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

An Ideal For Living

101. Equity Homes

Well, this all feels a lot like a case of ‘After The Lord Mayors Show’. The Mugspotters Office is carnage. The place is strewn with party poppers, Burger King litter, the odd Radlers bottle & a smattering of Trade Mugs. Several colleagues are slumped over their desks barely conscious. Others lollop around like extras from the Walking Dead. There has been some hard partying since we posted our 100th Mug. I’m sure you’ll
all agree that just like the Ambassador and his Ferrero Rochers, we’ve been spoiling you of late. There have been some truly epic mugspots posted over these past few weeks but we know, it’s only now that the hard work begins again, ensuring we continue bringing you  top earthenware treats. Complacency is the enemy.
So after much hullabaloo, parity is restored in the shape of this well-turned Sparta for Equity Homes.
This is more like it. A return to the mundane. An obscure brand sat floating on a classic white backdrop with a bolstering ‘Inspired Living’ strapline on its hind quarters.
Equity Homes .. (insert boiler plate mission statement that has to include the word ‘Communities’ – otherwise now referred to as The ‘C’ Word)
…are is based in Stockport, managing high quality homes for rent and
shared ownership across a number of areas.By providing homes and high value services we improve the quality of lives for 4,700 households.
We provide the secure foundation for people to realise their potential. With the development of the Equity Foundation, the positive impact that the Group is having on communities and peoples lives continues to increase.
Their website even has a cool interactive feature where you can ‘Ask Amy’ (quite what I’m not sure?)

Hi Amy. Do You come here often? What are you wearing? How can I kick my Candy Crush addiction?

Hi Amy. Do You come here often? What are you wearing?
How can I kick my Candy Crush addiction?

However there is late-breaking news from the Equity website:
“We’d like to remind all our customers that between 1st May and 30th September, we operate a Summer Months Emergency Policy. It means that during this time, having no hot water and no heating is not classed as a 24 hour emergency.”
So if you’re in this boat, advise you to drink cordial and suck extra strong mints for warmth.

An Equitable mug

An Equitable mug

Equity 2

Who Ya Gonna Call?

99. Siltbuster

If there’s something mucky in your water supply? Who Ya gonna call?
I so dearly wanted to make this the 100th mug posted on our humble blog but I’ll just have to keep you in suspense a little longer for that unknown pleasure. Believe me it will be worth the wait….

However this mug is just immense. Only The Sparta is man enough to carry the all-action wrap-around branding. The ‘busy’ Orange-on-Blue is a optically challenging (and perhaps just reminds me a tad of a Buzzcocks badge I had when I was a lad)
It is mesmeric though. You just can’t take your eyes off it.

Siltbuster are… the UK’s leading authority on water treatment, wet waste and the prevention of waterborne pollution from construction sites. We offer an unrivalled range of solutions for silt management and the prevention, control and treatment of water contamination.
They can provide solutions to manage; Oil/Water Separation, Concrete Washwater, ph Correction, Slurry Dewatering, Chemical Dosing and Material Separation.

If you check their site out, there’s more. They have another division called GRITBUSTER. I can only hope they see this entry and gift me one of those mugs as well!
In addition to the usual elevations, I’ve shot a 3-in-one portrait as well to try and do this epic mug justice.

silt 1

silt 2

silt 3

Silt 4 Buzzcocks

School’s Out

93.  George Tomlinson School: Bolton 1953 – 2010

And in 2010 it was indeed ‘School’s Out’ for good for the George Tomlinson School, formerly of Bolton.
It’s interesting that a one-colour Sparta should be commissioned to commemorate a schools passing. The motif itself is pretty sombre (and almost printed straight!) and as opposed to ‘Trade’ this one breezes onto Mugspotters by virtue of our more inclusive policy for commemorative trinkets, under the clause that no one without an affiliation to such an organisation would ever be interested in procuring such an item, that is unless you’re into collecting unloved and abandoned earthenware and placing them on the internet for immortality!
March 2007 saw the beginning of the end for G.T.S. when it was given a ‘Notice To Improve’ by H M’s Inspectors. After managing to steady the ship over the next year, 2008’s GCSE results saw only 30% of pupils achieving 5 or more GCSEs at Grade C or above, including English and Maths, which was well below the average for Bolton schools, which was 45% but in 2009 G.T.S.’s average plummeted to 21%. By now the writing was truly on the toilet walls and it finally closed its doors a year later.


30 R.P.M. (Revolutions Per Mug)

91. Piccadilly Records

Nowadays people under the age of 20 are unfamiliar with buying music in a physical format. It’s all MP3 or streaming but there are still independent music retailers who have weathered the technological storm and are still trading, Piccadilly Records is one of them.
Being a native Mancunian I spent a lot of cash  & time in the eighties & nineties in this shop and fondly remember when they were based at Piccadilly Plaza in town before it moved to Brown Street. I bought many discs covering Post-Punk, Factory, Indie-Pop, Goth, 4AD etc etc…At one time there was even a Piccadilly Box Office (a tiny booth in store) where you could buy concert tickets!
They are still going strong today, situated on Oldham Street, in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, which is in my opinion the last remaining piece of the city centre retaining any sort of architectural character and identity.
If you were to visit the said Quarter on what’s known as ‘Record Store Day’, Piccadilly will be responsible for the hundreds of eager collectors & e-bay floggers queuing round the (Eastern) bloc waiting to get their hands on new & exclusive releases!

Unearthed in the Lake District this Sparta commemorates PR’s 30th Anniversary. Maths isn’t my strong suite but if they were founded in 1978, if you add 30 to that, then this mug dates back to 2008. I particularly like the use of a 45RPM single adaptor to replace the zero in “30”.

Anyway, here I am pop-pickers waxing lyrical over music and shopping habits of my youth but I’m aware this mug fires up the old ‘Novelty’ versus (Rough) ‘Trade’ debate but Spotters who’ve been with us since the early days recall my controversial ‘Spillers’ post of yore, so it seemed only appropriate to welcome Piccadilly Records to our annals.

If you want to know more, here’s a link to a great piece on the shop from Mixmag: