Monday, April 14, 2014

Abandoned Places: Maunsell Forts, Star Wars, and "The Magic Cookies"

The Maunsell Forts were both naval and army forts designed by Guy Maunsell. The naval forts (like the Knock John fort pictured below) were primarily used to spot German air raids and prevent them from laying mines in the Thames. Yes, they did that by plane. The forts were built in dry dock, floated out into the estuary, and sunk there. The army forts (like the Red Sands forts pictured above) were designed as anti-aircraft batteries and three were also located in the Thames estuary; the other three were in the Mersey estuary. The forts were responsible for shooting down 22 aircraft and 30 "flying bombs" (basically, an early version of the cruise missile and kind of fascinating). Though the forts were decommissioned in the 1950s, many of them still stand today.
Photo Credits for 3-6 to Wayne Barry under the linked license.

Some of the abandoned places I would most like to see are the abandoned Star Wars "on location" movie sets in Tunisia. Your probably wondering, now, why I'm mentioning this under "M" and not "S," but there's a simple explanation. Most of what you can actually go visit these days are the sets that were used as Mos Espa in The Phantom Menace. Some of these are actual ruins themselves:
This is Ksar (meaning castle) Hadada which was used for exterior shots of the slave quarters outside Mos Espa.
Here are some other abandoned sets from Mos Espa:
Mos Espa photo credits to John Roberts and used under the linked license.

And it's time for some magic cookies!
"The Magic Cookies" is a fun little, short story that always has people laughing when I've read out loud. Sure, the middle schoolers laugh unabashedly, but any adults have also always laughed in spite of trying not to. Just take my word for it; you want to read this. Besides, there's a grain of truth to this one. Okay, maybe more than a grain. Hey, it's not even a $1.00.
Plus! You get a bonus vampire story from Briane Pagel! How can you lose?
Also, the cover was designed and made by one of my creative writing students. He's in 8th grade. Didn't he do a great job!


  1. I wonder what some future archeologist will think when the movie set is discovered there with the rest. Love this series!

  2. I'm sure those forts are more secure than they look, plus it's got to be very difficult to actually hit one with a bomb from the air, but man they don't look all that sturdy, do they?

  3. Congratulations! Your student did a great job.
    The forts look like they belong on another world.
    And I imagine those sets are unused because they are in the middle of nowhere.

  4. Interesting, I never knew those things existed. Tell your eight grader he did a good job on the cover!

  5. Great cover! And those are very star warsy ruins. Awesome

  6. Well, dang, Rusty stole my comment. I was going to say the ruins looked like something from the Hoth Battle. (I think that's the right battle.) The one in the desert? Where is my husband when I need him? Dang him for working!!

  7. Those abandoned forts at the top actually make me think of AT-ATs so there's a good segue. The one someone had written "Radio City" on I wonder if that was one of those "pirate radio" stations?

  8. I would not want to stay in one of those forts, but I'd check in at Mos Espa anytime! :)

  9. Those pics are great, but I love the Tatooine pics. I heard they're rebuilding the sets for Episode VII.

  10. The Maunsell Forts look cool, but you couldn't catch me inside one. The rusted metal would probably turn to quicksand.

    I didn't know Mos Espa in The Phantom Menace were actual ruins. That's neat!

  11. That would be so neat to visit those sets.

    The Magic cookies look great! Your student did a great job designing the cover.

  12. Those forts are in what used to be my backyard. Whenever we sailed across to France or Belgium, we passed these forts. Or we might sail round the Kent coast, passing them on the way. Did you know there is a sunken ship there full of explosives which they haven't been able to do anything about because the blast would devastate Whitstable and such places on the coast.

  13. Your students makes my 8th Grade self feel lazy. Great job on the cover. These abandon forts are a part of history and should be taken care of. These Star War sets should stay up forever. They really hold your attention. And that's just the pictures!

  14. I love abandoned places! Sometimes I just sit and stare at my collection of photos on Pinterest. I try to include at least one abandoned place per novel:)
    Teens really are capable of such creativity!

  15. Donna: I know! Can you imagine people trying to figure out what a movie prop was for.

    JeffO: I think they are probably much bigger than they look in the photos.

    Alex C: The army forts certainly do.

    Cathrina: I will tell him.

    Rusty: They are. It's good to put the environment to work in your environment.

    Elsie: Hoth was the snow battle. Maybe you're thinking of Geonosis?

    Pat: I think one or more of them was used for some pirate radio thing. I don't remember exactly when, though.

    David: I'd stay in one of the forts. And check out Mos Espa!

    Maurice: I might be able to find out about that. I know they've been filming in London, but my friend that works there just got married, so I haven't had any recent updates.

    Chrys: It is pretty cool.

    kmckendry: He did do a great job.

    Jo: Is that the ship that crashed into one of the forts? Because I did read about that one.

    Sheena: Yeah, they should. Most of the stuff from the original shoot for A New Hope was stolen after Star Wars became what it is.

    Jennifer: That's cool that you use them in your writing. They seem ready made for just that purpose.

  16. The Maunsell Forts look awesome. They look like Star Wars Walkers to me.

    And I've been to Ksar Hadada in 2007! Everything was much smaller than I expected, though. But interesting.

  17. That's so cool! I always thought all the Star Wars sets were fabricated--shows how much I know! And magic cookies--Sold!!

  18. The forts are so cool looking, but the abandoned Mos Espa set really is better. What a waste that they're just left there to rot.

  19. Those forts are definitely my favorite one of these that you've posted so far. I wish I could go see them in person. That would be incredible.

  20. randi: Well, a lot of the ones from the prequels are just digital.
    Let me know how you like the cookies. Actually, leave a review!

    Jeanne: Well, people do go visit them.

    Briane: Yeah, I would like to go see the navy forts in particular.

  21. Those forts look like the perfect place to hole up when the zombie apocalypse happens!

  22. The Maunsell Forts look like AT-ATs. I wonder if Lucas might have saw them and got a few ideas??

  23. Rebekah: As long as zombies can't swim, they would be great.

    Mark: That's a good question.

  24. Those forts are very strange. Like something out of a science fiction movie.

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  25. Lee: They could be, especially if they got up and walked.

  26. I love the forts over the water. They look like something right out of a spec-fic, like some sort of oceanside Lost Boys fort from Peter Pan. Very cool.

  27. Alex H: They do look pretty sci-fi. Now, if only they could walk.