A Travellerspoint blog

Day 8 - Bovington Tank Museum

rain 12 °C
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Well, seeing as it was raining again, an indoor activity was in order. I headed to the Tank Museum at Bovington. With 250 tanks to see, from the earliest to the current, I managed to pass a couple of hours.


By midday I had seen all the tanks, except for another area which they were to open at 2pm. So I drove to Dorchester to have a look around. Found an old cobbled alleyway with a shop selling all kinds of pasties.
Just at that moment, the heavens opened up, the covered alley being the best place to wait it out.
While waiting, I finished off the pastie (Yum), and read the first page of a newspaper on a newsstand. It said something about the weather in Dorset was supposed to be heading into a heatwave of 24 deg. I guess the reporter has not been to Australia where anything under 30 is normal and 45 is considered a heatwave.
Anyway, I found a little shop selling umbrellas, and I thought I had better buy one just in case.

I headed back to the Tank Museum, and had a look at the extra area. This was a place where all the extra tanks not on public display are stored.


Posted by AlastairPorritt 22:49 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Day 6 & 7 - Dorset

Hinten Martell, Witchampton, Horton & Wimborne Minster

semi-overcast 16 °C
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Hinten Martell

This is the village where I grew up. Spent most of my childhood here, and from that perceptive, was the centre of the world for me.

This is the church in the village called St John the Evangelist Church

The village fountain

The house we used to live called "Mattiscombe" It was named after a beach in Devon

These residential buildings used to be the farm buildings. As kids we used to spend hours and hours there playing, as kids do.

This used to be the village general store. That closed down and an antique shop opened. Now it is a residential building.

This is the school building where we used to attend. Only the right hand section was the school. The left hand was residential.
There were two classrooms, The "Big Kids" room and the "Little Kids" room. Now it is the village hall

Sections of the village are protected as a conservation area.

At the time of the Norman Conquest, Hinton Martell was known as Hinetone, the village of the monks. A Frenchman called Eudo Martel held it at the time of Magna Carta, who was possibly connected to Charles Martel (the Hammer), conqueror of the Saracens in 732. No visible traces of the medieval village remain other than stones in the Church of St John the Evangelist, as the church was rebuilt in more recent times.

I spoke with the mother of an old friend of mine, where the boundary of the conservation area passes through her property. Her house is a modern house, but when she applied to build a garage, the position of the new building fell in the protected area. The garage was made to look looks more than a 100 years old.

These next photos show typical houses in the village.


Witchampton is the adjacent village to Hinten Martell. The old paper mill has now been converted into housing. The little bridge over the river is still there along with the sluice gates that provided water to the mill. I remember the path to the bridge passed by a vent which used to belch steam.
As kids we used to be scared we were going to get scalded by the steam, so we ran and ducked under the steam vent. That's all gone now, it's just a boundary wall for some of the houses.
There is access to the river for the public along the walking path, but it is private land now.

We used to try fishing in river, but the fish were lazy and fat, just swam on passed.

In summer we used to swim here. We were scared of the sluice gates and getting sucked in. It would have meant certain death. Not sure if this was based on any real danger or if as kids we just made it up.



Horton is a village on the other side of Hinten Martell, and has a little hill with a tall tower on it.
There is a good view of the surrounding country side from there.
At the bottom of the hill, is an old English pub called Drusilla's Inn.
Inside the pub, the building was very old. I had some "Pub Grub" half a pint of local brew. Could taste the hops and was full of flavour, however the beer was flat with little fizz.
Went for a walk up to Horton Tower. Even though it was a little sunny, the wind was freezing.
The tower was originally an observatory built in 1750, but looks like it is being used as a transmitter tower, possibly TV or mobile phones.


Wimborne Minster

Wimborne is a town near Hinten Martell. When I was older, I went to school there at Allenborn Middle School. I had a look at the school, but it looks different. I found out it had been rebuilt.
Much of the town is the same, but The Square is a little different than I remember.


Posted by AlastairPorritt 13:00 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Day 5 - Buckingham Palace

The Changing Of The Guard

overcast 15 °C
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This being the last day in London, I had to go and see the home of the Queen. I turned up just in time as the changing of the guard was about to happen. After finding what I thought was going to be a good vantage point, right opposite the center gates, I waited. And waited.
It rained, and rained again. Just in time for the ceremony to start, the rain stopped and the sun came out.
Most of the ceremony takes place in the palace grounds. So a spot by the fence would have been better. After perhaps an hour, finally, they opened the center gate and I was rewarded with the long wait by the guards and then the marching band leaving.


