Have you ever heard of Harry Potter?

7 Mar

If you haven’t, that’s okay.  I wasn’t too sure who or what he was until I got here.  Apparently, a British woman, J.K. Rowling, wrote a whole series of seven books about a boy named Harry Potter who finds out that he’s not like you and me (and Kim).  He’s a wizard!  The books are very good, but can be hard to read, so don’t feel bad if you can’t read them yet!

Because the books were so good, the people in Hollywood decided that they should make movies based on the books.  They decided that since it takes place in England and Scotland (which are all part of the United Kingdom) and the kids would all be British, that they should film the movies in London (and some other places around England, including my home base of Oxford!) instead of in Hollywood.  They took over these studios called Leavesden Studios, just outside of the city of London, and there the world of the Harry Potter movies was created.  The movies were filmed there for about ten years, and when they finished the last movie, they decided to turn part of the studios where they were filmed into a museum, with all of the stuff that they used to make the movies in the museum.  There are costumes, and sets (the backgrounds and rooms), makeup, props (the things that actors will carry or touch often), and wands!

Kim and I went to this fabulous place on Saturday the 23rd of February.  We took a bus from Oxford to London, got off at the Victoria Underground station, took the subway to Kings Cross, which is a train station that is mentioned in the books and the movie.  It’s how Harry gets to his special school for wizards, called Hogwarts.  We went to the special platform, which is called Platform Nine and Three-Quarters (9 and 3/4).  We got our picture taken ‘going through the barrier’.  You can’t see me in the picture, but I’m in the front of the trolley (that’s what the British people call a cart).  Here’s our picture, along with our ‘ticket to Hogwarts’!

Where we start our magical journey!

Where we start our magical journey!

After we went through Kings Cross, we went back on the subway to get to London Euston, which is another train station.  We took an express train from there to Watford Junction, and then a shuttle bus from that station to the Studios.  Ooooh, so exciting!!!  So, here are  some of the pictures from our fabulous Harry Potter experience.  I’m only including a handful, but I think Kim took almost 300 pictures!  It was a very awesome place to visit.  (Better than the creepy museum about doctors.)

Outside the studio!!

Outside the studio!!

This is the snitch that Harry caught in his first game of quidditch.  It's a magical game played with brooms!

This is the snitch that Harry caught in his first game of quidditch. It’s a magical game played with brooms!

This is the special drink that wizards and witches get.  It's yummy, and it tastes a lot like cream soda with whipped cream on top!

This is the special drink that wizards and witches get. It’s yummy, and it tastes a lot like cream soda with whipped cream on top!

This is on what is called the backlot.  They built Harry's house where he lives with his Aunt and Uncle, at 4 Privet Drive

This is on what is called the backlot. They built Harry’s house where he lives with his Aunt and Uncle, at 4 Privet Drive

This is the Diagon Alley set.  This is where Harry buys his school supplies and his pet owl is given to him as a present.

This is the Diagon Alley set. This is where Harry buys his school supplies and his pet owl is given to him as a present.

This is a miniature version of Harry's school, Hogwarts.  The filmmakers used this model for filming overhead shots and other scenes of the castle.  It is very detailed.  It even has lights that work, and miniature owls flying and people walking!

This is a miniature version of Harry’s school, Hogwarts. The filmmakers used this model for filming overhead shots and other scenes of the castle. It is very detailed. It even has lights that work, and miniature owls flying and people walking!

Well, it was a very exciting trip.  Which was good, because the week before was so boring!  All Kim did was study, study, study!  And the next week after this it was more studying.  But that was okay, because the next weekend, we took another special trip.  I’ll tell you all about it in my next post, hopefully later.  But for now, it’s past my bedtime!! I need some sleep!!!

 

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A little bit of catch up!

7 Mar

Well, it has been awhile since I wrote last hasn’t it?  Last time I wrote, we had just visited the Tower of London and went to a couple of plays!  That was on a Sunday.

The next day, Monday, we went to the Museum of London, and saw an exhibit on Doctors and Medical Schools from the 1800s.  It was really creepy.  I didn’t want my picture taken there.  After we visited the museum, we went back to the hotel to get our suitcases and then caught the Underground (remember, that’s what the subway is called) over to Hyde Park (which is a REALLY big park in London, very much like Central Park in New York City) to catch the bus back to Oxford.  We hopped on the bus (which they sometimes call ‘coaches’) and Kim and I took a nap on the drive back.  It took awhile because the main highway between London and Oxford (kind of like I-95, but not as large or busy) was closed for some reason.  When we got back to Oxford, it was right before the time for Kim’s tutorial, so we went straight from the bus to meet with her tutor, bringing our luggage with us!  Her tutor laughed at us for having all that stuff.

