From the USA to China – and home

There’s something of an international flavour to this, our September posting, with Americana-style music and an artist off to China, but first… something traditionally English!

Yes, the great Blythe Pie & Pea Supper (& Quiz) is back!   At the end of this month (on Saturday 28th September), this evening of community fun & banter returns.

As those who’ve been before will know, a ticket (all-inclusive) includes not just scrumptious traditional grub & drinks (a drink of wine, tea or coffee) but also entry into our fun quiz, in which teams of friends are thrown entertaining questions (including two picture rounds).
And how much will this evening of jollification cost? The unbelievably low price of £10.00 per person… Tickets on sale at the desk now…

Some notes:
~ If meat pie is not your thing, this time we are offering a vegetarian alternative, but please, book this in advance
~ Fancy a whole bottle of wine? Upgrade your £10 ticket to £15
~ Maximum size of a quiz team is six, minimum two
~ On your own? Let us know in advance, and we’ll try to fix you up in a team
~ Due to licensing laws no extra wine will be sold on the night, but extra soft drinks, tea and coffee will be on sale.

The Yanks are coming

The Blythe Centre is fortunate in being one of the approved venues for ‘Live & Local’ Promotions, through which the Arts Council subsidises leading performers to visit ‘out of the way’ villages.
And this is how Blythe comes to be hosting the amazing Black Feathers in a few weeks time.

The Black Feathers (pic below) are a duo from the US, and visit Blythe on the back of a tour of their home country, as well as an Irish tour supporting the great Eddi Reader. They have also supported Ray Davies (The Kinks); and their EP, Strangers we Meet, was one of The Daily Telegraph’s best Folk Albums of the year in 2014. TheBlackFeathersFolk, ‘Americana’ and Acoustic Indie Rock are what they do, mixing guitar work with sustaining harmonies. They even do a cover of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance!
Check out their performances on YouTube.
The Black Feathers come to Blythe on November 6th, and we expect this to be a sell-out, so get your tickets quick if this appeals to you.

The Chinese connection

Our art wall is available to local artists, and many of them are very good, but not all can say their work is exhibited in China.Joan Kennedy in ChinaJoan Kennedy (pic, on the left) is the exception. Joan, who is a book- illustrator & author as well as artist, has been asked to take her work on trade delegations to China before, and soon she will be off again, to the Hangzhou Creative Expo.

Work by Joan, who describes her output as ‘Happy Art’, is being displayed in the centre this month – check it out…


Chasing – and more

Welcome to August!  It may be a time for holidays, but, here at the library, it is also one of our busiest periods, with adults and children in and out every day.

In this post we have summaries of – the big summer kids’ reading-project, our ‘introduction to e-books’ sessions, a quick look at the centre’s finances, and the five children’s books every adult should read….

Space chase

Children will love our summer ‘Space Chase’ reading project. It celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing, which is sure to inspire.
The project is quite straightforward… just sign up with us, and then help the kids to read any six library books over the summer. For each book completed there are space themed rewards – stickers for a collector’s wallet, and more (see pic below)!Space Chase logoBy the way, to tie in with this project, we have a special science-based kids’ event later in the month – the ‘Space Chase Science Experiments’ (see our What’s On page for details). This is going to be popular, so be sure to book early for it.

Money money money

We had our Annual General Meeting a few weeks ago and, among other things, had a chance to see how the finances are going. Finances are very important of course, because community libraries like Blythe have to make their own money … or go under.

The outlook is: not bad. Up to August 2017, the ‘extra’ income we generated was just over £500 a month. (‘Extra’ income is what is over & above ordinary library services, so it is stuff like ticket-sales, refreshments, donations and so on).
But in the 12-months up to August 2018, that nearly doubled, to £900 a month!

Of course, it is not yet enough. Those figures are not ‘profit’; and the charity which sustains us, the ‘Care & Fun Charity’, had to underwrite some costs.
But, it shows we are heading in the right direction. With your help we will try to keep this library afloat for years to come.

Get e-booked!

For many of our readers, e-books are now a way of life. Using their library account, they download books and magazines to their computers (or smart-phones or tablets) and read on there. They don’t use hardbacks hardly at all!
But for someone new to e-reading the process can seem complicated at first – and we do recognise that.

