Saturday, 21 September 2013

Gran's Granny Square Crochet Blanket

It was my Gran's birthday last week. For Christmas I crocheted her some coasters which went down very well (she cried when she opened them!) so I decided to make her something special for her birthday.

I'm a bit obsessed with granny squares. They're so quick and versatile, you can make a beautiful item in just one weekend. I love that granny squares come together so quickly and I love how many different effects you can make. I had a look on good old Google and I found this tutorial on Signed With An Owl. I really liked the design, it was striking but simple and I knew that I'd be able to have some fun with the colours.

I used DK yarn in yellow (Y), orange (O), red (R), light blue (LB), dark blue (DB), green (G), cream (C) and pink (P). I made six squares with the first round made with O, second round made with R, third made with LB, fourth made with DB, fifth made with G and sixth made with Y. I then did the outline in C. For the next six squares I brought the middle colour to the outside so the pattern was R, LB, DB, G, Y, O. I did this a further four times, bringing the middle colour to the outside each time and making six squares in each pattern.

When I had made all thirty-six squares I started to arrange them. I decided to arrange them in this order (the colour refers to the yarn used on the sixth row of the circle), Y, O, R, LB, DB, G. For the next line I took the colour used in the first column and brought it to the end, giving the colours a diagonal effect. The second row's colour pattern was O, R, LB, DB, G, Y. I did this for the next four rows until I had aranged the whole blanket. I then sewed the squares together. I was very new to crochet and didn't know that there is actually a crochet technique to join granny squares, which you can see here, so I just sewed them with a running stitch.

Once I had my whole blanket pretty much done I started to go right around the edge. Now, as I mentioned just now, I was very new to crochet so some of the squares were a little wonky, causing the edge to ripple a little bit. To try to minimise this I went right around the outside in C. I then crocheted round the outside again using a different coloured yarn for the length of one square using the pattern G, DB, LB, R, O, Y, repeating on each side. I went round it all again with C.

I was happy with it, it looked much tidier, but I wanted something which would really finish it off. After trying out a few different borders, I found this one on Attic 24. It was quite time consuming but I felt that it really finished the blanket off nicely. I did mine in P.

To completely finish it I ironed it on the wrong side (I tested the iron on a small piece first to make sure it wasn't going to melt into nothing), folded it up and wrapped it in some pretty paper. My gran was so pleased with it, she wore it for the rest of the afternoon, once she had opened it. All together it took me about nine months! But I like to flit from project to project leaving some unfinished to come back to later so it wasn't a whole nine months spent on this one thing!

I hope that people are able to understand this blog and it's not just a screen of weird letters, it's the first time I've written a tutorial (I use the term tutorial VERY loosely!). I'm sorry for the lack of useful pictures too, I'll try to take more for my next project! If anyone has any pointers then please leave a comment, suggestions are very welcome!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

'Soul Sister' Review

A musical inspired by the lives of Anna Mae Bullock (known as Tina Turner) and Ike Turner. The story line was simple, it didn't go into too much detail about the segregation which was going on at the time and later there are about two minutes dedicated to feminism so it skims over some important historical details. It was quite wooden and some of it seemed obviously written just to point out certain details rather than allowing you to come to the decisions yourself. I knew nothing about her life before watching this and I was really interested to find out more. There were moments which were incredibly sad. Tina seemed like such a strong, independent woman but at times she seemed miserable and resigned to the fact that she would be treated badly by Ike.


The story was good but my God, the music was fantastic. Featuring hits like 'River Deep, Mountain High' and 'Proud Mary' they were definitely songs to get you singing along and dancing. The band on stage were absolutely flawless, playing their instruments very well and really bringing the songs to life. The Ikettes sang beautifully and had voices which really complimented Tina's.


