Licenced To Krill

145. CMACS (Centre for Marine and Coastal Studies Ltd)

When canvassing potential recruits to work within our Mugspotters Empire one of the interview questions is: “Who is the best James Bond?” You don’t even have to explain why but if the answer is Sir Roger Moore, you’re through to the assessment centre. Such is the esteem with which we adore the JB franchise and in particular Sir Roger himself. For so long we’ve been aching to shoehorn some serious 007 action into this blog and this is the day, courtesy of CMACS.
There are so many parallels which you could draw on with 1977’s “The Spy Who Loved Me“, which has an aquatic theme courtesy of arch-villain Stromberg & his vision for an underwater city but today we are focusing  more on CMAC’s vital work here. If you peruse their website, it’s a wondrous insight into marine work you just simply take for granted and never believed existed, such as Krill Certification, Marine Mammal Management & Benthic Environmental Monitoring. As in the true tradition of Bond double-entendres, CMACS also partner the wonderfully named ‘Dong Energy’. (Ed – Don’t go there!)
But what of the mug that’s brought us here. The subject matter is so rich you’d be forgiven for overlooking it. At first glance it’s your common-or-garden Sparta but just marvel at its jutting lip! Almost Jaggeresque in stature, this benefits hot beverage consumption no end. And that brings us nicely to the Mugspotters drink of choice, Tea. Two sugars, stirred not shaken.



THE James Bond. Licenced To Kill.

Better Living Through Chemistry

140. CIBA

This is a super-fantastic addition to our annals for a couple of reasons.
1/  It’s only the second time such a mug features what appears to be a Competition Winner’s artwork on it. Hardened Spotters will not need reminding of Bolton Metro’s joyous ‘Into the Future Together‘ effort.
This Sparta’s outrageous rear features one stunning Caroline Butler original illustration executed in Pencil Crayon & Felt tip. Included is a test tube and the word “21st”, which we guess means CIBA are driving chemical research into this century. No indication is given to the age of Ms Butler when this was laid down on canvass.
Upon rotating this confident & toned Sparta, it’s all a bit down hill from there but it does include a full colour logo for CIBA, indicating no expense has been spared on the production.
Ciba 1 Ciba 2
2/ This was shot on location in an actual Charity Shop. (Hence the hand-action). Opting not to purchase, this was captured for ‘evaluation’ purposes and in effect we are actually putting this ‘in the virtual shop window’. If you live in the vicinity of the boho artisan township of Chorlton, Manchester, this should be residing in one of their 3 Charity shops and can be yours for around the 80p mark. The catch though is that if you buy you’ll be charged £5 for a hemp carrier bag to put it in.
According to the Information Super Highway, CIBA was a chemical company based in and near Basel, Switzerland and it’s initials stand for “Chemische Industrie Basel” (Chemical Industries Basel). It was formed as the non-pharmaceuticals element of Novartis but was  spun out in 1997, following the merger in the previous year of Ciba-Geigy and Sandoz that created Novartis. (This is starting to read like the script of “Clash of the Titans!”)
In 2008, Ciba was acquired by the German chemical company BASF and in April 2009, integrated into the BASF group. Whatever.
All we know is that there’s scant mention of a UK outlet for CIBA on the Net save for one archaic location in Macclesfield, which isn’t a million miles away from Bo-ho central, Chorlton. (Please click this link for a good laugh!)

My interest however was piqued at the reference to BASF. Most of my misspent youth was taken up listening to vinyl and “Killing Music” by making compilation and mix tapes, which in bygone times was an ideal way of wooing a potential mate. I always found The Smiths worked as opposed to Barry White.

No. Simon Cowell is killing music!

No. Simon Cowell is killing music!

Basf tape 1 ba

Cool, Calm & Collected

136. U.M.S.A

I recently undertook a scouting mission to Aberystwyth, (twinned with Hinterland) mid-Wales and Mugspotters are excited to bring you the first of 2 quite stunning trade mugs. (Please check back soon, the second posting is imminent..)

Mug Numero Uno carries the good old “Keep Calm and (insert message here)” theme, which was so popular in World War 2 and for some reason again in 2013. This teasing, plunging Sparta implores us to ‘K C + Get Advice’.

Upon spinning it round it reveals what I first thought was ‘OUMSA’ which prompted a spontaneous outburst of the Ooompah-Loompah song but in fact the ‘O’ is a thought bubble.(Durr)
U.M.S.A. is the University (Of) Medways’ Student Association.
This particular function offers advice and support to students with ‘needs’ such as, but not limited to:

Visual impairments
Hearing impairments
Asperger’s Syndrome, ASD
Mobility difficulties and physical impairments
Medical conditions or chronic illness
Dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADD, ADHD or another Specific Learning Difficulty
Mental health concerns
Epilepsy or neurological conditions
Speech or communication difficulties
Temporary disabilities (e.g. broken wrist)
Eating disorders, anxiety, depression
Addictions to weird porcelain-centric trade artifact websites (OK I made that one up…)

There is a bristling 16-page PDF drifting round the internet packed with all the info you’ll ever need to know, although I must say I was angered and distressed that from a diversity and equality point of view, I couldn’t see that there was a braille or audio copy available!
Then I remembered, ‘Keep Calm’, so on went the kettle resulting in a nice relaxing beverage.

