Sunday, 9 September 2012

Longing for London..

Recently I've been wanting to go back to London ever so badly, from the title you'd think I'd lived there and had recently moved but sadly not. I've only visited London twice but during the last visit I fell in love and wanted to live there. My first trip wasn't a very successful one it was one of them school trips in year 10 where all we did was shop really no sightseeing apart from two hours on the last day. Plus my first visit wasn't really peachy due to the fact I ended up with an Abscess meaning I missed two days of the trip, threw up on bond street into a bin, classy and had to go home early, wonderful. Now my last trip was fantastic, John and I decided to kill two birds with one stone and have a trip to London to celebrate my 18th with a Trip to The Harry Potter Studio tour and to celebrate our one year anniversary. Recently I just keep looking through photos and longing to go back, it was the perfect break we needed from the stressful college deadlines and we did some much in 4 days I still can't believe it. Everyone I know has heard all about the trip but I have yet to blog, tumble or tweet about it. So I think I'll do that now whilst I'm longing for a trip back, it was an amazing trip and I also would like to document it somehow so I can look back and remember. Now let me share my adventures in London with you. 
 We started the trip on a rather miserable Wednesday morning and headed for Darlington train station we had seats in first class but it didn't go to plan we were meant to be facing each other but the seats hadn't been turned around so we weren't together. I wasn't happy at all but some nice man could see this had upset me a several hour train ride on my own with my boyfriend sat behind me so he offered to swap seats and we could have his table since the other seat was free and he'd take one of ours. He was a life saver bless him. Once that was over with we got complimentary breakfast! Best thing about first class, I got porridge with honey and orange juice, I ate the porridge but left the honey because look at it, it was too cute to eat! 

 We eventually arrived at Kings cross before lunch time and hopped in a taxi to the travel lodge to find it was pretty much a five minute walk from kings cross. I'd suggest staying in the Farringdon Travel Lodge ( I read a couple reviews before hand and was beginning to worry about the state of the place but we arrived and the staff seemed to be a sandwich short of a picnic if you know what I mean but aside from that it was wonderful, extremely clean and everything not too noisy either apart from one night where there was about 20 sirens going off and a police helicopter out for hours. But once we'd checked in, unpacked and got our travel cards we headed to London Zoo, It's a bit of a trek from Regents Park Tube Station like I had blisters the next day. So to the Zoo we went. 
 First stop was the reptile house where the first Harry Potter was filmed where Harry lets the snake out of its glass! I was so excited, I'm an absolutely massive Harry Potter fan, at one point I'd say I was overly obsessed! 
 I rather enjoyed the reptile house since it held more than 3 snakes like most do and they even had Alligators! I was very excited.

 With the reptile house out the way we made our way towards the Gorilla Kingdom
We did walk around the entire zoo but I've only included my favourite animals and favourite photos, I'd say the zoo is well worth a visit I loved it. But if you like Elephants you'll be disappointed since they have none! We visited the zoo on a rather wet day, it was bright one second and the next it was heavy rain for five minutes then dry again! We rushed some areas such as birds and insects and the animals we don't really care for but we didn't get there till about half 2ish and we were getting mighty hungry and tired but we still enjoyed it. Although the weather was a bit minging all the animals were still out which amazed me.

I was gutted that the giraffes were out in the open but hiding in their house but I guess Giraffes just don't like rain!

I think one of my favourite bits of the visit was to the Rainforest Life bit where you go in and you can go downstairs into the 'Night time bit' where you can see bats and stuff or the Rainforest bit where it was really cool. You sort of go in and there are monkeys above your head just jumping around and birds flying above you and its rather humid of course with it being the rainforest but it was amazing all these animals just around you sloths, birds, monkeys I couldn't believe it. I was like an overly excited child.

 It was feeding time when we saw the Lions which was fab, the male was roaring away quite a good thing to watch I thought. 

 We had a rather late snack at the Oasis Cafe just got there in time too because the heavens opened just as we got inside. We got these delicious chocolate and banana cookies they were huge like the size of the plate! No kidding.  
 Once it dried up we headed to penguin beach, we sat and watched the penguins for absolutely ages they are hilarious! Well worth a visit.

 They just loved the attention as soon as someone was there they were swimming over. Once we'd finished with the penguins we took a bus to Hamleys for a look around and ended up in piccadilly circus we then decided headed back to the Travel lodge exhausted we ate in the Travel lodge too and were in bed by 10pm but we had an early 8am start the next morning for the Harry Potter Studio tour! 

