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.
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.
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”.
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.
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)
have you ever been to stoke-on-trent?