Well, I’m having a busy week. As well as packing, buying things to pack, and working out how to pack up my room, more people than usual keep ringing me up and emailing me, to see me before I go. Today I started putting some of my things in the attic here. I’ll need a few more boxes, and it’s not clear how to get them in modern supermarkets (I’m feeling my age!).

I fly out on Sunday, in the middle of the day, and change planes in Dubai and Bangkok. We’ll be in Bangkok for a few hours, as it is a separate flight not a through ticket. This is of course very dull information for you, so instead I’ll tell you about pottery.

On Monday I went to visit my friend Ali (Ben’s girlfriend) at work. She’s a potter, she makes pots. She works in a shed down the bottom of the garden, and has some wonderful porcelain clay. I finally found out the terminology of pottery. Porcelain and earthenware are different types of clay, and are also used to describe the pots made from that clay. Ceramic is a more general word for any fired pot, no matter what the clay is made of. Glazing is interesting. Basically, a pot is solid but porous after its first baking (called biscuit phase). Glaze is a really dilute clay suspension in water, which you dunk the pot in. When you heat it, the pot underneath sucks the water out of the glaze, leaving its the suspension.

The atmosphere was great, very peaceful working, with the last rays of sun in the garden. I had a go at throwing (moulding on a spinning wheel with your hands) a pot. It was very much like trying to catch a wild animal, or perhaps seduce a wild girl. You have to be controlled, firm, but very exact and gentle with the pot. The slightest mistake and it bit at me, breaking a part into an irretrievable mess. Apparently porcelain clay is very unforgiving. After several goes of making my pot smaller and smaller, in the end it completely vanished.

Ali makes great cups, jugs, bowls and other things, and sells them to shops which seem to be all over the country. Buy some if you see them!

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