Visit to Bletchley Park (2019)

The Mansion at Bletchley Park

We haven’t been to Bletchley Park since, well, I don’t know when!

It was certainly before I started blogging regularly – a rough guess was back in the early 90s!

We set-off just before 9.30, picked up Conor C (our treat for getting himself into the Army), and headed-off to see what had changed there.

Since that first visit, a lot of money has been spent on preserving and improving this iconic location – a location so important in the 2nd World War timeline. It received a Heritage Lottery Fund Grant back in 2011, as well as various other donations – and now looks all the better for it 😍

The Lake at Bletchley Park

Initial impressions were good excellent! First of all, there’s now a reasonable-size car-park (I think we parked in a side-road back in the 90s!). Additionally, there’s a proper Admissions/Ticket area (a converted Hut) leading to a short, but powerful audio-visual introduction of the significance of Bletchley Park – a great start!

It’s not difficult to appreciate the significance of the great work done here. Home to almost 9000 staff at its height, history has recorded that the efforts of Bletchley’s staff, shortened the War by almost two years.

The Admissions/Ticket area

The next thing we noticed was whereas, during our 90s visit (where the Mansion was the focal point) now, all the main attractions were housed in the numerous Huts.

Still, the Mansion is most definitely worth a look! It’s beautifully restored and it’s now a place for various code-busting-related exhibitions and an outlet for their Bletchley Park Gin launched just yesterday. Luckily, for Gin-lovers, there were free samples today too! πŸ₯΄

After a thorough look round the Mansion, we headed for the famous Huts. There was plenty to see here. The Lottery Grant and donations from big names such as BT, Google and even Steven Spielberg, has, IMHO, been spent wisely and appropriately, So-much-so, I think it’s one of those attractions that’s worth a second (or even third) visit to take it all in.

And if authentically re-created code-cracking rooms from the 40s aren’t your thing, there’s probably the most comprehensive exhibition of various code-breaking machines that I think I’ve ever seen! πŸ‘

…and a general history of super-computing from the perspective of code-breaking too, using a wide variety of static displays, AV presentations and touch-screen interactive screens…

‘The Bombe’

In fact, there was an awful lot to take in, and I’m pretty sure we’ll be returning before too long (helpfully, tickets are valid for a year!) 😁😁

To complement the machines, perhaps, as expected, there’s a very comprehensive set of displays outlining the genius of Alan Turing.

Statue of Alan Turing

“The Geese that laid the Golden Eggs and never cackled” – Winston Churchill


So many Huts, so little time! πŸ˜‰. We’d now all ODed on those, and after about an hour-and-a-half, we headed for our penultimate stop – the National Radio Centre – a brilliant showcase for radio communication technology…

“10-4 Good Buddy!”

…from valves to 5G, it had it all !

Our final stop was their new D-Day Exhibition. Perhaps a little smaller than we had imagined, but there was still plenty to see!

The ‘D-Day’ Exhibition

To finish, it was the obligatory look round their Gift Shop. It sported a good range of the normal tat, plus plenty more far more intelligent choices! πŸ€”

Surprising Fact of the Day

I didn’t realise how important pigeons
were in World War II!


There’s an interesting article HERE


1.45pm: We headed home and dropped Conor off at his. Reflecting on the day, we concluded it had been a very enjoyable experience. It’s fair to say Bletchley Park has been completely transformed since our first visit, 25+ years ago – and what an experience!

All of today’s photos but none of my chat HERE πŸ˜πŸ‘

Leeds, Feeds and Boats

Leeds

7.50am: A relatively early start today as we planned to catch the 8.51 Train from Peterborough Rail Station heading for its counterpart in Leeds. We’re catching-up with Dennis & Sandra for one of our semi-regular day-outs together.

We’re starting to build up quite a history now, as this will be our seventh get-together, having already enjoyed…

Today, they’ve organised a day in Leeds for us, and we’re planning to visit

…and no doubt, we’ll squeeze in some good food and a few Shandies along the way! πŸ˜πŸ‘

8.51am: We like Trains that are on time! 😊 (hurrah!)

