My weekend at LFCC and YALC

Hello there chaps, chapettes and those who identify as neither, how the devil are you? It feels like forever since I last opened WordPress, I’m going to assume you’ve missed me. But you know, it’s fine if you didn’t. Anyway, you good? Good. Now, let me tell you about my weekend where I spent a day hanging out with a bunch of nerds in London and then ended up hanging out with another bunch of nerds in my home town!

I’ve spent the past few days mostly sat in various train stations around the South of England because I went to LFCC AND YALC! I did visit a few years ago when it was in a different venue and much like last time, I did spend a huge amount of time wondering around in awe at all the cosplayers. My favourites this time around was a large group of Rick and Mortys who all decided to hang out together singing Get Schifty, the family that came dressed as Guardians of the Galaxy with the parents as Star Lord and Gamora and the children as Drax and Groot and their baby as Rocket. How did they get a tiny Rocket costume?! I also enjoyed a couple who came as Deadpool and Spider Man who spent most of their time holding hands and skipping around the convention together and the Newt Scamander I stood next to in the queue for the bathroom.

Honestly, I spent most of my time on the second floor of the building at the YALC where I visited a load of publisher stands and got all the swag below!

I’m actually very proud of myself for only buying two things from the whole event! There were so many things I wanted to buy! Though I missed the panel I wanted to see, I did get to listen to many authors, including a bunch of my favourites, talk about everything from their latest work, to romance, to bending genres and making it work for them – fascinating stuff! I was super sad I had to leave before Non Pratt had her head shave witnessed by Benedict Cumberbatch (yes, that is a thing that happened, the Twitter moment that was put together was a work of art).
I did check out LFCC too and got to see Christopher Lloyd posing next to a Delorean, Alyson Hannigan hanging out at her booth, Sylvester McCoy heading to his talk and squeed a bit too hard at the display of Back to the Future costumes and props. One day I will learn to go all three days and enjoy the whole event. Also one day I’d like to be able to source/make an awesome costume because honestly cosplayers are the coolest. I want to be that cool! After traipsing through London in the rain to get my train home and then sitting on a platform wishing GWR would get their shit together and run their trains on time, I met up with a group of nerds I’m more acquainted with to see Woody Harrellson fight some monkeys. So, pretty successful weekend I’d say!

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Floridian Adventure!

So, I’ve been gone a little while, thought I’d tell you about my Florida adventure, stay tuned, this post will mostly be Post Disney Depression and general flailing. Be warned. Also I am writing this whilst watching Saving Mr Banks, which is really not helping me feel better about the fact that I am back in England!

On May 4th (I know right, Star Wars day) I got a train to London town, got several trains in London town and then got a plane to Orlando, finally arriving somewhere incredibly hot, incredibly green, incredibly full of ducks and ready for my Disney adventure!! When I awoke on my first full day, it was to a downpour, which was disappointing, but after five minutes or so, the rain disappeared and was replaced by sunshine and intense heat!
Our first port of call was this place:
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Epcot is genuinely one of the coolest places I have ever been. I don’t really know what I was expecting from Walt Disney World, but I wasn’t really expecting a theme park that was about science, innovation and conservation, which is exactly what Epcot is!

