day has arrived. The day that started it all. The day that got me
off my backside and on the path to this trip. The 40th year celebration
at Longleat House. The day to meet the collectors.
The early rise we agreed to the night before was very difficult to
live up to. The pace of the last 5 days was catching up with us all
and the bed was difficult to say goodbye to on this morning. But up
I got. It was still hot in the house from the night before so I opted
for a cold shower. Boy did it feel good. Refreshed and clean I grabbed
a big glass of Orange drink, clicked on the TV and punched up BBC2
to watch the weather report. Record heat! Hot everywhere! Just my
luck, I hate hot! Where is this mild weather that I was promised.
I can get hot at home. The A/C in the Vectra is going to earn its
Matt and Sarah made their way down the stairs well groomed but looking
like a few more hours of sleep would not go unappreciated. Nothing
a good cup of tea couldn't take care of. Matt set to the task of the
tea as Sarah answers the now ringing phone. "Simon is running
a bit late, we have about a half hour" Sarah announces as
she replaces the receiver on their vintage telephone. You could see
on everyone's face a half hour to relax was a welcomed break but no
one said it out loud. I took advantage of the time to inventory the
giveaway items I had made to give to the collectors I met today.
…. Hats? Check! …. Buttons? Check!
…. Cards? Check! ….
arrived promptly at the adjusted schedule and we piled the car with
all our goodies and headed down the road. Time to fuel up the car
and ourselves. Tea just doesn't qualify as food in my book. Simon
hunts for the cheapest gas (petrol) he can find while I nag him to
go for convenient not cheep. He relented in the end and we pulled
into a nice station with a large store. "Breakfast orders?"
I queried, "Simon? Matt? Sarah?" Like I had any clue
what was available in the store. In the end we all went in and roamed
the sandwich isle. Some pretty bizarre selections of sandwiches, but
nothing compared to the chip (crisp) lane. So many choices. Spare
rib, chicken soup, bacon, and beefsteak. Steak!? Where is the Nacho
Cheese? We made our selections and I ended up with a sausage, egg
and something on white bread with a tiny bag of chicken chips. Down
the road we went. Simon was at the wheel with Sarah in the next seat
doling him his breakfast between roundabouts. Matt and I in the back
were happily noshing away on our food, taking in the sites along the
saw Stonehenge just off the roadway. Not stopping for a tourist excursion
we snapped a few pictures from the car as we zipped by. Matt recalled
that there is normally a traffic jam along this route on the return
trip from Longleat and we may want to avoid this road when we go home.
We arrived at Longleat with little trouble where we were greeted at
the entrance with the smallest of signs announcing the significance
of the day. Understated is a polite way to describe it. There was
a short wait to get our tickets and in we drove. What a pretty place
it is. You pass through rolling green lawns dotted with picnic areas
and a fishing pond on your way to the main parking lots. Wait what
was that? A Dalek on the sidewalk, moving in the direction of the
house. We must be in the right place.
found a good parking spot close to the food pavilion under a shady
tree. Opening the car doors you were hit square in the face with the
heat. Almost knocked me down. I dawn my bright red Richardwho ball
cap and button, as did Simon. The Parish's on the other hand could
not be convinced to wear the hat. The button was OK but not that hat!
We decided to have a quick tour around the grounds to give me a general
lay of the land before my noon appointment in the food pavilion to
meet the Richardwho collectors. I could explore the exhibits after
the collector event. We followed a strolling Zygon to the main entrance
of the Longleat House where we found hoards of Daleks scurrying about.
