A Travel & Lifestyle Blog

Harry Potter Set Tour

Butterbeer anyone? 
Yes please! You'll either love it or hate it! It's quite sweet and frothy and...that's all I'm going to say, I don't want to spoil it for you. I loved it, in case you were wondering! 

Left: Gryffindor dorm.  Right: Gryffindor Common Room

Last Christmas part of my gift to my husband was a day out on the Harry Potter set, at Warner Bros studios in Watford. I never knew they were there! Driving up to the studios, we could see something like ruins with a lot of scaffolding around, "oh we're here!" I shouted, "they're building a new set" I was quite excited, how did this happen? This was supposed to be an exciting gift for him, because he's a big kid. 

The tour takes 3 hours, or so they say and although we laughed at first, we went in the Studios on a sunny Sunday afternoon at 5 and came out when it was already dark around 7:30. It all starts quite plainly, with a short movie presentation that makes you wonder what you are going to do for the next 2 hours and 50 minutes. And then...you enter Hogwarts. 

Left: Welcome to Hogwarts, the Main Gate.    Right: The Dinning Hall at Hogwarts
Left: An ice cream tower treat from Yulle Ball.  Right: Optical illusion prep, this whole structure is about 2 metres long in real life! 

The Main Dining Hall is quite surreal. You are in the movie set! You get to see how massive Rubeus Hagrit really was, in comparison to everybody else. They had a rugby player on mechanical stilts apparently, inside Rubeus's costume, for the shots. I got to think about  how many people were involved in a movie of this sort. It doesn't quite sink in, until you are standing there. When you leave the Dinning Hall it feels like you've been in a real life castle, with old-fashioned leaded windows and stone walls, only to turn around the corner and see all the scaffolding and plasterboards holding all this up. It's truly amazing how all of this came together. The preps were impressive too. So much work and effort, from mechanical engineers, to architects and electricians, just to get the little quirky details right, like the menacing Book of Monsters and the self-stirring pots & pans! Not to mention the needles knitting a lovely scarf...by themselves in the Weasley household or the self-packing trunk that belongs to professor Lupin. 

The only down point is that you cannot touch anything. Off course it makes sense that if the thousands of visitors mocked about with the props, they wouldn't be there for long.  But there are lovely sets like Dumbledore's study, set up as three interlocking circles, on three different levels which I'd personally love to walk into and explore. It is an interesting architectural setup, I'd like to explore in detail. Then there is Diagon Alley with the shops that every young wizard needs to visit. Again, imagine the artists and architects it took to built all this up, in such detail. I have to admit that the only thing that would have made this part better would be to have actors dressed up as characters from the shops, interacting with the visitors. 


Yule Ball Magic Potions Table

Diagon Alley

Left: Butterbeer moustache, had to be done!   Right: Wizards' Equipment shop in Diagon Alley


Outside, you get to hop on the triple-decker bus for "stranded wizards" and walk through the wobbly Covered Bridge...or part of it anyway. All of the scenery was put in afterwards, digitally. The kiddies loved going in and out of the blue flying Ford Anglia car. Oh yes, it's right there for you to take as many selfies as you like, predending you are driving... 
I don't want to give it all away, so I'll stop here. It's a tad on the expensive side, especially if you take the whole family, but if you've visited all of London's attractions and want something a bit different, this is a good way to pass a couple of hours. I'm not sure toddlers would find it interesting enough,  but kiddies aged around 8 and upwards, would have a good day out. 
Plus you will want to run straight back home and watch the movies all over again so you can constantly point at the tv to declare that: "I've been there"..."and there" and..."there"! x

Easy-peasy Weekend Outfit

Burberry Merino Wool Ruana (get it) // Loose Turtle Neck Sweater (get it) // St Andrews-Rose Gold Watch, by Daniel Wellington (get it) // Topshop Wide Brim Fedora (get it) // Jimmy Choo Anouk Suede Pumps (get it)

Have you got any plans for the weekend? It is off course Valentine's and you'll be thinking in all shades of pink and red, but here's something more subtle; for your Sunday brunch, say! 
 

Prawn Saganaki

Another Friday night favourite, for post-work, fast and yummy cooking.
Max out on the use of garlic and Ouzo as you please, go lighter with the Feta and you'll have a very tasty, utterly scoop-able combo, to dip your bread in.


Make this dish as expensive, or as cheap as you like, depending on what kind of prawns you get;
it works either way.
I'd say get larger prawns if you are making it as a starter, then every person gets a good-sized bite;
if you want to serve it as a main with rice, then you can go for smaller prawns.
 
I know the old rule: don't mix fish with cheese, but rules are meant to be broken ...with Feta and prawns, in this case. Or maybe it's the Ouzo that brings everything together; who knows, have a go and tell me what you think.


Prawn Saganaki for 2 people

- 250gr Prawns, peeled & uncooked
- Two Bell Peppers, washed, cored and cut lengthwise
- Two large, ripe tomatoes, chopped finely // or a tin of chopped tomatoes will also do, it's Friday night after all!
- One shot of Ouzo (don't be too precise with it!)
- Half a bulb of Garlic, peeled & grated
- 100gr Feta, crumbled
- Juice of Two lemons
- A teaspoon of cinnamon
- Salt & freshly grounded Pepper
- Olive Oil (about three tablespoons)

Warm the olive oil in a wide pan and add the peppers, the cinnamon and a touch of salt.
Fry the peppers for 3 minutes.
Halfway through frying, add the garlic. Garlic burns easily, so keep an eye.  
Add the tomatoes and cook them down for around 10 minutes in medium heat. If you are using fresh tomatoes add a tip of a teaspoon of sugar, it takes the acidity away.
 
Add in the prawns and cook until they turn nice and pink. It depends on their size but that can take between 4 - 7 minutes. Check for salt at this point and add some more, as you please.
 
Right at the end add the Ouzo and most of the Feta.
Play it by ear, don't stick to one shot of Ouzo, if you fancy going heavier with it, do it! Cook for a further two minutes, so that the alcohol doesn't evaporate completely and you'll still get the taste of aniseed. Also, the feta shouldn't dissolve completely.
You're done.
 
Squeeze the two lemons over the serving pot, which quite frankly should be the frying pan.
Finish off with the remaining crumbled Feta and generous sprinkle of freshly ground pepper.

Grab that corner of bread and attack!

This is meant to be eaten as a mezze with lovely, crusty bread, crisp white whine, or you guessed it, with Ouzo! For heaven's sake, don't do Ouzo shots though;
sip it slowly with ice or a splash of cold water... x
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