Friday, 19 December 2008
One of my favourite birds, after Nightjar, Swift, Hawfinch, Bullfinch and Chough, is the Waxwing. A text message this morning told me of 14 having been seen in Penkridge on the Cherrybrook Estate. I went straight up and walked all round the estate and eventually found these two feeding on a small tree covered with white/pinkish berries (Sorbus hupehensis (Hupeh Rowan Tree). I also had a male Blackcap taking berries there too.
Lovely birds - keep an eye on any berry bearing shrub/tree in your garden or anywhere in the village - they are tame and allow fairly close viewing. Size of a Starling but with a crest, yellow tip to the tail, black chin - well look at the photo! Let me know if you see any.
Monday, 15 December 2008
When we were all thinking that crime was on the decline in Penkridge, it would seem that the opposite is happening. The above incident comes after a break-in at the Co-op, a burglary at Eldershaw (the butchers), a burglary at Somerfields, and a couple of cars stolen.
PLEASE BE EXTRA VIGILANT BETWEEN NOW AND XMAS. IF YOU SEE ANYTHING SUSPICIOUS, DIAL 999 IMMEDIATELY AND MAKE A NOTE OF ANY VEHICLE NUMBERS THAT MAY HAVE BEEN USED BY THE CULPRITS.
Wednesday, 3 December 2008
WHAT HAS HAPPENED? ALL SORTS OF RUMOURS ARE GOING ROUND THE TOWN -
Is it because someone has over wound it?
Is it because the winder is on holiday?
Is is because the winder is on strike?
Is it because there are bats in the clock (protected by law)?
Is it because someone has lost the key to the stairs?
HAS THE CLOCK BROKEN?
OR - is it some other reason?
Come on Mick! - Why is it not telling us the time?
Monday, 24 November 2008
Some local good news at a time when everyone is down in the dumps, worried about credit crunches (is that a new chewy bar for guinea pigs!?) - a teenage youngster studying for his A levels at Wolgarston High School has hit the headlines this week in a Press Release from the NHS.
Jake Murphy has been telling the world about how the new Insulin Pump he has that enables him to carry on with his outdoor sporting activities - he is a very keen cricketer and footballer. He has been able to dispense with the four-times-a-day injections that he used to have to do, often having to stop in the middle of a game.
An expert team from Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust supports 16-year old Jake Murphy so that he can use an insulin pump, which is aimed at improving his quality of life. Since being diagnosed with diabetes in 2001, Jake's conditon has hampered his ability to participate in his two passions - cricket and football.
But he has been at the top of his game for the last two years after being fitted with the device, which measures out a steady flow of insulin to control the blood sugar levels in his body. Jake carries the pump - which is the size of a pager - on his waistband and it delivers the insulin through a tube into his tummy.
The Wolgarston High School pupil said the pump had made it much easier for him to play for his two sports clubs - Hawkins Cricket Club, in Cheslyn Hay, and Penkridge Juniors Football Club.
Jake said: "Before I was fitted with the pump, I had to take an injection in the middle of cricket matches and I would often go hypoglycaemic when playing sport, which is when your blood sugar level drops too low.
"When I play cricket now the pump allows me to lower the amount of insulin given to me before and during the match and I take the pump off altogether for football.
"I love playing football and cricket and the pump has given me a lot more flexibility to follow my sporting ambitions. I played for Penkridge Juniors under 16s side last year and my next goal is to get into the adult team".
Talking to his grandparents yesterday, they said they were very proud of Jake.
Monday, 10 November 2008
Trees - wonderful plants that I wouldn't be without. We have several in our garden and I wish I had more ground and could grow more. I believe no tree should be cut down or even pruned without very good reason. Not only are they important as habitat for wildlife, they also act as screens, camaflaging ugly man-made structures that seem to be spreading throughout our countryside. So imagine my surprise when I drove back into Penkridge from Stafford and noticed a few days ago that they had pruned all the Willows on the Market Site which grow on the banks of the River Penk. Now I know that willows will pollard and grow again but suddenly we now see not one, but three, Mobile Phone Masts sticking up and taking over the landscape from the trees. Its ironic really, when you think that the Planners actually encourage the Phone Companies to make their masts look like trees. I have seen lots that look like Pine trees both elsewhere in the UK and overseas.