Some in colors I had never seen before. There were children jumping
about trying to get rides on the evil monsters as the Dalek handlers
fended them off. I'm sure some of the operators were wishing for a
functioning Dalek blaster. Billed as the largest assemblage of Daleks
in one place ever, it was quite a site to see.
passed by the tent (marquee) where Sophie Aldred and John Leeson were
signing autographs. The line (queue) to see them was huge, stretching
out of site. I had promised my son Tristin I would get him a signed
picture of Sophie if I could, Ace being his favorite companion. It
was not looking very good though. I had so
much I had to get done that day and I could not afford to stop for
a few hours and stand in line. Sarah offered to queue for me but I
could not ask her to stand in the blazing heat for that long. We will
see what the line looked like after my collector event. "There
it is Rich" Simon yelled pointing in the direction of a large
blue police box, "The prop exhibit!" We poked our
head in the entrance, which was surprisingly next to the Tardis, not
through the Tardis Doors as I expected. It was packed with people,
shoulder to shoulder. After the Collector event! We went around the
back of the exhibit where several Daleks, a Cyberman and a Zygon were
milling about. They posed for pictures with us. "Where is
the Dr Who Store?" I asked. "Back there by the
Dollhouse museum" Matt answered back. "By the reproduction
of Bessie". Lets give that a try. Sarah piped in with "It
is time you were getting to the pavilion, you don't want to be late".
Of course she was right.
and I went back to the car to get the give-a-ways and Matt and Sarah
set up camp in the food Pavilion where we all settled in for two hours
of mingling. A slow start had the four of us wondering if anyone would
show up at all. But my insecurity's were squelched as one by one the
familiar names from my web site turned into flesh and blood people.
Peter in Kent with his lovely companion. Andrew Hogg came down from
Liverpool. Frank Xerri and Gary in Sussex (maduncledai) in costume
even were all there. With the addition of the Trinity Matt, Sarah
and Simon, we all had a nice long chat about everything under the
sun. Derek Handley stopped by and we talked about some of his work.
Many people stopped me to say they enjoy the website and wished me
well. Quite a memorable event, for me anyway. It ended with everyone
agreeing that we must do another very soon and broke up to enjoy the
remainder of the park events on our own.
down to the original four adventures we set out to enjoy the parts
of the park we surveyed earlier in the morning. We began by touring
the house. As many times as the Trinity had been to Longleat they
had never been in the house. Well it was one of the things I wanted
to do so I was pleased we could share another first. Once inside it
is exactly what I expected from a fancy English house. Old everything,
with huge furniture and paintings the size of billboards. I was surprised
by how decorative the ceilings were. I have never seen anything like
them before. Not allowed to touch anything or take pictures I was
not concerned about capturing the splendor with my camera because
I figured I could buy a picture book about the house in the gift shop.
There were house attendants stationed everywhere to answer questions
and they were very quick to remind you of the "don't touch policy".
Simon did insist on taking some photos of the gun collection for his
Father so I played interference with the guards by asking questions
about objects on the far side of the room as he snuck the photos.
The tour ends at the haunted cellar next to, not surprisingly, the
gift shop. I asked the clerk in the shop where the books on the house
could be found. "Oh we don't have any, they are working on
one but it won't be ready until next season. We do have some postcards",
what a let down.
leaving the house the heat was getting to everyone and Ice cream became
the subject of interest. I'm not a fan of the drippy stuff so I left
them to see how the line to see Sophie Aldred was. It was much shorter
now but there was a sign at the end of the line that said "Sorry
end of queue". Well that's it no autograph. Tristin will have
to understand. I walked to the tent to see if I could get a few more
photos of Sophie from the walkway. I stood there, outside the tent,
not 50 feet away from her taking pictures as I watched the line growing
ever shorter and the sign following up the rear. I thought to my self,
"I came this far, I have to try". I ran across the courtyard
to the Dr Who sales store that was still packed with people and pushed
my way to the cash register were photos of Ace could be found. Picked
out a classic pose and hurriedly paid the bill dashing back out the
door. (Sorry to the guy I ran into as I did) Three people left in
line as I run back across the courtyard. Arriving at the tent as one
person was still visible out side. I jumped the rope fence (Don't
get impressed it was only 2 1/2 feet high) as the last fan moves beyond
the flap out of site. I slipped around the end of queue sign into
the tent and sidled up next to the last person in the line of 4 waiting
their turn to talk to John Leeson and then Sophie. "Look nonchalant".