Jenny Fitzpatrick, who played Tina, was amazing. Her dance moves were so like Tina's that you could have mistaken her for the real thing, hip thrusts, fluttery arms and stiff legs in all the right places. It really was uncanny. Her voice was flawless, belting out a strong song one minute then the next caressing a gentle note. Ike, played by Chris Tummings, was also very believable. At times he seemed so vulnerable and you felt sorry for him but there were other times where you hated him for the things that he was doing.

At the end everyone was up on their feet dancing and having a great time. The sometimes weak story line was really supported by the great music and the sing-along soul songs were great.

I saw this musical in the New Wimbledon Theatre which was a great venue, old fashioned and ornate. I sat in the upper circle and it was almost empty which was such a shame. Surprising too because the show was on tour, only staying in each theatre for a few days, and I think the tickets cost about £12. I would have thought that the price would have enticed people but sadly not, There was only about five percent of the seats filled in the upper circle.

I would recommend this musical, the songs really made it for me, who can go wrong with a bit of Simply The Best??

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Getting Rooted in New Zealand Review and Author Interview

Craving change and lacking logic, at 26, Jamie, a cute and quirky Californian, impulsively moves to New Zealand to avoid dating after reading that the country's population has 100,000 fewer men. In her journal, she captures a hysterically honest look at herself, her past and her new wonderfully weird world filled with curious characters and slapstick situations in unbelievably bizarre jobs. It takes a zany jaunt to the end of the Earth and a serendipitous meeting with a fellow traveler before Jamie learns what it really means to get rooted.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a funny, down to earth account of moving to and living in a new country. There was no sugar coating, it seemed that Jamie had a really difficult time living in New Zealand and it made me think hard about what it means to move abroad. I have already moved from England to Wales for my job and that was extremely difficult at times so would it be even worse in a different country? Especially with all the cultural and environmental differences. I love books which are set out in diary form. It usually makes them concise and to the point, I find there is much less rambling. Some of Jamie's 'diary entries' were just a sentence long but they were often observant and hilarious. It surprised me as to how much of the vocabulary in New Zealand and the UK is the same, crisps not chips, biscuits not cookies, and these little language details which Jamie included were so interesting. Overall, four stars for this book.

Jamie Baywood grew up in Petaluma, California. In 2010, she made the most impulsive decision of her life by moving to New Zealand. Getting Rooted in New Zealand is her first book about her experiences living there. Jamie is now married and living happily ever after in the United Kingdom. She is working on her second book. Jamie was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

What was the most difficult thing about moving abroad? And what was the best?
Following my dream to live abroad by moving to New Zealand was absolutely liberating. New Zealand turned me into a writer. I have absolute gratitude for every experience and everyone I met. It taught me to trust myself and believe in myself. New Zealand is such a beautiful country. Beaches, mountains, glaciers, lakes, forests, islands, New Zealand’s got it all. It has such freshness about it, like the islands just emerged from the sea. It feels like anything is possible in New Zealand. I also loved the quality of light in New Zealand. It was like looking through a polarized lenses, but more intense. Everything is so colourful and vibrant.

Dealing with visa restrictions has been the most difficult things about moving abroad. In New Zealand, it greatly limited my options for employment. Overall, I found the New Zealand immigration office significantly easier to deal with than the UK Border Agency. From my personal experience the New Zealand immigration office were efficient. All of my visas in New Zealand were processed in a couple of weeks. Although I was married in January 2012 in the UK, my marriage visa was not approved by the UK Border Agency until September 2012.

What attracted you to eventually living in the UK?
I’m from California. In my mid-twenties, I had bad dating experiences in California and a dream to live abroad. I read in a tour book that New Zealand’s population had 100,000 fewer men than women. In the attempt to have some ‘me time’ I moved to New Zealand. I eventually met a Scottish man that was also on a work visa living in New Zealand. We’ve been trying to figure out where in the world to live together and how. We have been living in the UK since winter 2011. I am currently on a visa in the UK called an Extension to Stay as the Spouse of a UK Citizen. This visa will expire in 2014. We are deciding now if we should go through another round of visas for me to stay in the UK or if we want to try living somewhere else in the world. We are seriously considering moving back to New Zealand next year.