We now have to look at these ugly masts until the willows re-grow and hide them again. As soon as they do, no doubt they will prune them again. You would have thought they could at least have not done them all at the same time. And this has all happened right on the edge of the Conservation Area. Yes, we can see the Church much easier from the north but we can also see the buildings on the Market site too which aren't exactly beautiful!
Is it just me?
Saturday, 25 October 2008
When the Town Crier pointed out to passengers waiting in the cold for an hour that it was not the fault of the Train and Bus Companies but of the "Clock Tender" of Penkridge Church, they said they would therefore be sending a bill to the Church for extra costs incurred as some, it seems, had ordered taxis to take them to their destinations.
Meanwhile, the Penkridge Town Crier has volunteered his services to wander the streets of Penkridge proclaiming the correct time that European Summer Time ends.
Wednesday, 22 October 2008
This time we went on a luxury coach from Wolverhampton and stayed at Tyndrum in a great hotel - the Ben Doran - excellent food and staff. Each day we were coached out to places like Stirling, Loch Lomond, Ben Nevis and Fort William, Oban, Glencoe, etc. Unfortunately, we had a lot of rain but still managed to see some wonderfuly scenery and met some lovely people.
Last night we had a Scottish party with the pipes and dancing, followed by a great meal, including, of course, haggis and neeps!
Great to be back in Penkridge but nice to see the mountains - and the first snow on the tops and red deer starting to descend to the lower ground.
Thursday, 9 October 2008
Penkridge is a town with a population of over 9,000 people. I am attempting to discover how many of them have hidden artistic talents which can be illustrated on the following pages to show the rest of Penkridge and in fact, the world. Painters, musicians, actors, poets, writers, artists, photographers, craftsmen and craftswomen, etc. etc. I believe everyone of us has some gift, some way of expressing themselves and which they enjoy doing. Some people have turned their artistic creation into something they can make a living at, others just create for their own enjoyment and keep it very private.
If you are a Penkridge artist or craftsperson and have in fact developed to the stage where you are selling or would like to sell the products you create, then this can be your shop window. If, on the other hand, you are not interested in selling your creations, can I persuade you to let others see what you have done. It might encourage others who have not "tried" to actually "have a go". Your name and address can be kept confidential if you wish. Simply contact the Webmaster and arrange for an informal chat. Let the world see what Penkridge people can create! Your work can be illustrated by images or by words (or both) - and even by sound! All copyright will be retained by the creator and that will be made clear.
Although the main purpose of these pages is to illustrate the artists of today, if anyone can supply me with information on Penkridge artists of the past then it would be nice to pay tribute to them too.
Go to: http://www.penkridge.org.uk/talent/intro.htm to see some of Penkridge's talent. I would like to be inundated with requests - come on, spread the word.
Wednesday, 8 October 2008
An hour later I then collected my client from the hairdressers and took her to the Co-op to buy her food for the week. I eventually managed to find a space in the Co-op car park but while waiting in the car I watched cars pouring into the car park and unable to find any spaces, reversing out again, causing all kinds of problems for other cars and pedestrians. Not that everybody was shopping in the Co-op - I saw several people not only parking in disabled spaces although they didn't display a Blue Badge, but also walking off into the village and NOT into the Co-op.
There wasn't a space to park anywhere in the village this morning - the Chapel Car Park was completely full and all the road verge spaces were taken. Co-op car park full and all Market Street - the most dangerous place to walk in the village - narrow pavements and cars parked all down one side. Bellbrook completely full of cars and even Haling Road (Belbrook end) narrowed down to one way right up to the junction with illegally parked cars.
Our Penkridge Market is becoming more popular but at the expense of safety and inconvenience to many local people on market days. We have nowhere to create any more car parks as the planners have allowed development on ALL our open spaces in the community. THE CAR HAS TAKEN OVER PENKRIDGE - WE ALL COMPLAIN THAT SOMETHING SHOULD BE DONE ABOUT IT BUT WE DON'T WANT TO ADMIT THAT WE COULD EASILY SOLVE THE PROBLEM OURSELVES. I tried - I got rid of my car. My wife has one and we share it. I have a bike although its not very safe to ride a bike in Penkridge (particularly on Wednesdays).
Practically all Penkridge houses have two cars, sometimes three - some even four, parked in their drive or on the road every night. If they were all parked outside the house on the road at the same time - Penkridge would entirely become grid-locked.