When you enter the first thing you see is a giant golf ball, in which there is a ride called Spaceship Earth which takes you on a little time travelling adventure starting in ancient times and then going into the future. There was a feature where the ride took a photo of you and then created an avatar so you could see what travel and home life would be like in your future, naturally, my friend and I decided to pull the stupidest faces we could think of and after three attempts, the ride gave in and let us get away with it, meaning that this gem was on display for the rest of Epcot to see!
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As well as time travelling, we also went on a Mars Mission (my favourite Epcot ride tbh), tried a variety of cokes from around the world (honestly, carrot flavoured coke was disgusting and I probably should have known that before trying it), was taught all about the ocean by Nemo and his friends, saw some rescued dolphins and manatees (had my mind blown slightly about the fact that Disney isn’t just a huge corporate thing, but also a conservation area – I’ve never been to sea world, but my travel friend has and she tells me that Epcot is a much nicer place for animals to be.). Epcot also has a land based science area where you can visit green houses and have a look at the different ways that they are studying plants which was super interesting. Other places of interest included Journey into Imagination, which reminded me a lot of Small World, but without the racism, the Energy area where a very young Ellen teamed up with Bill Nye the Science Guy to teach the world about how energy works, honestly, it was interesting, but it was also the longest ride I have ever been on! It was like 37 minutes! But there were dinosaurs and all sorts and if you know me IRL, you’ll know I bloody love dinosaurs!
My favourite area of Epcot though had to be the World Showcase! The UK bit was hilarious and considering how stereotypical and slightly over the top it was, I’m sure that the other countries were just as daft, but honestly, it was incredible, especially the food! I spent far too much time and money in Japan, the shop there was like heaven to me! It was full of amazing Japanese pop culture stuff from anime and Studio Ghibli movies, I ended up getting some Ghibli prints, not that I have anywhere to put them currently… And lots of food! I even tried sushi for the first time and am now a convert!! The whole of the World Showcase was amazing to be honest and we spent most of our Epcot time there before the Illuminations show at the end of the day which was pretty spectacular as far as light shows go. I even managed to meet these two while hanging out in Epcot:
IMG_5865 IMG_5874Squad goals if ever I saw them.

Our second day saw us head to Universal Studios, which was where I was most excited about visiting for Harry Potter reasons and honestly, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is freaking amazing.
Like, I know we have the studio tour here in the UK and I know that I really enjoyed my day there, but seriously, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter completely and utterly blows it away, Universal have not only built Hogwarts, but also Hogsmead, a working Hogwarts Express train AND Diagon Alley with actual shops and eateries and oh my God, it was like I had actually been transported into the pages of one of my favourite series!
The main Harry Potter ride in Hogwarts was amazing! Even the queuing is fun! You get to walk through Hogwarts, there are moving portraits, students, a great hall, it is just amazing! Once you eventually get to the ride, you sit on a quidditch bench and go on a little journey around Hogwarts! Our first go on the ride was super fun, the second one, not so much! The ride broke down on our second attempt, with us hanging upside down whilst being traced by a dragon. Not fun. It was so traumatic that we ended up forgetting which locker we had stored our stuff in, which lead to the supervisors having to call security to try and get it back. OH GOD. NOT GOOD. But, even the trauma couldn’t make me hate Universal. Universal is so much fun! I got to visit Jurassic Park and drink two varieties of butter beer and meet Spider Man and hang out with the Avengers and the Simpsons, I saved ET, became a minion and shot some aliens as part of the Men in Black team! I pretty much spent the entire day having a complete nerdgasm.
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Butter Beer in the US is pretty much exactly the same as in Watford, only lighter in colour and a much larger portion (obviously). The Harry Potter magic continues into Diagon Alley where there is a Forlean Fortescue Ice Cream Parlour which has the most amazing ice cream flavours! I tried Butter Beer ice cream which was like a party in my mouth, even though I really shouldn’t be eating ice cream! Other flavours included Sticky Toffee Pudding, Apple Pie and various other excitements.  The only thing that I had a problem with at Universal is that there wasn’t a single place in the entire park that I could eat. I know that I’m a vegetarian, which is my own choice, but I am also allergic to milk… Which meant that even the stuff in Universal that didn’t have meat on it, did have cheese on it. That was a bit rubbish and sort of let the place down slightly because it did mean having to go most of the day without eating anything!

