in which everybody wins

We were in England recently, staying with Nana & Grandad. As well as the magic of Harry Potter, we did a lot of family stuff, just spending time together. Sitting out in the garden (an impossibility in Belfast due to the on-going November weather), leisurely lunches, catching up.

Spurs Fan took the girls and Grandad on a tour of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, which was, apparently, wonderful stuff. He’s a proper responsible grown up, but an excitable wee boy when it comes to football and his team. Second only to THFC in his affections are musician Paul Weller, and specifically the music of The Jam.

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Imagine his excitement to see that there was an exhibition, The Jam: About the Young Idea– film, posters, memorabilia- during the time we were near London.  And so, one Monday morning, he joined scores of middle aged men at Somerset House, reliving their youth. I found the coffee shop, wifi and free exhibitions, but don’t doubt I might have enjoyed it too.

Happily, Somerset House is handy for one of the bits of London that I like to spend time in, the South Bank. Westminster in one Direction, Tower Bridge in the other. London landmarks everywhere. Lots going on. Moseying, lunch, watching the boats & the people, exploring small shops and the giant Tate Modern, spotting wild birds. Pottering across the footbridge to St Pauls. In the middle of things, without pressing crowds, enjoying the river- its history, crime novels, and modern busyness.

A day of nothing in particular, but full of difference and discovery. A great holiday day.

the dress that twitter bought

A few weeks ago somebody, somewhere on twitter got a new dress. She shared a picture of the pattern, and I was lost.

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Perhaps ‘sold’ would be a better word.

‘Tumbling teacups’, it’s called. I fell in love.

A shop I’d never heard of. A whole new set of garments to look at wistfully. A sale. You know the rest.

It arrived yesterday. I tried in on, and kept it on. It doesn’t make me look thin. It doesn’t make me look young.

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I feel great in it. It makes me smile. Never underestimate the power of a frock.

Thank you for sharing, person I follow on twitter.

fantasy and fun

“Why don’t you…?”

Another great idea from Arty Lady. We bounced with excitement at the very thought.

We negotiated with Nana and Grandad, and booked. We counted down the days, and packed a DVD.

It was well sign posted, this industrial looking spot in the middle of nowhere. ‘Warner Bros Studio Tour’ doesn’t really sound that exciting, unless you realise that’s where the magic happens, where the Harry Potter series of films was made over a 10 year period.

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Film makers tell stories, suspend our disbelief, and create other worlds. All of that is captured on the tour. We were agog before we even started- actual chessmen, the actual space under the stairs. Like a top museum or gallery, without the history.  I love our local museum, but this had the added awesome of the British Museum or the Musée d’Orsay.

Nana and Grandad only knew the film we’d packed, the first of the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. They were hugely impressed by the visit. One does not need to be young, or a Potter nerd, to appreciate the tour.

There is theatre here, and drama, and the telling of a few secrets. We all got to experience flying on broomsticks, and two of us had lessons in correct wand use. There are drawings and models and props. Dumbledore’s office had a church vibe- altar, font, tabernacle- while the Ministry of Magic props from later films nodded to Nazi propaganda.

There was the train, animatronic characters, the Knight bus, Privet Drive, classrooms, a dorm and common room, and the jaw dropping Diagon Alley. There were films about the technical side of things, people to talk to about costumes, golden snitches galore for teeny people to find.

Stay away from the shop, people. You’ll want everything. We came home with wands, t shirts and a cushion. I know how sad that sounds, but I’d lost my mind to commercialism Hogwarts. Sadly, we couldn’t persuade the girls to want Ravenclaw hairbands which would go really well with their school uniform. Children can be such spoil sports.

 

On a practical note, there are loads of seats, café space, there are plenty of helpful staff. One realised I was about to have a crisis when I remembered I’d left a bag behind; she stepped in, radioed the area I’d left the bag in, and got it moved to the information desk for me to pick up on the way out. Potential anxiety meltdown spotted and nipped in the bud promptly, without fuss, allowing me to enjoy the rest of the tour. Excellent.

Go. Book your tickets now. You’ll need about 4 hours (though you’ll want to go back for more), and most of the next day to recover (that could just be me…).

 

No, I was not asked to write this. Yes, I paid full price for everything. Yes, this is my own opinion.

 

summer?

We’ve been away, having adventures in the warmth. The south of England feels almost tropical to us pale, rain drenched, folk.

I didn’t need a coat. We finally got the air conditioning fixed in the car. We sat outside in the garden, under an umbrella. I needed a different sort of umbrella this morning. Belfast is wet and soggy and downright chilly. Ignoring the calendar, I’ve put the heat on.

I wonder where my warm socks are?