Neath Abbey, Neath Port Talbot – August 2014

This feels cosyCroeso nol !

I am saying ‘Welcome Back’ in Welsh because we are travelling back in time and space again to Wales in August 2014. This time we are at Neath Abbey in the town of Neath which has been used as the filming location for several Eleventh Doctor episodes.

Croeso a Abaty Nedd

Neath Abbey is close to Neath but it feels away from it all and it is a very tranquil place to visit. It is managed by CADW who protect Wales’ heritage – CADW is a Welsh word meaning ‘to keep or protect’.

Neath Abbey is 885 years old and was first established all the way back in 1129AD by the Norman Richard de Granville for Savigniac Monks from Western Normandy in France. It became a Cistercian monastery in 1149. The abbey remained open until 1539 when the Tudor King Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries. The abbey is now fallen into ruins but you can use your imagination to feel what it was like to be there when it was the largest abbey in Wales.

What is that?

When I visited it was very peaceful and I was alone with my companions. The weather was mild, ideal for exploring the area where, in Vincent and the Doctor (2010), Vincent van Gogh fought the Krafayis – a monster only he could see! Luckily,there was no alien there when I visited. Or was there…?

The Control Room in The Beast Below (2010) was also located in Abaty Nedd (what Welsh people would call it) where the Doctor and Liz 10 looked at the brain of what keeps the Starship UK up in space – a Star Whale which was the last of it’s kind !

Also , the Gangers in the two- part episode The Rebel Flesh and the Almost People (2011) used a machine in one of the chambers of the monastery they worked in to turn the Flesh into Gangers – again, filmed here at the abbey.

I could not recognise any of these scenes; the abbey looked a lot different in real life. The cast and crew must have transformed the whole place to film these episodes! There were also barriers all over the site as the horrible weather we had in the winter damaged the walls and they were not safe. CADW are working to save the abbey from further damage.

I spent my time there trying to picture what the abbey would have looked like before it was dissolved and it was, as historian John Leland put it “the fairest abbey of all Wales.” I like visiting ruins because I like to put myself in the same places where history has been made! I think the building is in very good condition for it’s age really. I did make friends as I came out – with a lovely brown dog. We had a fun game of ‘fetch’ and apparently he goes to the abbey everyday for his walk so if you go I hope you bump into him.

And no , that ISN'T the Dartmoor Hound !

I suggest that all Doctor Who fans should definitely go and visit – it is a great place and it’s free to get in!

Thanks for reading – my next post will be about an exclusive Classic Doctor Who location that I was lucky enough to visit at the weekend. I hope you come back and check it out!

Dewch yn ol yn fuan!

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Hound Tor, Dartmoor, Devon – September 2014

Don't jump!

(UPDATE – Uh-oh, TARDIS Malfunction. One of my readers told me that I actually landed at Haytor, not Hound Tor. Looks like I visited the wrong bit of Dartmoor, guess I will have to go back again one day. )

Surrender to the glory of the Sontaran Empire!

Help! There’s a Sontaran in my house whilst I write this. ‘Take that!’ A bosh on the head. Phew, it’s just disappeared through the floor. It must have followed me back from Hound Tor in Dartmoor where The Sontaran Experiment (1975) was filmed….

Hound Tor was the filming location for Picadilly Circus in the year 16087! In this episode the Sontarans were experimenting on humans. The Fourth Doctor, Sarah and Harry teamed up with some GalSec colonists who were stranded on Earth to defeat the Sontaran, Styre. Luckily when I went there was no sign of any Sontarans taking people away to experiment on!

Welcome to Dartmoor!

When I went on my adventure I left my TARDIS at the bottom of the hill and walked up to take a look at Hound Tor. No Sontarans about but plenty of Dartmoor ponies! The ponies were dark and majestic and were not frightened of the humans all around. The hill was very steep and the ground was very slanted and bumpy. Luckily when I got to the top I was as fit as a fiddle, but my companions were out of puff.

At the top of the hill is the rock pile that is said  to have been the inspiration for Conan Doyle’s book ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ and in fact that episode of Sherlock was filmed here too! Sherlock Holmes was the detective created by Arthur Conan Doyle and The Sontaran Experiment’s Script Editor was Robert Holmes! Spot the difference! What a coincidence.

Enjoying the view

The area was first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as ‘Hundatora’ and is believed to have taken its name from the word ‘hound’. There was a rumour that ‘The Hound’ was a dog that had been changed to stone by some witches! Lots of people think it is a place of mystery and some people are scared of it and believe they have seen ghosts. I didn’t see any ghosts of any description when I was there.

 

I felt as if it was deserted as there was hardly anyone to be seen for miles. There were some climbers who had a lot of gear and were climbing the hard side. They could have just walked up the back! The views were amazing and it gave me a burst of joyfulness to be there.

Looks like an entrance to a whole new world!

 

 

I explored all around before I climbed to the top of the rock! I found it really easy climbing up the rock and soon reached the tip-top. It was as windy as an air tunnel and the air rushed around my nose and ears turning them into the colour of a Violet. It was a great view, I could see a lot of horses and the moor which was gigantic and stretched out as far as the eye could see. The people in the distance looked like ants. I felt like Superman at the top.

This is a great view!

I really didn’t want to come down as I was having a great time at the top. I almost wanted to jump down but it was too high. I started to walk down but the rock was jagged and bumpy under my feet and I felt as if I would slip down. I had to be slow and steady.