So, our Helen is holding a few sessions on Mondays and Fridays this month explaining how it works, and showing everyone how the process might work on their own device, be it phone or computer.
It really is worth getting along if you can, as then e-reading will no longer be a mystery.
The sessions are free – just drop in.

Children’s books for adults

Unless you read a lot to your children or grandchildren, the odds are you might not have read a ‘children’s book’ since your own childhood.
But – don’t ignore them! Some children’s books are classics in their own right.


Where The Wild Things Are (Sendak, Penguin)

The Guardian Newspaper’s book-pages say there are five children’s books every adult should try reading; one of them is ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ by Maurice Sendak.
You might be surprised what the others are – find out what they are by clicking here. and then reserve them at our desk.


This centre simply couldn’t keep running without volunteers, so it’s great when their hard work is recognised outside of this immediate area.

A few weeks ago, at a ceremony in Leek, Blythe picked up two awards.
One was for our wonderful Jo, in recognition of her personal achievements, and the second was for the team as a whole, for their contribution to the life of Blythe Bridge and surrounding districts. The awards were totally deserved (in our humble opinion!).

Volunteers do come and go of course, but we are very lucky that over half of the current team remain from 3 years ago when we opened. But we still need more… Can you help? Or do you know someone who might?
As well as library-desk staff (4hrs per week) and those who might be able to deliver books to the housebound, we are still also on the lookout for ‘specialist’ volunteers, such as :

  • People who could be IT ‘buddies’ (i.e. give general help with computers etc)
  • Someone to run a ‘Code Club’ for youngsters (perhaps an ex-IT teacher or an IT student?)
  • Community-minded folk who could sit on our Friends of Blythe Group.

Whatever your life-skill, we can find a place for you! For details e-mail Helen on or pop in and have a chat.

(Talking of volunteers, we have just lost a good one – temporarily we hope – in Caroline, who has had to take an extended break due to ill health. We wish her well for a speedy return to her best.)


In this brief post, we can barely touch on all the news from this Blythe Bridge Centre. So, in fact, the best way to get all the news is to sign up for the Blythe Newsletter. It has news in detail, book reviews by members, articles and even puzzles! And it’s free.
You can sign up to the newsletter by emailing and requesting it, or complete a registration form at the library desk.
(PS there is no geographical restriction: we even have subscribers who live in Australia!)

~ ~ ~
If  you’d like to make a comment, please use the feedback box further down this page.

If you would like an email once a month to alert you to the fact that we have just published our latest news page (like this one), please click on the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand side of this web-page and then write in your email address.
(Your address is always kept private and never notified to any third party)

Young poet needed

It’s July!  A month for poets, computer newbies, and book sales

Young poet needed

Time is now running out for teenagers to apply to become the next Staffordshire ‘Young Poet Laureate’. You have only until Friday (July 12th) to make your interest known!
This is a fun post and basically means turning up at poetry events across the county, and writing poems – what could be better?

analog binder blank book

Time to start composing those poems

For a full description of what a Young Poet Laureate does, click here.   The role is only open to young people between 14 and 18.

As part of the application, which is really simple to fill out (believe us!), you have to submit two of your own poems, one of which must be about Staffordshire.
For a copy of the application form, click here.

Good luck…

Books books books

Although this library is supported by the Staffordshire Library Service, it does have to raise its own funds to keep going. Without a healthy amount of self-funding, we would just have to close.
So, it’s heartening to see how much the community of this district responds to money-raising events – thank you!!

One way that local people have been helping is by donating books, which we can then sell on. In fact donations of books are so great at the moment, we barely know where to put them all – but, nevertheless, they are all gratefully received.

Blythe Bridge Library summer book sale

Blythe Bridge Library summer book sale

Right now, there is a Summer Book Sale on, with hardbacks at £1 and paperbacks at 50p, so you really can’t go wrong if you visit us to purchase some summer reading for yourself.

Full up…

It is really terrific news that our new computers-for-beginners course has got off to a flying start – in fact all places were filled, and some very quickly indeed.

However, we are aware that some people, i.e. those who didn’t get a place, will be very disappointed – so there will be a second course in September (cross fingers!).
It’s worthwhile applying soon if you think you’ll be able to attend – so the lovely volunteers at the desk are ready to take your reservation now.

