Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Doctor Who Experience

On Easter Sunday Bill and I had tickets to the Doctor Who Experience. Doctor Who is filmed in the Cardiff BBC studio, a few blocks from Cardiff Bay. BBC leased out a big warehouse at the edge of the bay and turned it into the Experience, complete with loads of props and costumes from the shows many, many years. 
Millennium sculpture, Cardiff wharf 
Cardiff Bay also is the seat of Welsh parliament and home to the iconic millennium sculpture (as seen on the Doctor Who spinoff, Torchwood). The wharf was only a 25-minute walk from our hotel, but I'm glad at the last minute we decided to grab a taxi. Although only 25-minutes away, the walk would have taken us over a highway and through a rather sketchy industrial park that I'm really glad I didn't have to deal with! 
Millennium sculpture
The Millennium sculpture is a manmade, sleek waterfall. It was pretty, but when the wind blew, the water sprayed. We learned quickly not to stand too close! 
Welsh parliament
Because we took a taxi instead of walking, we arrived in advance of the exhibit's opening. We walked around the wharf, got a lay of the land, and spotted the TARDIS. Yippee! 
Look! The Doctor is in!
A few minutes before 10:00 we queued up in front of the warehouse, giddy with anticipation. 
Let's do this!! 
The first part of the exhibit was rather campy—I mean, c'mon, it *is* Doctor Who, after all. After the interactive portion of the exhibit (where you have to help find some crystals and escape the Daleks—no photos, please), we were able to spend as much time and take as many photographs as we wanted. 
We're big ol' goof balls! 
As you can see, we got into the cheesy atmosphere. I have only watched Doctor Who since the re-boot starting with Christopher Eccleston, so it was interesting looking at all of the props dating back to the '60s. 
Old school TARDIS control center (used by 5th, 6th, and 7th Doctors)
Old times Doctor Who car
Olden times TARDIS and K-9 unit
And then I started to recognize some of the props! This one is from Matt Smith's TARDIS. 
A more recent version of the TARDIS control center (used by 11th Doctor)
This was a character on both Doctor Who and the spinoff show, Torchwood. He was a good guy (if I remember correctly), but basically just a big, amphibious, ancient (yet still living) head in a jar.
The face of Boe (Doctor Who and Torchwood)
The character I remember most from the picture below is the middle guy. I don't remember his name, but he was from a compassionate race called the Ood and they had weird tentacles hanging around what we would call lips.
Various character outfits / masks from Doctor Who
The Silurian were sometimes enemies, sometimes not. They first appeared in Doctor Who in the '70s, but since I haven't watched those episodes, I don't know their full story. In more recent stories, one of the human/reptile hybrids lived in Victorian (I'm pretty sure she was cloaked somehow, because no one cared that she had a reptile face) who helped Doctor Who save humanity… again.  
A Silurian

And then we got to the display of evil creatures! Cybermen, Daleks, Weeping Angles, oh my!
One of the Cybermen
Various Daleks 
Dalek's insides

Davros - evil mastermind of the Dalek

Creature from the Silence episode
Another creature from the Silence episode
DON'T LOOK - it's a Weeping Angel
I had a bit of fun playing the Doctor well before the female actress was given the role! 

I still find it hilarious that fans can believe a space alien travels through time and space, who can basically live forever and re-incarnate whenever it needs to, but find it far-fetched that this time he re-incarnated as a woman. Whatever. She's going to ROCK as Doctor Who!  
Doctor Who with her faithful companion
Some characters have died on the show and fans have taken it really hard. When Clara Oswald died (she had to go on to play Victoria, you know), the TARDIS was retired and became a shrine to her character.
TARDIS tribute to Clara Oswald
Before we left the exhibit, all of the iconic Doctor Who outfits were on display. I only photographed the ones I'm familiar with, but we saw all twelve Doctors costumes.
The 12th Doctor's outfit (Peter Capaldi)
The 10th Doctor's outfit (David Tennent - my favorite Doctor!)
The 11th Doctor's outfit (Matt Smith)
The 4th Doctors outfit (Tom Baker)
They also had one of the outfits for Captain Jack Harkness from both Doctor Who and Torchwood. Torchwood used to film at Cardiff bay and the characters often talked whilst sitting around the Millennium sculpture (photo at top of this post). 
Captain Jack Harkness' outfit
Sadly, the Doctor Who Experience is now gone. The BBC leased the warehouse for 5 years, and the city of Cardiff would not renew the lease as they thought they could make more money using the space for something else. Honestly, I think the city of Cardiff really screwed up. This could have been an attraction for years to come… Oh well, I'm glad we saw it when we did! 

And one more photo of Daleks before we left the Doctor Who Experience.  
More Daleks
We walked around the wharf for a while afterwards. I had no idea Roald Dahl (author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, among many others) was from Cardiff!
Cardiff's not just for castles and Doctor Who fans!
Much like Clara Oswald's tribute TARDIS, a character named Iantos died saving the world on Torchwood. He was a much beloved character, and there is a fan-created shrine in Cardiff bay for him as well. 
Torchwood memorial
After our taxi back to Cardiff city centre, we had quite the time trying to find a lunch restaurant open on Easter Sunday. Don't worry, we didn't starve!  

