Wednesday, 19 April 2017
Saturday, 15 April 2017
The Tour has always been very clever at managing crowds, with staged entry times, and a clear clockwise momentum. When we visited originally, everything was shiny and new and drew lots of excited PotterHeads. Directions were clear; once you left a section you could not revisit, you must continue forwards. However our second visit was much more relaxed. Want more time in the Great Hall? No problem, just clear the staging area when requested hang around a bit, wait for the next group to enter and simply step back into the room. The story was the same throughout the Tour. Staff were more than happy to accommodate visitors that wanted to spend a little more time on their favourite sets, as well as take photos for that all important group shot!
Anyone who has visited WBST will be aware of the green screen area. Ride a broom through London, have a photo as you hover over Hogwarts - explore the magic of film. We actually skipped this on our first visit as the queues were just too long, but this time we donned our cloaks and were on a broom in under 5 minutes. And the interactivity is not just restricted to the one area - the interactive elements have been built further into the exhibits. Want to try your hand at broomstick lessons? In the right area simply put your hand over a broom and say 'Up'. Wonder how they made Robbie Coltrane's Hagrid so big on camera? Take a seat in the perspective set. Even the Creature Effects area has become more dynamic. Stand on a square on the floor and see how Dobbie the House Elf can be made to mimic body movements.
I don't remember security checks being quite so extensive the first time we visited. Maybe they were, but they certainly don't spring to mind... Maybe that just says a lot more about how the world has become a bit more fearful in the last few years. Expect a thorough bag check and a body scan before you enter.
The Warner Brothers team have dusted out a number of additional sets/props in the last four years. New to us were the impressive Hogwarts Express (which you can climb aboard and look at carriages dressed for 6 different films), and why join the often lengthy queues at Kings Cross for a photo at Platform 9 3/4 when the Studio Tour offers you the same opportunity (in fact three different photo call opportunities!). The newest area that opened at the end of March is the Forbidden Forest - a place where many naughty Hogwarts student would spend detention - wander through the Hogwarts gates and see a model Hagrid lighting the way, bow to a Hippogriff under the trees, and have a guided tour through the darker areas to experience some of the Creature Effects. To be honest, this new area was a bit disappointing... it seems as though the team have moved some of the exhibits from the 'Creature Effects' area to the new 'forest' - so really apart from a bit of window dressing very little felt 'new.' In fact, we noticed in the Creature Effects area that the explanation video still mentions the giant model Aragog, with the recording of Warwick Davis indicating to wear the model had previously lived, before the giant spider had be found a new home in the Forest. Maybe the team will update the video at some point...
Only 4 places in the world sell Butterbeer so the queue is always long. Personally I wasn't a fan, and decided not to spend £3-6 on a second experience of the creamy fizzy beverage... however Butterbeer too has evolved over the last few years, with your menu choice now including Butterbeer ice cream. At nearly £5 a cone though it's not cheap
The old stuff
To be honest, the old exhibits are still just as fascinating as they were before. We didn't spend as long gazing at the Griffindor Common Room or hanging out in Diagon Alley, but at the same time we did get the chance to experience different things. We were able this time to go into the Privet Drive set (rather than just peek through the windows) and seeing Alan Rickman's old Shape costumes took on a much more poignant tone after his death last year.
This post has not been written in collaboration with Warner Bros Studio Tour London or any other third party. No incentive has been received for writing this post and is completely based on my own experiences and thoughts.
Saturday, 8 April 2017
We'll chalk this week up to experience. It's been a bit full on in one way or another...
At my 20 week scan they'd noticed my placenta was a bit on the low side, so on Tuesday I had a scan appointment to see whether there had been any change in 11 weeks.
Hubby was particularly excited to see our little (*strange bump nickname alert*) "Pickett" again.
Turned out our darling little one isn't quite so little...
The scan showed a very tall baby. Not 'big' but Pickett's legs in particular are on the lengthy side. Also baby seems to be in the totally wrong position. And has apparently been enjoying a swimming pool of amniotic fluid (we're almost double what you should have - no wonder I'm developing a waddle!). Okay, so these things aren't ideal but I didnt care - It was magical to feel the baby somersault around, and to simultaneously see it on the screen. Something I will never forget I'm sure.
Oh, and the placenta? We've nick named it the Great Wall. There's no way that thing is likely to budge.
The consultants were great. They explained things to us. A ceasarean is likely, they wanted to do lots more tests because of the water volume and Pickett's size, to make sure that both I and the baby are well.
So Wednesday saw me back at hospital for my tests. 7 vials of blood, 1 super sweet drink, and 2 hours of waiting later we were finally sent on our merry way with the information that someone would call us the next day to let me know whether the results showed any sign of gestational diabetes or infection, and that, regardless, they'd see me in a couple of weeks for a follow up.
But then when I was at work on Thursday I had a little bleed.
I'd only been told on Tuesday that this could happen and that if it did I should call for advice. It wasn't much, so nearly dismissed it... But I figured a quick telephone call wouldn't hurt.
I called the Maternity Assessment Clinic (MAC) from a corner office at work expecting advice along the lines of 'keep an eye on it," or "We'll make a note on the system." The line was engaged the first few times, so again I nearly gave up and went back to my desk. It was more pink discharge than blood really.
Instead what I was told was to grab some things together and to come straight in...
A colleague offered to drive me to the hospital. Hubby was reached at work, and scrambled to go back home, pack a bag (Yes, I know we probably should have already done that!) and then meet me at the hospital. 30 mins later I was sat in a tiny, but rather warm, (and packed) waiting room.
I was seen quickly. I was clearly prioritsed over some of the others waiting there. I explained again that it was only a slight bleed. And it had pretty much died down. But they were having none of it. My placenta previa is "major" meaning that the whole placenta is blocking the cervix. I'm at risk of sudden significant bleeds that would be dangerous for both me and the baby. They wanted to check us thoroughly.
Blood pressure, temperature, urine test, ECG, medical history, internal exam (where they thought for a moment that my waters had gone...), swabs, scan. They threw everything they could at me to check the situation.
We had three doctors in our tiny cubicle at one point. It felt excessive. They reassured me that it was not. Calling and coming in was absolutely the right thing. They checked the blood test results from the previous day, elevated sugar levels, but still normal and nothing too concerning (I breathe a sigh of relief there when I discovered one of the infections they checked for was syphilis!). After 4 hours they decided they were happy to let me go. I was fine, Pickett was fine. My cervix was closed. The bleeding had stopped. Probably caused by slight hormone surge.
Huge sigh of relief. Honestly I couldn't value the NHS more at this point. The care I've had has been amazing.
The challenge now is that the doctors recommended that I am not ever left by myself in case I needed to immediately come into hospital. Not hugely practical as we don't have family in the area but I'm sure we'll cope.
I feel fine, so went back to work yesterday. I've had a chat with my boss so he's aware of the situation and that there's a chance I might suddenly need to down tools and go.
I started this week with a simple scan appointment and ended up in the hospital 3 days in a row. Each time understanding more and more of my situation. I can't thank the Maternity teams enough. Where as I was dismissive they were responsive and systematic.
I'm pleased to be in their care.
I have another scan in 2 weeks where I think they might make the decision on what to do next. But in the meantime Hubby is doing an excellent job of looking after me.
Even though it seens that things have got a bit more complicated for us, strangely I now feel more confident about the birth. I have to trust in my care team.
The other positive thing to come out of this week is that it's made us pull our finger out and get some baby bits together.... We went straight from the hospital to Sainsburys to pick up some baby grows... just in case!