Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Alderholt Water Mill

Mum and I had a few days when we didn't go out far, just staying indoors or popping out for lunch nearby or even just looking at the local shops and garden centers. On one such day that was gloomy and dark with rain threatening to fall at any moment, Mum thought of a place she guessed I would like and so we jumped into the car and drove the short distance to Alderholt Mill.
We passed a couple of pretty houses, common to the area. One with a thatched roof and the other built from brick and flint. Thatched roofs come in different grades, for example, water reed roofs last 55 – 65 years, combed wheat 20 – 40 years and long straw 15 – 25 years. On the cost front, thatchers work in 'squares' (around 10ft by 10ft) costing between £600 and £800 per square.
An interesting article about brick and flint house building is here. 
We arrived at the mill as a fine sheen of moisture was gently falling on the windscreen but got out to walk around nonetheless. I immediately walked over to a small river to take a photo and as I walked back was approached by an older lady who wanted to know what I was taking photos of. I introduced myself and discovered that she was Sandra Harte, the owner of the property. She was very friendly and chatted at length with Mum about the mill and my visit. I took advantage of this to continue snapping photos.
I absolutely adored this little potting shed with every inch of space on the outside wall in use and no doubt full of potting stuff inside. It made me really miss my English gardens; I used to love gardening and would grow any plant successfully, with borders and beds stuffed with perennials and bulbs and vegetables. I only have a few pots on a patio in America since I've always lost plants to deer or invasive bugs. I gave up after a couple of years and just stuck with pots which could be kept close to the house and easily monitored.
Sandra let us go ahead and wander around the grounds, asking her daughter to let us through the back where we could see the water mill.
There has been a mill on this site since the 14th century and this mill stands on a small island on the River Allen. It worked commercially until 1947 when it fell into disrepair but was restored and started working again in 1987. It grinds local flour which it sells or makes into bread. The mill offers cream teas and 4 accommodation apartments in what were once workers cottages.
We walked through to the back garden where I carefully picked my way across very soggy and muddy grass so I could look at the old water wheel, made locally in Ringwood. We were amazed to see primroses already in bloom, usually seen in woodlands in springtime.
Mrs Blackbird pocking her head out of the ivy to get a good look at me.
We wandered around admiring Sandra's Christmas decorations dotted about the front. Her daughter was decorating a garage area for a dinner later that day as they didn't have room enough inside for the large party. They had put up heavy curtains with oil heaters inside and a fire pit would be lit outside. A large oak table was going to be brought into the space and with the greenery and decorations that were being hung on the walls and from the ceiling I could easily imagine how much fun that meal was going to be.
We thanked Sandra for her hospitality and wished them a successful dinner, then headed back to Mum's house for dinner of our own and a large pot of tea.

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