How do you balance your writing with your home life and children?
My funny writing style was one of the things that initially attracted my husband to me when we began dating. He wants me to succeed as an author. He is currently working on a MA in Landscape Architecture. As a couple we give each other time and space to work on our own independent creative projects and encourage each other to follow our dreams. A lot of the time he will be in the same room with me as I write working and he works on his own projects.

Do you have a designated writing space? If so, what is it like?
Although I have no trouble committing to my husband, I’m having trouble committing to furniture. Once you get your life in a suitcase, it’s hard to go back to having things again. The idea of having a full set of furniture like a desk makes me feel claustrophobic. I’ve been sitting on pillows on the ground and typing on a coffee table.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
I constantly make myself notes. This summer in Wales, I was scribbling stories on the backs of maps and Google directions as a passenger in the car. I also send myself text messages or emails riding in
trains or buses. It might not look like I’m writing a book if one was to observe me, but I am constantly watching, listening and thinking about writing.

Did you self publish? How did you do it?
I’ve just completed an MA in Design. Designing, publishing and marketing my book was my dissertation project. I had to do everything within a couple of months. Self-publishing was the fastest way to publish within the very limited time scale I had. Self-publishing is one person taking on all of the responsibilities typically held by teams of people in traditional publishing companies. It has been a steep learning curve. Publishing my book was my way of transforming poison into medicine. I hope that it can help people that have had bad dating experiences or bad work experiences – make them laugh and not give up hope.

How long did it take you to get your book published?
Most of the book was written as the events happened; it just took me a few years to work up the nerve to publish. To write my book Getting Rooted In New Zealand, I relied upon my personal journals, e-mails, and memories. In February 2013, I organized my stories into a cohesive narrative. It went through several rounds of editing and then I published in April 2013.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Be yourself and find a good editor.

What is your next book about?

I’ve been living abroad for over three years. I plan to divide my books by the countries I’ve lived in. The next book will be about adventures in Scotland. The third book will be about living in England.

I'm very much looking forward to Jamie's next book, especially if this one is anything to go by!

Getting Rooted in New Zealand is available for kindle and in paperback from Amazon.
Follow Jamie on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Amazon and Goodreads.

Monday, 16 September 2013

My Week #7

Over the weekend I went back home to Pembrokeshire. I don't usually go home just for the weekend because it works out that I only get about 36 hours there so it's normally pointless. However, this was special occasion. It was my Gran's 72nd birthday. Also, all of our immediate family came to my mum's house for a bit of a party so I would have hated missing it.

Altogether there was thirteen of us, my gran, my mum, her two sisters and their partners and kids. I say kids but the youngest one is nearly 13 and the oldest is 24. I wonder when we'll stop being 'the kids'. Probably when we have kids of our own! My brother, myself and two of my cousins are really close. We spent a lot of time together when we were growing up and we are basically all brothers and sisters. We get on so well, most of the time, and we can really have a laugh together.

We don't all get together as often as we should, I think the last time we were ALL there was about a year ago but my Gran loves it so much when we're all under the same roof. We told her she was like the Don, sitting around with her family proudly and her chest puffed out. We are her achievements in life though. She didn't really climb the career ladder, she was a housewife when her children were young so we are the thing which she's put her life into, her family. She enjoyed the whole day. All of the women in the family can talk for Britain and I don't think the boys get a word in edgewise sometimes but they're used to it by now.

It was also nice to see Oscar, my Gran's puppy, again. I hadn't seen him for four weeks, since I was last home, and he has grown quite a lot! The one thing I hadn't counted on though was her utter devotion to him. When I gave him to her I knew that she would enjoy his company and like going for walks with him but she is absolutely besotted. She took him off on their own in the living room for a while so her could 'have a nap', she held him whilst we were eating AND fed him at the table when she thought nobody was looking. I'm telling you, if that had been one of us with our dogs she'd have killed us!! My mum and her sisters have all had dogs for a long time and we've been trying to persuade her to get one for a while and I think it has been one of the best decisions she's ever made.

