11 September 2011 (Sunday) - Sound Mirrors

It could have been a good night’s sleep, but the torrential rain rattling against the windows woke me before 6am. And then next door were clanging their infernal piano at 8am. 8am – on a Sunday (!) I could go round and have a whinge, but it would achieve nothing.
And having them being so anti-social means I can be as noisy as I like (whenever I like) with a clear conscience.

The piano stopped clanging after half an hour, but the noise was replaced with the sounds of “My Boy TM ” “quietly” collecting the tools with which he was planning to fix his fence. It was at this point that I gave up trying to sleep and had a spot of brekkie instead. And then once brekkied I did some ironing whilst we watched last night’s episode of Doctor Who. I quite liked last week’s episode: last night’s was good too.
Half way through the episode the phone rang. “My Boy TMwondered if I had a saw he might borrow.

With Doctor Who watched and ironing done we met Chippy for a spot of McLunch, and once lunch was McScoffed we set off to Dungeness. Last year we found out about a guided tour round the sound mirrors about two hours before the walk started. And when we turned up the walk went ahead despite torrential rain, hurricane force winds and sub-zero temperatures.
Today (with a little more notice) the wind was still strong, but it was warm and dry, and seven of us joined a party of over fifty people to have a look-see at the Romney Marsh’s sound mirrors.

The sound mirrors were built in the late 1920s: the idea being that at the time no one lived on the Romney Marsh – it was deserted. And so with no other noises to interfere, the sound of enemy planes could be magnified by sound mirrors. And the first ever early warning coastal defence system was built. The mirrors are quite impressive to behold, and it’s a shame that the things were never actually used in anger. With a maximum detection range of twenty miles, and ever increasingly fast aeroplanes being built in the 1930s, a sound mirror would only give (at best) fifteen minutes advance warning of an enemy attack. With the advent of radar in 1937 (which could detect enemy aircraft at a range of over sixty miles) sound mirrors became obsolete.
The sound mirrors are now on private land; and having fallen into serious disrepair were bought my English Heritage a few years ago. Some work has been done to them to prevent them collapsing, and a few times a year they are opened up to guided tours.

Today’s tour was good – the chap running the tour was on his own: he could have done with an assistant. And it would have been nice if the pikey element had made an attempt to get their brats to shut up (or at least go away) when the tour leader was speaking. But I enjoyed it – and would certainly go again.

On the way home my phone beeped – a text to tell me that the fence had been completed. So we popped round to see “My Boy TM, his entourage, the fence, and Fudge. It’s not a bad fence (as fences go): a shame it only goes half way along the garden, but you can’t have everything…

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