Sunday, December 18, 2011

Something important, what was it? No, no, no, hold on. Tch tch tch tch... Oh, I know! Merry Christmas!

Not managed to post for a while, because it has been such a busy year, but I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the guests we have had, this year, for all their very kind comments about the cottage.

My brother is often in my thoughts, but particularly at this time of year when I sit down to watch the Doctor Who Christmas special on Christmas Day.

I am so pleased that the cottage has brought such pleasure to so many people. My brother would have loved that and it has proved a fitting memorial for a good natured soul.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Never mind about the time slip; we're on holiday

James, Cathrin, Laura, Amy and Ellie & Lucy had such a good weekend at the cottage this summer they made a video about it !

Glad they enjoyed themselves - if your thinking of booking, it gives you an idea of the fun to be had in this part of Kent !

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

As a boy, I always wanted to drive one.

We had an enjoyable trip, during our holiday, on the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway.

It was the World's smallest public Railway until 1982, when the 10 14 in (260 mm) gauge Wells and Walsingham Light Railway opened. It runs from the Cinque Port of Hythe via Dymchurch, St.Mary's Bay, New Romney and Romney Sands to Dungeness. It is a s a 15 inch (15 in/381 mm) gauge light railway.

Constructed during the 1920s and opened on 16 July 1927, the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway was the dream of millionaire racing drivers Captain J.E.P. Howey and Count Louis Zborowski. Zborowski was killed in a motor racing accident at Monza before the Romney Marsh site was chosen, and Howey continued the project alone.

The railway was damaged during World War Two when the line was taken over by the military. A miniature armoured train was used on the line.

Laurel & Hardy re-opened this line after the War in 1947. They travelled the line pulled by a loco called DR SYN. This loco is still working today and is pictured above.


At New Romney station there is a Toy Museum, a large model railway and cafe. 

The Model Railway features a Rat train !

 In the Doctor Who story 'Black Orchid' the Tardis materialises on a train station and a puzzled Adris asks the Doctor what a railway station is ? The Doctor replies "Well, a place where one embarks and disembarks from compartments on wheels drawn along these tracks by a steam engine - rarely on time"

 In the Elenth Doctor audio story "The Runaway Train" the Doctor and Amy land in America in 1864 and must get a posse together to help them retrieve an alien artefact. The duo are chased across the Wild West by the alien race, their only hope of escape is catching the 3:25 train to Arizona.

Monday, August 22, 2011

She's got 10,000 children swimming around the canals...

The Royal Military Canal runs for 28 miles between Seabrook near Folkstone and Cliff End near Hastings, following the old cliff line bordering Romney Marsh with its wooded hills and quiet villages.

As England faced the threat of invasion from Napoleon, who had massed an army of some 130,000 troops and 2,000 boats on the French coast near Boulogne, thoughts turned to how to defend the Marsh which was expected to be the landing point for any French invasion.

By the time the Royal Military canal was fully ready for use, (The canal was completed in April 1809 at a total cost of £234,000 ) the threat of invasion had long since past. Napoleon’s plans for invasion suffered a major setback following his navy’s defeat at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. He withdrew his troops from the French coast and focused his intentions on central Europe.

The canal became an embarrassment to the Government - it was considered to be a white elephant of the largest proportions and a huge waste of public money. 

Despite the fact that the canal never saw military action, it was used to try to control smuggling from Romney Marsh. Guard houses were constructed at each bridge along its length. This met with limited success because of corrupt guards.

The Royal Military Canal is an excellent place for quiet enjoyment, whether walking, fishing or simply watching the world go by. 

Walking along the quiet canal banks today it is easy to forget that this was once the scene of intense activity.

The Canal is a short drive from the cottage and there is a little booklet of canal walks with the Tourist Infomation pack in the Kitchen.

In 'The Vampires of Venice' Doctor Who had his own canal adventure:

Dessicated corpses, terror in the canal and a visit to the sinister House of Calvierri – the Doctor takes Amy and Rory for a romantic mini-break, as the TARDIS touches down once again.

But 16th-century Venice is not as it should be. The city has been sealed to protect it from the Plague, although Rosanna Calvierri may have other plans...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Fortunately, we're in England.

Another trip out we had during our holidays was a visit to Bodiam Castle just over the border into East Sussex.

