Windmill Whirlwind

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.

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34 thoughts on “Windmill Whirlwind

  1. Pete, it isn’t all that difficult to work with text and images in Word. A bit of experimentation will show you that it’s quite feasible. Just have fun playing with it. I would think, though, that there should be someone in the neighborhood, so to speak, who could assist you with the first issue, and help you learn the ropes. I wish you luck. May the wind fill your sails.

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    1. I recall telling someone many years ago that riding a motorcycle was easy to master. He replied ‘That’s alright for you to say, because you have got one, but I can’t even imagine sitting on one in the first place.’
      This sums up my problem with creating things on word documents, Adobe Photoshop, and any other similar platform on computers.
      I can manage the blog, as it is all laid out in sensible templates, and a logical order. However, as far as a newsletter is concerned, I can see nothing resembling fun about trying to grasp how to do it. You have arrived at the very heart of the issue David. Doing something, especially as a volunteer, should be enjoyable, not frustrating and irritating. So I doubt that I will be doing it.
      Thanks for your advice though, it is much appreciated as always. Pete.

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  2. Hmmm, now I’m at the end of the comments and I have to correct myself a bit. Not that easy at all …? Jude asked the question I had on my tongue; paper or email? You’re in North Norfolk, not in London and I don’t think you will win this fight; there is a demand for the paper version. At least for another 5-10 years I’d say. I see it in Cley/Blakeney as well: we have a local Newsletter called the Glaven Valley Newsletter. Run by a lot of volunteers, if you knew how many, you’d raise your hands … šŸ˜‰ It only comes on paper, nothing online! Typical for Norfolk, I think it’s charming.
    But I must say, I love to read it. Most of all I love to read the column by Richard Kelham, an opinionated man with a good sense of humor. Like you, Pete. Make an event of it, get someone to share the work with you, honestly, if Beetley was next to Cley and I’d live there full-time, I’d say YES, thank you for asking! šŸ™‚
    Find someone at the local social club, at the village hall or at the pub that knows his computer and one with a camera … šŸ˜‰
    Good luck! I love people that say yes and gives it a try. Please keep us updated!
    Love, Dina x

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    1. Dina, I spoke with a very nice lady yesterday who is currently doing this newsletter. She agreed that someone like me, with no experience of using word and graphics programmes, would find it too difficult, without some instruction. She actually told me not to do it, and made me feel a lot better too. I am glad to hear that you have a thriving community group managing things in Cley, but this is not the case here in Beetley unfortunately. X

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  3. I hope you’ll share the link with us Pete so we’ll see all the photos too. i am excited for you, Good luck, that is quite easy a task for a writer like you.

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    1. The writing isn’t the problem Arlene. I actually have no experience with word documents, or things like this newsletter, and I am not even sure that I know where to begin. I don’t have time to go on courses to learn about it, so I have asked the previous person to help me.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. It’s a two-page document with photos, text, and links Arlene. Sounds easy, until I started from a blank page! I have had some suggestions, but when you have never done anything similar, just getting started can be daunting.

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      1. It sounds like you would save a lot of time and at the same learn something new and interesting from the previous person. In the end, you’ll be inspiring, feel proud and come up with the best newsletter the Windmill ever had. šŸ™‚
        Good luck, dear Pete!

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        1. That would be nice Dina, but it looks as if it will not be happening. I don’t have the first idea how to go about it, and I went to bed with a splitting headache last night, trying to get my head around Open Office!
          Thanks for your vote of confidence, but volunteering should be enjoyable, not stressful.
          Best wishes to you, and thanks as always for your comment. X

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          1. I see, Pete. You’d at least need a coworker, one to take care of the pc-work. You should do the writing and leave the rest to one who’s familiar with this. It’s not worth risking your health and good spirits on this matter. In this case, bow out gently before it’s too late. No shame on you, no whatsoever!
            Love and a big hug, Dina x

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  4. Well you’ve done it now, the only way out that I can see is to move house!
    You should be good with open office, it does most things, just leave the templates as they only confuse things. Create a new document based on the old format and fill in the blanks. I think Jude offers the best advice, columns, headings, text wrapping…all of the above should get you through and you should have available to you in Open Office.
    Good luck šŸ™‚

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  5. Already I know more about ancient windmills than I knew before I read your post. With your observation and writing skills I think you’re in a position to do some good for the Windmill Conservators and I hope you enjoy it.

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  6. As ‘Jom’ says, NEVER volunteer – now they’ll have you down as the man who doesn’t say no. Is the newsletter printed or just emailed to people? Could you set up a blog and post ‘articles’ on it (you can have a private blog) or create a Facebook page for the ‘Windmill’ where the public can visit to find out about events etc.

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    1. I was hoping -with your IT skills- that you might have suggestions.
      They have a website, and a blank blog set up. However, they have a newsletter e-mailed to paying supporters, as well as a few hard copies sent to those who have no computers. I have no experience with word documents, so would be heavily reliant on whoever did it previously. Jim suggested MS Publisher but that’s really expensive. I have Open Office, but none of the free templates look suitable.
      I would be happy to run their blog, but they want the supporters to have something ‘exclusive’.
      Thanks Jude. x

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      1. At school we used Publisher and Word. I can’t say that I was a fan of Publisher. Newsletters were my least favourite part of Word Processing. I’d see what they produce currently and what software is used. Maybe they would finance some software for you? If not you can produce simple designs using columns and headings and wrapping text around images in a word processing document. Sorry I can’t be more helpful Pete šŸ˜¦

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      2. One other thought. Why do the paying supporters want or even need something exclusive? You could have a private blog for them if necessary where members have a password to access it. Paper copies seems a bit old-fashioned in these days of social media. And who will print the hard copies for people without computers? I’d be asking a few questions if I was you.

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        1. My very words to the Trustees! Private access page on the blog, and no paper copies. Unfortunately, it seems that some of these supporters are without access to any computer, and get paper copies as a concession. I would not have to print them though.
          ‘Wrapping text around images’. I’ve fallen at the first hurdle, as I feared. My complete lack of computer training makes me doubt I will have a clue how to grasp these things. I will contact the previous compiler, and ask how they did it.
          Thanks Jude, very helpful. (As always. x)

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    1. Jim, you changed your name?
      Thanks for the suggestion. I was volunteering for both the Fire Brigade and Road Safety until last September, and it all got a ‘bit much’. Hope all’s well old friend.

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