On Friday, ASE organized an optional trip to the Cotswolds, which were about an hour bus ride away. Myself and two of my housemates all went on the trip. We started out by going to Broadway Tower. Or more accurately, the cafe by the Tower. I got a hazelnut hot chocolate that was disappointingly lacking in the hazelnut department, but was a good hot chocolate. Then we walked up to Broadway Tower (see additional photos), which was finished in 1798, and from what I got from the various exhibits about its history, has some relation to war times. Truth be told, I didn’t pay as much attention to the history, more on the really good views and getting to the top of the tower. The view at the top was very worth it though (see photo below). It was incredibly windy, but it was a beautiful day and so the view was very clear, you could see come hills in the distance that were over 20 miles away. Then we walked a mile and a half along the Cotswolds Way, through a couple of sheep pastures, including very unfazed sheep, and mud, but it was a lovely walk. Then we drove over to a town to grab a very quick lunch, we were running behind, and I got a hot baguette with tomato and brie and pesto. It actually was pretty good.
Then we drove over to the Chavenage (chay-van-idj) House (see photo below). The House has been owned by two families since it was built in the 1440s, it’s also been used a lot in the filming of the show Poldark. We got a tour of the house by a lovely old man named David, who is the grandfather of the youngest generation of the family that owns the house. One of the rooms we went into was two bedrooms, one of which was Oliver Cromwell’s. Supposedly, that is the second most haunted place in the area. There is also a story about how one of the family members died at one point and the rest of the family saw a large black carriage pull up, saw the dead man’s ghost get on the carriage, and then it disappeared, so the myth is that all of the men of the house will go in the same way when they die. The house had tons of really lovely, really old paintings. We also went to the chapel, which is basically attached to the house. Apparently they hold a little service there every new year’s and there is a script that is specifically timed so that if you start at a very specific time, you will finish exactly at midnight as the bell rings to mark that. The front entrance of the house also had some really nice Flemish stained glass. After our tour, they served us tea and scones, which were both delicious. One of their dogs was also wandering around and letting us pet him, he was very sweet.
That was all day Friday. Yesterday, my roommate, Rowan, and I went on a semi-spontaneous (we had decided to go about one or two days earlier) trip to Cardiff, or Caerdydd in the native Welsh. Side note, I will never understand Welsh, it seems like a very strange language. Anyways, one of our other housemates had gone a few weeks before, so she gave us some advice on places to go and all that. Once we arrived at the city center, we wandered around and found a museum called the Cardiff Story Museum, which was all about Cardiff’s history. It was very small, but pretty comprehensive and cute, there is clearly a lot of pride in their history and identity. Right by that museum was the St. John Church (I think) (see photo below). Interesting note, that church was for John the Baptist, and so, like other churches that were built for him, you have to go down a few stairs to go in, as if you are entering a river to be baptized. Then we headed towards our main goal, which was the Doctor Who Experience. We stopped along Cardiff Bay, which is where some of Doctor Who has been filmed, but we stopped because there were a bunch of interesting looking buildings, one of which turned out to be the Welsh equivalent of Big Ben (see additional photos), and it had a small museum on its history as well.
Then we actually got to the Doctor Who Experience. The first thing that you do is an actual “experience,” as in it is like a mini episode of Doctor Who that is interactive and kind of goes through some of the most popular or memorable episodes and villains of Doctor Who. We weren’t allowed to take pictures during that half hour so as not to spoil it for people in the future, so I won’t go into it too much here in keeping with that. I will say that if you let yourself get into the cheesiness of it, it’s pretty fun. After that, you come out to an exhibition room that is mostly centered on the origins of Doctor Who and how it was created and made. They had a lot of original or restored original things, including the first TARDIS, both outside and in. I don’t know the original series of Doctor Who as well, so I wasn’t as interested, but it still was pretty cool. Then we went up some stairs to a larger exhibition floor that had tons of costumes and props and things from the show, which was really cool. There was definitely a fair amount more from the most recent season, as in there were about six or seven of costumes from Clara, the current companion. But they had costumes from every single one of the doctors, some of which were originals. And of course, they had the sonic screwdrivers (see photo below).
I will say that one of the things that I noticed is that in terms of set and costumes, things look mostly how you would expect. However, with props, man do they look incredibly fake and plastic-y. As someone who works and has worked in theater for many years, I really should have guessed that, but it still is somewhat surprising. Things just have to look right from the audience’s perspective, not necessarily in real life. Anyways, they had a bunch of models and stands of things like the weeping angels (see additional photos) and the evolution of Cybermen (see additional photos) and costumes from the Gallifreyan council and all of that jazz. If you are at all into Doctor Who, I highly recommend it, it’s pretty fun and made me want to kind of rewatch all of the episodes from Nine and Ten. Plus the building for it just looks kind of ridiculous, but also kind of hard to miss (see photo below).
After all of that, we grabbed a bus back to the city center, the weather was kind of rainy and windy so we didn’t really want to do the half hour walk back. Then we grabbed lunch at a cute little cafe that was still open. Oddly, afterwards, a little after 4, we walked around some more, but a surprisingly large number of shops were closed. That became a running theme as we found the Cardiff Castle, but weren’t able to actually go see it because it closed at 4. At that point, it became clear that we wouldn’t really be able to do much else there, so we somehow found our way back to the train station and took the train back to Bath. Overall, it was a pretty fun weekend, got to do a lot of good stuff and check some things off of my to-see list.