Bodiam Castle was begun in 1386 by Sir Edward Dalyngrugge who was granted a licence to crenellate his mansion at Bodiam. Instead of just improving the current building, Dalyngrugge took the opportunity to build a completely new castle from scratch on a new site near by. Dalyngrugge won his spurs fighting in France with Sir Robert Knowles and amassed a large amount of wealth along the way. When Sussex came under threat from attack by the French, king Richard II was willing to allow the local lords in the area to fortify their homes and help defend the country. Bodiam was built in the valley of the Rother, a river which at the time could have been used by large ships to travel inland.  

It was built at an evolutionary stage when the nobility were looking for more comfortable, agreeable places to live that offered them security, but also represented an outward show of their wealth and rank. 

Even in its decay and ruin it is one of the most beautiful castles in England and the very epitome of a medieval castle - it looks like the work of a giant bucket and spade.

The impressive towers and broad moat of Bodiam Castle are like a scene from a fantasy as you gaze at them for the very first time - so it is not surprising that the castle was chosen as the location for the Doctor Who story 'The Kings Demon'.

The Doctor and his companions arrive at a medieval joust and are surprised to be greeted warmly by King John, who calls them his demons. But when a young nobleman returns, having just left King John in London, the Doctor realizes that this king must be an impostor! Then the Master makes an appearance and the Doctor's worst fears are confirmed... 

Friday, August 19, 2011

What's the use of a good quotation if you can't change it?

Time travel - if you can keep it straight in your head, when all about you
are losing theirs and blaming it on you; you'll be a timelord, my son

The cottage has been fully booked most of this Summer, but luckily we did book ourselves a week !

Over the next week, I will post details of some of the places we visited. 

A really good day out can be had at Bateman's, the home of the writer Rudyard Kipling.

He wrote in Something of Myself about his first impressions of the house: was the heartbreaking Locomobile that brought us to the house called 'Bateman's', we had seen an advertisement of her, and we reached her down an enlarged rabbit-hole of a lane. At very first sight the Committee of Ways and Means [Mrs Kipling and himself] said 'That's her! The only She! Make an honest woman of her - quick!'. We entered and felt her Spirit - her Feng Shui - to be good. We went through every room and found no shadow of ancient regrets, stifled miseries, nor any menace though the 'new' end of her was three hundred years old...

Rudyard Kipling settled in the house in 1902, and lived there for over 30 years, until his death, rejoicing in its seclusion under the Sussex Downs, and in the evidence all around of thousands of years of English History.

The first decade of his new life there saw the creation of Traffics and Discoveries (1904), Puck of Pook's Hill (1906) - the hill can be seen from the lawn at Bateman's, to the south-west - and Rewards and Fairies (1910). 

The Jacobean house is built of sandstone quarried from a local site and the tiles are all baked from Wealden clay. The delightful house is set in 33 acres of pretty grounds bordered by the River Dudwell with its watermill erected in 1750, which has been restored and is still used for grinding flour.

The interior of the house reflects Kipling's strong links with the Indian subcontinent including many oriental rugs and Indian works of art and artifacts. Exhibitions contain manuscripts, letters and mementos of Kipling's life and work. The heart of the house is the book lined study at the top of the stairs where the writer worked seated at the 17th century walnut refectory table.

Kipling was a pioneer motorist and owned several Lancasters and Rolls Royces, including his Phantom I built in 1928 which is on display. The cartoonist who drew this cartoon for Punch actually based it on one of Kipling's cars.

The house is now held by the National Trust as a memorial to Rudyard Kipling, and can be visited between April and October.  

As always, a link can be found to the world of Doctor Who:

Evolution is an original novel written by John Peel. Sarah Jane really wants to meet the journalist Rudyard Kipling, so the Doctor sets the co-ordinates in the TARDIS. Not materialising in quite the right place, the are pursued across the Devon Moorland by a massive feral hound.

Meanwhile something strange is going on, children going missing, strange lights in the waters of the bay, fishermen being found mutilated and graves robbed of their corpses.

A young Rudyard Kipling sets up search parties for the missing children while a ships doctor by the name of Arthur Conan Doyle is determined to investigate.

The Doctor and Doyle join forces to uncover a macabre scheme to interfere with human evolution - and both Sarah Jane and Kipling face a terrifying transmogrification.

If you enjoyed the Philip Hinchcliffe / Robert Holmes era of the series, you'll enjoy this book. It is out of print now but you should be able to find a second-hand copy on Amazon.

