Category Archives: New location

Dyrham Park, Gloucestershire -December 2016

Tom Project Indigo visits Dyrham Park in Gloucestershire
Welcome to Dyrham Park

Hello and welcome to 2017! I hope you enjoyed Christmas and FINALLY seeing a new Doctor Who episode – The Return of Doctor Mysterio (2016)! I really liked it, it is one of my favourite Christmas specials ever. It felt really different and I was so pleased that Nardole was revealed as a new companion as I have wanted the Doctor to have another non-human companion for a very long time. I am looking forward to Series 10 and seeing how the Doctor, Nardole and Bill get along. Please leave a comment and tell me what you think about the Christmas special, I would love to hear what other people think.

The entrance to Dyrham Park, Doctor Who filming location
The front of Dyrham Park

This time on Project Indigo we are visiting Dyrham Park in Gloucestershire, filming location for The Night Terrors (2011) which was an Eleventh Doctor episode. In this episode the Doctor, Amy and Rory visit a little boy in London who is so scared of his wardrobe that his fear is transmitted throughout the universe. This mission to help the child leads them to become trapped in a Dolls House where they must fight peg-dolls that would scare anyone silly!

Dyrham Park is a National Trust property near Bath. This country house was built in the late 17th Century for a politician named William Blathwayt who received the land through marriage to Mary Wynter. He is very well known in America as he was a key figure in the administration of the American Colonies and he also served as Secretary of War under James II and William III.

This house was chosen as the filming location as it looks like it would make a perfect Dolls House. I visited at Christmas time when the weather was grey but dry. First I explored the grounds which are famous for being home to a herd of fallow deer. The name Dyrham comes the Anglo-Saxon word ‘dirham’ which means ‘enclosure for deer’.  The deer park covers 270 acres! 

Tom Project Indigo explores the Lost Terraces at Dyrham Park
Exploring the lost terraces

The gardens are in the middle of a project to recreate the look of the 17th Century. I found a gate which took me to the Lost Terraces which are still undergoing work to restore them. I walked in the footsteps of William Blathwayt which have just been uncovered and looked down upon St Peter’s Church where he got married. It felt very tranquil in the terraces and I saw a lot of wild-life including a friendly robin, squirrels and a bird of prey.

Afterwards I went into the house which was very imposing. I recognised the wooden panelled walls from The Night Terrors but in the episode all the furniture had been removed for filming and replaced by Dolls House furniture, including a wooden frying pan. Luckily there were no peg-dolls there so I was not scared.

Tom Project Indigo visits Doctor Who 'The Night Terrors' filming location Dyrham Park
Enter the Dolls House!

I could see lots of worldwide treasures from a time of exploration including Dutch items such as blue and white Delftware Pottery and a still-life by Cornelis De Heem.  There was also a famous Trompe L’oeil by Samuel Van Hoogstraten, a picture which messes with your mind. Trompe L’oeil is French for ‘deceive the eye’ and creates a 3D illusion. In the 17th Century a painting like this was as new and exciting to people as a trailer for the new Nintendo Switch now!

Dyrham Park Trompe- L'oeil -'A View Down the Corridor' by Samuel Van Hoogstraten
This messes with your mind! ‘A View Down the Corridor’ by Samuel Van Hoogstraten

On the way out I was offered some hot chocolate made using a 17th Century recipe. For me it felt more like a punishment than a treat – it was very, very spicy!

It is not just Doctor Who that has been filmed at Dyrham Park – in the New Year some of the new series of ‘Poldark’ was filmed there too! Other things filmed at Dyrham include the film The Remains of the Day (1993) and the original series of Poldark from the 1970s.  

Tom Project Indigo hunts Pokemon at Dyrham Park
A most excellent place to hunt Pokémon!

I had a fantastic day at Dyrham Park and I would recommend anybody to check it out – even better if you are a Pokemon Go player because it is chock full Omanytes and lots of long walks to help hatch your eggs. 🙂  Thank you for reading and sorry it has been so long since I have written a post, now I am at Senior School I have lots of homework and can’t blog as much as I used to BUT Project Indigo is still going strong and I will try my best to get about in my TARDIS as much as I can. ALLONS-Y!

 

Botany Bay, Kent – August 2016

Tom Project Indigo visits Doctor Who filming location Botany Bay in Kent
Welcome to Botany Bay!

Hello and welcome to Kent – The Garden of England! It is August 2016 and the hottest day of the year so let’s cool down and take a little dip in the sea. Let’s go to Botany Bay in Broadstairs, filming location for Classic Doctor Who episode Fury from the Deep (1968).

Tom Project Indigo at Botany Bay
An amazing view for the evening

Fury from the Deep is a lost story from the Fifth Season of Doctor Who so I’m afraid I haven’t seen it but from what I have heard it is the first episode that features the Sonic Screwdriver. I still want to follow in the Doctor’s footsteps even if I haven’t seen the episode! This time I am following the Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, and his companions Jamie and Victoria who are at the beach to investigate a mysterious sea foam. Botany Bay was also a filming location for a BBC series called True Love which featured many Doctor Who stars including Tenth Doctor David Tennant, Billie Piper, David Morrisey and Ashley Walters.

