Monday, 3 November 2014

Pluckys' Face of Book


This is just a little post to tell you guys that I have set up a Facebook page for this blog, only as a trial run, just to see how it goes.

I have recently created a Facebook and Twitter account for the service I work for in the NHS, which has resulted in me really getting the 'blogging bug' back with a bang.

 I want to ensure all my Plucky Kelly posts are shared on these social networking platforms, so that you guys don't miss a thing. After all, I love writing my blog posts, its just finding the time to do so! Its just a plus that I have found all you lovely lot who take the time and effort to read my ramblings. 

You can find me now at Plucky Kelly Facebook Page as well as @pluckykelly , please feel free to 'like' and 'share' anything you fancy, and I will update you all on my whereabouts and adventures when I can! :-)

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In other news, I hope you all had a fab Halloween! Did you dress up as anything cool? Anything Doctor Who related? I chose Cleopatra... River Songs alter-ego... 

Plucky-Patra coming at ya!
(sorry, I couldn't help myself, I wish I could dress as Cleopatra all day every day!)

What do you think..?

I was so proud of buying my outfit from scratch, with a dress from ebay, Jewellery from Primark and wig from Smiffys Fancy Dress Online. I even did my own make-up (and it actually didn't take that long! I used Elizabeth Taylor as my Cleo inspiration, with a bit of River Song and Katy Perry added in to the mix! Luke is the Power Ranger, as he 'always wanted to be one as a child' so he went ahead and purchased a morphsuit ahead of the party. We had a lovely night, its the first time I've been out for halloween in about 10 years!



I hope you are all okay! I am currently drafting a blog post from my South Wales trip which should be up and live shortly. 

What did you all think of Doctor Who 'Dark Water' last Saturday? One word - EPIC. And the revelation of Missy = fab. I can't wait for 'Death in Heaven' next weekend, but unfortunately I can't watch it as it is broadcast as I am out for a meal for my mum's birthday... no spoilers, please!

In the meantime, I'm up and running on Twitter and Facebook, so keep in touch guys! Plus my Blog hit a milestone of 30,000 views last week - and I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who reads my ramblings, you are all brilliant!

Blog to you soon 

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Monday, 27 October 2014

Plucky in Puzzlewood - Beware the Weeping Angel

So I’ve been here twiddling my thumbs not knowing what to blog about next… thinking I’d have to wait until all my photos are uploaded from my trip to South Wales for another adventure. Anyway, I was trying to free some space up on my phone when I came across my recent August trip to Cardiff which I had completely forgotten about. I had entered a competition on Twitter for the chance to win an overnight stay at Future Inns hotels, and to my surprise, I won! I had the choice of hotel and date so I picked Cardiff Bay hotel (of course) and picked mid-August, praying for a sunny day. Luke also won another meal token so we had yet another ‘date night’ in Zizzis restaurant in the Bay, definitely recommend – and ask to book a seat by the window for lovely views. 
Because we had arrived during the summer, the Bay had transformed into a beach, with sand, deckchairs, cocktail bars, BBQ’s, fairground rides and lots of kids running around screaming with delight. We decided to head over for a nose following our meal, and found ourselves in the ‘Funhouse’. I had never been in one before, but it was sooo much fun (guess that’s where they get the name from!!)… I pretended I was in the movie ‘Grease’ for the whole 20mins, whilst Luke acted like a child spinning round on revolving plates and hugging soft rotating pillars! We then resided in Eddies Diner for a cocktail, and called it a night. 
The following morning we took advantage of our free breakfast (which was delicious – courtesy of Future Inns) and headed to the city centre. As usual, we didn’t spend much time shopping and quickly decided it was time to bring our little trip down to Cardiff to an end. After all, I was eager to visit a Doctor Who location we passed on the way, which I had been trying to persuade Luke to take me to for a long time.
 This location was Puzzlewood, nestled in the Forest of Dean. It has been used in various media including Doctor Who and Merlin, Jack and the Giant Slayer and Atlantis, amongst others. It was easy to find using the postcode provided on the website as GL16 8QB, and from there we just followed the brown tourist signs. If you are coming from the West, Puzzlewood will be located on your right, just after the signs for the steam train in Coleford.

