Category: Europe

Protect yourself while travel in South America

Latin America is huge and diverse – and seemingly full of health hazards. Take heart though – your biggest risks will be road accidents and (especially in the warmer parts) a short-lived upset stomach. However, it pays to be prepared, so here are some of the hazards that travellers to South America face.

Montezuma’s revenge

The tropical parts of Central and South America have high hit rates for travellers’ diarrhoea. The worst countries in the New World are Mexico and Peru. Along with the ‘simple’ kind of gastroenteritis that burns itself out in 36-48 hours, there are nastier pathogens that spread in the same way – unhygienic food production. These diseases include typhoid and paratyphoid (capsules now protect against both), and bacillary and amoebic dysentery.

In Bolivia, for example, fields may be fertilised with ‘night soil’ (human faeces) that effectively recycles parasites. It’s worth adhering to the ‘peel it, boil it, cook it or forget it’ rule. Raw fish – including ceviche – has been blamed for outbreaks of profuse watery diarrhoea but fish that’s well marinated in lemon is least risky. To avoid tapeworms and worm cysts in the brain, order your steak and pork well-cooked.

Piranhas & candiru

Piranhas and candiru fish are infamous among travellers to South America. Although piranha feeding-frenzies do happen, they are unlikely unless they’ve become trapped in a tiny body of water that is drying out.

Candiru are pencil-lead thin and parasitise other fish; on very rare occasions they try to enter the urethra of male humans taking a swim. Where these fish are common and small boys swim with them, local women are good at winkling them out. Stingrays inhabit the rivers too so watch where you wade.

Chagas disease

This infection may have been the death of Darwin but is more commonly spoken of than experienced. It’s transmitted in the rainforests by assassin bugs, which hurt when they bite. Sleep in a hammock with attached mosquito netting.

Scorpions & spiders

 

Bark scorpions are particularly dangerous –despite the availability of an antivenom, there are 1,000 fatalities every year

Bark scorpions are particularly dangerous but there is an antivenom so fatalities should be rare and partially depend on getting to a competent clinical facility promptly. There are over 1,000 deaths from scorpion stings in Mexico annually; those who die are mostly local children. Widows, browns and sac spiders should be treated with respect – if they bite, there is usually an area of skin and subcutaneous tissue death.

Ticks

American ticks come with special health warnings – potentially they can give you one of nine dangerous infections, and American Lyme disease seems to be more malign than the European variant. Keep ticks off. If you find one feeding on you, remove it as soon as possible (pack a tick-removal tool) and flood the wound with pisco or some other strong spirit alcohol.

Leishmania

Tiny biting sandflies can squeeze through mosquito nets and spread an illness that starts as a painless ulcer-like skin lesion. This looks as if it should be itchy or painful but isn’t. It grows and may disappear spontaneously after a month or so. Depending on the form of leishmania, up to half of victims will go on to have a nasty parasitic infection that requires extended hospital treatment.

Prompt diagnosis allows a simpler, more effective cure. Odd ‘sores’ can also turn out to be skin cancers, so show any weird lumps and bumps to a doctor. Keeping covered, wearing repellent and sleeping under an insecticide impregnated net will protect you.

Malaria

Sleeping in a mosquito net to protect yourself

Malaria is a problem in much of the northern part of South and Central America – read up on your destination. Although the most dangerous forms aren’t present, malaria pills are recommended for many rural destinations. Malaria is only one of many insect-borne diseases on offer in South America so take precautions to avoid bites at all times.

Yellow fever

Yellow fever is a disease that simmers in forest animals and breaks out unpredictably. During outbreaks in South America the authorities sometimes react by instigating mass vaccination, including stopping busses and immunising everyone on board – you’ll need to wave a yellow fever certificate to avoid being stabbed along with everyone else.

Consult the web (eg, www.who.int) to check the current status of your destination. There have been some deaths reported in Brazil (in May 2015) due to yellow fever and there have been nine cases in Peru in the first three months of 2015.

Chikungunya & dengue

Chikungunya now seems to be a big problem in South and Central America and the Caribbean. It’s spread by mosquitoes and causes a disease akin to ‘breakbone’ fever or dengue, which is also a problem locally. Wear repellent at all times.

