When the weather turns cold, dark and damp (as it has been for five days) my thoughts stray to warmer climes than Maine. Places where the air is balmier and the sun shows more frequently. I revisit in my mind the spots I have toured.
One delightful side trip was to the windmill at Sarre in Kent, UK, near my mother’s home in Birchington. My mum and I hopped the bus for a short ride to the mill. From miles around the windmill is visible rising above the fairly level farmlands of Kent. Locally grown grain is milled at Sarre.
At the time we visited, several years ago, there was a visitors shop and tea room on the first floor. The windmill is operational and produced the flours available in the shop and used to make the baked goods for tea. I’ve read that since our visit the place has been converted into lodgings, although the mill still runs. It might be a fun place to stay on my next visit to Mum.
The mill was built in 1820 on the site of a previous mill, and operated until the 1930s. It had a steam engine installed as alternate power on calm days. After 1920 it ran on a gas engine as the sweeps (also called sails) were removed to another mill. From the 1930s till 1985 the mill languished and deteriorated. Then, some energetic people bought the place and restored the mill to operation.
The building stands 4.5 stories tall including a 1.5 story brick base and the sails. It is termed a smock mill due to the particular construction of a fixed timber tower with a movable cap and attached sweeps.
When the wind turns the sweeps there is a noticeable whoosh as they rotate. Inside the building, the squeaks and squeals and rumblings of the turning machinery are very impressive.
Several cogged wheels convert the action of the turning sweeps down to the stones set in the base that grind the grain.
A visitor could climb nearly to the top via narrow stairways. The windows afforded wide views of the surrounding countryside.
We visited the mill on a brisk spring afternoon. The fields were green, trees budding, the sky bright blue with wispy clouds and a soft breeze gave the sails a lazy spin. So nice to remember this sojourn far from the browns and grays of a snowless December in Maine.