 Prices into the wood were £6.50 for adults, £5.00 for kids aged 4-16 and FREE for ages 3 and under. They have a few animals on the farm and a park for the kids to play in of which you can wonder through first, with Shetland ponies, goats and donkeys.
 From here, we headed into the forest. Luke was annoyed because he wasn’t really interested in being there at all, so he is pictured storming ahead of me on the majority of the photos, whilst I took snapshots everywhere I looked. The main reason I decided to head to Puzzlewood was due to my love of the Series 5 two-parter ‘Time of the Angels/Flesh and Stone’. The scenes which took place in the Byzantiums Oxygen factory/forest were filmed here, where Amy is shown struggling against the Angel imprinting on her brain.

  The forest itself was such a picturesque, magical place. I had never seen anything like it, no wonder it has been chosen as a location for much loved TV and film over the years. It’s a hidden gem which I feel privileged to have visited, and I really recommend others to go visit in the future. However, I would advise that suitable footwear should be worn at all times, I had platform trainers on with hardly any grip, and I kept slipping over due to unsteady pathways and slippery wet rocks, especially on the man-made steps! I saw others in flip-flops struggling to get around, and those with little mobility finding it difficult to tread. However, due to those who own the forest not wanting to touch or alter any of its beauty, I understand why creating better walkways is being resisted.
 We were looking for anything which looked familiar to the episode, but with no clips/shots from the episode itself to hand it was impossible, and unfortunately we couldn’t find the exact spot where shots were filmed. 

The forest is a bit like a maze, I was worried at one point as we started to look as if we were going round in circles. We wondered through caves, up spiralling steps, across man-made bridges, and over stepping stones whilst wooden foot paths circled us from above, I couldn’t help but liken the place to the Star Wars franchise. (And have since found out that there have been strong rumours that the new Star Wars movies have been filming in the area).
 The only place I did recognise is the wooden bench below, of which Matt Smith and Karen Gillan relaxed on during a break in filming, which I didn’t realise they sat on until we we’re driving home and I looked up pictures from when they filmed there.
All in all, once Luke had calmed down I think he really liked the forest, and I absolutely loved it. We spent about an hour here but I could have easily spent much longer. I definitely recommend it to anyone for a visit; not just Doctor Who fans, it is not like anything you would have ever seen before! For more information or to plan your day out, please head to the Puzzlewood website:- http://www.puzzlewood.net/

Really appreciate the lovely, new and exciting places a Doctor Who location fan gets to explore :-)

Plus, on a side note, I really recommend the hotel in which we stayed. It is located near to The Red Dragon Centre, a five minute walk from Cardiff Bay. It is a lovely, clean hotel with spacious rooms and a spotless en suite. Book your stay here:- http://www.futureinns.co.uk/
So that was just about it for my short break in Cardiff, but I have since returned from a birthday stay in Swansea, where me and Luke visited some more locations in South Wales. I will hopefully blog these to you soon, but I have just started my new job as a Marketing and Communications Officer in the NHS, so that will have to be my main priority until I am settled in... wish me luck!
Thanks for reading, blog to you all soon :-)
                                         

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Locations from 'The Snowmen' - 2012 Doctor Who Christmas Special

Its been way too long since I went out and about exploring locations from my favourite television series of all time, so I thought I'd better set this right, for all our sakes. The truth is, me and Luke had planned and prepared a weekend in Cardiff back in February this year for a little valentines getaway, but the horrendous flooding which hit the UK hard during the early part of 2014 threw a stone in the works, and I was forced to turn the car around and drive back home barely 8 miles or so down the road.

