|Dapol Doctor Experience|
Click on the pictures to see larger views, with captions.
I had a very restless sleep at Cae Crwn Farm, not sure if it was from the excitement of going to Dapol or that I found it difficult to get comfortable in the single bed. I'm accustomed to sprawling over a double bed and kept hanging off the edge of this one. I finally gave up trying to sleep after the roosters in the yard started their insistent crowing. A half hour of that noise was enough for me. Hoped for lots of eggs at breakfast!
I got dressed, gathered my things and packed my bag, ready to start the day. 6:30 AM? Its only 6:30! An hour before we had agreed to meet for breakfast. There were a few tourist magazines about Llangollen on the bed stand so I picked one up. 1993... Try another... 1991. Another... 1987... Ok I give up! I grabbed the Richardwho traveling bear and abandoned my room to take a few pictures inside the house. I tried my best to be quiet but the squeaky floors made that impossible. I headed outside to see if I could get a little entertainment by annoying the chickens. The novelty of poultry harassment wore off very quickly and I got board.
Moses! Moses the mule, the big attraction that Cae Crwn Farm promotes in their advertising. I can go see Moses. We failed to see him yesterday on our farm tour because he decided dozing at the other end of the pasture was far more interesting then visiting four tourists. Up the hill I went, scattering the chickens as I pushed by. The sheep were up and gave me a very annoyed look as I passed by. The acrid smell of the horse stalls was a real eye opener, better then a strong cup of coffee. Moses was still at the far end of the pasture but this time he looked over with interest, walking in my direction. He came over, stuck his face over the barbed wire fence and gave me one of those "Well what did you bring me to eat" looks. I didn't. He knew it, snorted at me, turned and started to leave. I snapped my picture as he whipped his tail in disgust trotting off. I got what I wanted.
As I turned to walk back down the hill to the house the most spectacular view of the valley below was laid out in front of me. The early morning lighting was perfect, and the green, lush hills looked just like a post card. I stood there for a long time just gazing at the splendor. Take a photo you clod! I pointed my camera down the hill but the viewfinder could not seem to capture the brilliance. I took some shots, but frankly they don't even come close to the beauty of being there.
When I arrived back at the house everyone was still shut up in their rooms. I think I may have heard a bit of movement from the other side of Simon's door but it was obvious I still had to entertain myself. I went down to the lounge and found another stack of ancient tourist pamphlets to occupy my time. The remaining three travelers bounced their way down the stairs, what seemed like hours later but it is more likely to have only been twenty minutes since I sat down. The Landlady put out a full course breakfast (hold the beans) and we all tucked in for another waist stretching meal. As good as the food was, I was itching to get to Dapol so didn't want this to drag out all morning.
The food consumed and bags staged in the lounge, we were ready for our getaway. We asked to settle up the bill. Sarah somehow got entangled in another conversation with the landlady and we saw no hope of her freeing herself. What is it with B&B Landladies? They seem to be very lonely people. Even after I stepped between her and Sarah and demanded, "we need to leave", the adorable old lady followed us to the car just babbling away. I felt bad that I was so rude but Dapol was waiting.
We took the direct route to Llangollen this time. Taking the shortcut through the mountains instead of the well-traveled highway. The road was a single lane, mostly paved with a sheer drop on one side and gray shale vertical face on the other. Haven't we done this before? Didn't it end badly then? Winding along the hills overlooking the valleys. What views! Well worth the minor surges of anxiety on the blind curves. We rejoined the main road a couple of miles from Llangollen and made the rest of the journey to the Exhibition Centre as the sane population would.
The parking lot was nearly empty when we arrived even though the doors had been open for over half an hour. Perfect! It's all ours. No crowds and lots of time to look. We dug out the tickets that Maduncledai (Gary in Sussex) had sent to us. Up the steps, passed the Dalek with the broken blaster to the ticket window. Did the business of admission and then asked the dreaded question. "We heard this exhibit was closing, is it true?" The smile dropped from the face of the girl on the other side of the window as she replied, "Yes it will be gone before the end of the year." This was back in August, before any of the official announcements had been made. We were all a bit shocked to hear it strait from the horse's mouth, so to speak. No more rumor, it was true. Good we are here now! Lets go!
We headed for the big oversized Tardis doors that lead to the treasures beyond. Once there we got bunched up, no one would go in. I was trying to be polite and let Sarah in but all three of them were standing there staring at me. "Lets Make A Move!", I announced, to which Matt replied, "We want you to go first! Its your first time.". "Thanks". I wedged my way to the front and through the doors. I'm in! Dapol Doctor Who Exhibition. I have wanted for a very long time to be where I am now. I collected photos from people all over the world that have been here. I watched tapes that people have made while they were here. I have read many stories of people that have been here. Now it was my turn to enjoy the smell of old latex, listen to the endlessly repeating Dr Who theme and explore the glass displays filled with memorable friends. I'm here!
It was all so familiar. I knew what would be where, what would be around this corner or behind that wall. Simon set out to document the collection with his camera, while Matt and Sarah peered into the scattered props of the closet displays looking for the barely seen items. We worked our way through the console room into the first gallery savoring the delights just the other side of the glass. Just as we were finishing up Gallery one a man in a long coat walked up to me, I looked at him and he said "Richardwho?"