Much of the next week was pretty boring, I’m not going to lie.  Kim had a lot of work to do to catch up from the London trip taking time out of her schedule.  Mostly, I just laid around, soaking up the atmosphere, or went with Kim to the library to study.  She did take me with her to eat a few times.  We ate at McDonald’s and had Happy Meals with chicken nuggets.  Yum!  The British don’t have Hi-C fruit punch like in America, but they have something better.  It’s called Fruitizz (pronounced fruit-tease).  It’s apple, raspberry, and grape juice mixed with sparkling water.  It’s really yummy, and is good for you.  It counts as one of your recommended fruit servings per day!

Saturday, 23 February, was a special day though.  It was so special, I’m going to put it in a separate post.  But, I will tell you this…I took a very special trip to a special place that was sooooo cool.  Oh, and I did have a bit of a mishap my last day in London.  My arm got caught on something, and almost came off!!!  Ouch!  But Kim did some ‘surgery’ and fixed me up.  So, when I come home, don’t be surprised if I look a little rough.  I’ve got battle scars to prove my traveling skills!!

London Bridge is Falling Down, Falling Down, Falling Down…

17 Feb

Okay, London Bridge is not really falling down.  But I did see it today.  It’s kind of boring.  The really cool bridge is the Tower Bridge.  Check this out:

This bridge is often called London Bridge, but it is actually Tower Bridge.  London Bridge is kind of boring to look, because it looks like a regular bridge.  Do you know the song about London Bridge?

This bridge is often called London Bridge, but it is actually Tower Bridge. London Bridge is kind of boring to look, because it looks like a regular bridge. Do you know the song about London Bridge?

Too bad today was sunny outside, so you can’t really see the good detail on the bridge from my picture.

As we walked past this point, we went inside the place that is called the Tower of London.  This is a pretty famous place, and a pretty big deal here.  For a long time, Kings and Queens lived here (it is still considered a Royal Palace) but it was also used as a prison and place of execution.  Scary, huh?

It was started with the White Tower in 1078 by William the Conqueror, who came over from France and conquered the chieftains here, and most British history is recounted from his invasion.

The White Tower in the Tower of London.  The Tower of London is a Royal Palace composed of several sets of towers arranged in circles.  This tower is in the very center, and is the oldest.

The White Tower in the Tower of London. The Tower of London is a Royal Palace composed of several sets of towers arranged in circles. This tower is in the very center, and is the oldest.

Me in the Tower of London, with the Tower Bridge in the Background, as well as the White Tower, built by William the Conqueror almost 1000 years ago! They began building it in the year 1078!  It's very sunny outside today.  I wish I had some sunglasses!

Me in the Tower of London, with the Tower Bridge in the Background, as well as the White Tower, built by William the Conqueror almost 1000 years ago! They began building it in the year 1078! It’s very sunny outside today. I wish I had some sunglasses!

I walked all around the Tower of London today and learned a lot of cool history.  A lot of it is quite horrible and bloody though, so I’m going to spare you the details.  There is an interesting legend about the Ravens of the Tower of London:

This is one of the ravens that lives in the Tower of London.  There is a legend that says there must be six ravens living at the Tower at all times.  If the ravens are gone, the Crown will fall, and Britain will follow.  Which would mean that England wouldn't exist anymore.  That's bad, so they always keep at least seven ravens at the tower, just in case.

This is one of the ravens that lives in the Tower of London. There is a legend that says there must be six ravens living at the Tower at all times. If the ravens are gone, the Crown will fall, and Britain will follow. Which would mean that England wouldn’t exist anymore. That’s bad, so they always keep at least seven ravens at the tower, just in case.

I also saw the Crown Jewels.  All the Kings and Queens of England have had many different crowns and scepters made for them over the course of history.  These are on display at the Tower of London.  I confess to picturing myself as King Stanley with a nice crown on my head while I was in there.  I couldn’t take pictures inside, but I did take a picture of the soldier guarding them outside!

This soldier is on a special detail guarding the Crown Jewels of the Kingdom.  All of the Queen's Crowns, Tiaras, and scepters are kept in a big vault here, with guards like this one posted at all times.  The Jewels are very pretty, and very shiny.

This soldier is on a special detail guarding the Crown Jewels of the Kingdom. All of the Queen’s Crowns, Tiaras, and scepters are kept in a big vault here, with guards like this one posted at all times. The Jewels are very pretty, and very shiny.

