Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Making of Harry Potter

When we were planning the itinerary for Sugar Bear's first trip to England, we loaded it up with history and iconic landmarks... basically stuff that we thought she should see.  After a weekend in Cornwall with my girl-child, we realized that her idea of fun and interesting is a little different from ours.  These young people today (sigh).

So discussion and compromise ensued.  The Tower of London turned into a drive-by wave from a double decker bus and the Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour was added to the agenda. 

She was right on with the Cider Farm and the Otter Sanctuary, so we easily got behind the idea (after a mild nosebleed when we checked out the rates.)

SB is a pretty big fan.  TE and I enjoyed the movies but didn't actually see them all.  I think I read the first book when it came out.  

We scheduled our time, paid £28 for each ticket and added on an audio/visual guide for about £6 each.  Tickets must be purchased in advance.  We took a train out to Watford Junction, hopped onto the studio bus and after a short trip we arrived at Warner Brothers Studio Tour London to experience The Making of Harry Potter.  

From the very beginning, we were drawn into the world of magic that is Harry Potter.  

The tour is divided into three sections.  Other than the introduction, the tour is self-guided.  You can explore each area as long as you want, but once you move to the next section, you can't go back.  They say it will take about three hours to see everything and that was right on for us.  We spent a majority of our time in the first area.  It's chock full of thousands of props, costumes and sets from the films.  

You can take pictures to your hearts content.  And the audio/visual tour absolutely added to the experience.  It was full of extra information and clips.  I would definitely recommend it. 

The displays are numbered for convenience and so you can coordinate with the audio/visual guide.  SB flitted about and explored.  TE and I, being the type of people that we are (ahem), had to go through in numerical order.  There we several occasions of me looking around in a panic for the next number.  SB would roll her eyes (a maneuver she had perfected by the age of two) and point me in the right direction. 

There were a lot of people there, but it wasn't too crowded.  Sometimes you had to be patient to get an open shot of something.  There was quite of bit of dodging teen girls holding up iPhones.  The RULES say  not to use flash photography and there was this one woman that kept using it with her big honkin' camera.  I wanted to shake my finger at her, but instead just mumbled something like "not supposed to use flash,"  hoping she would overhear me.  I'm such a rule follower... and passive/aggressive a wuss. 

The second section is outside in a courtyard and includes some of the larger props.  There is a little snack bar if your sugar levels are dropping.  Speaking of sugar levels, be sure to taste Butter Beer.  It was pretty good... very sweet!

The third section includes special effects, animatronics, and the Diagon Alley set.  Absolutely fascinating!  There is so much to see, everywhere you look is something amazing. 


They have done such a superb job of taking something as complex as making a movie and giving you a good breakdown of the process.  They cover every aspect and give you a behind the scenes and very intimate look at the people involved. 


There is a WOW moment at the end, but I didn't want to spoil it by showing you a picture.  Not to mention the huge Gift Shop at the end including fun Harry Potter memorabilia at every price range.  

Our assessment?  It was worth every penny.  Fascinating, engaging and intimate.  They've done a fantastic job.  We came out wanting to have a Harry Potter movie marathon.  

"This boy will be famous. 
There won't be a child in our world who doesn't know his name."
  -Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling


Friday, June 29, 2012

I Spy Friday featuring Taste of London 2012

But, before we get to the Taste, let me catch you up on a few other tidbits.  

Last weekend I attended a two-day bloggers conference called Brit Mums Live.  There were several wonderful speakers and I attended some very informative sessions on blogging.  I met up with a group of Expats who were just wonderful.  I learned a lot and made new friends.  But for some reason, this was the only picture that I took to share with you.  Go Figure. 

I've been having a reoccurring dream lately.  No, not about him.  It's about a huge, shiny, gorgeous, front-loading washer and dryer combo.  Why?  Because of this...  

Those are my freshly washed and dried jeans.  The little white box clothing torture chamber in the photo is the washer/dryer cooker combo that abused them into such a state.  Basically, it wads up your clothes and then heats them up to a thousand degrees.  It also eats sweaters (or "jumpers" as they call them here).  I've lost three so far this month (don't even get me started on why I'm still wearing sweaters in June).  It actually chews them as it heats them to nuclear temperatures.  This really deserves its own blog but I'm so aggravated that I can't even bother.  

But, check out this cutey pie.  

This is Winston from our local pub.  He is a French Bulldog (I think) and an incorrigible beggar.  But, how can you resist that face?!

Ah... visions of home.  

Love spotting things like this Mustang from the good ol' USA.  And look at the steering wheel!!!  It's on the correct side!!  I need a moment. 

Lastly, I will leave you with pictures from the Taste of London 2012.  It's an annual 4 day food festival at Regent's Park.  I was lucky enough to go twice.  Loved it!  

I won tickets for Thursday night from Club Gascon on Twitter.  I took a girlfriend and we spent a few hours exploring, eating and toasting... a much needed Girls Night Out.  I had my 3rd celebrity spotting when Wolfgang Puck strolled by in his white chefs coat.  TE and I returned on Sunday with the VIP tickets we purchased.  It was well worth it and such a fun day out in London.  

The VIP package included a terrific cookbook, champagne and entrance to a nice lounge when we needed to escape the crowds.  

Pulled pork and a Barbecoa Slider from Jamie Oliver's Barbecoa Restaurant's booth.  Nummy!!!

We had pretty good weather with just a few quick showers.  But the on and off rain had left the grounds a bit muddy.  They had plenty of walkways with purple carpets to help you avoid the mud.  

Or you could just embrace the mud and wear your wellies like this British Airways Flight Attendant. 

 She looks quite smart, doesn't she?

The Taste of Thailand area was a favorite stop.  

Please be aware that the Blue Diamond Almond Booth may contain almonds!!

"The drink's pure.  It's your mind that's the problem."  Seriously?
(It's an energy drink and actually tastes pretty good.  No comments from the peanut gallery.)

When we were there on Thursday the booth was empty.  Crickets.  But, the two of us decided to be brave and have a taste.  We were immediately followed by about a dozen other people who wanted a try.  Leave it to the two American girls to lead the way and break the ice.  

Maker's Mark AND Pabst Blue Ribbon?  Does it get much better?

I had to visit the Club Gascon booth to say "thank you" for the free tickets.  Their booth was always packed!    Check out this award winning menu...

 Duck and popcorn?  Who'd have thunk?

And take a look at this...

We are SO THERE!!

That's it for another edition of I Spy Friday.  Have a terrific weekend!!


Disclaimer:  I won the tickets from Club Gascon on a random twitter giveaway by retweeting.  There was no agreement that I'd mention them in a blog post.  In fact, I'm sure they have no idea I even have a blog.