Tom Project Indigo visits Doctor Who filming location Botany Bay in Kent
Football fun time

Botany Bay is the northernmost of seven bays in the Broadstairs area of Kent and is a popular tourist attraction. People come to swim, play on the sand and sunbathe and look at the unusual white cliffs. The cliffs are paper white because they are made of chalk. There’s a lot more to chalk than you may think. It was formed during the Cretaceous period, where the cretaceous period gets its name – the Latin word for chalk – Creta. Chalk is made of calcium carbonate which is why it is white. Calcium carbonate is formed by lots of coccoliths which are plant skeletons that have been compacted over millions of years!

Tom Projec Indigo at Botany Bay - Doctor Who filming location
I can’t see any smugglers, can you?

Botany Bay has a history of being a popular smuggling location. In the 1700s a man called Joss Snelling led a group called the Callis Court Gang and they would bring contraband ashore at Botany Bay. One night in 1769 they were ambushed by a Revenue Patrol and there was a gunfight and many people were killed in the Battle of Botany Bay.

Luckily when I went it was more peaceful. I couldn’t see any mysterious seafoam or smugglers. I parked my TARDIS on a nearby road and everyone was like ‘Wow! A TARDIS!’ (not really) then I walked along the cliff top and the hedges were full of little birdies. Although it was early evening the beach was very busy with everyone enjoying the sun during the heatwave. I went on to the sand, which was very warm under my feet, and walked along near the cliff face.

I wanted to dip my feet in so I went for a walk in the sea. The sea was a bit stony but not too bad, it was soft enough to walk on and there was not too much seaweed which is good as it feels weird around my feet. Sometimes there are rock pools to go crabbing in but not while I was there as the tide was in. It was a great way to cool down.

Thanet Offshore Windfarm from Botany Bay, Doctor Who filming location.
Can you see the windfarm in the distance?

In the distance I could see the Thanet Offshore Windfarm aka the TOW. This windfarm is the third largest offshore windfarm in the world and is located 12km off Foreness Point in Margate. These wind turbines produce electricity – enough clean energy to power over 200,000 UK households! I like looking at wind turbines as they have a good effect on our world and help take care of this planet for the future.

Above Botany Bay beach in Kent
Not so crowded up here!

I had a really fun time at Botany Bay, it was my favourite beach in Kent. Thank you to Doctor Who – The Locations Guide once more for helping to find this location. I really hope that I get to watch Fury from the Deep one day when it is found and get to see what the Doctor got up to at Botany Bay!

The next Film & Comic Con Bournemouth is coming up in just a few days – I will be there to meet more Doctor Who stars so I hope you will come back and see me again to read about it.

Thank you for reading. Bye!

Tom Project Indigo models Quinton Winter's Peter Cushing in Whitstable, Kent
Do you like my Peter Cushing Cosplay?

PS – I also went to Whitstable whilst I was in Kent and discovered it was the home of Peter Cushing who played the Doctor in the Doctor Who movies of the 1960s!

Grantchester, Cambridgeshire – December 2015

The Church of St Andrew and St Mary - Grantchester filming location
Welcome to Grantchester!

Hello and welcome back to Project Indigo! Today we are travelling back in time to New Year’s Eve 2015 – not to Wales this time but Cambridgeshire. We are vising Classic Doctor Who filming location Grantchester where The Fourth Doctor and Romana 2 materialised the TARDIS in the episode Shada (1979, released 1992). You may have noticed that there is quite a few years between the filming and the release. That is because there was a big BBC Union strike when Shada was being filmed which left many scenes of the episode unfinished. It was eventually released on video in 1992 with Tom Baker narrating what was going on in the gaps!

Doctor Who Shada filming location Grantchester Meadows
I can’t go backwards – there’s an invisible spaceship behind me!

Grantchester is a village just outside Cambridge and is said to have one of the highest concentration per person of Nobel Prize Winners! This is due to the number of residents who went to or worked at Cambridge University. In Shada, the Doctor and Romana were at Cambridge University to visit Professor Chronotis, a retired Time Lord. Whilst they were there Skagra called upon Professor Chronotis to interrogate him and find the whereabouts of the lost planet of Shada.  It was in Grantchester Meadows that Skagra concealed his 100m long invisible spaceship and captured Romana, K9 and a student, Chris Parsons.

Doctor Who Shada filming location Grantchester Meadows
Where has the TARDIS gone? Now I can’t get back home!

It may not have been sunny when the Doctor and Romana were there, but it was surprisingly sunny when I visited, however it was quite cold. It was the middle of winter and very early in the morning. The village was like a ghost town, I expect everyone was still in bed saving their energy to make it to midnight and see in 2016. Sadly I didn’t see anyone dressed like Skagra – in a white and silver whatever that is! He was definitely dressed for a disco. On the High Street I saw The Green Man pub and its neighbour The Red Lion which Skagra drove past. I explored the village and the meadows which are just behind the village on the banks of the River Cam. This area was the inspiration for the Pink Floyd song Grantchester Meadows on the album Ummagumma. I have just had a listen and it is very calm and soothing, and can double up as a lullaby.

Grantchester is also the filming location for the ITV Series Grantchester. This is based on the books The Grantchester Mysteries by James Runcie featuring Sidney Chambers, a vicar who is also a detective. James Norton plays Sidney, Robson Green plays Geordie and Morven Christie plays Amanda. Two of the main stars have also been in Doctor Who – both in underwater episodes. Isn’t that a coincidence? James Norton played Onegin a Russian Soldier on the submarine The Firebird in the episode Cold War (2013) and Morvern Christie played O’Donnell in Under the Lake (2015) set on The Drum, an underwater mining base.