It astounds me how attached people become to their pets. At the end of the day they're just animals, but it doesn't stop them worming their way into your heart. When our old dog died eighteen months ago we were devastated and the house seemed so quiet even though we still had two other dogs. We still talk about him almost everyday now, we grew up with him and loved him with all our hearts. I'm just glad that she's so happy with her new baby (her words, not mine!).

I gave her a crocheted blanket. I'd been working on it for about nine months and I was really pleased with how it turned out. It was the first big(ish) blanket I've ever made so it was a learning curve, there are definitely things I would do differently next time, but all in all I was pleased with it. My Gran loved it which was the main thing, she wore it around her, and Oscar of course, for the rest of the day. Here's a sneak peek at it but I'll be doing a full post on how I made it another day :)

I hope you've all had a lovely weekend and you have a great week ahead of you :)

Monday, 9 September 2013

My Week #6

Yet again, another week which has been crazily busy. I apologise for the lack of posts.

Last Tuesday I had asked previous Great British Bake Off contestant Holly Bell a few questions which she was kind enough to answer. You can see that post here.

I had a busy weekend. I went to a friend's house for a few (much needed!) drinks on Friday after work and on Saturday it was an au-pair friend's birthday so six of us went out for a meal and drinks. We went to Wahaca, a Mexican restaurant in Soho. It was really busy when we got there so we had a few drinks in the bar downstairs first. They serve tequila cocktails (alongside Mexican beers and other cocktails), they were so strong! Usually cocktails just taste like juice to me but I could definitely taste the alcohol. They were nice, I had a grapefruit one which was really refreshing and a passion fruit one which was nice and sweet, but I don't think I would have them again. The decor was really cool, empty tequila bottles on shelves, chairs suspended from the ceiling and chain link curtains gave it a really Mexican but modern and unusual feel.

We sat at a table for six, it was plenty big enough for us all to sit around it comfortably. We ordered and the food came pretty quickly which was good because we were all starving by then. There was about 10 minutes between the first dish coming out and the last dish being served though so some people had to start their meals before some of the others had anything. I ate the grilled steak tacos, the black bean and cheese quesadillas and the sweet potatoes, the food was divine. It was slighty spicy, enough so that your lips burn from the heat but not too much, the flavours were delicious and the service was quick. I asked for a glass of tap water and the waiter came back in about a minute with glasses for the whole table. I was so full, I really shouldn't have had dessert but they had churros with chocolate sauce which I really could not resist. I was definitely right to have them. YUM! All together, including a nice cool Corona to wash it all down, my bill came to around £22 which I thought was excellent value for a Central London restaurant. It is a chain but it feels so individual and with those prices I wasn't really going to turn my nose up. The music was quite loud, meaning you had to shout across the table if you were talking to each other but other than that a great place.  I would definitely return. In fact, there was lots of cool, unusual looking places to eat around that area in Soho, if you are looking for somewhere new then maybe go for a browse.


I went on a date this week to the cinema to see The Conjuring. I enjoyed it, there was some really jumpy bits and there was quite an interesting story line which is what I like in a horror film.

I'm working on a pretty exciting (if incredibly lame!!) Harry Potter knitting project at the moment so watch this space!!

