Hello everyone! My name is Rebecca and I’m so happy to be
writing a guest post for you today!
I’m turning 28 this year, and like a lot of people my age, I
was BIG into Harry Potter as a kid. Midnight releases for books and movies, all
the merch, playing Harry Potter games with my sisters, the whole deal.
So when a good friend from University invited me to a
conference in London, England, I knew I would have to visit some Harry Potter attractions.
We had a busy trip, and while I didn’t make it to King’s
Cross Station (oh look, a great excuse to go back to England!) we did go to the
Warner Brother’s Studio Tour to see the sets and props used in the making of
And it was so worth it.
The Studio Tour is outside of London and the tube doesn’t run there. However, there are lots of travel packages that offer a bus to and from the tour, departing from convenient places around London (often near major hotels).
The only downside of taking the bus is that you have to
catch it to get back to the city! I could have stayed all day! That being said,
the timeframe that we had (approx. 3 hours) was reasonable and I never felt
like I had to rush by something super fast to be able to make the bus.
The tour is set up a bit like a museum; most of the items are behind railings so you can’t touch, and there are information sheets all over telling you about each item, and fun “behind the scenes” facts. There are also video clips playing – from the movies, as well as interviews with the cast and crew.
The tour begins in the Great Hall, as if you were a student arriving at Hogwarts for the first time!
One thing I appreciated was that there was no forced Sorting
ceremony. While this might be fun for some people, I know that for many adult
fans, we know our houses and definitely have strong house loyalty! (Team
The great hall was amazing, (the whole tour was) but there
were two instances in particular that gave me the WOW factor.
Do you remember in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
when Hagrid takes Harry to Diagon Alley for the first time ? That was a magical
scene in both the book and the movie, where you really get to experience the
magic of the wizarding world.
Walking into the set for Diagon Alley – it all came flooding
back. Suddenly I was 8 years old again reading my first Harry Potter book. That
magic and pure joy was truly something special.
The second location where I got that feeling was the
Hogwarts Castle room. This is where they have the model of the castle that was
used for all the external sweeping shots. You can see every tower, all the
grounds, Hagrid’s hut. I actually teared up a bit.
Aside from the marvel of all the sets and props, the staff were also amazing. In Ollivander’s wand shop, they’ve written the names of cast and crew on the wand boxes. When I was there, a staff member was sitting with a young child who was asking where all of the character’s wands were. And the staff member knew each one! She was using a laser pointer to indicate the appropriate wand boxes all around the room. I’m sure that was a special moment for that child, and the staff member sure made an impact on the guests!
I could go on all day, but I don’t want to spoil that
magical childhood transportation moment for anyone!
I would highly recommend this tour to any and all Harry Potter fans – no matter your age! I will note that part of the tour does go outside to the Knight Bus, Number Four Privet Drive, and a few other locations, so check the weather and bring a jacket if needed.
Thanks again to Jen, Eric, Dragon, and baby Pegasus for the opportunity to write for you today!
You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. email@example.com
I was recently made aware of a private club in London that was organizing Harry Potter themed dinner events on Fridays and Saturdays in August and September. Apparently they were so popular that they sold out, so the club has added more to fill up the rest of 2017.
The club’s name is The Library, and they are located at 112 St. Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden in Central London.
You can read more about the event here, including an abbreviated menu.
Are you interested in travelling to England? You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. firstname.lastname@example.org
Jasmine Murray-Bergquist is a costume designer, bookworm, amateur archer and all-around geek. Her body lives in Ottawa while her mind is consistently elsewhere. Her website can be found here, and you can follow her on Twitter!
April 21st, 2016. The 200th birthday of one of Haworth’s most famous residents. The eldest of her siblings who survived into adulthood, Charlotte Brontë lived at the Haworth parsonage with her family. She and her sisters Emily and Anne first published their poetry under the names Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, but they are best known for their novels Jane Eyre (by Charlotte), Wuthering Heights (by Emily), and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (by Anne). As a family of three girls, my sisters and I always felt a connection with the Brontës, so to be in Haworth for Charlotte’s birthday party made Karin and I absolutely giddy.
The walk into the village in the bright morning light was amazing. They had gone all out, with bunting strung across the street and people streaming up the main cobbled road to the parsonage where the festivities would take place. We were interviewed by the BBC (and the Ilkley Gazette) on our way in which added an extra level of excitement to the day – to be from a family of three girls as well as to have come all the way from Canada for this party made us rather interesting to the locals!
There was so much to see and do that day. There were performers reading poetry, a young class from the local school performed scenes from Jane Eyre, songs honouring the Brontës were performed, stories were read. The current local curate said a prayer, and Tracy Chevalier (novelist, co-curator of the events, and editor of Reader, I Married Him, a collection of stories inspired by Jane Eyre) laid a wreath at the front door of the house.
As things wound down, Karin and I went for a walk out over the moors behind the parsonage. As we took our first steps out onto the land, it made instant sense. We were breathing the inspiration for the books. It was in the wind, in the land, in the sky, in the rocks. We were walking with Jane and Catherine and Agnes Grey and Mr. Lockwood. The stubbled grass, cropped short by sheep, formed a patchwork of changing colour over the hills and crags.