Sidney's Chambers' church in Grantchester, Doctor Who filming location for Shada
Sidney’s Chambers’ church in Grantchester

Thank you very much to Doctor Who The Locations Guide for helping me to find this filming location.  I hope you have enjoyed reading about Grantchester. This summer I will be taking my TARDIS to Kent and seeing what the Doctor has got up to there. If there are any places you would like me to visit please leave a comment and let me know.

See you next time, bye!

Sign post at Doctor Who filming location Grantchester
Is this named after Donald?

Plas Brondanw Gardens , Gywnedd – August 2015

Welcome to Plas Brondanw Gardens filming location of The Five Doctors
Welcome to Plas Brondanw Gardens!

Hello and welcome back to August 2015 – let’s go to Plas Brondanw Gardens in North Wales! We are here to learn all about this Classic Doctor Who location where the episode The Five Doctors (1983) was filmed. This was a special episode made to celebrate Doctor Who’s Twentieth Anniversary that featured all five of the Doctors from the first 20 years, and many companions. It would have been hard to believe then that one day there would be thirteen Doctors and a Fiftieth Anniversary celebration!

Plas Brondanw is in Carreg Llanfrothen in the county of Gwynedd. It was the home of the architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, who created the village Portmeirion (aka San Martino if you are a Doctor Who fan!) The gardens and village share the same style. The house was built by John ap Hywel in the 16th Century. Clough Williams-Ellis was given Plas Brondanw by his father in 1908 when he was aged 25, with the aim to restore it and take care of it. And boy did he do a good job!

The home of Clough Williams- Ellis and family at Plas Brondanw
The home of Clough Williams- Ellis and family

I visited the gardens in Summer 2015 when I was on my journey around Wales. It was not nice weather when I visited, I had to travel through the rain and wind, through thick and thin, but luckily I made it there in the end. I took my TARDIS through the Snowdonia National Park and the journey was worth it as I got to see the picturesque mountains along the way.

When I arrived I had some lunch in the café to warm me up and I sheltered from the rain. When it cleared up I explored the gardens.

These gardens were where the First Doctor was stolen by the Time Scoop and taken to the Death Zone on Gallifrey. Sadly William Hartnell had passed away so Richard Hurndall was called upon to play the role of the First Doctor instead.

Luckily for me I am still around to tell the tale because there was no sign of the Time Scoop and it was very tranquil in the garden. It was fun to spot the places where the Doctor had walked. I wonder what he was doing there. Maybe he was trying to take his mind off the whole regeneration thing as he knew his body was growing frail.

Next I went into the forest and up the hill to see Folly Castle. A folly is a quirky or extravagant building or structure built for fun or to make a view more interesting. A plaque says

This outlook tower was subscribed for as a wedding present to Clough Williams- Ellis and his bride Amabel Strachey in 1915 by his brother officers of the Welsh Guards. In the Second World War it was prepared as a local military strongpoint to repel the expected German invasion.

 

At the beginning of The Five Doctors the Fifth Doctor, Turlough and Tegan are relaxing and admiring the view at the Eye of Orion aka the folly. The Doctor said that

‘For some the Eye of Orion is the most tranquil place in the universe’.


Turlough was making a picture and said he felt ‘so calm and relaxed’. Everything was nice and peaceful until the Doctor had a twinge of cosmic angst caused by temporal instability. I loved the view too and felt a ‘high bombardment of positive ions’. I particularly enjoyed climbing up and down the tower.

A panoramic shot of the Eye of Orion aka Plas Brondanw
Welcome to the Eye of Orion

These scenes were the first to be filmed but due to a technical difficulty they had to be reshot. Mark Strickson, who played Turlough, had gone on holiday when this was discovered and the BBC had to search the country to find him!  As well as Doctor Who, scenes from the Ingrid Bergman film The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958) were filmed at the folly.

Tom on the swing at Plas Brondanw
Enjoying my childhood whilst I still can!

I had a lovely afternoon at Plas Brondanw despite the weather and I would love to go back there on a sunny day. You should go there too but make sure it is the right day for the weather so you can really enjoy it.

Thank you to Doctor Who The Locations Guide for helping me to find this filming location. Also, thank YOU for reading!

Ouch! My TARDIS cast

I’m sorry I haven’t written a post in a while, I have had a lot going on, including some exams, and I also broke my wrist! Luckily my wrist is a lot better now. I will be in Dublin next week, if any readers know any Doctor Who related places I can visit there please let me know.

Right, I’m off to wrestle Rassilon. Goodbye!

Portmeirion, Gwynedd – July 2015

Tom Project Indigo at Doctor Who filming location Portmeirion
Welcome to Portmeirion!

Ciao! Welcome to Fifteenth Century Italy – otherwise known as Portmeirion in July 2015! We are travelling back in time to last summer to visit North Wales for the filming location of the Tom Baker Doctor Who episode The Masque of Mandragora (1976).

In this classic episode, The Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane materialise the TARDIS in an orange grove on Earth in the 15th Century, which the Doctor describes as

‘not a pleasant time’.