Day three was the big one: the Magic Kingdom.
IMG_5913Oh Dear God.
The Magic Kingdom is honestly the most beautiful place I have ever visited. I spent pretty much every day declaring that each park I visited was my favourite, but now having gotten home, Magic Kingdom has to claim the title. The amount of detail included in even little things like the dustbins and the pavement slabs was amazing, each section was so intricate and beautiful that I spent most of my time flailing over everything!
Pirates of the Caribbean is still my favourite ride, even if it is slightly more exciting in Paris, Haunted Mansion is also pretty great!
Tomorrowland was awesome, you might have noticed a pattern with my love of space and all, but I also had a lot of time for the Peter Pan and Little Mermaid rides, as well as Big Thunder Mountain. Of course, the best part of the Magic Kingdom is the food, we tried dole whip (amazing), dole whip floats (refreshing), funnel cake (pretty special), sweet potato nuggets (tasted a lot like donuts) they even have vegetarian food that doesn’t involve cheese! Well done Disney!
Though we didn’t get to see the famous parade that everyone says is incredible, we did get to watch the evening show, Wishes, which was by far the most amazing fire work display I have EVER seen. Seriously, I got emotional over fireworks. They started playing I see the Light from Tangled and I lost it a little bit. Many tears were shed which was a bit ridiculous but… I couldn’t help it, it was all so beautiful.

The next visit was to Hollywood Studios, when I was in Paris, I found that I much preferred the studio aspect of the park than the actual theme park bit, Hollywood Studios looked amazing and smelled amazing. First stop was The Great Movie Ride, which although wasn’t the best ride in the park, was a giant nerdgasm for me, being someone who loves films and wants to make them properly one day, the fact that we were wondering around a place that looked like a studio lot was very exciting. There was also an exhibition about Walt Disney and yes, ok, he was a bit of a racist, but I came out of there loving Walt Disney, apparently, Disney World was created because he wanted a place where he could spend time with his daughters and give other families the opportunity to spend time together, that’s just so lovely! Maybe Disney has become a corporate place where the point is to make money, but knowing that originally it was a place for families to experience joy together made the whole journey much more magical.
Hollywood Studios also has Star Tours, each time we rode it we got a different experience and we both ended up being selected as rebel spies at various points which was very exciting! There is also Toy Story Midway Mania, the best game on the planet, which I happen to be very good at. Of course sing a long Frozen had to be done, as did the Indiana Jones stunt show and meeting Hiro and Baymax.

 

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My two favourite meals of the journey happened in Hollywood Studios, the first was in the Sci Fi Diner, where you get to sit in a booth designed to look like a car and watch an old fashioned drive in, they did put sugar and cinnamon on my sweet potato fries though, which was kind of odd… The other place was Pizza Planet, as in actual Pizza Planet from Toy Story! I was told before hand that Pizza Planet did vegan cheese, which I ordered, but the chap at the counter wasn’t overly sure that they could swap the cheese… Either way, the pizza was amazing and I didn’t feel too ill after, so I’m assuming that it was vegan cheese after all. The evening show at Hollywood Studios wasn’t as spectacular as Wishes, but it was pretty exciting, there was a lot of pyrotechnics and characters and was in equal parts terrifying and amazing.

The next park we experienced was Animal Kingdom which looked exactly like how I imagine Jurassic Park would have looked like if it had ever been a real place. Like Epcot, this was also a park that mainly dealt with conservation, there were areas where you could view rescued animals and even go on a safari, I’ve been to safari parks before, so that wasn’t too big a deal, but the amount of space and care that went into keeping the animals was a bit eye opening. Animal Kingdom also houses the world’s weirdest petting zoo (instead of rabbits and the like you are allowed to play with goats and pigs…) jungle treks where you can see beautiful birds and butterflies, a few animal themed rides and dino land. Dino land was my fave. Seriously, you got sent back into the past and got to try and find a dinosaur whilst being chased by another bigger dinosaur and trying to escape a meteor crash. Probably the best ride of the lot to be honest. Animal Kingdom is also the only place in the whole of Disney that has dedicated vegetarian restaurants. Like for serious. Also, their falafel is incredible. Unlike the others, it is a fairly small park, so after we visited all the bits we wanted to see, we headed to Downtown Disney, which is basically a shopping area that is disney inspired. There is also a Planet Hollywood where I got pasta and was warned that it didn’t come with meat. Like duh. Downtown Disney does have the world’s biggest Disney Store on it and I think I must be the only person in the world that couldn’t find what I wanted there, but I did get back in time to watch Game of Thrones. EXCITEMENTS.

