A Self-Guided Harry Potter walking tour of London

A Self-Guided Harry Potter walking tour of London

A picture of me framed by the arches of Leadenhall Market in London

One of the amazing things about London is that you can walk in the footsteps of your favourite movies practically on every street corner.

It may come as a surprise to you but I, of all people, haven't been on a Harry Potter walking tour of London yet. At least, I haven't paid for one. I have done pirates, ghosts and general history, but never one of my favourite things of all time.

One sunny day in the Summer, Gary and I decided to have one of our rare 'date days' around London. It mostly consisted of doing our own self-guided walking tours of Harry Potter areas, lord knows why Gary agrees to do all of these things with me but he is a bit of a hero.

There are obviously way more places around London that have been used for Harry Potter orientated things, but we did not leave in enough time... typical us. Here are just a few things every Harry Potter nerd should visit when they're in London.

The Harry Potter floor of Hamley's

Not exactly hidden away in the basement with a Diagon Alley inspired archway entrance is the the dedicated area to all things Harry Potter. As you enter you a greeted by Hogwarts 'students' in their robes showing off all the toys and merch, a giant Hagrid, which I really hope is to scale, and the soundtrack playing in areas.

Giant Lego Hagrid in Hamely's toy store

If you're after the collectibles rather than just toys and stationery, my advice is to pop back up to the top floor where the Noble Collection can be found. The Harry Potter section of Hamley's didn't have the fancy Ollivander wands, only the toy versions and it was so busy I got a bit stressed out! The Noble Collection is way quieter and I left happily with the Ollivander's version of the Elder Wand in hand. My collection is ever growing!

Leadenhall Market at the Leaky Cauldron

All Londoners know of Leadenhall Market and a weekend is the perfect time to go and see it, especially if it's mostly for the gram. On a weekend, that whole area of London is pretty much a ghost town. Even the New Look on the corner isn't open when the banks and businesses aren't. Obviously, it would have been lovely to see the market in action, but I was having one of those weird head moments where I'd much rather not have to deal with people! I also work 9-5 so I guess the only time I can bloody go to the market is when it's bloody closed!

Leadenhall market London

The eagle-eyed Harry Potter readers out there will recognise Leadenhall Market from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone when Hagrid takes Harry shopping in Diagon Alley. Did you know, around the corner from here is the actual Leaky Cauldron?

The Location of the Leaky Cauldron in London. It's a blue opticians.

It's not nearly as creepy looking as in the movies and it's actually an opticians... but it's the Leaky Cauldron, guys! I promise!

Trying to find the Ministry of Magic in Westminster

This one was a little bit tricky because my GOD DAMN SCAFFOLDING CURSE STRUCK AGAIN. Also, I was an idiot and forgot the red phone box Mr. Weasley and Harry used to get to the Ministry was actually a prop. Out of my annoyance I didn't get a picture but you can find it 5 minutes walk from Westminster Tube Station, just past Downing Street.

Grimmauld Place - AKA Claremont Square near Angel

You know that Scaffolding Curse? Yeah, it struck again here too. Fan-fucking-tastic, right? Luckily for me, most of the houses on Claremont Square look exactly the same so I staged a photo in front of one of the scaffolding free houses anyway, much to the bemusement of one of the residents who was playing in the street with his little girl.

Location of Grimmauld Place in London

 Not as dark and dingy as the House of Black is in the movies and the majority of them are covered in beautiful flowers. Kind of dampens the aesthetic a touch but I have to remind myself that Harry Potter isn't real sometimes and that set design is a thing...

Platform 9 3/4 King's Cross

Everyone knows this one but it is most definitely my happy place. I go here often even if it's just to feel a bit happier after a bad day. It's one of the few places in London where I can deal with lots of people in one place and that's only because I know it's a magical pilgrimage all Harry Potter fans go on and that not everyone is as lucky as I am. I only live 20 odd minutes away so can go as often as I like!

Platform 9 3/4 shop King's Cross

We missed so much off, including the Millennium bridge! Bless Gary, he has already agreed we can do another one again soon and has promised that we'll wake up earlier to fit more in. Maybe even do it over two days!

Regardless of how much we missed, I well and truly had the best day nerding out with one of my favourite people and I cannot wait to do it again.

Have you ever done a Harry Potter walking tour of London?

Making potions at the Cauldron

Making potions at the Cauldron

It finally happened, guys. After missing out on tickets last time, I finally got to go to the Cauldron with Love Pop Ups London and I couldn't have been happier. Let's face it, who wouldn't want the opportunity to feel like an actual Witch making potions while drinking delicious cocktails at the same time? Not this girl, I was all for it.

If you don't know about the Cauldron (where have you been?), it's a molecular / immersive bar in Elephant and Castle where you make your own drinks Sure, making your own drinks isn't the most original idea BUT you use a magic wand... and make your drinks in an actual cauldron.

The Cauldron is very unassuming from the outide. In fact, if I wasn't so uncomfortable about being in unfamiliar surroundings at night alone, I would have walked right past it. Once you're inside though, it's as if you have just stumbled into the Wizarding World.

Display and gift shop at the Cauldron featuring Gargoyles and potions bottles

With books balanced precariously all around the room, crystal viles, even photography by Xavier Boldu everywhere. It was an absolute delight to see some of my favourite Harry Potter fans, like Weasley's Book, over the walls and it felt like I was in a combination of Flourish and Blotts and The Apothecary.

You could see that they had gone through every effort to include the tiniest of details. From Rhunes carved into compartments on the tables, to giving you robes as you walked through the door. I obviously wore my own because I'm a loser.

On to the important bit. The drinks and the magic.

