Explore: London

Explore: London & The Harry Potter Studio Tour

 

It occurred to me the other day that I never shared with you anything about our quick trip in March down to London. It rained the entire time, so my camera stayed in my bag for a lot of the trip. I wish I had more photos to share, but at least you’ll get a flavor of our adventure.

Explore: London

We arrived on a Monday afternoon and set off immediately for the Marx Memorial Library. My socialist child’s heart was all aflutter standing in Lenin’s office and eating an early dinner in the pub where Marx and Lenin hatched the ideas that are still inspiring young people to question the way the world operates to this day. 

We still had some daylight left, so we wandered around Clerkenwell and popped into the St. John’s museum, strolled past Smithfield Market, and came upon the gorgeous church above, St. Bartholomew’s. My favorite thing about London is the way you can just stumble upon history without even trying. Even if you don’t get to go inside, you should always slip down those side alleys when you think you see something cool. Chances are, you were right, and you’ll be rewarded.

Explore: London

The main reason we went down to London was to visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour. If you love Harry Potter, and you’re in or near London, it will be worth every penny to take the detour to Watford Junction for this experience. These stories are so close to my heart, so to witness the loving detail with which these films were created was unforgettable. And naturally, they do a great job of making the experience emotional and cinematic without it feeling cheap or overcommercialised. 

I got chills looking at these stone knights (well, they’re probably styrofoam or something) and remembering McGonogall bringing them to life and sending them forth to defend the castle. It’s almost embarrassing how many times I got tears in my eyes on this day.

Explore: London

Speaking of McGonogall, look at how gorgeous her costume is. There are hundreds of costumes on display, and knowledgeable staff to share fun stories about wigs, shoes, makeup, prosthetics and other great behind the scenes anecdotes that make the experience more real for visitors. 

As a baker, I had to get a photo of the chocolate sculptures that were on the table at the welcome feast in Goblet of Fire. Can I get one of those chocolate phoenixes, please?

Explore: London

The Gryffindor common room looked so cozy. I wanted to plop myself on the sofa in front of the fire with my copy of Hogwarts a History. They also have that book on display, along with copies of the Quibbler, the Daily Prophet, and just about every book ever mentioned in the series.

Explore: London

There’s some fun interactive stuff as well. At the Burrow, you can practice your household spells and help Mrs. Weasley with the washing up and more. Also, I think I want that dish drainer for my own kitchen. Think I could get her to make me a chicken and ham pie?

Explore: London

You can also learn some dueling choreography, and of course, ride a broom. You’re not allowed to take photos in the broom area, but we definitely bought some photos of Emily flying to Hogwarts. She’s also wanted by Voldemort’s puppet ministry for being a political dissident. Dumbledore’s Army forever!

Explore: London

One of my favorite things was a hallway displaying some of the concept art created for the films. Obviously, this scene never made it into the film. If I had been by myself, I probably would have spent a few minutes mourning at Dumbledore’s funeral. This painting is just so heartbreakingly beautiful.

Explore: London

The grand finale, before the massive gift shop, of course, is the miniature scale model of Hogwarts. You can walk all the way around it and take in every angle of the castle. I loved standing here and remembering Hermione punching Draco Malfoy in the face. I’m practically a pacifist, but that kid had it coming.

There is so much more than what I’ve showed you in these photos. If you’ve been, I’d love to know your favorite bits. Also, pro-tip, the cafe is not outrageously priced, so you don’t have to panic about eating lunch there. You’ll need it. The food is placed perfectly at the a halfway point in the exhibit when you’re starting to get hungry and tired. Unless you love really really really sweet drinks, I recommend getting one butterbeer to share just to say you’ve had the experience.

The British Library was between the train station and our hotel, so I got to continue my perfect bookish day in London by gaping at the King’s library and ogling some ancient manuscripts that are on display there. It doesn’t take too long to visit the free exhibits there, so if you’re in the neighborhood, definitely pop in.

