My big obsession on this trip to England was to get out to Bletchley Park. I have a major character who worked there during World War II, and it's gradually built into something of an obsession for me. It's not one of the standard tourist visits, but I poked around websites and loaded the family on the tube at rush hour, from there to get on a train up to Bletchley.
Dad and Grandpa on the train.
Mark, me, and Grandma on the train.
The countryside was pretty relaxing after rush hour on the tube.
The foot path from the train station to the Park itself was a bit rustic, and we had a flashback to the time the bus driver left us in apparently the middle of nowhere, with assurances that it was, in fact, that road to Gardemoen Airport Hotel.
Grandma sets the pace.
The guided tour started at the mansion, which was exactly the monstrosity it was supposed to be. Everything was just as it was supposed to be. I spent the day wallowing.
The mansion's ballroom. If you're in the area, they do weddings and other events. Think of that! the geekly glory of being married at Bletchley Park. Well, I think it would have been glorious.
One of the ceilings inside the mansion.
Bicyclists arrived along this road with copies of the intercepts every day during the War. It was also the only part of the Park that was ever bombed, and that apparently accidentally. They kept talking about how Bletchley Park was Britain's best-kept secret. It seems to remain so. You, Brits and people visiting Britain! Go see it! It's privately supported, so if we don't support it, it'll go away.
Hut 4 is now the cafeteria.
Some of the early huts. Most of the big names (like Turing and Welchman) worked in these before moving on to the larger, later huts, and the still-larger, still-later buildings.
Our tour group. If you look closely, you can see not only some of my family members, but also a little old lady in blue, in a wheelchair. She worked at Bletchley Park during the War, and I got to talk to her about it after the tour was through.
Memorial to the Polish cryptographers who in large part made the work at Bletchley possible. Anyone still attached to Dumb Polack jokes should go read Hugh Sebag-Montefiore's Enigma.
The lake. I know, it's just a pond, but it was all just as I'd pictured it. Swans and all.
Hut 6, Gordon Welchman's hut, as described in The Hut Six Story by the same. We had an elderly lady on our tour who had worked there during the War. She said she never had understood what they were doing, but she was very pleased at my interest.
Alan Turing's hut.
The rebuilt bombe at Bletchley.
The back plug-ins of same.
Colossus in the computing museum there.
An enigma machine.
Naval enigma machine.
Mark with the wiring.
Can you tell how happy I am in this picture?
We could see these cottages on the road out, and they, too, were perfect, just as I'd imagined them.
We looked at the time on the train ride home and decided that as long as we had to take the tube somewhere, we might as well take it to Harrod's, have afternoon tea, and wander around Herrod's until after rush hour was over. This turned out to be an excellent decision. Hazelnut paste. Mmmmm.
Harrod's toy departments have good fun. Mark and Boba Fett. I tried to take one of my folks with the Lego statue of Hagrid the Giant, but it didn't come out.
Dad and the fossil. Parental age jokes omitted here.
Grandpa and King Tut. Grandparental age jokes omitted here.
Even the phone booths at Harrod's are pretty cool.
And the ceilings in the stairwells, too.