If you don't want to know about the tour scroll past this section of the post because there will be spoilers, I know before I went I wanted to know everything but not spoil it at the same time because I was far too excited. We got a train there from Euston station which felt like it took us a life time to find I was convinced we were going to miss the tour. It was once again a miserable day but that didn't dampen our spirits one bit. I was as high as a kite, like a 4 year old at Christmas. I was practically bouncing up and down on the bus there! Once we got there we realised we had like 45-1hour to wait till the tour but better to be early than late! So we had a snack in the cafe and I eventually dragged John into the Gift shop which is fantastic.
I was all excited over the gift shop never mind the tour, we went just after it had opened so there was a severe lack of Chocolate frogs, but we got chocolate wands instead. The store was absolutely pack with visitors and stuff to buy. I wanted it all but John told me I wasn't allowed so I left with a chocolate wand, a Gryffindor Quidditch top and a Slytherin keyring since I can't decide which house I want to be in!
 We then spent the next 10 minutes looking at the walls and props in the entrance each wall has photos of the cast and the ford Anglia was hanging in one corner. Once we'd queued and got in we were hustled into a room with this giant screen and I was so excited I thought I was going to cry! Overly huge Harry Potter fan girl. So this video of Dan, Emma and Rupert comes on introducing us to the tour, it was a little cheesy really and the they went through the great hall doors and the screen lifted up and there the doors were. I was about to wet myself with excited. 
I was so happy, I was finally here at Hogwarts, John's the best boyfriend ever for taking me when he doesn't really like Harry Potter.
You have a limited time in the great hall and then you can do the rest of the tour in as much time as you want. You don't actually realise how much detail went into the sets until you visit.

 It was pretty easy going once you'd left the great hall, you could wander at your own pace but be warned if you don't look up or around you might miss something! There's stuff everywhere!

 The day we went was extremely busy but that didn't stop the fun you were just stood at one part a little longer than you desired and you just had to wait to get a good photo. 

So of the props you saw you thought hmm which films that from and then when you re-watch them you think 'ah how could I have missed that?!'
I loved the section where it had everyone's wigs, there was a box that said 'spare finger pieces for peter pettigrew' which amused me quite a bit.

I was practically in tears for nearly the entire tour, I just couldn't believe how amazing the sets were or anything, like many other people my age I grew up with Harry Potter. I remember seeing the first film when I was 6 years old coming up 7. I remember being engrossed by the world of magic and believing it was real and thinking maybe I would be like Hermione and get a letter when I was elven. Alas I did not. I remember playing Harry Potter and using twigs as wands and having posters on my walls and trying to read the books but not being able to understand them or get into them. I get each book as they came out but just couldn't get into them myself to read so my dad would read them to me when I slept over his house. I grew up with the magic of Harry Potter and was ever so sad to see it end, I cried during the majority of the last book when I re-read it myself and cried for the last half of Deathly Hallows. Oh how J K Rowling broke my heart killing poor Snape. Anyway moving on before I start rambling about my love of all things potter.

In total I took around 500 photos and these are my favourite ones that I am sharing with you. I can't decide on a favourite part of the tour was it the potions classroom where the cauldrons stirred themselves or the weasley house where you could scrub a pan or chop a carrot or was it the green screen room? Perhaps it was the end where you see Hogwarts. I still cannot decide.

They even had the clock, it was hard to get a good photo of the hands due to it being at an awkward place to get in to get a good photo.
I thought this was amazing the magic is might statue I was just in awe.

Once we finished the first half of the inside tour it was off outside to visit Privet Drive, Tom Riddles grave, the Knight bus, the Ford Anglia and some giant chess pieces. It also gave us the perfect opportunity to have a sit down with a drink of butter beer and some lunch since it was getting on for mid afternoon. Butter beer, I still don't know how I feel about it, I thought it was nice but extremely sweet I don't know, I guess you'll have to try it yourself.

 Back inside it was the Creature Workshop, this was really fun. 
Mandrakes were potted about everywhere! All the creatures from the films were in this section, it was fab, I took photos of nearly all of them but my favourite was the Mandrakes I honestly love them. I took a video of them too you could press a button and they popped up and down. The video is below, I stood and watched it for ages and please ignore my awful voice I get really high pitched when I'm excited and I mainly took a video to show our college friend Hiraa who loves Mandrakes. Haha but I'll share it here too

 I honestly didn't think it could get any better once we'd been in the creature work shop and where should we walk out into? Diagon alley of course!

My favourite part of Diagon Alley was Florish and Blotts where they had Gilderoy Lockhart books with moving images! It was fab.
 Once Diagon Alley was other with you went into a concept art area which I thought was the end of the tour so I was surprised when we walked through the doors at the end! But first of all this section was just mind blowing, I was amazed at home much detail had gone into the paper models. Even the bathroom had paper stained-glass windows! I couldn't believe it. 
 Then came the most I don't even know how to describe it all I know is that I teared up and just wanted to bust into tears. 
 You can see from the photo I was about to cry. 

