Showing posts with label Geek. Show all posts

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets at the Royal Albert Hall

Harry Potter Cosplay

Since Gary took me to see Beauty and the Beast at the Royal Albert Hall with a live Orchestra for my birthday last year, it's been my mission to see as many of those shows as possible. As a musician and a film buff, it's pretty much two of my favourite things combined.

Last year, I was absolutely gutted that I missed out on the showing/performance of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone due to the crazy demand, I watched instagram stories with such envy. This year, I refused to let that happen so I was online on release date desperately trying to get tickets but I once again failed.

Somehow, the gods (old and new) smiled down on me. A friend knew someone with spare tickets. At the very last minute and £60 lighter (worth it), I had my hands on a pair and poor Gary had to deal with my excitement and happy tears. Again.

Harry Potter at the Royal Albert Hall

It's obviously been forever and a day since I last saw a Harry Potter  movie on the big screen (no, I'm not including Fantastic Beasts this time), so it took me straight back to those earlier years. The anticipation of what was going to happen and seeing young kids and many adults dressed up in costumes for the occasion. I'm a weirdo who likes to dress up, dress up for the theatre so only took my scarf and wand this time. A little bit gutted about that after I saw someone wearing a Keeper costume... Why don't I have one?

For me, the orchestra added a new layer of magic to the whole experience. That could be because of the musician in me, but there were moments where I felt more involved and almost a part of it all. It was even more moving than just watching it at home. Every crescendo was even more intense and finally listening to Hedwig's Theme live definitely brought a tear to my eye. Also, the difference to with my little community orchestra is VERY clear.

One of the things (other than the obvious demand) that put me off tickets for other, non Harry Potter related,  Royal Albert Hall performances was what I thought the cost would be. It turns out, it's really not that much, you just need to know where to look! With our second hand tickets, I paid the full price including booking fee because that's fair (and I normally refuse to buy tickets from other sources). Seats where we were are only £30 each and as you can see, the view really wasn't bad! Much better than when Gary and I stood in the heavens for Beauty and the Beast.

With tickets for The Prisoner of Azkaban now available, I'll be going straight there to book tickets. It's conveniently playing just before my birthday which is pretty much a sign that I must go anyway. I just hope there are still tickets available on payday... turns out booking holidays is expensive other wise I would have booked already!

Nerding about in Oxford


How many people do you know who will take a day off work just to run around Oxford in Hogwarts robes? Just me? Oh, ok then. I'm cool with that.

As part if my 12 in 12, I'm trying to see more of the UK as well buggering off to far off countries. There's so much more than the usual beer gardens, streets and sights I see every day. Oxford is one of those places I have always swung through on my way to other events/places, never really spending an hour or two. It's home to so many literary inspirations that a Pilgrimage had been on the cards for a long time. All I needed was some fellow nerds, a couple of wands and robes.

The inspiration behind the door to Narnia

Many people already know that Oxford is essentially 'home to Hogwarts' in a way but it's also the inspiration behind the Shire, Lyra's home and the start of the journey to Narnia. Basically everything I love. As we're ridiculously unorganised people sometimes, we booked our travel on what felt like the ONLY day there wasn't a free literary walking tour happening so we mostly survived off Google Maps and finding our own way to things.



Out first stop of our nerdy adventure was to sit where Tolkien and C.S. Lewis used to meet, the Eagle and Child.

The Eagle and Child is a nerd's dream, even if the pub as a whole leaves much to be desired. You're not there for a 5 star meal and beautiful surroundings. You're there for the geeky decor and banter with the bar staff. You'll have a great time even if one of the toilets does overflow while you're there. It's all part of the charm, really! Just make sure you do what we didn't do and check the opening times, Otherwise you'll be those losers hanging outside an empty pub for half an hour...

Just being there made me beyond excited for my trip to New Zealand later in the year. Especially after I saw this sign.. something I quote far too much for my own good!



I guarantee you, I will say this at least once in Hobbiton, even though they don't serve pints in the Green Dragon.