On the way back to the TARDIS

Then it was back to back to my TARDIS and on to another adventure. I can’t wait to go back to Dartmoor and explore there another time – maybe then I will get a glimpse of the Beast of Dartmoor?

Thanks for reading and see you very soon. Right, I’m going off to play with my grenades.

Bye!

 

DEF Con 3, Totton, Hampshire – October 2014

Welcome to DEF Con 3Greetings and welcome to DEF Con 3!

DEF Con 3 was held this weekend in the Empire Hall in Totton near Southampton and spilled out across the town. It is a Sci-Fi Fan convention run by Nerdageddon and raised money for the Piam Brown Ward at Southampton General Hospital.

I knew there would be Cosplayers but this time I didn’t want to dress as the Doctor as I have on other occasions. I dressed as another character. Can you tell from the photo? Leave a comment if you want to take a guess.Can you guess who I am?

The first thing I did when I got there was go to meet Colin Baker – The Sixth Doctor! When I arrived he was free and I thought I would take my chance. He is the Second Doctor I have met, after Peter Capaldi. The Sixth Doctor was very stroppy, a bit like the Twelfth!

Colin Baker - No 6! The second Doctor I have met.

I was extremely shy meeting Colin, although he was very friendly.I couldn’t believe I was talking to the Doctor! I asked Colin where his favourite location was where he filmed Doctor Who and he told me it was Seville in Spain where he filmed The Two Doctors (1985). I fancy going to Seville for my blog!

Then I asked Old Sixey if there would be a second Five-ish Doctors Reboot (2013) but he said he doesn’t know. He said they needed a good idea for a story first, to top the last one! I hope there will be a sequel because I really lol-ed and rofl-ed at the first one –  it was something that could always tickle your funnybone!

I chose a picture for Colin to sign and he posed for some great photos with me.

Later I went back to Colin to ask if he could travel anywhere in time and space, where would he like to go? He had a quick think then told me he would like to ‘travel to London, 1000 years in the future, just to see’.

It was really good to meet Colin because he was a very nice man. He didn’t have the yellow curls anymore – or the bright trousers!

Then I went on to meet Simon Fisher-Becker who played the Eleventh Doctor’s friend Dorium Maldovar , who owned a black market bar in the 52nd Century known as The Maldovarium. On his website Simon is described by Tom Macrae as ‘ The best blue actor in the business!’.  Simon was also in Harry Potter as the Fat Friar.

Simon Fisher-Becker - not as blue as I expected.

Simon is a great chap, like Colin, and was very chatty. I asked about filming locations and he said that when he filmed as Dorium he spent most of his time in the studio but he does remember filming in an aircraft hangar at three in the morning and being very cold!

He was wearing a medal from the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Fun Run which was given to him in New Zealand. This virtual fun-run was to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Doctor in November 2013.

Simon told me about his one-man show ‘My Dalek Has a Puncture’, all about being an actor. He has been on a tour with his show and new dates are being added so I will go and see his show when he comes locally to me next year. It sounds like it is going to be really funny!

Next I asked Simon where he would go if he had a TARDIS and could travel through time and space. He said that he would want to be there for First Contact – even it was just to make the tea! He also said that he would like to witness his own family history and see if his family’s stories were true.

It was really nice to meet Simon and I hope I meet him again in February when I see his show.Hello Empire Hall

After I met the actors from Doctor Who I trotted around to see what merchandise there was and saw the stars from other Sc-Fi. There were even stars from Red Dwarf and Star Wars  including Daft Vader – David Prowse! Ooops, I mean Darth Vader.

There was a Lightning McQueen outside one of the halls and when I went out to take a look, a man honked his horn really really really loud. There was also a huge 35ft Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters.

I enjoyed looking at all the Cosplayers and saw a Brigadier Lethbridge – Stewart, a Fourth Doctor and a Tenth Doctor. Someone had brought along a K9 and I thought someone had dressed their dog up so they could get in for free.

Oh, and I bought my first FEZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Fezzes are cool.Cool as a Fez.

DEF Con 3 was really good fun and I had a great day – I hope they do it again next year.

Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll come back soon.

May the force be with you!

Winner announced – Doctor Who Annual 2015 Competition

This is what the winner will be getting.Hello everyone – now I shall tell you who the lucky winner is of an Official BBC Doctor Who Annual 2015.

I asked the question:

If you could go on an adventure through time and space, where would you like to go?

Time to pick a winner....

Last night I picked the winner at random by numbering the entries and picking a number out of my hat!

Congratulations to the winner, Amanda! Here is her answer.

I loved being a child in the 80’s but would have loved being older to appreciate it a bit more, the food, clothes, music and tv programmes.

I’m not sure I agree – I’m not too keen on 80’s fashion!

I would like to go to the year 2525 to see if there really will be knowledge machines for people to sleep in to find out facts, and if people still walk to places or if the pavements do it for them.Oh, and celebrate my 520th birthday!

I enjoyed this competition A LOT and loved reading everyone’s ideas and opinions. More people seemed to want to go the past rather than future. The past has many amazing things but we do not know what the future has in stock for us so that is why I would prefer to travel to the future.

Thank you to everyone who entered, it was really good fun and I hope I have more competitions in the future.

I hope you enjoy your prize Amanda!

See you very soon for my next Doctor Who location report,

Bye!