We walked for miles, over the stone bridge crossing the stream, up to a quiet spot with stunning views down into a steep valley. Further west, silhouetted against the sinking sun, sat Top Withins. Dark and ominous even in ruin, the house that inspired Wuthering Heights was a sombre sight. I sat down on a nearby rock as Karin pulled out her fiddle to play. Her quick notes were carried on the wind back towards the village. Even after she lifted her bow, the wind carried on, being strong enough to vibrate the strings of the fiddle and make its own eerie song.
We walked back to the village in the gathering dark to find a pub for supper. As we waited for our food, Karin proposed something that John Keats had done with his friends: a poetry race. I felt somewhat out of my element, as I never write poetry while Karin writes some of the most wonderful poems I’ve ever read, but there was something about those moors that made me feel up for the challenge. Karin suggested the theme of Top Withins and with our drinks at our elbows, we set about writing.
The result surprised me in that we were both happy with our poems. I finished first, but I think Karin won for quality, hands down. After the trip, Karin submitted both our poems to the Brontë Society Gazette and they were accepted for publication, which is both exciting and confidence-inducing. I never considered myself much of a writer, but this trip spurred both my imagination and my faith in myself.
The next day got us to Sevenoaks, the hometown of our aunt, uncle, and cousins. Our aunt and one of said cousins accompanied us into London the next morning where our first goal was Keats House. It is a truly lovely museum in Hampstead. I thought I knew a fair amount about Keats through conversations with Karin, but I still learned a lot. The museum is very well designed, still looking as it did when Keats lived there, and leads you through his life from the time he moved in until his departure for Italy in an unsuccessful attempt to salvage his health and his untimely death at age 25.
Leaving Keats House and heading back into central London, we took a walk along the Thames past the Globe Theatre. Here’s the thing about me: I’m a geek about a good many things, and one of my biggest loves is Shakespeare. I read Shakespeare for fun. I read about Shakespeare. I watch movies of his plays and in which he is a character. I attended Shakespeare camp for years, performing in the plays, making my sisters and cousins put on the plays with me, and as an adult designing costumes for the plays. I’m a little obsessed, to say the least. So to be there during a week of Shakespeare celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary of his death was an awe-inspiring experience. The gates of the Globe were entwined with roses and all along the embankment were a series of screens playing scenes from film adaptations of his plays.
We ended our London day with supper at the historic Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. The pub was built in 1667, replacing the pub that was built in 1538 but destroyed in the fire of 1666. A winding warren of stone stairwells going deep underground, with low ceilings and gloomy corners, the place is simply dripping with atmosphere. It’s not surprise that so many authors frequented it. P. G. Wodehouse, Dr. Samuel Johnson, Mark Twain, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Charles Dickens were all regulars – Dickens even references it in A Tale of Two Cities. The food was delicious, the setting was fantastic, and the ghosts made for excellent company.
It was in London that Karin and I parted ways as she had to get back to school for exams, so I carried on west alone to Tintagel. Legendary site of King Arthur’s conception, Tintagel is a tiny village on the Atlantic coast of Cornwall. Craggy, windswept, wild, and stunningly gorgeous, I think I took more pictures there than anywhere else. I know I’m sounding repetitive but the whole place pulses with legend and folklore. The ruined castle on the headland, the caves beneath, the blending of history and myth, and the ever shifting weather create a level of mystique that I haven’t experienced anywhere else. If you ever can, you must go. Stand on the peak looking over the ocean. Let the wind sing in your ears and whip your hair. Let the voices of the past rise up from the sea and tell you their stories. There is no feeling like it.
I had one final stop on my literary tour of the UK – Stratford-Upon-Avon. Shakespeare’s birthplace. I arrived late at my bed and breakfast, but they directed me to The King’s Head, the inn where Shakespeare’s parents had their wedding supper.
The next morning, I woke up to the early morning sun filtering through crawling vines. The birds were singing boldly, a soft breeze was whispering through the leaves of the old oak tree outside, and the rooster out back was crowing in annoyance that people weren’t up and doing things yet. All the elements combined in such a way that I wrote a few more lines of poetry over breakfast, sending me off to Shakespeare’s birthplace museum with a spring in my step.
I thought my heart was going to explode when I saw the house itself. It felt like a homecoming. I felt like I knew Will Shakespeare, and he was welcoming me to his house. It was wonderful, and more emotional than it should’ve been. I spent a long time exploring the museum and grounds as well as the town itself. Walking in his footsteps gave me such a thrill.
I travelled home a few days later, but have thought about that trip every day since. Jen handling all the travel bookings took off so much stress so I could really enjoy myself. Travelling with my sister was so much fun it should be illegal. I was overseas for two and a half weeks and I feel as though I barely scratched the surface, but I came home so inspired, energized, and creatively renewed by everything I experienced, and I am forever grateful that I had such an incredible opportunity.
If you are interested in booking a trip like this. You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. email@example.com