Sunday, December 23, 2012

Never underestimate a tree

The cottage has been decorated for our guests staying over Christmas....hope they get lots of lovely presents from Santa and the tree behaves itself !

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Madame Nostradamus made it for me. A witty little knitter....

A new addition to the cottage collection - the Fourth Doctor's scarf.

It is an official BBC replica modelled on the most recognisable and iconic one, measuring 13ft/ 3.96m – including tassels – in length and 10” (28cm) wide.

Begonia Pope was asked to knit a scarf for the new Doctor by the costume designer, James Acheson. Acheson had been inspired by Henri de Toulouse Lautrec’s painting of his black coat and long scarf-wearing friend, Aristide Bruant, and bought a mass of multi-coloured wool.

Begonia was unsure how long a scarf was required. She consequently used all of the wool she had been given, resulting in a ridiculously long scarf. The producers loved it and, after it had been shortened slightly, used it for the Fourth Doctor's first story Robot

Monday, December 10, 2012

Patrick - behave!

Sad to hear of the death of Sir Patrick Moore, he could be quite an irascible personality and some of his political views were somewhat dodgy at times, but like many of my age he has seemed a permanent and eccentric fixture on our television screens.

Indeed, he presented the BBC programme The Sky At Night for over 50 years, making him the longest-running host of the same television show ever.

On 3rd April 2010, he appeared in the Eleventh Doctor's first story playing himself as one of the experts contacted by the Doctor to help design a computer virus to alert the Atraxi to the whereabouts of Prisoner Zero. This extract shows his sense of humour and willingness to send himself up.

The Doctor: [the Doctor has transmitted the reset virus to everyone in the conference call, and asked them to ensure it is passed on] Any questions?
Patrick Moore: Who's your lady friend?
The Doctor: Patrick - behave!

Another example of his sense of humour can be found when he took a telephone call from the Doctor:

Friday, December 7, 2012

Sunday, August 26, 2012

And one whacking great kick up the backside for the Silence.

Neil Armstrong's death reminds us of the huge effort that made manned space exploration possible. As a tribute to the man, here is one of a series of four programmes I made for Channel Four commemorating the 40th anniversary of his epic journey. You might recognise that the narrator is the sixth Doctor - Colin Baker !

Doctor who did it's own little tribute to the man when his mission to the moon became a focal point for the resolution of last year's episode Day of the Moon .

As his famous first words upon stepping onto the surface were watched by the millions of viewers around the world, the Doctor was able to broadcast his own message to defeat the Silents.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

That's the Box. The Blue Box. It's always there. Like a magic carpet.

Another posting in my occasional series featuring comments from the Visitors Book. This year, as you can see, some of our our younger guests have been inspired to create some really lovely drawings.

Just imagine the Vision On gallery theme as you look at them!

“A great cottage I love all the Tom Baker episodes (the special FX are a bit iffy though!)

“We had a great holiday! We watched lots of Classic Who. I cried like a baby at the end of Earthshock. Thanks for a brilliant weekend! Don’t forget to be awesome!

“As a Dr Who fan I loved it – great location and a dalek as a friend lol” 

“Lovely cottage. Great holiday for a 20th birthday, Doctor Who fan! Been to Rye, lovely cobbled streets, visit the Cobbles tea room for an old fashioned brew! Dungeness very weird, like stepping back in time.”

“We thought having breakfast in the tardis would be a little cramped for the five of us, but once we all got in there we realised how spacious it was…!”

“The cottage is really great. Very much enjoyed the Dr Who stuff…’ahem’ I meant the kids did obviously. Dungeness is just strange + wonderful! Really glad we visited + Rye as its charming”

“Fantastic place! Geek Heaven for a Dr Who fans – and a cosy retreat for anyone else. Loved it!”

“Fantastic stay, kids loved seeing Dolphins in the sea at Dungeness – so much to do close by! Thanks!”

 “Brilliant cottage - bit of a Dr Who convert now...We hope to return."

“We are massive Dr Who fans, including Mum + Dad!! Your house is ‘amazing’ not only for the Dr Who memorabilia but the cozy cottage with a fab vintage looking cooker!!!”

"Wonderful break once again. We have found our favourite retreat. Hopefully be back early next year. Many thanks”

As I have mentioned, running a holiday cottage has turned out to be a lot more hard work than I had imagined, but comments like these make it all feel worthwhile and I am sure that my late brother would have really loved the fact that so many people are enjoying his collection.

Monday, August 13, 2012

They tell legends of Mars, long ago.