A Big Problem - but when we ask the experts to suggest solutions - there is a big outcry as the only solution is to control where cars go and where they are parked. Everybody would appear to feel that they have a right to take their cars wherever they want to take their bodies. THE CAR IS NOT PART OF YOU - YOUR MOTHER DIDN'T GIVE BIRTH TO YOU AND TO YOUR CAR. YOU WEREN'T BORN WITH A CAR!
There are other ways of getting around our community - dare I say "walk, or ride, or share - whether it be by car, bus or train". WE HAVE TO REDUCE OUR DEPENDENCE ON THE CAR IF PENKRIDGE IS GOING TO BE A PLEASANT PLACE TO LIVE.
Wednesday, 1 October 2008
I took my wife out for lunch today - but not in Penkridge! However, we were supporting a Penkridge family. They have recently purchased a lovely very old shop just over the border in Shropshire in the centre of Newport - the Wycherley Delicatessen at 49 High Street, right in the centre of this Market Town.
It must be one of the oldest buildings in Newport, built in approx. 1610, nearly 400 years ago. Liz and Tony Minshall, who have lived in Penkridge for a very long time, have set up a lovely small business, running a Tea Room on the first floor, and a Delicatessen on the ground floor, specialising in local cheeses from Shropshire and Staffordshire, with a few rare ones from further afield. With Xmas not far away, Hampers are a speciality of theirs too.
I recommend you pop into Newport and taste their cheeses, drink their coffee or teas, served by caring staff (including Liz and Tony's daughter Jenny), and, like me, I am sure you will love the experience. I wish we had one in Penkridge!
Monday, 29 September 2008
Nice to be back in Penkridge but in just over a week we got to know parts of South Shropshire quite well. A lovely part of the world and very different from South Staffordshire. Up and down, more trees, roads much better, and some attractive towns and villages like Ludlow and Cleobury Mortimer and some interesting small churches. We also spent a day or two exploring the Titterstone Clee Hill, with it's Industrial History, particularly the Quarrying and Mining that has taken place over the last 150 years. At one time it was the largest quarry in Europe. Quarrying still takes place but now only employs a couple of dozen men or so compared with the hundreds that worked there in the early 1900's.
I purchased in Ludlow the book by A E Jenkins "Titterstone Clee Hill - Everyday life Industrial History & Dialect" which is a must if you are exploring the area. Titterstone Clee Hill is within the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and is Open Access Land although care must be taken as much of it is Common Land and several people still have Sheep Grazing Rights. During the week we had the Hills to ourselves but at the weekend, it unfortunately turned into a noisy hill with illegal scrambler bikes tearing around and damaging the habitat as well as disturbing the peace and quietness of the hills. Designating areas is great but there must be enforcement of the rules governing areas like Titterstone Clee Hills and Cannock Chase.
I will return, however, as the views on a good day are tremendous - an easy summit to reach gives one superb views around 360 degrees. I met some very interesting people up there - from Scotland and Poland as well as many local people, some of whom have lived around the Hills all their live, One evening while I was photographing a fantastic sunset, a man from Worcester appeared who had driven up to near the summit to mount his astronomical telescope on a tripod in order to study the sky at night. Light pollution in urban areas makes it practically impossible to see details of the stars but up on the Clee you feel a lot nearer to them and there are no street lights or cities nearby polluting the sky with their light.
Saturday, 13 September 2008
1. The Staffs. & Worcs. Canal runs through the centre of our community from south to north. It enters the urban part of the village just south of Wolgarston Way close to the large housing estate and then runs past the Druids Way Estate, past Princefield First School and the Saxon Road housing estate. Then under the Cannock Road, past the Boat Inn and Little Marsh and then on past Marsh Lane and Leacroft Road estates before it runs on the eastern boundary of Penkridge Middle School to the Teddesley Road and on towards Acton Trussell and Stafford.
2. Otherton Brook (with its adjacent open space) runs from Boscomoor Lane in the south, through housing estates, under Vale Gardens road and north to where the footpath finishes at New Road, very close to the centre of Penkridge.
With the Canal route we only have to deal with British Waterways (the owners) and with the Otherton Brook route we only have to deal with South Staffs. District Council (the owners). I believe we will find both these authorities sympathetic and co-operative. British Waterways have already expresed an interest. I believe these two routes could be the first of a network of safe cycle routes in our community - all it needs is a partnership between County, District and Parish Councils and British Waterways.