 So we re-booked our trip for an early weekend in April which luckily turned out to be a sunny and dry few days. I decided to visit a few locations from the latest series of Doctor Who, due to the fact that I had followed a lot of the set reports on Twitter during the weeks of filming, so I had a good idea where a lot of the filming had taken place. After mapping out a few locations, me and Luke mutually decided to visit Bristol, which was used primarily in the 2012 Christmas special  The Snowmen. I had wanted to visit Bristol since I found out this episode was filmed here, so I could finally now tick it off my list of places to see.


 Since then I have been extremely busy with moving house (very stressful) and going away on holiday. So I have finally got round to writing this post for you.


 We arrived in Cardiff Friday afternoon, got changed and went for a meal at the lovely Italian restaurant Zizzis in Cardiff Bay. Luke had won a meal of up to £50 so he treated us both to a starter, main course and we shared a bottle of chilled white wine. We went for a wonder around the bay once we had finished and took some lovely photos of the sun setting and topped off the evening with a cocktail in Eddies Diner. It was a lovely way to spend our delayed valentines getaway together.

  Anyway, back on track, we were up Saturday morning a bit groggy from the previous nights drinks and headed down to the trainstation to catch the train to Bristol. We bought tickets for Bristol Temple Meads station after I googled the city map and highlighted the areas/location spots I wished to visit.

 We exited Bristol Temple Meads and immediately ran into trouble. You see, we aren’t the best couple at reading maps, and neither of us had been to the city before, so trying to find our way to the right locations was pretty difficult. Plus, I have never known a city to have so many traffic lights/pedestrian crossings. There are like four crossings just to get to the other side of a ring road taking about 10minutes! Anyway, we headed to what turned out to be my favourite place in the city, recommended by many of the locals; the docks. Unfortunately we picked a bit of a grey day, otherwise I’m sure the scenery particularly around this area would have been very pretty, plus Victoria Square looked like a lovely place to stop for lunch on a sunny day.

 However we headed over the footbridge and were greeted by a range of restaurants, but of course, we stuck to good old Weatherspoons! After re-energising, we went on the hunt for Bristol’s Cathedral, which only happened to be around the corner, and took some photos. A few minutes’ walk down the road we were heading to find some of the notorious graffiti artist Banksy’s work. We had a typical silly moment of looking left and right and on the sides of buildings, when the whole time the graffiti was pictured right behind us! Before heading to Bristol, I did a bit of research and looked into all the right places to visit, and a tour of Banksys art work was highly recommended. However, due to our lack of time, we opted to just look for any graffiti on foot during our mission around the city, but we did agree that if we went back to Bristol again, it is definitely something we would think about doing.
 Anyway, now for the real reason I’m blogging about Bristol: The Doctor Who location visits. As an avid viewer of any behind the scenes content the BBC Doctor Who team broadcast and an interest in any filming reports, I was aware the Doctor Who 2012 Christmas special was to be filmed in the city of Bristol.
First we headed up to St Nicholas Market on Corn Street to find the first Doctor Who location of the day. This location was chosen because of its Victorian streets which fit in perfectly with the story-line set in Victorian London, so it was easy to spot when walking through the city centre. The market was up and running once we got there, and it was as busy as ever, so I tried to take as many pictures as I could of the surroundings. 
From watching the behind the scenes extra show, I was aware that some of the alleyway shots taken near where we first saw Clara working in the Rose and Crown were located near the market. Me and Luke walked up and down a few different alleys in the area until we settled on one which I looked familiar. I had the episode downloaded onto my iphone, so I had a quick check, and although it was hard to tell at first because the ground wasn’t covered in *fake* snow, it was soon pretty obvious it was the right place. I think its pretty interesting that the show manages to find the smallest, insignificant spaces, and make them magical. If I didn’t realise Doctor Who was filmed in the city, I wouldn’t have looked twice at this little spot.

You can really see the added props and hidden shop signs which helps to bring a little hideaway alleyway to life, creating the look and feel of Victorian London. Luckily, this alleyway already contained a few features of old England - The historic buildings, iron gates and Victorian Lamp posts, for example. Oh, and here's me trying to recreate the scene where Clara decides to follow the Doctor on foot... cringe! :-
There were quite a few decent looking market stalls on the market, a lot selling Banksy memorabilia, Bristol are obviously very fond of their infamous graffiti artist, but we only got to purchase a drink each and we were off to find the next location.

