Frescoes and mills

Down Clayton way is one of those old Norman churches – consistent for the best part of a thousand years now. They know the names of the rectors going back to the 1300’s when it was rector Aelfric if I recall. A good old Anglo Saxon name. Clearly a convert.

Lou and I went there to look at the frescoes. Mostly they’re in red and cream with ravey praying Jesus and a tiny bit of blue lapis paint on the roof of what must be the Vatican. Busy and active devotional frescoes done skillfully with single strokes on plaster. Well preserved because somebody painted over them hundreds of years ago and they were only re-exposed recently. There’s probably still loads of gorgeous ancient art preserved for future generations under layers of crap emulsion and plaster across Europe. I’m glad they pulled this lot back to the light, although its very exposure will cause it to fade over time. The rest can wait. Surprises for generations to come. But it was a lovely peaceful place to stop.

Lou is convalescing a little bit today so we were taking it easy in her local area. She has a book of pilgrim places which has already inspired a number of excellent afternoons. Today was no exception. I was in Camino head with none of the walking. As we wandered the paths and roads near the church I was happily pulling early blackberries from the brambles.

We came upon a pair of windmills. Jack and Jill. Both very old but suddenly very different from one another. Jack is hedged and fenced off, private property now after a hefty payment of £3.5 mil. They’ve attached extra buildings to the base of it and it’s pulling people in for high end fashion shoots. I can imagine why. Good light at the top of the hill and period fixtures. “Just lie on that millstone there and hold this piece of corn, darling. You look great.”

We went to Jill. Steep stairs up to the door and a man with a red top sitting waiting for us. If he’s the owner, it’s a very different business model from the neighbor. £2 with either cash or his brand new izettle and you can wander around a tiny so space to your heart’s content, so long as you don’t mind being followed. The sails aren’t on, but he has some seeds and a miniature grindstone. “Oh look – so you make flour on the little one when the mill isn’t running,” I say. I’m about to make some flour of my own. “That’s for children,” he tells me, emphatically. “When children want to make flour I let children make flour on the children’s mill for the children.” It seems he doesn’t want me to make flour. Too much cleaning for £2. I get it. Next door in Jack they’re making tens of thousands of pounds a day and filling the place with people. There’s still absolutely tons of white powder in the mill next door I’m sure, but it’s going up people’s noses, and not into loaves. Here in Jill it’s peaceful. It’s ok that it’s not coining it – it’s just delight that such places are still artlessly open to the public. Just the occasional mill enthusiast, a few children who want to make the flour, and idiots like me who just want to look at the view from the top and get a feeling for how it would sound and feel when it was working. You know… For next time I play a medieval miller.

It’s not as late as it feels now here by the seaside. It’s quarter to ten but my body feels like midnight. I’m going to head outside one last time and let the wind hit my face in the dark. Back to London quicker than I thought it seems, so I’m gonna get as much sea air as I can first.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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