We used the sunny (if still stormy) weather on Sunday to visit Zaanse Schans. It’s a historical village that’s existed since 1961.. How does that work out? Well they selected old buildings from different surrounding villages and moved here. Today it is a museum and consists of about 40 houses and almost ten wind mills. The first thing I learned here is that the stereotypical buses of tourists unload here in the same way as they do in everywhere else. While visiting the cheese shop, they swept in like a wave and suddenly there was no moving forward or backward any more. People were taking pictures of cheese, themselves in front of cheese, them taking pictures of cheese, them standing in line to buy cheese and we were in the middle of it. Fighting our way out took some time and we decided that we’d set off into the more distant parts to avoid the crowds. The more distant parts, also conveniently, contains the mills. The first thing I learned about mills was that wind mill isn’t equal to wind mill. The mills in Zaanse Schans include oil mills, wood cutting mills,spice mills and the world’s only working dye mill. Purely by chance I picked the dye mill as the one mill I wanted to visit.. I had no idea at the time that it was the only working dye mill then or that it had a mid-twenties miller that would be open to a twenty minute grilling by me and my friends.
The basic principle of the dye mill is the same as a grain mill.. Only that it grinds chalk rather than grain. This dye mill currently grinds large amounts of chalks and is selling their chalk to local soccer clubs, painters and similar. The miller showed us how he positions the blades into the wind and told us that he climbs each of the blades every morning to put the sails up. He also showed us the mechanism with which they reduce tropical wood to red dye for clothing.. That is, however, super noisy and ideally not used on the days with large amounts of visitors.
He told us that he had followed a two year class to become a miller and was specialised in this wind mill and everything here basically was under his command. He showed us how everything worked and happily answered all questions that we could come up with.. And we came up with a lot of them.
We didn’t visit the interior of the other mills (each of them asks for individual entry fees and we were starting to feel sickly again), so we’re not hindered by facts when saying that De Kat clearly is the best mill in Zaanse Schans and probably world wide. I never thought I would enjoy visiting a wind mill that much.