"Yes I'm Richard," I replied with I'm sure a surprised look on my face. "I'm Scott Lindsay", was returned. "Great to meet you in person Scott". Scott and I corresponded occasionally over the last couple of years and he donated many photos to the web site. An Australian, Scott recently moved to Liverpool to work at the university for a few years. I was honored that he came down to Llangollen to see me (and the exhibition). We looked for a place to sit and have a good chat with a cup of something but there was none to be found. He joined our group and we enjoyed the exhibits together. We spent hours looking, pointing, taking pictures and chattering about the sights. Simon and I crawled into the Dalek, one at a time, to speak into the sound modulator, doing our best impersonation of the evil race. Simon does a pretty darn good impression of Davros. Scott had to depart after the final gallery to catch his bus back to Liverpool, so we never did get to talk. Fans from three continents all together. What a mix of accents we had. What! Pardon! Huh!
After our farewells to Scott we went over to see Bessie the famous Dr Who car, daring each other to get in. None of us did in the end, opting to stick to the rules. It would be a shame to come all this way and get thrown out before I saw it all. The factory was in full swing making some train toys. The smell of hot plastic was quite strong. The only visible remnants of the Dr Who toys that were once manufactured here was a small display of Dalek pull-back parts mounted to a board. The gift shop was the final room on the tour. Filled with tons of model railroad items, which is Dapol's main business these days, the Dr Who items were relegated to the far end of the shop. The standard Dr Who paraphernalia was on display, some tapes, pens, that type of stuff. The remains of the Doctor Who toys that were left after Dapol lost the license to manufacture them were over in one corner. The packaging of the toys was not the familiar 4"x 9" closable clamshell, rather 3"x 7" singles and 7"x12" 4 packs. Already having all the toys in my collection I picked up an example of each of the packages just for posterity.
Ending the tour back at the entrance ticket booth, I wanted to get a Souvenir Brochure of the Exhibition. I smiled into the booth and said, "Can I have a brochure please? Make that two. Wait Wait ! Three! No! No! Four!". When would I ever get back here? With it closing soon these will be hard to come by. Sarah must have had the same thought because she changed her mind and decided to get one for their collection. A few last photos and we reluctantly walked out the door to the parking lot saying goodbye to the Dr Who landmark.
We looked at each other and said in unison … "FOOD!" It was well past 1:00 pm and the morning's feast had worn off. "Cream tea", Sarah announced, "you have to have a cream tea!". What the heck is that? She went on to tell that cream tea is a small snack consisting of a scone, cream, butter, jam, fruit and a pot of tea. "I'm game!" We set off down the main strip of Llangollen, over the bridge that crosses the Dee River. Passing the full size, working "Thomas the train" station and found the Cottage Tea Rooms cafe. A small white building filled with people sipping away at cups of tea. Our order was simple, "four cream teas please". When it all arrived I was instructed on the etiquette to properly assemble the scone (a biscuit), butter, cream (whip cream), jam and chopped fruit into a manageable package. Pinky extended, I sipped my tea and navigated my way through the sweet mound of soft delight. Quite good I must say. But where is the sausage?
With our tummies quiet for now it was time to hit the road for the trek back to Dorking. As we were strolling to the parking lot (car park) it was noticeably HOT. Down rite HOT. Not warm. HOT. We were all glad to get to the car and switch on the air conditioner. Simon took the wheel for the drive and we settled in for many hours of travel. Just after we got onto the A5 to Shrewsbury all traffic came to a dead stop. We just sat there. Five minutes passed. Then ten. Now twenty. Then we noticed there were no cars going the other direction. This looks bad. Now people are leaving their cars walking ahead trying to see what is going on. Hot as crap out there, most of the other cars have all their windows down waiving air in with newspapers. "Should we turn off the A/C incase the car overheats?" Simon asks. "Are you mad? Turn it up! It isn't icy enough back here!" my reply. A helicopter is now hovering ahead just barely in sight. This looks real bad. It took more then an hour to creep along to the next exit where the police were forcing everyone off the highway. There was a major accident on the A5 just before Shrewsbury and all traffic was being diverted. Now on a minor road we couldn't seem to get our bearings, making a few wrong turns and revisiting some locations several times before we found a path around the traffic problem.
The remainder of the drive was clear sailing and I even did a bit of the navigating to give Simon a break, Matt was driving by then. The sun went down and the temperature dropped somewhat so we stopped at a Burger King for dinner. I was having hamburger cravings. It was just like being at home except tea is a major beverage on the menu. Tea and a burger? Must be England! We made it to Dorking well after 10:00 pm. The house was like an oven, being shut up during the hot days. Dead tired we all plopped down in the living room for a quick viewing of the 5 Doctors DVD to see the locations we had visited just a day ago. Simon headed home taking the Vectra and agreeing to pick us up in the morning. Early.
Tomorrow is a big day. Longleat 40th year Celebration. Why I came. People to meet! Props to see!
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|Photos from the days events|
|Dapol Doctor Experience|
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