August 08, 2012
On Saturday (4th Aug) it was my birthday and i was 33 years old. i got lots of lovely presents and cards from friends and family, and the kidlets had made their cards (with Sir's help for the boys) and Poppy had made her present for me this year too, which makes it even more special. Sir chose me a lovely present, as always - i'm lucky that's He's very good at choosing gifts without needing to be given hints or ideas, as some men do!
But what i wanted to post about here wasn't the presents, lucky as i was with everything i received. Instead i want to write about my birthday treat, which Sir had organised as a surprise quite a while in advance. All He would tell me is that He'd arranged for the children to be looked after at their grandparents all day (and overnight too) and that He had booked tickets for somewhere. But that's as much as i knew. i love surprises, but i am also very nosey and curious and it was difficult for me not knowing where we were going.
So on Saturday morning, after breakfast and taking the kids to my parents, Sir drove us to the train station and we caught the train to London, then the tube to Euston Station and then another train to a station called Watford Junction. i had no clue what was at this station, i couldn't remember ever hearing about it before, so i was dying to find out where we were heading for. And as we walked out of the station and turned the corner i saw a big double decker bus waiting outside, with 'Harry Potter film studios tour' painted all over it and i knew what the surprise was! And it was a great surprise as i love the Harry Potter books and the films. i was sooooo excited! It only took 10 minutes to get to the film studios on the bus, then we had some lunch in the cafe there as we had tickets for 1:00pm and it wasn't time yet. We had to queue a bit to get in, and then there was a short film about Harry Potter in a little cinema, but after that the tour properly began and it was brilliant!
It started off in the Great Hall, and we actually went in through the huge double doors just like you see in the film. The hall was very impressive with big stone gargoyles all along the walls holding torches, a huge fireplace, huge stained glass windows, the long wooden tables with chairs you see in the films, complete with silver goblets and plates set out for dinner and the teachers' table at the top of the room with Dumbledore's big golden lecturn in front. There were also mannekins set out round the sides of the room wearing the actual costumes of the actors, including Harry's robes as he grew and all the teachers' costumes. It was great and i took lots of photos! The only thing that was disappointing about this room was the ceiling as it was just a normal one - the enchanted sky effect was added in later after filming.
The rest of the tour was self-guided and you could take as long as you liked. We saw lots of the film sets, including Dumbledore's office, the boys' dormitory, Hagrid's hut, the Weasley's house, the Potions classroom, the Gryffindor common room, Umbridge's office in the Ministry of Magic plus lots of other details such as the portraits wall, the griffin statue at the entrance to Dumbledore's office, the muggles statue and fireplaces from the Ministry of Magic, the snake entrance door to the Chamber of Secrets, the entrance door to the vault in Gringott's Bank, the fireplace in the Leaky Cauldron, the ice sculpture from the yuletide ball, the huge chessmen from the first film and lots and lots more. Plus there was Hagrid's motorbike, the Weasleys' flying car, the Knight bus, the broomsticks and the cart from the bank vaults. i had my photo taken on the motorbike, in the car and a special photo of me in wizard robes, riding on a broomstick with London in the background! We had to queue up and pay extra for that photo but it was worth it!
Outside there was some of the exterior sets such as Harry's parents' house, the Dursley's house from Privet Drive, the bridge at Hogwarts and a few more, plus there was a refreshments stop where me and Sir bought some butterbeer and it was delicious! We also got to see lots of the costumes, the wands, the props and all the way round the tour were notice boards and video screens giving away some of the secrets behind the filming. It was really interesting. My two favourite areas were the 'Creature shop' which showed how they made all the non-human creatures, such as the goblins, dragons, trolls, house elves, death eaters, and they had working robotic creatures, such as Hedwig the owl, the mandrake plants and Buckbeak. i loved this section, it was so interesting - my two favourite creatures were Dobby the house elf and Fawkes the phoenix. The other best part of the tour was the model of the castle - it was hugeeeeeee, it took up a whole room to itself and you could view it from the top and then walk down a slope and see it from the ground level too. And it was so detailed and intricate, it was really beautiful and took 6 weeks to build. i spent lots of time in this room, admiring it all.
Afterwards we went into the gift shop and Sir bought me some souvenirs of our trip (i'm such a lucky girl) and then we went back into London and had dinner in TGI Fridays and looked round Covent Garden for a while before coming home. A really great birthday and such as lovely surprise treat - thanks Sir :)