Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Orlando

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you'll already know that I spent the last week of October/beginning of November in Orlando, Florida. It was a long way to go for a week (and I do wish I could have spent longer there) but it was, so worth it. We booked the flights on Boxing Day 2012 so I've spent ALL of this year counting down and being eternally grateful that we actually had a decent summer to enjoy, whilst I waited for October 26th to roll around.

One of my main reasons for going was to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal's Islands of Adventure. As a self-confessed HP junkie (I'm currently re-reading the entire series for the billionth time), I was ridiculously excited to see how the USA version compared to the studio tour in Watford. I think the UK version will always hold a special place in my heart because that's where it was filmed, but the detail and the RIDES in Islands of Adventure are pretty incredible too - despite it being a lot smaller than I expected.

The area is based on Hogsmeade and there are three rides - Dragon Challenge, The Flight of the Hippogriff and the mind-blowing, beyong amazing Forbidden Journey (to even try and explain this would do it no justice at all but basically I rode a broom, played Quidditch and fought off Dementors). There are a bunch of snow-topped shops, a mixture of those found in Diagon Alley and in Hogsmeade but only a few are actually open. There's an Owl Post shop (where you can send postcards that have the Hogwarts wax seal on - I'm still waiting for mine to arrive), Zonkos and Honeydukes, along with Ollivander's wand shop. There's something so magical about wandering down the street, taking everything in (and even listening to Moaning Myrtle in the loos), sipping on a Butterbeer and then turning the corner and seeing actual Hogwarts. Seriously, I'm still in awe at the fact there is a casual castle in the middle of a theme park. It's breathtaking, and it's not just for show either.

The Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey ride is inside the castle and to get to it you have to wander through dungeons, corridors, classrooms, greenhouses and Dumbledore's office whilst listening to the moving portraits having conversations, getting advice from the headmaster and seeing Harry, Ron and Hermione making appearances. It's literally unreal and I loved every second.

I probably can't rave about it enough and I urge every Harry Potter fan to visit if you get the chance, although definitely go to the studios first. I'm already planning my next visit in October 2015 because Universal are in the process of extending it (there's going to be a working Hogwarts Express that takes you from Hogsmeade to 'London' plus SO MUCH MORE) that's due to open next summer, but obv it'll be really packed then and full of super, super, super fans. And I probably need a lot longer to save up too...

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Zoo Lates, NW1

I know I'm SUPER LATE posting this, especially since I went to Zoo Lates back in August (almost two months ago - where has this year gone?) and er, it's not actually happening anymore, although I'm sure they'll do it again next year. I've literally been meaning to do this blog post since the day after I went, but I've either been too busy and/or lazy. I definitely need to get into a regular routine with updating on here, I've really been missing blogging lately!

But, I digress. ZOO LATES. YES. Amazing. It's basically what it says on the tin - London Zoo is open late for adults only. It starts around 6pm and it happens every Friday throughout July and August, and you essentially just get to wander around the zoo looking at all the animals whilst drinking copious amounts of cider/Pimms/wine, and it's really fun. There are also lots of food stalls (we had sausage sarnies), there's a comedy tent, a silent disco, a massive adults play area... it was almost like a festival but surrounded by ANIMALS. What a dream!

As you'd probably expect, it's not the cheapest of activities, but because it's the sort of thing you'd only do once, it's kind of worth it. Tickets to get in were around £20 - same price as it is for an adult during the day, but once you're in, that isn't it. Everything else is expensive too. We paid £5 for a plastic cup of cider, fair enough it was Rekorderlig but it wasn't even a full bottle. Then there was dinner, I think it was around £5 for a basic sausage in a roll, but it was GOOD. And then we had Pimms too, we bought a pitcher which I think was maybe £15? Between three of us we got about a glass and a half each so it does work out a little bit cheaper. We didn't go in any of the tents (too busy admiring the fish called Convict Julie(!) and taking selfies with the llamas, obvs), and nor did we go in the silent disco, but I think that was a fiver to get into too.

Overall, definitely worth the ticket price, and obviously you don't HAVE to alcohol when you're in there, but that's what makes it more fun and a little bit different. I've now got the bug for going to places when they're supposed to be closed (I don't mean illegally). I found out London Aquarium did a one-off After Hours event last week, but hopefully they'll do another soon. The National History Museum also does Dino Snores for adults and you actually get to sleep in the museum, but it's about £170 I think so er, won't be doing that one for a while!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mirror, mirror on the wall

Since I moved house I've been getting more and more obsessed with buying home wear. I absolutely adore wandering around department stores and drooling over all the gorgeous kitchen bits, pictures, cushions, shelving units, even bloody lamp shades, just EVERYTHING. So, obviously, when I was contacted by the lovely people over at Out There Interiors and asked if I wanted to review something I would have been an idiot to say no.

I'd never actually heard of the brand beforehand, but once I'd clicked onto the website I was just sat browsing for hours. There is so much pretty stuff and I WANT IT ALL. I really love this drawer cabinet, this absolutely incredible chest of drawers, and I am a sucker for anything related to London so obvs I lurve these street signs too. BUT, after much deliberation, I settled on this distressed baroque mirror and I absolutely adore it. It's had nothing but compliments since I put it up and I'm so happy with it. When it first arrived I thought it was a little bit small (it looked a lot bigger on the website) but the more I use it, the more I realise that actually it's about the right size. I have another mirror that's way bigger in my bedroom, but I use this one for doing my makeup because I like to get right up close. LOVE it!

I can't fault the delivery either, it didn't take long at all to arrive and it was really well packaged. I am usually a bit weary about ordering breakables online because you just never know, but this arrived in perfect condition. 

Have you ever bought anything from Out There Interiors? I highly suggest you go and look on the accessories page - they stock the stamp rugs that are on Alan Carr Chatty Man and that in itself is amazing.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Borough Market, SE1

  If you've never been to Borough Market then I suggest you try and rectify that as soon as possible. Honestly, it's amazing. Located five minutes from London Bridge station, it's a hub of the most amazing food stalls - there's fresh fruit and veg, beyond amazing freshly made bread, puddings, fish, meat, cheese, wine... pretty much everything you could dream of. There's a couple of pubs dotted around too, along with some restaurants and a few shops.

The full market is open Thursday (11am-5pm), Friday (midday-5pm) and Saturday (8am-5pm) and it's also open for lunch Monday-Wednesday (10am-3pm). It's not somewhere that you can waste the whole day, I'd say you could maybe spend a couple of hours max. just wondering around, taking in all the delicious smells, tasting various things and indulging in lunch or dinner if you fancy. I've always headed there around 11am and by then it's already packed, so if you get angry easily (like er, I do) then it might be worth stopping by a bit earlier or later.

My favourite thing about the market is THE BREAD. I love bread and I wish I could buy all of it because it all looks so good. Last week I bought a fairly decent sized portion of olive oil and herb foccacia and it was INCREDIBLE. It probably would have been even better made into brushcetta or dipped in balsamic vinegar and olive oil, but it was still really tasty with a little bit of butter.

Price-wise, I think it tends to vary quite a bit from stall to stall. I paid £3 for the slab of bread which is a bit expensive, but not totally ridiculous. If you were going to eat lunch, I think main dishes are somewhere between £5-7 depending on what you choose. There are lots of reductions and BOGOF offers that (I think) start around an hour before closing time though, so that's probably worth remembering if you do plan to buy things!

One Saturday I plan to go and stock up on lots of fresh stuff for the week ahead, but until that day happens I'll probably just drool over the pictures I've taken. YUM!