There were also visits to Mall of Millenia, which was way more expensive than I thought it would be, it would have been better for us to go to the Florida Mall, where they have a Hot Topic (seriously, the UK needs a Hot Topic) but alas, they were too far away. And that concludes my trip to Florida, it was the most fun I think I have ever had, I’m already weighing up whether I should buy a house or save for another trip! Has anyone else ever been to Walt Disney World? What did you think? Did you like the foods I tried, was there anything else that I should have done? Let me know!

 

 

Leah’s Parisian adventure!

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Quote from A Moveable Feast found on google.

Its official, I am a city girl at heart.
I love cities. I love bustling crowds and forcing my way onto trains. I dont know why, open spaces and fields are pretty and all, but I feel much happier being amongst tall buildings and surrounded by people. Weird huh?
Because of this, all my holidays tend to be city breaks and each city has given me something new. New York made me want to sit in coffee shops people watching, Chicago made me want to explore, London makes me want to constantly keep moving and Paris, Paris made me want to write a novel in a little bistro surrounded by beautiful architecture and pastries.
Being a huge Fitzgerald fangirl, I have longed to wander along Parisian streets searching for the kind of inspiration which will help me write my Great Gatsby-esque masterpiece. While I have yet to pen such a work of art, I have finally, after years of reading about Scott and Zelda’s parties, of watching Midnight in Paris and trawling through A Moveable Feast, I have finally walked those streets, dear God did I walk them. Believe me when I say I walked A LOT OF THEM. Here is my run down of fun things that I did whilst in Paris.

So, my adventure pretty much started at Bristol airport where I discovered that Kinder Eggs have Marvel toys in them (I now have the Green Goblin and the Lizard, even though I have been praying for Spider Man or Loki.) and that somewhere in Bristol, there lives a guy that looks like Dan Howell.
dan approves

But, enough about that, you don’t want to hear about the nonsense that occurred on the way, you want to know about Paris and I want to tell you about Paris because dear God, that city is so beautiful it makes angels cry.
My first full day in Paris consisted of walking the 35 minutes from the hotel to the Notre Dame, which is quite possibly the most gorgeously gothic building I have ever seen and admiring the view from the Seine.
Seriously, look at it:
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES Eurgh.
That architecture.
(I’m a bit of a sucker for a pretty building.)
After admiring that for some time and gazing longingly at all the tremendous houses that line the Seine, we decided that we should probably track down Shakespeare and Company seeing as it is nearby and all, and, as I’ve already mentioned, my tiny little obsession with all things Fitzgerald.
I know from reading A Moveable Feast that the owners of Shakespeare and Company were lovely fellows that liked to give ex pats free or cheap books. Even if it wasn’t completely steeped in literary history, I think I still would have fallen in love with it, it is genuinely one of the most beautiful bookshops I have ever stepped foot in.
So, of course I bought a book (I know I already own it, but come on, you don’t see these classic covers in the UK very often!)

IMG_4132And then of course, I had to try and reenact the cover of a Moveable Feast!

20140404-214422.jpgIt also gave me an excuse to get my Instax camera out, which I’d never really used properly up until then. Anyway, after freaking out about the fact that I was at Shakespeare and Company and that they stamp your books with the Bard’s face and give you a lovely little gift bag, it was back on the road to find other landmarks such as Pont De Arts where lovers across the world come to padlock their names to the bridge, the Louvre, the Arc De Triumphe and the Eiffel Tower.