Epilogue: Do any of you remember this classic Mugspotters entry?
Christmas Mug 1

The Great Charity Shop Swindle

126. Linda Gill Nurseries

First, let me get this off my chest. I paid £1.49 for this. It’s the most I’ve ever paid for a charity shop salvage item. ( I believe they term this “bric-a-brac”) The charity will remain nameless plus I don’t want to give them any free advertising on this already traffic-heavy  blog but despite trying to aid a good cause, they are bang out of order. I have been in this particular shop before and seen another over-priced mug but chose not to buy purely because of their deluded pricing policy. Sadly in the case of this sensational Sparta for the Linda Gill Nursery Group, my heart ruled my head and so it’s with some caution it now finds fame on our site.

Gill 3

Gill 4
It looks a ‘dated’ item. There’s no web address, so it may even be pre-internet. 2 branches are mentioned with a boastful “The Nursery to Go to” / “The Group That’s Going Places” slogans aborning its pert derriere.
– Greenmount?: That’s a poor mans Summerseat.
– Factory St, Ramsbottom?: The kids probably went straight from’t nursery t’factory!

Nurseries & schools are an emotive subject and everyone wants their little Johnny or Mary to go the best one to gain a decent education. Due to the desperate nature of the pleading/boasting on the mug, it seems Linda Gills imagined themselves at the top of the tree in the locality of Bury North End.
What is puzzling though is an internet search in 2015 reveals nothing of the nurseries in the present day but there are covert mentions of ‘Linda Gill’ but it’s all very low-key and there is no direct web prescence other than a mention of a nursery in Bury town centre. Less can sometimes mean more but this is strangely at odds with the over-enthusiastic boasting on the mug.
Anyway, must go now, the bell’s just rung for break time.

Learning The Hard Way

124. Halton Borough Council

More on-location spotting here brought to you courtesy of our Merseyside Branch.  (They really should get danger-money!)
The Mug is unspectacular. It’s a single colour-on-white bread Sparta but what’s striking here is the bold decision on the use of the typeface. Yes, it’s the font everyone loves to hate, Comic Sans. One saving grace is that at least it’s not in italic!

Comic sans Halton 1

It takes some cahonies to go out there with this!  Maybe using such lightweight & childish font is aiming at the demographic who do want to brush up on “there maffs ‘n’ inglish skillz.”
Even the South face of the mug bears a primitive exercise book which looks to me like something they’d teach you in Hogwarts.
I suppose in this day and age you can probably get by in life without learning to read or write because we have technology now where you can just ask questions, no matter how stupid:
“Err Google, what is the colour of a zebra?”
“Err Google, err, is that my elbow at the top of my legs?”
“Err Google, err. where is my err toilet….” (you get the picture)
Anyway those of you who prefer social intercourse & want to avail yourselves of Halton Borough Councils Services can call them on the number listed on the mug, providing you can at least read it.
If not, why not go off & have a chat with your Android Tablet or iPad.

Halton council 1

Halton council 2

Fins Ain’t What They Used To Be

115. Tetra: Bringing People & Fish Together For 50 Years

First things first.
Just who in the world of promotional earthenware thought it was a good idea to print Gold on Dark Blue?

Tetra 1 Tetra 3
We’re well over 100 mugspots now and I can no longer hide my feelings on this subject. I have to say this is the worst print combo ever! You all know now how much I live for salvaging mugs from rescue centres & charity shops and swear as I picked this specimen up out of a heap of discarded dreck, my first thoughts were not “Yes! That’s another one in the bag for Mugspotters” but rather it was ” Oh no! Gold on Dark Blue! How am I ever gonna get a decent photo of this?”
And so I had mixed emotions over this low-key Sparta. It’s a good thing the subject matter is so rich & ripe for analysis & reaction.  I love the way Tetra are coming on like they’re some sort of Gilla Black (Blind Date anyone?..) or an aquatic/human niche variant of   Bringing People and fish together for 50 years.
In what way exactly?

I can just see the ad now….

Man seeks fish. Has own plaice. Well eeled with grey mullet. Hard of herring but still has an ear for a good tuna. Loves to dance, especially ‘The Conger’. No time wasters. Won’t take carp (sic) from anyone. Seeks similar, but with gills. (Ed – That’s enough!)

This kind of man/fish perversion is nothing new.
Back in the 70’s Stan Lee did it in comic form with “Sub-Mariner” and in the same decade Patrick (webbed-hands) Duffy, hot on the heels of his Dallas heart-throb stint, crawled ashore as the ‘Man From Atlantis’.

Sub-Mariner  man from atlantis

And just to address the gender quota, you know mermaids are real anyway. They date back to 1984 when Daryl Hannah was washed up in ‘Splash’. Actually she wasn’t totally washed up until 2008 when she stooped to star in ‘Shark Swarm‘.

Shark Swarm
But sea-riously, Tetra are still THE name in fish food & accessories for all your Pond, Terraristic & Aquatic needs.
Pity about the mug though.

