Warner Bros – The Making of Harry Potter – Review

Today I took the boys and my sister to The Making of Harry Potter.  We love Harry Potter and really loved Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando.

We thought as my son’s birthday is on Halloween it would be a great place to visit.  We had so many recommendations and were very excited.

We arrived early for our 1.00pm tour and had a wander around the shop and purchased a couple of wands and mentally made a list of other purchases we wanted before we left.

We had a quick snack in the café before joining the queue to start the tour.

Queue time was about 30 minutes before we reached the start of the tour.  Although we could see the Anglia, the trolleys that Ron and Harry used on platform 9 3/4 to carry their bags and the cupboard under the stairs it seemed to be missing something.   For me, that was the Harry Potter music.

The tour itself was amazing with insights into how props were created, beasts were animated, troll snot was made and used and much much more.  Animatronics, green screens, CGI, sets, costumes I do think this is fabulous place not just for Harry Potter fans but anyone with any interest in engineering, film making, costume making and acting.  The boys weren’t keen to fly the on the broomstick in the green screen room, but we did sit in the Anglia and on the night bus, had a walk in Diagon Alley and we even saw the Death Eaters appear, they were actually quite scary.

We did have trouble getting past the fact that it was a studio tour and not a theme park like The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida. I think we had spoilt it for ourselves by going to Orlando first.  I bet if they combined the two to make a Harry Potter Theme Park it would be totally amazing.  Leo was looking forward to a ride on the Flight of the Hippogriff he couldn’t get the concept that there were no rides there.


Birthday Parties – Something different?


This year the boys wanted something other than the usual football/bouncy castle leisure centre birthday party.  So I trawled the net for other more appealing options and found a fantastic alternative.

In July my eldest had been away with school for a week in Wales and whilst they were away he did rock climbing, canoeing, abseiling and the like.  He came back full stories of the activites he had taken part in. So from here I started my hunt to see what options were available for his birthday party.

My brother recommended contacted Youlbury, which I knew as a Scout camp. I found their page and contacted Kathy for ideas of prices.  I was expecting to pay a fortune!  £££££ and was pleasantly surprised that actually it wasn’t.

The pack arrived by email and hesitantly I scrolled through the information to find the prices and was very pleasantly surprised. £9 for one activity of 1.5 hours or £15 for two which equated to 3 hours – yes 3 hours of activities and most of them are qualified instructor led!

Joe’s was the first party we held at Youlbury this took place in July and it was hot, hot, hot.  The boys who were all 11  and attempted the aerial trekking and archery.

Arial trekking was so high I was dizzy just looking up, they had to scale the climbing wall to the top and then complete the aerial course and then come down  the other side.  The boys had two instructors and my brother also helped out.  then they attempted the archery. Whilst the boys did archery my sister and brother built a fire and cooked their sausages.


Leo’s was the  most recent party, which took place on Monday 28th October (yep the day of the potential 2012 storm which was supposed to rival 1987). Luckily, for me they didn’t cancel and we arrived with 8 boys aged 7 and 8 in tow.

The boys were very excited and attempted the archery using bows that looked massive in comparison to them.  They were led for both activities by Beth who had just passed her Level 2 assessment the day before enabling her to lead even more activities.   She controlled the boys so well I was very impressed. Safety talks and instructions were all listened to before the activity started.  Leo loved it and a couple of the boys managed to hit the bullseye!

 After a quick break for a wee, sandwich and a drink the boys were strapped into their harnesses for the crate stacking.

Beth advised that due to the weather if the crates were blowing over she would have to stop the activity.  Luckily the weather was sort of in our favour, the wind piped down but we did have a heavy shower but the boys did not fret and fuss they just cracked on and really enjoyed the adventure.  We did have one child who got upset and was adamant he  did not want to do the crate stacking activity.  All the boys had been strapped into their harnesses and as Beth was leading the safety briefing he decided that actually he may want to try so we strapped him up and  off he went.  It was decided that as they boys were small and as it was windy that 10 crates high would be adequate for them to attempt.  The child that was not so keen wanted to be the  second pair to attempt the stacks and he  loved it,  and wanted to do it again and again.  Such a turnaround!

Such a fab day yet again, even the weather didn’t put a downer on it and all the boys want to go back again.

We arrived at the camp at 9.30 and left just after 1pm. Definitely value for money.

In fact I am  thinking of having my 40th there and trying to encourage my work place to do a team building event there as it is great!