Posted by AlastairPorritt 23:32 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged palace buckingham Comments (0)

Day 4 - Royal Artillery Museum & The Tower Of London

Cold and rainy day in London. Got a little wet walking from the DLR to the Museum. Finally, a day cold enough to warrant long pants and a thick jacket!

rain 9 °C
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Royal Artillery Museum, Woolwich

Quoted from the web site:

Firepower, the Royal Artillery Museum in Woolwich tells the powerful and dramatic story of artillery, scientific discoveries made through warfare and human stories of courage and endeavour. The ‘ground shaking’ Field of Fire audio-visual show puts you in the midst of battle as shells whiz overhead and guns roar.

The Royal Arsenal was one of the most important centres in the world for munitions manufacture and until recently was a well kept secret from the public. Many of the guns and carriages on display were made in the Arsenal, making it a significant part of the local heritage. Together with a world class collection of artillery and associated weapons, uniforms, drawings, displays of diaries and medals bring together some 700 years of world artillery history.

While this is not a huge museum, there is lots to see. The museum has another section, which you can only visit with a staff member. I was lucky enough to be able to tag along with a small group to see this extra section. This is where they store the "Cold War" era equipment including a nuke warhead. At some stage, this was attached to a ballistic missile.

The museum is funded by donations from the artillery regiment who donate 1 days pay each per year. Also some of the staff are active duty soldiers.
There was a tour group of school kids there at the same time. The museum staff member conducting the tour would appear to be ex military, he kept the kids in line just like they were regular recruits.
He bailed out a kid for running and made them all stand to attention. It was a sight to see, kids obeying an authority figure. We should run our schools like that in my opinion.


Tower Of London

With some time up my sleeve, I headed back to the city and headed for the Tower Of London. I got there about 3.15pm.
Now I would advise, to get there a little earlier. The Tower Of London closes at 5.30pm, and I did not quite get to see all.

I got there just before the last tour started at 3.30pm. The tours are conducted by the one of the Yeomen of the Guard.

Now I must emphasize, the yeomen are not "Tour Guides" and they detest being called that.
They are a detachment of the ‘Yeomen of the Guard’, and they’ve formed the Royal Bodyguard since at least 1509.
Yeoman Warders are required to have served in the armed forces with an honourable record for at least 22 years.
They live at the Tower Of London with their families and it is a job for life.

The tour is entertaining and very informative. It takes one hour and is crammed with history. Much attention is paid to the nobles and royals that were executed, either inside the tower (Private executions for the most privileged) or just outside on Tower Hill which were public executions. The tour ends at the chapel, where many of the royals who were executed were buried.

After the tour, I had just one hour left to see the remainder of the Tower.
The Crown Jewels are wonderful, and so intricate. No photos are allowed in there, so take a good look. I guess that's for security reasons. They are protected by a very strong looking steel doors like you see at a bank vault.

I ran out of time and did not get to see the torture chamber, but I did get to see much.
A visit to the Tower Of London should be on everyone's bucket list. Thoroughly recommended.


Posted by AlastairPorritt 23:41 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london tower of museum firepower Comments (0)

Day 3 - RAF Colindale & Tower Bridge

Weather? COLD!

overcast 10 °C
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On the top of the must do list was a visit to the RAF Colindale Museum. For anyone interested in WW2 and just general aviation history, this should be In your bucket list.
Took about 45 minutes to get there on various underground trains, had to change a few times to get on the northern line.
Another very cold day, wish I was wearing something a warmer. Oh well, me and my shorts are best friends. It will have to be a darn cold day for me to wear long pants. Once I was inside the museum, I was OK.


The museum consists of two parts. The main museum, and the Battle Of Britain Experience. There is a very good 10-15 min audio & visual experience. Very clever and well done.


I did plan to go to the Firepower Royal Artillery Museum. However there was so much to see at RAF Colindale, time had got away on me.
I took the train back to the city, and got off at London Bridge Underground. A short walk took me passed the HMS Belfast, a museum ship.
A little further on I could see the Tower Bridge. Across the river was some good views of the Tower Of London. Paid the nine pounds for entry into the Tower Bridge, had a look in the engine room and then went up to the top
Some great views of London from here, also a great view down on to the Tower Of London.


Posted by AlastairPorritt 23:18 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged raf colindale Comments (0)

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