I think my favourite padlock was this one:
artshp-4110 Harry Potter is my home boy too.
I spent a significant amount of time looking for fandom related padlocks, but I didn’t see any. I know a couple of people who have actually put their own padlock on the bridge, but I didn’t find theirs either.
After walking to the Notre Dame, the book shop, all along the Seine, the Pont de Arts and then to the Louvre, we debated getting the Batobus and getting off at our next stop, the Arc de Triumphe, but, as we could just and just see the building itself, we decided we might as well walk to it. I’ll be honest, if I go to Paris again, or if anyone asks me my opinion, I will not recommend that you walk to all the major landscapes. Yeah, they’re not too far apart, but honestly, it is a TREK to the bottom of the Champs Elysse and it is an even longer one to the top where the Arc actually is. But, you know, we did get to see actual Paris by travelling about on foot, so although I have regrets, blister shaped ones, it was a really lovely way to see the city. From the top of the Champs Elysse, we could see the Eiffel Tower glittering away in the distance and instead of listening to our burning feet and learning from our blister shaped mistakes, we decided it would be a really good idea to just walk over to that too.

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It meant beautiful views like that one and the opportunity to do this:
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But it also meant that I had to craft myself some kind of bandage from tissues and plasters when I finally collapsed onto my bed in the hotel with the French windows open so we wouldn’t have to deal with the stench of abused feet.
The views from the top were spectacular and well worth the hour long wait in a queue with multiple blisters (we cheated and paid the extra few euros to use the lift instead of the stairs). After climbing the Empire State and the Sears Tower in the states, I have to say that I prefered the view from the top of the Eiffel Tower. America, you are beautiful, but you can pretty much just see high rises, France has a much more interesting architecture and with the backdrop of the river and the wonderful cathedrals on the horizon it looked kind of incredible. I’d have loved to have climbed it again at night, but I was pretty much dead on my feet by the time I returned to the ground. Which is why I was on a water taxi when I passed Keira Knightly and therefore couldn’t demand that we be besties and she get me a career in film.

Day two wasn’t much kinder on my feet because we got the tube (France has double decker tubes, how freaking cool is that?!) to this little place:

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I don’t really need to tell you too much about Disney. Everyone knows it’s magical right? Well, let me tell you, I am 25 years old and I was as giddy as an eight year old when I walked under that castle and sat on a Star Wars ride. Honestly, this place was the very definition of fun.
But coming back from Disney signified the start of the return trip, my final day was spent looking at more of beautiful Paris, this time from the Jardin de Luxembourg where there is a magnificent palace and a park that’s probably the size of Hyde Park but much fancier, filled with busts of famous aristocrats. That part of the city looks like the bits that you see in films like Midnight in Paris, it has the little balconys lining the apartments and the trees planted along the pavements and the cobbled streets.
Honestly, I kind of loved Paris, I want to go back. In fact, if it wasn’t such an expensive city I would love to return there as soon as possible. Next time, I want to explore Bastille and visit the Victor Hugo museum, as well as check out the Palace of Versaille, Moulin Rouge and maybe actually go in the Louvre (it was closed). Of course, I’d also like to see the Tower by night, so next time I’ll have to stay a little closer to it, that way I can see it all the time! Maybe next time, I’ll even be naughty and try a delicious French treat (I didn’t want to risk it seeing as dairy products tend to make me ill and my travel companion spoke much more French than I did, so I didn’t want her to leave me!). Next time I will try much harder to learn some French before I go, I adored the fact that English speakers were few and far between, it was a challenge and it made the whole experience feel much more like an adventure!
So, if you’re planning a trip to Paris, brush up on your French, take many Euros and essentially, make sure your shoes are like slippers because if you walk the city like I did, you will destroy your feet. Make sure you’re strong enough to leave too, because this quote from the Paris Wife, which I was reading during my trip is very, very true:

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Photo not mine… Again, google.

 

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A morning with Maureen Johnson, David Levithan and Sarah J Maas

This weekend has been very busy, I’ve spent very little of it at home. Saturday, my friend, Stacey, and I went on a road trip to Birmingham to visit one of our school friends who lives there now. While we were there we popped into the brand new library which is amazing, it has a Shakespear memorial at the top which is all old school and set out like an Elizabethan library. I had a bit of a book boner when in there. The new library has NINE floors! It’s got escalators and lifts like the ones in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! It’s amazing! We also popped into the Waterstones, which is in the most amazing building, it used to be a bank so if you’re ever in the Birmingham area, you should head to the shopping bit and have a look at it! While inside, the school friend in question made the comment that YA books didn’t have as much merit as other fiction because they’re aimed at teenagers (I made them go to the YA section because I was looking for a copy of How I Live Now). Which was kind of ironic, because that was one of the discussion points at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, where I was today listening to Maureen Johnson, David Levithan and Sarah Maas.