Snakes

Snakebite is a significant problem in South America but the scale of the problem is hard to gauge. People most at risk are agricultural workers clearing vegetation. Antivenom may be available at some clinics.

Vampires

The Americas are home to real vampires: bats that bite mammals, instil anticoagulant and lap the blood; a significant proportion carry rabies. Anyone sleeping out should consider this risk; arranging pre-trip rabies immunisation would be wise. Evidence is growing that a full course of rabies vaccine with a booster gives lifelong immunity. Dogs are less of a rabies risk than in the Old World, but even so there was a rabies death in Chile in 2013 following dog bites.

Snowdonia skyline

FROM CONWY TO NEBO over the Carneddau, Glyderau, Snowdon and the Nantlle Ridge, the route I’ve called the Snowdonia Skyline is one I’d wanted to try for years. Last summer, during a period of settled weather and on a night with a full moon, I finally set out to walk it. Head west then south-west out of Conwy, keep Anglesey to your right, the rest of Wales to your left and carry on climbing those lovely ridges until you get to the other end of the National Park… sound simple?

In principle, it is. But this is also one of the most rewarding 24 hours available to the British walker. Starting in the early evening, I blundered westwards from Conwy town centre. Strangely, although Conwy has a direct path out onto some of the most scenic territory anywhere, the route is positively hidden. But after a couple of missed turns I finally found the route onto the open hill. In front of me lay one of the great concentrations of spectacular mountain ridges in Britain.

Adam and Eve, Tryfan summit, sunrise

Conwy Mountain may be less than 250m high but it feels like a mountain alright, with views down and out to the shimmering Lafan Sands and Anglesey floating above the sea, all in soft evening sunlight. The next five miles or so contain no summits, just a gradual gain of height up to Tal y Fan, the first 2000-footer. But the scenery is magnificent. Sections of the early route reminded me of the first miles of the Lyke Wake Walk, with widening views to town and country as the sun set. Tal y Fan is a curious summit, a rocky spine running east-west above the heathery moor. After that there is a heathery trundle over Foel Lwyd followed by a disconcertingly deep bwlch – the first of many – and the long pull to Carnedd Y Ddelw and then Drum. Anglesey had also now landed again; very quiet.

The ascent of Foel Fras is a dull, long grass slope, so mindless that I counted to 600 plantings of the left foot. You know you are close to the top when you encounter the designers’ only acknowledgement of it as a 3000-foot mountain: a rash of boulders. But the next miles are the easiest on the whole trip, grassy uplands leading to Carnedd Gwenllian and then on to the stone shelter on Foel Grach. By now, I had moonlight, which was reflecting brightly off Yr Elen, a tempting top, but not on the Skyline.

I spent the three darkest hours of the night in my bivvy bag and then moved on as the cold started to seep through. Ahead lay the easy ascent to Carnedd Llewelyn, far left for the summit, then the long tramp to Carnedd Dafydd. From here I needed light and I got it as, slowly, dawn organised itself from somewhere north of Merseyside. I remembered to watch for the steepening ground from Pen Yr Ole Wen, into that gully above Afon Lloer and remembered also to replenish my water supplies. But I had forgotten how slippery the next bit – all wet and dewy grass – could be. I even saw another torch, briefly, but was soon concentrating on trying to use my feet rather than my backside to progress. By the time I reached the track I was thoroughly relieved to be sprain-free, although I now possessed two very wet feet. This was a very low bwlch, but, in front of me, emerging into daylight beyond the A5, was Tryfan. It was 5am and I already had 18 miles and 6000ft of ascent under my feet but in front of me was 2000ft of infinitely varied scrambling on sound rock: the north ridge of Tryfan, served up with a blazing sunrise. My watch told me I ascended in 90 minutes but looking back, it felt like 19. And at the top were Adam and Eve: the best piece of summit design anywhere. Then the swift descent to Bwlch Tryfan and Bristly Ridge… of which I made a pig’s ear, straying left and emerging from there into Great Pinnacle Gap. The presence of discarded tape slings was disconcerting but, in the absence of skeletons and the like, I trusted in the pattern of Snowdonia scrambles: that if you wave your arms about long enough a jug hold will usually appear. Soon the Cantilever came into sight and then – surely the designers put these two on the wrong plinths – a pile of discarded dinosaur torsos at the true summit of Glyder Fach. Castell y Gwynt is another rock feature that looks to have been designed for a summit and then plonked somewhere temporary, so I climbed it. Glyder Fawr lay beyond, a less spectacular summit but a great view to Snowdon. From here, there is a mystery. Pen y Pass is one of the great honeypot sites and Glyder Fawr one of the significant summits. And yet the connecting path, although marked by the odd red paint splash, is a bit scatty. At the bottom a path did coalesce, just in time to run into a fenced-off building site.