Before the experience really begins, you get a little welcome drink of Poetic Mead. It's hidden away in one of the compartments on the tables which you open with the wand. that's right. You Alohomora that shit for booze. I cannot explain to you how happy this made me. I even did a little squeal.

The drink itself was nice, it was just very tiny. It added to the charm though especially since it was in the smallest jar ever.

After the welcome bev, you had the choice of two drinks to make yourself. Just so you're aware, they're served in pairs so you'll need to make sure whoever goes with you is happy with the choice too!

The Potions Master delivers all of the ingredients to your table as well as step-by-step instructions, which we were RUBBISH at following. But that all adds to the experience, right?

Our first 'potiion'  was the Blood Boiling Curse. It consisted of gin, a bouncing magic bean (which you used the magic wand to control), troll bogies and the sands of time. Because of course it did. Cue me saying 'bleurgh, troll bogies' very loudly. I am but basic.

It was a nice combination of sweet and bitter. I felt like it could have done with a bit more gin but that's mostly because... well, gin.

The Botony Brew was my favourite part of the experience, mostly because of the cauldron. A simmering and smoking concoction that would have made Professor Slughorn proud, but only because there's no pleasing Professor Snape when you're a Gryffindor.

I don't have a sweet tooth and it was a little too much for me. But that could have been because we added too much Montenegro (whatever that is). Watch your measures, peeps and don't stray from the instructions! Bonus was though, there was enough in our cauldron for three full glasses each, so they're not exactly stingey there!

In short, if you're a fellow nerd like me, the Cauldron is an experience you wouldn't want to miss. The whole experience lasts about 1hr 45mins so make sure you're not late for your pre-booked spot. Make sure you make the most of your time there and explore everty nook and cranny. You'd be amazed by the tiniest things you see and little nerdy references hidden around the place, and more than just Harry Potter too! I'd wholly recommend taking a peek in the wardrobe... if you're not too squeamish! Make sure you book tickets soon though, if this round is anything like last time, slots fill up pretty quickly.

Have you been to The Cauldron yet?

*Discalimer: I went to the Cauldron as a guest of Love Pop Ups London but honestly couldn't recommend it enough. All ramblings and appreciation are 100% my own. 

Why it’s O.K. to not want to visit again

Why it’s O.K. to not want to visit again

Ruins in Cyprus

As you may have heard, I didn't exactly fall in love with Cyprus when I went on a Villa Holiday with the girls. Now, I'm not saying I hated every second of it because that would be far from the truth. It's just not my favourite.

Unlike some of the girls, I have never been to Cyprus, Greece or Turkey so I really had no idea what to expect from that side of the world. I only really know what I've seen in History books and movies. Plus, none of us bothered to do any proper research before we arrived. After several years of wanting to visit, I was really excited so it was a shame to be so underwhelmed.

Boats in a harbour in Cyprus

There aren’t many places I have visited where I felt no desire to go back. With Cyprus, it felt like I was doing something wrong because I have heard so many people rave about it. Sure, we were there off-season and we didn’t really know where to go and explore, but at the same time, it was all a bit ‘meh’. I had a great time at some points, but I don’t miss it at all.

So far this year, I’ve been to two countries that I definitely want to see more of so it’s almost like Cyprus is the let down of the bunch.

Now, don't get me wrong, there are many reasons that could be why I didn't enjoy it as much as I imagined. I'm not blaming the country at all.

Temple Ruins in Cyprus

As we were there on a blogger trip (NOT being ungrateful here, at all), half of one of our days was spent with activities of the resort. A resort I could NEVER afford in my wildest dreams. It was very much forced fun with golf and tennis, which we made fun, but definitely not something I look for in a holiday. It made the day feel a bit forced. Like we had to have fun. We had to enjoy resort life, even though I'm the kind of person who's more than happy to go camping in a field.

View from Aphrodite Hills Resort in Cyprus

Because we went in the off season so the weather was unpredictable. Sure it was a lot warmer than back in London but we seemed to go on one of the only weekends in the whole year where there wasn't blazing sun. It wasn't exactly bubbling or bustling with people either. At times, I felt like we were the only ones on the resort! I'm sure this would have been entirely different at the height of summer but I'm not sure that would have made me feel any better. The British Expat area we passed with its Red Lion pubs made me feel uncomfortable. Like some of the magic that could have been in Cyprus had been sucked away and replaced with a mini British replica to stop people from feeling homesick.

Most importantly, I didn't feel inspired by Cyprus. It was all very beige. The blue seas were a beautiful contrast but from where we were (and the weather) we couldn't really appreciate them. We only really popped to the sea to visit Aphrodite's Rock on our way to the airport on our last day.

The beach and sea at Aphrodite's Rock in Cyprus

The whole point of this isn't to slag of Cyprus, not at all. In fact, I have had conversations with so many people recommending areas to visit that may be more my style of travelling, or simply to go at a different time of year. My main reasoning is how it's OK if I'm not too fussed about going back. As much as I look forward to seeing all the new places and seeing as much of the world as I can, there are a couple of places I will always go back to. Cyprus doesn't feel like one of them though and I don't feel like I should be bothered about it.

I have had a couple of people say 'oh, you should really give it another go', but I really don't want to and that's OK. You shouldn't force a relationship if you're not happy, just like you shouldn't just keep going back to the same place in the small hope you might end up liking it eventually. I wouldn't want to waste money on something I'm not going to enjoy either. Although I know it doesn't matter how much you spend on a holiday, you always don't want to just throw money away (essentially).

Give me new adventures and new places to fall in love with instead.

Standing in the ruins of the Tombs of the Kings in Cyprus