They are in San Martino, Italy in 1492 and have brought a piece of energy from the Mandragora Helix with them by accident! This story is a historical drama which was rare for Doctor Who at that time.

The Gate House at the entrance to Portmeirion
The Gate House at the entrance to Portmeirion

Portmeirion is located in area of Wales called Gwynedd and is near Porthmadog. It was designed and built by the architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis in the style of an Italian village, and it is now a tourist village. Work started in 1925 and it took 50 years for him to build this village but it was finished just before he died. He built it to show how you can develop a naturally beautiful site without ruining it. If you would like to find out more about the history of Portmeirion please check out this excellent blog post A Very Brief History of Portmeirion Village.

Apart from Doctor Who, Portmeirion has served as the location for many films and television shows, and is very well known as the filming location for the 1960s television show The Prisoner. It is also famous for pottery – in fact my own plates are made by Portmeirion Pottery from the Botanic Garden range .

I visited Portmeirion during my Welsh road-trip of 2015 and it was my first Northern Wales stop – the weather was very sunny which showed off the colours of Portmeirion and it looked very cheerful.

In The Masque of Mandragora DVD extra ‘Secret of the Labyrinth’ (the original name for this episode) the episode Producer Philip Hinchcliffe said that he had been to Portmeirion many years before and that the writer Louis Marks had studied Renaissance Italy at Oxford. They couldn’t go abroad to film this episode but Portmeirion stepped up!

The Central Piazza at Portmeirion
The Central Piazza. What a view!

Production Manager Chris D’Oyly-John thought it was good news that they had a location but a lot of time and money was spent travelling back and forth between London and North Wales. With travelling the shoot would take 5 or 6 days and there were no motorways. It was hard to get horses, props, costumes and make-up vans there.

To keep it looking like 15th Century Italy the Director Rodney Bennett did very selective shooting and not many panoramic movements. He used the Italianate backgrounds and covered up bits that didn’t look right for the period. A fake catacomb entrance was made to link the studio scenes with Portmeirion.

Set design at Portmeirion
These were covered up during the episode.

There is also a DVD extra, produced by Richard Bignell, called Now and Then. It says that in a memo, written on 03.01.76, Philip Hinchcliffe said:

‘The only suitable location for exterior location filming is Portmeirion in North Wales’.

Filming started on the 3rd of May 1976 and lasted three days. In three months it will be the 40th Anniversary!

The DVD extra shows us a map the places that were used for filming. I didn’t get to visit the woods but I visited everywhere else in the village.

The first stop was the Bridge House which was used as the City Gate when Count Federico returns to San Martino. He also passes the Pantheon.

Battery Square was used for the market scene when the Doctor was on the run from the soldiers. Hangings were used to hide the bits that didn’t look suitable. There was no market when I was there, it was all set.

The Doctor passes The Loggia which houses a big Golden Buddha.

The Doctor, Sarah Jane and Giuliano scurry along the Bristol Colonnade on their way to the Temple Ruins.

In the Piazza there is a gloriette facing the ornamental pond. The Doctor is brought there to be executed but luckily tricked the executor to get away. It’s not a real building, it is just a façade. Rugs covered the iron work in the same way the hangings were used.

The Doctor rode a horse past the Hercules Hall and jumps the balustrade and steps on his way to the woodlands.

The beach at Portmeirion is the estuary of the River Dwyryd.
The beach is the estuary of the River Dwyryd

Between Neptune and Trinity Cottages, the Doctor is chased, past the Watchhouse and Belltower down towards the beach.

Clough Williams-Ellis liked the look of the ruins Temple of Demnos and asked the BBC to leave them. Sadly they were made of polystyrene!

Jim Sangster, a TV Historian said

‘…..we know it’s Portmeirion, but actually when you are watching it I don’t think that distracts, I don’t think it gets in the way at all. I’m absolutely convinced they went to Italy as far as I’m concerned’

which proves that Portmeirion was the most convincing place to film The Masque of Mandragora!

Portmeirion is Bellissimo
Bellissimo!

Portmeirion is a calm, tranquil and cool place to visit and is worth the travel. My favourite part was paddling in the pool in the Piazza – I was lucky that it was sunny that day because it is Wales which is a very rainy country. I hope that it will be bright for you too if you go.

Paddling at Portmeirion
Getting soaked!

In other news, I am VERY peeved about the latest Doctor Who news – Steven Moffat is quitting and there will be no new series to watch in 2016! I guess I will just have to watch some old episodes instead – there are lots for me to watch still so at least I have that to look forward to. What do you think of this news? Please leave a comment and let me know.

Thank you for reading my post, I have another classic location to tell you about next.

Arrivederci!

Puzzlewood, Gloucestershire – August 2015

Tom at the entrance to Puzzlewood
Welcome to Puzzlewood!

Hello!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and I hope you enjoyed The Husbands of River Song (2015) as well! It was an amazing Doctor Who story to watch at Christmas and I really enjoyed it, I’m just sad that we now have to wait a long while until the next new episode comes!