I was featured in Bonjour, Blogger's Saturday Summary, which you can see here. How exciting! I keep forgetting that people actually read what I am writing! And I hope you're enjoying it. A couple of people have come up and started a conversation with 'I saw on your blog' which is pretty surreal, and brilliant :)


I have just booked tickets to see Blood Brothers AGAIN!! This will be my fourth time. It is an unbelievably good musical, I love it. It's definitily one of my favourites, if not my all time favourite. This will be the third Nolan sister I've seen playing Mrs Johnston. I am excited.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

An Interview With Holly Bell - The Great British Bake Off

The Great British Bake Off is a programme which is becoming more and more popular as each series comes around. Two weeks ago the first episode of the fourth series aired and had around 6 million viewers, a programme best. It was also reported that there was a baking sales boom in the run up to GBBO as bakers stocked up on ingredients and equipment with which to create their own yummy goodies. I've followed it since the first series, I love cuddling up on an Autumnal evening with a cup of tea and a few choice biccies. There's just something about it's sweet, homely but still stressful and competitive style. I suppose I feel about GBBO how other people feel about the X Factor and I am not ashamed to admit it!!


Holly Bell, a finalist from series two, very kindly agreed to let me interview her. Holly is a young mum of two boys who lives in Leicester. She writes an absolutely hilarious blog called Recipes From A Normal Mum which is the perfect mix of funny life and parenting observations and nice things to cook and bake. Since being on GBBO Holly has worked with Sainsburys and QVC creating tasty recipes and presenting videos. She has also written a cook book called Ready, Steady, BAKE!. It's in E-book form and is available from Amazon.

Here's Holly in action, giving some great tips on how to ice a cupcake.

Everyone seemed to get on so well in your series of GBBO, did you get to spend much time socialising off camera? Are you still in touch with anyone?
Some of us did socialise and some of us didn't. I have always been someone who deals with stress by talking about it so I was keen to go out and let my hair down after filming. I also like eating out! So myself, Rob, Ian and the lovely Jo always went out for dinner somewhere and *may* have sunk a few glasses of wine too. I am still in touch with pretty much everyone, in particular Jo, who I meet up with and talk to regularly.
Mary and Paul seemed really helpful and knowledgeable. Did you get to speak to them much off camera?
I'm afraid they weren't allowed to talk to us off camera - and if they tried to they got in lots of trouble. Mary would often try and give us hints to improve our bakes and would then be told off by the crew. I wish they had been allowed to help - there may have been less disasters. Though I guess the programme wouldn't have been as entertaining!
Mel and Sue are the hilarious presenters of GBBO but they give a lot of emotional support to the bakers as well as comic relief. Would you say that they helped you when you were stressed or upset?
Mel and Sue are both incredibly kind and generous souls, very sweet to anyone having issues and always there for a bit of banter and chat when we all needed to lighten up and remember that no-one's life was on the line - it was only baking after all. Sue was especially kind to me when I cried at the quarter final and gave me perspective on the situation.
Do you have a favourite recipe or signature bake which you most enjoy making? Do your children have a favourite recipe?
I love baking anything that others like to eat - I guess if pushed I'd say a lemon drizzle cake. Everyone seems to love it and it's incredibly easy. My eldest son love cupcakes, oaty biscuits and anything with sprinkles on top! My youngest does not really have a sweet tooth. He'll eat very dark rich chocolate cake but other than that he's a savoury man, so cheese straws, pastry and pies are his favourites.
I've seen, via Twitter and Facebook, that you're really excited for this series of GBBO. Has anybody caught your eye already as being a potential finalist?
I think they're all marvellous - I liked Lucy a lot in week 1 but obviously she didn't make it through week 2. Frances is very creative, I wish I had half as good ideas as her. Kimberley seems to have great tech ability. It's very hard to say at this stage. If you look at past years winners, it's often people who have had a few ups and downs who really shine as their confidence grows towards the end of the competition. So frankly, anyone could be the winner!
Do you find it hard juggling work, your home life and your two boys?
Like any normal Mum who juggles work, kids, the house, a relationship and friends, something has to give. I am not superwoman, nor would I want to be! I am not very house proud, which helps. My tolerance for mess and disarray is pretty high.And I get a lot of help - my Mum and Dad help me a lot with the boys when I am working. My husband does pretty much all the ironing and my boys are already trained to tidy up after getting all their toys out.
I've never understood why anyone would try and do everything in a household. It's just not possible. Of course if I won the lottery I'd employ a cleaner, gardener and maybe even someone to help with the ironing. (Probably ought to start playing it to be in with a chance of winning!)