WOULD THE PEOPLE OF PENKRIDGE SUPPORT THIS IDEA? IF THERE IS A RESOUNDING YES FROM CYCLISTS AND OTHER MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNITY, THEN I WILL INITIATE A STEERING GROUP TO TAKE THIS FORWARD. HELP WOULD OBVIOUSLY BE APPRECIATED.
There are obviously many more routes that could be explored but I think they would be more difficult to set up and would take much longer to come to fruition. There would be less red tape with these two routes and they should not be that expensive - but inevitably it will cost. Once we get the ball rolling, however, we can go on to explore other possible routes.
Tuesday, 9 September 2008
After putting on my wellies to wade through 10 inches of water to reach the bottom of my garden, passing the greenhouse where the tomato plants were under 3 inches of water, and passing the underwater courgettes (a new species?), my wife and I ventured round The Marsh and on to the Teddesley Road.
These photos will show what we saw - the flooded Penk looking like a great lake; cars splashing through floods; and the usual high water mark right up to the Health Centre.
Monday, 1 September 2008
Of course, I looked eagerly to see who Tim had chosen in Penkridge. No, not the first Lord Hatherton, Edward John Littleton, whom many people would say today was perhaps the most notable person, who had a great influence not only on the Penkridge we know today but also greatly influenced British history at the time. No, he was listed under Teddesley Hay Parish. (The map shows the old Ecclesiastical parishes, whose boundaries and names have changed in some cases since our current Civil Parish Councils were created in 1894.) He chose a churchman, Bishop Richard Hurd (1720-1808), born at Congreve, who became Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry and Bishop of Worcester, but declined the Archbishopric of Canterbury in 1783.
Why do historians, when considering a question like this and having to choose just one person, always look back to centuries ago and never consider people who were living in the 20th century. Is it because they don’t believe any 20th century person is “notable” or is it maybe that historians are programmed to only think back from the 19th century?
Are the happenings of the 20th century not history? Surely there are some notable persons of that century in Staffordshire, many of them still alive of course? Can you name anyone from Penkridge who you consider more "notable" and list his/her achievements? Or does it take over 100 years after someone dies before anyone considers they are notable enough to be remembered?
Saturday, 30 August 2008
Tonight we walked a few yards to our neighbours house where, along with about 40 other people we celebrated Pauline D'Agorne's 80th birthday in the marquee in her garden. What a marvellous way to celebrate - in your own home with your husband, your family, your relatives, your neighbours, your ex-colleagues and your friends.
The wine and champagne flowed, the refreshments were delicious, the birthday girl was toasted, the birthday song was sung, the cake was cut and ate, the fireworks popped, and the cameras flashed.
I met people I hadn't met before, I got to know people better than I knew them before, we all chatted and communicated for about 3 hours - and the time flew. But what a way to spend an evening, getting to know your neighbours and their family and friends, discussing everything under the sun.
THIS SORT OF EVENING SHOULD BE COMPULSORY FOR AT LEAST ONE HOUSEHOLD IN EVERY STREET IN PENKRIDGE ONCE A YEAR.
If anyone wants to invite me to their celebration in the marquee at home in their back garden, the Penkridge Town Crier is available - and no charge will be made. But beware, you might have to plug your ears!
Tuesday, 26 August 2008
We have now had two gatherings of the elderly/senior long-term residents of Penkridge, many of whom were born in Penkridge and even some of their parents and grandparents were too. At the first meeting in Haling Dene 24 people attended and at our second meeting, 30 people attended with about 10 apologies.
Robert Maddocks (author already of two history books of Penkridge) and myself have set ourselves a target of producing several smaller social history booklets of Penkridge and approached the older residents of Penkridge for help in providing information from their memories of the village/town in the past. So far we have produced one booklet (the Pot Shop have one or two left) entitled "Who Lived in Penkridge in 1901?". This was based on the 1901 census (the last so far to be made available to the public) but with more information about some of the residents and their lives at that time, with some photos of them and where they lived.
As well as providing us with lots more information about the people and their lives in the last 40/80 years, the meetings have turned out to be successful social events for people with many of them having grown up together in the community. We have also had lots of laughs and fun listening to the stories they tell - some you will read about in future booklets.
Our next one will be about the Shops, Businesses and Trades of Penkridge over the years and we have lots of ideas for future ones too. These booklets will be produced as cheaply as we can and any profits will be ploughed back into producing further ones.
If you, or anyone you know, feels they can help with information and stories about Penkridge over the last century, please ask them to contact me or Bob Maddocks.