Just to remind you what the course comprises of:
The course is in association with Leek College, with funding from the County Adult Education unit.
It is a FREE 5-session weekly course in: understanding email and Google; understanding online scams; how to use Word (i.e. shortcuts, copy & paste, changing layouts, and how to format documents); how to make spreadsheets (for budgets etc); ‘PowerPoint’, i.e. how to create a presentation; and file organisation (i.e. making folders, filing & saving, saving images).

You don’t even need a computer to come along, as we will supply one!

~ ~ ~
If  you’d like to make a comment, please use the feedback box further down this page.

If you would like an email once a month to alert you to the fact that we have just published our latest news page (like this one), please click on the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand side of this web-page and then write in your email address.
(Your address is always kept private and never notified to any third party)

Day-trips and art…

… in the jolly month of June…

Have a day out … through us

Our job here at the centre is, apart from the library work, to find ways to keep the library going, serve the community, and enter partnerships with other local organisations.
Well, all three aims are beautifully served with our latest project!

We are proud to say that we are now a booking agent for Copelands Tours’ Day Trips.

In a way this is also a project about general health and wellbeing. Sometimes we just need to expand our minds, visit new places and maybe get some much needed sea air….
So we called Copelands Tours and their Rachel popped in for a chat. The great news is that they agreed to set up two new pick-up points, right here in the village, for day-trippers – one just outside the library and one in Forsbrook – so, no more having to struggle to Cheadle – how convenient!
Not all Copelands day-trips can pick up here, but many do – and we can even take bookings for trips that don’t start here.

zoo bear

The trip we personally are looking forward to is the day-trip to Twycross Zoo  – for just £14 for an adult. Door to door service, just to see and experience wild animals, such as bears, up close – it can’t be beat.

As a little bonus, by booking here at the Centre, you will helping us to keep the centre running, as Copelands have agreed to pay us a small commission on all booking.
Call in a for a brochure or have a look at their dates online.

A newcomer to our community

May we also share the news that our Rachel, who went on maternity leave in April, has given birth to a beautiful boy “Jago”, born last month, weighing a healthy 7lb 1oz.
Rachel is a great part of our work here, and she is missed – but babies come first!

Congratulations Rachel and Greg – enjoy this unbelievable experience.

Lovely art

It is often amazing to reflect on the talent and artistry that comes out of our little  community.

The evidence is to be found, among other places, in Debbi Silcock’s craft sessions here at the centre. For example, take the outcome of the ‘Staffordshire Textile Collage’ session last month.
Working in fabric, participants were able to create collage masterpieces, with iconic bottle kiln shapes on a background. There were astonishing results – such as the lovely piece pictured below which features Staffordshire bottle ovens …Debbi Silcock collage

Debbi is with us every half-term and long-holiday – so keep checking our Activities page and Facebook page to learn of her next visit.

~ ~ ~
If  you’d like to make a comment, please use the feedback box further down this page.

If you would like an email once a month to alert you to the fact that we have just published our latest news page (like this one), please click on the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand side of this web-page and then write in your email address.
(Your address is always kept private and never notified to any third party)

Friends of books

Welcome to Spring!

Lovely New Stock

At last we have finished renewing and updating our shelves, as we revive our stock with over 700 new titles. We have now even more reading matter, across all subjects, and in most genres.
But it was a surprise, even to us, to find how many books we have.
The stock-take revealed:
• 3700 Adult Fiction books
• 1900 Adult Non Fiction books
• 900 Young Adult Fiction books
• 2000 Children’s Fiction books
• 700 Young Non Fiction & homework-help books


So we’re now sure we must have a book or two for everyone, with having these 12,000 on our stock-list.
Cover of A Time Of Love & Tartan book(Incidentally, one of the new books we’re already loving is A Time of Love and Tartan by Alexander McCall Smith – magic).

What’s more, we have access to thousands of other titles using the resources of other libraries across the county.
If we don’t have it here at Blythe, we just ask our fellow Staffordshire libraries for it, and will get it to you via them…

Use it or Lose it? — No, Shape it!    Become a Friend

In today’s fight for sustainability, services are constantly being reassessed. (Don’t worry, your library is not at risk; in fact we are looking towards a long future).

