diamond geezer

 Sunday, May 13, 2012

It's National Mills Weekend this weekend, the annual second weekend in May when many of the nation's windmills and watermills fling their doors open to the public. If you're bored with nowhere to go today, maybe there's one near you. I thought I'd try my luck at Brixton Windmill, recently restored to full working order. I tried on National Mills Weekend last year, only to be told by a volunteer that there were unexpected building repairs to be made and the place was shut. Good news this year, no hitches... and, by the looks of it, no queues. Perhaps that's not surprising, given that Brixton Windmill's well off the beaten track in a small park behind the prison, and pretty much invisible from any major local thoroughfare. There was nobody buying plants or postcards from the lovely ladies on the Friends stall, just a woman by the mill door wielding the signing-in book. Guided tours only she said, so come back in about fifteen minutes, and go and buy some tea and cakes while you're waiting. I came back and joined the next group, only to be told by the same woman in a not entirely smiley manner to go back outside again because only five people per tour were allowed. Could I come back in about fifteen minutes, and go and buy some tea and cakes while I was waiting? I sort of lost interest at this point and gave up, despite the kindnesses of some of the other volunteers, but you might well have more luck. The trick it seems is to book a tour online in advance, because that way you get to climb the ladders right to the top of the windmill in a very small select group. Turning up on spec only gets you to the first floor, if you're lucky, and you don't mind having tea and cakes while you wait. I doubt I'll be waiting again.

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