On Friday I went on the Harry Potter Studio Tour with family as a belated birthday treat. The tour is in the film studio where all the films were made and showcases the sets, costumes and props from the films. You get a fixed time-slot but you walk around the tour yourself. We had to wait a while to get in and in the queue you can view the cupboard under the stairs where Harry lived:
Once you’re let in, you see a short film and when it ends, the screen rolls up to reveal the doors that lead into the Great Hall:
The tables were laid for dinner and they had costumes for each of the houses at the house tables. This was the Gryffindor section:
At the top of the room is the teacher’s table with mannequins wearing the costumes:
You are led out of the hall and then you can walk around two indoor sets and one exterior set filled with HP goodies. The lighting is a bit dark so excuse the photo quality. It’s amazing how small the sets are in real life and shows how clever cameras can be. Here are some of my favourite sets (the boys dorm, the Gryffindor common room, Dumbledore’s office, Umbridge’s office and The Burrow):
Outside, we got to see the Ford car, no.4 Privet Drive, and the bridge at Hogwarts:
The second interior set shows you the creatures and how they were made and then you step into Diagon Alley filled with the shops from the films:
You then walk into the grand finale of the tour – the model of Hogwarts. They actually used this in the shots of the castle in the films adding in the countryside behind it and using clever camera angles to make it look like a full size castle. The model itself is huge and intricate and they change the lighting so you can see it in the daytime and nighttime:
The tour was lots of fun and I’d recommend it even if you’re not a massive HP fan. The tour ends in the shop predictably and it was very expensive. I was also disappointed that most of the items were for young boys – what about big girls Warner Bros?! I brought a poster of myself dressed as a wizard having escaped from Azkaban and we got a group shot flying in the Ford car. You can also have one taken on a broom. We spent about three hours in the studio and then headed home for food and bed.
I might have to accept now that my birthday is over
Posted by Victoria-writes on April 8, 2013
Yesterday I turned the dreaded 30! Luckily I had a lovely day so some of the sting was taken out of the scary age I had lots of lovely messages from you guys so thank you and I woke up to a balloon, cake and lots of cards.
I had a girly day planned with my mum who brought me a gorgeous necklace from Links. For some reason taking photos of it was hard but you can kind of see it here:
We went to Harrods and the Paris cafe Laduree for a glass of champers and I had the most amazing chocolate eclair and my mum had a slice of chocolate orange cake. So yummy. I would highly recommend it. I really could get used to this lifestyle
I used the money I got from family and friends to buy a watch in Harrods and ended up with more Links jewellery None of the photos I took came out so here’s one from the internet. As usual with me there was some drama though as the watch didn’t work and we had to trek to another store to get a replacement.
After shopping, we went to Covent Garden for a mooch and then had an early dinner in a restaurant called Sophie’s there. We spent so long looking at their cocktail menu in confusion that the waiter took pity and made up two he thought we’d like and they were delicious and pretty alcoholic
And here we are already looking a little tipsy:
I had a huge rack of ribs and my mum had salmon, definitely worth checking the restaurant out if you’re in Covent Garden. We didn’t have dessert as there was birthday cake waiting for us at home.
I came home to more cards and a lovely bunch of flowers from a friend. I collapsed on the sofa in my PJ’s and ate a huge slice of cake. Bliss. And now I’m in my thirties *shudder*
Posted by Victoria-writes on March 21, 2013
As a pre-birthday treat, my friend and I hit London this weekend. We stayed the night in the 5* St Pancras Renaissance hotel, which is adjacent to the train station and has been completely restored as a hotel as it was in 1873. When we arrived, we went to the champagne bar in the station, the longest champagne bar in Europe. Carly ordered the four tasting platter while I just had a large glass of bubbly.
After we were sufficiently tipsy from the champers we went for cake at Peyton and Byrne – I didn’t get a photo of our cakes, which should tell you they were so yummy they were gone in seconds. I had the lemon poppy seed cake while Carly had banana and chocolate and we can highly recommend them! We had a wander round the shops in St Pancras and checked out the Harry Potter shop at King’s Cross station next door, well worth visiting if you’re fan.
We then checked into our room, which was spacious and modern, and got ready for our night out. I took some outside shots of our hotel as we walked out to have dinner.
After dinner and wine, we went back to our hotel and to The Gilbert Scott bar. We felt very posh and civilised sipping Cosmopolitan cocktails in our dresses. They also serve the biggest chips you’ve ever seen.
The stairs in the hotel appear in the Spice Girl’s Wananbe video and we took a photos messing about on them. The whole area is decorated with a church-like feel to it.