The Hogwarts model was just amazing honestly I was just awe struck.

Sadly the tour ended here with a walk through into a room filled with wands and into the gift shop we went. It was the best Birthday gift I've ever received I still thank John for it months on. Once our trip to Hogwarts was done we headed back to the Travel lodge for a quick shower and change of clothes before we headed to our reservation at Planet Hollywood. Unfortunately I haven't got any photos of PH but the food was lush and the toilets were fab quotes from famous people and there lip marks what more do you want?

The Friday we decided to do some sight-seeing so we got up somewhat early and headed for Tower Bridge and ended up at St Pauls. Were not very good at following bus routes/tube routes or maps.

We eventually spotted tower bridge and headed for it John decided we'd take a trip up it which was nice but I don't really like heights so I was a bit nervous.

As soon as we came out of Tower Bridge it started to rain a little so we decided we'd take a trip to London Dungeons. This was my idea since I'd visited York ones as a child and been scared beyond belief I thought I'd be ok now I'd gotten older. How wrong I was. SPOILERS FOR LONDON DUNGEONS Let me tell you about the Dungeons first of all you go in and its dark its underground and there's noises. I was clinging to John, I'm terrified something was going to jump out and grab me. You then enter 'the labyrinth of lost souls' which is a mirror area where you have to find your own way our, it was rather disorientating more than anything suddenly you hear some women shouting 'bring out ye dead' and of course were in the middle of the plague lovely! I think was just to ease you into it a little since it wasn't too gruesome or jumpy, you then went on to the great fire of London which wasn't exactly bad. I think its a great way to explore the history of somewhere by mixing it with scares its a great way to learn about things. So from there you enter a Surgery, the 'actor' takes one person from the 'audience' which is you and your group and he starts telling you about surgery of the times and it goes dark and you can guess what happens. Far to say I shit myself. You then visit a wonderful torture chamber where yet another member of the audience is picked for demonstration this section was rather humorous . We then got judged and sentenced to death once we'd walked through bedlam. I was practically being dragged along through bedlam since I was terrified I will never thing of strobes lights in the same way again! So we made it to traitors gate where you get in nice little boats and close your eyes get a little wet and hope it ends soon because you're just a little scared you know. Who do meet at the end of the gate? Well its Mrs Lovett which was a nice surprise the woman playing her was fantastic! You then go for a close shave, I won't tell you what happens but I was shocked haha. I then remember closing my eyes for a while and then finding myself in a dark streets of Whitechapel in 1888 the times of Jack the ripper. We got an introduction and such and then went into a little pub and got the fight of my life I think I may have screamed if I'm honest. We then saw Bloody Mary and a woman get burnt at the stake when you're down there you forget that all of this is just a show and you begin to get extremely worried. At last we were hung after being sentenced to death a few miles back, this was a ride and the photo of me and John was hilarious I was white as a sheet with my eyes closed screaming. Wonderful.
We left the dungeons with my heart only just beating from all the shock, we visited Covent Gardens where I treat myself to some wonderful Betsey Johnson Earrings and a Fossil watch. We had lunch and then headed towards the Palace.

Saturday was our last day in the city so we planned to take it easy and go for a wander around Harrods since I wanted some Laduree Macarons and to visit the Ice cream Parlour.

I got the 'Waffle Triple Decker' which was 3 scoops of Icecream my choice was Strawberry, Vanilla and White Chocolate with Caramel Coils and cream.
John got the Hot Fudge sundae. He wasn't happy about me taking photos he just wanted to eat it haha. We took a stroll around the area and had a quick visit to the History Museum which was a huge disappointment we thought. We then went back to Harrods for some Laduree Macarons.

I choose Lemon, Vanilla, Strawberry and Chocolate and let me tell you they were delicious So so good! Although if you want a cheaper alternative and live near York you can pop to Betty's tearooms and get some that taste almost identical.
We then got the bus back to Tower Bridge so we could go and meet my dad since he was in London too, he'd been to the Studio Tour for Harry Potter too! For my sisters 10th birthday.
Once we'd see Father Wallace we headed to Kings cross to pick up our luggage and start the long journey home.
Don't mind me I'm just off to Hogwarts.
Enjoying butter beer!
This was took during the Harry Potter tour on the Green screens, I love the photo I didn't know what to do so I just sat and smiled unlike most people who were waving there arms around and such.
I hope you've enjoyed my little trip down memory lane to my last visit in London and I hope I haven't bored you too much either like I did my family.

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