Thursday, 19 May 2011

Windmills of My Mind

I have always loved windmills. I loved the shape, the nostalgia and the clean, green energy that it harnessed and produced. I would love to live in one but since I don’t have the £££, I did the next best thing. Visiting and photographing them :-). So you can imagine to my uttermost delight that last week was the National Mills Weekend. I was hyper-ventilating with excitement.

National Mills Weekend was a celebration of the UK's milling heritage held on the second weekend Chesterton Windmill D200  14-05-2011 13-23-21_stitchcof May each year. How did I missed it before? It was a great opportunity to visit and look around mills, many of which were not usually open to the public. It was a day to appreciate the heritage of mills and raise public awareness of the need to save, conserve and protect the country's dwindling number of wind and watermills by generating interest. 

A pity that there were not many windmills and watermills around Warwickshire and the West Midlands. I chose 2 windmills that were quite close to Coventry. One was Chesterton Windmill near Leamington Spa and the other was Berkswell Windmill near Kenilworth. On the way there, we had a very nice surprise when  the song The Windmills of Your Mind sung by Noel Harrison from the 1968 film The Thomas Crown Affair came on air. How appropriate was that. Harrison took the song to number eight in the British charts and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1968.

We drove through the green countryside to reach Chesterton Windmill. We could see it Chesterton Windmill D200  14-05-2011 13-22-01_stitchstanding proud on the hill as we drove up the winding road.  The Windmill was just off the Fosse Way (an old Roman Road also known as the B4455), about five miles to the south of Leamington Spa, near the village of Harbury. We parked on the lay-by before walking 500 metres uphill  through a field of growing wheat.

I was snapping merrily as we walked towards this magnificent Grade 1 listed structure. It was a unique stone windmill, built on a circular arcade with six columns and supported two raised floors. It was erected in 1632-3 for Sir Edward Peyto, a local landowner, from a design attributed to Inigo Jones. The mill worked until 1910 when its machinery broke down. It contained wooden machinery including a lantern pinion and two pairs of millstones.

The views of the surrounding countryside from the windmill was just breath-taking. I walked throughChesterton Windmill D200  14-05-2011 13-17-33 the path between very parched wheat fields to get a better view. A pity that some dog owners were not that considerate . We spent nearly an hour snapping and just enjoying the fantastic views. I was hoping that the Warwickshire County Council as guardians would open the building for visitors, have a guide present to explain things, or hang posters on the entrance to publicise the event. Perhaps it might happened on Sunday, since it was a 2 day event.

We programmed our chatty tree frog aka GPS to take us to the next windmill. As usual, it took us to a different route through Leamington Spa on a busy Saturday afternoon with road-works popping everywhere!!! Then it directed us through Kenilworth when I remembered that the Festival was on. Oh no…thankfully, we didn’t drive through the main town centre.

Our destination was the Berkswell Windmill and we think we found it. But the sign said that it was closed :-(. We got out and saw the structure was covered with a huge blue tarpaulin!!! What was going on? This tower mill was previously restored. When I returned home, I checked several websites and found out that it had deteriorated and now undergoing further restorations. Why wasn’t that mentioned on the National Mills Weekend website??? Anyway, I’m still pleased that I managed to see at least one. Next year, I’m planning to check out the windmills in Lincolnshire and Norfolk. They were teeming with mills.

On the drive back to the casa, Delilah sung by Tom Jones was on air again. This whole week the song had been on the playlist of the various radio stations in the West Midlands and Warwickshire.  It was Stoke City football club’s anthem and today it was facing Manchester City for the finals of the FA Cup. The historic cup meant everything to these two sides. For Manchester City, it would represent their first trophy for 35 years, while for Stoke it would be their first ever FA Cup. It would be a good final. I rushed in and managed to see the 2nd half of the game. 

Mancini's side dominated throughout against a disappointing Stoke, which never came near to reproducing the form that swept Bolton Wanderers aside to reach their first FA Cup final. The Blues fielded a strong side against the Potters eleven that looked as though they were the only eleven that was fit. Jones, Pennant and Huth were missing and the resilience associated with this remarkable team did not appear at all. Toure's late strike finally saw the Blue Moon rising over Wembley. Well done.

Potter supporters were just as loud in defeat as they had been in anticipation of victory. Forget Blue Moon, it was Delilah that filled the air as Manchester City lift the trophy. I guess none of these fans wanted to leave because they wouldn’t know when they would be back, but hopefully it won't take another 148 years for them to return. And I bet despite this defeat, it still felt like the dawn of a new era as they made their way back to their coaches belting out We're All Going On A European Tour :-)

After a very simple dinner, I made myself comfortable in front of the big screen, again. It was the 56th Eurovision Song Contest live from Düsseldorf. There were 25 participants taking part and for the first time, I couldn’t pick a winner.There were actually some very good songs and performers. Fuelled by the massive interest in X Factor act Jedward and  boy band Blue, the show peaked at an astonishing 12.7million on BBC1. It was thought to be the contest’s biggest UK audience in more than a decade.