LOL
With Oxford being as small as it is (in a way), we walked everywhere and managed to find everything we wanted to see as well as other little bits we weren't looking for, such as the inspiration behind the door to Narnia (above) and stunning architecture every where. The only REAL thing on our list was to pay a visit to Christchurch university. We wanted to go up those stairs, huddle in the cloisters (despite Umbridge's Educational Decree number 26) and hang about in the Great Hall. in robes. Looking awesome. I have no idea how many tourist pictures we're in now but they all LOVED us... and copied our poses.


There are a lot of things we didn't get to do because we were disorganised and ran out of time. If we had arrived a wee bit earlier, we would have been able to get to Christchurch earlier and therefore wouldn't have had to pick between the Colleges. Bodleian Library is still up there on my list now so I guess I'm just going to have to go back soon. Jordan College from His Dark Materials, (called Exteter College in real life) is still up there but getting lost in the streets of Jericho has finally been ticked off.

Oxford is a magical place and I'm going to stop just using it as a stop off point and try and see more of it, especially since it's practically around the corner. If you want to be a nerd like me and take your own visit to this literary heaven make sure you:

Book tickets in advance

The queue to get into Christchurch was HUGE and it was raining. If you book in advance you can skip ahead

Actually make a plan

We ran out of time. One day with no plan wasn't enough to see everything we wanted to

Do a tour but also make your own

We resorted to Google to find out some things but if you manage to get there on a day when the Literary tours are happening (i.e., not on a Bank Holiday) you'll be able to find out so much more than we did. At the same time, make sure you get yourself a little bit lost and enjoy the beauty if the city. Take a moment to look up and around you.

Get there early

Don't make our mistake, guys. Get there early or spend an extra day if you want to do everything.



Being a Harry Potter Fan as an adult

St Dunstan in the East London

I know, I know. Being a grown up Potterhead isn't exactly big news or something new. But hear me out a bit.

There have been a couple of times this month alone where I feel people have mocked my life choices. They have blatantly taken the piss out of  my sheer passion for this fictional world that sometimes feels more like home than anything else.

I've had someone flat out laugh at me when I told them I was a big fan, someone say 'the funniest part of that was you looking so serious' when I told them I wore Gryffindor robes in Christ Church College and someone say it's time to stop acting like a kid.

I'm sorry, but screw you.

St Dunstan in the East London

I feel like I have had constant debates with people over whether or not Harry Potter is for kids. As much as I believe it's not, that's down to the individual person at the end of the day. But whether or not you think it is for children, it doesn't make it OK for you to make me feel small.

I have a passion for something and I don't think that's something to be ashamed of. I'm sure if I also spoke to people about my love for Shakespeare, travelling or even computers games, I wouldn't be met with nearly as much mockery as I do when they find out about the Harry Potter world I am enveloped in.

Sure, I don't try to hide it from people, but why the hell should I? People wear football shirts and talk about the latest controversy on XFactor without feeling like they should hide what they're interested in so why should Harry Potter be any different?


The Harry Potter world is something that's grown far beyond that last page and the grounds of Hogwarts. And it's growing every day. We have a whole swathe of people from my generation who have named their children Harry and Hermione. We also have a bunch of much stronger young people as a result of being inspired by the heroes and heroines within those pages.

Even the March For Our Lives protests in America this year could be partly attributed to the strength gained from Harry Potter. The young people mobilised and marched onwards with placards quoting 'Expelliarmus!' and 'Dumbledore's Army Still Recruiting'. There are real life 'Death Eaters' in this world, and there's a whole generation of people ready to fight back. 


Yes, pretty much 30 and I like Harry Potter. I like to dress up, buy wands and cuddly toys. I read the books every year and have been to the Studio Tour more times than anyone I know. But it's all OK. I'm perfectly happy with the way I am. Just because you don't understand something doesn't mean it's wrong or silly. I've had so many opportunities and life experiences gained from this world of magic and I will continue to show my love for it.

