English Immersion Activities in a Post-Covid Landscape

Our English Language School Perthshire just took a day trip to Potfest at Scone Palace

To be clear, our English language school is still closed due to Covid19 restrictions on international travel (come back soon English language learners – we miss you terribly). 

However, our current lack of participants is not going to stop our core teaching team from heading off to an exciting cultural event. Particularly a sunny one set in superb, historical gardens and chock full of artists to talk to. 

Read on for not only a description of Potfest but to find out about Scotland in our post-covid economy.

We dip into mental health and social anxiety – and have lots of advice for both English learning and creative careers.

In this blog, we also ask

  • who came out the pandemic with extra money to spend?
  • who is poorer?
  • who in our society is still missing after months of lockdown?  

Read this blog to find out.

English learners, there is a practice exercise for you at the end!

What is Potfest?

Potfest is a touring festival of ceramics. It’s a nice day out for many, but it’s a really big deal for ceramic artists. This is the most important opportunity of the year for making sales. 

English Language School Perthshire Potfest at Scone Palace
Potfest 2021, Scone Palace


“Over four weekends in summer, Potfest ceramic shows celebrate all things clay. Meet the artists, talk pots and buy directly from the makers. Set in four different locations, each show has its own unique charm, style and energy”.


Potfest website


Promotional film about the 2 Cumbrian Potfests, 2018

Why is an English Language School at a Ceramics Festival?

Blue Noun is a non-traditional English language School based in Perthshire. (It’s more of a language learning hub than a ‘school’).

We specialise in culture-led English language training for all kinds of professionals (including art and design professionals) in small groups of up to 3 language guests at a time.

Potfest is right up our street.

In ordinary times, our guests learn English through ‘Meet the Makers English language immersion experiences.

This means that you meet artists in their studios, and visit galleries and shows, where you will put your professional English into practice.

Our language learners are even invited to workshops with our artist partners.

Ceramicist Ceri White 
Here’s a taster.
A pottery demonstration by ceramics artist Ceri White
Studion visit with Ceri White, 2021
English Language School Perthshire Potfest at Scone Palace
Artist Chiu-I Wu talking to Blue Noun’s Kenny, Potfest 2021, Scone Palace
English Language School Perthshire Potfest at Scone Palace
The amazing Chiu-I Wu Ceramics (we bought a ‘Cornichon Pig‘)

Potfest at Scone Palace, 2021

This year’s Potfest at Scone Palace had perfect timing. Scotland is once more emerging from a Covid19 lockdown.

Infection rates are receding, vaccination rates increasing and as a nation, there are many reasons to feel optimistic about the future.

In the meantime, there is still a myriad of small rules and imperfect fixes cemented across everything, They are all designed to keep us safe, but in the process, create a peculiar and cautious landscape that needs to be navigated very differently.


English Language School Perthshire Potfest at Scone Palace
Our new landscape: welcoming signs to beckon us in; bright colours guide our routes through spaces we once would have wandered absently through.

The Healing Powers of Art


As a culture-starved nation, an arts festival in the sunshine felt as welcome as a drink of water in a desert: the elixir we have been waiting for.

A large part of the public was out in force,  spending money in their pockets and looking to secure themselves a treat to compensate for recent, miserable times.

Every seller I spoke to was reporting great sales and a bumper Potfest.

Covid19 has highlighted our nation’s inequalities in many ways – most obviously in the link between poverty and poor physical health – which as a ‘wealthy nation’ shames our systems.

One notable fact of the pandemic is that the poorest have mostly got poorer whilst those on better incomes have seen expenses fall without any loss of earnings.

The work-from-home percentage of our population has money in their pockets that they wouldn’t otherwise have.


“The Covid-19 pandemic and the measures to contain its spread have caused both household income and spending to drop very sharply.”

“Workers who were furloughed and self-employed people were most likely to have experienced a reduction in income. Only a small number of those remaining in employment saw their earnings fall.”

“In contrast, most households, regardless of employment status, reported that they had reduced their spending (Chart A).” 

“As a result, some households — those whose income had not changed but whose spending had fallen — would have seen their savings rise, leading to an improved financial situation. An important determinant of the shape of the recovery will be if, and when, these households choose to spend these savings.”

Bank of England review: How has Covid-19 affected the finances of UK households?



English Language School Perthshire Potfest at Scone Palace
The sellers were busy all day at Potfest Scone Palace, 2021

An Audience Hungry for Art

Potfest united an event-starved art audience (with savings) with ceramicists who have had little opportunity to sell their artwork for several months.


Who or What was Missing?

Well of course our international language learners and friends were. Our English Language School in Perthshire is still shut for anything other than online classes.

No one can travel to Scotland without risking severe travel disruption. Although Potfest was busy, it was busy with British people. For all businesses linked to international tourism, such as ours, international clients are sorely missed.

Our language school looks on in limbo while other businesses gear up to serve a summer-hungry all-British tourist clientele.

Britain is a lot less interesting without its international visitors journeying around it.

