September visit 2018
Gordano Probus visit Police HQ
Members of Gordano Probus visited the Avon and Somerset Police HQ where they learned of the complexities of modern policing and the pressures that officers are under and how the force has reacted to new demands. At the heart of the force is a modern communications centre seeking rapid, accurate and comprehensive information to be able to provide the most appropriate response. The public demands are non-stop, 24hrs a day, 365 days a year and in that time around 1,000,000 calls are received, all requiring some response. Even the weirdest call is given credence until it’s priority can be clearly established. With the restrictions on public finances, as they affect mental health and social services, extra pressures fall upon the police, who for some people become their last hope for help. Some Probus members have even been on individual Police Ride Along shifts, where they experienced daily policing first hand as it happens and found it to be an eye-opener. Oh! for a magic wand to be able to eliminate the effects on people of drink and drugs. Members of the public can apply to go on the Police Ride Along schemes by visiting their website.
Oct 2018 Windmills of Somerset
Sarah Harris of “The Spinning Wheel” in Clevedon gave Gordano Probus a talk on Somerset windmills. Domesday records some 370 mills in Somerset. These would have been water or animal powered. In the 13thC wind powered mills first appeared on the hills and these would have been Post-mills where the whole mill structure rotated around a central vertical large post. Milled flour does not keep as well as grain and the local lord, or the church, would have had control of the mill and reserved the finest flour for their own consumption. Mills were relatively sophisticated pieces of machinery at the forefront of technology, but they were susceptible to strong winds, poor operation and fire. By the 18thC stone built Tower-mills appeared, where only the top of the mill rotates to luff into the wind. These were larger, more powerful, multi-storied and enabled the miller to do more things and be more efficient. Sarah has been researching local windmills for years and gave many accounts of a miller’s life as told by their descendants. Portishead has the remains of the last tower-mill built in Somerset (known as “The Windmill” pub/restaurant). Built in 1832 but operational for only 14 years possibly for the reasons of - its poor location on the lee side of the hill, the opening of new steam powered mills, the importation of grain from America, the new railway links and Somerset farmers changing from corn growing to dairy cattle.
George Dobson, the Nailsea bard, gave Gordano Probus an amusing rendition of many of his observational odes, which he started writing in order to raise funds for charities like Clic Sargent. Extracts, such as below, raised smiles and laughter.
“By the time you reach 60 you sit in your chairs,
With backs causing pain and frustration,
As the same group of friends air all their complaints
And compare who’s on what medication”
His latest book, “More Observational Odes”, he now publishes to raise funds for the Nailsea Festival of Music, that provides opportunities for adults and children to perform in singing, piano, creative writing, musical composition, speech and drama. His books can be ordered through website www.georgesbooks.co.uk or 01275 855572.