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the Barn Pottery is just outside Moretonhampstead, in a little valley, north Dartmoor, and it’s surrounded by beautiful views and walks. mostly quite steep walks. I used to find I would feel fitter after a week there crewing for Nic, but this time I didn’t have time – or energy – for much walking,

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just up the lane and down the lane a short way, narrow lanes walled and filled with greenery, a lot of fern and bracken especially.

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oak, sycamore, alder, horse chestnut, hazels – a tree-ed landscape. especially stunning is the drive from Exeter, if you take the non-heavy vehicles road, which takes you down into wooded valleys, up onto rounded grassy hilltops, and along roads that overhang rivers, lined with trees.

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my big tent, a ditch in front, and the stream on the left, that borders Nic and Sabine’s little field

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their house is a small barn that Nic started to convert as he moved in; it’s gradually been changed over the years, so that instead of the workshop being downstairs, there’s now a living room, and an upstairs bathroom, and the workshop is in a separate cob building (cob is mud and straw, a traditional material supported by a wood frame) with student/visitor accommodation above that. their deerhound puppy Bryn

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and old Rhodey the lurcher

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enjoy their outdoor life, spreading themselves outside in the sun, curling up in sheltered spots in inclement weather, and joining the family around the fire indoors or out.

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if you visit you will find pots everywhere; Nic uses his drive as a showroom, and Sabine’s domestic wares snuggle up with his rugged pieces.

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Nic is well known for Throwing Large and his big, and even huge, jars stand about everywhere

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but he also makes quieter work, small bowls with leaves imprinted into slip (an old Devon decorative technique)

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and jugs and mugs with these lovely blackbird and blackberry sprigs

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recently branching out into large tiles using the same sprigs.

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nothing is precious here, and Nic and Sabine taught me that using beautiful handmade pots everyday in the kitchen and on the table is a life-enhancing thing to do. the first time I went they had a set of 6 earthenware plates by Clive Bowen, with his glowing yellowy translucent ochre glaze, not thrown but pressed, thick with a shallow curve. there are two left now.

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perhaps a giant paella? but this one is destined to live outside on a specially made oak stand in Suffolk ….

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you can see more of Nic and his work here  and Sabine here