Life in Spectacles – Issue 1

14 April 2020


To our first ever blog post! There are many of you out there who we only see once every few years. That isn’t enough for us and this is our way of informing you of what is happening within the practice and in our day to day lives, and maybe giving you some light entertainment in the process.

An Update from us


Dan at his graduation

First off, a big congratulations to Dan. He has achieved a distinction from Bradford college in Ophthalmic Dispensing at the end of last summer. He is now doing his professional qualification year where, as some of you may know, he must keep clinical records on certain conditions and prescriptions to show his experience. He has also bought his first house and got engaged, so it’s all wedding talk now. I don’t know how he has found the time!

Phil Ives, who many of you may have met, is our optometrist. I first met him 25 years ago while we were both starting out on our careers. He is a fantastic optician, with a great sense of humour and is someone for whom I have huge respect. He has now been with us for three years and is a real asset to the practice. He lives in Barnsley with his two fantastic daughters and his wife Sarah, who is also an optometrist. Phil has a great insight into the profession and shares our commitment to exceptional service and quality products.

Finally, I have just taken on a part time job travelling the country as an agent for a German company called Markus T. They produce handmade frames with no screws to ensure simplicity. This gives me a great opportunity to go into other practices and see how things are done in differently and see the products they stock. I am getting some good ideas for how to continue developing The Spectacle Shop over the next few years and we are all feeling very excited about the future here in Barnsley. I am still in the shop most of the time and always on the days when we are doing eye tests, so I look forward to seeing you all soon.

Milan, The City of Fashion

Milan is a great city to spend a few days in. It is full of wonderful architecture, mouth-watering restaurants, hundreds of shops, many bars, and great characters.

Milan Shopping Mall

World’s oldest shopping mall, built in Milan in 1877

Once a year Milan is also home to MIDO. MIDO is the largest optical trade fair in the world. It boasts seven exhibition halls and hundreds of independent frame manufacturers from all over the world. It is the place to go to see what is happening within the industry. Everything from frame styles, emerging trends from cutting edge fashion stores, retail presentation and display. It really is an Aladdin’s cave for any optician who wants to set themselves apart from the run of the mill high street retailer.

Mido Trade Show, Milan

Mido Trade Show, Milan

I had not been to MIDO for nearly 10 years and this was Dan’s first trip to an international trade fair. If there is one thing travelling to an international show makes you realise, it’s that there’s a huge contrast in eyewear available in the UK, and the options available elsewhere in the world. Smaller independent companies with a flair for design seem to be favoured overseas; and our aim is to bring some more of these fabulous styles to Barnsley.

As usual the Lindberg stand was almost impossible to get on, as you’d expect after having become one of the most sought-after brands in the world for quality and stylish eyewear.

While there, we got to meet Markus Tremming of Markus T, as well as some of his fantastic staff. I believe they’re set to become as big in the UK as they are in Germany; with clean lines, simple styling, understated matte colour palette not to mention an amazing four-year guarantee. We had a good time on the stand aided by the schnapps they were giving us at 11am.

We also found the most wonderful collection called Anne & Valentin which has truly amazing styles. We decided to bring this world class product to Barnsley.

Anne & ValentinThe Story Behind Anne & Valentin Eyewear might just be one of the best kept secrets around. This collection is well known amongst eyewear enthusiasts, however, is often a new discovery for many. The collection appeals to glasses wearers who have reached the point of frustration and boredom with mass produced glasses and eyewear that lacks any element of uniqueness.

If you want frames that become your signature trademark, not just a fashion statement, Anne & Valentin is the eyewear collection for you. They are a small, independent, and highly customer focused company who provide distinctive, meticulously crafted eyewear for people who desire more than “it all looks the same” eyewear.

“Anne & Valentin prides itself on creating radical eyewear in which you are delighted to be yourself.” This simple saying begins telling the story behind Anne & Valentin eyewear.Anne & Valentin Glasses 1

The adventure began in September 1980, when Valentin the neo-hippie obtained his opticians degree, and as fate would have it, he met Anne. These two individuals inspired one another and created together until Valentine’s death in 2003.

As the two worked together in their optical store, they soon realised that the products they could offer their customers was rather limited. Anne and Valentin set off on a mission. They visited fashion shows, art exhibits, museums, and vintage furniture, jewellery and clothing stores that specialised in works from the 50’s and 60’s, before craftsmanship became a thing of the past. Together they became students of design and craftsmanship and immersed themselves in creating eyewear frames that had never before been offered.

And so it began, Anne sketching her own frame designs. She wanted eyewear frames that evoked intelligence and maturity yet were artistic and playful as well. In 1984, the Anne & Valentin company sent these sketches to be prototyped and subsequently launched the first collection in Toulouse, France. The design philosophy today remains true to its humble beginnings.

The new 2019 Optical and Sun collections are full of energy, vitality, and freshness. The frames are flash without being garnished or gaudy, and timeless chic without being predictable. Anne & Valentin frames are inspired by the designer’s desire to create for others what they would wish to wear themselves.

Cerulean blues, turquoise, blush pinks, mint greens, bluish-reds (to compliment complexions) as well as more neutral tones too, you are guaranteed to come away impressed by the sheer range of highly original colours in the collection.

All their frames are hand-crafted and the product of a 30-step hand-cutting and finishing process. The quality of their eyewear is the product of the best materials and the best processes. The essential steps remain the same, man-made and hand-crafted.

Anne & Valentin Glasses 2Even if you just want to get some inspiration for later in the year, you’re very welcome to arrange an appointment to come and see the collection.

The Rugby World Cup

A while back, I was on the train to work chatting with my friend Cath. She told me she was on her way to watch the women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland but had to change her flights due to the horticultural show being on in her village. I didn’t realise gardeners took these things so seriously, and I spent the next five minutes wondering why somebody would do this. Anyway, I got to work as normal and soon forgot about the whole thing.

Later that afternoon a new customer came in, Michael Harrison. I got chatting with him and it turned out he was also into his gardening. I then started telling him the story of the conversation Cath and I had on the train that morning. He went on to ask where the women’s rugby world cup was that year, so I told him it was in Ireland. He replied that he’d gone to the first ever men’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and Australia.

Mike Harrison v Japan, 1987 Rugby Union World Cup

Mike Harrison v Japan, 1987 Rugby Union World Cup

Michael then told me he’d really enjoyed himself and that he’d played quite well over there. I laughed and agreed, thinking he was winding me up. I went along with it and asked who he played for, the answer to which I was not expecting. He replied he’d captained England, which again I laughed at, only to look over at his wife who confirmed it to be true! Michael and the England team lost to Wales in the quarter finals in that tournament, but Michael did score against Australia.

What an experience that must have been. It was nice to meet such a lovely couple. We then had a good chat and he picked some amazing glasses. It is the people I meet each day that make my job so fantastic.


We would like to say a huge thank to all of our customers. It is your continued support and recommendations to friends and family that enable our business to continue serving the wonderful people of Barnsley. We couldn’t keep the business going without you.

We would also like to welcome all the new customers who have joined us over the last few months. Getting to know new customers is always great fun and we look forward to your next visit.

Please feel free to share this copy of Life in Spectacles with your friends and family.
Take care and see you all soon,

Philip Potter

The best optician around. Expert staff, friendly and knowledgeable. The best care from eye test to spectacles and lenses.

Elizabeth Vershowske