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:

..it 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.