Saturday, 2 July 2016

Talking Tripe. And pies

All the pies you could wish for and no Greggs in sight
The pie eaters. That's what they call folk from Wigan. Apparently it dates back to the 1920s Wigan and Leigh miners' strike; the Wigan miners broke the strike and returned to work - thereafter having to eat humble pie when confronted by their Leigh comrades.
That's the legend. The fact is that the town abounds in quality independent pie shops. You don't need to buy a greasy Greggs offering here.
We took a day off from boating after coming up the flight and went back into the town by bus. Wigan is a rough and ready northern industrial town that has struggled back from losing its historical employment props of mining and milling. Today it still doesn't look a wealthy place but major employers like HJ Heinz and Girobank in the town. And plenty of pies.
Wigan is also known for its traditional sweets
We found a pretty decent selection at the town's indoor market. A good job Mrs B was with me or I'd have come home with a bagful. Instead I had to settle for a cuppa in Lou's Diner and a very fine pork pie. Unusually, its pie crust was topped with a layer of jelly outside as well as the usual inner jelly. Yum.
And you can get a decent range of traditional bangers too
In case you don't fancy a pie – or a sausage (40 different flavours of 'healthy, low calorie' sizzlers) – Wigan market does a good line in locally made traditional sweets too, including 'Kurly Aniseed'. I was tempted.
I did steer well clear of another market delicacy - tripe. Cow's stomach linings (apparently green before being cooked pre-sale into a watery white) don't really appeal to my stomach linings. Apparently it's the stall's best seller to those with stronger stomachs than mine.
Or tripe, if your stomach can handle stomach linings

Away from foodstuffs we found a remarkable charity bookshop in one of the shopping arcades. Wigan Book-Cycle lets customers choose up to three books a day and pay whatever they wish to donate for them. Funds raised have allowed them to send over 350,000 free books to schools and orphanages round the world and help plant trees in the local area. It's a local charity, devised by one person and run entirely by volunteers, but is slowly spreading out with mini book cycles bookshelves in bars and shops as well as bigger shops.
Book-Cycle: a terrific local charity venture
We bought a few from the huge stock and came away thoroughly cheered by the thought that one individual's good idea really can make a difference to the world.

So that's cheers to Wigan from me

PS I didn't take The Road to Wigan Pier: the area surrounding the long vanished coal loading staithe of George Orwell's book is being redeveloped.

1 comment:

  1. But you cannot mention Wigan sweets without mentioning "Uncle Joe's Mint Balls"...they even have a song written in the honour of such a noble sweet ( Sadly like many other things in life modernisation insist they offer more than the original can now suck balls in many tempting exotic flavours.