Maybe soon I'll stop feeling hurt when people laugh at me but until then, I'll just seek solace in the Prisoner of Azkaban, remember 'Expecto Patronum' and carry on.

A History of Magic at the British Library with Lumos

Lumos charity

Harry Potter is 20 years old. Can you believe it? Sometimes I can't.

To celebrate, there's an exhibition at the British Library: The History of Magic. The exhibition is all about Harry Potter, the inspiration and the actual history of magic. I was lucky enough to attend a closed event with Lumos after failing to buy tickets with the rest of my friends.

You've probably heard me mention Lumos by now, if not you should take a scroll through and all the other amazing things I have been able to experience as part of my ambassadorship with them! Lumos was founded by J.K. Rowling herself to help children across the world out of institutions and into loving homes.

We say 'institutions' and not 'orphanages' because, sadly, many of them are out for profit alone, treat the children badly and lead to many children out of the streets with very little life experience, education and support. There are millions of children world wide stuck in institutions and it's Lumos' mission to get them out. Every child deserves a home and every child deserves love.

At the History of Magic event, we were privileged enough to hear speeches from Jason Isaacs, the Curator of the Exhibition (oh yes, I do think I would have been VERY good at that job if you didn't need so much experience) and Neil Blair. We learned more about their plans for the future, how much Lumos has achieved so far and the amazing work they have been doing in the past year alone.

This also happened:





Please try your very best not to hate me...

With the exhibition itself, sadly there are no pictures allowed. As much as I desperately wanted to take pictures of everything, I managed to restrain myself somehow.

Without spoiling it too much for you, I can tell you that it consists of everything from Herbology to Defence Against the Dark Arts. Turns out Mandrakes are a real thing, dontcha know AND Nicholas Flamel was a real person.

I'm not sure how long you're supposed to be in there but Leanne and I were in there until 10pm. We kept running around and back to rooms we had been before just in case we had missed something. It's a hands on experience as well as a 'look at these amazing things' exhibition, with technology and games for we muggles to enjoy (Please don't tell Gary I admitted to being a muggle)...


Being one of the last to leave (other than Ezra Miller who was clearly living his best life despite a 5am call time the next morning), you definitely need more than an hour to experience the sheer splendour of the exhibition. Walking into it is just as magical as entering Hogwarts itself, there are scripts and deleted scenes from the book sand movies, J.K. Rowling's own illustrations and many 'real' magical items. As a massive Harry Potter fan, I'm sure you can imagine my joy seeing notes written in J.K. Rowling's own hand.

You should definitely attend the exhibition while it's still around. Tickets are £16 for adults and £8 for children (you can get them here). While you're at it, why note donate to Lumos. Every little helps and 100% of all proceeds go to the programmes themselves and NOT someone else's pocket.

If you fancy a quick chuckle, here's the moment J.K. Rowling retweeted me. Thank you Leanne for capturing such a moment. Yes, I am crying. I have no shame.






*Disclaimer: I was invited to the event for free as an Ambassador for Lumos. However, I constantly work to support Lumos and this has in no way encouraged this blog post. I was not asked to do it, I just did. So there.

Wizarding Wardrobes at Warner Brothers Studio Tour London

Smashleighjayne


Yup. That's right. I went back to the Studio tour. Jealous much? JUST LOOK AT HOW HAPPY WE ALL ARE.

Smashleighjayne


If you follow the Warner Brothers Studio Tour on Instagram, you'll have already had a glimpse at what Wizarding Wardrobes is. It's a chance to go behind the scenes of the wardrobe department. Initial sketches and final designs of some of the best costumes are on display and you are able to learn more about each piece and the inspiration behind them.


Smashleighjayne

back in July (yup, I'm rubbish again), I went to the event launch because clearly I am now best buds with the Studio Tour. Some of the designers themselves were there, including the legend that is Philip Treacy (*fangirls*) who completely sassed Erica (you really need to check out her A Muggle Reacts post, it's amazing) and rather begrudgingly but did it anyway, let me put on a Beauxbatons hat!