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Two of my favourite authors talking about some of my favourite things in a hall in Cheltenham.

The topics of conversation ranged from publishing and how various people got into publishing, Sarah Maas had the most interesting publishing success story by getting recognised and building a fan base purely online. It was great to have the opposing sides of people like David Levithan who got into it from working as an editor and then Sarah Maas who got to where she is now because of things like twitter and fanfic.net. So that was really interesting. We also got to hear about the merit of YA, which made me smile because that was a debate that I had the previous day, we heard about Maureen Johnson’s cover flip project, we heard about how people are using things like twitter to promote their work and, most interestingly, heard about banned books (we don’t really do that here in England) and representing niche areas of the audience.
I have to be honest, two things that I find endlessly fascinating are the ideas that society has on gender and sexuality. Science has already proven that both are fluid, society is well behind. David Levithan is known for writing books that make LGBTQ teens feel more included in YA in general, so hearing him talk about inclusion was really fascinating and we (as in the whole room) had a great discussion about the importance of inclusion and the questions that books such as Every Day, where the lead character doesn’t have a physical body, raise about what’s really important – the inner self or the outer self. There was also a couple of great comments about the fact that the majority of books feature white people on the cover regardless of the content and how problematic that is. This was something that the cover flip project covered. Another of my favourite subjects is feminism, and well, the poor treatment of women in general to be honest, and we got to hear how women in the publishing industry are portrayed which lead to more interesting conversation.

It’s a shame that the event didn’t go on longer because they could have gone on forever and I would have still hung on their every word. After the keynote, some lovely people from HotKeyBooks gave out vouchers so you could win copies Maureen’s new book and they all did a signing.

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I took my copy of Boy Meets Boy and Bermudez Triangle for the signing because they were the first two books I got and loved by David and Maureen. I am intrigued about the new copies of Boy Meets Boy, they’re much thicker than mine! My friend and I had a lovely chat with both David and Maureen about Maureen’s dog, which we also got to see photos of and the fact that apparently Bermudez Triangle is really rare in the UK and Maureen hadn’t met anyone who actually had a UK copy before. So that was nice!
I felt bad that I didn’t have anything for Sarah Maas to sign, they were selling copies of her books there but I didn’t have eight quid upon my person to spare. But I am going to track down a copy because it sounds amazing! Has anyone read it? Is it good?

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Harry Potter studio tour!

Like I said in my last post, I’ve been away for the past few days and to be honest, a lot of the activities I ended up doing were a bit bookish… I did a Jack the Ripper walk, stalking around Whitechapel ala Rory from the Shades of London series, I was all Phillipa Gregory by hanging out at the Tower of London, I read NW by Zadie Smith, I was in NW for some time, I did a couple of stops off at Baker Street… Also hung out by this old thing…

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The sign at Kings Cross

You get the idea. But honestly, the most bookish and arguably, best thing I did was the Harry Potter studio tour.

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Hogwarts, this way!

I know you guys have either been, so you don’t care what I have to say about it, or you want to go and don’t want to be reminded of the fact that you haven’t been yet, but I just really want to say how impressed I was by it. I was a little bit worried that it would be a bit… Well, lame. I had such high expectations and I was scared that it wouldn’t live up to them. I was wrong, it was like a bowl of amazeballs with added awesome sauce.

The tour itself is really well organised, you go through in groups at a time, with films to space the groups out so that there are never too many people in one bit at a time. They have left partial and entire sets from the film standing, when you go into the great hall, you are actually in the great hall, as in you push open the double doors, step onto the flag stone floor and are surrounded by the wooden tables. It’s surreal, overwhelming and incredible. Similarly, you get to walk down actual Diagon Alley, there are shops and a cobbled street… It’s one thing to visualise a place in one of your favourite books and to then see it immortalised on film, it’s quite another to then get to stand in that place and see it before your very eyes. I don’t really know how to describe it. Just know, that it’s something quite special.