Merging our 'fantastic' map reading skills together, and Luke yelling ‘Banksy!’ at everyone walking past to see their reaction (he was adamant that he wanted to unmask the artist himself), we took the 20 minute walk or so to Portland Square. 

Nestled away from the busy streets of the city centre, Portland Square is a small park area with greenery, trees and benches, located in the middle of very rich, tall buildings. A real little gem hidden away from the bustling streets of Bristol, I can see why this spot was chosen for filming, not just for Doctor Who, but also as a location for the Series 3 opener of BBC Sherlock, 'The Empty Hearse', where John Watson is trapped under a lit bonfire.

Back to Doctor Who, this location was used as the spot beneath where The Doctor has landed his TARDIS in the clouds. From here, the Doctor takes one big leap and pulls down a ladder to which he can then ascend the spiral staircase to his time machine. However, unbeknownst to him, Clara has secretly followed him every step of the way.

Five points if you can spot me in the photograph below! Yes, there were people in the park at the time, they must've wondered what on earth I was doing!


 Anyway, we had fun recreating these poses to try and match the episode as much as possible. Luke laughed a lot and made me jump in the air more than I needed to so he could ‘get the best shot’. I hope you enjoy looking through them as much as I enjoyed recreating them J Next time I’ll have to hire a period costume for the added ‘Clara’ effect.

 So that was pretty much is for our time in Bristol, as we navigated our way back to the station before the heavens opened, and left Cardiff by car before evening fell.

I hope you are enjoying the new series with our new Doctor. They seem to be reusing a lot of the locations I have been to previously for the new episodes, so I may have to use this as a valid excuse to revisit some of my favourites. I do, however, miss Matt Smith a lot. He was such a genius actor and a credit to the show. However, Peter is growing on me with every episode, last Saturdays Robot of Sherwood being my favourite so far. Jenna is still a perfect, witty, strong companion and I am excited to see how Danny Pink fits into the storyline. The story arc for this season also looks very interesting; I am keen to know who Missy is and what this so-called ‘promised land’ is. The Christmas episode is currently filming, so please keep me updated if you see any locations on the set reports you may think is worth a visit.

My next planned trip to South Wales falls in October, so I’m hoping to head to some of the more rural locations then as I stay in a lodge for my birthday in the middle of the Welsh hills. Hopefully then, my next post won’t take as long to put together, but with working such long hours right now it is hard to fit any time in for blogging unfortunately. If you have any good locations you would like me to visit, please let me know.

In the meantime, I will be updating my locations page with all the latest episodes as I go along. Feel free to have a nose:-)

Blog to you soon

Saturday, 19 April 2014

A Visit to Wayne Manor... Plus General Outings this Spring!

Hello! It feels like I've been hibernating in the wilderness....maybe it was all that food I indulged in over Christmas!

 Welcome, long time no see! I've really been meaning to post regularly since my last entry in January but my job seems to be taking up all my time, and if I'm not working, we are sorting the house out ready for the big house move next month. I made it my new years resolution to blog more, so I've really failed that. Throw your bad luck my way! So what I have missed...? Probably a lot, I haven't had chance to catch up on much Doctor Who news over the last few months, but I have made it my mission to follow some of the filming (as always) ...just because I'm a nosey person! 

So what have you missed....? Not a lot here either, I am now nearly 6 months into my job in the NHS, getting used to the whole commuting to work business (finally) but also on the lookout for new ventures which could guide me down my desired career path. I've been out jogging the last couple of weeks, nearly finished the NHS podcast series 'Couch to 5K', if you are a novice runner like I was, I definitely recommend it, I'm now running 25 minutes comfortably when this time last year I couldn't jog for longer than a minute! I've also been out and about a lot over the last few months, forcing Luke to take me here, there, and everywhere at the weekend so we aren't stuck inside, glued to the television. I've visited all kinds of places, from beauty spots, to castles, zoos and cities. 