Monday, July 11, 2011

It's a fez. I wear a fez now. Fezzes are cool.

Last weekend, I was doing my usual cleaning jobs on change-over day, I spotted a new addition to the contents of the Apple Barn.

A fez had miraculously appeared from nowhere !

At first, I assumed that a guest must have left it there as a merry little jape, but then I realised that, of course, the Doctor had made one of his surprise visits !

Do any previous guests recall hearing a wheezing, groaning noise or a sound like the trumpeting of elephants ?

Do they have any recollection of catching a glimpse of a mysterious figure in a brown tweed jacket ?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Yo ho ho!...or does nobody actually say that? - Lydd Club Day

Last Saturday was Lydd Club Day. The Club Day started as a livestock market supported by local shopkeepers who paid into a ‘club’ to attract people to come into Lydd to spend their money. It was revived in 1948 and is an annual event held every year on the third Saturday in June.

Today it is a good excuse for fun with stalls, a funfair, floats, fancy dress competitions, a procession through town, and the crowning of the years new Club Day Queen.

We decided to have an Open Day at the cottage to coincide with Club Day - an opportunity for local children to get a look at the Tardis and Dalek.

We had visitors of all ages and they seemed to enjoy the sight of a Tardis in Lydd !

My favourite float was the pirate one - they certainly seemed to be into the role playing!

The pirate theme seems to relate to a one-off drunken idea that has turned itself into another annual event in Lydd. One that seems to have cemented itself into both the history and heart of the town.

Known simply as 'Pirate Friday', local residents gather on the 3rd Friday in June dressed in outrageous pirate gears; this is soon followed by copious amounts of rum being consumed and the shouting 'Yaaaaarrrrrh'. The source and evolution of the event is unfortunately unknown, with many people within Lydd and the surrounding area staking claim. However, despite the ongoing battle to decide who actually created Pirate Friday, the fact remains that it has now undoubtedly become an important day in Lydd's history.....Yaaaaaaarh

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Broadsword calling Danny Boy

We went down to the cottage this weekend and went along to the Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne, near Folkstone.

This is a monument to aircrew who flew in the Battle of Britain. It was initiated by the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, and opened by the Queen Mother on July 9 1993. It is formed of a large propellor shape, (seen from the air it forms quite a landmark) with the figure of a seated pilot carved by Harry Gray sitting at the centre . Also on the site are replicas of a Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire and the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall, on which appears the names of the almost 3000 fighter aircrew who flew in the Battle.

I spotted a 'Banister' in the list, but as my surname has 2 'n's I don't think it was a relation!

Of course, Doctor Who did it's own little tribute to the Battle of Britain pilots in, the Mark Gatiss penned, 'Victory of the Daleks'.

Monday, April 25, 2011

What d'you think then? 3

Mark and his family stayed at the Cottage last week and posted a very kind comment on my previous blog post.

Unfortunately, they discovered a very disturbing crack in the Apple Barn bedroom!

Mysteriously, however, this had completely disappeared by the time I came down to clean and change the linen!

Neighbours report seeing a man in a fez - possibly a phantom plasterer?

Look out of your eye, the corner of your eye . . .

Fabulous Cottage, but what's that crack in the wall . . ? 

Mum and Dad; not Daleks - just big kids really!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pain and loss, they define us as much as happiness or love

Elisabeth Sladen 1948-2011

I think that Colin Baker has best summed up my feelings on the sad news regarding the death of the actress Elisabeth Sladen. "Very sad to hear of the death of Lis Sladen. Great sympathy for her husband and daughter. She was far too young to be lost to them."

I know how hard it is when someone dies at such a relatively young age, my brother David being only 51 when he died.

He died only a year after my younger brother and so we, inevitably, had discussions about our own mortality and funerals, althoough we had no inkling of how little time he had left.

He said something like "I don't worry about myself, it is the ones left behind who I feel sorry for"

It is a cliche but true, that, although I think of my brother every day, the grief, the sense of disbelief, eventually do give way to the memories he left behind.

Setting up the Cottage was a way of processing the shock and I am glad that it is bringing enjoyment to so many people - especially the children.

Apart from her family and friends this must be a particularly difficult time for children who have grown to love Sarah Jane in her current adventures on CBBC.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

“Change my dear… and it seems not a moment too soon!”