In the meantime we are going to hop in my TARDIS and travel back in time to the summer of 2015. Welcome to Puzzlewood near Coleford in The Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire – a forest for which there is no map! Puzzlewood is a filming location for many TV shows and films – including a little known film called Star Wars Episode VII- The Force Awakens. Have any of you seen it? I would be surprised if you have 😉

SPOILER ALERT – if you haven’t seen Star Wars Episode VII look away NOW!!! Kathleen Kennedy from Lucasfilm says that Puzzlewood is

“the most magical forest on the face of the earth”.

Highlight the following text to reveal the spoiler! When I saw Star Wars Episode VII I instantly recognised Puzzlewood in the scene on the planet Takodana, where Rey takes BB-8 to the woods for safety and bumps into Kylo Ren…..

DON’T BLINK! Do you remember in Flesh and Stone (2010) when the Doctor, River and Amy are being chased down by the Weeping Angels? Puzzlewood was the filming location for the cybernetic forest on board The Byzantium which provided the passengers with air. As they travelled through the forest, poor Amy had to keep her eyes shut as she had a Weeping Angel in her eye. Luckily for me I didn’t run into any Weeping Angels when I was there!

Aboard the Byzantium - Doctor Who filming location Puzzlewood
No sign of any Weeping Angels, phew!

Puzzlewood was also a filming location for The Time of the Doctor (Christmas Special 2013), Matt Smith’s final episode which saw the Eleventh Doctor regenerate. In this episode the Doctor and Clara were attacked by the Weeping Angels in a frosty land – rescued only by the old Key in the Quiff Routine!

The Puzzlewood Wall of Fame! Photos of the programmes and films that have been filmed at Puzzlewood
The Puzzlewood Wall of Fame!

Apart from Star Wars Episode VII and Doctor Who, other things filmed at Puzzlewood include Atlantis, Merlin, Wizards vs Aliens ( written by Russell T Davies) , Jack the Giant Slayer and Tree Fu Tom which stars Sophie Aldred aka Ace and the Tenth Doctor David Tennant! Puzzlewood is so popular because of its very special scenery and it looks amazing on screen.There is a wall of photos inside showing the many programmes and films that have used this location and you can spot many famous actors who have filmed here.

On show at Puzzlewood, Scowles are the geological feature. Scowles are found throughout the Forest of Dean  and are ancient caves formed millions of years ago in the carboniferous limestone that have come to the surface due to erosion. The rocks are covered in a feathery moss and there are bright green ferns that make the forest so green (and the trees are so green too!) that it is the greenest place I have ever been. It is said that Puzzlewood was the inspiration for the forests of Middle Earth in JRR Tolkein’s books, which sounds pretty reasonable to me!

I had a really nice time at Puzzlewood and enjoyed getting lost in the woods and trying to figure my way out -it was a real puzzle! I found many things including a magic doorway and dinosaur feet. The weather changed all the time and it got wetter and muddier as the weather changed from good to bad, good to bad. The mud got more slippery and more  slippery and I ended up with my first Project Indigo related injury – a banged collar bone and very muddy trousers! Top tip – if you visit Puzzlewood, wear old clothes and wellies :).

Puzzlewood is a must visit place for fans of Sci-Fi and Fantasy of all ages! Thank you for reading and I hope you will join me again for my next Doctor Who adventure – and I wish all Project Indigo readers a Happy New Year for 2016!

No Man’s Fort, The Solent, Hampshire – October 2015

Tom and No Man's Fort in the background
Tom and No Man’s Fort in the background

Ahoy there and welcome to No Man’s Fort – a fort in the middle of the Solent, filming location for Classic Doctor Who episode The Sea Devils (1972) ! I was very lucky to be a guest of AmaZing Venues and Solent Forts so that I could report on No Man’s Fort for my Project Indigo readers.

In case you haven’t heard of The Solent, it is a strait, or narrow channel of water, that separates the mainland from the Isle of Wight. I left my house early in the morning to travel to Portsmouth and parked my TARDIS at the Historic Dockyard. I checked in at the Solent Forts office at Gunwharf Quays and mooched about the shops until it was time to get the boat.

City Quay at the Spinnaker Tower
Look at The Spinnaker Tower!

We embarked at City Quay and caught the boat called the Ashleigh R. While I was waiting I had a great view of The Spinnaker Tower which was being painted. It was covered in people dangling off the tower that looked like little ants wearing crash helmets! The waves were very bumpy and on the way out to sea we followed a ferry on it’s way to Spain. The sea rippled like snakeskin and on the top deck it was like walking on a moving bus. First we dropped people off at Spitbank Fort then carried on to No Man’s. The poor Doctor had to get a dinghy to the fort as he couldn’t use his TARDIS.

Approaching No Man's Fort by boat
Approaching No Man’s Fort

In The Sea Devils the Third Doctor and Jo Grant visit the sea fort to investigate why ships in the area are mysteriously disappearing. In the episode the sea fort was being converted to a SONAR Testing Station. As we approached the fort it looked smaller from the outside than I expected. Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning had to climb a ladder to get on to the fort which looked very dangerous but I was relieved that I had to walk up a ramp instead! I was expecting the fort to be dark and gloomy – instead it was light and cheerful as it has been converted into a luxury hotel which opened in April 2015.

On arrival at the fort the Doctor and Jo were attacked – but I was very kindly greeted and welcomed onto the fort with a drink and a chance to relax in the Atrium. The adults were given a glass of Champagne. Children are not normally allowed on the fort but they made a special exception for me!

