Christopher, the bombe

Christopher, the bombe

If you have seen the film The Imitation Game, then you have to go to Bletchley Park where the Second World War cryptography project took place. It was a village of people employed to break codes. Everyone had to sign up to the Official Secrets Act and agree not to tell a soul !

I don’t know which of two things I was most excited about seeing: the bombe, which was called Christopher in the movie. In fact, it was artistic license, but I keep referring to it as Christopher anyway. It gives the whirling wheels a personality. Or the Engima machines, of which there were several behind glass cases, including one that belonged to Mussolini.

I read about code breaking – The Code Book by Simon Singh – years before the movie. But I have to say that the film’s acclaim has brought positive effects, in spite of the criticism about its historical accuracy. As we speak, Bletchley Park is undergoing a much-needed rejuvenation.

It was lovely to soak up the atmosphere and learn about the conditions in which the employees worked. The grounds are lovely. You can have a look into Alan Turing’s (re-constructed) office. The huts are informative and there are lots of interactive games for adults and children. My special tip is – don’t miss out on the intriguing stories of spies and double agents.

~ Spotted Cow

Codes !

Hut 12

Mussolini's Enigma machine

Enigma machine

5. Code breaking

Banbury sheets

Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge

Picture 5/Story 5

I visited Bletchley Park and spent an interesting day immersed in ciphers, codes and Enigma machines.

The picture above is a Banbury Sheet.  It was women’s work to punch holes into the Banbury Sheets according to the Enigma message they had to hand. The trick – as invented by Alan Turing – was to try and find similar sequences on two different sheets, which would suggest that they both have the same Enigma machine setting.

What amazed me was that, at its peak Bletchley Park employed 9000 people engaged in breaking codes for the war effort … and it was a secret that none of them could tell their family or friends.

~ Spotted Cow

The rules of Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge require you to post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo (It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or simply a short paragraph) and then nominate another blogger to carry on this challenge. Do try it !

Spring break. Planning trips

Guide books

March weather is unpredictable. One day it’s mild and sunny, and I’ve tossed aside the hot water bottle. The next day it’s cold and wet, and I’m wrapped up again in the duvet coat. However, there is no doubt that spring is near and I am ready to come out of hibernation.

I pulled out the diary and flicked off the dust. The following dates have been penned in:

  • Several weekends taking in the sea air in Brighton;
  • A day out at Bletchley Park to see the code-breaking Enigma machines;
  • Bank holiday city break in Stockholm;
  • And, a week visiting a friend on sabbatical in Madrid.

I’ve been couch-surfing jauntful.com and cntraveller.com for recommendations. Jauntful is a crowd-sourcing site where people have compiled their travel lists with handy printable itineraries and maps. CNtraveller is the Conde Nast Traveller site that has luscious photography and helpful lists. I love the food and restaurant lists. On both sites, you type in your destination and away you go. Oh, and of course I have to get my Everyman map guide.

And not to forget my lovely friends at the Slow Pace, who will definitely get a look-in because they know Madrid well and they’ve just been to Stockholm. How handy is that! I’ve already written down their recommendation for the best meatballs in Stockholm.

~ Spotted Cow