Monday, March 12, 2018

Christmas Party 2016

A few of my posts got out of order - Whoops! Let's go back in time to our Christmas party, December 2016. 
Happy Christmas, 2016
The party was held in a nearby castle that's been in the same family for over 800 years. I repeat, this house has been owned by the same family for eight HUNDRED years. And here I thought our house in California was old because it was built in 1952! 
Dapper Men
When all dressed up in our fancy clothes, we have to pose, amiright? 
More dapper men
I didn't take a lot of photos of the architecture, but the castle is stunning. We had free reign in the entryway, dining room, and gentlemen's lounge—even us ladies. Shocker! :-)
Castle entryway
More posing, this time by some of the ladies. 
Lovely ladies
Posing in front of the gorgeous staircase. I can't remember what this type of staircase is called (no support underneath the stairs; a floating staircase?), but it was quite an architectural feat back when the staircase was updated. 
Pretty people and stairwell
As always, I took a picture of the ceiling. 
I had to include a picture of Cindy in her gorgeous outfit. She was tickled pink that her skirt was so comfortable and had pockets! 
"My skirt has POCKETS!" - Cindy :-)

Friday, March 9, 2018

Cardiff Castle

Aside from a short weekend canal boat trip, we had not yet visited Wales. Last Spring Bill and I decided to remedy that by spending a long weekend in Cardiff. 

On top of the old castle keep, Cardiff castle
Our first stop - Cardiff Castle! While many of the castles throughout England were demolished during wars (War of the Roses, English Civil War, etc.), many Welsh castles have stood standing. While bits of the original castle stands in Cardiff, a renovated Victorian-era castle also stands. 
Medieval walls encircle Cardiff castle
Cardiff is the capitol of Wales. Wales itself was 'founded' by William the Conqueror, who began works on Cardiff castle in 1081. The first castle keep made out of wood was erected by Lord Fitzhamon in 1093. It was replaced with the stone keep (seen in the photo below) by his son-in-law, Robert the Consul, around the time of a Welsh uprising, probably 1135.
Cardiff's castle keep. 
We were in Cardiff on Easter weekend and they had a lot of things for kids to do, like holding onto big, old swords. I figured I still act like a kid, so I might as well have a go! 
The now-Victorian castle is more like a large manor house. We were impressed by the many large, ornate rooms. 
Victorian clock tower
When inside old, beautiful houses, Bill and I always remember to look up. Their ceilings are always gorgeous! 
Painted ceiling inside the Victorian castle
The photo above is the ceiling inside the Arab room. It is painted wood and covered with pure gold leaf. The ceiling below is that of the banqueting hall, which is the largest and the oldest room of the Victorian-era castle. 
Wooden ceiling inside the Victorian castle in Cardiff
The murals along the sides of the banqueting hall tell the story of the medieval Cardiff castle and its designer took inspiration from medieval illuminated manuscripts. 
Details of the wooden ceiling
Almost every proper castle has their own chapel, Cardiff castle is no exception. The Bute family had owned the castle for many generations when the 3rd Marquess of Bute converted—amid some scandal—to Roman catholicism. It was this Bute who later converted the old medieval castle into the Victorian-era one that visitors see today. 
Inside the catholic chapel at Cardiff castle 
The 3rd Marquess of Bute was a catholic, a Scotsman, and was sympathetic to the Welsh language and culture. He was also opposed to blood sport and supported women's rights to an education. I think I would have liked this guy! He was also a supporter of science and his re-vamped library was beautiful. 
A wee monkey I spotted in the library's stonework
Old books by Charles Darwin
Lots and lots of books in the library
The views of the castle and surrounding Cardiff from the old castle keep would have been better without the construction going on, but Cardiff is a big city, after all! 
Cardiff Castle

View of surrounding Cardiff
We thought we had seen everything as we walked around the wall-enclosed garden. But then we saw the entrance to another exhibit through one of the wall gates. So, in we went!
Medieval wall gate
Apparently when the workers were updating the castle to Victorian-era standards, workers stumbled upon the remains of an old Roman fortress! Yes - Romans set up shop here, too. Man, those guys were everywhere! Anyway, the archeologists back then were able to dig out several old corridors and hallways that they shored-up and reinforced as necessary. 
Reinforced Roman hallway
These old, half-underground reinforced hallways came in very handy during World War II. Many of the locals would hunker down inside the hallways during German air raids. They had bunk beds that stretched the length of the hallways and families would live for hours or days at a time down here. 
Bunk beds inside the reinforced Roman hallways
The hallways have been turned into a historical exhibit, explaining both the Roman and WWII history in one fell swoop. 
After our morning and early afternoon exploring the castle, we made our way to lunch. And then off to one of many independent breweries where we tried a few brews. We started our very own wee beer snake. 
Welsh beer snake!!
All in all, a great start to our Welsh holiday!