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'Keep your nose to the grindstone' and the other

On a recent visit to Winchester, we dropped in to the City Mill and I was so glad we did.

What an amazing place!

The mill was actually working that day, milling flour which, along with recipe cards, was available to purchase in the shop!
There is a lot to know about milling flour it turns out and the mill, run by the National Trust, has displays, interactive exhibits and trails to keep all ages interested. The staff were extremely knowledgable too...and vigilant, as they must be whilst the mill is in operation. Flour dust, as you may or may not know, is explosive!

These displays in particular caught my eye - well known sayings that originate in the milling industry.
'Keep your nose to the grindstone' - The millstones must never be allowed to run without grain. They quickly wear out and could even cause sparks which would set fire to the mill. A quick sniff of the stones would tell you if they were getting hot.
'Rule of Thumb' - Millers would test the quality and grind of the flour by rubbing a small quantity between finger and thumb. From this the'd know if it were too fine or coarse and could change the conditions to rectify the grind.
'Fair to Middling' - The quality of the flour was graded fair, middling or fine. If you're feeling 'fair to middling' you're not at your best!
'First come first served' - A strict rule of milling to prevent impatient farmers jumping the queue!
'Show your mettle' - Millstones were often re-carved by travelling stone dressers. If the stone dresser had tiny slivers of metal embedded in his hands and forearms (which would have been thrown up from his stone cutting tools) the miller knew that he was experienced.


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