The elderly Time Lord known to those who knew him as Mai Li Tuo laughed softly and squeezed the hand of his not quite so elderly and certainly young at heart lover, Lady Lily. Both sat back in the middle seats of the car Marion referred to as a ‘people carrier’ and watched the scenery pass by. Behind them, Rodan was sleeping in her child seat, slightly sticky from the sweets that had pacified her as they set off from Liverpool.

“I have lived on this planet for more than two thousand years,” Li said. “And I have never before been on a ‘caravan holiday’.”

“It’s a new experience to me, too,” Lily admitted.

“Strictly speaking, you’re not experiencing one now,” Kristoph replied from the driving seat. “The TARDIS may be pretending to be a caravan, but we will all sleep in comfortable bedroom suites within her considerably larger interior tonight. Li and I slept on enough ‘bunk beds’ when we were young soldiers of Gallifrey, thank you, very much.”

Marion laughed. It had been her idea. She wanted Rodan to experience something like the holidays she fondly remembered from her childhood, driving along through Deeside and the North Wales coast, staying overnight in caravan parks and playing on beaches, walking along promenades, seeing new and open countryside.

Kristoph had been happy to do the driving. He always liked doing that when he lived on Earth as a literature professor. But he drew the line at actually sleeping in a caravan. Secretly, Marion wasn’t too disappointed at that aspect of the trip. But she really was enjoying the feeling of being an ordinary family on an ordinary holiday.

The Wirral peninsula had not been especially impressive to Li and Lily. Neither were fond of industrial landscapes. But Marion spoke almost enthusiastically about the incongruously named Port Sunlight with its factories and oil refineries. The Roman city of Chester where they lunched and enjoyed a walk along the old city walls charmed them more. Lily found it a little more bustling and busy than she preferred, but the architecture and the history was interesting.

Now they had left the industrial area around the Dee estuary behind. They had crossed that river at Queensferry and were heading north past the evocatively named Connah’s Quay. They were officially in Wales now, which meant much more to Marion than it did to her friends. Kristoph and Li had come to terms with the idea that Earth had different cultures based on geographical boundaries. Li, of course, had embraced Chinese culture. But even he found the difference between England and Wales baffling, and Lily didn’t really understand it at all.

“All Gallifreyans are… well… Gallifreyans…” she said. “We distinguish between class, but we’re all one people.”

“We have differences, too,” Kristoph said. “There’s a huge difference between those who live in the Capitol and rural Gallifrey. And there are cultural differences between the northern continent and the southern.”

Marion mentioned that she could usually tell somebody from the Capitol from a rural Gallifreyan by their conversation. The Capitol citizens tended to be far more involved in cultural events like the theatre and opera. Rural dwellers only generally attended the first nights of more important productions.

“It’s more than that,” Kristoph said. “I remember my first night in the dormitory at the Prydonian Academy. I couldn’t understand how to put on the nightshirt. I had always slept naked. Southern Gallifreyan men never wear nightclothes. I hadn’t since I was old enough not to need a nappy, at least. I found the city habit of putting on a long flannel gown to sleep in very uncomfortable.”

Marion laughed and pointed out that he wore nightclothes nowadays – at least at the start of their bedtime. When their passions were raised it was another matter.

“Living on Earth did that,” he answered. “It was too perishing cold in Northern England to sleep in the natural way.”

“Anyway,” Marion pointed out, deciding that Kristoph’s bedtime habits were nobody else’s business but hers. “Wales is a different country to England, and I think it does look different. It’s softer… greener. It’s a bit like the Red Valley, only… not red, and nearer the sea.”

“So not much like it at all,” Li said with a laugh that was echoed by everyone else. In the midst of it, Rodan awoke and added her own baby voice to the conversation. She was aware of the passing scenery, which included a wide, breathtaking expanse of the Dee Estuary. It wasn’t the first time she had been near the sea with her foster parents, but she was born and raised on the plains of southern Gallifrey and it was unusual enough to catch her attention. She murmured about the sea, sand, the seagulls wheeling in the air, and a freighter steaming into the estuary in her baby language.

“She’s actually talking about it in more detail in her head,” Kristoph told Marion as she listened to their fosterling’s chatter. “The freighter has her intrigued. Li is explaining to her that it’s how people on this planet transport goods from one place to another.”

“Oh!” Marion turned to Li. “Don’t forget to explain to her that her grandfather works on a Gallifreyan space freighter, doing the very same thing. She ought to understand that there is a co-relation with what she’s looking at now and her own life.”

Li nodded and turned to look at the child. He reached out his hand to her and Marion assumed that he was having that very conversation with her. Rodan’s verbal responses sounded happy, so she was obviously enjoying Li’s interaction with her. And he seemed delighted by her. It was a shame, she thought, that he never had children of his own. He would have been a very good father.

Kristoph smiled at his fosterling’s chatter and his wife’s stray thoughts and turned the car and caravan into a small car park beside a sign pointing to Flint Castle. It was one of the landmarks on their journey, a place Marion remembered visiting in her childhood holidays.