Monday, 25 August 2008
Paul was able to demonstrate the difference in the patterns of the sonagrams between the species. We eventually decided that we had heard four, and possibly five, different species during the walk. Noctule, Common Pipistrelle, Soprano Pipistrelle, Daubenton's and possibly Brown Long-eared.
Gailey Pools is in the parish of Penkridge and the Swamp Conservation Group of Penkridge is shortly going to begin a survey to try and establish the species that inhabit our parish and what buildings and habitats they use for breeding, roosting and feeding. With this batwalk around Gailey we have established that Gailey Pools is an important area, not only because of its Heronry on the island of the Lower Pool, but also because of the bats that are to be found feeding there.
If you drink milk or put it in your tea or coffee, I can give you the phone number of the milkman. A few more customers and there is a better chance of him continuing to deliver MY milk. I don't want to start carrying it from the supermarket either.
Thursday, 14 August 2008
We have our milk delivered by a local delivery Van and its always delivered early, fresh on the doorstep. He is a young and friendly guy and someone that we have not only found we can trust but so have many other people. Today, however, he was a little down in the dumps. Why? Because he has had one or two people cancel because they argue they can buy it slightly cheaper in the supermarket.
It is a free country and we can buy whatever we need from anywhere, I know. Nobody is owed a living. But just read on and think about what I am going to say.
I know for a fact that my milkman delivers to lots of elderly people, many of whom can't get down to the supermarket and carry their milk back. They rely on him and some even trust him to the extent of giving him the means to access their property and put the milk in their fridge. And they don't buy gallons of milk a week from him either, but he sees this as part of his job - helping these aged people to survive in a world where it seems people are becoming more and more selfish and greedy.
The reason I am pointing this out is that there will come a point when, if more of us cancel our milk and buy from the supermarket, our milkman just won't be able to survive himself and he will have to pack up the round and then what will our elderly people do. Will you fetch their milk from the Supermarket every other day for them?
ASK YOURSELF - "AM I REALLY THAT POOR THAT I CAN'T AFFORD A FEW PENCE EXTRA FOR NOT ONLY HAVING THE PRIVILEDGE OF MY MILK BOTTLES BEING ON MY DOORSTEP IN THE MORNING, BUT also to know THAT I AM HELPING THOSE LESS FORTUNATE THAN MYSELF TO HAVE THE BENEFIT OF OUR FRIENDLY AND HELPFUL MILKMAN TAKING THEIR MILK TOO". These elderly people happily pay the same as you and me for this service - they don't complain about the price. They know it costs extra to travel round delivering to the doorstep.
So, come on - if more of us purchased our milk from our local delivery man, his overall delivery costs might be reduced and the price of the milk might actually come down a little. If the so called "credit crunch" is worrying you, then why not cut down on some of the luxuries (or unnecessaries) that you buy, like cigarettes, sugar, biscuits, beer, wine, chocolate, etc. The supermarkets won't go bust because they sell a few less plastic containers of milk.
Let me know what you think. Am I being unreasonable?
Thursday, 7 August 2008
I have approached Officials of the Club and asked if they would supply me with details (e.g. names and addresses, membership subscriptions, opening times, etc.) but to no avail. The question has to be asked - don't they want new members? If the reason they don't want publicity is because they do not have room for any more members, then please tell us so we can look into providing a second green in the community.
I thought tennis was a popular game! When I was a member of the Committee of the Monckton Recreation Centre, there was a strong Penkridge Tennis Club. Now, you may or may not know, the Club no longer exists. The two tennis courts are still there at the Monckton and available to play on I understand. I am not sure who you get in touch with, if anybody, to get permission to play there. These two courts costs an awful lot of money to provide and should not be allowed to fall into disuse.
Is there no one out there who plays tennis today? If there is, how about forming a new Club or re-forming the old one. Tennis is always going to be a popular game but you can't play it without the facilities - and we have them at the Monckton.
Football, of course, is probably the most popular game carried out by Penkridge lads. In the 1950's and 60's, Penkridge United were winning trophies galore and I have some photos of their successful teams which I will put on the website soon.
Other sports pastimes still popular and facilities still provided in Penkridge Parish are:- Cricket (at the Pillaton ground, where I played as a lad); Swimming (at the Leisure Centre); Rugby (at the Monckton); Darts (at all the pubs); Sailing (South Staffs. Sailing Club at Gailey Pools).