Next all the visitors were given a guided tour of the fort and learnt about it’s history. No Man’s Fort is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and is one of 30 forts built to defend the UK from the French under the orders of the Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston. Work started in 1865 and continued into the 1880s but it was never used and a shot was never fired in anger. The forts became known as ‘Palmerston’s Follies’ because by the time they were completed the threat had passed and the technology was out of date. The fort is now owned by AmaZing Venues, founded by Mike Clare, along with Spitbank Fort and Horse Sand Fort in the Solent. Spitbank is also a hotel and Horse Sand is currently home to lots of sea birds but will become a museum in the future.

Lunch in the Mess Hall at No Man's Fort
Enjoying my pudding!

After the tour it was time for lunch. We had a buffet lunch in the Mess Hall on the Lower Level, and I filled up on delicious bread and butter and Indian rice as I have a wobbly K-9 tooth. I did manage to eat chocolate and nut brownies and apple for pudding.

Scrabble on the Deck Level at No Man's Fort
Scrabble on the Deck Level

After lunch we were free to explore wherever we wanted. My companion and I took Scrabble up to the top-deck and played a game whilst enjoying views of the Isle of Wight, which I had only just visited on holiday. It was definitely the most picturesque setting for a Scrabble match and I won-thanks to a triple-letter score on the last round! Also on the deck were a boules track, Jacktar’s bar, a Hot House, a Fire Pit, a BBQ area and some Hot Tubs. There was even a Helipad which could be useful for materialising a TARDIS!

There was an even better view from the top of the lighthouse – it was panoramic and I could see the Isle of Wight and the mainland and I used some binoculars to see clearly.

he panoramic view from the lighthouse on No Man's Fort.
Checking out the panoramic view from the lighthouse.

Next I went down to the Upper Level and explored the luxurious hotel rooms. The rooms were named after famous ships. My favourite was HMS Victory. There was a portrait of Horatio Nelson on the wall – in the Sea Devils the Doctor says that he knew Nelson personally.

Nelson at No Man's Fort
Horatio on the wall

The walls in the corridor were decorated with quotes by Winston Churchill – but I didn’t see my favourite ‘K.B.O’! There lots of places to relax including a snooker room, a pool room and a games room. In the episode Clark and Hickman played cards to relax whilst they were staying on the fort, until they were interrupted by a Sea Devil. I bet they would have liked having all these rooms to play games in. There was even a French Bar on the Lower Level.

The bottom level was the Sea Level bunker and the tunnels felt the most likely place on the fort to run into a Sea Devil! I saw a LaZer Battle arena which looked like it would be a lot of fun and a war museum where I bumped into the Doctor’s old pal Churchie aka Winston Churchill! I could hear the sea rippling against the side and I wondered if I was standing right above the Sea Devil’s base which was discovered beneath the foundations of the fort.

In the Sea Level Bunker of No Man's Fort
Is there a Sea Devil round the corner?

Sadly at 4 o’clock it was time to go back to Portsmouth and it was back to the Embarkation Hall to board the Ashleigh R on the bumpy sea. I really enjoyed my special trip to No Man’s Fort and would love to return another day. All the staff and my fellow visitors were so friendly and welcoming and the whole day was a real adventure.

Thank you so much to AmaZing Venues and Solent Forts for making it possible for me and my companion to visit such a special place, we are both very grateful. If you would like to visit No Man’s Fort yourself, for lunch or to stay overnight, please find out more here.

In my last post I said I would be writing about a special museum – that will actually be NEXT time as I was so keen to tell you about my visit to No Man’s Fort straightaway! I hope you will join me for my next adventure through time and space.

Anchors Aweigh!

(Disclosure – my companion and I were invited guests at No Man’s Fort but all words and opinions are my own.)

The National Botanic Garden of Wales, Carmarthenshire – July 2015

Welcome to the National Botanic Garden of Wales!
Welcome to the National Botanic Garden of Wales!

Hello and welcome to my post which is coming to you from Mars!

Just kidding – we are actually at the National Botanic Gardens of Wales. In the Doctor Who episode The Waters of Mars (2009) the Tenth Doctor visits Bowie Base One on November 21st 2059 and the National Botanic Garden was used as the filming location for Biodome 1. In ‘Doctor Who Confidential’, it said that Russell T Davies (who wrote the script along with Phil Ford) had the Botanic Garden in mind when he wrote the story!

In The Waters of Mars the Doctor encounters The Flood. In real life, just over a week ago, Nasa released satellite pictures of Mars which shows evidence of flowing water! This is big news because, if it is water, it could prove there are such things as Martians! Water is  vital for humans and this discovery might mean we could explore Mars ourselves instead of using robots and maybe even live there in the future! Luckily there was no sign of The Flood when I was there….

I visited the National Botanic Garden of Wales during my summer holiday whilst I was staying in Carmarthenshire. This is the most visited garden in Wales and was opened in May 2000, the first botanic garden of the new millennium and it is built on parkland dating back 400 years. I was very chuffed to be able to use my Blue Peter badge for free entry!

When I arrived I walked through the Broadwalk to The Rock of Ages which tells the story of 300 million years of Welsh geology. I found a rock from Silurian times (Madame Vastra, you should make a visit to see this rock!). In Doctor Who we learnt that the Silurians are lizard like creatures that have lived on earth since pre-historic times -longer than us humans. This rock was 431 million years old!

