Holidays in Wales for the Whole Family

by Jake Stevens

Wales is a beautiful country and is a place of choice for family holidays. The fact that it is only a short drive away from most locations in the UK makes it an obvious ideal location for a spontaneous break. Moreover, Wales constitutes a realistic competitor to foreign countries for summer holidays as it has a lot to offer for the whole family.

In South Wales, the Brecon National Park offers a marvellous landscape composed of fantastic mountains and fabulous waterfalls and rivers, sprinkled with old churches. Don't forget your camera if you choose to head there.

For keen sport practitioners, the Glasfyn Park, situated in North Wales, offers any possible activity from Welsh fishing and archery to bowling and bike safari.

Kids and zoos go hand in hand and Wales doesn't disappoint on this front with the Welsh Mountain Zoo. With animals from each continent, this really is a treat for the kids and one they will savour and remember especially as a highlight from their trip to Wales. Some favourites are the rare Snow Leopard, the Sumatran Tiger and the amusing Penguin Parade. And the nearby Cardigan Island Coastal Farm Park is well worth a visit too. A petting zoo cum farm which features a wild assortment of wildlife such as guinea pigs, rabbits ponies and even dolphins - a great day out for the whole family.

For a grand day out, take a train to Wale's highest mountain peak from Snowdon Mountain Railway station. This hundred-year-old train ride treats you to the scenic extravagance of Wales from heights that reach nearly 4000 feet above sea level.

Very few know that Wales also hosts the Rhyl Sun Centre: Europe's largest indoor water park, where the whole family can enjoy the indoor surfing pools, the lagoon pool and the amazing dragon slide as well as other themed pools and exciting water slides

Portmeirion Village and Gardens is a visually stimulating gimlet nestled on a private peninsula. Created by famous architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, of Welsh descent, it is home to many shops, restaurants, walking trails, parks and delightful beaches. A great and stimulating day out famous for its pottery souvenirs - so remember to take you wallet along.

In South Wales, the Caerphilly Castle Town Centre will satisfy those interested in Welsh history. Here you'll encounter a fortress spread over 30 acres, this is the largest of Wales' castles and is surrounded by lakes and an interesting artificial islands - lose yourself in Welsh history.

To satisfy your shopping urge and find some quality bargains, head to the Tweedsmill Factory Outlet and its thirty thousand square feet of shops where everything from clothing and footwear to holiday souvenirs can be found.

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If you're thinking about heading off to Wales for your next family holiday, why not try to find some family holiday deals today?

The Many Types Of Staffordshire Pottery

by Bethany E. Power

Pottery is one of the world's oldest art forms, with the origins of clays pots dating back to around 29,000BC, although it wasn't until around 4,000BC that the production of pottery really kicked in. Although techniques and materials have developed over the years, the general idea of using clay to create everything from functional bowls to refined figurines remains the same.

There are many different geographic techniques to creating pottery all over the world, with countries from China to Mexico creating their own unique yet equally beautiful ceramics. There are, however, just four main types of ceramics; earthenware, stoneware, porcelain and bone china, and each has its own unique quality.

One of the cheapest types of ceramics is earthenware, which, despite being perhaps easiest to work with, is the weakest, and is often prone to chipping. Stoneware, just like earthenware, is a cheaper option, but is instead stronger and more opaque than the previous type. Porcelain is stronger still, with the added benefit of not needing to be glazed due to its impermeable nature. Many potters, however, do opt to glaze porcelain with coloured enamels for the sake of decoration.

The final form of ceramic is bone china, which is one of the most popular and sought after types of pottery around the world. Best loved for its natural whiteness and translucency, bone china is also the strongest, and is therefore often used to make thinner products for a more refined finish.

Today, the home of British pottery is the county of Staffordshire, although more precisely it is Stoke-on-Trent which most people consider the home of modern pottery manufacture. Ever since the 17th Century when Stoke-on-Trent became one of the first industrialised cities, the city has produced the best ceramics in the country, and can boast being the home and creator of the likes of Royal Doulton and Wedgewood. Thanks to the ideal location of Staffordshire, with the immediate abundance of coal and clay, the area remains the home to the best ceramic products in the UK.

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There is a great range of Staffordshire pottery on, with a wide range of other products such as bone china flowers for your valentine

Collector's Pottery - Teapots

By Rachel Spauden

Teapots are one of the historical artifacts found throughout many ancient cultures. Originating in China, the Chinese revered tea so much they created exacting ceremonies for the consumption of tea. Special teapots and cups were designed and used for different ceremonies. As the tea trade grew and tea became available to other countries on other continents, each country developed their own social ceremonies surrounding the purchase, storing, brewing and drinking of tea. You may not realize it, but antique teapot pottery is truly a window into historical cultures. Teapots were often used as symbols of a person's social position.

Teapots and teapot pottery come in an incredible array of styles, sizes, designs and colors. The antique teapots from different countries are incredibly diverse, yet all are similar in that they were designed to brew tea. Vintage teapots and even new teapots all have an appeal to the collector. Collecting teapot pottery offers great visual beauty as well as the practicality of being able to brew a cup of tea. Finding just the piece you have been looking to add to your collection is a great thrill.

Do a little research before you begin collecting. There are so many different ways to structure your collecting efforts that you might want to narrow down your criteria for starting your collection of teapot pottery. Not only are antique teapots available, but there are many beautiful and useful teapots being made today.

Assessing the value of antique teapots, should you choose to add these to your collection, will take a bit of learning. The condition is important, as is being able to identify a true antique from a copy. Makers of nearly all collector's pottery have marks on the bottom that were put there when the piece was made. These potter's marks tell a story of the time and place where a piece was manufactured. You should be able to find many excellent resource books of potter's marks for the type and era of pottery that you are collecting. This will aid you in your search for the authentic antique teapots that will make up your collection.

When assessing the condition of collectible and antique teapots, realize that there will always be signs of wear, but the condition should also show evidence of quality. Any teapot in perfect condition, should be suspect, as it is unlikely to be old.

If the teapot is made of ceramic or porcelain, is there crackling in the finish? Are there cracks? Are there signs that the piece was mended? Does the lid fit well on the body of the pot, and does it look chipped or has it been broken? Look inside for discoloration from years of steeping tea. If there are holes that lead to the spout, they should be uneven and not perfectly round, which could mean it was more recently made by modern machinery.

Teapots that are going to see regular use should be well-balanced. The bottom of the pot should sit in a stable position. The spout should not dribble when tea is poured and the handle should be comfortable to grip and be sturdy enough to support the weight of a full pot of tea. While the appearance of a teapot may look simple, a well designed teapot will allow you to pour tea in an elegant and graceful manner.

And what this all comes down to is that you are meant to enjoy your teapot collection. The planning and research, the shopping and bargain finding, the beauty on display and being able to enjoy a delicious cup of tea from a beautiful and historical vessel that has been an integral part of man's culture for centuries. So enjoy the experience of collecting and enjoy sharing a nice cup of tea with people you love. - 30524

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