Monday, November 17, 2014

The London Chronicles Weekend Edition: Field Trip to Bletchley Park or 158 Million Million Million

Sometimes, the planets align really nicely, to make you experience things that are extraordinary. As someone who works in security and tech, Bletchley Park  was the first thing I penciled in as a "must-do" over the weekend.   In anticipation, I went to the Barbican and watched the movie on Friday night.   I already had a membership to the Barbican and was curious about its Brutalist architecture. I am looking forward to coming back next year for CumberHamlet (it should be amazing, or it better be, as I stayed up until 4am to score those tickets, but I digress).  I had a few minutes to kill before the movie, so after having some pre-film dinner, I wandered around, and came across the London branch of my alma mater having some sort of social.

The movie was really good. It felt a bit rushed towards the end, but all the actors did a fine job of portraying their characters (although, I'm sorry but Samwise will always be Samwise, until he learns other facial expressions). 

The script was well written, 4 stars, would see it again.   After the movie, I went back to my temporary home as I had an early train to catch with a coworker. Side note:  Londoners do not knit in public. A few curious people came by to ask me what I was knitting (wrap), and if I'm a good knitter (debatable).

I couldn't sleep after the movie because I was too excited about my excursion. 

We took the train from Euston to Bletchley, and I had a great guide (my coworker who'd visited Bletchley 8 months ago with another friend/colleague).  We talked about work on the way for about 45 minutes, then talked about different paths we took that allows us to work together, which is extraordinary in itself - a Romanian soon to be UK citizen and a Japanese American (1st gen).  2014 isn't such a bad time afterall?  We talked about slave nations and personalities, and by the time we got to Bletchley I was ready for some fresh air.   

Apparently, the whole park was renovated recently thanks to Google and other sponsors (coughGCHQcough), and it was very well manicured, although the "huts" were tiny and damp. Some of the huts were more colder and draftier than others, and it was amazing to stand where the codebreakers once stood, many of them who took their secrets to the grave, and marvel at the brainpowers they harnessed. They were also running an AI contest based on the Turing test, which looked like a lot of fun.
I won't spoil too much in case you are planning to visit - but the Colossus (in the National Museum of Computing next door) and the Bombe rebuild is a must-see.  The docents and volunteer guides are really dedicated and happy to tell you tidbits of history and answer all sorts of questions.  Also note to the gift shop: You need moar (better) T-shrits!  Sell those ties and scarves!  My colleague and I spent the entire time scheming how to convince one of the workers to give it up. I bought a lot of books here.   They also spent time cracking Japanese code, which was very fascinating. It's one of the most difficult languages to master, and these people shortened a 5yr lesson into 11 weeks or so. Seeing their practice notebooks and flashcards and pencil writing of kanji characters really made them feel, well, real.  

Oh, and we also had a celebrity sighting!  Mr. James May of Top Gear fame. He seemed to be filming a segment for his Science show. I look forward to catching it on BBCAmerica when I return. 

We stayed for 6 hrs yet we ran out of time. I'm definitely going back.

The trains here run pretty reasonably, but wow the apologies!  The transit system actually apologises when it's late. "We are sorry that this train is running approximately 11 minutes late...we are very sorry". DK would feel right at home about this, if only he wasn't Canadian. 

I will now kill you with pictures, because I'm too lazy to type in 1k more words. 

Still in love with St.Pancras
Birthday pub lunch!
Meat the Pieminister! 

Inside Barbican Centre

Architects' tools 
I wonder if kids today use compasses

Architects send the BEST holiday greetings IMHO

My glamourous pre-movie dinner

It's like being inside the white lodge
Sweet ride


Japanese Dictionary

The Turing Bombe Rebuild Project 

Photographic Evidence 


Almost like a Vegas spinwheel

Delicious on the inside

Mihai charms the lady

My favorite - a handmade Monopoly board to beat Turing

Turing's Bear
Turing's Bear


The perfect Billetee

Step Inside

He chained his tea mug to the radiator so nobody would use it

they have a room dedicated to carrier pigeons! 

Proud Pigeon Champion 

Sorry, What am I Supposed to Do Again?  

The Boss' chair

When Can I Move In? 

I could totally do this 

The Mansion

That "object" is a dead animal 

Costumes and props from the Imitation Game 

Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch's costumes 

The bar set 

Handmade star chart

Turing killed himself with an apple laced with cyanide

The Machine Prop and I 

Hardware porn

Look at this!  LOOK! 

You called? 

Let's just hoist this thing over here...yup, easy peasy

No comments:

Post a Comment