Warning: this post is reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally photo-heavy. But it's worth it. Trust me.
The day after we went to Bath somehow turned into a nothing day. We both woke up late, and decided that we should finish watching North and South before we did anything else. Eventually, we figured that we should do SOMETHING besides sit on the sofa all day, so we drove into town and had a late lunch before wandering around the shops for a while. I'd been planning on getting a new between-seasons coat while I was in England, so technically we were on the look out for that. Me being me, I came home with a pair of raspberry patent heels. FAR more important than a stupid coat!
|I mean, seriously.|
The next morning, we were up bright and early and on the road before 10am. Frankly, I'd been excited about our final destination for this particular day since about JULY, and it didn't disappoint. We started off with a trip to Windsor, because if we were going to spend all that damned time on the M25, you can bet your arse we were going to break up the trip.
Parking was a monumental bitch, as you can imagine if you've ever been to Windsor, but finally we found a parking spot and headed into the castle. After parting with a small fortune, we headed inside. And honestly? The public areas were a lot smaller than I remembered them being when I was a kid. It didn't help that the chapel was closed because it was Sunday, but I remember there being far more to see and do than just the state rooms and Queen Mary's doll house. *shrugs*
I'd also forgotten about the almost-constant low flying planes en route to land at Heathrow, which must be nice and relaxing for the queen!!
Once we'd exhausted the possibilities at the castle and decided that we didn't need a stuffed toy corgi from the gift shop, we wandered back into town for a spot of lunch before stopping at a supermarket to procure some snacks. Then we hit the road and basically flailed our way up the M25 to our final destination: The Harry Potter studio tour.
I mean, I thought I'd died and gone to Heaven when I went to Wizarding World of Harry Potter. And sure, this didn't have awesome rides. But it WAS non-stop amazingness from basically the moment we walked in the door. The very first thing you see (besides giant photos of the cast, and half a Ford Anglia coming out of the wall) is the Cupboard Under the Stairs.
From there, they show you a short film, and then you head into the Great Hall. If you're planning on going, I'd highly recommend going on your birthday, because of reasons.
I could happily have stayed in the Great Hall for another 20 minutes or so because it's so amazingly detailed, but there was tons more to see.
The first half of the tour is smaller sets, like the Gryffindor Common Room and Dumbledore's office, lots of costumes, and a ton of fun props, like the Horcruxes, Hermione's Timeturner, quidditch supplies, and the Triwizard Cup.
|DanRad is tiny. Seriously.|
It took us at least an hour to get through it all, and it was marvellous. It's astonishing how much detail was created for props that get a couple of seconds of screen time.
Then you head outside to some of the exterior sets - Number 4 Privet Drive, the bridge at Hogwarts, and the Potter's cottage from Godric's Hollow. There's also the Knight Bus, which is pretty fabulous, and some more of the big chess pieces.
You can also get butter beer, which is pretty delicious in small quantities but is quite likely to make you feel sick if you drink more than a few sips.
The second half of the tour is all about the animatronics and the models that they used, and it's pretty damned fascinating.
From there, you get to walk up Diagon Alley, which felt oddly like returning to Wizarding World of Harry Potter (even though when I was there, it was only Hogsmeade...):
And then it was onto the last major stop, which was my absolute favourite - the scale model of Hogwarts that they used for all the exterior shots. It's absolutely ENORMOUS.
|See those people over there on the right? Yeah. ENORMOUS.|
|How could we not take a terrible selfie?!|
Hell, even the gift shop was magical. I spent rather more than I'd planned, but came out with a Ravenclaw t-shirt for myself, and a wand for Little Miss A (Totally worth it).
Eventually, our wallets rather lighter than planned, we headed back to the car and drove back to Portsmouth. We wandered down the road to the pub for dinner, and spent the rest of the night watching Goblet of Fire. Because really, what else would we do after such a Potter-tastic day?!
Next time, we acquire a couple of small children and head to the zoo.