Wonderful Wednesday 37

26 April 2017

So I slightly lost track of my week last week and Wonderful Wednesday just didn't happen. Did anyone else feel that even though it was only a four day week, those four days lasted forever?! I'm also living in a slight hayfevery-fog at the moment. Nothing seems to work and I don't know how I've anything left in me to sneeze out! You're welcome for that image.

I'm back for another Wonderful Wednesday though, ever so slightly egg-shaped now and with a mountain of Easter chocolate still to scale. How have you all been?


Weekend brunches - always a highlight of the week.

Saturday Date Night... I lost most of my Saturday morning to a headache (it could be something to do with those never-ending four days) but we brought it back with a good old fashioned movie date night that evening. We went to one of the new Curzon cinemas - did you know that in some of their cinemas you can sit in two seater sofas?! It definitely made the experience just that little bit more special. We went to watch 'The Sense of an Ending', which was moving and funny in a very English middle class way, I loved it and had some serious house envy all the way through. We walked back hand in hand through a very peaceful quiet London to get our train home, and it was the perfect evening.

♥ Marks & Spencer gluten free treats... We popped into our local M&S on Sunday to pick up some herbs and I thought I'd check out their gluten free range while I was in there. Oh my goodness, so many treats! We picked up a macaroni cheese to share, followed by a wee New York-style cheesecake. Gluten free bliss!

♥ Head scarf fun... We're off to Sicily this summer (have I mentioned that enough yet?!). I just can't wait but I'm also ever so slightly terrified about how hot it's going to be...and how my freckly little self is going to handle it. The last time we were there even a light summer hat and blouse felt like too many layers - and that was at the end of the summer season, not at its height. I thought that a scarf might be a better, lighter option to wrap around my hair, cover my parting and you know look very chic at the same time....or something. I managed to pick one up in Lush over the weekend and have been experimenting with different ways to put my hair up, although my look is rather more Blitz-chic at the moment than mysterious European traveller. Hey, I still have a few months to practice!

♥ Live chatting Ru Paul times... So after excitedly discussing Ru Paul's Drag Race in my last Wonderful Wednesday, I discovered that two of my dearest friends also love it and I had absolutely no idea - they recommended series 6 which I've been marathoning when I can over the last few weeks. We don't live close to each other and despite the differing time zones, on Monday night we lined up the finale of series 6 to all watch together and merrily messaged each other on a group chat throughout. It was almost as good as watching it together in one room, although that might have made my pj-clad-dancing to 'Sissy that Walk' slightly more embarrassing...

♥ Weekend countdown... Not to wish the weeks away or anything but there's another three day weekend in sight - I could get used to this! We're off to Norfolk to visit my mother in law and I'm already really excited to escape London for a little while. Here's hoping the sun shines so we can get out for some walks. What are your plans?

♥ Do let me know what's made your week a little rosier by leaving me a comment below or dropping me a tweet (I'm @happygoluckycat) or better yet, why not join the fabulous bunch of #WonderfulWednesday bloggers? Pop over to their blogs for a dose of mid-week happiness - SallyMichelleHelenKateJoSamanthaKerri, LauraSarahPetaElLauraSarahMimmiJasminMartinaLynseyKatieDebbieKelly and Em (I think that's everyone - shout at me if you're not on the list!) - and then join me in counting down the days until the weekend. It's in sight! 

Wonderful Wednesday 36

12 April 2017

Can I hear you say "perfect Saturday morning"?!

Launching straight into the wonderful this week - I am SO very ready for the long weekend that's so close I can practically touch it!


♥ Easter chocolate...I know I know, Easter hasn't actually happened yet but I haven't given up chocolate this year and I've been making up for it in advance! No actual 'big' Easter eggs, mind, just the small bags of deliciousness - galaxy eggs, mini creme eggs and of course, mini eggs. Yum. There's something extra tasty about chocolate when it's in egg form.

♥ Sunny weekends... Wasn't this weekend absolutely gorgeous?! Not including the horrific migraine I got on Sunday, it was a beautiful weekend. There was ice cream, sitting outside with my book and lots of fresh sun-dried laundry. There's nothing like the first properly sunny weekend of the year to really lift the spirits.

♥ Avocados... In line with the improved weather, we've been moving away from the winter stews and towards the summer salads, with liberal helpings of avocado which I absolutely love and usually forget about until the season has passed. I'm on the hunt for more tasty salads to enjoy over the forthcoming months so do let me know if you have any favourites to share - Helen, I've already bookmarked your mouth-watering celeriac, beetroot, apple and walnut salad.

♥ Sunday morning baking... I was actually organised enough to do some baking on Sunday morning, to accompany the papers which my husband had thoughtfully popped out to pick up earlier. They may have slightly fallen apart in places and oozed molten sugar all over the tray, but these little cinnamon buns were still moreishly tasty. Gluten free too! (Thank goodness for the invention of gluten free ready-made pastry...)

♥ Short weeks... Need I say anymore? Two short weeks and a four day weekend - I can't wait!