Just then a man stepped forward looking strait at me and said, "I'm
sorry but the line is close, you have to leave". "Crap"
I think to myself. "But sir I have come all the way from America
for this. Please don't make me leave." I begged. "I'm
sorry but you will have to go", the reply. Just then the
man looked up at my hat (with my website on it) then he peered at
the button on my shirt (with my website on it) and up again to my
hat then looked questioningly at my face and said, "Richard?"
I'm Richard", I quickly responded. The expression on the
man face went for stern authority to a big smile and he introduced
himself as Grahame Flynn. Grahame (Gray) and I have corresponded a
few times through my website about our collections and possible trades.
Gray looked at me with a twinkle and said "OK for you Richard
but anyone else comes in the door kick them back out". "Thanks"
I replied with deep relieve. Gray went back to packing up some of
the items in the tent so I turned around to find I was next in line
for John Leeson. John smiled up at me and asked what he could sign
for me. I was so fixated on getting my son his Sophie Aldred autograph
I had forgotten John Leeson was even there. I should have had him
sign my hat or my Longleat tickets or something. Anything! But I just
said, "Nice to meet you but I don't have anything for you
to sign". He just smiled politely, nodded, stood up and made
his way out of the tent. It was now my turn to meet Sophie.
has been record-breaking heat all day. Sophie has been sitting in
this tent for hours looking after her children as well as signing
autographs. I'm the last person she has to see before she can leave.
Sophie was very pleasant, chatted with me a bit, posed for a picture
and signed the photo for my son very carefully so as not to smudge
it. A lot of people would not have taken as much time with me under
the same circumstances. I was impressed; she is a real classy lady.
Tristin got his photo and I got a great story to tell! (Thanks Gray)
from the Sophie event I set off to find my other travelers to tell
my tale. I found them relaxing in the shade of a tree, waiting for
me (that's their story). "Its time for the prop exhibit!"
Simon announced. You could hear every bone in my body creaking as
we got up from the ground and made our way to the big blue box at
the end of the path. I dug several two-pound coins from my pocket
and paid our fees to get past the attendant. All the exhilaration
of being inside the Longleat Dr Who exhibition was quickly replaced
with anxiety. The heat inside was stifling and the people were packed
in as tight as a Tokyo subway train. I have been known to get a bit
irritable in crowded places. The shopping mall at Christmas time can
make me fantasize about merry shoppers spontaneously combusting under
the electrified missile-tow (yes I spelled it correctly).
clambered along the displays with the other cattle trying to take
pictures through the sweaty glass that had a day worth of greasy face
prints covering every square inch of the surface. The props were displayed
very nicely with a bit more atmosphere and showmanship then Dapol.
I really enjoyed the Morbius laboratory and the Virvoid
display. The Tardis console at the end of the tour is very impressive
and a great place to fiddle the knobs of time. Dripping with sweat
we emerged again into the small retails sales lobby where the tour
began. Richer for the experience but in need of a bit of cool air.
Having accomplished all we set out to do that day we decided it was
time to head back to the car and find our way to Dorking. Matt navigated
us back to the Vectra and we all just fell into our seats. "Kick
that A/C to full!" I bellowed, "I want Ice on the
head rests". Ahhhhhh. The drive was very pleasant, avoiding
the sluggish traffic around Stonehenge. Did we talk? I don't remember
much about the drive home other then the glorious air-conditioning.
We arrived at Matt and Sarah's house well
before sunset and the temperature in side was off the scale. We opened
all the windows we could and the breeze started to cool the house
down a little bit. (Very little)
became the topic of interest and Sarah said she wanted to cook a meal.
"It is much to hot for you to cook", I protested.
But she insisted. Bless her little heart, she slaved away in that
historically sized kitchen in 120 (f) degree temperatures until her
hole face was beat red. I must say the results of her labors were
spectacular. She laid out a meal of pork chops, roasted potatoes,
carrots and broccoli on their patio table surrounded by her well-groomed
garden. The best meal I had on my trip. We lingered at the table until
well after dark talking about the events of the past week. The evening
was topped off by watching the "Kings Daemons" and a skim through
of the "Curse of Fenrick" tape to prepare for the next days events.
Sleep came easy..