However, we do have to be mindful of our services, especially those that require a small charge to be delivered.
To help us along, we would like to encourage a Friends of Blythe-Centre Group, to help shape some of our activity provision.
It is expected the members would meet monthly (initially) and talk to our users. You do not have to be registered as a volunteer (unless you run an activity yourself). This is a chance to influence the main committee with regard to community needs.

Interested? Email Helen on our charity’s email: Come and be part of something special.

“Frank-ly, my dear…”

TMidlands Air Ambulance logohinking of charity, we have been contacted by Midlands Air Ambulance to ask if we could help them raise some much needed finances – by acting as a donation-point for used stamps.

Of course, we said yes!

We are pleased to offer this support; and urge you to help us make as much of a difference as possible by bringing along any old stamps  you have and donating them.

On behalf of the Air Ambulance we thank you in advance for your support.

~ ~ ~
If you would like an email once a month to alert you to the fact that we have just published our latest news page (like this one), please click on the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand side of this web-page and then write in your email address.
(Your address is always kept private and never notified to any third party)

Battle in the library!

Welcome once again to our monthly update of news from Blythe Library Centre. As usual, there is so much going on, we could really do with a lot more space – but, at least we will give you the highlights.
(For a full list of what’s on over the next few weeks at the centre, please click on our events page).

Battle of Britain in the library

First, we’re all looking forward to the return of professional actor Nicholas Collett. His one-man show as Shakespeare was truly one of the outstanding events at the library last year.

Spitfire Solo posterNicholas returns this year with another one-man show, in which he plays a retired World War Two pilot re-living his memories of the conflict.
But, as well as remembering the heroism and the losses, and the camaraderie and the love of the times, there is a twist. Our man also slowly realises he has some unfinished business… and he must find the resilience to do what must be done.

The power of one-man theatre is its intimacy and the way it can take us on flights of imagination. So, blending all that with music and film and fabulous acting as Nicholas does, this production, of ‘Spitfire Solo’, is definitely well worth the admission price!

The show takes place in the evening of Saturday, 27th April (doors open 7pm). We recommend this show for adults and older children (11+).
Don’t forget that you can buy tickets (cost £10) online through TicketSource, as well as at our desk…

Children’s vote

Reading is so important for young people. Those who miss out will face great difficulties in later life, so anything to keep youngsters interested is worth its weight in gold.
Staffordshire’s ‘Young Teen Fiction Book Award 2019’ is a project aimed at encouraging KS3 pupils (age 11-14) to vote for one of six books as a favourite of theirs.
The six books are not just popular titles, they are extremely well-written too, so they are a treat to read!

They are: * The Buried Crown by Ally Sherrick; * The Boy Who Lied by Kim Slater; * The Colour of the Sun by David Almond ; * All Rights Reserved by Gregory Scott Katsoulis* My Box Shaped Heart by Rachael Lucas; * The Erth Dragons New Age by Chris D’Lacy.

Children have until almost the end of June to vote online, so there is plenty of time.
We should have most of these titles in stock, but, if not, we’ll be happy to order them in for you, free of charge. Just ask at the desk – or reserve them through your own personal library account online.


Once again, the dreaded Easter holidays are almost upon us. Parents, we sympathise!Crafts case at Blythe Bridge LibraryHowever, don’t forget our ‘crafts’ case (see pic above).
Every hour that we are open, parents and/or guardians can drop in and use the contents of the case to keep their little ones happy and amused. We provide the space and the table, you provide the kids!

Available are activities such as painting a mug or money box; designing the look of key-rings and masks; making up fabrics into hand puppets etc; or just using your imagination with a Rubik’s cube or biff-bat. And more…
The activity is free, but you need to pay for the materials (which you can then walk away with) – costs range from 50p to £2.50.


Finally, congratulations to our friends – the volunteers of The Cheadle Community Information and Resource Group – who have now taken over the running of Cheadle Library.

Staffordshire County Council has slowly been putting most of its branch libraries under community supervision. In fact, we here at Blythe went ‘community-managed’ some years ago (see The Story of Blythe Centre); and now, as was expected, Cheadle also is being run by volunteers.
This means that volunteer libraries are now in the majority in this county.

It’s a good reminder that, without volunteers, most libraries would close.
So, please, if you have a few hours a week, why not think about spending them with us? We are a very friendly bunch, honest.
For more details, just click on our Get Involved page, or enquire at the desk, or email You won’t regret it.

