Sunday, 7 December 2014

Ghost-Busting "Hide" Locations at Margam Country Park

Hi All,

So here is the second part to my brief trip down to South Wales in October for my birthday. I'm afraid to say we weren't as successful on the final day of our stay, although we did get a pretty nice Toby Carvery out of the day... yum! 

We decided to venture to Margam Country Park, otherwise known as the primary location for the Series 7 Doctor Who episode, 'Hide', as Caliburn House and which has also featured in the series 4 two-parter 'The Sontaran Stratagem'/'The Poison Sky' as Rattigan Academy. It was about a 20 minutes drive from our lodge, and a ten minute drive from Neath. It was easy to find, as it is signposted straight off the M4. 

There is no charge for entry to the park and castle as it is free to roam around, but it will cost you around £4.50 to park your car. There are lots of ruins, a beautiful Orangery, fabulous gardens and greenery, a hauntingly gothic castle and a huge, splendid lake... no wonder the grounds were bustling with visitors! 

So, why did I decide on this location?.. Well, this was the first location that I saw photographs of Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman filming scenes together, it was also where their first official series photograph took place as Doctor and companion (see left). As soon as I saw photos of Jenna here I went out and purchased her dress from Urban Outfitters as I fell in love with it. And is exactly why I decided to wear it on this visit. I thought the episode Hide was eerily beautiful, and although it did scare me when it was broadcast (yes, I was 22 years old -wimp!), I thought the message behind it was clever and decent and was anchored by a brilliant cast, crew and writers.

Just to point out, that the main area which was used for a lot of the filming outside was unfortunately inaccessible as they were in the middle of building work, so I couldn't get as brilliant pictures as I wanted to, but I did try my best by poking my camera through the wire fence. 


The following photos were taken at the side entrance to the castle, which acted as the entrance in this particular episode of Doctor Who. 

Below is the Orangery, which is huge and size and surrounded my magical gardens and a huge water fountain. It featured in the background of one shot in this episode of Doctor Who, and is located at the bottom of the stairs up to the main castle. 

The following photos were taken of the main area used for filming in this episode of Doctor Who, however the area was sealed off for building work, so we could go no further than the large tree which the TARDIS was parked under for photographs.

The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky...

A few snapshots from in and around Margam Country Park...

 The amazingly gothic interior of the castle... it was very eerie and scary. Reminded me of a vampire lair - loved it!


 I hope you enjoyed my two-parter posts detailing my recent trip down south... I have two more blog posts lined up and will hopefully get them out to you as soon as I can, and before the Christmas period. One of which will detail my recent Clara cosplay, of which includes the dress I am wearing on todays post. I hope your christmas shopping is going well, I have lots of Doctor Who related goodies on my list, what are you hoping santa brings you? 

Tomorrow I start my new job which I am very excited about. It sounds like a brilliant opportunity and I can't wait to get stuck in. I have a really good feeling about this one. Lets keep positive.

Blog to you all soon, take care

Locations from Missy's Heaven, The Girl Who Waited and BBC Sherlock S2

Hi All,

Doctor Who Series 8 is over now, and we are just eagerly awaiting the Christmas special. And how good does it look?! If you saw Children in Need a few Fridays ago you will know what I am talking about. The clip they showed has got me very excited for christmas! I can't believe that when it is broadcast, it will be a whole year since Peter Capaldi made his first proper appearance as the Doctor.

Anyway, I am here to blog to you about my recent return to South Wales. I decided to head down there for my 24th birthday, and booked a lodge in Swansea with the boyfriend. It was the third time we have stayed in these lodges, as we find they are in the perfect location to get too and from anywhere in the area. Plus, each lodge has a hot tub! We got there on the Friday night which was my birthday, so I spent the majority of the night opening presents, eating my weight in food, drinking white wine and relaxing in the hot tub whilst watching Stand up to Cancer. 

The next morning I had a long, overdue lie-in and Luke rustled up a cooked breakfast - who knew he could cook?! We both got ready and headed out towards our first location. I had a whole list of places I wanted to go to, but Luke was moaning that the majority of them were in Cardiff, and he wasn't prepared to drive that far, which is fair enough I suppose. (Although we ended up just outside the city centre at our first location). 