Kristoph carried Rodan in a back mounted baby carrier. She seemed happy to be transported that way and it was he who continued the almost non-stop telepathic conversation with her as they walked up from the car park to the ruined castle. Marion explained to Lily how the great keep had once stood and the three round towers at the other three corners of the curtain wall and about the motte and bailey construction of the defences built to curb the rebellious Welsh under the reign of Edward I. Lily did her best to follow all of that, but fortified castles had never really been a feature of Gallifreyan history and she found it difficult to imagine what the ruins that remained in the late twentieth century actually looked like.

“I think we can help with that,” Kristoph said as they rested on the sun-drenched grass near the north-east tower. Rodan had toddled around for a little while and then come back to sit in Marion’s lap. He looked at Li who nodded. Yes, between them they should be able to summon up enough mind power.

“This isn’t time travel,” he said as he reached out to touch Marion on the shoulder. Lily on her other side touched her other shoulder and Li completed the circle. She held Rodan tightly. They were all physically connected. “It’s merely a psychic projection, drawing on the ‘memory’ of the location we are in.”

Marion didn’t quite understand what he meant at first. Then she gave a gasp of surprise and hugged Rodan tight in her arms as, around them, the ruined castle became whole. If she concentrated, she could feel the grass they were all sitting on among the twentieth century ruins. But around her, she could see a thirteenth century curtain wall with men patrolling it. She could see the three round towers, solid and strong, and the great keep, called a donjon. She found herself moving through the vaulted galleries and emerging into great rooms where the knights who defended the gateway to England from the recalcitrant Welsh ate and drank and slept. She felt herself climbing up to the top of the keep and looking out to sea where supplies were coming in from England to fill the storerooms below the keep. The boats that brought them were a very different sort to the freighter they had seen a little while ago.

She was almost disappointed when the vision cleared and she looked around again at the ruined keep and the broken walls.

“Wow,” she said. “That was amazing. After all this time I didn’t know you could do that.”

“It’s hard work,” Kristoph admitted. “I needed Li as well to be able to project so clearly. It helps that this is a place with such a distinct history. It was easy to focus on a time when it was a busy, bustling place full of activity.”

“I understand about that, now,” Lily said. “Strange, though, building a fortress in such a place. I still don’t understand why the Welsh and English feel themselves to be different. And Kristoph de Lœngbærrow, don’t you dare tell me it has anything to do with whether they wear nightshirts in bed.”

“Well, as a matter of fact,” Kristoph told her with a wide smile. “The celtic races always traditionally slept ‘skyclad’.”

Lily and Marion laughed at him. Li’s expression remained almost inscrutable but there was a twinkle in his eyes that gave him away. He was laughing just as much.

“Of course,” he pointed out very quietly. “We are ALL southern Gallifreyans. I have ever owed a nightshirt in my life. As you well know, Lily my dear.”

Lily admonished him for being so explicit in front of the child. But Rodan was still fascinated by the castle. Kristoph said that her mind was still picturing the strongly built keep full of people and she wasn’t ready to give up on it yet.

“She has a powerful imagination for a Gallifreyan,” he added. “Marion’s influence on her, of course. We all need a little Human imagination in our lives. It is what is wrong with our world. We don’t daydream enough. We are too cold and logical. Even those of us from southern Gallifrey.”

“Imagination has never been a commodity we valued on Gallifrey,” Li answered him.

“Perhaps we should,” Lily replied. Then she breathed deeply and looked beyond the tower to the sea view. “It is a lovely place.”

“It will be even more lovely later,” Kristoph said. “The sun will set delightfully on this north-western view. But we’ll move on a bit further down the coast to see it, I think.”

They went just another twelve miles from Flint, to the first of the places Marion fondly remembered from the touring caravan holidays of her childhood. It was a little village on the very edge of where the Dee estuary became the Irish sea. It had once been a harbour but now it was mostly a place where people who liked caravan holidays came. There were probably more holidaymakers there with their caravans than actually lived there all year. But Talacre was one of Marion’s precious memories. After parking the car and the TARDIS on a hard standing among a whole lot of almost identical caravans, she joyfully and enthusiastically brought her husband and their fosterling and their best friends over the sand dunes to the wide beach and showed them the lighthouse that stood there, a beacon for shipping warning them of the often dangerous sandbanks at the river mouth. They walked on the peaceful shore. Rodan, with her shoes off, enjoyed exercising her little legs on the sand, and when she was tired of doing so, Kristoph carried her on his back again. She fell asleep in her carrier as the grown ups walked, two couples, hand in hand, along the beach, watching the sunset. Kristoph declared it one of the best sunsets he had seen and recounted some of the exotic places where he had seen equally exotic suns go down.

“For me, there is nothing finer than watching the sun set over the Red Valley,” Li commented. “But I have contented myself with near substitutes in my exile. And, in truth, I am not sure if it is the sunset itself or the person the sunset is shared with. In the latter case, this one rates very highly.”

“I quite agree,” Kristoph said, and he turned to kiss his wife and remind her that he thought she was the most pleasant company with which to view either a sunset or a sunrise, or at any time between those two points. Li was already reassuring Lily that he felt the same about her.

Kristoph reminded himself why he had stood firm about having the TARDIS and its comfortable en-suite bedrooms rather than a real caravan!