Adventures of an Agoraphobic: London (including the Harry Potter Studio Tour at Leavesden, the Royal Albert Hall and a Lush Haul)

With jet-setting across the globe out of the question due to budget constraints, Kris and I opted for a staycation (although it was still pretty costly). We've both been to London a load of times, but last weekend was purely a nerd-fest. Wizards and dinosaurs were on the agenda!

We had the weekend organised months and months ago, after booking our Jurassic Park Live tickets. I suggested a trip to Leavesden spontaneously because Kris re-read through all of the Harry Potter books over the summer. I went back in 2013 with my sister and cousins, but wanted to return and see the Hogwarts Express.

It's really really worth the money! Two sound stages (J and K) filled to the brim with sets, props, costumes and concept art. I won't bore you with my hundreds of photos, but I definitely recommend. Last time I went in the car, but this time we got the special shuttle bus from Watford Junction station. It takes about 20 minutes and was £2.50 each for a return. We had big rucksacks packed for the weekend, but stored them in the free cloakrooms when we got there which was really handy. I'm also really glad you can bring your own food and drink because I'm pretty much surgically attached to my water bottle. This meant we could bring some lunch and avoid the massive queues in the cafés (although we did get a Butterbeer to share).

On the anxiety front, I had a little wobble in the queue and during the cinema screen bits at the beginning. Queuing can make me anxious because it's a lot of standing still in one place waiting, and over the past few years I've seemed to develop problems with dark rooms with cinema screens and the loud noises that follow. I get total sensory overload (when I'm at the cinema, I have to spend the previews adjusting my ears/eyes and gripping onto the armrests to stay calm). But once we got into the Great Hall, the excitement just took over and my anxiety had gone. Harry Potter, the cure all phenomena!

I could prattle on and on about all of the things that they have at the Harry Potter Studio Tour, but I can put things a lot more simply - it has everything. Everything Harry Potter movie related, they have it on display. They also had special pop-up features to celebrate 15 years of Philosopher's Stone, including a Privet Drive front door with Hogwarts letters firing through the letterbox, and the brooms from the children's first flying lesson. You can stand next to a broom and shout "up!" whilst your Mum films you. I skipped this, because I felt awkward at the idea of queuing up with a load of 9 year olds. But it seems like they enjoyed it! They also had the Privet Drive front room set open, which was a pleasant surprise. I especially liked Dudley's 5 metre swimming certificate that's framed in the hallway!

The Hogwarts Express was so cool. I think it was the part of the tour that I was most looking forward to because it was something totally new. I always feel awkward when people take photos of me, but I'm glad I got a 9 3/4 photo at Leavesden, because the queue is absolutely ridiculous at King's Cross!


(I've just realised that my coat looks really weird and bulky in the photo of me with the trolley, and that's because I tried to fit my jacket over a cable knit jumper, please ignore my lumpy bumpy physique!)

When they tell you that the tour lasts an average of 3 1/2 hours, they're not kidding! The time just flew by, and we were enjoying ourselves too much to notice. We probably spent too long in the gift shop, but it was because we wanted to look at everything they had on sale and make sure we didn't miss anything! We left Leavesden long after 5pm, and got the shuttle bus to Watford then the train to Euston. By the time we made it to our hotel in Earl's Court, we were knackered! We wanted to go out and make the most of the evening, but ended up getting pizza to bring back to our hotel room. Party hard.

Speaking of hotels, we played it safe and stayed at the Premier Inn at Earl's Court. It was actually a really lovely stay; the staff were friendly and our room was nice and clean. The mattress was probably comfier than my one at home and we had no problem with noise. Our room faced out to Earl's Court tube station, but with both windows shut the trains were a mere rumble in the distance. I brought ear plugs but really didn't need them!

The main reason for our trip to London was to see Jurassic Park at the Royal Albert Hall. We booked these so long ago (probably around February/March) and I resisted watching the film before then. It really is one of my favourites. The film originally came out when we were just babies, so had never seen it on anything other than a television. Having the Royal Philharmonic play the score was truly magical, and we were only a few rows from the front!

The film was projected on a big screen above the orchestra, so it was like watching it at a really fancy cinema, but with the soundtrack turned up slightly louder. John Williams is one of, if not the greatest film composer of our time, so we were in for a real treat. I'd never been to the Royal Albert Hall before, but obviously it's a stunning building. Before the show started we had drinks in one of the bars and bought a programme. I was surprised that there was an interval, but it was a good change to take in what we'd watched and listened to. And buy some overpriced popcorn and ice cream!

As for my spending last weekend, I went a bit mad in the Leavesden Studios gift shop but managed to restrain myself from buying any big-ticket items. The Fantastic Beasts wands were truly stunning, but I felt weird about the idea of buying merch before I've even seen the film. I also loved the concept art prints, but they were way too expensive. So I burned my money on overpriced chocolate, a new keyring (the resurrection stone bit spins around) and a cool pin. They had loads of pins but I liked this one because it's subtle.

After Jurassic Park we popped over to Oxford Street for some food and a spot of shopping. There was a sale on flannel shirts in Uniqlo, so obviously we were in there like swimwear. We both ended up buying three shirts, because we have no self control. We also spent a ridiculous amount of time in Lush, because we couldn't help but take advantage of such a large store and exclusive items...

So in Lush I bought:

Autumn Leaf bath bomb - I don't take baths very often, but I really wanted to pick up this whilst it was still available. It just smells lovely and earthy, which is a nice change for a bath bomb. I'm excited to use it, I just don't know when I'll get a chance...

Twilight shower gel - This is a shower gel of the bath bomb with the same name, and an Oxford Street Exclusive (I think). I bought this because I thought it'd be relaxing (I shower in the evenings usually). It hasn't got the strongest scent (I think I'm too used to the lingering smell Molton Brown produces), but I like it. It has a lavender/tonka scent.

Volcano foot mask - I primarily went into Lush to find something to help my feet. They can be very dry, and moisturising them doesn't do anything except make them feel greasy. A girl in the shop recommended this foot mask, and nearly every sales assistant I spoke to afterwards told me that it was a good choice. So I'll have to take their word for it! I was instructed to wrap my feet in clingfilm after using, so that should be interesting...

Sugar Plum Fairy lip scrub - I already own the popcorn scrub and love it (see my January Favourites), but sometimes find it a little too salty. I spontaneously purchased this one because I couldn't resist the blackcurrant smell! It's so sweet and lovely, and probably my favourite Christmas product

Rub Rub Rub shower scrub - This was a repurchase for me, and I went for the big tub. I think I'm just obsessed with the smell more than anything. I don't know if it does wonders for my skin in any way, but it makes me feel happy when I use it. Any everyone needs a little pamper once in a while.

Kris also picked up Five O'clock Whistle and Dirty Springwash shower gel. He's becoming more of a Lushie than I am; a total convert!

So my weekend in London burned a serious hole in my bank account. But I really had a lovely time and made it there and back in one piece. We'll just ignore the fact that we almost missed our connection on the way home and had to run like crazy through Leeds station! Our train from King's Cross was delayed because someone tried to get off the train and Peterborough whilst it was moving! I mean I've heard of some stupid train delays before, but that one really takes the biscuit!

Have you been to the Harry Potter Studio Tour at Leavesden or the Royal Albert Hall? Also, did I miss any blindingly obvious Lush Oxford Street Exclusives? Let me know!

No comments