So first of all let me welcome you back to the blog with a few recent snapshots of my life, and ideas for places to visit during your bank holiday weekend. I will then follow this blog entry with details on a recent Doctor Who location visit... but more on this later.

A few weeks ago, I had a few days left to take as leave, so I booked three days off work to go out and about. My brother happened to be off as well, so I decided to recruit him on my trip to Nottingham, where we visited a location from one of our favourite films, The Dark Knight Rises. As predicted, the day mainly consisted of my brother wheeling off uncanny impressions of Bane, but it was actually a pretty cool day, and the location itself and its surroundings were exquisite. 

The house which doubles as Wayne Manor in the film is located in Wollaton Hall and Park, Nottingham, a short ride away from the city centre. The house is free to go in and walk around, but you do have to pay a couple of pounds to park. More information here:- http://www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/article/22178/Wollaton-Hall-and-Park

 We did have a little surprise when we walked into the hall, not only was there a batman theme and activity for kids, but the house itself also doubles up as a Natural History Museum... which made me feel a bit queasy with all the lifeless animals, so I didn't spend much time in many of the rooms, but preferred to be outside taking in the pretty view :-)


 As well as our visit to make-believe Gotham, (ironically there is actually a village called Gotham just down the road from Nottingham), me and Luke have spent a few weekends in different places around North/Mid Wales. I persuaded Luke to drive us to Llangollen in Wales one Saturday a few weeks ago, as I wanted to walk across one of the infamous aqueducts I had read about on the internet. It wasn't until we got there, and I was halfway across the aqueduct itself that I realised I was actually very afraid of heights, and with a ridiculously huge drop each side of the bridge, I cautiously made my way back from the direction I came, clinging to the railings above the steep drop. Just look how high/unsafe it looks! The views are spectacular on a clear day, but its not for the faint-hearted. I recommend getting the canal boat across if you are a wimp like me!


 We then shot across the countryside to Chirk castle, which was closed due to the time of year, but there was still access around the courtyard and gardens, which were beautiful. The castle is on top of a big hill, with the carpark located at the bottom. Althought there is a shuttle bus for those with walking difficulties, please be aware that it is a bit of a trek uphill, which I for one, wasn't prepared for as I decided to wear my ballet pumps!
The following weekend the sun decided to really descend on Great Britain, so I used it as an opportune moment to get my new shorts out! We decided to head to Lake Vrynwy in Wales due to its idyllic scenery and remote location in the Valleys. Even the drive there was beautiful! Lake Vrynwy consists of a Victorian reservoir and stone built dam which you can drive or walk across. I have been coming to this spot since I was a young child, but not once had I seen the lake water high enough to spill through the dam, until now. 
And lastly but no means least, we visited Chester Zoo. Having not been here since I was a young child, I was quite apprehensive about the whole day, but it turned out wonderful, I even managed to walk through the batcave which contains all kinds of bats flying loosely around the room. Below are some of my favourite snapshots from the day:- 
  If you have any queries on any of the places I have visited, or want to know more information/links to particular sites, just drop me a comment/email/tweet and I'll happily get back to you.

Exploring out and about in Wales really made me appreciated the life we lead here in the UK, who knew so many places so beautiful were just on our doorstep?! And unlike my usual spots to explore, even though Doctor Who wasn't filmed in any of these locations, I loved being out and breathing in the fresh air of Wales and the surrounding area. It is a glorious country, and I do hope we have some more sunny skies heading our way soon so I can get out and about once again! 

 Last weekend I visited Cardiff and Bristol for some up to date Doctor Who location hunting. I will hopefully be writing up my next post about this in the next week or so, so watch this space! Its been a long while since I last visited some locations.

In the meantime, have a lovely bank holiday weekend and Easter Sunday everyone!

Blog to you soon