Wednesday 27 June 2018

Leo Turns 7

7th Birthday Balloon

7 years have gone by oh so very fast. 

Each year it feels like the world speeds up a notch and the years roll by even faster. Never did I imagine that the little baby I brought into the world all of 5 minutes ago (because that is quite honestly how it feels...) would grow up on me and turn 7 years old.

That little baby who used to wake me up multiple times a night for a bottle and a cuddle, now climbs right into bed next to me and curls up into a little ball. Every once in a while I will catch a glimpse as his beautiful face lights up into a sleepy smile. 

That little baby who couldn't speak a single word has amassed the wealth of a dictionary and now talks my ears off on a daily basis. 

Broadway Tower - Cotswolds

It's pretty crazy to think about how far we have both come over the last 7 years, we are on this journey together. I make mistakes. Many mistakes but I think he knows that even when I do get things wrong, I am always trying my best for him, and for us. 

Like that time a few short weeks ago when I called him 'baby boy' in front of all his friends in the classroom, a term that is perfectly acceptable at home... But by no means in front of his friends. Boy did I get a stern look for that, but he didn't let it phase him and he rode out the short haul of taunts that flew his way, even if he did look a little red in the face. 

I promised to try and not do it again, but a week later I did it again... Sorry Leo.

7th Birthday Balloon

We are at the age where everything has to be on his terms. The 50 kisses I used to get in the playground have dwindled, and these days I have to grab a stealthy kiss as you run off without glancing back at me. 

It's pretty incredible what changes over the course of a single year isn't it?

This year you really have become so much more confident in doing things for yourself, and I have struggled to stand back and let you shine on your own. You don't always need me to run in and fight all of your battles for you, you like to do these things for yourself. Just remember little man, your mother battleship is always there if you need to call her into battle. 

All you have to do is shout.

Broadway Tower - Cotswolds

You didn't ask for much at all for your birthday, in fact the only thing you asked for was a Gameboy. You are so into your Nintendo items right now, and you have amassed quite a collection, and that is purely why you wanted the old console, to add it to your ever expanding Nintendo treasure trove. 

As we are sticklers for tradition we booked a table at Frankie and Benny's as we do each and every year. We celebrated your special day just as you wished, and judging by how much you thanked your Daddy and I over and over, it is safe to say you had a fantastic day.

You thanked me again and again, and when I told you that you didn't need to thank me as you had already done so, you simply said 'Thank you for everything Mummy', and those magical words simply melted me.

Happy Birthday beautiful boy, we are all so proud of the little man that you have become, and I know that this year ahead is only going to make us even prouder.

Tuesday 19 June 2018

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Goblet of Fire Feature - Review

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour - Hogwarts Castle

Leo is just about to turn 7 years old, and it seems rather crazy to think that my little blog baby has grown up so much, and it's just as crazy to think that my blog is the same age! Over the last 7 years I have shared so much of myself and my blue eyed boy here, and I love that all of those memories are safely tucked away.

Just over a week ago we took a family visit to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour to experience their latest feature: The Goblet Of Fire. The Goblet Of Fire experience commenced on the 30th March 2018 and runs through to September 23rd 2018.

If like myself, you have visited more times than you can count on your fingers.... You will still go along and see so much for the first time. This was Leo's second visit, and on the run up to our visit we worked our way through the first 4 films all over again. I wanted Leo to come along and have everything in the very forefront of his mind. I wanted him to be able to recognise what he saw on screen in the studios, because after all that is what it is all about. 

It's been 2 years since Leo's first visit, it was nice to see that he had retained many of the memories he made even after all this time. The tour starts as it has always done, only this time while you are lining up in reception you can feast your eyes upon the very large Goblet of Fire that has taken up residence there.

Ok... So before I go into our most recent visit, all I am going to say is... I hope you like photos. I have so much I want to share with you, so sit back and prepare yourselves for photo spam!

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Goblet of Fire Feature

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Goblet of Fire Feature

You are then taken into a side room where you are shown a history of the Harry Potter series and how Potter mania was born, once this wraps you are taken into a cinema screening, and this is where the real fun begins. I never like to give to much away on this front because I will never forget that initial WOW factor I felt when I first visited... I would hate to take that away from any of you!

Just trust me, you will not be dissapointed!

Once the cinema screening wraps your first point of official set touring is within the.... *Drum Roll*.... Great Hall! This set is not to be underestimated, it is incredible. The floors are solid slabs and the attention to detail is second to none. 

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Goblet of Fire age line

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Goblet of Fire age line

You look up expecting to see a bewitched ceiling (which of course isn't there), but the rest of the room is exactly as you see it in the films. As everything is set up for The Goblet of Fire, you will find the special effects version here, and you will even get your own demonstration, so that you can witness how the cup drew the names. You will even get your own parchment to take away with Harry Potter's name on it!

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Goblet of Fire Feature

Fact: There were 2 versions created of the Goblet of Fire. The original goblet was handcrafted by head prop maker Pierre Bohanna. This was crafted from one single piece of wood. A mould was then taken from the original and the special effects version was made (You can see the original goblet on the tour).