The spikey-haired duo finished eighth, ahead of Blue who came 11th. It was a big improvement on last year’s entry who came last.The power of the Eastern European voting bloc had seen the Azerbaijan duo Ell/Nikki winning the competition. Hmm… my colleagues and I were thinking of making a trip to Baku next year. But we want to know who’s going to present the UK first. That should be fun.

On Sunday morning, I went for my usual walk around the block. As I walked past the Craftsman Public House, rows and rows of shiny vintage and not-so-vintage scooters were lining the car-park. How I wished I had my camera with me. Brandon Marsh D300s X2  15-05-2011 15-36-49The All or Nothing Scooter Club was having a breakfast meeting. They were taking part in the Meriden Mega Ride, a big motorcycle charity event ride out from Leamington to Meriden. As I continued walking, I came across more scooters heading towards the pub. I hoped they’d a wonderful time and stay safe on the road.

Later in the evening, we nipped over to our favourite playground.   It was quite late when we arrived and only a few cars were about. A swallow, Jay and Goldfinch greeted us as we got out of the car. Before chilling down for the night, the natives were out and about hunting for a late supper. From the Baldwin Hide, we saw a Gull with a moorhen chick in its beak. And then it disappeared with one big gulp. Ugh!!!

There was not much activity from East Marsh Hide. All the waders were getting ready for the night. Brandon Marsh D300s X2  15-05-2011 16-45-44 The reed beds were buzzing with a cacophony of bird-songs  but we can’t see anything. These birds were very well camouflaged. We decided to make a pit stop at Carlton Hide and it was here we stayed the longest. We knew that when the visiting hours were over, the natives came out to party.

We spotted Reed Buntings, Sedge Warblers, Whitethroats, Long tailed and Great tits hunting very close to the hide. It was amazing and all you could hear was our cameras rattling away. I also managed to photograph a  Red Spotted Woodpecker peering from the tree and Babe saw a Swift and a Warbler resting on another tree. The Cuckoos was heard calling but not seen. I could have stayed longer but it was time to go home.

As we walked out of the reserve, Wrens and Cetti Warblers were heard along the way. Brandon Marsh D300s X2  15-05-2011 16-50-18 The Lapwings, Terns and Black-headed gulls were still arguing among themselves. Sand-martins and Swifts were flying above us, chasing insects for supper. When we reached the car, we saw a Cuckoo circling the reserve while calling. Bonn nuit to my lovely feathered friends.

This week HR and I had lunch at the Fusion Bar. We wanted to check out the new revamped eatery and try their new  menu. Finally, we managed to find time from our busy schedules to meet and have a meal together. HR had sweet sour chicken balls with rice and I’d the vegetarian udon in Japanese curry with loads of tofu. This was the first time I had Japanese curry and it tasted just like Chinese curry. We enjoyed our lunch and exchanged news and gossips. HR had just returned from Ethiopia and showed me hundreds of photographs.

Earlier that morning, I had a doctor’s appointment. My right hand had been tingling from timeWarwick University S5700 F  13-05-2011 11-49-23 to time for about a month now. The lovely doctor diagnosed it as Carpal tunnel syndrome. This was a result of pressure on the median nerve -- the nerve in the wrist that supplies feeling and movement to parts of the hand. It can lead to numbness, tingling, weakness, or muscle damage in the hand and fingers. Carpal tunnel syndrome is common in people who perform repetitive motions of the hand and wrist. Typing on a computer keyboard is probably the most common cause of carpal tunnel. So I guess that fit me to a tee,

There was no cure. All I can do was keep and eye on it. I was advised to take frequent breaks when typing and always stop if there was any tingling. I am going to check with my HR officer to see if ergonomic aids, such as split keyboards, keyboard trays, typing pads, and wrist braces, are available. These aids may improve wrist posture during typing.

SH had started work this week after being off for nearly a fortnight due to pneumonia. He was easing slowly starting with working half-days only. It was good to have him back.  It was also WFP’s birthday. He brought a lovely lemon sponge cake which we quickly demolished. Happy birthday WFP.

I love this photograph Babe took of a dragonfly mating wheel.

Brandon Marsh D200  03-05-2011 12-54-62

The red dragonfly -
In some way or another
He likes the evening too.

Issa (1763-1828)

1 comment:

  1. What beautiful photos! Thanks so much for sharing your weekend.