The miller's tale – 2012

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I spent an enjoyable day in the fresh air at the splendid Weald & Downland museum in Hampshire in August.  If you've not been, and are passing (no unnecessary carbon please!), you might find its collection of rescued buildings from England's past rather absorbing, and its encouragement of craft skills, inspiring, perhaps.  Whilst there, I met a miller, some 14 years on from my first miller-encounter, although in very different circumstances.  We talked about wheat, and the power to grind it, as he supervised the working of the reconstructed overshot water mill.

The visitor is taught (it's a diffuse sort of pedagogy) that it's water power (gravity and all that) which grinds the grain.  There are two ponds with water flowing from the upper to the lower over the wheel.  As there was no obvious in-flow of water into the upper pond, I wondered how the water level (and head of water) was maintained.  So, I asked the miller.  He said they relied on rain, and, when pressed, said that, if needed, they could electrically pump water from the lower to the upper pond.  There followed a conversation about the potential of archimedean screws, and I entertained visions of visitors having a go – though the museum's shire horses seem a more reliable bet.

The point of all this is to wonder what sort of (environmental) education is this.  Is it a (slightly) dishonest one?  Or doesn't it matter if the whole story isn't told?  Still pondering all this, but I'm pleased to record that the bread we made with the flour was wonderful.

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