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!