Wandering around Longton, I realised that the Pot Banks that we often pass by as part of the town are quite unusual outside of Stoke. It is probably true to say that Longton has more Bottle Ovens than any other place on Earth. The old style pottery kilns, fired by coal are a thing of the past, now that the industry uses electric kilns. At one point in the Town you can stand and count 14 of these Bottle Ovens without moving. Locally, the pottery kilns are called Pot Banks.
Most of the surviving bottle ovens are protected by preservation orders as part of the Potteries Heritage. There used to be hundreds of them at the height of the industry, belching out smoke and fumes at every street. Black ash would settle everywhere. Nowadays, stoke has very clean air as all of the potteries are electrically powered. Interestingly, Stoke-on-Trent also has several parks and open spaces in the city, with a number of nature reserves on the outskirts. It also boasts a lot of canals and excellent tourist facilities.
We are a step closer to releasing the Starling. It has flown the length of the Garage, eaten bread and biscuits on its own, drank from the water bowl and been able to turn around on its perch. It has not yet mastered berries. I suspect a ceremonial release will be in order soon. We have been putting the cage "cat box with a perch" out in the garden for the fresh air and the view of passing birds.