Smashleighjayne


Yup. Admit it. You hate me a little bit right now.

Rita Skeeter is one of my favourite characters, I love to hate her SO MUCH. Plus, her outfits through out the movies are just spectacular. From the Acid Green power suit that matches her acid tongue and the Quick Quotes Quill to the dragon inspired costume from teh first task in the Triwizard Tornament. For Rita, a lot of the inspiration came from the style of Vivienne Westwood and you can really see it.

Smashleighjayne

Wizarding Wardrobes is more than just the clothes themselves. We also got to meet the Makeup department, saw someone transformed into Bellatrix Lestrange and even got our own Dark Marks, we really are the coolest.

Smashleighjayne


Yeah, I'm evil now.

Words can't really describe the sheer hilarity of us becoming Horace Slughorn's armchair or running around with a tennis ball.. Dobby... or making Dobby do the time warp in the special effects department. You really couldn't wipe the smiles off our faces for the whole evening.

Smashleighjayne
LEANNE IS A CHAIR
If you also want to experience Wizarding Wardrobes at the Studio Tour, you have until 27th September, so you better get your butts in gear!

Being taken behind the scenes of the look and style of our favourite films truly was magical, but what made it even more so was, as always, being with my favourite nerds. We gave Erica a glimpse into our world and Emma got to visit the tour for the first time. Our whole evening was full of giggles, prosecco and wonder. And I couldn't be happier.


Smashleighjayne


If you'd like to see more Wizarding Wardrobes glee, make sure you check out Emma Inks and here's  Little Miss Katy's vlog for you too. Cue giggles.




*Disclaimer: I was invited to attend the launch of Wizarding Wardrobes by the Studio Tour but I don't really need to tell you that the words are mine, right? I'm such a nerd, it's just a given now.

Force Friday II at John Lewis


As an utter nerd, there are a couple of days in the calendar that will always be celebrated in weird and wonderful ways. You have May 4th Be With You, Harry Potter's Birthday on 31st July, going back to Hogwarts on 1st September an, of course, there's Force Friday. This time, the second.

This Friday, John Lewis on Oxford Street not only held an exclusive event to showcase their new Star Wars range (toys AND tech) but they set up a pop up Cantina Bar complete with actors from Secret Cinema mingling in character costumes and serving you drinks at the bar. Do enjoy this picture of me with my new BFF Chewbacca. The height difference is just BEYOND funny.

Picture by Charlie, Distracted



LOOK HOW HAPPY I AM.

The Cantina was exactly as weird as you wanted it to be. C-3PO was in his little net on the floor, all broken up. Little weird creatures sat in cages, the Cantina Band made us all dance and there  were Twi'leks everywhere, all painted blue and green.



The Cantina served pretty much non-descript mystery drinks in what look like little potion bottles, one of them tasted like Christmas in a bottle! If you couldn't be bothered to queue,well, lucky you! You'd be able to spot the odd 'smuggler' walking around in full costume, sneakily slipping people drinks out of his satchel. It was like you were actually on Tatooine and just like Secret Cinema a few years ago when I was completely overwhealmed and so very happy I cried.



I had a dance with R2-D2, was force choked by Darth Vader, cuddled Chewbacca and ran around wanting all of the things. I was in such a happy place.

Now, this is just a fangirl post about the Cantina itself but I'll totally be following up with a post on my top 5 products that I totally need to get... if you also want to go to the cantina to geek out, don't worry your little cotton socks. It's open all weekend so get your butt down there!


What Harry Potter means to me: 20 years later



I have never hidden my love for Harry Potter, not once over the past 20 years. It's all a part of my charm, really.

From the "Boy who Lived" to "Nineteen Years Later", the Harry Potter books have been with me through everything and have shaped the person I am today. I have been to midnight releases, seen the play twice, become an ambassador for Lumos and I am still waiting for my Hogwarts Letter. Everything I am started with a few notes written on a napkin all those years ago.