One thing that has surprised me, since starting to let the cottage, is the number of people who want to book it for just the weekend, or for just the mid-week, rather than a full week.

I suppose this reflects the how busy people are in modern times, or the fact that people would rather have a number of short breaks over the year than one big holiday.

Having the change-over day as a Saturday created quite a few logistical problems - most people want to start a weekend break on a Friday night. However, this then made it difficult to schedule in the people who wanted a full week.

I have, therefore, altered the change over day to Fridays - hopefully this will make bookings fit together a little more easily, and enable me to have the full weekend with my family!

What d'you think then? 2

Another posting in my occasional series showing comments and photos from guests.

Thomas and Heather had a good time, as can be seen from these amusing photos!

"What a geek fest! We had a smashing time. Loved all the Dr Who stuff and cottage. Thanks!"

Heather has posted on her vakshun on her blog!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

People never really stop loving books - 1

There are, of course, lots of books relating to Doctor Who in the cottage - but I am also trying to build up a libray of books relating to the local area. These include the Doctor Syn books by Russell Thorndike, the childrens books by Malcolm Saville and the Mapp & Lucia books by E.F. Benson.

I am also hoping to add books by Rumer Godden, John Ryan, Clive King, Monica Edwards and John Christopher who all had links to or wrote stories set in the area. More on these as I add them to the library.

My brother found a copy of 'The Little Kingdom' by Richard Church in a charity shop and as it seemed like the sort of thing that guests would enjoy I obtained a copy on Amazon for the cottage.

It is an anthology of poems, folk ballads, patches of descriptive prose, snatches of history that bring to life two thousand years of the story of Kent. It is illustrated by John Ward A.R.A (who also lived in Kent) and his delicate drawings are very evocative. Here are two of Romney Marsh (click on them to enlarge):

Of Dungeness and Lydd, Richard Church writes a very lyrical piece which ends:

"I cannot imagine how these people make a living; but they appear to do so, and to thrive sufficiently to make the life attractive. They dig into the shingle and find delicious fresh water. This is miraculous enough, and maybe it is a symbol of other vouchsafements by which their habits are enriched. I should not be surprised if they have a technique for extracting honey from the sea. Where does that fresh water come from, since Lydd has the lowest rainfall in England?"

I don't know if that last statement is true - but if so, it bodes well for holiday makers at the cottage!

I have also obtained a copy of Richard Church's novel, The Bells of Rye. This exciting and colourful adventure story is set in Rye in the 1370s when the French attacked and burned Rye and carried off its church bells and the men (and some boys) of Rye and Winchelsea reciprocated in the following year. John Finch the boy hero lives on Watchbell Street. He and a sharp-witted hunchback foil a traitor’s ambush by stowing away on one of the avenging ships.   Actual events and characters of the time form the background of the story: a good introduction for youngsters to a key episode in Rye’s history. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Greatest Show in the Galaxy

My birthday treat this year was a trip to see the Doctor Who Exhibition at Olympia.

It is the first ever interactive Doctor Who exhibition. Divided into two sections, the initial part verges on a theme park ride whilst the second section is more of a traditional display of monsters, costumes and props.

I think they have achieved a good balance between providing thrills and spills for the children and interesting objects for adults to pore over.

Having worked on audio visuals for museums and exhibitions I know that this is not always the case.

Often museums are so desperate to 'get down with the kids' and introduce new technologies that they end up dumbing down - they forget that the objects within them are, in themselves, exciting and that there is no substitute for the real thing.

The first section is particularly fun to go around when there are plenty of children in the group.

As a somewhat jaded 'professional' I could see how the tricks worked, but could also see how my ten year old self would have been absolutely blown away by it all.

The reveal of the Tardis is one of the oldest tricks in the book (the old ones are still the best ones!) but it was great to see the astounded look on the kids faces as the Tardis 'materialised'.

You do get to actually go through the TARDIS doors and into the console room. It’s not a faithful recreation of the TV console room (that would have required a lot more space) but it is bigger on the inside and it’s great to get up close to the console.

The children in the group had a great time here, as there as some controls for them to get to grips with and Matt Smith (who appears via a screen: he needs you to help him out) actually tells the adults to let the kids work the controls! (The Tardis is, apparently, nore sensitive to child humans)

The interactive section is quite short but you do get to become entangled in a war between the new Daleks and the old ones and experience a 3D section. This is very effective - it feels like the Cybermen are shooting directly at you and the Dalek eye stalk is right in your face!