~ ~ ~
If you would like an email once a month to alert you to the fact that we have just published our latest news page (like this one), please click on the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand side of this web-page and then write in your email address.
(Your address is always kept private and never notified to any third party)

Reading, art & jobs advice

Hope you are all looking forward to Spring. It’s amazing how fast everything warms up each year – already the snowdrops are fading and the daffodils are pushing through!
In this post we mention: our most popular book; affordable art; the archives group; and the weekly careers service session.

Life, Death & Vanilla Slices

Many of us know Jenny Éclair from her appearances on television in ‘Grumpy Old Women’ and ‘Loose Women’. She can be laugh-out-loud funny in what she says.
But she is also a writer, with three successful books under her belt.

Jenny Eclair

Jenny Eclair

Her books certainly appeal to readers at Blythe Centre.
Her 2012 novel ‘Life, Death and Vanilla Slices’ is far-and-away the book that has been borrowed the most lately.

The interesting thing is that it is not a ‘funny’ book as such (though there are some very funny moments) but a dark, honest and heart-wrenching story about family secrets that are kept hidden (for a good reason).

The book review website GoodReads gives it an amazing 4.2 stars out of five, which just shows our readers know what they’re doing!

Art for everyone

The recent exhibition at the centre of paintings by local artist Pat Bradshaw has shown that good art is pretty much available to all.
It was a pleasure to spend an hour just studying Pat’s pictures; and then quite a surprise to realise how affordable they are – with prices starting as low as £30 and never being much more than £50.

Pat Bradshaw paintings

Pat Bradshaw paintings

The reason for the inexpensive prices is that many local artists – some of whom are very talented indeed – would rather that their works went to a good home than have an expensive price-tag attached to them and never get sold.

The centre’s art-wall is a very popular point of exposure for many local artists and crafters – so it gets booked up quite heavily, especially as it costs just £15 a month to hire. However, ask at the desk if you are interested in a slot too.

Advice for workers

It was quite a coup for us to get the The Careers Service to put on a monthly session at the centre. Not all libraries are so fortunate.

National Careers Service at Blythe posterHowever, the advisors can counsel visitors on more than just what vacancies are around.  In fact, most of the work they do is actually in supporting people.

They have specialist skills in supporting older people look for work (it’s not just for kids!); and for single parents too, with advice on how to get good child-care and still be able to work at the same time. Similarly for anyone with special educational needs or disability.
One area of need that seems to be cropping up more and more is support for those who are actually still in work but face the real possibility of redundancy. Advisors can show them how they can claim time to look for work…
Beyond that is the kind of help so many of us need: like, how to write a good CV.
And… do you feel you lack enough skills for the job market? Well, IT and digital training is another part of the service.

Whatever question you have will be dealt with sympathetically and in confidence – even those sensitive ones like ‘must I reveal any previous criminal convictions?’. Getting the answer right to simple questions like that can often be the key to getting and holding down a job.

The session is an open one and is held once a week on Friday mornings. If you want a private interview, just ask, and a room will be found.

Busy busy

If you ever come in on Monday evening (when we are open until 7pm), you’ll notice a busy group of people in one corner surrounded by storage boxes.
This is the ‘Blythe Colour Works Archive group’; and they are busy sifting through all the material left behind when the famous Blythe Colour Works finally closed down its Cresswell factory a number of years ago. They identify and label what they find.

Here at Blythe Centre, we agreed to store the archive – about thirty boxes worth of stuff, from enamels to documents – so that it could have a local home.

Blythe Centre Colours Archive

Blythe Centre Colours Archive is held in both filing cabinets and boxes

The group is led by Ivan Wozniak (many of us will know him through his work with the Cheadle History Group), who himself was employed at the Colour Works for many years. So he knows what he’s doing…!
One of those working alongside Ivan is our very own Gill Crowther, who volunteers at the library five hours a week. Gill also was employed at the Colour Works for many years.
If you want to help with the  – and you don’t have to know anything about colour processes! – just have a chat with Gill next time you see her.

~ ~ ~
If you would like an email once a month to alert you to the fact that we have just published our latest news page (like this one), please click on the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand side of this web-page and then write in your email address.
(Your address is always kept private and never notified to any third party)