There are a lot of people who dismiss the Harry Potter books as children's books which will always irritate me, they are so much more than that. These books introducted me to the most wonderful love and the most harrowing grief. They helped me to understand the horrors of the world even if I couldn't stop them. The held me as close as I held them and they kept me safe. Certainly not just a children's book.



When I first picked up these books at the age of 9, I had no idea, as cliched as this sounds, the journey I would go on. I had no idea that a book series would bring me so much happiness and also so much heartache. I didn't know that they would become a security blanket for all of the hardest moments of my life and I had no idea that at the age of 28, I would be as excited as I was yesterday when I finally bought my first set of robes.

I can't really explain why these tales of a boy wizard mean so much to me but I can tell you a few times I have needed them and how they helped me.

When I was little, I was quite smart, I don't mean like a child genius, but I was clever and as a result I was bullied. It didn't stop when I got older either. The same thing happened all over again when I went to Secondary School. As a kid, I automatically assumed something was wrong with me. Hermione Granger taught me there wasn't. When I was going through the motions again as a teenager, she reminded me there was nothing wrong with me. I used her as my inspiration to always aim for the very best. Yes, Hermione didn't have the best time for a while and also did a 'I'm running to the toilet to cry', but she was the 'brightest witch of her age'. Being smart was her strength and i would also be mine.



When I moved to University, I was afraid. Not as in, scared to death, but nervous. I was moving out of my home town and moving to a strange city where I knew NO ONE. I was alone. But then I remembered Harry's first journey on the Hogwarts Express. He was alone in a whole new world let alone a big city. He did alright, didn't he?

Last year, my Nanna got sick and passed away. The first thing I did when I was packing to go up to Scotland to see her was pack the The Prisoner of Azkaban. I bloody needed it. I had my own Dementors to fight and will do for a while over the coming months. I used it as my talisman. I used it to feel safe and strong. The Dementors are still there but I have my own little Patronus whenever I need it.



These are just a handful of times where I have needed these books. Not all the times I need them are hard either. I use Harry potter and the Philosopher's Stone as my travelling book whenever I'm going on a long journey. Gary and I have spent all day watching all of the movies and doing Harry Potter puzzles just because we can. I read it in the bath, I read it on the tube when I've had a tough day at work and I am always carrying at least one thing that is Harry Potter related.

I feel extremely proud an honoured that I am a part of a family beyond imagination. I've made some of my closest friends through our mutual love for these books. Harry Potter has given me strength so many times and I'm sure it will be the same for my children, when I'm finally brave enough to part with the exact copies I have held dear for so long.



I will be there when they find the Stone. When they close the chamber. When they save Sirius. when they join the Order. When they mourn for Dumbledore. when they mourn for them all. It'll be as real for them as it is for me.

Happy birthday, Harry Potter. Thank you, Jo.

What I wore to the House of Lords

Lumos Charity


I love any excuse to dress up really. I'm one of those people who still puts on fancy clothes to go to the theatre. Why not, eh?

Really, you don't get a better excuse to dress up than an oh so very casual invite to the House of Lords. That's right, the dudes with the fancy wigs.

The reason I was at such a fancy place is that earlier on in the year I was made an ambassador of J.K. Rowling's charity Lumos. Through Lumos I have been able to see the Cursed Child, meet their higher profile ambassadors such as Evanna Lynch and Warwick Davis, plan how I am going to raise further money and awareness and, most importantly, learn more about the work Lumos are doing in Moldova, Haiti in beyond. You can find out so much more about Lumos in my charity Gala post  right here.

I didn't want to go too overboard with my outfit, but still wanted to feel dressed up. What with the rush to sort everything out before work started, I decided to go with the exact same thing I wore to my last Orchestra performance of the year at the weekend. A mixture of cheap as cheeps and slightly more expensive but paid for with a voucher...


A dress/skirt combo for extra layers and something a little smarter than your standard LBD, The sparkly top bit is actually a woollen jumper dress from Primark that cost me a grand total of £8, the skirt itself is an Oasis number that I traipsed across what felt like the whole of London to find. Srsly.

