Monday, 26 March 2018
Bletchley Park and Stowe
I've just got back home after a trip to an area of England I don't know at all well - that part where Buckinghamshire meets Northamptonshire and Hertfordshire. The purpose of my trip was to visit the CWA's St Albans chapter. Regional chapters are, in some ways, the heart of the CWA, and I've been trying to visit some of them when time permits. This time I was very fortunate to enjoy the hospitality of chapter convenor Leo McNeir and his wife Cassandra, and the lunch meeting of the chapter (actually held in Tring, rather than St Albans) proved most enjoyable.
Because it's a long journey, and because for once in this rather drab winter the weather was good on Friday and Sunday, I decided to make the most of the trip by fitting in some sightseeing. Although I've done quite a bit of overseas travelling in recent years, I feel that we tend to under-estimate some of the tourist sights in Britain, and the two places I visited would be stand-outs on any itinerary anywhere.
Stowe is a magnificent National Trust property, with beautiful walks and all kinds of intriguing and amusing architectural gems in the park, ranging from a grotto to a Gothic temple. I'm working on a story idea which features a country house with interesting grounds, and the setting was quite inspirational.
The same was true, but in a totally different way, of Bletchley Park. I've seen The Imitation Game, and read Enigma, but seeing the huts where the codebreakers used to work was something quite special. It's a place with lots to see - you could easily spend a full day there. I was impressed, and again I came away with an idea for a story, tentatively entitled "The Sound of Secrecy".