Saturday, 30 August 2008

Town Crier helps celebrate Pauline's 80th birthday

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.


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

Elderly of Penkridge help write our History

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

5 Species of Bats in one evening in our Parish

I took three other Penkridge people along to the Bat Walk organised by British Waterways at Gailey Pools on the evening of the 24th August. Paul - British Waterways Ecologist - lead about 16 people around the pools for a couple of hours. I had my own bat detector but Paul distributed half a dozen around the group and also brought along an expensive and very sensitive one that recorded all the bat calls it heard and we were able to analyse the sonagrams on a laptop computer with the special software at the end of the walk.

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.

Milk on your Doorstep

Well, I've done my bit! I helped an elderly lady carry several heavy cartons of milk from a supermarket a day or two ago and said to her "have you thought of going back to bottles being delivered on your doorstep". Result - she asked me to ask my milkman to call on her.

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

Support your Local Milk Delivery Man

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

Sports Organisations in our Community

Since I set up the Penkridge Community Website I have been trying to find out details of ALL the Organisations in Penkridge so newcomers - and potential newcomers - could find out what we have to offer. I have lived here now for 44 years and am still finding it difficult to find out details of one organisation that has been established here for many years and I am sure you all know exists - and that is the Bowling Club situated next to the Memorial Gardens opposite the Littleton Arms.

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

A Pleasant wake-up Call

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.

Bat Walk in the Parish

Bat boxes erected by British Waterways

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 - 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.


In Holland 3,000 wild geese gassed.

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

Trees in our Community

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.