It's a celebratory weekend for my good friend Hannah's birthday and we planned this trip a month ago so it's finally here and the excitement is bubbling away.
Back down to London, I'm becoming a dab hand at this journey. Arrive late Friday night so it's a case of a speedy catch up and bed so we can start our fun filled weekend.
Saturday morning takes us to Spittlefield markets and Brick Lane. Very colourful and quirky streets. Brick lane is particularly known for the outdoor food stalls so we had to part take in the tradition, we had a spot of lunch in a wee sun trap there. Far too many options to choose from, however I went Greek whilst Han went Mexican. We were both very pleased with our choices, I really liked the buzz around the place, even though it was possibly quieter than normal due to it being a bank holiday, it was still full of atmosphere. I really enjoyed our mooch around the area, it helped that the weather was glorious so the walking and taking in all the eclectic sights was very enjoyable!
From there we hit the Topshop on Oxford Street, never a good thing. Bank balance lower and a few bags each, we head to Carnaby street and into a little New Zealand cafe. Han and I met travelling six years ago in Australia and then travelled New Zealand, Fiji and some of America together. We were solo travellers but the people we met thought we came together. Just shows you how easily the friendship was formed and how much it's lasted. We have done some travelling together since and I always love our catch ups and reminiscing. Anyway the sacred cafe allowed us to get a well needed seat, a pot of tea and some random chat about turtles, the weekend ahead and future plans - always planning the next one.
Saturday evening and Han took us to Tower Bridge area to All Bar One restaurant at butlers wharf. A new area for me to experience and the view was spectacular, especially after the sunset and the bridge was all lit up. The meal was decent, the service a bit slow but the drama around us was certainly eye opening, who doesn't love people watching! We were certainly well entertained for the evening. Home at a reasonable hour as the highlight of the weekend was fast approaching.
It's here, Sunday, May 4, it will be remembered forever as the day myself and Han go to 'The making of Harry Potter'.
It's the film studios near Watford, where we get to immerse ourselves in everything Potter!
As a HP fan, I've read the books, watched the films, however nothing can have prepared me for my day. I'd say Han is a bigger geek, I mean fan, than I am so her excited squeals and arm squeezes certainly added to the energy and buzz whilst on our route there, which consisted of a walk, an underground, a replacement coach and then a glorious Harry Potter embezzled bus which lead us to the studio. Stay calm.
In the queue to get it all started, we note the variety of guests. It ranged from all ages of children and then the parents (who looked just as excited), to foreign visitors, to grandparents to solo travellers. Basically everyone welcome. A quick video introduction once we passed the cupboard under the stairs and we were in, standing in the Great Hall! You know we were both overwhelmed because we were pretty much silent for the first 30 minutes! In fact, the three hours it took us to complete the tour we had minimal chat. Believe me that's not like us! It was phenomenal. I don't even know how to put it into words.
The sheer scale of the place, it was enormous, with treasures at every turn. It was such an eye opener, not only into the amazing skills needed to put something like Harry Potter on our screens but of any film. The props, the sets, the costumes, the teeny tiny details that are worked on so that everything was seamless and accurate and dare I say it..... Magical! Yes you learn some tricks and secrets, it certainly hasn't taken away from the films. I actually walked away with a sense of awe at the talent these people have! Not to mention a massive smile on my face having got to ride on a broom and also in the Ford Anglia, and yes I got sucked in and paid for the souvenir photo and mount. It was all part of the fun, I do regret the £4 chocolate wand though, it didn't even last the bus journey home!
I could go on about this, I recited useless but amazing facts to my colleagues at work about the potions set, the portraits and the special effects, the subtle but brilliant costume changes. Needless to say I would definitely recommend Harry Potter world. Han would second that. It was without a doubt a fantastic day. Just a shame we didn't meet anyone from the cast, I for one was hoping to bump into Matthew Lewis (the dude that played Neville Longbottom) a girl can dream....we won't let that spoil the memories!
Anyway the fun didn't stop there. We ended up meeting our London tour guides, Louise and Emma, for an evening of cocktails and dancing in Shoreditch. The place to be! Han and the girls hadn't met before so it was nice to get the introductions as they'll all be up for my birthday, which is getting scarily close. Anyway a fun night had. Especially in the Vegas themed night the club had on, I'd say the male dancers in their striped leggings were enjoying it too, but maybe not as much!
Monday, home today after a great weekend... but wait we have more ridiculously awesome plans!
We breakfasted in the bluebird cafe, a Made in Chelsea (MIC) hangout and favoured by cast, but still no celeb spots and if I do say so a rather disappointing service. We headed back to pack and head to the final stop before home.
This was Han's birthday present from me, she has wanted an afternoon tea for a while. However this wasn't any old afternoon tea. It was a Charlie and the chocolate factory themed tea, held in the plush One Aldwych hotel near Covent Garden. We were warmly welcomed, given our menus and the pampering began. Exotic teas, accompanied our sandwiches and mini quiches. Very sophisticated and just enough grub. As we were then given the star course, the desserts! There was Eton mess, mini chocolate caramel milkshakes, blueberry brioches, scones with plum jam and cream, lemon cake pops, rhubarb and custard candy floss, and a golden egg with cheesecake filling. It was a dentists nightmare but for me and my sweet tooth it was ridiculously indulgent and every bit delicious! Han and myself devoured every bit! Han enjoyed it, which was the main thing, and it was a wonderful end to a wonderful weekend.
Sugar coma hit half way home on the train!
To London, Harry Potter World and the delights of the Wonka chocolate. Number ten...amazing!