Stoke’s Top 10 Student Secrets
About twenty minutes down the A500 there’s a museum and experience that covers the most important part of Stokes history, pottery. The factory tours cover over 250 years of skill and technique that goes into Wedgwood pottery; if this is the reason you came to Stoke for university then this is the place you want to check out.
Even if you’re not the Picasso of ceramics, it’s still a great day out; you can go shopping for newly made items from the factory or simply visit just for the tea room, it’s always good to just get away from normal student life.
About the same distance as World of Wedgwood, Trentham Estate offer a very similar catharsis, but with more nature. The gardens are one of the most gorgeous places I’ve ever walked around, the perfect place to relax after a work intensive week. If the gardens don’t sound too appealing then don’t worry, there’s a little something for everyone.
If you want something with a bit more thrill, then the estate covers that too. Aerial Extreme is a high wire course that takes you into the tall trees around the estate, depending on your tolerance for heights you can choose between 3 and 14 meters off the ground.
Need a reason to spend more time with current friends, new flatmates, or maybe a new group? Escape Stoke, right in the middle of Hanley, has you covered. With three different escape rooms of varying difficulty you’ll have 60 minutes to solve your way out with a group of friends, and more coming on their way there’s more than enough reason to get a bunch of you together and go solve some puzzles.
The current rooms include a Da Vinci Code inspired room, in which stealing the Holy Grail is the goal; an Area 51 room to find the truth behind extra-terrestrial life; and a Harry Potter inspired puzzle to finish your final magical exams. There are currently three more rooms planned for 2018 so it’s probably best to get some practice in now with your team.
20 minutes again, a lot of these things are twenty minutes away, is another nice nature area to blow off some steam in, Whitfield Valley is another beautiful place for scenery. Filled with meadows, ponds and the Ford Green Brook provide a catharsis that is almost unbeatable; the reedbed is a Site of Special Scientific Interest if that takes your fancy. Bird watchers will also enjoy the area as it boasts water birds, partridges and kestrels.
For the more nerdy crowd there’s a place where literally everything you could ever want in a shop exists. Forbidden Planet may not exactly be unknown to some of the more dedicated, more casual fans may be unaware of the majesty of such a shop. Comic books, board games, Pop! Figures, anything you need to prove your love to a fanbase, it’ll be here.
Downstairs you’ll have all of your toys, throw them on your desk to keep you company while throwing out assignments at 3am. Upstairs is comics of almost anything you could want and board games both mainstream and obscure.
In comparison to Forbidden Planet, this little independent shop only sells board games, but with such passion that I almost feel bad when I don’t find what I’m looking for. Above an art shop in Hanley, “Guys That Game” is honestly the best place I’ve ever been for board games, card games and table-top RPGs, whether you’re new to the hobby or experienced beyond belief, these guys will find you what you’re looking for.
Now, when I bring up a restaurant chain in this list you might be a little taken aback, but this belongs on the list for one simple reason: £8.50 king size plate. A plate the size of my head and all the food I could fit on it will make my day under any circumstances, but for under a tenner, it makes my week. The Toby Carvery offers the largest roast dinner under the sun for a price that students can handle. If you and your housemates want a nice evening out for a birthday or other special event, this is the one; especially when a cab only costs around £1 per person.
Mellor Top Floor
This one’s less around the area of the university and instead inside the university itself. The top floor of the Mellor building, the Computing, Engineering and Sciences building, has one of the best common rooms I’ve ever seen. Do work with a group on the sofas in the back corners of the room or around some of the tables in the room.
The beauty of it? There are six TVs along the sides of the room with HDMI connections, throw a games console in there, grab some controllers and play some games together. If there’s space or the room isn’t in use, you could even hook it up to the humongous 3 by 3 TV setup at the front of the room; literally one of the most entertaining experiences I’ve had with flatmates.
The Hive is probably something you’ve seen while walking around Hanley, but never actually realised what it was. An extension to the potteries in the centre of town with a Cineworld, Nando’s, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, and a bunch of other food stores. If you’ve just had a day hitting the other stores on this list, then end your day on a full stomach. Literally every restaurant in the building does amazing food, and if you’ve managed to miss any of them in your life so far then hit them up, you won’t regret it.
Everyone knows about the Potteries in Hanley, they aren’t the secret here. The real secret is in the basement, the independent markets are full of small little shops that are absolutely worth visiting. Costume shops are the most prevalent, very useful when there’s an impromptu costume party you need supplies for; a lovely little store called Obsolete Gaming also lives down in the markets, with old school gaming gear and arcade machines to set high scores on. The whole market is great to wander around for a bit if you’re just killing time, but every shop definitely has its uses.
Before coming to Stoke for university I didn’t know about any one of these places, now that I’ve lived here for just over a year I honestly don’t know how I’d cope without them. I’d recommend all of the spots on this list to literally anyone reading it, use this as a quick intro to the area and head out and see everything the town has to offer.
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