From Glyder Fawr, a view of the continuing
Skyline, over Snowdon

I picked up a coffee at the cafe and, with my eye on my watch and my mind on my 24-hour target time, carried it up the PYG track. It was just about cool enough to sip by Bwlch y Moch – maybe I exaggerate – but then the adrenaline rush of Crib Goch provided its own stimulation. At the top I encountered the first mists, which eventually lifted at Crib y Ddysgl, where Snowdon (and its hordes) came back into view. I downed a juice at the summit cafe then headed of towards Yr Aran, realising pretty quickly that I needed to turn and hit the path that descends gently to Rhyd Ddu, the lowest point on my watershed. Rhyd Ddu was pretty quiet but, again, there were provisions available (you don’t need a long-suffering support driver to walk this route). Ahead of me lay Snowdonia’s best kept secret – the fantastic landscapes of the Nantlle ridges. But first was the purgatory of 1500f of grassy staircase to ascend Y Garn. It didn’t help that I now met the single happiest school group I have ever seen, gambolling down the steep ground with shared noisy glee. By contrast I was by now the possessor of that crazed hollow stare of an addict reaching the end of the fix, the sort you see eyeing up the last pint of a bender or putting the last coins in a Vegas slot. Eventually the slope slackened but I had acquired company. Yes, I had a voice in my head, a female companion who was convinced that we would finish this together, even if we had to run the last bit down.

As I later read, one of the local Welsh poets had written of this area: “T ere are voices and phantoms throughout the place.” Spooky? No, comforting, really. Y Garn is a fantastic viewpoint… but I cannot recall appreciating it on this occasion. Soon enough, the route became really interesting again, with care required to negotiate the bouldery staircase up to Mynydd Drws-y-Coed, and a view down one of the cleanest of vertical drops in the whole of Snowdonia. And from here on I met not a soul. No-one else was there to admire the ridge curving perfectly round the cwm to Trum Y Ddysgl, or the upland grass promenade – with that short rough gap – to the obelisk on Mynydd Tal-y-Mignedd.

The next bwlch is one of those disconcertingly low ones, but my female companion kept pointing out a path that struck out half right from the low point. Her judgment was perfect as I took it and it led me round the crags on the ridge, to the summit of Craig Cwm Silyn. More great views and, at last, no more major ascents. I could sense a nearing of journey’s end, complete with its metaphors for life itself; the going easier, everything more rounded and the sea nearer. Garnedd Goch was easy up but bumpy down and looked unexpectedly huge in retrospect. From a level bwlch I picked up the thinnest path to Mynydd Craig Goch. It was all downhill now and I had 40 minutes left of my 24 hours, much of which I wasted by straying too far to the right. ‘She’ – the voice in my head – was right, I reflected, as I hobble-ran down the hill on a path that led unerringly to a new fence. Down towards Llyn Cwm Dulyn I lurched, to a stile, which led in turn to one of those mysteries of the countryside, a one-in-five grass slope that somehow holds ankle-deep water. When I eventually reached my target, the National Park boundary, the only sound I could hear – splurch, splurch – was that of water sloshing around in my runners. The time was 5.36pm. I had been going for four minutes short of 24 hours and can have rarely felt worse; then again, I had just found a fantastic route and have rarely felt better. So, there is the challenge: keep the sea to your right, Wales to your left and climb the skyline in front of you. You might want to wait till the wind’s in the east. Then enjoy.