♥ Ru Paul's Drag Race... Does anyone else watch this? I saw a few people mention it on twitter and thought I'd give it a whirl (how on earth can there be 9 series already?!) and I ADORE it, it has quickly become such a guilty pleasure. I've also started series 8 too just to get a Ru-fix while waiting for the newest series 9 episode to be released.

♥ Do let me know what's made your week a little rosier by leaving me a comment below (I do love comments!) or dropping me a tweet (I'm @happygoluckycat) or better yet, why not join the fabulous bunch of #WonderfulWednesday bloggers? Pop over to their blogs for a dose of mid-week happiness - SallyMichelleHelenKateJoSamanthaKerri, LauraSarahPetaElLauraSarahMimmiJasminMartinaLynseyKatieDebbieKelly and Em (I think that's everyone - shout at me if you're not on the list!) - and then join me in counting down the days until the weekend. It's in sight! 

Wonderful Wednesday 35

5 April 2017

35 weeks of wonderful - alas, not all in a row, but still a lot of wonderful to be proud of! Easter's in sight now, which I'm really excited about. A few days off, with a family gathering in between and a day out with my Dad and brother on the Saturday. But I'm skipping ahead of myself...this last week has been pretty exciting too. Let's catch up...I've got a cup of tea and a gluten free hobnob beside me while I write this - hope you have something sweet too.


♥ Days off... Nothing beats that feeling of setting your out of office for a few days off...and then happily tweeting about it on the train home! (It almost makes up for the feeling of woe when turning it off again the following Monday...)

♥ Visitors... My husband's sister was visiting us for a week from Germany with her husband. I was working for the first three days unfortunately but skipping excitedly out of the office on the Wednesday evening for a glorious two days off was the best feeling. I met them at one of our favourite curry restaurants that evening for a dinner I had been looking forward to all day - do you find that when you have exciting dinner plans you find yourself feeling hungrier all day long in anticipation? I even branched out from my usual curry choice and may have found a new favourite dish...exciting times indeed. We visited the Harry Potter Studio Tour on the Thursday, which I have raved about excitedly in a post all to itself - here, and on the Friday we took a train out of London to visit Brighton.

♥ Daytrips to the Sea... We picked a really wonderful day to visit Brighton! The morning wasn't looking great - I peered out of my curtains at grey skies, with a hint of rain, and thought that at least our visitors would be getting an authentic British trip to the seaside. But by the time that our train pulled into Hove, the sun was shining gloriously and it was almost warm enough to sit outside for our lunch. We took the train to Hove rather than Brighton so that we could get some fish and chips for lunch, choosing Wolfies of Hove as they also offer gluten free fish and chips (they have a separate fryer so can always offer gluten free options).

I think out of all the gluteny options around, fish and chips is what I miss the most. They were really worth the wait though - haddock and chips for me, and despite opting for the regular size it was HUGE.  I can proudly say that there wasn't a crumb left at the end but thank goodness for the walk beside the sea afterwards and the fresh air to clear out the vinegar.

For being so close to London, I don't really know Brighton that well at all. We wandered around the Lanes area to begin with, which has lots of interesting little independent shops and restaurants, before heading to the sea front via the Pavilion. Lots of walking in the sunshine with plenty of breaks for a drink or a snack, in other words the perfect day!

♥ Nesting... As much as I love having people to stay, there's also something pretty special about having the place to yourself again when they've left. Am I right or just a hermity creature? I cleaned to my little heart's content on Saturday as the flat had reached that level of 4 people under one roof that I had been itching to tidy for a day or so - the sun shone, I hung the laundry out on the line to dry (fresh sheets!), we bought pizzas and curled up on the sofa in front of the first Harry Potter film. It was absolute bliss.

♥ All of the blossom... Ahhh this never gets old. I am so excited about the slightly warmer weather, the blue skies and the beautiful blossoming trees. My favourite is the magnolia tree in a church close to my office (snapped at the very top of this post) - the buds have been looking so promising over the last few weeks but when I returned to work this week, the flowers were out in all their pink glory. So so beautiful.

♥ Reading... I'm in the middle of an amazing book at the moment, which I picked up completely by chance in Waterstones when having a browse recently. It's called 'The Other Mrs Walker' and I just don't want to put it down. It goes back and forth between wartime London and modern-day Edinburgh, as the protagonist tries to unravel the mystery of an old woman who died alone in a freezing cold flat one new year. It's fantastic, really reminds me of Kate Atkinson in style. Highly recommended already. After that I have the new Jilly Cooper lined up to read - quite different but I can't wait! What have you been reading recently? Any recommendations?

♥ Do let me know what's made your week a little rosier by leaving me a comment below (I do love comments!) or dropping me a tweet (I'm @happygoluckycat) or better yet, why not join the fabulous bunch of #WonderfulWednesday bloggers? Pop over to their blogs for a dose of mid-week happiness - SallyMichelleHelenKateJoSamanthaKerri, LauraSarahPetaElLauraSarahMimmiJasminMartinaLynseyKatieDebbie and Kelly (I think that's everyone - shout at me if you're not on the list!) - and then join me in counting down the days until the weekend. It's in sight! 

