Friday, May 31, 2013

Hawksmoor & the Neko Case Concert

Actual date of this event: 24 May

Our friend's Liz and Greg were in town from Aberdeen for a Neko Case concert, and Luke and I were excited to go meet them in the city for dinner. I had spent all of Friday doing research on Shoreditch because that is where we were going to be. If you don't do research in a big city like this, you will end up being clueless as to where to go for a drink.

A while ago, I created a Google Map of London for Luke and I to use on the weekends. If you look at the map below, all of those little martini glasses are places to go in Shoreditch for drinks. Plenty of good options! But there are also plenty of bad options which is the purpose of my map. I also pin things for us to do and see so while we are walking around London, we know what to look for. Such as in Soho, there are apparently nose sculptures on buildings. If you find them all, the myth is that you will have a lifetime of wealth. Who's up for a scavenger hunt?!?!
The weather really wasn't very nice. It had been raining all day, and it was forecasted to rain that evening as well. The trains were all out of whack and delayed, but somehow, Luke and I arrived at the restaurant on time. We ate dinner at Hawksmoor on Commercial Street, which is a steak restaurant. I had ordered a special gin drink, and the waitress came back and said, I quote, "we are not making that drink today." Uuummmmmmm, what? Lame excuse that completely doesn't make sense. Whatevs, she suggested another which was very tasty, so I guess she earned her point back. Hawksmoor was one of those steak places where you choose what size steak you want and pay by the gram. So Luke and I shared a steak and some sides. The fillet (in Britain, they say "fill-it" not "fill-ay") was amazing and had a terrific crust to it! (Andy, don't worry, I still LOVE your steak too!) We all enjoyed our meal, but Liz and Greg needed to go to the Neko Case concert.
Cocktail menu at Hawksmoor
Luckily, when we left, it wasn't raining. But it was still light outside at 8:30. I am still getting used to the increasing amount of daylight we get daily as we get closer to the summer solstice... which reminds me that in less than a month the days will begin getting shorter and I don't like to think of what comes from that. ANYWAY... We headed to the concert venue, Village Underground, which is a warehouse that has old tube trains on top.
Source of photo
Luke and I were able to find some pricey tickets (which I'd like to forget about) from a man outside, so we were able to attend the concert as well. The inside was full of people in black because that's what EVERYONE in London wears. I feel like a box of crayons when I walk on the streets, with my colored shirt and blonde hair. Anyway, the inside of the venue looked like an old tube or train station, but I have not found anything online that says it was.

We enjoyed the concert and enjoyed drinking some canned beer haha! We did not however enjoy the menopause jokes Neko Case and her back up vocalist kept making. Afterward, I used my Google Map to find us a pub nearby. I chose The Book Club but when we got there there was a line at the door, and ain't nobody got time fo dat! So we moved on to the next location of The Bricklayer's Arms which was a good spot for one drink. After that one drink, we were all dunzo for the night. It was around 11:30, and Luke and I still had about 45 minutes before we would reach the door to our flat. Seriously, it sounds long, but it really isn't too bad. We walked to the Old Street station, and I did my best to make sure Liz and Greg knew their route to their hotel before we split off.

We had a late night, but a fun night. Glad we got to have a night of fun with them while they were in London!

Each cocktail on the Hawksmoor menu has a bit of history to it. The drink I had at Hawksmoor was a Marmalade Cocktail (Gin, Campari, Lemon Juice, Orange Bitters & English Marmalade). The description for my drink was: "Harry Craddock, who ran the Savoy’s American Bar in its 1920s heyday, thought it ‘a great necessity of the age’ to develop effective Anti-Fogmatics and recommended that they be drunk ‘before 11am, or whenever steam and energy are needed’. This, and the two that follow, are based on his earnest endeavours."

Thursday, May 30, 2013

#TBT: Duck Pond

Well it sure has been a while since I have done one of these babies, but I am still trying to get into the routine after moving and our visit to the States.

Duck Pond
Maybe, around 1987??? I look about 4 years old, right?

My dad's immediate family all lives around Detroit, Michigan. Meanwhile, I was born in Ohio (moved from there to Houston), so I never lived in Michigan. We weren't far from my dad's family though, so we would take trips to visit them. I have very vivid memories of this pond! We used to walk around the pond and feed these ducks. I remember doing it a couple of times, and it was always so much fun! 

One distinct memory I have is going to this pond with my Uncle Paul (before he even become my uncle, as he is part of the crazy in-law group, hehe) and my Aunt Barbara. He used to pick up my sister and I and pretend he was going to throw us into the pond. Of course, being girls and little kids, we screamed and didn't want him to. And over 25 years later, he would still do this same thing to any child... probably because he is a child himself. JK! .... not really. (love  ya!) I have other memories of going to the pond with my Aunt Joann as well. I believe taking us to this pond was a ploy to distract us from bothering them constantly! Touché, Aunts and Uncles. Touché.

P.S. If you can't tell, I am wearing some shape of pink glasses. Possibly stars or hearts? They are totally tubular!