  1. The route has a single theme: the skyline.
  2. The best views in Snowdonia are looking west, and they are in front of
    you throughout.
  3. The route includes several outstanding scrambles and all bar one are
    used the best way, in ascent.
  4. The route has a continuity of line; there are no ‘out and back’ elements.
  5. The route is navigationally obvious, with no temptingly daft options.
  6. Each of the major descents are on gradual slopes or civilised paths.
  7. The route includes two areas which deserve greater attention: the
    northern Carneddau and Nantlle.
  8. The start and end points are on the road network and readily connected
    by public transport.
  9. There is comfortable accommodation at both ends.
  10. The start is at the start of the mountain skyline and the end….is at the other end of it.

Azores-the Lost paradise on Earth

As someone constantly in search of new playgrounds to explore and photograph, I first noticed the name “Azores” mentioned in weather bulletins. I was intrigued by a place where anticyclones—which create constant fair weather—are born.When a seafarer friend, who had once landed there during an Atlantic crossing, mentioned that each island was covered with lush forests, pristine waterfalls, and sunrises and sunsets to die for, I knew I had to go. “Be prepared to be amazed,” he said.

The items I carry in the trip

  • Fujifilm X-T1* and Fujifilm X-Pro1 bodies
  • Fujinon XF 10-24 mm f/4 R-OIS*
  • Fujinon XF 14 mm f/2.8 R
  • Fujinon XF 35 mm f/1.4 R
  • Fujinon XF 18-55 mm f/2.8-4.0 R
  • Fujinon XF 55-200 mm f/3.5-4.8*
  • EF-42 TTL and EF-X8 flashes*
  • Gitzo GT 3541 tripod
  • GoPro Hero4 Black
  • GoPro Hero4 Silver

Sitting at 2351 metres atop Mount Pico, the highest point of Portugal, I contemplate the fiery light slowly invading a deep blue, inky sky. The orange-popsicle-coloured glow stretches above the horizon to reveal the serrated edge of the five-hundred-metre-wide crater and the stratovolcano’s imposing shape.

   

Inside the dead volcanoes of Azores

Volcanoes of Azores Island

Emerging from the dark lava, volcanic fumaroles dance devilishly, backlit by the morning star. I grab the widest lens I have— a 10-24 mm Fujinon—and, once the aperture is set at f/5, I steady the camera on my backpack. “You know, you’re incredibly lucky!” says my guide, Sonia Mendes, as the sunrays settle in and warm up the ambient air. “Most of the time, when I make it here with clients, we’re either above or below the clouds and we rarely see a clear sunrise.” We had started our climb in the wee hours of the morning at the visitor centre, now nestled far below at 1200 m. With the vigour of an Alpine infantry officer, Sonia, a sleek, tall woman from Pico Island, led me in total darkness to the summit. Even now in semidarkness, it’s easy to frame a picture that captures my guide’s salute to the sunrise, thanks to a large high-resolution viewfinder and OIS. The silence is uninterrupted.

The road leads to the ocean on Flores Island, near Fajã Grande.

Testing my camera for scenic views

Photographing a spectacular sunrise gives me serenity, but it also triggers a creative desire for the day to come that I can feel slowly percolating in my mind. I had recently switched systems, going from a full-size DSLR to a more compact Fujifilm APS-C. Having lugged bulky cameras and huge lenses around the world for years, I thought it was time to lighten the weight on my shoulders and rediscover the joy of photographing. Yet, I was concerned about working with a different sensor size, since it seems that, at least as far as sensors go, size matters. Would the 16.3 megapixels keep their promises? I certainly enjoyed the lightness of being DSLR-free on the way up. With two compact-system cameras, a flash and five lenses packed in a small Lowepro Photo Sport 200 AW, I was able to go fast because I wasn’t weighed down. My adventure began five days before and three hundred kilometres away from Pico, on the island of Flores. Along with her nearby sister Corvo, Flores is covered with rich, densely woven vegetation. Both are included on the UNESCO list of biosphere reserves.

Ancient volcanic formations such as the gigantic caldera of Lagoa do Fogo (Lake of Fire) on São Miguel Island can be seen everywhere in the Azores.