Here are the details of Youlbury Scout Camp.

Website:  http://www.scoutactivitycentres.org.uk/locations/youlbury/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Youlbury-Scout-Activity-Centre/109254055802828

Youlbury Email:  Katharine.Jolley@scouts.org.uk

So he wants to be a You Tuber … Is that even what they are called?

My eldest has decided that he would like a hobby and decided that he wants to create his own YouTube channel.

He wants to You Tube about gaming and also about his antics with his mates.  He is always recording himself and his friends doing stunts on their bikes some times even laying on the floor and them jumping over him on their bikes and scooters.

He has just prepared a list of equipment he would like for Christmas so he can make ‘quality’ video captures.

What to do ….. encourage or not?

Here is his first attempt:


I believe this is who he aspires to be the one and only Tobuscus.


What a difference a day makes – Cubs update!

Week 3 at Cubs and my son  has been teaching other cubs to play Pontoon (21 as its called in our house) at pack tonight. Then he told be he had been playing darts and came out with can you take me to the pub when I picked him up.   Should I be worried?

This is such a change from last week when I literally carried him in kicking and screaming.

I think throwing him at the deep end and sending him on camp was a brilliant decision by me.   He was more than a little apprehensive about going on camp asking me questions such as, where will I get changed, what will I have to eat, will I sleep with Joe?

Their bags were all packed up Friday night, sleeping bags and mats, boots, waterproofs.  Saturday morning came and he was a bit twitchy not really sure about whether he really wanted to go.  I managed to persuade him that he should go and see what it is like and that I could  come and get him if he wasn’t having a good time.  My eldest son the other hand couldn’t wait to get away from me.

We arrived at the hall and waited for the other children to arrive.  Being a novice cub mother I had packed everything bar the kitchen sink for just one night. Next time I will know better, I hope.  Both boys had a rucksack with spare clothes and a small suitcase with more clothes and they came back in the clothes they went in.

Then off they went!  Joe on the train with his rucksack as he had to hike to camp with the other Scouts and Leo went off with his fellow Cubs.

On Sunday the boys came home filthy and full of it.  Both had such an amazing time I wish I had sent them before.

They were really impressed with sleeping in their clothes, lighting fires, sleeping in tents in a thunder and lightening storm and night hiking.  In fact,  Leo who was the most apprehensive was so impressed he wants to go to camp again this weekend!


Next camp booked for last weekend in November!

Plums and Kidneys! What’s not to know?

Today was an adventure (with my positive head on) or a challenge (with my usual head on).

My eldest son aged 11, left for school this morning on his bike only to realise he had forgotten his tie.  He came back home to collect it and left to go back to school again.

On his way back to school he was crossing the road using the newly installed zebra crossing but decided to ride his bike across it, bumped up the kerb and fell off his bike.  Needless to say he had hurt himself and squashed his ‘plums’ as they are referred to in our house.

Thank you to the lollypop lady that helped him up and the man that stopped his car to check he was ok.

A few hours later he was feeling better and managed to go to school which made me quite proud that he had decided that he wanted to go into school even though I said he could stay at home with Nanny.  (Thanks MUM!)

Tonight, we were having a discussion about his accident and how he was lucky not to have been seriously hurt.  I asked him how his ‘plums’ were doing.  He replied that the bag was ok but  his kidney was still a bit sore. It took a little while to understand what he was on about, but what he had meant was his testicles.  Well I was speechless, in his plums were his kidneys! I explained to him that it wasn’t his kidneys he had hurt but his testicles but he didn’t believe me.  I even had to show him pictures to prove that his kidneys were in a different place.

 I have always been quite open (sometimes to matter of fact) about bodies, body parts and body functions and I knew that we had talked about his body before.  I also believed they had talked about bodies at school so I am hoping that he did just get confused.

Maybe he  won’t be a doctor when he leaves school!

SHOPPING – Pop up shops?

I had my first experience today of a POP UP shop. There are quite a few empty shops in our town and one is being used as a pop up shop.   I believe the point of the shop is that you rent it for a couple of months get noticed and either move into a shop in the town or move on.  I might have this completely wrong though.

What do you think of them? A good idea?  I certainly think so especially if they are completely different to anything we currently have in the town.

I remember a few weeks ago there was a photographer in the shop but now they have another retailer in.

I had driven past and saw some underwear in the window  and wondered what sort of shop this could be… first impressions I thought it was a burlesque, vintage,  maybe Dita Von Teese inspired shop.

