Yesterday was my first official visit to the windmill as a volunteer. It was to witness the turning of the sails. This has to be done four times a year, to stop excessive weathering of the wooden struts from being left at the top for too long. It was quite a process, as the lower edge of the nearest sail had to be manually pulled down, once the brake was off. This necessitated one intrepid volunteer having to make a few attempts to get a weighted rope through one of the gaps in the frame of the sail.
Once this was done, the rest of us made the climb up to the very top of the structure, to release the brake, and the wooden blocks acting as a back-up. This process was far from easy. After a ladder was released, someone climbed into the darkness at the top of the dome, lit by a torch held by another person. I climbed up into the hole, to be shown how it all worked. The huge wooden wheel is held in place by an ancient iron brake. In case this should fail, four lengths of substantial timber pass through the struts of the wheel, giving added security. With these removed, and the brake disengaged, a message was passed to those below, via mobile phones, that it was safe to commence pulling. It turned very easily, considering its enormous weight.
As this was happening, a visitor asked me a few questions about the workings. Reluctant to bother those more experienced, who were busy in the roof, I answered as best as I could, with an appropriate sense of authority, and a confidence in my unscripted patter. The tourist seemed very happy with my explanation, and began the descent to ground level, to photograph the turning procedure. After a half-turn was completed, the process in the roof space was reversed, and the wheel secured once more. As the opportunity was presenting itself, one of the trustees applied a lot of grease to the spindle, to keep it lubricated for the next time.
Although I have not even officially started in my role, I have already been asked to take on the task of preparing the quarterly newsletter. I seem to have talked myself into this, by mentioning this blog. It would appear that blogging experience = newsletter capability, and although I begged to differ, I did not feel that I could decline the request. I was also told that the Wednesdays that I have agreed to do might soon be changed to Fridays. Dereham has its market day on a Friday, and there are many more people in the town. Wednesdays are proving a little too quiet to make opening worthwhile.
Today I received a phone call about the newsletter, swiftly followed by a raft of e-mails with photos of events to be included. I do at least have the option of contacting the outgoing newsletter compiler, and as I have absolutely no idea how to go about it, I think that is what I will be doing. Do any of you have any experience of such things? Do you, or have you in the past, produced a small newsletter with photos? I would be grateful for any tips or suggestions. Do I need Microsoft Word, or will anything do? Will I need additional fonts, for example? I am feeling a bit at sea, and wondering if I should have said ‘no’.
What was going to be a couple of hours a week looks like it is already turning into a lot more, hence the title of this post. I’m in a bit of a windmill whirlwind today.