Visitors are lured here by a year-round humid subtropical climate with 24 cm of yearly precipitation.“It’s time to put the weather seal of the X-T1 to the test,” I thought while climbing the Morro Alto, near the island’s centre. A dense cloud was surrounding the various calderas—ancient craters now filled by lakes fed by the many streams of the central plateau. However, the wind was on my side, pushing the gigantic white masses away from the volcanic landscape. I was certainly glad I could hang my bag on the central column hook of my Gitzo tripod to weigh it down! When shooting landscapes, I still rely on a grey card from time to time. But with a camera that offers 256-zone metering, the quality of exposure rarely disappoints, and an occasional slightly underexposed image reminds me of the good old feel of richly saturated Velvia film.

Vegetation is abundant on most of the islands, including here on one of São Jorge’s most beautiful trails, going from Serra de Topo to Fajã do Santo Cristo.

Walking around the moutains

After spending the day hiking around the Branca, Seca, Comprida and Negra calderas, my 16-GB card was already half filled with images having the most intense greens and hues of blue that I’ve ever seen in nature. The light seemed polarized by the cyclical movement of clouds. I thought the afternoon would be ideal for a view of Poço da Alagoinha Grande, a series of panoramic cascades falling from 300 metres into a Lost World-like scene, but the clouds eventually won out. The next morning, after a pleasurable and productive ferry ride, I reached the longest island of the archipelago to shoot some hiking images. With a 53-km coastline, São Jorge is dotted by numerous fajãs, fertile pieces of land created by the accumulation of debris from landslides and ancient lava flows. The landscape was stunning and my guides were keen to share the best of “their” island, so we decided to hike to Fajã da Caldeira de Santo Cristo. The hike to reach the remote village was steep but offered plenty of arresting views. We entered the dense vegetation through dark tunnels created by the interlocking tree canopy and thick ground bushes.

On the sevenkilometre trail from Miradouro das Lagoas to Poço de Bacalhau, there is a spectacular point of view overlooking the mall village of Fajã Grande, on Flores Island’s west coast.

The challenge of balancing the contrast between light and dark areas was nearly impossible, even with the help of the tiny dedicated hot shoe EF-X8 flash, which otherwise is fantastic. I was ready to give up on my nearly three-stop difference when I grumbled, “If only I had a collapsible reflector!” Dina, my guide, was not familiar with photographic equipment and asked me what I meant. When I explained the action of a reflector disc, she simply said, “Oh, but I think I have one!” She pulled out the survival blanket from her first-aid kit. In two minutes I cut some bamboo for a frame. We stretched the aluminum blanket on it and secured the makeshift light bouncer with some medical tape and voilà! With the sun’s help, I had two more stops and the shot was in the bag. We left the forest, and the ocean invaded the horizon again. After a week spent outdoors and in rural villages, Ponta Delgada, the capital of the Azores, feels like a bustling metropolis.

I’m here to photograph a religious procession—an interesting transition from landscape photography to photojournalism. I dig out my second camera, an X-Pro1, from my bag and select an 18-55 mm f/2.8-4 zoom and a 14-mm f/2.8 fixed lens. I wander through the old city streets covered with flow ers placed there by neighbourhood associations to commemorate the Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres, a religious Easter veneration dating from the 1500s. The crowd is dense with the Brotherhood, robed in red and black, and the faithful, ranging from children to older folks.

The light grey sky acts like a gigantic softbox, so there is plenty of light but no contrast. I dial down the ISO to 200, underexpose my images one- to two-thirds of a stop, and throw in a little fill flash. The colours are strikingly vivid. Frankincense perfumes the air, and the crowds slowly move into the streets behind the statue, while devotees, clad in black, pray aloud. I shoot late into the night, strolling the streets until my feet are sore. Slowly, the noises and fumes fade, but there is still plenty of light in the cobbled streets for a few last architectural images.

As the jetliner takes off, I take one last look at the archipelago. From way up in the sky, the Azores look like a small fleet of ships lost at sea. These remote volcanic islands are really as far off the beaten path as islands could be. The visit has filled up my soul and my memory cards. Whether you’re a sailor, an adventurer, an airline captain or a photographer, if you make it to the Azores by sheer luck or by good planning, you should indeed be prepared to be amazed.

