Landon and I are both big Harry Potter fans. We grew up reading the books, and actually argue about which one of us discovered Harry Potter first. I remember unwrapping the first Harry Potter book on Christmas morning and not having ANY idea what it was. I'd never heard of it. My mom told me it was a very popular book in England. So, I'm convinced that I was one of the first kids in America to read Harry Potter ;)
Anyway, we knew that we couldn't pass up the opportunity to go to the actual Harry Potter set if we were in England and I'm SO happy that we went!
Getting there was pretty scary though. When I was doing all my research before our trip, I realized that it would be cheaper to rent a car for our last day than buying train tickets. Our plan was to go to north to Harry Potter, and then go even further north to Milton Keynes to see my family, and then the next day we had to go way down south to the cruise terminal. When I added up the cost of all those train tickets it was really expensive! When I told Landon we should rent a car the first thing he said was that there was no way he was going to drive in England. I completely agreed. So I called Suzette and asked her if Jason would be willing to drive in England. His immediate response was, "sure!" I don't think he would've been so willing to volunteer if he would've known how crazy it was going to be ;)
It was SO weird to have Jason sitting on the right side of the car and to be driving on the left side of the road. He did such a good job navigating the crazy busy streets with super aggressive drivers, going through roundabouts clockwise, and driving down streets that were definitely not even close to wide enough for two cars to fit! Landon sat up front and gave directions and together they were a great team! Suzette and I sat in the back with our eyes closed praying that we didn't get in an accident. Ha!
|I absolutely LOVED driving through the countryside! England actually reminds me a lot of Oregon. It was so pretty!|
Anyway, we got to the studio and they have you watch a little video clip before introducing you to the entrance of Hogwarts and The Great Hall. Oh my goodness it was SO cool to be on the actual set!
|The Great Hall! And the actual costumes and props from the movies :)|
|I was pretty excited to be there ;)|
|Their Yule Ball Costumes. P.S. Emma Watson is TINY.|
|The Gryffindor Dormitory|
|I loved seeing all their wands!|
|The Mirror of Erised.|
|Dumbledore's office was amazing! It's crazy all the details that go into it that you don't really notice when you watch the movies.|
|It was really cool to see the broom machines|
|Do you remember this scene?|
|Diagon Alley was AMAZING.|
|Hogwarts Castle was definitely the coolest part. Holy cow!|
After spending three hours wandering through Harry Potter, we went to Berkhamsted Castle. Well, it used to be a castle, now it is mostly ruins. It was built in 1066! It was really neat to walk around the grounds and think about all that must've happened there. I've definitely never been somewhere so old.
Next stop was Milton Keynes to meet up with my mom's family for dinner. We drove about 45 minutes further north to my Aunt Carole's house. She had organized for over 15 of us to meet for dinner and honestly, I was feeling a little nervous. I know that they are my family, but I hadn't met a lot of them and some of them I have only seen a few times when they visited America. But I had absolutely NO reason to be nervous because they all just welcomed me and loved me immediately! They are such amazing people and I felt right at home! It's so hard to describe how amazing it was to be standing in my aunt's house surrounded by my aunts, uncles, and cousins just laughing and talking.
My Aunt Carole is so sweet and kept giving me presents. I couldn't believe it! She gave me British candy, a necklace and earrings, and canvas pictures of London that are SO adorable. I was so overwhelmed with the love and kindness of everyone!
|I wore the necklace and eatings on our first formal night on our cruise. I love them :)|
|From left to right: My cousin Paula, second cousin Danni, cousin Carl, Aunt Ali, Aunt Carole, Uncle John (hiding!), Uncle Ray, second cousin Emma, cousin Mark, cousin Simon, second cousin Sennan, cousin Tracy.|
|A few of my mom's siblings--my Aunt Ali, Aunt Carole, and Uncle Ray. My mom is the 7th of 9 :)|
|I was ready to take Sennan home with me! He is WAY too cute!|
I finally had to say bye because it was getting so late and we had a two hour drive home. I got into the car and just burst into tears. Happy tears because I was so grateful that they all came to see me and that I had the chance to meet and see them (my uncle Ray drove three hours from Wales to see me!) But also sad tears because I didn't want to leave! I've dreamed of having aunts, uncles, and cousins my whole life and after spending time with them and realizing how amazing they truly are, my heart was breaking that I didn't get to grow up with them and that I don't get to see them on a regular basis. Family is the most important and I just wish I could see them all the time!
Thank you SO much to everyone who came and for making me feel so welcomed and so loved! It was such an amazing day and I can't wait until I can visit again and this time spend more than just a few hours with my incredible family!