Inside the Biodome at the National Botanic Garden of Wales
Inside Biodome One on Bowie Base One!

Next I went into The Great Glasshouse aka Bowie Base One’s Biodome 1! This is the world’s largest single span glasshouse and is based on the shape of a raindrop. It has an amazing indoor display of Mediterranean climate plants and protects and conserves many endangered plants. These plants come from six areas of the world – California, Australia, the Canary Islands, Chile, South Africa and the Mediterranean Basin and it feels like you are travelling the world in Wales!

In The Waters of Mars the Tenth Doctor meets the first human colonists of Mars, led by Captain Adelaide Brooke. I found out that the glasshouse has the same climate as Adelaide – the city not the person. Adelaide in Australia is one of two places in Australia that has a Mediterranean climate. I wonder if that is how Russell T Davies came up with her name?

Half way through my exploring I stopped for lunch at the café and I was surrounded by a bunch of hungry birds – I even saw one hop into the kitchen. In the episode Captain Adelaide explained that the crew had taken birds with them to Mars to keep the insect population down in the Biodomes to help the crops grow.

Up high in the Biodome at the National Botanic Garden of Wales.
No sign of the Doctor and Adelaide from up here!

It was sweltering inside the dome, a lot warmer than the Welsh climate. I felt as warm as if I was in a hot-air balloon. I explored all around, up high and down low and it was very peaceful. I didn’t see The Waters of Mars but I did find a lovely indoor waterfall, complete with fish.

Tom by the waterfall in the National Botanic Garden of Wales
How many fish can you spot in this pond?

After I left the glasshouse I travelled the rest of the Botanic Garden and enjoyed everything else it had to offer. I really enjoyed my time at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, it was a fantastic way to spend a relaxing day of my holiday. Whilst writing this I realised that I missed out on seeing a Ghost Forest – so if I ever get the chance to go again that is the first thing I will do!

Outside the Great Glasshouse at the National Botanic Garden of Wales
Look at the clouds on Mars. Ooops I forgot my spacesuit!

Would you like to visit Mars? Please leave a comment and tell me what you would do.  Thank you for reading, and I hope to see you again next time when I will be telling you all about a very special museum full of surprises…..

Goodbye!

The Doctor Who Experience, Cardiff Bay – July 2015

Tom outside the Doctor Who Experience
Welcome to the Doctor Who Experience!

Welcome! Croeso!

We are travelling back in time to my summer holiday in Wales. Today we are at the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff, this time in July 2015. I was very excited to go to The Doctor Who Experience again as it was the first time I had been since it was updated with the new Doctor. In August 2014 I was stood outside the closed Experience whilst Peter Capaldi was inside filming the new interactive story so I was looking forward to seeing the new adventure!

When I arrived there was a giant queue as it was the summer holidays and Whovians had come from everywhere to experience the experience! As soon as I arrived I went into the interactive adventure with the other fans. I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who is planning to go but I will tell you that I entered the Museum of Gallifrey expecting to learn about Timelords and the history of Gallifrey. Instead I embarked on a journey when the Twelfth Doctor transmitted a message saying he needed our help – and we had to grapple with a threat which could destroy the universe……..

The First Doctor's TARDIS at the Doctor Who Experience
The First Doctor’s TARDIS

It was very exciting helping the Doctor and some of the children were a little scared, but we survived. The Doctor didn’t quite return us to where we started though so I never got to look around the Museum of Gallifrey! Maybe if you visit everything will go a bit smoother for you!

After I made it back to Cardiff 2015 I had my photo taken in a green screen TARDIS. I chose to wear a Fez , which was cool, and I chose to be in the Twelfth Doctor’s TARDIS because that is my favourite TARDIS in the history of Doctor Who! I look quite perplexed in my picture because when I was posing in front of the green screen I didn’t know how the background would look. When Peter Capaldi had his photo taken he couldn’t choose so wore the Eleventh Doctor’s Fez and the Fourth Doctor’s scarf!

After my photo I went upstairs to The Exhibition Hall to revisit ‘the world’s most extensive collection of original Doctor Who props and artefacts’. This is my favourite part of the whole Experience because all the suspense from the interactive part is relieved from you and you can relax and look at all the items from the series! Since my last visit the hall had regenerated and moved around and there were lots of new items from the Series 8 (2014) episodes! Here are some of my favourites:

From my favourite New Who story Deep Breath – the hot air balloon made of skin that Half-Face Man tried to escape in.

Balloon from Deep Breath at the Doctor Who Experience
A balloon made from skin!

From Mummy on the Orient ExpressThe Foretold. If you can see him you only have 66 seconds to live!

From Robot of Sherwood we can see a knight’s armour and the Sheriff of Nottingham costume worn by Ben Miller.

The Sheriff of Nottingham and Robot of Sherwood at the Doctor Who Experience
The Sheriff of Nottingham and Robot of Sherwood!

From In the Forest of the Night – a lion from Trafalgar Square. This giveaway told the Doctor he was in London and not a forest.

A lion from 'In The Forest of the Night' at the Doctor Who Experience
A lion from Trafalgar Square!

From The Caretaker – the Skovox Blitzer which was a danger to Coal Hill School and one of the most dangerous weapons ever created!

