Saturday, 28 November 2015

Oxford University

 My uncle knew about my absolute love for Harry Potter, so he kindly booked me a Bed & Breakfast in Keble College, Oxford. Walking around Oxford University was so bizarre to me. It truly felt like I was stepping foot into a movie with people wearing robes, riding bicycles and using satchels. The Architecture and history of Oxford is extremely fascinating as well. What caught my eye was how hardworking the students were. You'd find them studying in every nook and cranny, even the local pub. I was a little amazed that the employees working in McDonald's wore a tie when all I wore was a polo shirt and a sports cap back when I worked there. During my stay, I discovered that a lot of the filming for Harry Potter was done in Oxford, hence why my Uncle booked me a night there. It was so spectacular to see that hardly any 'movie magic' was actually needed as the architecture and atmosphere was already close to perfect. 

I took the photo above just outside Christ Church College. It was founded in 1379 making it older than six hundred years old. I thought this was such a classic UK photo of a beautiful cottage styled building and a lovely garden.
This picture was also taken at Christ Church College founded in 1546. It's their great hall which had been set up for a special event that evening. The great hall in Harry Potter was actually inspired by these halls found in Oxford University.
One of the many chapels found within the colleges' of Oxford University.
Do you recognise these stairs?

"Welcome to Hogwarts. Now, in a few moments you will pass through these doors and join your classmates. But before you take your seats, you must be sorted into your houses. They are Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Now while you’re here your house will be like your family. Your triumphs will earn you points. Any rule breaking and you will lose points. At the end of the year, the houses with the most points is awarded the house cup."

Did that quote trigger any memories for you? These are the very stairs that McGonagall stood on while welcoming Harry and his classmates to Hogwarts. They're also the stairs where Harry officially became enemies with Malfoy when he refused to shake his hand.
This photo was taken in New College but you might know it better as the Hogwarts Cloister's. On the right of the picture under that tree is where Malfoy was turned into a ferret. It's also where Cedric Diggory told Harry that the prefects bathroom wasn't 'a bad place for a bath'.

If you're a Harry Potter fan, add Oxford to your bucket list now! There's also a lot of walking tours you can join to learn about this history of the place while getting some good photos. There's also the Hospital Wing you can visit from Harry Potter which doubled as the classroom. I also visited the Bodleian Library which has a copy of every single english book every published. It is also the location of where they filmed the Hogwarts library. There too are books locked to chains just like the restricted section!

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Warner Bros Studio Tour

This morning I got up at about 6:30am, had a shower and then quickly had my breakfast because there was a bus waiting to pick me up at 7:30am to to take me to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Leavesden, London. You have no idea how long I've been waiting for this moment. I even packed my Gryffindor scarf and deathly hallows necklace so I could walk around looking like a complete bookworm. The whole experience was brilliant and I learnt and experienced so many crazy things, such as riding a broomstick and watching animatronics come to life.

It started off with us all sitting in a little theatre watching Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson giving a warm welcome. I'm not going to lie, my eyes teared up a little out of pure joy! Soon I found myself wondering the great hall and hearing the beautiful music of Harry Potter that filled my childhood. I also took the opportunity to try a cup of butterbeer which delighted my sweet tooth very nicely. It was really fascinating to watch the clips of how intricate the making of Buckbeak and the other creatures were. Warwick Davis was absolutely hilarious to watch and made it all very engaging.

I loved walking through Diagon Alley as well as seeing the Hogwarts Express, a newly added section. I got my picture taken at Platform 9¾ as well as riding a broomstick over Hogwarts! At the end of the tour you get to see a spectacular massive Hogwarts model. The detailing they put into Harry Potter is what amazed me the most. The effort was 110%. They even built props like the back room of Dumbledores office which was never shown in the movies just to help create the atmosphere.

I really commend Warner Bros. for doing this as I honestly had the most magical day. It wasn't just some boring museum you could go and visit, it felt like you were part of it and everything about it was perfect. The staff were really friendly too and were willing to help you take a photo and answer any questions. I could write a whole lot more about this but I don't want to spoil anything! I'm still so thrilled I got to spend the day.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Edinburgh Castle

This morning I had to wake up at 5am while it was still dark and gloomy because I was travelling to Edinburgh Castle! Unfortunately, it remained pretty gloomy for the rest of the day but that didn't stop me for exploring such an beautiful city. I was just here for the day so I spent most of my time exploring Edinburgh Castle. It was a lovely experience to learn the history of the castle and to just get a general feel of Edinburgh.