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Diagon Alley!

Another awesome part of the tour is of course the chance to try butter beer. I had some this time last year at Leaky Con, their version of butter beer was cream soda with butter scotch syrup served chilled over ice. The Levesdon Studios version is a fizzy, frothy, smooth caramel affair which is just divine.

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BUTTER BEER IS AWESOME. LIKE I CAN’T EVEN.

I have an insane sweet tooth so naturally, I thought it was the best thing ever. I am genuinely considering paying the admission price all over again just to be able to drink more and more butter beer. The great thing about where the butter beer stall is situated is that it is on the back lot so you get a wonderful view of Privet Drive, Godrick’s Hollow and various vehicles used in the films which is all kinds of awesome and as you can see, exciting.

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Visiting the Dursley’s

The tour seriously has something for everyone, if you’re interested in the art, design and cinematography, there is an area dedicated to that, if you just want to step inside Gryffindor common room, there is an area for that, if you want to learn about animatronics or how they cast spells, you can do that too, it covers all the bases and is everything a trip to Hogwarts should be. It explains how various things happened without taking away the magic of the films, in essence, it is, in every sense of the word, brilliant.

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Hogwarts model.

The only real downside to the tour was the extortionate nature of the giftshop. I was expecting the HP merchandise to be on the pricey side and I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to walk away with my full Slytherin uniform and wand but I wasn’t quite expecting chocolate frogs or Bertie Botts beans to also be out of my price range. So that was a shame, but you know, the tour itself is nothing short of perfect so it wasn’t a huge let down.

If you haven’t been yet, I sincerely hope you get the chance to visit and if you have been, please allow me to flail with you over its general awesomeness.

Also – while we’re on the subject of Harry Potter, have you guys seen the new covers? I actually really like them! What are your thoughts?

Vacation Book Tag!

I did a video!

This is the Vacation Book Tag, basically, you talk about your perfect holidays using literature!
The questions are:
1. Your destination/setting.: where do you want to go? Why?
2. Constant Companion: the literary character you’d want to take along with you. Why? This character doesn’t have to be from the book your setting is from, but they can be.
3. Disgruntled Copilot: The one character you WOULDN’T want to be stuck sitting next to on the plane. Why?
4. Tour Guide: one person from your chosen setting that you’d want to show you around.
5. Site to see: the one place you’d want to see first. Why?
6. Something to avoid: an aspect from the world or setting you would prefer not to be a part of.
7. Souvenir: one thing from your chosen destination that you’d want to take with you.
8. One time visit or go to vacation spot? Why?

The Fault in Our Stars Tour

A collection of very awesome things happened to me today, here are a few of them:

  • Went to Swindon for the first time ever. 
  • Found out that Swindon has an Ed’s Diner which means I am now only an hour away from wet fries and root beer floats.
  • Stood on Firefly Avenue with an enormously large group of South West based Nerdfighters and missed that show more than Nathan Fillon does.
  • Got a signed copy of The Fault in Our Stars
  • Listened to John Green being beautifully eloquent.
  • Listened to Hank Green sing songs.
  • Listened to John and Hank Green do a live Question Tuesday.
  • Listened to John and Hank Green sing The Proclaimers classic, 500 Miles.
  • Only had to pay £1 for parking all day.
  • Saw an actual Delorean actually driving past us on the way home.

Of course some of these things were more awesome than others. Today was the start of the TFIOS mini book tour around the UK which kicked off in Swindon, a town in Wiltshire in case you didn’t know and a place which happens to be about an hour away from where I live so of course, being both a nerdfighter and a lover of John Green’s books, I had to go.

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You’ll have to excuse the terrible quality of the pictures, I only had my phone and it was a very dark room! But basically, that’s the little stage area and The Fault in Our Stars cardboard cut out thing.

