We had moored overnight at the summit of the Staffs and Worcester, so after a pleasant and lock free few miles this morning we started heading downhill again. It’s easier to work the locks going down, though most of the ones that we did today lacked the handy bridge at the downstream end that makes closing the gates easier. At the first lock we came to, an old toll office converted to a store dominated the skyline.
Soon after, a pair of enormous wind generators hove into view.
The Welcome to Penkridge sign that they put out for us has got holly on it.
Are we only welcome at the winter solstice? Or did the just get the sign cheap from someone who specializes in christmas decorations?
A lockside conversation with a fellow boater suggested a visit to the market, so off we went. It was partially covered and mostly stores selling cheap clothes, hardware, homewares etc. Also, it’s clearly the place to go for bulk ferret kibble…
… and designer pork scratchings.
Scratchings, you will remember, are lumps of chewy, crunchy pigskin and fat, with the occasional bristle left on as a guarantee of authenticity. In my day they came in one flavor, pig. Nowadays they can be salt and vinegar, black pepper, chille, black pepper, chorizo, or curry flavored. West Midlands fusion cuisine at its finest, no doubt, but I’ve eaten one packet of scratchings already this year and I’m not sure my teeth can handle another one yet.
There’s a fine church building that was started in the 13th century and last mucked about with in 1999.
There’s been a church here much longer, though. The Domesday Book mentions that most of the land in Penkridge was held by the nine priests of the church along with their seven villeins (serfs) and six slaves. The slaves were a holdover from the Saxon period, where slavery and the slave trading was part of the economy. The Normans were largely against the practice, and it died out over the next couple of generations. Being a serf was bad enough.
The church was closed, so I don’t have any inside pictures for you. Also closed was the local heritage center, housed in a former gaol which still has a set of stocks outside it.
It’s only open six hours a week, and we missed all of them.
So what do people do for entertainment in Penkridge (apart from ferreting)? It seems that crown green bowls is big.
This is a game of giant non-Euclidian marbles, played in the Midlands and North of England. Both the bowls and the bowling green are designed to prevent things going in straight lines. This was obviously a challenge match, with a row of seated spectators who were following every move and applauding from time to time.