The Needles (New Battery & Old Battery)

Another interesting place to visit on the Isle of Wight is The Needles Old Battery and New Battery.  Actually both places are old, but one is much older.  Before exploring the buildings I climbed up to the viewpoint near The New Battery to have a look at The Needles, and they do look quite sharp and spiky.IMG_0220I then noticed a sign stating that we were at a site that had been used for testing rockets.IMG_0232Here I am looking at the place where rockets were tested.  Their engines were started up but they didn’t actually take off here, they were strapped into special gantries to keep them still.  If everything worked the rockets were taken to Australia to be launched into space.IMG_0227I spotted a couple of rabbits hopping about but they didn’t wave.  I think they are quite cautious when it comes to bears.IMG_0237The rockets gathered large amounts of information about space. A Black Arrow rocket launched the first British satellite.  The  satellite is no longer used but it still orbits around the earth twice a day.IMG_0249Here I am sat on a life size scale model of the Prospero satellite.IMG_0256In another room there was some equipment which was used for gathering information during the tests.    I climbed up for a closer look but I didn’t touch!IMG_0265Here I am in the control room. It isn’t actually the original equipment, but I think it looks quite impressive.IMG_0243The Old Battery, which was built in 1861  by the Royal Engineers, and their site office was the first building constructed.  IMG_0278Before going into The Cartridge Store I had to put on special clothing made of calico to ensure that I didn’t take any gunpowder out of the building.IMG_0268I was very excited to find an entrance to a tunnel leading to an 1899 searchlight emplacement.  Here I am running back to the humans to tell them about it!IMG_0277I climbed down to the tunnel using a spiral staircase fitted by the National Trust; access used to be via a ladder.IMG_0283The tunnel was very long and quite a walk for a small bear.IMG_0284I was quite relieved to see the light at the end of the tunnel.IMG_0303There was an excellent view of The Needles from The Searchlight Emplacement.  Fortunately I didn’t get my head stuck.IMG_0288The tearoom is situated inside The Signal Station.  The hot quiche lorraine warmed me up as a cold wind had blown up outside.  IMG_0307I managed to persuade the humans to buy me some cake too 🙂IMG_0320Yum yum yum……. tea soaked fruit cakeIMG_0317Here I am in front of The Signal Station in the sheltered pathway to the position finding cell.IMG_0328There was a special instrument in the Position Finding Cell for gathering information about the whereabouts of ships and the direction in which they were travelling.IMG_0330The weather was changing and I was quite worried that my fur could get a soaking so I had one last look at rather splendid Needles before we hurried off down the hill towards the car.IMG_0322I stopped briefly to admire the coloured sands of Alum Bay, which is situated next to The Needles.IMG_0341

All in all a great adventure – especially The Tunnel 🙂

Horace the Alresford Bear 27/4/17

For further information see: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/the-needles-old-battery-and-new-battery

Bembridge Windmill (Isle of Wight)

I was very fortunate to recently visit a very old windmill, over 270 years old; the only windmill left on the Isle of Wight.IMG_0198After showing National Trust membership cards to a man in a hut  I bought a souvenir guidebook.IMG_0196I had a good look at the top of the windmill, where there is a big wheel and a wooden screw called a ‘Worm Screw’.   There used to be chains that hung down and the miller would have used the chains to turn the the top of the mill,  known as ‘The Cap’ to face the wind.IMG_0195I also had a good look at the four wooden frames (before posing for a photo by the door).  The frames would have been covered in canvas sailcloth, and a small boy known as a ‘Nipper’ had the job of climbing out onto the frames to attach the cloth.   I don’t think I would want to be a nipper.IMG_0114Once inside the windmill I set about climbing up to the top.  This took me quite a while.IMG_0139At the top there was a trap door.   I was a tad worried that it might suddenly open up so I decided not to walk over it.  Sacks of grain used to be hoisted up through the trap door.IMG_0143 Grain would have been tipped out of the sacks into this huge wooden bin.  The grain then traveled downwards through canvas chutes to the hopper above the mill stones on the floor below.IMG_0149There was an enormous wooden wheel with an iron band around the outside; known as ‘The Great Brake Wheel’.  The miller would have applied the brake by pulling on a rope (which was attached to a lever) which was passed down on the outside of the mill.  The Great Brake Wheel was used to slow down or stop ‘The Wallower’ (the horizontal wheel)  which drove the upright shaft.  IMG_0148I carefully went back down the wooden ladder to ‘The Stone Floor’ where the millstones are housed.  I got a bit distracted here as there were some windows, so I climbed up to have a closer look at the sail frames.IMG_0141One of my humans took a photo of me from the outside!IMG_0157The next floor down is ‘The Machine Floor’, with the huge upright shaft which takes power from ‘The Wallower’ at the top of the mill to the great spur wheel.   Here I am sitting on the leather belting drive having a good look at everything.IMG_0174Downstairs there are two millstones that make me look like I am even smaller than I am.IMG_0182There were also some weights which were impossible for me to lift.IMG_0186I climbed onto the scales but they didn’t even move.  This must mean that I haven’t eaten too many cakes yet.IMG_0133On the ground floor I was pleased to find some miller style clothing for people and bears to try on.  I rather like the hat but I am not sure about the smock, it was a tad large.IMG_0121Before leaving the mill I had a go at milling some grain using some small bear sized millstones.IMG_0129

After a visit to a mill I usually purchase a bag of flour milled there, but Bembridge Windmill hasn’t been used for milling since 1913, so that wasn’t possible!

A very interesting place to visit.

Horace the Alresford Bear 26/4/17

For more information about Bembridge Mill:  https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bembridge-windmill