Explore: London

Our third and final day was Geoff’s turn to pick, so we hoofed it through London over to the Natural History Museum. This museum is huge and packed with exhibits, so if you really want to see everything, I’d give yourself at least half a day. Luckily, it’s free, so if you don’t get to see all you want, you can always go back. Our favorites were the animals. Of course, the dinosaur exhibit was awesome. The building itself is also spectacular.

There’s so much to do in London that I doubt I’ll ever get to see everything on my list, but that won’t stop me trying. What should we do in London next time?

Hufflepuff Bedroom

Hi, Geoff here with a guest post. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed creating it!

I don’t get to see my step-daughter Emily very much. With her turning 13 years old, her child years are almost over and her moody teen years are due to start! I figured that I had one last chance of making her Christmas extra special. What could be more special to a teenage girl than Harry Potter? With her asking for Harry Potter things for Christmas, I decided to take on a big project. I was going to turn her bedroom into The Hufflepuff Common Room from Hogwarts!

This project wasn’t particularly hard, and can be replicated easily. You just have to have a little time on your hands and a lot of patience…

Let’s start off with the walls. We live in a wooden house that’s painted completely white (inside and out). In order to make this bedroom look fit for a young witch or wizard, we would need to change that. We are going to make the walls look like stone inside a castle…

Tape the walls
Tape the walls

First, take some masking tape and mark out the way you want your stones to look. I made them a foot tall and maybe two feet across. We have wooden planks for walls so I used the natural edges of the planks as the edges to my stones. Copy the design from an actual stone wall and you’ll get the jist!

Sponge on the paint
Sponge on the paint

After taping up your whole wall (which may take a few hours – depending on the size of the room) it’s now time to paint! I used grey paint from my local hardware store. It doesn’t really matter about the color or tone (as long as it looks castle-like) but make sure that the paint is “matte” not “glossy”. I think the term used was “flat paint” at the store, but if you tell them you don’t want shiny paint, they’ll get the picture. This room took around half a gallon to complete. You’ll also need a sponge! The sponge is the important part here. If you were just to paint the walls with a brush you wouldn’t get the right effect. Simply dip the sponge in the paint and dab it onto the wall until there’s no more paint on your sponge! Simple! When you have gone over the whole room and let the paint dry it’s time for the fun part, pulling off the tape! When you are done, the room already looks pretty awesome!

What a difference some paint makes
What a difference some paint makes

The next thing we did was to change the decor. Depending on which “house” your kid is in, you’ll want to use a different color scheme. Emily is in Hufflepuff so her colors are black and yellow. There’s also Gryffindor (red and gold), Ravenclaw (blue and bronze) and Slytherin (green and silver). You can see here we bought black sheets for the bed, black curtains and a yellow throw blanket. There’s also a badger (the Hufflepuff mascot) thrown in!

Wizard wall coverings
Wizard wall coverings

It’s all in the details! The focal point of the room was a large Hufflepuff tapestry that we bought from Amazon. A trip to our local Ross stores uncovered a cool lamp, a golden goblet and supplies to make a broom. For the broom we bought a bunch of twigs (I think they were meant for flower-arranging) and tied them onto a piece of bamboo! We also bought glow-in-the-dark stars and stuck them to the goblet and to the ceiling. We replaced a “hot pink” cloth drawer in her shelving unit with a black one for good measure!

Wizard goodies!
Wizard goodies!

Here’s a closer shot of the broom and corner unit. Note her wand on top. This was her Christmas present a couple of years ago! Make sure you have books scattered around and on the shelves too!

IMG_0138
Hufflepuff Notices

For the final bit of decor we added a common room notice board with all of the latest Hogwarts notifications. For this, we went to a local craft store, bought a large yellow foam board and screwed it into the wall (you could also probably use sticky tape). An online search found a few cool notices that we printed out and stuck to the board. You can even make your own by rubbing an old tea-bag onto some paper and burning the edges with a match. This will give your paper a cool, medieval feel.

Emily the witch
Emily the witch

After all your hard work, the best part is yet to come! Set your camera recording and march your 13-year-old into the room! Check out the video below to see for yourselves! 


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-M2Ar6mOPc&list=UUVJTFMtRLm6AmEVmYp3dd_g&feature=c4-overview

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...