I also got a picture of me in front of the building where they are kept!

The building that houses the Crown Jewels is behind me.  Isn't it huge?

The building that houses the Crown Jewels is behind me. Isn’t it huge?

And the last picture of me from today’s adventure:

The dark brown building behind me are where the Yeoman (pronounced yo-men) Warders live with their families.  The lighter colored building is the Tower Church, which is called St. Peter ad Vincula, which means St. Peter in Chains.  There are people buried in the church!  There are two Queens of England buried there, Queen Anne Boleyn, and Queen Katherine Howard.  They were both married to Henry the VIII.

The dark brown building behind me are where the Yeoman (pronounced yo-men) Warders live with their families. The lighter colored building is the Tower Church, which is called St. Peter ad Vincula, which means St. Peter in Chains. There are people buried in the church! There are two Queens of England buried there, Queen Anne Boleyn, and Queen Katherine Howard. They were both married to Henry the VIII.

Finally, I thought I would show you a picture of what people dressed like in the middle ages when the Tower of London was used the most.

At the Tower of London, and here we see some people dressed like people used to dress in the medieval period.  Boys wore tights!  What do you think about the clothes?

At the Tower of London, and here we see some people dressed like people used to dress in the medieval period. Boys wore tights! What do you think about the clothes?

Now, I’m going to help Kim do some homework and then eat some dinner.  Tomorrow, we are going to another museum and then back to Oxford.  Kim says we might take a tour about Harry Potter when we get to Oxford.  Have you heard of Harry Potter or seen the movies?  Many of the movies had pieces filmed in Oxford!

Cheers!  (People in England say that a lot at the end of a conversation!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another day in London!

17 Feb

Well, today was long but very fun.  It started early this morning with a full English Breakfast.  Did you know the British like to eat baked beans with their breakfast?  I had eggs, bacon, toast, beans, and tea for breakfast.  It was very yummy.

After breakfast, we took the subway (which in London is called the Underground, but its nickname is ‘The Tube’) back to Westminster where we were yesterday, but instead of going to the Abbey this time, we went to the Houses of Parliament.  In the United Kingdom, the Houses of Parliament is kind of like the British version of Congress (though there are different names, and different rules).  There is the House of Lords and the House of Commons.  Unfortunately, we were only allowed to take pictures inside one room, but that room is pretty neat.  It is the Great Hall of Westminster Palace, and its ceiling is about 700 years old.  It was about the only part of the old palace of Henry VIII that was not destroyed by fire during the reign of Queen Victoria.  The rest of the building had to be rebuilt.

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Isn’t that amazing?  

After the tour of the Houses of Parliament, we went to the British Museum.  Oh my goodness, there is so much to look at there!  We just didn’t have enough time to do it all.  There is stuff from the ancient Egyptians, the ancient Greeks, the ancient Romans, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia–all over.  I about crumpled myself in excitement trying to see everything!

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Here I am about to go into the British Museum!  And no, I haven’t lost my arm, it’s just hiding behind my back. =)Image

Here, I’m learning about the ancient Greeks, and their temples, like the Parthenon.  See the temple behind me?

After we left the British Museum, we went to another play.  This one was called “The 39 Steps”.  It was a comedy about spies, kind of like James Bond.  It was pretty funny.  After that play was over, Kim and I hopped back on ‘The Tube’ and went to a different theater to go see “Wicked”.  That was a very good musical show.  I liked it very much.  There were flying monkeys!  

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Me outside the theater where “Wicked” is showing.  Isn’t it neat looking all lit up?  After we left the theater, we grabbed a McDonald’s Happy Meal from the train station, and headed back to the hotel.  And now, it’s bedtime again!  Tomorrow, we’re going to the Tower of London!!!

Yay!!

 

 

What a busy, busy day!!

15 Feb

Today I went to London!  It was a very exhausting day, so no pictures today, but maybe tomorrow I will feel up to posting them.

Today I went to: Westminster Abbey, the Churchill War Rooms, ate lunch at Subway, dinner at Pizza Hut, visited Piccadilly Circus (which isn’t really a circus like we think of them in America), but is a lot like Times Square in New York City, and went to a play called “One Man, Two Guvnors”.  It was funny.  

Well, it is very late and past my bedtime, so I am going to bed and I will write more tomorrow after I go see Parliament and another play!  

What a long trip!!!

