Top-hole place to visit

Top-hole place to visit


I have no idea why it’s taken us so long to go there. A visit to Bletchley Park has been on our radar for a long time, the more so since Bettine went with the WI and came back full of enthusiasm. But it took Bill and Wendy’s visit to get us there and of course, as soon as we arrived, we could see why everyone was so thrilled by the place.


The introduction offered a flavour of what was to come: a rather British story of overcoming adversity, more than a few stiff upper lips and an overall jolly good show. All the technology was here too - the storytelling devices and the visual effects we appreciate. From a standing start we were up and running, curious to learn more and find out about the people and the challenges they faced.


Having been introduced to the place and the people, we made our way over to the house.


As soon as we stepped inside the Director’s office, we were taken back in time to the headmasters’ offices of our schooldays and that of my hero’s father when he was Commandant of a police training college in the 1950s.


His secretary was close at hand of course.


Being in such a place immediately highlights what changes there have been in the meantime. Would anyone working in this office recognise a contemporary office of today? (Every desk had an ashtray!)


The exhibits in the house focused on the people, then. Profiles of those who worked there, their recruitment and their lives.


The stories - and the presentation - were startling and rather amusing in turn.


Everything was presented in the “house style” too - I appreciated that!


And what is it about someone’s diary that makes it irresistible reading?


Had we left at that point, I’d have been quite satisfied, for I hadn’t given much thought to what else was here.

We headed for the huts.


The next couple of hours were going to test every braincell and grey matter I possessed.


Yes, of course we could have wandered around admiring the exhibits and looking at the interesting displays. But come on….we are puzzlers and quiz fanatics. We like nothing better than to work stuff out. The Enigma machine? Piece of cake…



Any misplaced confidence in being able to follow every step of the way was soon lost, as we moved from “simple” coding through to more complex methods and machines. Here, the story was of Alan Turing and of rotors and the Bomba machine.


I’m not even going to try to explain. I will, however, say that everything was beautifully displayed, there were short films and clear explanations for those of us who were fascinated by how it all worked. Just don’t ask me to repeat what I learned.

It’s secret. (Or at least, that’s my excuse)


The final hut we visited was one with a more general display of associated themes, including a room set that looked uncannily like 6, Clovelly Avenue in Hull, where I spent the first nine years of my life. Oh, and surely that handbag in the picture above belonged to my Mum or one of her friends?


Of course, everything was so much smaller than I remembered, but all the details were there, including that Readicut hearth rug which was just like the one my parents made when they were engaged. They each started at one end and met in the middle - or so the story went.


One unmistakeable family member was there too, a Merrythought bear in the same family as my own Special Teddy, my first birthday present from my Daddy?


By the time we came across this chap, sitting nearby and looking a little more forlorn, we too were flagging a bit. Not so footsore but certainly brainsore! So we said ‘bye to Alan Turing’s teddybear and returned to the car for the drive back to London.

We will surely be back. In fact, our tickets are valid for a year so there really are no excuses! I have a feeling that I will be starting from scratch again when it comes to working out those coding machines again though.



Pussycat, Pussycat, where have you been?

Pussycat, Pussycat, where have you been?