After a great weekend celebrating Dad's 60th birthday with family and friends I am off for a couple of weeks to try and continue my county challenge. Over the next 10 days I am going to go down the west of England right down to Lands End and then along the south coast to Dorset / Sussex.

So today was the longest drive of the break right across the country. After a couple of hours I needed some petrol (a bargain at 94p a litre which should make any American readers slightly happier, that would work out at $6.93 a gallon for you guys) and a drink. While I was sat reading the paper I got a call on the mobile and I must have forgotten to pick it up off the table afterwards because when I got to Stoke I couldn't find it. Assuming it was a lost cause (and rather angry at myself as my phone also had a 1gb SD card, all my diary and contacts in it) I have now got a temporary replacement under the insurance policy until I get home. So if you need to speak to me in the next couple of weeks please use my new number: 07875 965497. I am not having good luck with phones at the moment am I?

Anyway it gave me an opportunity to have a look around Stoke city centre. For some reason I had assumed it would be a nice place but it's pretty run down and industrial. But the countryside immediately outside is very nice, especially on the way to the Wedgewood pottery factory which I took a tour around. Very interesting.