Follow Holly on Twitter, like her on Facebook and have a look at her blog :)
The Great British Bake Off Series Four Episode Three - Desserts is on BBC2 Tonight at 8pm

Monday, 2 September 2013

My Week #5

Last week seemed so long! It was only four days because of the bank holiday but it just went so slowly. Autumn is well and truly on its way. The mornings have still been sunny and warm but there is a crispness creeping in which makes me excited for Christmas! I know, its way too early to be thinking about the old Crimbo but I do need to start sorting out my Christmas crafts. 

I found this great blog from the Travelettes. My wanderlust is always there, bubbling away under the surface but this post made it erupt. I want to travel so badly, this post made me want it so much more. Some of the points are really funny and some are a bit more heartfelt but it was a really good read.

I had an interview with Cathy Glass! I was so excited, she is one of my favourite authors and a big inspiration. If you missed it you can read it again here. Keep a look out on this blog because I have a few more really interesting blogs lined up for the coming weeks.

I also went to the Harry Potter Studios. It was amazing. Here's the post if you didn't catch it the other day.

Whisks, Hooks and Books also has a brand new Facebook page! Head on over to to like us :)

Well, it's only a quick one tonight but I'll be posting a few exciting things this week including an interview with a previous contestant on the Great British Bake Off! Keep an eye out. And I hope this week is a great one for you.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour

On a delayed train between Manchester and London the image of an eleven year old wizard with a lightening shaped scar on his forehead popped into a woman's mind. That woman was of course J.K.Rowling and that boy was Harry Potter. The first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was released in 1997 and ever since then the world's love of this young wizard and his creator has been growing and growing.

I have always loved the Harry Potter books. I was six when the first one came out and I remember adoring it. Over the years as Harry, Ron and Hermione grew up, so did I and the Harry Potter series really does remind me of my childhood. There are many, many happy memories attached to the novels. The films came out and even though I didn't enjoy them as much as the books they were still good. The story line is magical no matter if its on paper or a screen. So, when I saw an leaflet for the Harry Potter Studio Tours around a year ago I knew that it would be very high on my list of places to visit in London.

 I was a bit worried. I was so excited to go and I had built it up so much in my head, would it be a total let down? Would I be disppointed? Well, the short answer is no I bloody wasn't.

The studios are in Watford, I needed to take two buses and two trains, and because I was quite nervous about missing my allocated time slot I left really early. It wasn't needed, door-to-door the whole journey took me around one and a half to two hours. There is a regular shuttle bus which operates from Watford station so I rode this to the studios, they played Harry Potter music the whole way there and I really felt like I was going to Hogwarts!

The outside of the tour didn't really look like anything special. It basically just looked like a massive aircraft hanger with some Harry Potter artwork on the outside, but I wasn't expecting a scale model of Hogwarts so it's okay. There were some original chess pieces outside though.

I collected my ticket, it had a Mandrake on it and I thought that was a strange Harry Potter creature to have on all the tickets. Then I saw the someone had Fawkes!! I must say that I did feel rather cheated at getting a Mandrake, hehe. I also paid for an audio guide. It was like an iPhone with a case and headphones, and a lanyard so you could wear it around your neck. It was really good and had loads of extra information on it. A lot of these audio guides just repeat the information which is already written down but this didn't do that. I paid £4.95 for it and it was definitely worth it in my opinion.

After queuing, we went through to a room where a member of staff spoke to us, told us a little more about Harry Potter and the experience we would be getting that day. We then went through to a room with a big screen where we watched a film which had more information about the background of the Harry Potter films, the more 'behind the scenes stuff'. From here we went through the Hogwarts main doors and into the Great Hall.