According to Melissa on, bread is like junk food to ducks. A healthy alternative is halved grapes, barley, oats, and other grains. Our cheap activity for kids just got more expensive.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Harry Potter Studio Tour

If you are a Harry Potter fan, then you will LOVE this post. If not, you will be BORED with this blog post... just giving you the heads up...

Actual date of this event: 23 May

A few months ago, my friends Liz and Greg from Aberdeen had planned a trip to come to London for a concert. Liz mentioned that she wanted to do the Harry Potter tour, and I freaked with excitement. I was like, "I don't have a job! I have nothing going on! I love Harry Potter! I wanna go!" So the plans were made that we would hop on the train to Cool Town to go see all things Harry Potter. You be jelly. You be jelly.

Seriously, if you're not a Harry Potter fan... you will be sorry if you continue reading...

We left Euston train station around 9:30am heading toward Watford Junction (make note of that in case you plan to go to the studio). The train we took was the long one, meaning it makes a bunch of stops, but the quicker train wasn't leaving for a while. In the end, we would have gotten there about the same time, so no biggie. While pulling up to Watford Junction, we saw the big Harry Potter bus that we needed to take to get to the studio. It was 2GBP for a round trip ticket on the bus. After riding through some neighborhoods, we arrived at the big warehouse that is Warner Bros Studios Leavesden. Cant.Contain.TheExcitement!

While Greg printed our pre-purchased tickets from a machine, Liz and I began the obsessive picture snapping. (Note: I assume that you are a Harry Potter fan [because you are still reading], so you should know what all of the pictures are of which is why I didn't put many captions.) (Note: To view pictures larger, click on them.)

A friendly greeter inside told us that it wasn't a very busy day, so our tour time did not matter, so we got in line to enter. Before entering the actual studio, we listened to two tour guides and watched two videos in two different rooms. These videos/guides explained some of what went into making the Harry Potter films to give you an idea of what you were about to view. After the second video, the doors to the Great Hall opened (literally), and we entered!

The costume on the left was worn by Daniel Radcliffe in the first film. It was so tiny!

I was shocked at the size of the Great Hall. It is much smaller and more narrow than I imagined it would be.

While in the Great Hall, we had another tour guide explaining how some of the filming was done in the Great Hall. Then she let us move into the next room, and we were on our own for the rest of the tour.

Dumbledore's Office - the Pensieve is one of my favorite items from the series.

The Potions classroom was one of my favorite things from the tour. 

The Burrow (the Weasley's home) was interactive. You could make dishes clean themselves, knives chop, and needles sew.

About halfway through, we came upon the area where you could fly a broom and fly in Arthur Weasley's vehicle. Unfortunately, we were unable to take pictures in the area. I was the driver of the vehicle for the three of us. We thought it took a video, but it only took a picture during our ride. We got to fly a broom stick which took a video and also a few pictures. It was tons of fun! When you left the area, it of course had you walk by where you can purchase your pictures and/or videos. Me and my frugal self did not purchase any as the minimum was 12GBP for one picture. And to get the video, it was a minimum of 25GBP. I've got a good memory, which is enough for me! As we left the shop, there was an area where you could do wand practice :)

Next we went outside to see very iconic items... much larger items. There was a concession stand selling Butterbeer... this is one of two places in the world where you can buy Butterbeer. We opted for just beer though :)

The current number 4 on the home is a replica as Rupert Grint (Ron) took it as his own personal memorabilia. Only houses 3 & 4 were still standing.

Next we entered the Creatures Section of the tour...

We entered another one of my favorite areas of the tour...

Production room with scale drawings and models...

And as we turned the corner, we saw a life size (not actually, but it was taller than me) of the castle. This was really cool!

The last stop of the tour was Ollivander's Wand Shop. so.many.boxes.

You know, I really really can't understand how someone can not like Harry Potter. It brings the child out in me, as I am sure it does you, and what is there to not like about that? So much has gone into the production of these films, and the books and films have made history. I am so glad that I got the chance to do this tour because I don't think I would have ever been able to do it again. London has so many terrific places to see, and although I loved this tour, I don't think I would suggest it as a sight for my visitors. Overall, it took us 6 hours to do this tour and that is quite a bit of time. I would suggest it as the FIRST thing on a visitors list after getting all of the main attractions out of the way though :) I hope one day you can hop on the train to Cool Town to tour the Harry Potter Studio, as well! You will no doubt enjoy it!

It's difficult to choose but...
What is your favorite book? Mine is probably the Half-Blooded Prince
What is your favorite movie? Mine is probably the Order of the Phoenix
Or maybe they are switched - not sure. Too hard to choose!!!!! I feel like Joey when he has to choose between food and sex.
If for some reason you are not a Harry Potter but continued to read this post, what is it that you don't like about Harry Potter?

You can still see the 10 houses that were built to create Privet Drive at the studio on Google Maps. Go to Google Maps, and search for "Warner Bros Studios Leavesden". To the left of the location pin when zoomed in, you can see 5 houses on each side of a small lane. To the southwest of that, you can also see Hagrid's hut and the Hogwarts' Bridge. (this fact is correct as of May 28, 2013)

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