The Making of Harry Potter

This week I went to the Making of Harry Potter which is on the actual lots where the films were shot out in Leavesden which is just outside of Watford. And it was amazing! I went with Twisted Alchemy so was in good company! There was so much to see that below is just a small portion of the things we saw....
The first set you enter is the Great Hall with Dumblore (well his costume) and many other characters at the front. No sorting hat mind, that was in Dumbledore's Office on a top shelf.
This is the Gryffindor Common Room with Hermonie and Harry's costumes.
With the infamous Christmas jumpers looking on
Dumbledore's Office. The attention to detail was incredible
As you can see there were lots of people there and sometimes it was a little bit of a scrum to see everything but all in all it wasn't too bad.
As already mentioned the attention to detail was incredible. Above are two of the portraits which cover Hogwarts. The left (I think) is made up and many were portraits of directors, producers etc painted in an old style and the right is a copy of the portrait of Mary I which can be seen in the National Portrait Gallery
The Death Eater masks were a little scary
Here is a sample of the letters Hogwarts initially send to Harry under the Stairs when he was old enough to go to Hogwarts. Some were printed, some were hand written (those to be in shot) and they then had to make a light weight version that the flying owls could actually carry!
Above relates to Quidditch which is a game I still don't really understand
Half way round there is chance for some refreshements and a sit down. Of course we had to have some Butter Beer which is essentially cream soda with a froth which had a mind of it's own and you had to slurp it quickly otherwise it would spill over the side of the glass. It was really nice but did make you feel a little sick afterwards, a bit like when you ate too many sweets as a kid. Glad I tried it though. And no, there is no alcholic content
Here is one of the giant Chess pieces. Unfortunately the background was awful for photos which was a real shame.
Here is the NightBus which looked deceptively narrow - and it did look as if it would fall over any minute. The problem with a cut and shut I suppose!
The prosthetics and special effects were phenomenal. Here is the giant that Harry and Ron had to fight in the girls loo in the first film (I think), or was it the second.... an early one anyway!
It may surprise you to know that Robbie Coltrane isn't 7ft in real life (I know - who knew!) and so many of the shots were of a very large rugby player wearing this mechanised head. Incredible.
One of the bankers from Gringotts.
And Dobby the House Elf
And this shows the insides and outside of Prof Lupin's head when he is a werewolf.

If you like Harry (or as most people who were there love, though I got a few stares when I confessed I haven'nt seen all the films, read the books mind!) this is well worth a trip. There was just so much to see I've not even scratched the surface! A few more photos also on my Flickr pages

In Bruges

When OH and I first started seeing each other he introduced me to the delights of the fantastic film 'In Bruges'. It was an amazing film and if you haven't see it you really should. Yes it's a black comedy and a few people die, but despite being the biggest scardy cat in the world I loved it!

I don't think I realised how beautiful Bruges was until I saw the film and knew I wanted to go. If you've read my holiday posts you realise that OH and I seem to find rain whenever we go on holiday in the UK so we thought a long weekend away might break our curse. And so we jumped on a train and in under 4 hours door to door we were 'In Bruges'. And wow what a city!
Once we'd arrived we went for a wander and the sky was so blue. The city seemed to be full of gold and age, literally as if we'd stepped back in time.
This became my favourite view throughout the city and ironically we nearly stayed in this hotel but missed out by one day as it ended up being fully booked.

This is the infamous Belfry where if you've seen the film Ken dies. It was over 300 steps up (and it was quiet narrow) but I made it and wow! What a view!

And here is the mechanism inside the Tower that plays amazing tunes such as 'Tulips of Amsterdam' every so often. Luckily (for the locals) the tunes are changed every two years.

Every street we went down (and we pretty much covered the central part of town) during our three day stay was beautiful. Even these Alms Houses were picture postcard with a beautiful garden in front.

Bruges is full of small canals that weave through the town so of course we had to do a boat trip which enabled you to see the town from a different angle. The downside to so many canals were the mosquitos. I ended up with at least 52 bites while OH got away with just two.... Sometimes life is so unfair!

But they did provide the most amazing reflections during the day.

Showed off the distinctive architecture
And was home to a wide variety of bird life (so I managed to get my water fowl fix on a daily basis!). Here is a swan feeder which is lowered down the side of the canal on a huge long chain. It must have weighed a ton to lower it down.

The architecture was amazing on the inside as well as the outside. This is the inside of the Basilica of the Holy Blood. In the distance of this shot you can just make out people lining up to pry in front of this relic which is a vile of Christ's Blood. We'd visited this thinking it was the Basilica mentioned in the film but alas although it was amazing and so vibrant they weren't allowed to film here.

Instead it was filmed in a church on the outskirts of the main city and is called 'The Jerusalem Church' as it's a copy of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.  It was an amazingly morbid place surrounded by skeletons and bones but also quite magical. By pure chance OH and I got chatting to someone we can only assume was the caretaker. He couldn't speak a word of English and our Flemish is poor to say the least, however we got by and understood most of what each other said. We were taken up the tower which is behind the screen you can see above behind the Three Crosses. Now when we told this story to the receptionist at our hotel his jaw literally dropped as he has never heard of anyone going up this tower so we were very lucky indeed.

So up and up OH and I go slightly worried that we were going up a very narrow and tall tower with a complete stranger (OH had watched Pulp Fiction the night before but we were pretty certain this guy was not called Zed) ....
And at the top we were greeted with this amazing view right at the top of  the tower which is topped by a huge wooden sphere which has panels which can be removed for a panoramic view with no restrictions of mesh (it was clear very few people came up this far  In the distance you can just make out the Belfry which we had gone up the previous day but the view up there was obscured by mesh.
Bruges has a ridiculous large number of churches, this one is called Church of Our Lady and apparently has a Michelangelo but I regret to report we didn't go inside this one. It was very imposing though and took over 200 years to build - can you imagine! That's certainly more than two life times...

So there is our trip to Bruges in brief (well almost briefly). You can see a few more photos on my Flickr pages as well which aren't included above. And guess what we did the weekend after we got back.... Yep we watched the film and it was even better! I can stress how great this was for a city break. I didn't even mention the train journey which included a double decker train!

A quick trip over the Thames

OK I am now behind with writing up posts. On Bank Holiday Monday, yes Bank Holiday Monday which was now a few weeks ago OH's dad was is town so we all went over to East London to go over the Thames on a cable car.

Now I must admit when OH mentioned this as a possible idea I'd never even heard of it! It's only recently opened (presumably for the Olympics) and it's great as you can use your Oyster card!
It was a long way down and you can see that the Thames is still working river
And the destination is the infamous O2 formerly know as the Millennium Dome
On the way down you see car rising back up over the river
All in all really not bad for £2!

And when we reached the other side we headed over to Greenwich where we saw the newly reopened Cutty Sark
A great preservation! And a great short day out. Shame the weather was so overcast but you can't have everything!