We don't have facilities for Golf (the Chase Club is just outside our Parish); Hockey (but excellent Club and facilities at Four Crosses, Hatherton).
Athletics is, I think, one of the most interesting and widely supported activities and we are shortly going to see the world's best athletes competing at the Beijing Olympics. Should we be providing facilities within our community where our future athletes can train locally?
Wednesday, 6 August 2008
I was awoken at just before 8 this morning to the noisy sound of machinery outside our house. On looking out of the bedroom window I spied (and photographed) the scene above. It was only a couple of weeks ago I completed an online form to Clarence at the County Council about a dangerous hole in our road. This morning they were out there filling it in. Thank you Staffordshire County Council, Highways Department. Cyclists can now safely ride our road again.
If any of you are interested in the Bats of Penkridge Parish, then I strongly suggest you contact me and we will invite you to an event that British Waterways are organising on Sunday, 24 August, from 7.45 until 10pm in the evening.
I have been out today with the Biodiversity Officer of British Waterways and they are carrying out a really great project in our parish, from Gailey Reservoirs north along the Staffs. & Worcestershire Canal right through our community to Teddesley. If you come along on that evening you will not only learn more about the project from British Waterways specialist staff but you will learn more about, certainly hear, and maybe see lots of bats of several species. We will be using specialist Bat Detecting equipment which can hear the echo location calls they give and turn them into not only sounds that the human ear can hear, but also produce sonagrams which can help us identify the species.
Contact me if you wish to come along - email:email@example.com I need to know in advance so I can tell the Project Officer so he knows how many are coming. Interested childen can also attend but must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or responsible adult.
As well as being concerned about my community of Penkridge and what happens here, I also listen out for problems occurring elsewhere on this planet, particularly when it concerns wildlife which is unable to speak up for itself. So one of my many voluntary roles is acting as the UK Midlands Co-ordinator of PROACT - an international organisation which campaigns for the protection and conservation of birds and their habitats worldwide. Our latest campaign is supporting the Dutch Wildlife Conservation Organisations. Below is a report I have just received of what has been happening over in Holland.
During June and July the authorities on the Dutch North Sea island of Texel contracted out to a firm the trapping and gassing of thousands of wild geese. Local conservationists have monitored the operations and describe it as an unprecedented wildlife protection scandal. Observers from the Committee Against Bird Slaughter CABS and the Dutch wildlife conservation organisation Faunsbescherming have reported that workers of the Duke Faunabeheer trapped some 3,000 birds in 6 separate operations, loaded them onto lorries and transported them to an unknown location. The scandal has now spread to Germany after it has become known that the birds gassed on Texel have now been sold to a German slaughterhouse. The local newspaper ‘Leeuwarder Courant’ reported in a recent issue that the birds are to be used inter alia for the production of Foie gras in Germany.
Log on to the site below for further information and where you can support our objections to this terrible incident.
Monday, 4 August 2008
Walking round the Penkridge Community at this time of the year really opens your eyes to the importance of trees in the town/village landscape. Within the Conservation Area of course, all trees are automatically protected because of the Planning Status of that designation. If anyone wishes to prune, lop or fell a tree within the Conservation Area, then they need to apply to the Planning Authority (the District Council at Codsall).
Outside the Conservation Area boundary, trees do not have the same protection but any important ones can be given it by Tree Preservation Orders. I will endeavour to find the list of those Orders so we can all learn which trees are given protection.
I live in Haling Road (formerly called "The Marsh", which I prefer). We have a beautiful Monkey Puzzle Pine in a front garden close to us which has grown over the last 44 years (the time we have lived here) into a wonderful tree which is now a feature of our road. Does it have protection I ask? Doubtful but I will check. What is a little worrying is that suddenly we have noticed that many of its lower branches have turned brown and I have been trying to discover whether what the cause is. It may not be early signs of the death of the tree as we first thought, as it seems that in their native area of South America (Chile), they grow to enormous trees and often finish up with just a top knot, like the Scots Pines of Scotland.
Monkey Puzzles are either male or female and you can't tell until the cones appear when they are mature. This one has started to produce cones which are round so therefore it is a female tree. (Males have more pointed cones). These female cones are beginning to explode and drop their seeds (not fertilised because we don't have any male trees around here - or do we?). I discovered from searching the internet that the seeds of this tree are edible and that the natives of Chile used to rely on them for food - they are very productive and rich in carbohydrates I believe.