The two together give extra swish and the ability to hide my drunken Henna errors... (work Christmas party drinks were had and poor decisions were made)

I'm SO happy with the combo in general. I felt so fancy but also comfortable. No time for choosing between the two.



My hair is the longest it has been in over ten years so I'm trying to learn how to do things with it. I mostly just know how to twist and plait (currently rocking milk maid plaits like a BOSS. I feel like Heidi) but at least I'm trying. The hair didn't work out the way I wanted it but the Gryffindor makes it work... right?


Yes, I'm mixing gold and silver which isn't really a thing but meh.

This is my new Lumos charm bracelet Gary got me for my birthday. The proceeds for each one go directly to the charity so being at one of their event was the perfect opportunity to show it off with pride. I do enjoy how you can add your House charm to it. Can you tell I'm a Gryffindor????

I can smarten up quite well I think!

How do you wear all black?

Warner Brothers Studio Tour London (Part Two) - Hogwarts in the Snow

Warner Brother's Studio Tour London

It's not everyday you get to go to Hogwarts and casually sip prosecco in the Great Hall, is it? So when I was invited to go to Hogwarts in the Snow at the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, I said 'yes' without even needing to think. I mean, it's Hogwarts.

Yes, I know I have already been there this year, but that's not the point. This time there was snow and it's every Potterhead's Christmas wish to be at Hogwarts for Christmas.

Donned in our scarves and other Harry Potter attire, it turned out that we had one from every house! I was there to represent Gryffindor while Charlie and Leanne were our Ravenclaws, Katy was Hufflepuff and Charlie's sister Becky was a Slytherin in disguise.

The Great Hall was as awe-inspiring as ever, made even better by the supply of food and booze and Christmassy spirit everywhere. I have decided that I desperately need Harry Potter themed crackers this year.

Warner Brother's Studio Tour London

Warner Brother's Studio Tour London

The famous Christmas feast was laid out for display, all handcrafted out of resin and ridiculpusly realistic looking. The best part was the Christmas puddings that were actually flaming!


JUST LOOK AT IT!

When we walked through to the art, props and sets I noticed some things had moved around that was a little disorientating but I was still absolutely amazed with everything. Especially the 'ice sculpture' from the Yule Ball in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It just looks so cool!

Warner Brother's Studio Tour London


This time, we had the joys of doing something I have never done before. GET SILLY PICTURES TAKEN!



Just look at my 'I can't act' faces! It was so ridiculous but so much fun. I got to wear ACTUAL Gryffindor robes and Katy got to be a full blown Hufflepuff. We were beside ourselves with giggles on the Hogwarts Express and seeing Leanne's reaction to seeing the Hogwarts Express for the first time was just heart warming.

Skipping the butterbeer (I actually hate it, please don't kill me), we ran outside where we squaled like excited fangirls when snow started blowing out of the top of the Knightbus. I danced in the snow in Godrics Hollow. Could I have BEEN any happier? I also got the chance to piss of the Dursleys. Who wouldn't want that?


Who even is this youth loitering and DRINKING in Privet Drive? What is the world coming to?

You're probably getting sick and tired of photos of Hogwarts, especially if you follow me on Instagram! But... COME ON. Seeing it in the snow is incredible. It kind of looks like the most amazing gingerbread house. Kinda.

Warner Brothers Studio Tour London

Warner Brothers Studio Tour London

Warner Brothers Studio Tour London

Don't you just wish it was real? And yes, I cried again but no, I am STILL not ashamed.

Laden with bags, a new Ravenclaw scarf for my cousin and filled with loads of new happy memories, we made our way home and reality had to be a thing again.

Hogwarts is my home and seeing it in the snow really was one off the bucket list. I can't wait to go back to the studio and relive it all over again.

Have you ever seen Hogwarts in the snow?






*Disclaimer: I was invited to attend this event for free but you all know I LOVE Harry Potter and I would have been a right idiot if I turned it down.