and they often don’t work.

how do you save money?

/fredrikke

about: JH engström

as a photographer you’ll have to find inspiration in other artists. i tend to find it in musicians and photography. i will now introduce you to one of my favourite photographers, the swedish JH engström.

i will give you five reasons he inspires me:

1. he is too personal when it comes to his pictures. which i find interesting, because not too many photographers want to be as personal as JH engström is. (sadly i couldn’t find my favourite picture example of being too personal, so i am posting another favourite of mine instead):

jh-engstrom-1

2. he uses himself as a model:

Image

3. his still-lifes make me want to travel to where the photo was taken:

154_155_Haunts

4. his use of colours are mainly what i love the most:
ENGSTROM2, sans titre de la série tout va bien

5. and of course his choice of motifs are sometimes really disgusting (i am not talking about this one, but if you do a google search, you will know what i mean), but i just love what he takes pictures of, i feel ambivalent looking at some of the pictures, but i mostly feel like i want to explore this career more:

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so if you like JH engström i would recommend you to take a look at his trying to dance portfolio from 2004. if you’re lucky enough to have the money to buy one, i envy you. cause i definitely have not.

what artist inspires you most nowadays and why?

/fredrikke