The Skovox Blitzer from The Caretaker at the Doctor Who Experience
The Skovox Blitzer from The Caretaker

I didn’t have enough time in the exhibition because I had to leave Cardiff at lunch time to go to another part of Wales and carry on with my holiday. Sadly for me I had hurt my back too so I couldn’t join in with everything, for example, learning how to walk like a Doctor Who monster.

Finally I visited The Official Doctor Who Shop. The shop is giant and full of Doctor Who merchandise – it is the only official Doctor Who shop that you can visit in the whole world! Maybe there is one on another planet though..… Anyone can visit this shop; you don’t need to pay for a ticket. I bought a new Doctor Who T-shirt because my old one is getting smaller and smaller by the minute. I will be wearing my T-shirt in lots of future posts, it is in the style of a comic – I hope you will like it.

The regenerated experience is better than ever, I’m really glad that I got the chance to visit it before I left Cardiff. No-one should leave Cardiff without having a Doctor Who adventure. And I’m glad to report that my back is better too! Have you been to the Doctor Who Experience? Please leave a comment and tell me what you think about this amazing Doctor Who attraction.

See you soon for a new Doctor Who location report – next time I will be reporting from Mars, I hope you will come back and read all about it.  

Disclosure: Thank you very much to the Doctor Who Experience for allowing me free entry to report on my adventure. All opinions are my own!

 

Bellini’s, Cardiff Bay – July 2015

Slitheen at Cardiff Bay
Slitheen Stop this Stealing!

Croeso!

Today we’re in Cardiff just like the Ninth Doctor who visited Cardiff in Boom Town (2005). The Doctor was in Cardiff because there is an invisible rift running through the city and the TARDIS was soaking up the radiation from the rift to use as fuel. I was there for a different reason – the first day of my summer holiday in Wales!

Although the Doctor, Rose, Mickey and Captain Jack thought they could relax and have fun the Doctor soon discovered that Blon Fel Fotch Passameer-Day Slitheen was still posing as Margaret Blaine and had been elected Mayor of Cardiff! The Doctor and his companions knew they had to stop her plans for the Blaidd Drwg Project to save the planet….

Although it was my summer holiday it was a rainy and misty Sunday evening. I explored Cardiff Bay and saw where the Doctor parked his TARDIS that night– close to the Millennium Centre and above what would become the Torchwood Three Hub. I also passed Cadwaladers where the Doctor and co went to hang out until the Doctor saw Blon on the front of the paper! I hope to go there another time.

Cadwaladers - Doctor Who Boom Town
Cadwaladers where the Doctor went with his companions.

When Blon was caught she knew she would be executed if the Doctor returned her to Raxacoricofallapatorius so she asked for one last meal. She asked to go to

‘A little restaurant around the bay …it became quite a favourite of mine.’

And that is where we are going now – Bellini’s at Mermaid Quay in Cardiff Bay! I was hungry after my journey to Cardiff in my TARDIS and I wanted to go to the same restaurant the Doctor took Blon for a treat and where Blon asks the Doctor to spare her life.

Mermaid Quay - Doctor Who Boom Town
Welcome to Mermaid Quay
Bellini's - Doctor Who Boom Town
Do you recognise this restaurant?

I climbed the stairs to Bellini’s and asked to sit at the table where the Doctor and Blon had their meal. The Doctor ordered ‘steak and chips’ but I don’t eat meat so I ordered a Margherita Pizza from the adults menu with a lemonade to wash it down. The pizza was as good as the pizzas I ate in Italy. I could have eaten more than one as I am a Pizzaholic!

 

I was interrupted by a greedy Slitheen who kept trying to eat my dinner but I didn’t give any away. Perhaps Raxacoricofallapatorius had been invaded and the Slitheen had invaded Cardiff again?

Bellini's pudding - Doctor Who Boom Town
This is good and you know it!

For pudding I ordered a Coppa Gelato – chocolate flavour of course. It was yummy and tasted like heaven. I moved to sit by the window – the same window that exploded when the rift started opening. Blon had tricked the Doctor. Luckily that didn’t happen when I was there and I got to finish my pudding.

Although the Doctor went when it was dark, Bellini’s was light when I was there and as I ate pudding I enjoyed the changing view of Cardiff Bay – misty, rainy, sunny and misty again.

The staff in Bellini’s were very friendly. I told Mehmet about Project Indigo and he told me that he remembers the day of filming well – he was there as a waiter 10 years ago and you may see him serving in the episode! The dinner scene was filmed in January 2005 when Bellini’s was called Bistro 10 and Mehmet met Christopher Eccleston, the Ninth Doctor, and Annette Badland who played Blon. This was before New Doctor Who was aired on TV so no one knew how popular it would be again.

Mehmet at Bellini's
Meeting Mehmet who served the Doctor and Blon

I had a lovely evening at Bellini’s and would give my meal 10 out of 10. If you go you should definitely have the Coppa Gelato – but watch out for a greedy Slitheen.

Thanks for reading my first Ninth Doctor adventure – I hope you enjoyed it and will come back and join me very soon to read about more of my Doctor Who adventures in Wales this summer. My holiday was FANTASTIC!

Goodbye.

Slitheen at Cardiff Bay
Aaaagh – small Slitheen Invasion!