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Monday 14 May: The White House, Abingdon to Bletchley Park

An achievable and educational day at Bletchley

rain 12 °C

Today was Bletchley Park day. Leaving Abingdon before 10am, I arrived at Bletchley Park about 11:45; paying my entry fee, carpark fee and booking in for the 12:30pm guided tour, there was just enough time to briefly check out the museum downstairs from the ticket office.  I was given a sticker to wear that said I was a Visitor and paid £1 extra to tour the National museum of Computing. Those visitors on the 12:30 tour were advised to meet at The Mansion. A sign at The Mansion advised Tours began at Block H .... but I couldn't see a Block H on the map. ..... it seemed that the buildings were Huts listed numerically. It was 12:30 so I joined the group that was milling around The Mansion. The tour guides are all volunteer ex serviceman from WWII and very informative. After a few minutes, I noticed everyone in the group had a different sticker badge than I had ..... they were all young people and looked like students and when the guide said they could spend only 5 minutes looking at the car museums, I realized I was in the wrong group. I looked for another group .... It was 12:35 and I found another group who were all about my age group and joined them. The tour guide was into his welcome and introduction so I thought I was in the right place. We were then ushered into Hut 8 where the guide detailed the history of the Bombe machine (a type of code breaker machine) and described how the cypher and decipher worked. After 10 minutes he ushered everyone to The Mansion for lunch!!!!!! Now I knew I was in the wrong group again as everyone had different stickers again and proper name badges!!!! I managed to find someone who looked important and had a name badge to indicate he was an employee (not a volunteer) and explained my dilemma. By this time, the 12:30 group had had their introduction and welcome at block H which turned out was the National Museum of Computing which was supposed to be the last of the buildings to visit ( as well as meeting outside there to commence). Well, I guess it made sense to the other folk in the group but I misses the logic. Anyway, I joined the "correct" group and all their badges looked like mine and I had already had the welcome and introduction in the other group. So, we all went into Hut 8 and I heard about the Bombe machine again!!!!! 

I really wanted to visit this unique site as it played such an important role in WWII and the codebreaking activities here are reputed to have taken two years off the ending of WWII. The history of the code breaking machines is phenomenal and the ultimate tragedy of one of the inventors is heart breaking. Alan Turing, mathematician and code breaker, committed suicide at age41. He, and his colleagues, we're really responsible for the logic of the "first" computer but because their inventions were of necessity secret, others (Americans) tended to claim they invented the first computer.

After the guided tour, we were able to view the exhibits in our own time. There is a working Post Office on the site, an extremely comprehensive and large Winston Churchill museum with an eclectic collection of memorabilia including a copy of the letter King George wrote to Churchill advising against being present on D Day. There were certainly gaps in my history knowledge which were partially filled, but further reading is essential as this tour really caught my interest. The involvement of women in the code breaking and in aspects of the activities at Bletchley Park was in a special Hut as was the use of homing pigeons to drop messages at the front.

The day just flew and I then had to drive through three counties to get to  tonight's accommodation in Litton in Derbyshire. It was raining heavily in Bletchley Park when I left ...... and peak hour. I would be absolutely lost without the GPS. The GPS girl is very patient and does not get cross when I take a wrong turn. She says ....... turn around when possible!  There are roundabouts ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE. Some are so big they have several sets of lights in them. The GPS girl tells me to take the fourth exit .....  and I wait for the lights to turn green and wait so long I forget which exit I was supposed to take. So, she recalculates the route and we go a different way!  When you are driver, navigator and photographer ..... the GPS is just essential. I drove for three hours to get to The Derbyshire Dales through some absolutely stunning and unique countryside.  I wanted to experience narrow country lanes and historic villages .....  and that's what it was like driving here. Just gorgeous ..... through another rainstorm and into a double rainbow!!!!!! before the GPS girl told me to turn left and the pots of gold were on the right. Didn't want to upset her again!

Random facts about driving in the UK:

A sign to a pub serving food all day called "The Butcher's Arms" ...... would you eat there? I wouldn't!

A sign to Weak Bridge ....... well I did get to the other side in one piece.

Road signs that look like a bra ..... always wondered what that meant until today there was a sign underneath advising the ground where the sign is located is unstable and the road could sink at any time!!!!!

You know you are driving in England 

.... because instead of signs with kangaroos on them, you have deer, people on horseback or pictures of cows and sheep

..... the town/village names are so quaint and have ham in them and ton, and ing and sometimes all three; also wold, barn, cot and mires.

........ the village names and road names have descriptive prefixes or adjectives in front of them ........ Upper, Lower, Green, Far, New (but it could be a town 400 years old!!!!!

I am staying in a B&B on top of a view that is indescribable. .... my photos will not do it justice. It's a cold wind blowing but the bed is sure comfortable and Janet, my host, is a typical Derbyshire lady with a broad accent. I arrived about 8:30 and she advised me to go to the next village for fish and chips for dinner as the pubs shut at 8:30 serving meals. Met a man from Ballarrat in the Fish and chip shop ... originally from Tideswell (where the F&C shop was) but lived in Australia for 18 years and had not lost his unique Derbyshire accent.

Thank you for reading this installment.
Love to all Lyn xxx

Posted by Lyn Dennis 17:00 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged b&b tideswell bletchley_park

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Glad to hear you got a gps ma! They will save hours of unknown...interesting to hear about computer cipher/ decipher and code breaking... A heap of my uni stuff has been about this and the RSA cipher (not sure if that term came up for you) Anyways of sounding like a nerd, good to hear from you... Did you get my mothers day email? If you did, my car survived, just being temperamental as always... State cup on sunday with my new team, will be interesting.

Love you!

by sed287

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