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Sunday, 2 September 2012

BLETCHLEY, BLENHEIM and BALLOONS

Bletchley Park, Blenheim Palace and Balloons along Hadrian's Wall. That's a summary of the last week.
We have been away for a few days visiting friends and rels "down south". We first visited DJ's aunt with results of his research into her brother and DJ's uncle who was a Lancaster Bomber pilot who was shot down in WW2. Then on to Oxfordshire to visit friends for a couple of days. This is new country to me and they took us out and about.
Bletchley Park was a great day out for me. It is the place where massive work was done to unravel the codes and ciphers the Germans used in WW2, so that their messages could be intercepted and understood.
Their sandwiches were pretty awful so they gave us some cakes to make up for it so watch out in the canteen, but all the displays were fascinating. So much stuff to see and understand.

The next day was spent visiting pretty villages and strolling round the grounds of Blenheim Palace. This is the home of the Marlborough family and is where Winston Churchill was born. The pretty village of Woodstock is nestled beside it.

 The gardens were the work of Capability Brown and are sweeping parklands with lakes and bucolic architectural features.
It costs a mighty £11.50 to stroll around this area, unless you are a local and have access through a gate hidden round the side. Our friends have friends who know a local so we accessed the park via the gate. It was very beautiful, but, as children we lived on Highgate Hill opposite Waterlow Park and it was just as majestic and beautiful and it was free. It had been bequeathed to the public for use by the "gardenless" and that was us for sure.

This weekend was the showing of the "Connecting Light" installation at Hadrian's Wall. It had been glowingly reported on the TV. WE set off after tea with warm clothes, a flask and a torch. We were met at the second full carpark by this.
But prevented from entry by arm-waving blokes in hi-viz jackets. The car park was full again. I rolled down the window to ask where next and was told "DUNNO". The light showed the next message...
So we did just what all the others were doing.
For those of you who know the Wall, this was at Housesteads. From here there was a half mile climb up a steep hill in the dark to view the highly rated "Art Installation". A bit of a struggle underfoot and breathing-wise but small kids were doing it so I plodded on. There was meant to be a line of meteorological balloons designed to pulse in various colours along the Wall. Here is the first one.
Ooops. No colour, no pulse, no neighbouring balloons to carry the light theme along. This one had fallen down and the others had too or they had simply stopped working. It was dark and hundreds of disappointed people were milling around. We left. People were still arriving and the place was almost gridlocked.
A few miles along the road home we found some at Brolitia which were still alight, but the moon had outshone them all, all night.
The moon was wonderful but simple cameras can't capture it. We had some exercise and enjoyed the drive and our coffee. The organisers had totally failed to plan for and cope with the large numbers who turned up and the blustery conditions on top of the wall. If anyone out there wants some suggestions for improvement please contact me.

Back home today. Tinker had been in the cattery for the first time in her short life and for five long nights, so has not left my side since returning. She is asleep beside me now. Probably with a very sore neck as a result of trying to climb into the dishwasher through the gap under the open door and not being noticed while it was being shut. The door was difficult to close!!!
Ah well, maybe she will be more careful with open doors and drawers.
Cheers Gillian

3 comments:

love those cupcakes said...

I really want to visit Bletchley and Blenheim. Must remember to pack some sarnies when I do go. Hope the organisers of the art installation ask for your feedback. Poor Tinker. Our cats refuse to even look at us when they've done a stint in the cattery.

chillsider stitching and opinions said...

We once went to Bletchley on our way to our favourite holiday retreat- Hastings Old Town. Totally agree about the inadequate cafe, but somehow it fitted in with all the other scrappy huts and air of British "make do".
So much has changed in our expectations since then, the war time pics reminded me of how shiny our life style is now.

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