Day 15: Bletchley Park

Today we got up early and headed to Bletchley Park, the site of the Allied intelligence codebreaking efforts during World War 2. It’s kind of like a computer science pilgrimage and we nerded-out.

Zeke enjoyed the bus ride there.

Once we got there, we got our season pass tickets, which means we can come back all we want for the next year! We laughed because none of us will be able to do that.

The inside of the museum was fun and reminded us about how secret their efforts were and just how crucial their work was.

We walked the beautiful grounds, which felt very familiar since we had just watched the movie, The Imitation Game, last week.

Across the pond, the mansion came into view. It was the nexus of all codebreaking activities at Bletchley Park.

We took a group photo. This will probably be used in marketing materials for years.

Inside the mansion, we got to see it mocked up like it would have been during the war. Below is a description of the UK/US special relationship that was posted in Commander Alastair Denniston’s office.

Below is Commander Denniston’s office (left) and the library where codebreakers worked (right).

  

In the ballroom, I saw this quote and thought that it summed up programming in general:

There were some hats to play with, so Erin and Micah tried on a few.

We took our guided tour, and when that was done we popped into Hut 8 to see Alan Turing’s office.

  

Below is a picture of Hut 1 where Alan Turing’s computer was located. The wall is an original blast wall built to protect the prefabricated buildings from bombings (if they were to be bombed, which they were not).

After seeing these things, it was time to leave. Inside of Hut 8, I came across an interesting little pamphlet. We all thought it was funny. We realize that pigeons were vital information carriers during the war, but the picture on the front was pretty humorous.

Zeke got a toy in the gift shop: a voice synthesizer. He played with it all day, mostly singing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” his favorite song. It was more funny than it was annoying.

Alas, it was time to return to Oxford. Three hours on-site simply wasn’t enough. We took the bus to a nearby town to eat a late lunch and then finally back to Oxford, returning around 4:15, and we were done for the day.Visiting Bletchley Park was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.

It had been a long day and Micah fell asleep on the way back.

Zeke, of course, was still wide awake.

When we got back home, the kids went into the back garden and jumped on Matilda’s trampoline. (Matilda is the daughter of Jacqueline, the on-site director).

It was a really good day.

Day 2: Bath, Stonehenge, Salisbury Cathedral

We started out our day by leaving Oxford at 7:45 AM and heading towards Bath with high spirits.

Here we are in front of the Bath Abbey, directly next to the ancient Roman baths.

We took a tour of the Roman Baths and learned quite a bit. While I’ve been there before, I think they had updated the system since 2004. Below is the great bath.

Zeke loved the “big bath” and the waterfall (inside to the left, not pictured).

Family shot!

We got lunch at a baguette shop on Cheap St. (seriously) and it was pretty good. We popped over to the Jane Austen museum, but could only stay for the gift shop as we were out of time.

After getting up so early, we were crashing hard by 12:45 when we left Bath.

Next we headed to Stonehenge and got a nice group shot of the students and professors for our marketing wizard, Jenni. Woo! This is going to probably be used in marketing pamphlets and online videos for years.

It took forever to get Zeke and Micah to both look at the camera. My students thought it was more entertaining watching Erin and I try to get their attentions than it was for them to keep looking at Stonehenge.

After Stonehenge, we headed to Salisbury to look at the cathedral and the world’s oldest mechanical clock that is still in working order. The clock can run the tower bells at the appropriate times, but is currently disabled. The cathedral has the highest steeple in England.

The inside was quite impressive!

I personally found the cloisters to be the best part; beautiful and relaxing. Perfect for meditating on scripture or God’s goodness.

After a long day, we were all pretty exhausted. We headed back to Oxford at 5:30 PM and settled in for the 2 hour drive back.

Our on-site coordinator had ordered us the finest authentic British cuisine to eat – Papa John’s Pizza (haha). It was a good day.