Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Saturday 4 October 2008

Cracking the code

I had set myself a date for when my life should be getting back to normal – 2nd October (easy to remember as it's my birthday). The hospital consultant told be to be careful but otherwise everything is fine and signed me off – hurray!!!! We celebrated with a meal at Alimentum in Cambridge, I can thoroughly recommend the Bramble cocktail (Plymough gin, blackberry liqueur, lemon juice and sugar served over crushed ice) Yummy! Clever fine dining isn't usually my scene, but my first visit to Alimentum last year dispelled my preconceptions as the food was simply great ingredients, beautifully cooked and stylishly presented. Things have now changed and the new head chef 's style is to make unfashionable cuts of meat look like works of art - cylindrical shapes predominated. The food was undoubtedly very good, but apart from the cocktail I didn't exclaim 'oooh that's delicious'.

So, as normal service on Purple Podded Peas has now resumed, I'll tell you about our day out yesterday . . .

If I were to ask you to imagine the 'National Museum of Computing' what would come to mind? Steel, concrete, a glass atrium, hi-tech lighting, lots of gadgets and buttons to press, crowds of excited young visitors . . .

. . . er, no!

Yes this is the building that houses the proud history of Britain's contribution to the invention of computers. Sadly we couldn't look at the more up to date exhibits because the elderly gentleman looking after the museum was on his own and could only keep an eye on half of the museum. It's fascinating and deserves better.

The National Museum of Computing is part of Bletchley Park, if you saw the film Enigma or read the book by Robert Harris, you'll know all about this amazing place. If you visit you get a year's pass for the entry fee, which is just as well because there's so much stuff on display and there's so much to to take in you'll need to go back for another visit.

The story of the people who worked at Bletchley Park during the war and how they managed to crack the codes is what makes this place so fascinating. Some of the best mathematical brains from Oxford and Cambridge universities were recruited, alongside those called up who had happened to admit to an interest doing the crossword puzzle at breakfast.

This contraption was called the Bombe, it was one of the vital code breaking devices built for cracking the coded messages sent by the Germans in WWII using an 'Enigma' machine.

And here's what it looks like inside – this is a working replica . . .

One of the foremost brains behind this was Alan Turing. Like all the others who worked at Bletchley Park his work was top secret until the truth about what went on at Bletchley was revealed in the 1970s. Tragically Alan Turing commited suicide in 1954, his homosexuality was considered a mental illness and a crime and to escape imprisonment he had undergone hormone treatment, his security clearance to enable him to continue his work on code breaking had been withdrawn.

Alan Turing is commemorated at Bletchley Park with an intriguing slate statue by John Herring.

Tips on saving fuel and money aren't new – the posters and information leaflets in the 'Home Front' exhibition had some tips that could be handy for all of us today! I love this useful advice about how to make a new frock out of two old ones, and you can make a pair of knickers out of the leftover material!


  1. Happy birthday to you,a little late I know. Congratulations on being signed off from the hospital, I hope that you go from strength to strength.

    Wasn't Turin the man who killed himself by eating a cyanide laced apple,the inspiration behind the Apple Mac logo?

  2. Thank you Acornmoon. And you're quite right, Alan Turing did eat a poisoned apple - maybe inspiring the Apple Mac logo.

  3. welcome back! You've been super good following the doc's orders and not over doing things - well done! Oh yeah, happy birthday too. I saw your 'bad hair day' post in the google reader but it's lost on your blog? Funny - made me laugh. They look so rough when they are molting. Glad you are back on your feet in any case.

  4. Hi and welcome back to the big world! Hope you enjoyed your birthday.
    My Dad was into computing early on - worked at Ferranti - signed the Official Secrets Act etc. We went for a visit to Jodrell Bank as kids and Dad recognised a printed circuit board he'd made (in the Museum bit). I don't know how you would know it was yours - but everyone did their own style - individually etched board kind of thing. Fascinating.

  5. Happy Birthday, and hooray for being signed off!

    The Bramble sounds yummy - we're going to try making our own...

  6. Glad you'vbe been given the all clear Celia. Happy Birthday for Thursday!

  7. Happy belated birthday greetings-great to have you back fit and well and blogging full strength.

  8. Great news! Don't over-do it though. And belated birthday greetings!

  9. A bit late (I've been away), but birthday greetings.
    Love the Bletchley Park story; I agree that it deserves better, although I'd also hate to see this old site demolished.
    I also read your Printsy interview - well done!


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