Review: Harry Potter Studio Tour

2 April 2017

I have wanted to visit the Harry Potter Studio Tours for YEARS. Don't get me wrong, nobody was stopping me from going, I had just never got myself organised enough to grab a friend, pick a date and book the tickets. We've had my sister in law and her husband visiting us from Germany over the last week and the Studio Tour was at the top of their list of must-sees for this trip so on sunny Thursday afternoon, I made it there at last!

And was it worth the wait?! It really truly was. Fasten your trunk, grab your house scarf and a few chocolate frogs or some Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans (whatever takes your fancy, there'll be no judgement here), let's jump aboard the Hogwarts Express and I'll tell you all about it!

(Just please ignore the ludicrous expression on my face in some of these photos...I was very excited.)

I'm a huge Potter fan so I was probably always going to love it but my husband really isn't (hilariously, he was given a stern talking to by his mum over the phone about not sulking during the trip!) and even he thought it was an interesting, well thought-out tour. He was also our official photographer on the day, capturing lots of memorable little details for us while we exclaimed over all the sets, props and costumes and reminisced about these books and films which were so important to me while I was growing up (and even as I've got a little older than that!) I know I've seen lots of blog posts pop up over the last few years, which I've done my best to avoid so as not to spoiler myself in advance, but before I spend the rest of my weekend marathon-watching all the films again, I thought I'd write a little about the day and my highlights for anyone like me who hasn't managed to visit it yet! (And hey, if you're looking for an excuse to go again...) Apologies for all of the photos - I think we came away with about 700 so this is truly an edited selection!

And yes, I was of course decked out in Ravenclaw blue, including this amazing 'swish and flick' pin, which I'd picked up from NutmegandArlo's Etsy shop in readiness for our trip. #nerdyandproud

First things first, make sure you allow plenty of time for your visit. You have to book in advance anyway - we booked weeks ago and there were only slots available from 5pm onwards. As I was bouncing up and down with excitement/terrified we'd be late and miss our time slot, we arrived at about 4pm but were allowed in earlier than our designated slot. By the time we left, it was about 8.15pm... I think they say that 3 hours is the 'norm' but having been in there for over 4 hours and still feeling there were spots I could have gone back to and looked at again, I would allow for at least 4 to 5 hours to ensure that you're fully able to indulge in some serious Potter-trivia.

The tour begins with a short film of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint talking about their experiences making the movies together with some snippets of all of the films, ending with them disappearing through the doors into the Great Hall at Hogwarts. The curtain rises and there are those very doors! You walk through and straight into Hogwarts' Great Hall - there are all the house tables, with some costumes lined up against the wall, the great fireplace and the teachers all stood at the very end!

You then head out into a huge area, filled with all manner of delights - props, costumes, sets, even the Mirror of Erised (perhaps I was just looking into the mirror the entire time?!)

Clearly I was hugely excited imagining that I was in the Gryffindor common room.

Peeking inside the Burrow was such a highlight for me - it's exactly the style I try to emulate for my own home, just look at that dresser!

Knitting needles captured mid-knit (not featured: the self-ironing iron and the knife chopping a carrot all by itself!)

 Apparently they filmed 40 kittens for the plates in Dolores Umbridge's study and the kitten were then adopted by people who had no idea that their cats were so famous!

Shortly after this was a section on the Death Eaters, which I found just as spooky as their scenes in all of the movies - the level of detail in each of the masks though, and some of the sinister props on display from Borgin and Burkes. It was so impressive.

The entrance to the Forbidden Forest, which is the new section of the tour that has only just opened.

 Hagrid lighting the way - detention with Hagrid wouldn't be too bad, although I'd choose to go with him rather than Fang...two scaredy cats wouldn't be good.

 Gorgeous Buckbeak!

You then head out onto the Back Lot, where you'll find the Knight Bus, the Hogwarts Bridge, Privet Drive and Godric's Hollow...among other things. It's also where you can find the Butterbeer. Now I'd heard really mixed reviews of the Butterbeer and I wasn't expecting much...but had to try it all the same. My goodness, it was truly vile. It tasted like cream soda and had a creamy head which bubbled in a rather sinister fashion. Butterbeer ice cream on the other hand?! That was truly delicious.

We were so lucky with the weather on the day we visited the tour and the sun shone gloriously throughout. By the time we left the Back Lot area, the sun was just starting to go in and it was getting a little chillier - perfect timing to head onto the next section, which was robotics and mechanics, together with all the amazing technical make up - Dobby, creatures like Buckbeak, Fawkes and the screaming Mandrake plants, and all the different goblin heads. This then leads into Diagon Alley, which I was SO excited to walk through, before the stunningly gorgeous artwork section and then the giant model of Hogwarts.

If you look over at the right-hand side of this picture, you'll see some people gazing at the model of Hogwarts - that should give you an idea of the scale of the piece!

If you haven't already picked up on how much I loved our visit to the studio tour, I wholeheartedly recommend it! The audio tour is worth investing in too because you hear so many interesting little snippets about the filming process that I had no idea about previously, and you can also watch some additional clips too. The section on training the animals was probably my favourite, as well as the section on the Burrow and how they managed to convince Ralph Fiennes to join the cast.

Have you visited the Harry Potter Studio Tour? What was your favourite part?

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