10.21am: Thanks to a squeaky wheel and a speed that suggested our Driver had left the handbrake on for the first 10 miles, we arrived around 6 minutes late. πŸ˜• (boo!)

We met up with our friends at WH Smiths at Leeds Station and headed for our first stop – The Armouries Museum.

But who wants to walk or grab a traditional Cab, when there’s the Leeds Water-Taxi on offer??

…and it was free too! Brilliant! πŸ‘

10.35am: With great views along the short route of the re-developed Docklands! πŸ‘

Ten-minutes later, after enjoying a pitted history of the Dock area from our Driver err Pilot err Captain, we took the short walk to the Museum itself.

Think of everything that comes to mind about what a Museum looks like…

…and then immediately forget it!

Wow!

Design-wise, the layout of the Museum was very unusual – with lots of and housed in acres of space! A great first impression! πŸ‘

..and did I mention it’s completely free to get in! 😁

The view to the top from the ground floor

Five floors of virtually everything you could imagine about weapons and armoury – from the first bullet designs to modern warfare. And if that wasn’t enough (and it would have been!) there were various live demonstrations….

11.45am: Our first… (Floor 2)

This was how sword-fights were done back in medieval times. Very convincing choreography and a first-class explanation of the ‘whats’, ‘whys’ and ‘hows’!

With the first Demonstration over, we wandered about the various Galleries. Currently, there’s a special Gallery all about the Victoria Cross (Floor 3). Great stories of courage! πŸ‘

A very comprehensive Museum!

Next, it was another live Demonstration. This time, Normans v Saxons, with our ‘Saxon’ (David) firing-up the crowd beforehand (I’ve never seen kids so excited! – including us 😁) Armed with swords, shields and spears they showed us in great detail how these battles were fought.

Time for a trip the Oriental Exhibits. Nicely presented (again!) with plenty to see.

1.45pm: A spot of Lunch is called for. So we headed to the nearby ‘Dock 29‘.

…and what it lacked in customers, atmosphere, product knowledge and cutlery (that’s all!), it made up for with an incomprehensible selection of continuous music. With the tunes clearly aimed at the ‘yoof’, it was a pity then, there were none there. πŸ˜•

Still, it didn’t matter, we were hungry, and it all went down a treat. Suitably stuffed, we headed back to the Museum. It was clear now that we wouldn’t have time to do anything else today – but that suited us perfectly as the Museum had so much to offer! πŸ‘πŸ˜

Stand in front of the target – you’ll be safer! πŸ˜‰

2.45pm: Our penultimate experience at the Museum was the rather excellent ‘Crossbow Range’. Yes, really! On the very top floor, for a paltry 3 groats each, supplied with 8 bolts per person, we were let loose attempting to hit the target. Surely, with our recent experience of archery and rifle shooting at our Warner Weekend would help us?

Err, no! Let’s say, it was fortunate that we didn’t get to keep our targets. I blame the uncalibrated crossbows! πŸ˜‰

Be afraid, be very afraid!!!

Last experience was another live demonstration. This time, that everyday task: ‘How to prepare for a jousting event’. Again, a first class presentation, expertly delivered!

Don’t call me ‘Lance’!

4.10pm: Wow! It had been a full-on day, in a good way, and the time had passed in a flash. It was great to see Dennis and Sandra again and I reckon this had been one of our best Museum visits ever!

…this had been one of our best Museum visits ever!

4.25pm: As time was tight for 4.45pm, we all walked back to the Station rather than queue for the Water Taxi. Ironically, when we got there, there was a delay in announcing the Platform. After a delayed departure, we were on our way, reflecting on what had been an EXCELLENT day-out. Thanks to our friends Dennis and Sandra for getting it all organised.

6.15pm: We arrived back at Peterborough Station on time and were soon back on the road heading for home.

7.05pm: Shattered! (in a good way!). Time for a cuppa!

For your viewing pleasure, all the photos from today are HERE