I was first introduced to the Harry Potter series through a lot of my high school friends – the majority of them actually.
I wish I could say I was one of the first to recognise its awesomeness – that I read it before all of those around me – that I introduced them to it, and could take credit, but alas, no. At that age I thought it was way cooler to feign disinterest in something that was popular, because then I wouldn’t be like everybody else – I’d be mysterious and above it all and so much better than those other ‘losers’ reading it, wasting their time.
How wrong I was.
The fifth book came out – The Order of the Phoenix – which a friend of mine was reading at the time. They kept going on and on about how great it was – it was driving me round the twist.
I finally cracked. I relented and borrowed it from the school library.
I knew nothing about the books. I didn’t know the story, I didn’t know the characters – I hadn’t watched the movies.
And then I started reading it. (Beware folks, it’s about to become seriously Harry Potter loved up right now.)
I was totally lost in a world I didn’t understand, but in which I was totally immersed. And that was just it for me. I fell in love with it. The emotion, the story, the characters. I cried when Sirius Black died; I didn’t know who Sirius Black was.
It was enchanting.
It was EMBARRESSING.
I’m one of those saddo’s that cried when she saw a new trailer for a film. I was in Ghana teaching when the sixth book came out and I nearly went insane with the not knowing; not being able to read it. When I’d finished reading the Hallows book I felt a deep sadness. When the last film ended I didn’t want to leave the cinema.
That’s right folks – THAT sad. Not in an ‘Oh that puppy’s only got three legs’ kind of way, but in a ‘that girls drawn a scar on her child’s head and named him Harry – what a psycho’ kind of way.
Note: I’ve never actually done that.
My grandma used to say (constantly) “It’s for boys!” I’d say “Huh?” And she’d say, “It’s about a boy – it’s for boys!” (As though that made all the sense in the world.) I tried explaining that there were girls in it too – that one of the main characters was a girl called Hermione. That didn’t change her opinion.
I almost admired her unswerving stubborness. Almost. But it battled with my stubbornness (something I clearly got from her) and the more she challenged me on it, the more determined I’d become. It became almost my mission in life to get her to watch ‘The Philosopher’s Stone’ and say she liked it. I’d ask her if she wanted to watch a film; she’d be expecting ‘Sense and Sensibility’, I’d stick in Harry Potter. She’d get past the first scene and grumble “It’s for boys,” and turn her attention to something else, like a cig. And so back to Jane Austen (which I also, incidentally, love.)
When Ash and I got engaged, he hadn’t seen the films nor read the books. His disinterest was akin to what I used to feel. But when you marry someone, you have to adapt yourself to them, compromise, love each other ‘in sickness and in health.’ Well, this is my sickness (to quote Monica from ‘Friends’.) And the funny thing is, it’s now his too.
I love that; that we’ve become more like each other in our passions. Our love of ‘Friends‘ is legend amongst our own friends. The amount of quotes we come out with on a daily basis is (sometimes) shocking. Ash didn’t watch ‘Friends‘ before we were together either. I like to think I’ve been a positive influence on his life. =D
A few weekends ago, we dropped the kids at my parents, and set off on our first child-free weekend in two and a half years. We plugged the iPhone in, cranked up the volume and listened to (almost) three straight hours of Stephen Fry’s voice, taking us through ‘The Goblet of Fire’.
And guess where our first child-free weekend in two and a half years was spent??
Leavesdon Studios. AKA, Warner Bro’s Studios. AKA, HARRY POTTER LAND!
Excitement doesn’t even begin to cover what I was feeling. We arrived and the hotel was amazing (if melt-your-face hot) and just what we needed for a relaxing weekend away.
We spent a chilled-out day on the Saturday, the indoor swimming pool a haven as no one else used it, egging ourselves up for our 4pm slot at the Studios. Pub landlords and waitresses we met in the early afternoon at lunch time all told us how amazing it was and that we were in for a treat. Driving there (just 5mins away from where we were staying) we got our first glimpse of the sign. I admit I squealed a little bit.
Ticket checked, we parked the car and walked, giggling like little children, to the doors.
The entrance is encased in pictures of the characters from the film. They are huge. They look amazing. There are various props from the film scattered about on plinths, hanging from the ceiling. The gift shop tempted us with it’s delectable Honeydukes merchandise winking at us from the display windows, but we held off until we finished. (See, I have some control?)
Waiting in line with our Digital Guides, we didn’t really know what to expect. What if it’s rubbish? What if it’s not worth the money? What if they miss out the things we want to see the most??
I won’t tell you how you enter the Tour as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t been/doesn’t know, but it truly is magical (see what I did there?)
From the great hall,
to the Horcruxes,
to Dumbedore’s office,
to the first snitch Harry caught,
to Number 4 Privet Drive,
to the animatronics,
EVERYTHING is exceptional. The detail, the craftsmanship. Nothing is left out, nothing is forgotten.
Was is worth the money? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes. Did I see everything I wanted to see? Yes. Was it rubbish? NO!
They say when you walk in that it should take approximately 3hours to see everything.
The record for someone being in there is 11hours. We were in there 6 and a half … We would have been longer, only it was closing. We were in there so long that we had to get new Digital Guides as ours batteries had died. The woman we asked for new packs from asked, astonished, “You know we close in an hour don’t you?” “Yes,” we answered, happily. “You know there’s a LOT more to see don’t you.” “Erm … no.”
CRAP! It was then a race against time to see everything. My iPhone battery was at 22% and we still had around half of the stuff to see! An avid picture taker I almost had a heart attack!
Thankfully, somehow, with just 1% battery life remaining, we made it out to the gift shop. We did it. We just wish we’d gone for an earlier time slot now. So we could’ve beaten that record. I should probably say that the finale of the tour is INCREDIBLE! We literally gasped, expecting to enter the gift shop then and there, but no. Something magical (did it again, eh?) was waiting. I would tell you what, but the shock for us was the best part!
There’s just something about Harry Potter.
I don’t know what it is. The triumph of good over evil, perhaps? The relationships; the wholly rounded characters; the offering of escapism to another world; the connection it brings between adults and children; the Britishness of it? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because we grew up with it?
I’ve read a lot of books. I read around 3, sometimes 4, a week. I’ve read Twilight and The Hunger Games. I’ve read the Fallen books by Lauren Kate. And I think they’re great. I was as excited as anyone when The Hunger Games came out, and the film was released. It’s brilliant. I can’t wait for Breaking Dawn Part 2 to be released. But for me, and I think a lot of people out there, nothing comes close to touching the Potter series. And I’m not so sure anything will again.
So, I’d like to honour and thank my grandma, whose hatred of all things Harry Potter caused my love for it to Flourish (and Blotts) and grow. I owe you one gran.
Also, my friend who introduced me to it, my husband with whom my passion is equally yoked, and J.K. Rowling, without whom I think my fictional life would be significantly more boring.
Anyone considering going to the Studio Tour – it’s highly recommended. Just take a few cameras, charge them fully, and get an early slot if you’re anything like us and want to see EVERYTHING!
I can’t wait to be able to read the books to the boys – how exciting!!