I don’t really know what I expected from the TFIOS tour, what I got was basically an evening (well afternoon) with the Vlogbrothers, which was pretty awesome because it had a much more fun, relaxed and informal atmosphere than a usual book talk and signing.
The afternoon opened with lots of talk of the Swindon Town Swoodilypoopers and some player inspired singing (if you’re not a follower of the vlogbrother’s – aka John and Hank Green- they have a YouTube series in which they play fifa, John’s team is the fictional team of the Swindon Town Swoodilypoopers which is based slightly on the actual team, Swindon Town) which led into John Green talking about The Fault in Our Stars, it’s origins and inspirations and generally being his eloquent and articulate self. I found the whole discussion very fascinating, especially how the story evolved and hearing about Esther (a teenage girl John met at a Harry Potter conference who unfortunately died of cancer a few years ago) and generally hearing about the crafting of a story and the delivering of it to it’s audience.

John read a bit of the opening chapter with some commentary and the unfortunate interruption of a train and discussed the fact that Van Houten’s reaction to Hazel and Augustus’s questions was similar to his own when people ask him about the ending of Looking for Alaska and all of that sort of thing which was very funny and endearing.
There was some great discussion about the fact that he wanted to play around with gender roles, in the sense that a lot of books that feature ill characters, have an ill female who somehow manages to teach a healthy male the value of life (eg A Walk to Remember), there was some allusion that people in general view unhealthy people as a way to make healthy people feel better about themselves, and I generally love a book where gender roles are reversed so I was glad that this was talked about however briefly.

He disappeared for a bit and his brother, Hank came out and sang to us. For those of you who don’t know, though I’m going to assume that you mostly do, Hank and John are known on the internet for doing videos on youtube, part of Hank’s videos is his music, he also co founded a record label and helped create vidcon. Anyway,  I kinda love Hank’s music and I missed him at Leaky Con last year, so that was a lovely surprise because I didn’t know Hank was going to do a set for us.

After a brief musical interlude, John returned to the stage with some audience questions and had a little QandA session in which the theory of teenagers not being smart was thoroughly debunked. Seriously, one sixteen year old girl asked about if Augustus and Hazel’s respectfully favourite books was a metaphor for their outlooks on life and death. Which it turns out it is, the discussion that came out of that question gave me such a literary boner, I thought it was awesome. We also got to hear about the inspiration behind Augustus’s character and whether or not the names of each character had any actual relevance which of course it does. I had assumed that the fact that healthy Augustus was known as Augustus and ill Augustus became shortened to Gus was relevant to his shortening life, in actuality, Hazel was named so because it’s an in between colour and she herself is in between health and sickness, in between child hood and adulthood. Augustus is a name given to Roman emperors and so carries a certain imperialistic heroic sway with it. Which in turn is a mirroring of his character, so I found this whole idea of giving character names some real meaning within the story itself kind of amazing, it’s not something I had ever considered doing myself before.
Hank did a few more songs and then was joined by John for a live version of Question Tuesday (Hank lost and got slapped very, very softly), hopefully the rendition of “GOOD MORNING JOHN IT’S FRIDAY!” will feature all of us because we did film it.

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The show ended with a duet of The Proclaimers hit 500 Miles which is a song that I don’t hear nearly enough and will probably forever more remind me of this afternoon.
There was a signing after, but seeing as I was quite near the back and having drunk a large mango frap before entering the premises, my bladder was screaming at me. But, I figured, I had my signed copy of TFIOS and I did get stuffed signed at Leaky so I didn’t really need to stay for that.
But anyway, the TFIOS tour was super mega foxy awesome… Wooops, wrong fandom. But it was, awesome I mean. Plus, the paper back of The Fault in Our Stars is really rather beautiful. The hardback is pretty but the paper back looks lovely, it looks even lovelier now it’s customised with my own J squiggle and Hanklerfish:
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I did want to upload the mini video clip I managed to get of John and Hank singing, but I have no idea how to include that into this post, so here’s a link to where I sent it to tumblr.