This afternoon we went to visit the Thorrington Tide Mill. It is one of half a dozen mills in Essex owned or leased by Essex County Council that are in working order and open monthly to the public during the summer. Thorrington's day for opening is the last Sunday in the month, and I was pleased that I had remembered it opened the day before it did, and not the day afterwards.
Opening hours are from two until five, and once the Systems Administrator had finished watching the Grand Prix we drove down to Thorrington. We went there, but we did not see the mill. A chain still hung across the patch of grass that must constitute the small car park advertised on the website (available only on mill open days) and a notice said that due to unforeseen circumstances the mill was not open. There was nothing to do except turn around and go home again. We were not the only disappointed would-be visitors, as another car that had turned into the car park just ahead of us did the same thing.
I was disappointed. Also rather cross, having made the effort to go and interrupted the rhythm of my gardening day, and used up some of the kittens' daily allowance of biscuits prematurely to bribe them back into the house so that we could go out. There was nothing on the website to say that the mill wouldn't be opening this month, and what sort of unforeseen circumstances were they anyway? Presumably whoever was supposed to be opening the mill up and keeping an eye on visitors for the afternoon was ill. Really the mill should be on Twitter, and so should I, and then we could have been warned. Sorry peeps, no mill visits today.
Looking on the bright side we hadn't walked there. Comparing notes afterwards each of us had separately considered suggesting making the mill visit the central point of a walk, and decided against it because it was still quite hot and we both had things to be getting on with at home. It's a couple of miles to the mill, not long in the car but we'd have been pretty peeved if we'd walked there only to discover that it was shut. And we hadn't taken anybody else with us or arranged to meet them there. That would have made us feel fairly stupid, and guilty for wasting their time.
We can always go next month, if we remember, and if we don't have anything else on. Or in September, though we provisionally have that Sunday pencilled in to go and see the splendid water powered Gunton Park Sawmill in Norfolk, which also only opens once a month and finishes for the year in September. It appeared on TV in a series about the impact of the railways on Victorian England, and we agreed it looked amazing and were even more amazed to discover afterwards that it was in East Anglia and doable as a day trip. But by then we'll just have got back from holiday and may feel we've done enough driving about and looking at things for the time being.