13 Feb

I arrived at the home of my hostess, Kim, yesterday afternoon, which was Tuesday, February 12th.  Did you know in England they write the date differently than we do?  We write February 12th, 2013 as 2/12/13, but in England they write the same date as 12/2/13.  They put the day first.  It can be very confusing.  It sure took me a long time to get here, and it’s going to take a long time to get back, so I’m going to be a little late.  So, I decided to make this journal for you to keep track of my adventures until I make it back home to Beaverdam Elementary School!

When I arrived yesterday, it was very cold outside.  It was 36 degrees Fahrenheit according to Kim, but according to the Brits it was 2 degrees Celsius.  They use a different system for temperature than we do in the United States.  It was very gray and cloudy.  It’s been raining a lot in England the past year, and Oxford has had most of the rain.  The river keeps flooding.  The river here is called the Thames everywhere else in England but here.  Here they call it the Isis.  I wonder why?

Today, Kim took me out to the City Centre for a little bit.  That’s what they call the downtown area of Oxford.  Most of the really cool, old buildings are in the City Centre.  Some of the buildings are from the 1200’s! That’s over 800 years old!  We didn’t get to stay out too long taking pictures and showing me the sights, unfortunately, because it started to snow.  Kim didn’t want me to get all wet and soggy, so she tucked me away in her bag and we rode the bus back to Kim’s house.  Kim said that on Friday we’re going to London!  I’m very excited to see Westminster Abbey, and the Tower of London, and Big Ben, and pretty much all of it is very cool.  Check out my pictures of where I went today!!

Hanging out on the doorknob of Kim's house.  Mail gets delivered through the slot in the door.  I can fit through there, no problem!

Hanging out on the doorknob of Kim’s house. Mail gets delivered through the slot in the door. I can fit through there, no problem!

This is the street Kim lives on, and since I'm staying with her, I guess I live here too, until I come back home!

This is the street Kim lives on, and since I’m staying with her, I guess I live here too, until I come back home!

Now, we're in the City Centre.  This is Broad Street.  We had a hard time taking this picture, because the wind was flopping me all around, which I did not like.

Now, we’re in the City Centre. This is Broad Street. We had a hard time taking this picture, because the wind was flopping me all around, which I did not like.

Broad Street is where a lot of book shops and coffee shops are.  The street is very wide, too, which is why it is called Broad Street.

Broad Street is where a lot of book shops and coffee shops are. The street is very wide, too, which is why it is called Broad Street.

We went to the Bodleian Library.  This library is very famous and very large!  It has over 11 million books!  But you can't take any of them home.  You have to read them in the library.

We went to the Bodleian Library. This library is very famous and very large! It has over 11 million books! But you can’t take any of them home. You have to read them in the library.

The Radcliffe Camera (the round building to the right) is part of the Bodleian library.  The word Camera is the Italian word for 'room', so it's basically a giant room for more books!

The Radcliffe Camera (the round building to the right) is part of the Bodleian library. The word Camera is the Italian word for ‘room’, so it’s basically a giant room for more books!

Here's the Radcliffe Camera without me.  Kim says she spends most of her time reading in here when her college library doesn't have the books she needs for her homework.

Here’s the Radcliffe Camera without me. Kim says she spends most of her time reading in here when her college library doesn’t have the books she needs for her homework.

Kim is a student at Hertford College, which is part of the University of Oxford.  Hertford is very old, but pretty neat looking!

Kim is a student at Hertford College, which is part of the University of Oxford. Hertford is very old, but pretty neat looking!

There's the entry to the Hertford College Library.  Kim needed to get a book to do her homework on Russia.

There’s the entry to the Hertford College Library. Kim needed to get a book to do her homework on Russia.

Did you know the bookcases in big libraries are called stacks?  Here, I'm relaxing in the stacks waiting for Kim to get her book.  There are so many books here!

Did you know the bookcases in big libraries are called stacks? Here, I’m relaxing in the stacks waiting for Kim to get her book. There are so many books here!

The Hertford Library (which does let members borrow books) has a self-checkout system.  Here, I help Kim check out her book on Russia.

The Hertford Library (which does let members borrow books) has a self-checkout system. Here, I help Kim check out her book on Russia.

What a fun day!  Kim is less than thrilled because she has to write two big papers tomorrow before we go to London.  But she wants to get them done, so that she can take me to all the really neat places, so I can share the fun with you!  It’s almost time to start making dinner, because England is five hours ahead of the East Coast, so I’ll probably sign off and help Kim with dinner.  She’s going to a restaurant tonight (with me, of course) but she’s not sure if she will like the food (some food in England is very strange) so she wants to eat a little bit before, just in case the food is yucky.