Tetra Logo

Das Mug

113. Volkswagen / Smith Knight Fay


Spotted camper-ing out on a work station, we couldn’t “Passat” “Up” this opportunity to bring you this sensational Sparta for Volkswagen (translated as ‘The Peoples Car’), courtesy of Smith Knight Fay, Hyde Greater Manchester. You’d be hard pressed to find a more iconic and instantly recognisable logo anywhere on Planet Earth.
Founded in Germany, 1937 it began trading as a luxury car brand but once Hitler annexed the company (the same he did with a few countries) he ordered the churning out of cars for the people and the rest is, as they say, history.
Despite it’s murky origins, VW continues to be a world-famous brand and the Golf, Passat & Beetle are amongst the 10 most popular cars on the road today. I’m no VW aficionado but one of their most iconic vehicles is the VW Camper and especially the ‘Holy Grail’ Split-screen model. If you have never been in a Split-screen camper, for effect, here is the mug as seen from the front seat of that very vehicle.

VW split screen

Come Fly With Me

110. Airtours International

Having cut your teeth on Caravan Holidays, there inevitably comes a day when the kids are a bit older and you decide you just have to leave this fair isle for 10 days or so for warmer, sunnier, all-inclusive climes.
I don’t mind flying (or being flown) as a rule but it’s the stresser that is the “Airport Experience” that grates me. The ungodly hour you arrive at the terminal, the kranky kids, the heavy suitacases, the passports in your mouth, faffing about with printed boarding passes, the agonising suitcase weigh-in…  You’ve already spent umpteen attempts weighing them at home on bathroom scales and hand-held gadgets costing three quid at B & M, but there’s still the element of agonising doubt as you plonk your case on the scales and see the digital display race up to but settle just before your allotted KG allowance is breached. (phew)
Then you’re on to another snaking queue to be body scanned for metals, liquids or shoe bombs, scissors in pencil cases etc.
Then you are fleeced at an airside Burger King outlet who levy and extra £4 on every menu item just for the privilege of you flying. (Don’t even get me started on Duty Free..)
After about 3 hours of utter stress and mither you finally board the plane and at long last, r-e-l-a-x. Now your holiday has truly begun.

To commemorate Airtours International, we bring you this ripped gun-metal grey on bleu foncé Sparta. I recall Airtours having a huge call centre up in Helmshore,(Twinned with ‘The Land that Time Forgot‘) Lancashire in the nineties. A big employer it was too but they eventually went into liquidation only to be swallowed up by Thomas Cook t/a MyTravel.
All that’s left up Helmshore now is Musberry Fabrics, the Textile Museum and it’s own micro-climate of mist and drizzle. (mizzle)

Chocs away Mugspotters!

Chocs away Mugspotters!

A Guilty Pleasure

107. DWF Solicitors

Camera phones are wonderful things but I have to apologise for the quality of this Mugfie. It looks like a ‘Leaning Tower of Pizza’ (Hmm Pizza..) effect has been applied to the shot but I swear this is how it came out of the can with no tinkering.
This was a true guerrilla-style mugspot. It appeared on an office desk one day and the next day I swear it was gone! I was so glad we spotted it when we did!
On first glance I thought this lustrous black Sparta said OWF (by virtue of a jaunty ‘W’) but once common-sense kicked in, the scales fell from my eyes and “DWF” was revealed.
DWF are “.. The legal business where legal expertise, industry knowledge and leading-edge technologies converge, helping your business go further.”
Legal firms are never ones to refrain from blowing their own trumpet but their web-blurb brags:
June 2014 – Were independently ranked  in the top 5 law firms for graduates
April 2014 – Named the most active Legal advisor in the North West
March 2014 – Is the 1st UK Law firm to be ‘ClearAssured’
July 2014 –  Were independently ranked in the Top 3 Law firms for employee satisfaction.
July 2014 – A DWF Lawyer wins Young Enterprise Gold Award
You could lose yourself for hours in their website which has tons of photos of staff to pour over, boiler-plate cliches by the bucket-load and much ‘Buzzword Bingo’ to play along to. It’s a ‘Guilty’ Pleasure, M’Lord.

Lean on me

Lean on me

If At First You Don’t Succeed

106.  Right1stTime

I must admit we are occasionally gifted earthenware without any back-story or by your leave, and so I set about tasking the Mugspotters Research Team to trawl the net and trace the brand or organisation responsible for bestowing their earthenware trinket on the working public. This time however, we are defeated, nay deflated, as well.
We’re stumped. No end of searches on the name or strapline returns anything that sounds vaguely associated with where I believe it was salvaged from, which was the Utilities Arena.
Perhaps we can try researching it’s Family (Mug) Tree...(Groan)

And so we are left with this top-heavy, 2-colour on white Sparta. I so wanted to give this ‘John Doe’ the write up it so truly deserves. I can only hope someone visits our humble site or Twidder account, recognises this brand or organisation and kindly furnishes us with some more details.

Rest assured, as soon as we hear anything, you, our dear Spotters, will be the first to know.

Right1sttime 1