Here is an extraordinary photograph of the Curiosity Rover, coming into land, taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

So there is life on Mars - at least, man-made life capable of taking a photo of another piece of man-made life!

Of course, the Doctor has had more than a few adventures with life on Mars - namely the Ice Warriors.

Personally, I think it is about time the Eleventh Doctor had a run in with them.

The Tenth Doctor got there just a bit too late, but the images of Mars from his story are in HD and a lot better quality than Curiosity's have been so far!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

When did you last have the pleasure of smelling a flower

Last weekend we planted some summer flowers to cheer the courtyard garden up.

We have been letting the cottage for about eighteen months now and this is probably a good point to answer some of those questions that people ask me about running a holiday let.

Firstly, I would say, if you are just interested in doing it to make money - there are easier ways!

It is always going to be more lucrative and less hard work, if you are interested in making money from property, to simply let it on a permanent basis to tenants.

You do have similar duties, in terms of health and safety, as a long let landlord - but you do not have the duty a holiday let landlord has to make your property a good holiday experience.

You have to remember that visitors expect a high standard of cleanliness, and an attractive environment.

These duties include cleaning, changing linen, gardening, changing lightbulbs and the myriad things that make a stay special.

This means maintaining the property to a higher degree than you probably do your own home and that your visitors do their own homes. Because, when you are away on holiday you do not want the daily chores and minutiae of your normal life to intrude any more than is necessary and you want to escape from the clutter and untidiness that, perhaps, is a common factor normally.

One of the reasons we always feel relaxed when we stay at the cottage is the fact that it is uncluttered and functional - unlike are own messy house filled with the detritus of two children !

As a holiday let landlord you also need to consider that, the Council Tax, the TV license, the Broadband connection, electricity bills, water rates etc; all have to be administered and paid by yourself, not the tenant.

Obviously, all these factors, and seasonal variations, need to be taken into account when you price a holiday let. You will be charging holiday visitors more than you would permanent tenants -  but you do need a lot of bookings before you can reach the same levels of income that you would with long lets.

If you actually sit down and work out the amount of time you are spending on maintenance you are likely to find that you are earning far less than minimum wage for your effort !

However, we did not set up the cottage to make us a lot of money, it is a tribute to my brother's memory and somewhere for us to escape to (when not let!) for a bit of R&R.

So to sum up, my advice, if you are thinking of setting up a holiday let, is, don't do it as a money making venture because you won't make a lot of money out of it. If, however, you get a lot of pleasure, as I do, from reading in the Visitors book that you have given children some fine memories to take away with them - then go for it. After all money isn't everything (Try telling that to Barclays Bank directors).

We have Trees

As you will be aware, the cottage was set up to house my late brother David's collection of memorabilia.

He lived in Lancaster so we also planted a tree in the Lune Valley to commemorate his life.

As David's was one of the first trees planted on this new site there are no trees in front of it and you get a nice view of the River Lune.

We also put a bench there in his memory, and it is at the end of the path to the plantings, by the tree.

We popped up North to take a look at how the tree was doing over half term. I had a nice conversation with an elderly gentleman who was also visiting a tree. He has to use a walking frame to get there so he likes to sit on the bench and he says that he always says hello to David and thanks him for the bench !

That cheered me up, I think David would have liked the fact that the bench has proved so useful and it is nice to think of him being thought of by the people who use it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Lay one finger on the dragon, bilge-bag, and I'll rivet your kneecaps together!

Come not between the Dragon and his wrath.....
The history of England in the 1520s and 1530s was somewhat turbulent to say the least.

The conception and the development of the performance of Lydd's unprecedented four day play of 'The Lyfe of Saynt George' was undoubtedly the product of these times of crisis.

The reason we know it was a four-day play is that 3s 4d was paid 'for 3 barelles of syngyll bere the first 3 playe daies and afyrkyn the last pley day'!

Besides the records of players coming to Lydd, there were minstrels who covered a wide range of entertainment and other performers such as bear wards and ape handlers, jugglers, puppet players, footballers and Morris dancers. 

Lydd would no doubt have been particularly pleased with its patronage of St. George as a diplomatic and civic identity because it was in `Lydd' that St. George was buried, albeit a place of the same name in the Classical East in the early fourth century. Lydd's vulnerability to attack from the sea, especially from the French, also made St. George appropriate for its identity

The play itself grew out of certain themes running through the accounts that increasingly appeared to fuse together prior to and along with the play's development in the 1520s. These themes were the experience in Lydd of poverty and war.