Older fans are likely to be just as excited about the final section - a more traditional display of props, monsters and costumes.

This is very well laid out with two console rooms - the Ninths and Tenths and  the 1980's one (complete with moving time rotor), and lots of aliens. All the costumes of the various Doctors are there (although some are clearly not the originals). There are two full size Tardis's - the Matt Smith one, and also the 70's one.

I particularly liked the set of Cybermen heads through the ages, and the Robot from Tom Baker's first story. This used to be displayed at the entrance to MOMI back in the Eighties - I remember seeing it with my brother David. MOMI is still sorely missed among cinema afcionados and film students.

Ignore the shop at the end, if you can (not easy, I admit if you bring the kids) - the items are over priced and can generally be bought much cheaper online.
It is quite an expensive day out (I think the cottage is much better value, although more of a sedate experience!) but I guarantee that you will leave with a smile on your face. It is great to see so many ecstatic childrens faces!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Never mind about the time slip - we're on holiday!

A very interesting article appeared in the Saturday Guardian, a couple of weeks ago, on the Romney Marsh area. You can read the article here:

Sadly they missed out on the TARDIS experience in Lydd!

The cottage is now booked out for virtually the whole of April - clearly two successive four-day weekends, bookended by bank holidays, Easter and the Royal Wedding mean that people are keen to book some time away.

It is interesting that most of the bookings have been quite last minute - not sure if this is due to people seeing how the economic situation is developing or the balmy weather of the last week making people think about being by the sea!

So far the bookings have been quite a mixture. A few couples have stayed - the cottage seems to be popular as a birthday or anniversary surprise for a spouse who is a fan of Doctor Who.

Not surprisingly, Easter seems to be popular for families. I have been a little concerned at not having any bookings for the Summer, yet, but perhaps if people are not going abroad they leave it later than they usually might?

Friday, March 11, 2011

What d'you think then?

 Now we have had a few guests at the cottage it is great to be getting some feedback and to know that people are enjoying it all as much as I had hoped they would.

Hannah wrote "Had a wonderful time in the cottage. Beautiful and cosy place, very welcoming. The area is also nice and charming. We really enjoyed exploring the area by day and discovering classic who by night. Thank you for an amazing week."

Lindsay recommends The George Hotel "What a cute cottage! Very lovely area, highly recommend The George for friendly staff, good food and internet. Amazing Who collection - I loved waking up and seeing the Tardis out the window!"

Sarah said "Had a lovely time! This was a great holiday! Thank you for all the hard work in setting this cottage up!"

It is comments like that which really make me feel it was all worthwhile.

Yesenia comes from America and wrote "As an LA based fan it's difficult to find Doctor Who based adventures so thank you for making this location/home available for new memories."

The photos here have been kindly suppled by Steve and his wife, who stayed last week - loved Steve's comment "I love everything here. I am in Nerd Heaven!"

I think that my brother would have loved the fact that so many people are enjoying the cottage and his collection.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Chap with the wings there -- five rounds rapid.

Very sad to hear of the death of Nicholas Courtney known and loved by all Doctor Who fans for his role as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.

My late brother David was quite a shy person, did not go to many conventions, and would never have dreamed of going up to one of his childhood heroes and introducing himself. But, I had a mutual friendship with one of Nicholas's drinking companions and astounded my brother, at a convention, by dragging him along to have a chat with Nick!

Nick, as always, was charming.

Sadly, another of our childhood heroes died this week. Alfred Burke played the role of Frank Marker in the TV series Public Eye which ran from 1965-1975.

Network Video released many of the existing episodes in a series of DVD's from 2004-2008 and my brother and I eagerly awaited each release.

Many of ths situations portrayed in the series conclude imperfectly, often with Marker leaving the status quo as it is, in comparison to modern television the stories unfold at a leisurely pace.

It is full of subtleties - one understated aspect is Frank's relationship with his landlady. She gives him a mug with his name on for his new office. Many episodes later, when most of the viewers would have forgotten where he had got it from,  his attachment to this mug becomes apparent.  Blink and you'll miss it, but in an adjunct to the main action of the episode, the mug gets broken and, rather than throw it away, we see him repairing it - perhaps revealing his affection for her?