Dyffryn House was the first place on my wishlist. We had been here before, but the house was closed to the public as renovation work was taking place. Luckily, the house and grounds were open during this visit, so we headed in. Prices are £7.40 for an adult and £3.70 for a child. Dyffryn House is very grand, with huge stained glass windows, but due to the renovation work parts of the manor are unfinished, so we spent most of our time in the gardens and grounds, which were beautiful. This is where a lot of the filming for Doctor Who has taken place, as illustrated below. Please note that this location has also been used in both Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures, which I am still yet to view in full. 

I was keen to find the small garden which featured notably in Series 6 'The Girl Who Waited' and Series 8 as Missy's heaven in 'Deep Breath'. However, the gardens are packed together and very maze-like, a beautiful maze at that. We followed the map which led us down a pathway to some steps and entered the pretty little garden.

 It was deserted, I felt as if I had just walked into my television the moment Amy Pond enters the garden of Apalapucia only to be stalked by the hand-bots. Although the gardens were all beautiful, this little courtyard in particular felt like it was on a different planet to the others, tucked away and hidden from sight unless you were lucky enough to stumble across it. We took plenty of photos, and Luke even made me skip around the fountain mimicking Missy in Series 8 episode 1 (albeit the wrong way!!). The only thing to add here was that the production team would have added a lot more to the garden to make it more heavenly. For example, during the episode, the fountain is in pristine condition with water flowing, surrounded by flowers in bloom. Whereas, we visited this location in late Autumn, so not only was the fountain filled with dirty rainwater, but the gardens were damp and muddy, plus the flowers were wilted or nowhere in sight. However, considering all this, the location was still wonderfully special; I could've sat watching the world go by all day. I can definitely see why people choose this place as a wedding venue, there is something very special about it. 

Shots from "Deep Breath"...

 Shots from "The Girl Who Waited"...

And the shot taken from the back of Dyffryn House for "The Girl Who Waited"...

Shot taken from Series 2 "The Girl in the Fireplace"...

And a shot taken from Series 4 "Forest of the Dead"...

So it was on to our second location for the day, and this time it was a Sherlock filming spot, seen in Series 2 Episode 2 'The Hounds of Baskerville'. Named The Cross Keys in the episode, otherwise known as the Bush Inn pub, is located in the quiet little village of St Hilary, just outside Cardiff. Due to it being a busy weekend, we decided against going into the pub as it sounded very busy, plus I was adamant I wanted to visit the next location before sunset. It was a cosy, picturesque pub in an idyllic quiet little village, no wonder they chose it for the series. I definitely recommend heading there if you are in the area. We took a few photographs before we left, seen below. I will have to visit this pub again for some inside shots when I have chance to grab a drink there as well, next time I head down to Cardiff. I was very irritated that I hadn't watched the episode recently, before heading here. If I had have done, I would have known that the church next to the pub was also used in the episode, when Sherlock and Watson walk from the entrance, down the courtyard and into the pub. If I had known this, I would've taken more photographs to match this entire scene - there's always next time!

So, the final location for our Saturday down in South Wales was my favourite of all time, the fantastically beautiful Dunraven beach/Bad Wolf Beach/DÃ¥rlig Ulv Stranden. I know, I know, I've already blogged about this place hundreds of times before, but the fact is, I love it here. I love just sitting on the rocks and chilling out. Its so peaceful and wonderful and probably one of my favourite places in the whole wide world. If I could visit everyday I would, and I wouldn't get bored. Next time I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to take an ipad and blog whilst I'm there, I may actually be able to get a post out when I said I would! The only difference this time is me and Luke had a wonder up the hill next to the bay to have another view of the beach, and wasn't it just wonderful. We managed to get here just at the right time, the sun was setting which made for fab pictures. However, we nearly got washed away by the tide which was a teeny bit scary, as I went wondering off not realising the tide was coming in very quickly so I had to make a run for it back over the rocks - never has my adrenaline been so high before - what a rush! So yes, as I have reiterated in the past: wear suitable footwear as the rocks are very slippery, if you are not great on your feet or have little mobility I would not suggest going too far on the beach as it is just as difficult to get back to even land! 

You can find more information and more detailed accounts of my previous trips to the bay during my older blog-posts HERE and HERE.

So, apart from dipping in and out of the hot tub for the rest of the night, enjoying a lovely chinese takeaway, and getting rid of a mouse that had managed to get into our lodge (yes, really!...sqeeeeee!!) that was it for our first day at the lodge. More to come on my post to follow, which will include locations from a popular Series 7 Doctor Who episode.

Blog to you very soon

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! :-)


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 


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:-

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:-
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 :-)