The traditional, conservative themes of Holy Poverty and Holy Chivalry are exalted, in particular, faithfulness, meekness and patience against extreme and unimaginable suffering. Very importantly, bearing these themes and concepts in mind, is the stress on unity between all ranks of society and the nationalist implications of George being the patron Saint of England implying a common purpose and identity for all subjects. This unity is shown in particular in the scenes where when faced with the dragon, and the ruin of the city, all classes are equally responsible for drawing lots and providing, from their own class, the dragon with sacrifices in order to divert the evil influence it has over the city. The accountability of government and royalty to the people is also promulgated and thrown into relief when the king has second thoughts when his own daughter is chosen, he eventually bowing to the `grutching and murmering' of the 'whole comonte'; the 'whole comonte' describing all rich and poor below the king.

 Perhaps, given the present economic situation, it is time to resurrect this four day extravaganza in Lydd !

After all, we are all in this together !

If you want to read more of "Class and the Social Transformation of a Late Medieval Small Town: Lydd c. 1450-1550" by Spencer Dimmock, you can download it for free by registering here:

As always there is a connection to a  Doctor Who story.

In Dragonfire, the TARDIS materialises in Iceworld, a space trading colony on the dark side of the planet Svartos. The Doctor and Mel encounter Glitz and learn that he has come here to search for a supposed treasure guarded by a dragon. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Why don't you go and get Mrs Grose to make you some afternoon tea.

In the story Ghostlight The Doctor takes Ace to an old 'haunted' house called Gabriel Chase in the year 1883. 100 years before events that took place within that very house in her personal past.

The writer, Marc Platt, includes several allusions and references to late 19th and early 20th century literature. Among the most notable, Mrs Grose is named after the housekeeper in Henry James' short story The Turn of the Screw (1898).

Lamb House is an 18th-century house in Rye and was the home of Henry James from 1898 to 1916, and later of E.F. Benson and Rumer Godden.

Lamb House was built in 1723 by James Lamb and the same year he was chosen mayor for the first time. In 1726 George I, returning from Hanover to open parliament, was driven ashore by a terrible storm and landed at Camber Sands. James Lamb escorted the king to his house where the family entertained him for three days.  On the first night Mrs Lamb, who had to give up the best bedroom to the king, gave birth to a baby boy. The king acted as godfather at the christening of the Lamb's son who was given the name George.

Henry James loved his home in Rye which was visited by many other famous writers and artists. He became a British subject in 1915 and was awarded the OM in 1916. James suffered a stroke on December 2, 1915. He died in Rye on February 28, 1916. 

Lamb House is administered and maintained on the Trust's behalf by its current tenant and is open on Saturdays and Thursdays from March to October - 2.00-6.00.
See Lamb House website for details

Some of James's personal possessions can be seen and there is a walled garden.

Lamb House is the subject of Joan Aiken's novel The Haunting of Lamb House which is composed of three novellas about residents of the house at different times, including James himself.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Have you met the French? My God they know how to party!

One of the advantages the cottage has, being in Lydd, is that you are able to pop over to France in 20 minutes !

From April to mid-October there are regular flights from Lydd Airport to Le Touquet at weekends and on some Fridays.

Prices are £55.90 for infants, £138.54 for children and £149.94 for adults. So, if you fancy a day trip to France during your stay at the cottage it could not be easier.

You used to be able to take your car by air to the continent from Lydd airport. Silver City Airways was a private airline formed in 1946.  In 1953, Silver City took delivery of its first Bristol Superfreighter. The following year, the company moved to a new permanent home at Lydd FerryfieldBritain's first newly-constructed post-war airport.

By 1960, Silver City's 40,000 annual cross-Channel flights transported 220,000 passengers and 90,000 vehicles while network-wide freight haulage reached 135,000 tons a year.

My parents went on their honeymoon to Italy in an old MG Magnette in the 1950's and flew from Lydd Airport.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Poo, Jamie you don't half stink of fish!

25th February - 4th March is Rye Bay Scallop Week.

Rye's mouthwatering locally caught scallops are said to be some of the best in the country.

It is a mainly restaurant-based event when the local delicacy is at its plumpest and most succulent. The festival features cookery schools, cooking and scallop shucking demos. The week culminates on the final day with the hotly contested ‘What a Load of Scallops’ race with competitors racing barrows of scallops, through the cobbled streets of Rye, to win the coveted wooden scallop plaque.

King Charles 1st got his scallops from Rye, so if you like your scallops you shopuld enjoy the event !

Personally, I like scallops with bacon and here is a recipe.

Looking forward to viewing the recently discovered 'lost' episode of 'The Underwater Menace' - not the best of stories, but any performance by Patrick Troughton is a gem.