It would be interesting to find out whether we have any other Monkey Puzzle Trees in Penkridge and where they are - and are they male or female? And are people planting them these days. They were first brought to this country in the late 1800's and can grow into very big trees - I think I heard that there is one in Scotland that is about 150 years old.
Do you know of any individual tree, or group of trees, that you think is important in our community and should be given protection? Tell us about them and we can draw up a list of ones that people think are important features of Penkridge.
Monday, 28 July 2008
I got my Claude Butler bicycle out and rode down to the town (if you want to argue whether Penkridge is a town or a village, I am quite willing to put the case for town). I had been asked to take some photos of the traffic island by the Parish Council. It looked absolutely marvellous today in the sunshine as I dodged the traffic on the A449 and took several photos, two of which are to be seen on the first page of the website.
I also wandered into the Memorial Gardens on the west side of the A449, adjoining the Bowling Green, and there, on this lovely sunny day, I spied two young people sitting on the bench in the middle with their dog. What a lovely picture that would make, with the church in the background, so I leaned my bike up against the wall and walked into the gardens and approached them, asking if they would mind if I took some photos of them to put on the website. They agreed and you see the results above.
Before taking the photos, however, we had a long discussion, covering many local issues and subjects - they learned a bit about me and I learned a bit about them - and their dog. Why doesn't this happen more often I thought. Why have many of us become silent, not communicating with all those wonderful people like these two I have just met. The world is full of wonderful people - isn't it time we talked to each other and discovered what language is really for.
Thank you, M and B for talking to me (or should it be listening to me, my wife says :-)) And "A" their dog had plenty to say to me I can tell you. I then took my photos of the island flowers and pushed my bike up Market Street.
On my way, I made a quick pop-in to Gordon Hawkins (Electrical Shop), another cyclist - why don't more of you folks out there cycle into the centre of our town to shop? I then called on my friends Colin and Sheila for a chat about two photos I had acquired. One of a Town Crier taken in the 1960's and one of a Penkridge C.E Schools, Class IIa - no date, but taken before the last war I think. All girls, with a banner behind them on which are the words "HDMC Strive and Sing School Choir". Can anyone help in identifying when this was taken and could you possibly identify any of the choir - it is a very clear photograph. Incidentally, Colin thinks he knows who the Town Crier is but we need to check with another elderly Penkridge person before releasing the information that Bevan might be the 6th Town Crier and not the 5th :-))
God Save the Queen
Thursday, 24 July 2008
This morning, Local Historian Robert Maddocks (author of several local history books) and Town Crier Bevan Craddock, met 24 keen and excited elderly Penkridge residents at Haling Dene Centre in the community where, for 3 hours, we discussed the economic face of Penkridge over the last 60-80 years. Showing them photographs of the different buildings in the main street of Penkridge, we tapped into their memories of the past and brought to light many of the changes and the people who have lived and run their businesses in our community over the years.
It was great to hear all the stories, the names, the characters, the language of those people from the past, many of whom were personally known to most people in the room. They went to school with them, they played with them as children, they even married some of them, many were relatives, had been neighbours, worked with them, had good times with them and also the "not so good times" during the wars.
It was indeed a fascinating morning and I think has highlighted the need for more human contact like this in our community.
I will keep you informed of developments. We know that there will be others who would like to talk to us of their knowledge of the 1900's and we really do want to hear. If you know of someone who would like to be invited to our next gathering (and we certainly intend there to be one as we didn't complete our agenda today), then let me or Bob Maddocks know.
God Save the Queen
Wednesday, 23 July 2008
And what better way than to bring you the news than via the Internet (as well as the traditional ways). So, as well as the website (http://www.penkridge.org.uk) I have created this BLOG which will be a bit more chatty and not so formal - and will not necessarily be the views of the Parish Council. You can also add comments on the Blog yourself so please feel free to do so. News comes from all sorts of sources but in the end it is ordinary people that make up this community, not newspapers, television programmes, mobile phones, the internet, etc. So its news about what ordinary Penkridge people are doing that I hope you will read on this Blog and if you can help me by providing some of that information, all the better.
I won't be posting necessarily every day but on occasions I might even post more than one message (or Cry) in a day. It depends on what is happening - what Penkridge people are up to, what news they are creating or observing.
This is the end of my first proclamation on this Blog and I end it in the traditional manner with
GOD SAVE THE QUEEN