After a sleep in our very comfortable beds, we went into the Booking Office restaurant for breakfast – it’s a really stunning room.
The breakfast buffet was one of the best hotel breakfast’s I’ve ever had. I started off with pastries then followed with the cooked breakfast – so good.
We then waved goodbye to our hotel and headed off in a taxi to get our train home. It was a really fun and relaxing weekend, I could definitely get used to weekends like this!
Posted by Victoria-writes on March 18, 2013
I saw this quote yesterday. I haven’t read the book it comes from although now I will. I just sat staring at it. It felt true, incredibly sad but also inspiring. I found myself thinking about moments and how easily you can let them slip by. The biggest hurdle for me is fear. I suppose it is for most of us. Fear makes us let moments slip by but afterwards we regret letting it. We usually can’t get the moment back though. We can’t have a do-over.
Maybe this is why I like being a writer so much. I can create moments and how characters respond to them. It’s far harder in real life. It’s easy for me to tell my characters what they should do, it’s even easy for me to tell other people in real life what they should do but it’s never easy to take my own advice. I know that sometimes I just let moments pass when I should grab hold of them and make them mine.
This next quote seemed a fitting conclusion to this conversation. This book I have read and like most books about first loves there is a fairytale quality to these words but I still love the idea of having such a moment in real life. One where you don’t let it go but let it wash over you, knowing that it has the power to change everything but also nothing because you will hold on to it forever.
I can’t promise that I’ll let my fear go in the future but I’m going to try to recognise moments when they come along and do my best to turn them into bigger and brighter ones. At least I can try not to let them slip though my fingers as I’ve done in the past. But if this fails at least I can have happy endings in my books.
Do you ever let moments pass and regret it afterwards?
Posted by Victoria-writes on January 14, 2013
As we move into a new year, it’s usually a time to look back and look ahead. I don’t make resolutions as such, I think a to-do list for the year would be setting myself up to fail but I do like to have some goals to focus on. Last year, I decided to focus on writing and I haven’t regretted that decision. Writing is what I want to do.
My main goal for 2012 was to find an agent, which I did – yay! It’s obvious I’m sure that my main goal for 2013 is to get a book deal. I feel both nervous and excited about the prospect of my novel being submitted to publishers but I also know this is what I’ve wanted for a long time so I can’t wait to get started. I just hope the publishing God’s will smile on me
2013 is also the year I turn the big 3-0. My birthday is in March and I’ll admit I’m not overly thrilled to hit this milestone. It feels like a proper grown up age and I don’t feel like a grown up! Having said that though, getting a book deal in the year I turn 30 would be a brilliant present. I’m going to try and feel as carefree as I can about this birthday – it is just a number after all and try to organise lots of fun things to do to celebrate! There are things I thought I would have done by this age but all our journeys are unique and I will try to just enjoy where mine is heading.
On a more personal level, I’m going to try and not worry about so much in 2013. It’s one of my worst traits and I spent a lot of 2012 worrying – I guess because it was a big year of change but next year I’m going to work hard on chilling out a bit more and not over-analysing everything. I’m especially going to try not to worry so much about what other people think and just be myself. Everyone else is taken after all
I found this quote and it seemed to sum up this goal for me:
What are your goals for 2013? I’d love to hear them!
Posted by Victoria-writes on December 29, 2012
Two years ago this week I joined WordPress and tomorrow is the second anniversary of my first ever post. When I started blogging, this blog had a generic name and my profile picture was a cartoon. I didn’t have my name anywhere and no one offline knew about it. I had no followers and didn’t really know what I wanted to write about. All I knew was that I wanted to write something. I’d submitted my first novel to agents that year and I had really caught the writing bug. I just had no idea where it would take me.
Two years later, my blog has changed dramatically. My name and picture are on it for one! I now have 333 blog followers and I share my posts on Facebook and Twitter so everyone I know could read it if they wanted to. I have declared myself a writer. I have written more novels and decided that I want to make a career out of writing.
The two biggest changes though have been that I took a leap of faith and took a year out of my job in HR to focus on writing and that I found a literary agent. I really believe this blog played a huge part in this. It has been a real journey accepting that I want to write, sharing that dream and doing something about it. Not only have I been able to vocalise my ambitions on here but I found an amazingly supportive community who have got behind me every step of the way. I have been continually touched by the encouragement bloggers have given me and count many of you as friends.
This blog has become a home for me to share not only my writing journey but my life.