Today was the day I walked past and my first impressions from a few drive by’s were so wrong.

The shop is currently being used as a pop up by two businesses Kuda, which sells items including handbags, scarves and jewellery and Pip & Pantamailon  which sells handmade products like lingerie, aprons, cushions and bunting.

As I walked into the shop I was greeted a lady who was happy to tell me about the products.  There are some beautiful knitwear items including two absolutely gorgeous dresses (neither of which would fit me 🙁 such a shame). There were also materials and ribbons, bunting, cushions and some fab little handmade note books. Which were made by a lady from Wallingford which is just a few miles away.  I purchased two notebooks for my boys as they are quite partial to a notebook for writing random sums or stories in.

I had to restrain myself as there were a few scarves and bits and bobs I could have quite easily purchased.

This shop won’t be around for long so I recommend that you get down to the Lower Broadway in Didcot and have a look.   (Opposite Barclays)

Just found this article too:


Swimming Lessons – When is enough, enough?

For weeks now each Sunday afternoon has been like world war three in our house and all over swimming lessons. Is it really worth all the hassle?

I strongly believe that the boys should learn how to swim as I firmly believe that swimming is a life skill, just the same as reading and writing.  Both boys can get around a pool, do hand stands, retrieve weights from the bottom of the pool but have had enough with the lessons.  Joe says ‘ Its just a waste of my time and your money mum, you know I can swim’ and Leo’s comments are ‘Its always too cold and I just hate it’.  It is not the fault of the swimming club that the heaters keep breaking at the pool which is maintained by Nexus.

The swimming club is run voluntarily by qualified instructors and is only £30 term per child,  such a bargain it seems wrong not to send them.

But I have decided that as both of them are confident in the water and they can get from one end to the other then there is no point in pressing it further and too be honest I could think of better things to do on a Sunday evening than take them to their lessons.  I think I have been beaten. 🙁

However, if you are local I would recommend the Didcot Swimming Club and their website link is : http://didcotswimmingclub.wordpress.com/

Girls weekends

What is it that makes girl weekends so stressful?  What to wear? How much stuff to take? how many pairs of shoes? What type of shoes? Let alone what handbags and how much money to spend.

I am off to Brighton on a girls weekend tomorrow and I am really looking forward to it or at least I know I will once we are on our way.  I haven’t been to Brighton in a very long time and last time I was extremely badly behaved and took a week to recover from my hangover! Drinking pints of black Russian is not the way for a lady (mmm term used loosely) to behave.

So, I need to pack my bag.  It feels like I am going for a week not two nights.  Jeans, weathers going to be cold so definitely jeans and jumpers during day and black trousers and top for Saturday night.  PJ’s they must go in first I don’t want to forget them and underwear.  That list doesn’t sound too unreasonable, does it?  However, you know what’s going to happen, seven tops, four pairs of trousers, a dress just in case and a few pairs of shoes and several clutch bags and a couple of jackets.

So that’s the clothes sorted, now then what’s next.  Bath, shave legs and pits, should have had my eye brows done and possibly chin and lip too. Damn it there is always something.  Hair was cut a week ago so that’s ok. Fake tan, oh really, no that’s so not me.  I am pasty until I have one drink and then I flush bright red anyway so never could be a secret drinker.

Now to sort the husband and kids tempting as it is to leave them to fend for themselves …. oh that’s an idea.  I think I might.  The fridge and freezer are full,  school uniforms ready for tomorrow and that’s it. Anything I have forgotten??

So that’s me nearly done. Now its time to chill out and try and forget about work and all the other thing I should have done and haven’t and also get some sleep.

Hello world! Its ME!

Well then, here we go a place for me to write and share all the random goings on in my head and my world.

I will share with you my views on life, kids, products, places, schools and I am sure much much more besides.

During the day the number of things that flash through my brain is sometimes enough to leave me with a headache or worst still a pang of guilt because maybe I should have done something with that comment from one of the boys and taken it more seriously as an example.  Sometimes I think I take the world at face value too much of the time.

I am not (apparently) the most diplomatic, needless to say I don’t think I am tactless either but sometimes people need to be told it straight however, I might add in my own slight twist of irony which I find amusing.

This is all new to me so please as they say on Miranda ‘bear with’ or is that ‘ bare with’.  The things I am going to learn ooh, this is going to be exciting.