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Great Hall

I loved that they had even set up the age line around the goblet and had the Weasley twins trying to put their own names into the cup. You could quite easily spend all your time in this one set, but your time in this room goes very quickly, as the next set of people on the tour have to come in. We moved on into the next part of the tour at this point and I was impressed to see just how different it all was to the last time I went along.

Some of the props and arrangements that have always had a place were still there, but it was nice to see that they had been refreshed or had some additional details added.

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Goblet of Fire Feature

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Goblet of Fire Feature

You will recognise this from the Yule Ball in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I have always been impressed by this particular piece.

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Goblet of Fire Feature

Remember when Harry Potter receives the egg from the dragon in the first challenge of the Triwizard Tournament? You will recall that Cedric Diggory gives Harry the heads up about taking the egg with him for a relaxing bath. These are the Prefect's bathroom taps complete with the multi-coloured water from the 53 spouts! 

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Goblet of Fire Feature

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Goblet of Fire Feature

The original Goblet Of Fire: It was carved out of one single piece of wood that was specifically chosen for its twists and knots!

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Philosopher's Stone

In all my visits I had never come across the Philosopher's stone before, I loved this cabinet that was full of little trinkets from the films. You will even spy a Rememberall to the very back left of the below photograph!

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Goblet of Fire Feature

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: Triwizard Egg

The egg Harry retrieved from the dragon in the first Triwizard challenge.

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: Triwizard Egg

Harry Potter Studio Tour: Gryffindor Common Room

Leo inspects the Gryffindor common room at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Harry Potter Studio Tour: The Womping Willow

The magical car that almost had Harry and Ron exposed to the muggle nation in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is set up against the green screen to show it's encounter with the womping willow!

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets door

Another favourite from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: Many people thought that the door to the chamber of secrets was in fact a computerised effect... But as you can see, that is not the case. It is a real work of art.

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: Tom Riddle's Grave

Now here is a pretty cool aspect for those of you who are really into your dark arts or have a secret (or not so secret) soft spot for the Dark Lord. Tom Riddle's grave is on display at the studio tour and it really does have to be seen to be appreciated. 

Leo really threw himself into our most recent visit to the studio, and for me that just makes me so happy. Leo can often hold himself back from experiences because he feels unsure about them, you could say that he over thinks the scenarios that he faces. This really does make me feel sad at times because I know that deep down he really does want to take part. 

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: Broomstick ride

He had talked about going on a broomstick against the green screen, but he didn't want to dress up. In fact it wasn't just that he didn't want to, he was going to point blank refuse. When the time came though, he slipped on his Slytherin robes (his choice of house no less), and he rode that broomstick like he was a pure blood wizard. 

And doesn't that smile speak volumes? I know it sounds crazy to be proud of your muggle son for riding a green screen broom, but on that day he overcame obstacles and stopped caring what everyone thought for a moment. At that precise moment in time he was as carefree as any other boy his age. 

With our green screen photos under our arms we moved toward the Forbidden Forest. Luke and I had both come along just before it opened to the public last year, but for Leo this was the highlight of his visit, and we hadn't even got all the way through the gates before he was telling me just how cool it was!

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Forbidden Forest Gates

Now I know that Hippogriffs are entirely a creation from J.K Rowlings imagination, but seriously.. How cool is Buckbeak? Leo was convinced that he was real, and reluctantly edged closer so I could snap the picture below, all was good until Buckbeak moved his head forward, which of course caused Leo to jump right out of the way! I am still not convinced that Leo doesn't believe it was just an animatronic model...
 The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: Buckbeak the Hippogriff

Another highlight from the Forbidden Forest was the spiders... You MUST go along and see Aragog.... and prepare yourselves for a jump or two. I am absolutely gutted that I didn't capture Leo's reaction on film!

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: Arragog

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: Arragog

Leaving the spiders far... far behind us we made our way through to Platform 9¾. 

On our last visit this had been the absolute honey pot for Leo, but I think this time it came a close second to the Forbidden Forest. 

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Hogwarts Express

We tried are darndest but unfortunately we are all muggles through and through.

Harry Potter Studio Tour: Platform 9¾

So instead we focused our efforts on simple muggle opportunities (maybe that is why there are so many photographs in today's blog post!).

Harry Potter Studio Tour: Platform 9¾

We tried Butterbeer, and Leo decided that it is nice but the best bit is the frothy top.

Harry Potter Studio Tour: Butterbeer at the Backlot Cafe

And finally we made our descent from the castle, preparing ourselves to walk back into the muggle world. I may or may not have got very excited to spot the Beauxbatons carriage complete with their winged horses flying in to Hogwarts ready for the Triwizard games!

Harry Potter Studio Tour: Beauxbatons carriage

Harry Potter Studio Tour: Beauxbatons carriage

I particularly loved this shot because you can barely see the wires holding it in place. 

Platform 9¾

I will finish this post with a photo of Luke having way to much fun with the baggage trolley...

It was yet another incredible visit, we all had the most amazing time (even Luke who hates to admit it!), and we WILL be returning again. 

Disclaimer: We were invited along to the Goblet of Fire feature and provided with entry and a few other little goodies. All views and opinions expressed within this post are completely honest and my own.