House of games

BLETCHLEY PARK is one of the world’s great survivors.

The mansion, 50 miles northwest of London and dating to the late 1870s, was almost lost to the British nation twice. In 1938 a local builder was eyeing the parcel as a development site when the government stepped in, buying the property from the Leon family to house a Code and Cypher School.

And in 1992 bulldozers loomed again until local historians barred their path. Forming the Bletchley Park Trust, advocates saved the complex, where a secret wartime operation broke the German Enigma code, and recast the Park as a museum. Now appreciation for that act of preservation is reaching beyond Britain; of the site’s 150,000 yearly visitors, more and more hail from overseas. Those ranks will only swell thanks to The Imitation Game, the Oscar-winning movie about code-breaking genius Alan Turing.

If you love The Imitation Game, be sure pay a visit to Bletchley Park where all the real events happenned here

During the 1920s and 1930s, the Park had been a country idyll, popular with shooting parties, until that 1938 purchase began the estate’s transformation into a hub of Allied counterintelligence work during the Second World War.

I visited on a raw December day with my father. Born in 1938, Dad grew up five miles away; he found it moving to return to a place he had not seen since leaving for Oxford University in 1956. As we neared Bletchley station he noticed through the railway car window a parking building on the spot where, during the bitter winter of 1947, he told me excitedly, had sprawled the coal yard to which his mother would send him to fetch household fuel.

The government chose Bletchley Park as a code breakers’ perch primarily for its location. With war against Germany imminent, Whitehall wanted its code wizards away from London and Luftwaffe bombs. The manse sits at a safe distance from the capital city, but within 200 yards of a railroad station. Nearby are the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, in the late 1930s fertile environments for recruiting the brilliant minds required for high-level intelligence analysis.

Entering the estate, one at first sees only motley brick-and-timber huts, splayed at odd angles like drab dominos. The bleak, utterly authentic scene makes it easy to picture streams of extremely bright young things, male and female, arriving hurriedly by foot and on bicycles three-quarters of a century ago.

The tour begins in the Visitor Center–wartime Block C, where clerks, mostly women, indexed the details of decoded messages in a giant cross-referencing system. The assignment was painstaking, a point made clear in footage of reenactments that runs continuously.

“To be successful,” an instructor tells newcomers, “you must be an enthusiast because there will be times when the work seems monotonous.”

Monotonous, yes–but vital. Eventually, Bletchley Park and environs employed 10,000 people. Some intercepted, some deciphered, some translated, some distributed, but all the intelligence they winkled out of myriad enemy radio signals mattered critically to the Allied cause.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called the Bletchley Park team “the geese that laid the golden egg.” In July 1945, General Dwight D. Eisenhower sent a message to British Major General Stewart Menzies, who headed the operation. Describing the intelligence gleaned there as “priceless,” the Supreme Commander said the Bletchley Park workforce had “saved thousands of British and American lives and, in no small way, contributed to the speed with which the enemy was routed.” The museum displays a copy of Eisenhower’s communique.

Visitors depart the center bearing an easy-to-use audio device that directs them around the rest of the grounds–another mark of the museum’s thoughtfulness. I, for one, am not blessed with undue mathematical competency, and would be lying if I suggested that prior to my visit I wasn’t a bit apprehensive. Ultra, Enigma, Bombe, Lorenz … Would I be able to keep up or would the topic’s complexity befuddle me?

Fear not. All is explained in lay terms, and old-schoolers can sign up for a comprehensive tour conducted by one of the site’s knowledgeable guides. We went with the talking machine, but did cross a guide’s path in Block B. Standing before a replica of Alan Turing’s Bombe, he explained to his companions how the computing mechanism worked.

“Turing,” the docent concluded, “is one of the great unsung heroes of British history and were it not for him we might be here speaking German.”