It seemed like fate when I found out that I’d been nominated for the blog of the year 2012 award by the lovely and talented Jenny Keller Ford on this anniversary. I’m touched Jenny thought of me for this award but I am always thrilled when I receive a blog award, knowing that someone has taken the time to think of me and this space. So thank you not only to Jenny for this award but to the givers of the awards I have been given over the past two years.
I’m not sure my blog is worthy of such an award but I love that Jenny thought of me so I will display proudly!
Only recently I questioned whether I wanted to be so honest online but the outpouring of support on here and on Facebook and Twitter convinced me that the only way for me to be online is to be myself. This wasn’t always the case. This blog was a secret for a long time and I was really nervous about people who know me reading the things I wanted to say but I’m learning that if I don’t believe in myself then no one will. And I know I’m incredibly lucky to have so many people who believe alongside me.
So thank you to everyone who follows this blog and thank you to everyone who has supported, encouraged and cheered me along on my journey. You helped me chase my dreams and if I wanted this blog to do anything it would be to encourage others to chase their dreams.
So I hope you do, and I hope you continue to tell me all about your journeys too.
If you can dream it, you can do it – Walt Disney
Posted by Victoria-writes on December 20, 2012
Last night we celebrated my friend Carly’s 30th birthday by going to the roller disco. I’ve known Carly since primary school and she was the first of us to turn 30 (my turn soon help!)
Dressed in our 80′s inspired clothes, we went to the event in London for a retro night of fun. To start the night we had a few drinks at Carly’s house. Here we are are in our finery:
We hit the roller disco with a few drinks inside us. It was a complete flashback to my early teens when I used to go to the local leisure centre’s roller disco. I hadn’t been on roller skates since then but I managed to stay upright on them. I can’t say the same for all of the gourd though Everyone was dressed up at the disco and the music was retro themed. Lots of fun.
This is me with the birthday girl – I think she enjoyed the night, not sure if she’ll remember it all today though
To finish off the night we ordered a bottle of champagne and added a candle bomb to it. The security peeps told us off as it was a fire hazard oops but we managed to get away with it
I crawled into bed at 3am and I definitely can’t cope with late nights like I used to, I feel pretty rough today. My leg also hurts this morning from the skating – further proof I’m my teenage years are long gone. It was fun to remember them last night though.
Posted by Victoria-writes on December 9, 2012
The fifth of November in the UK is day we commemorate Guy Fawkes whose plan to blow up the Houses of Parliament failed in 1605. Generally known as Bonfire Night, people not only build bonfires but let off fireworks traditionally to mark this event. This is probably my least favourite time of the year here. Why? I’m scared of fireworks.
I’ve had this phobia since I was little – my mum remembers having to take me out of my first firework display after I freaked out. There is no known reason for my fear – I never had anything bad happen to me that might relate to fireworks. In this life anyway I avoid firework displays and generally stay in a round this date in anticipation of them. It’s the noise that scares me. I can appreciate the prettiness of the fireworks but not the noise they make as they explode.
I hate having such an irrational fear but phobias are strange things – hard to talk yourself out of.
Do you have a phobia?
Posted by Victoria-writes on November 5, 2012
The past five nights, I’ve woken up between two and three am, unable to get back to sleep for an hour to two, tossing and turning, trying in vain to shut my mind down. I know why I’m waking up – I’m anxious, nervous, stressed – all the bad words I knew before I sent my first novel out to agents that this world was a tough one – some agents get 5oo submissions a week and maybe take on two or three authors a year as clients. I also knew that 99% of successful authors had some struggle to get published and I’d wager every author has had at least one rejection, some hundreds.
It’s hard though at two am to be objective. It’s hard to remember that I’m not alone in this struggle to get published. It’s hard to tell myself not to give up. It’s hard not to worry that I’ll never get that agent or deal. It’s like all your fears and doubts crash over you like a huge wave and all self-belief is drowned out. Then the day comes and I find myself frantically checking my email every five minutes. There was the shot of hope when two agents asked to read the whole book (after I sent the first three chapters) then the fear that they won’t like it. It’s a roller coaster of ups and downs.
You worry you’ll never be good enough, you’ll never get there.
But just writing this helps. Putting my fears out there gives me a kind of release. I know that I’m not the only one facing all this. And I know that the only way I’ll really fail is if I give up. That I have to try. That I have done really well to have two agents interested, that they haven’t said no, which means they could say yes. That writing is what I love and I that I need to keep going if I want my book on the shelves one day.
That all this anguish will be worth it when I make it. And I’m determined to make it.
It would be nice to sleep well though
How do you cope with the ups and downs of begin a writer?
Posted by Victoria-writes on September 12, 2012