It’s been wound by hand for 600 years, but technology has finally caught up with the world’s oldest mechanical clock.
The duty of winding the clock three times a week, a task that takes an hour, has been performed by the same family for five generations. Before them a series of clock winders have been at the task since the clock was installed in Wells Cathedral, Somerset, England, in the 1380s.
But now Paul Fisher, the current clock winder, is retiring, and his sons are too busy to take over the task. Curators are installing an electric motor to wind it automatically.
It’s the end of a tradition that goes back to a century before Columbus’ voyage to America, and locals aren’t too happy about it. The clock has two dials, one inside and one outside. The inside face, shown above, has a 24-hour dial and shows the phases of the Moon. Interestingly for the time, it shows the Earth at the center of the universe, with the Sun and Moon revolving around it. The outside face has a more standard 12-hour dial, with mechanical knights who ring the bells and joust with one another.
Photo courtesy user Cormullion via Wikimedia Commons.
One of the joys of a well constructed road trip is that it isn’t as well constructed as you would have liked to it to have been, but it is here where fluke accidents occur. Some may call it a glitch in the matrix, but I say it is ice cream heaven on Earth. We didn’t anticipate going there because we never knew of its existence, but along a long stretch of Iowa highway rests a small quiet kind of town named Le Mars which has been proclaimed ICE CREAM CAPITAL OF THE WORLD! I shouted at my pal to pump the brakes and hook a quick left into the parking lot. My senses went into hyper-active mode and my emotions felt tangled. I was beyond feeling overjoyed, but in slight panic that we could have missed this lotus land for ice cream lovers. Once inside I felt my feet lift from the ground as I whiffed and followed the sweet scents from the various ice creams, frozen yogurt and waffle cones. As much as I LOVE ice cream I’m a fairly boring person when it comes to flavors. My personal favorites being natural vanilla, French vanilla, butter pecan and strawberry, I tend to stray from anything too exotic or containing explosive peanut butter filled chocolate bunnies. But that’s just me.
I ordered a cup of the homemade vanilla which wasn’t too bad on the pocket book ($2.19) and my companion had a strawberry cheesecake frozen yogurt on a waffle cone. Considering how incredibly warm it was in Iowa at this time of year (86 degrees) we decided to take our delicious desserts outside to bask in the afternoon sun. We walked around the big white Blue Bunny truck and stole a peek inside the museum which was closing in five minutes. Had we known about the place we might have been able to plan ahead and take a tour of the place, but once we finished our cones we were back on the open road and ready for the next big little secret spot to jump out at us.
Wonder why Le Mars is considered the Ice Cream Capital of the World? I did too, so before hitting the gas I asked and was told Le Mars is known for housing the largest family-owned ice cream production in the world. Owned by the Well’s family who still resides in Le Mars, Iowa it has little to do with taste or varieties, although they do have 37 different flavors. Find out more about Le Mars from their Visitor Guide and plan your own trip into the town.