A Gamble for Artists

You could argue that people who can’t afford pots were also missing – or people without the entrance fee – or the transport to arrive. This is true, but Potfest is a commercial art fair: a gamble for exhibitors who pay in advance for their pitch.

I celebrate every success they had. It is much needed after a low-earning year. Every sale ensures future art productions and I was happy to see such a busy art market, spectators with packages tucked under their arms.

Additionally, anyone who managed to get to Potfest got great value for the £7 ticket – access to beautiful artworks and all-day access to the magnificent Scone Palace Gardens.

A real bargain. 


English Language School Perthshire Potfest at Scone Palace
Exquisite work by Debbie Barber, ceramicist exhibiting at Potfest
English Language School Perthshire Potfest at Scone Palace
One day I will fill my kitchen with works by Darrell Milnes,  ceramicist at Potfest

Our Invisible Community Members

The people missing are the people in our society living with crippling mental health problems.  The last year has marked us all – collectively and individually, but for people with mental health difficulties, the last year has been alienating and appalling in the extreme.

It is a lot harder to transition back into this ‘normal’ landscape after being excluded by society for a year. Imagine all the counselling and therapies postponed or abandoned mid-treatment, and care services and support networks abruptly and scarily unavailable.

People living with anxiety have a new reason to fear every touch, interaction and public outing. For some, going back near crowds has become nearly impossible.

To its credit, the Potfest visitors website information gives a good nod to this:


“Because of the continued uncertainty of Covid19 all of this year’s shows will run with the same precautions in place as last year. When stepping under the canvas of the marquees visitors will be asked to please put on a face covering, observe social distancing where possible and be patient, kind and considerate to other visitors. Please remember their fears and anxieties may not mirror your own.”


Potfest Website, 2021


English Language School Perthshire Potfest at Scone Palace
Darrell Milnes and his ceramics at Potfest

A Fine Show by Ceramic Artists!

Potfest and its exhibitors need to be commended on their friendliness through masks. Everyone we spoke to made time to tell us a little about their work (and seemed very happy to do so).

Don’t underestimate what effort this takes.

Artists are not necessarily gregarious and sociable – and also may have their own issues with social anxiety, mask-wearing and crowds (as well as other mental health problems which are prevalent amongst creatives).

It’s quite a leap to go from working alone in a private home or studio spaces – to being on show – not just your work –  but you yourself – and with the stress of your financial future riding on it. 


Tips for Artist English Learners

As a craftsperson, being able to sell and promote your work is almost essential, certainly when you are starting out. 

There are many aspects to these skills, including mingling and small talk – and social anxiety can destroy a career.

Presenting yourself in a second language is even harder still.

If you need to do this, practice, practice, practice your presentation language until certain sentences are completely automatic.

Ask people around you what questions you might expect to receive, and don’t be shy about asking people to repeat the question or explain what they mean.

If you experience social anxiety, don’t put off getting the help you need.


English Language School Perthshire Potfest at Scone Palace
Julian Jardine was wasting no time – he was demonstration sculpting while he spoke with potential customers.

Further Information

Potfest have an excellent website, including a gallery of exhibitors – find it here


Help for Social Anxiety

There’s a lot of good, free information about coping with anxiety available on the internet – including all different social media platforms. For example, Clubhouse offer groups for folks needing to talk.

Follow people on Twitter who give good advice (Philippa Perry for example) or others who share their own share their anxiety battles.

Twitter can be a mean space – but if you only follow kind people you don’t need to see the bad side.

It can be a surprisingly intimate space.


Check out the UK’s  Mind website as a starting point to find the service and advice you need. There’s still a lot of inequality about mental health services and advice across the globe – especially for men.

Reach out if you need help – and jump culture and use British health care online resources if your own culture has not yet invested in this topic.

Find out more here


English Language School in Perthshire Potfest at Scone Palace


“We provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. We campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding”

Mind website

Mental Health Support for Artists

Arts Minds is a mental health resource hub for people in creative industries and most specifically performing arts, including music, dance, TV, theatre and modelling. They support people in creative industries who are dealing with emotional stress and mental health challenges.

Find out more here.


“Interestingly, although 1178 respondents said mental health problems had impacted on their career to a greater or lesser extent, nearly 85% of respondents had worked within the past six months, going some way to bust the myth that people with mental health issues are unemployable. In fact we all probably work with someone with a mental illness.”


Arts Minds website

Thank you for reading about our English language School Perthshire visiting Potfest at Scone Palace.

As you have seen, a broad range of topics is covered in our language school blog. Some are a lighthearted look at Scotland, others an in-depth look at art and culture. 

If you’ve liked this art realted one, you might want to read one of our Creatives Talk series:

Creatives Talk Shop | Commonalities Between Words & Image



Your Blue Noun English Language Challenge is:

“What do you do?”

It’s an innocent enough question, but it’s a good idea to get your answer word perfect as it’s a common question in many social and formal settings.

Practice here!  As usual, write as much as you like in the comments – and if you would like us to check &  correct your English, write CP  (correct please) at the end.


Live language learning!


“What do you do?”