Err, what day is it?

My deepest and most sincere apologies for the extreme tardiness of recent days as to the lack of publishing any blog entries, it's been a rather… interesting… time for us, one of which you'll no doubt enjoy reading in the following paragraphs. To begin with I'll revisit our time in York, or rather our final days in York before heading to London for the last leg of this trip. Our last 'days' in York were really quiet lovely, I wouldn't say wonderful as we encountered a few hiccups and a number of spanners that insisted on being located in the nearest and most inconvenient works. Essentially we spent the days idly feeding ducks and geese by the Ouse river, we visited both the Richard III and Henry VII 'experience's which were… concise… quite interesting but somewhat limited in location and detail – as they mostly focused on the battle that saw Richard being killed and Henry taking the throne, rather than the men themselves and their reigns – and enjoyed thorough rambles in the Shambles – see what I did there, funny huh – and a visit to the Railway Museum before heading back to our little flat near the station. On Thursday we took our last walk down to the station and caught the train to London.

Here enters the humourous part of our recent adventures. The train to London was perfect, on time, clean and the passengers orderly, the ride itself smooth and scenic as we coasted along through Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and finally into London and Kings Cross itself – sadly we missed our opportunity to photograph the infamous Platform 9 3/4. Our Underground train to West Kensington was equally smooth, but we should have known it was the calm before the storm. Our little apartment, our oasis from the gruelling urban scene was not exactly as described in the 'brochure'. It was light, and airy – mainly due to the windows that would close, kind of, but that provided a constant breath of 'fresh' air – and the light was of humour, as none of the ceiling lights worked, at all. The decor although dated was fine, but the bed that was lumpier than over cooked oatmeal/porridge, and the shower that allowed for two to be bathed – separately – were certainly 'highlights' of this experience. Add into it the lack of double glazing and the almost regular sirens and heavy traffic and you can begin to imagine what our first night was like. At least there were no drug deals or gunshots fired… that we're aware of…

The following day, somewhat shattered and exhausted, we arose early (because let's face it, it's not hard to get up when you haven't really slept) and took the train to Watford Junction and an event we've been waiting for since Christmas – the Harry Potter Studio Tour – and it was definitely worth the wait! For the next 3.5 hours we immersed ourselves in the world of JK Rowling and her characters, muggles walking through the magical world, along Diagon Alley, peering through the windows of Gringotts, Flourish & Blotts and of course Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. The sets, both 'hot' and regular are immense, and to see them in the flesh was beyond unbelievable. For me the highlight of it was actually seeing the huge craftboard Hogwarts at the end, the castle, Hagrid's hut, the Forbidden Forest, all of it, and of course with the theme music from the movies it was a sight that brought tears to my eyes, not just because of the sheer beauty of such dedication by the film crew etc to create it all, but for the fact that there stood the physical manifestation of a writer's imagination, beyond the movies, this was Rowling's world that she created, that she invited the world to share. It's a rare gift, and I hope anyone who wants to partake in the tour has chance, it is well worth it and despite the cost, is incredibly rewarding. From there we returned to our apartment before bidding one of our party adieu at Heathrow (airport) and returned again. It's hard to believe our trip is nearly over, but we still have a few days left, and we'll be making the most of those!

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