Amidst all the November frost and fog, it’s good to remember that Christmas is not far away.
But then … terror strikes: what to give as presents that we haven’t given before???
Problem solved: shop at the Blythe Centre Christmas Fair – which takes place in the morning of Saturday November 30th. Admission is free.

This annual fair is so popular that all the stalls sold out within two weeks of our posting the event – so visitors will find lots of local crafts-people’s work on sale, which means you’ll be supporting home-grown businesses too, a real bonus.

The kids are not forgotten either – Santa will be in his grotto (£2.50, gift included) all morning. (Now, what on their seasonal wish-lists will they be asking him for?)

Find out more about this event and dozens of others at the centre on our Events Page


Congratulations to Rosemary Conner & Lisa Culligan of our writers’ group. The creative pair submitted work to the Potteries Flash Fiction Prize this year – and not only had their pieces shortlisted but ended up getting ‘Highly Commended’ awards!  Well done indeed.
You can get a flavour of their work by checking out the library’s display area, where their work is now on show.

The 'Blythe Blockers' logo

The ‘Blythe Blockers‘ logo

The writers’ group that Lisa and Rosemary belong to (and which is known as the ‘Blythe Blockers’) meet every fourth Monday of the month at 5.30pm at the centre; and they always welcome newcomers, of all abilities. Why not give their session a go? You could ‘unblock’ your own talents…

Get with the espanol

One of the depressing things about going abroad is realising that you can’t even read simple signs. There’s no point in swallowing a dictionary of course, but wouldn’t it be nice to be able to order a loaf of bread in a shop?

Well, if you’re ever going to go to Spain, Sophie can help. Her new Spanish conversational sessions are running every Friday at the centre from 11am-12noon, just £1.
Sophie is well-recommended by us – as patient, understanding, and fun!Hablemos Espanol logoSophie, who is very experienced in language teaching, also told us that getting used to another language is not just for travellers. The process of picking up foreign words and phrases is very stimulating for the brain, so, all of us, travellers or not, could get something out of the sessions…
If you are interested in joining Sophie, try to complete the (non-binding) registration form at the library first. (It helps us organise the paperwork!)

Gotta poem?

Incidentally, do you ever feel the urge to put down your feelings in the form of a poem?
Every month we publish a poem written by one of our readers in our monthly digital newsletter.
Send us a poem of yours to and you could see your work in print…

Do you want to comment? Just jot down your thoughts in the Comments Box further down this page

Small efforts – big results

Autumn generally sees the resumption of life-learning after the relaxation of the summer… and here at Blythe, it’s no different! There are nearly a half a dozen new courses now up and running or about to start, and some very special one-off activities booked in.
Check our Activities Page to see all the details.

But first, just a quick reminder of an event that brings direct involvement in the celebrations which have been marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day, a day which saw allied forces storm the coast of France and was the beginning of the end of World War Two.

Vessels of Victory

Vessels of Victory – copyright National Memorial Arboretum

There will be a session in the centre when we are decorating cut-outs of ships – in any design you like! – and these finished artworks will go on to be part of the nationwide Vessels Of Victory exhibition, which is being staged at the National Memorial Arboretum in south Staffordshire until next month.
It’s a wonderful small chance to contribute to the D-Day celebrations, and it will also be fun!
Pencil Monday October 21st into your diary and come along. All welcome.

Could you teach?

We got lots of requests to stage lots of different kinds of classes. Among the subjects most asked after are Sign Language, Ancestry & Family History, and foreign languages.
However, tutors are like gold dust, and hard to come by…

So we are appealing to YOU. Do you have a skill or knowledge that you think you could teach to others? We are not looking for experts, more for amateur enthusiasts who can outline the basics of a subject to a small group – people who can be patient and good listeners, but also able to guide others with a clear plan of approach.
Do you fit this bill? Our activities co-ordinator, Helen, would love to speak to you – so drop in and have a chat…

Welcome Kate

Finally, don’t forget we always welcome volunteers to work on the desk (or in support roles) in the running of the library-centre. You don’t need skills or experience, as there is complete training, and we will try to fit in you in where you’ll feel the most comfortable.
You don’t even need to give us too much of your time, as we only ask a minimum of three hours a week.

One person who has newly joined the team is Kate Bradshaw. Kate is well-known locally through her participation at the church and is also a Draycott village councillor (so you can chat about the current roadworks with her if you like!!).
We are sure Kate will be a great asset to the team, so when you come in next time, please welcome her if you see her…

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!)

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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)