The plane ride was only one hour and I didn't need to bring any luggage with me so that all went very smoothly. From the airport, I caught a bus which took me right to city about a 20 minute walk away from Edinburgh Castle. It was funny walking around all the tourist shops that were selling kilts because my high school uniform was a kilt and I kept seeing the exact pattern everywhere. I really love tartan and plaid so I was really in heaven just walking around. I even got to have a look at a tartan making factory which was pretty fascinating. 

By about 5:30pm, it was time for me to head back to the airport and journey my way back to London. I'd love to come back in the summer one day and stay for a few days. 

If you want to see more photos I took of my whole UK visit, I've started uploading some onto my Flickr page: Here

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Many years later

In the first picture, I had just celebrated my fifth birthday and was at my grandparents house. Now fifteen years later after no contact with my extended family, I've finally been reunited! It was so strange walking back into that house. Everything seemed so much bigger and higher from a child's perspective. It was so lovely to see pictures of all my cousins hung on the walls to fill in the gaps of my memory. For dinner last night, I had potatoes, vegetables with chicken and lemon tart for pudding. My first home cooked english meal in a long time. Hopefully it won't be another fifteen years until I set foot again to that house!

I'm currently sat on the train to Cornwall, a five and a half hour journey. Thankfully there's scarce bits of wifi and a charging port on the train. Unfortunately, with all the hustle and bustle of lugging my suitcase around, I've forgotten to bring food with me so now all I have is a packet of tic-tacs. Hopefully, a food trolley will come down sooner rather than later. I must say, the view is absolutely gorgeous, lots of rural farming areas and small english cottages. With all the sheep I've passed, I'm surprised I haven't fallen asleep yet! Also, the sun is beginning to lower and will probably set in an hour or two so I'll hopefully get a lovely view of that!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Day of the Bridges

Day two was much better after some good food and a nice shower, even though I did wake up at 3am. I walked by the River Thames and across all the bridges; Tower Bridge, London Bridge, The Millennium Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge, Waterloo Bridge and the Westminster Bridge. All in all, a lot of walking and probably not the best thing to do with two stress fractures in my legs. Westminster Bridge actually reminds me a lot of Southbank Melbourne and the bridge that crosses the Yarra River.  (I feel like I've overused the word bridge!) My mum actually told me when I was young and sat in my pram, she pushed me across one of the bridges and I asked her if London Bridge was falling down and proceeded to sing the song. At the end of the day, I rode a ferry along the river. A good opportunity to sit down and ease my aching feet!

Tower Bridge was gorgeous and is such an iconic monument of London!
This photo makes me smile. I call it 'Guards off Duty'. They were suppose to be listening to a speech but all looked rather bored. They kept turning around to watch all the people walking past behind them. Such a contrast to the guards that can't be phased by anything!
The Millennium Bridge to mark the year 2000. Does it seem familiar? It's the bridge that is destroyed by death eaters in Harry Potter. It's actually nicknamed the 'Wobbly Bridge' because the day it was open, it was closed an hour later because it swayed a foot either side. It was eventually reopened in 2002 after modifications were made.
Lastly, Trafalgar Square!

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

I'm in London

Apologies for having not blogged a while. My hotel has no internet and I finally figured out how to get my phone's hotspot working. I'm currently in the UK visiting my family for the first time in sixteen years! The last time they saw me, I was four years old which is absolutely crazy to think. So far I've been mostly around London. Yesterday I visited Edinburgh and tomorrow I will be making my way over to Oxford. Over the next few days, I'm going to start posting what I've been up too so it's not a massive overwhelming post. I think I've basically covered all of the tourist attractions in London so I'm having a bit of a relaxing day today. I've been to the London Eye, Big Ben, Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Kensington and Buckingham Palace and St. Paul's Cathedral. I've also walked around Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square. My legs are very tired!
I flew from Melbourne to Abu Dhabi, then Abu Dhabi to London. All in all, an unfortunate twenty hours too long! I arrived very early in morning with typical wet, foggy London weather. My hotels check in time was 2pm so I had to just walk around aimlessly for a few hours. At this rate I had probably slept four hours in the last two days! I was in complete awe at the beauty of Hyde Park and all it's autumn leaves. Who thought it was a good idea to plant evergreens all around Melbourne? It looks like summer all the time. I then walked through the Royal Gardens and found myself outside Buckingham Palace. This sounds crazy but I actually saw Prince William walk out of his car and into the Palace! I know you're all going to scream 'pics or it didn't happen'. I'm not a paparazzi and my hand was so shaken I took the blurriest picture of him.

So far, I've been loving London! It's so nice to be back in my home city and I can't wait to see my family in a couple of days!
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