Monday, 6 May 2019

Harry Potter Studio Tour (London)

Potions and Dark Magic.
We visited the Harry Potter Studios Tour for my daughter's 6th birthday, and she absolutely loved it. 

After a quick coffee we began our tour.

Following the short video, in the cinema, we made our way through the doors and found the entrance to the Great Hall. As it was Keilyn's birthday, she had the honour of opening the doors to the Great Hall, allowing us to begin the tour proper.

The Great Hall was incredible to see in person and the props and costumes on display are wonderful to see up close. 

From here we went to see some of the other exhibits; costumes, wigs, makeup, Dumbledore's study, Hagrid's Hut, the Potions Lab, the Quidditch area and much more. 

We then entered the Enchanted Forest with its scary spiders that fell from the ceiling, or came out of cavernous holes.

We then found ourselves by the Hogwarts Express steam locomotive and Platform 9 3/4. We then headed to the cafeteria before heading outside to the backlot, where there was even more to see; Harry Potter's house, the Knight Bus, Hogwarts Bridge, the Potter's Cottage, chess pieces, a Ford Anglia and a motorcycle.

Soon we were back inside to see more of the prosthetics, models, costumes, artwork and more. This led us to Gringotts Bank and on to the Bank Vault, before returning us to Gringotts Bank, which was under attack from a Dragon. 

Diagon Alley swiftly followed and led us to more of the conceptual artwork and models, used in the Making of Harry Potter. 

Finally, we arrived at the largest model that I have ever seen. 

We then ended up in the Gift Shop, where you can easily spend a small fortune as the prices are anything but cheap. 

All through the tour you can play a game of 'spot the Golden Snitch'. There are 13 to find, and the last of these is the most difficult. 

All of the staff were knowledgeable, helpful and really made my daughter's birthday a memorable one. 

You will need to set aside a minimum of three hours, to get around the tour, but it is well worth it.


Tuesday, 23 April 2019

The Angel

A view of The Unfinished City, from the riverside decking of the Angel pub.
It was a glorious Saturday morning as myself and two work colleagues, Gary and Steve, met up for a walk along the Thames Path, on a journey from Borough Market to Greenwich.

Gary and I ate a hearty breakfast, from the Boston Sausage stall in Borough Market, before heading across the road to The George Inn. I chose a pint of George Ale, while Gary had a lager, as we awaited the arrival of Steve.

Once the three amigos were ready, we made our way towards Tower Bridge and Shad Thames, where our stroll began in earnest.

Passing in front of Butler's Wharf, we continued along the Thames Path, until we reached The Angel public house, where we stopped for a refreshing drink. As the pub is located opposite the ruins of King Edward III's Moated Manor house, I decided that I should have a pint of Sovereign Ale, which was very refreshing.

We drank outside, on the pub's small decking that overlooks the River Thames, and took in the views.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

120 Fenchurch Street Roof Garden

The view looking south.
Back in February, 2019, a new roof garden opened, in the City of London. Situated on the fifteenth floor of a newly designed building, it offers 360 degree views of the city and its environs.

Being only fifteen storeys tall, it is dwarfed by buildings like the Gherkin, Walkie-talkie and Scalpel, but it does offer unique views of these buildings. Even on the overcast morning that I visited, I could still see the Crystal Palace Transmitter, to the south, Canary Wharf, to the east and the BT Tower to the west. Obviously, much of the view to the north is obscured by the aforementioned skyscrapers.

The planted flower beds were still to fully bloom and the creeping vines have yet to fully take hold of the upright roof supports, while the water feature, which has small fountains in a raised channel, wasn't functioning. When all of these things come together, over the next few weeks, this will be one of the most pleasant public roof gardens in the City of London.

Access to the Roof Garden is via a lift in a spacious lobby, which has an art installation in the ceiling, which shows various garden scenes and sometimes links up to a camera, situated in the roof garden, that shows Tower Bridge.

St. Dunstan-in-the-East Church & Garden

A panoramic of the Nave.
It was a cool spring Friday morning, as I took to the streets of the Unfinished City, in search of new areas to discover. Pretty soon I found myself on Lower Thames Street, heading eastward.

Since it had been pouring with rain on my last visit to St. Dunstan-in-the-East Church Garden, I decided to pop in for a look around. It was perfect timing, because as I arrived a tour guide and his Spanish entourage were just leaving, heading toward the Tower of London, so I had the place to myself.

Obviously, as it was still early spring, many of the flowers had yet to bloom, which gave the ruined church an even more sombre mood, especially with the overcast skies.

Considering where the ruins are located it was remarkably peaceful, even with the traffic zooming past.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Museum of London: Docklands

Warehouses and Docks at Canary Wharf
The past lives on.
Having visited the Museum of London, on a number of occasions, I thought that it was about time that we took some time to visit her sister museum, in London's Docklands. It was a pleasant summer morning as we approached Warehouse No. 1, which which has been fully restored and now houses the Museum.

Covering the full history of the River Thames and the docks, from the first Roman port, through the 1600s and on to the present day, all of its unique history is here.

On our visit there was a special exhibition entitled Roman Dead. This included many Roman remains that had been unearthed throughout the City. Some of them had only been discovered in the last few years, with the deep excavations undertaken in the construction of Crossrail.

Since we all enjoyed the visit so much, and with there being plenty of time left in the day, we took the Docklands Light Railway to Bank station, before making our way to the Museum of London. Thus visiting both museums, in one day.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Kensington Gardens

Kensington Palace and Queen Victoria
Kensington Palace and Queen Victoria's statue.
After our initial stop at the Diana Memorial Playground, we made our way south towards Kensington Palace, with the shade from the trees protecting us from the warm summer sun. A few photographs were taken before we headed towards the Round Pond.

From here we continued eastward towards the Long Water, passing the Physical Energy statue, designed by George Frederic Watts and erected in 1907. 

As we approached the Long Water a gust of wind blew Erin's baseball cap, from her head, far out into the water. To say that she was distraught was an understatement! I have never seen such an upset 6 year old. 

After eventually calming her down we continued our walk, this time heading north, passing the Peter Pan statue and continuing on to the Italian Gardens.

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