The member of staff talked throughout the time we were in this room, telling us interesting facts about some of the props, the room's role in the films and some information about the actors. We then went through to the first section of the tour and we were left totally to our own devices, we could take as long as we wanted to look at everything. There was a mixture of rooms from the films which had been set up identically, Hagrid's hut, Snape's dungeon, Dumbledore's office, there was costumes, hair and make-up displays, and there were props displayed on their own. There was such a wide range and eclectic mix of items from the films.

Umbridge's Educational Decrees

The Invisibility Cloak

The Triwizard Cup and the Golden Egg

Triwizard Cup

Dumbledore's Office

Potion Ingredients

Animal Actors Who Played Hedwig

Animal Cages in Hagrid's Hut

The Door to the Chamber of Secrets

The Door to the Chamber of Secrets

Mad-Eye Moody's Trunk

Death Eater Mask

Death Eaters Including Bellatrix Lestrange, Lord Voldemort, Lucius Malfoy and Draco Malfoy

Magic is Might Statue

A Selection of Dolores Umbridge's Outfits

Ministry of Magic Floo Fireplaces

An Original, Handwritten Letter First Received by Harry

Ron's Howler
You were then directed outside into a large courtyard which contained a small number of food outlets, a butterbeer stand and some more of the larger props.

 I had some butterbeer! I am very pleased with this fact. It was delicious, the 'head' of the beer was so sweet and tasted like caramel and butterscotch which I expected but the liquid was cold and fizzy. It tasted like caramel too so it was a little bit weird at first. It was really nice one I'd gotten used to it. It was quite expensive, £2.95 for a plain plastic beaker of the butterbeer. I paid £2 extra to have it in a tumbler which I could take home. They even had a little 'tankard wash' so you didn't have to put the sticky cups in your bags, great idea!

The Wooden Bridge

The Knight Bus

Tom Riddle's Grave

4 Privet Drive
 The last part of the tour was smaller than the first. It was made up of a creature shop, which had many of the dummies, prosthetics and models used in the films. There was also a big set of Diagon Alley with the shop windows all decorated. One of the staff members was doing a demonstration on how they got the 'Lumos' spell to work in the films, it was interesting. They had then displayed lots of the drawings and models which the film crew had used to design the final image of the set.

Nearly Headless Nick

Gringotts Goblins

Hungarian Horntail

Rest In Peace Dobby!

Aragog and the Basilisk


Diagon Alley

Ollivander's Wand Shop 
Diagon Alley's Entrance Behind the Leaky Cauldron

The Weasley's House Sketches 

The Shell Cottage Paper Model
I thought that this was the end of the tour and to be honest it was a bit of an anti-climax. Then I walked around the corner...

It was so beautiful. I cried. Again. It was amazing. This is the model which they used to film most of the exterior shots of Hogwarts.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the day. The place was exceptionally clean, the toilets were immaculate and I hardly saw a piece of litter throughout the whole day. I hadn't realised how much detail had gone into the film sets. There was fake lichen put on one house, who would have seen it in the film?? In Ollivander's wand shop there was over 5,000 individually boxed wands and each had a handwritten label. Incredible. Yes, it was expensive. I went on my own so it wasn't too bad but if I'd paid for a family ticket plus all the extras on top then it would have been extortionate but no-one's forcing you to buy anything other than the tickets, you don't have to so I don't see why people complain. The gift shop had some nice things but they were also crazily overpriced in my opininon. I bought a keyring and two postcards, that was all. This was one of the best things I've done in London, it was great. I would thoroughly recommend it, it was totally worth the money and I would definitely go again. I was a bit worried that now I know how they did some of the effects and costumes the Harry Potter series would lose some of its magic but it hasn't at all. If anything seeing how much everyone loves the series, even the directors, producers, costume designers, everyone who worked on the films, has only reinforced the magic and childhood memories which these books and films induce. Sorry that this post is a bit 'photo heavy' but it was really hard to decide which pictures to include and which not to, it was all so great!