There is much to learn about Turing in Block B. The centerpiece is the Bombe, a functioning model of which testifies to its inventor’s genius. The mechanism is seven feet tall and six and a half feet wide. The original had 108 drums, each vertical set of three representing a German Enigma encoding and decoding machine. Early Enigmas had three rotors (later the Reich would add a fourth). A sender scrambling a message could set each ring at any of 26 positions; in effect an Enigma machine had 17,576 (263) settings. The Bombe’s drums could drive through every potential setting in about 12 minutes by electrically performing a chain of logical deductions based on a portion of plain text. Turing’s device rejected combinations that produced contradictions–as the majority did–supplying the code breakers with a small number of possible Enigma settings. If that sounds complicated, don’t worry–interactive touch screens and straightforward diagrams help “decode” Turing’s achievements in smashing the enemy code.

More personal exhibits illuminate the man behind the genius: Turing’s Swiss wristwatch and his teddy bear, Porgy. Perhaps that tatty stuffed plaything more than any other artifact at Bletchley Park affords a glimpse of Turing’s human vulnerability. And the secrets keep coming; recently during a renovation workers uncovered notes of Turing’s stuffed between the walls of Hut 6 as insulation, along with the only known examples of Banbury sheets–forms that the mathematician devised to speed decoding.

The visit ends in the mansion, an elegant Victorian building that overlooks the Nissen huts and a lake aggregated more than 200 years ago from the remains of medieval fishponds. Entering “The Main House,” as wartime workers called it, is a pleasing step back to the Old England of yesterday and recreated BBC memory. The red brick mansion fuses Tudor and Dutch Baroque architecture, with an eye-catching array of bay windows, tall chimneys, and crenelated parapets. One enters through a Gothic-style inner porch to encounter an interior of mahogany paneling, decorative plaster ceilings, elegant carpets, and whiffs of yesteryear. To the right of the porch is the lounge hall, on whose elaborate stone and marble chimneypiece stands a bust of Winston Churchill. A timber staircase leads to the first floor; the highest story is the attic, a century ago quarters for servants.

Bletchley Park House

Until November 2015 much of the mansion’s interior will house an exhibition featuring The Imitation Game. In the billiard room are the costumes worn by actors Benedict Cumberbatch (Turing) and Keira Knightley (the mathematician’s colleague, Joan Clarke). The ballroom holds the bar depicted in the film, and my father yelped with delight as he recognized brands of beer and soft drinks he had last seen 60 years ago. The exhibition also reveals that among the film’s cast of extras was a great nephew of Turing’s. How delighted he must be at his great uncle’s rehabilitation in recent years: Britain’s official apology in 2009 for hounding him to his death and, four years later, a posthumous royal pardon. Pardon for what? For the now-banished crime of homosexuality. In 1952 Turing’s country prosecuted him for being himself, driving him to suicide two years later, a stain on the British establishment well documented in The Imitation Game.

It’s taken 70 years and $12 million, but Bletchley Park offers Turing and company a fitting memorial.

As Her Majesty said in 2011, unveiling a sculpture at the estate honoring the code breakers: “This was the place of geniuses such as Alan Turing. But these wonderfully clever mathematicians, language graduates, and engineers were complemented by people with different sets of skills, harnessing that brilliance through methodical, unglamorous, hard slog…. You were history-shapers and your example serves as an inspiration to the intelligence community today.”

WHEN YOU GO

Only an hour by train from London Euston–one of the British capital’s central stations–Bletchley Park Is a stroll from the local train station. The Park Is on Sherwood Drive, Bletchley, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England; 44-1908640404, bletchleypark.org.uk

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

Hut 4, where clerks decoded German naval messages during the war, houses the museum’s restaurant. Expect traditional British food-such as fish and chips, stew, sausages, a wide selection of sandwiches, and a choice of soft drinks and beer–at reasonable prices. Four miles away, Milton Keynes, the nearest big town, has plenty of budget and mid-range hotels, and someone staying in London easily can manage a day trip.

WHAT ELSE TO SEE

The National Radio Centre and the National Museum of Computing are In close proximity to Bletchley Park (admission to the former Is Included in the price of visiting Bletchley Park) and are well worth a visit. The Computing Museum houses a rebuild of Colossus, the world’s first programmable electronic digital computer.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén