Saturday 19 October 2019

Horsey Windpump

The late, great Whitney Houston said it best; I believe that children are our future. Teach them well about National Trust scones and hopefully they'll remember to come and visit you in the nursing home and take you out for a cream tea every now and again (I'm paraphrasing a bit there).

I've been taking the education of junior scone fans very, very seriously over the past few months. I'm nearing the end of the National Trust Scone Odyssey (I have to be finished by December 2020) and before I collapse over the finish line in a clotted cream coma, I'm hoping to have inspired the next generation to start a similar project. Otherwise what are we all going to read?

I decided that a field trip was in order. Luckily, I've spent the last twenty years working in marketing so I was able to create a tantalising itinerary for several of my youngest friends; we would get on a boat and sail down the Norfolk Broads to the National Trust property with the very best name (Horsey Windpump), we'd carry out a thorough review of the scones, then we'd head into nearby Great Yarmouth where we'd spend several aeons putting £5 of coppers into a slot machine in the hope of winning a unicorn keyring worth about 10p. There would potentially be doughnuts and a lot of chips. Were they in? Readers, they were in.

Horsey Windpump

An early start was needed, so I booked accommodation. I was insanely pleased with myself here; back in the day, I would spend many a Friday night drinking alcoholic beverages with my school pals in a pub called The Cherry Tree. And now here I was, on a Friday night with those same school pals drinking alcoholic beverages and saying things like "did anyone bring any toilet rolls?" in a static caravan on the Cherry Tree Holiday Park! See what I did there? It was completely lost on everyone but I remain delighted with myself.

ANYWAY - let's get on with the tale of Horsey Windpump. If there had been a Carry on Farming film, then the Kenneth Williams character would surely have been called Horsey Windpump. It's such a great name. When I first started this quest, HW didn't serve scones and so I had resigned myself to never visiting. And then earlier this year I got the nod that scones were now on the menu. Usually this kind of news causes me all sorts of trauma, as I have to add another property to my endless list, but in Horsey's case I was overjoyed.

Here are some historical facts:
  • There has been a drainage mill on the site since the early 1700s
  • There are similar mills dotted all around this part of Norfolk - by draining the land using wind power, landowners could make more area available for farming 
  • Drainage continues today - there's an electric pump doing all the work these days, but if it wasn't there then the area would be flooded:
  • The area used to be an island used for grazing or keeping horses (hence the name), with one access road that regularly flooded
  • The current windpump structure was built in 1912 on the foundations of the 19th century mill
  • Horsey Windpump was working until 1943 when it was struck by lightning 
  • It was acquired by the National Trust and has been restored - its sails were set in motion for the first time in 76 years in May this year, which must have been a great moment
  • As with all mills, it's not the most accessible property - there are several floors and 61 steps to negotiate to get right to the top, most of which are very narrow (I can report that the young sconepals cared not a jot about this and were scampering up the stairs like squirrels)
  • If you have time and the right footwear (it goes without saying that I didn't), there's a three mile walk from the windpump down to Horsey beach where you might be able to see grey seals
We had taken full advantage of the windpump's location on the Broads by hiring a boat and arriving in style via the water.

Amalia demonstrating some exceptional, possibly genetic, sea-faring skills
John also showing considerable sailing expertise 
We were also treated to a bizarre Rawhide moment when a herd of cattle suddenly appeared and came running down the road. Maybe they'd heard that we were in town and eating all the scones. Whatever - I was just glad that I was safely inside the windpump at the time or I'd have run screaming down the path, pushing small children out of my way as I went.
Rollin', rollin', rollin'
But let's move on to the Horsey Windpump scones. The tea room at Horsey is tiny but the staff were very friendly and tasty beverages and scones were soon served to the team:
Horsey Windpump Tearoom
The young apprentices hard at work - from L-R: Olivia, Amalia, John, Amy and Lara
The scones weren't home-made:

Horsey Windpump scone

But everyone enjoyed them - below you can see Olivia and Amy demonstrating their advanced scone preparation skills, which were honed on a previous outing to Overbecks back in the summer:

And so our National Trust scone field trip came to a close and we headed off to the Pleasure Beach in Great Yarmouth. It had been a resounding success though, and five young sconeoisseurs have moved closer to their black belts in National Trust scone appreciation.
Lara raising funds for the next field trip

Horsey Windpump: 5 out of 5
My scone score: 3.5 out of 5
Average scone score from my young apprentices: 3.8 out of 5 (I've trained them well)
Average scone score from their mothers: 4.2 out of 5 (way off - embarrassing really)
Arriving by boat: 500 out of 5 - I highly recommend hiring a boat 

A special thank you goes to eight year-old Sconepal Amy, who also provided some lovely photos of Horsey Windpump from her collection. I'm thinking of making her my official photographer.

Photographer: Amy King

Photographer: Amy King

1 comment:

  1. Things have changed at Horsey. Indoor seating was removed during the pandemic, as it was such a small space. This has been replaced with an oven and prep area. Scones are now made on site in addition to a selection of cakes. It would lovely to see how it compared now.