My Trip To The Harry Potter Studio Tour | Part 1

Hello, all!

I hope you’re all well, and that 2015 is treating you well so far? 🙂

For today’s blog post, I thought I would blog about a recent trip I made. It’s going to be a bit of a lengthy blog post— which I’m looking forward to doing, since I feel like it’s been a good while since I last did a blog post I could proper get my teeth stuck into!— so take a seat, get comfy, and pour yourself a butter-beer!

Yes, that’s right. Last weekend I visited the Harry Potter Studios Tours, which is located on the outskirts of London. If you’re visiting London on a holiday (many people at the Tour was; some people had even come as far away as Australia!), it’s not too far to travel. For me, however, the day started just after 5 in the morning, but it very much worth it.

As soon as you pull into the car park at the Studios, you can instantly tell you’re in for a treat. Large billboards are plastered on the outside of the building that match all of the films, as well as the Harry Potter logo, too— and even Harry Potter-themed buses, for if you’ve had to catch public transport into the place (for visitors who are holidaying. 🙂 )

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Once inside, we were each given a ticket. The youngsters were also given a Harry Potter passport, which I thought was pretty snazzy— they would make something great to keep and look back on; a little souvenir if you like, since they were really well-made and of high quality— like everything else that is at the Tour. If you’re an adult— boo hoo, I wish I had been a child just for the Passport!— then you get a standard ticket, but even these were cool. Mine was one with the Mandrake on it, but you can see one with the Basilisk above it.

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Each ticket is only valid for 30 minutes, which allows the Studio to make entry into the Tour very efficient and stress-free. We were able to get in smoothly and calmly, so they definitely know what they were doing. This meant that we didn’t feel flustered going into the Tour, and it really did make our first impressions very positive, building us up for the Tour itself. It was Hogwarts in the Snow when we went, since it was just after Christmas, but I am aware that the Christmas theme is be taken back down now for another year, so here’s a couple of snaps to show you if you haven’t before.

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Once in the Tour, they were so much to see— and the Tour was full of twists and surprises! Half of me wanted to discuss them here, so that I can share the experience, but then I don’t want to spoil it for those of you who haven’t been yet and plan on going one day. (If you would like me to do a full Harry Potter Studio Tour “walk-through” kind of post, then just let me know down in the comments.)

The Great Hall was done magically, and it was so surreal to be able to walk through one of the locations I’ve grown up loving and always dreaming that I could walk through it. It a fantastic experience. Apparently those peas pictured below were made out of metal ball-bearings, and they even set the giant Christmas Puddings on fire, which was the cherry-on-top of the experience. Because it was Hogwarts in the Snow, it was even snowing behind the windows! How they managed to do that, I have no idea!

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After the Great Hall, you’re able to enter a large room which is just FULL of so many scenes and props and bits and bobs from the movies that you just didn’t know where to look first, or where to go first— it felt very much like being a kid in a candy shop! I could write a blog post the length of Jane Eyre about everything I saw, so I thought I would share 10 of my favorite things I saw in the room instead. 🙂

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The attention to detail was amazing. I think one of my most favorite scenes was The Burrow, in which the Weasley family lived in— but, of course, you already knew that, right? I had always loved The Burrow, both the one in the books and the one in the films, and so it was strange and surreal to be able to just look around it right in front of my eyes. The nice thing was that the Studio Tour didn’t just showcase the scenes— which would have been amazing regardless— but they also managed to bring the scenes to life.

They did this by having dummies which the character’s costumes on, which were then positioned to look like the character, which helped bring the characters to life, and really added to the scenes. For example, below you have Molly Weasley, stood in the kitchen of The Burrow, which her hands on her hip! Additionally, they also made certain props move— for instance, the pots in the sink were really washing themselves, and they were knives chopping up vegetables on the table!

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We then stopped off to visit Professor Umbridge in her office, before popping into the Ministry of Magic.

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The Studio Tour then took a break, as something exciting was introduced— but I’m going to take this as an opportunity to stop myself, as I’ve decided to split this post into more than just one part.

So check back on Monday for Part 2 of my thoughts on the Studio Tour, and please let me know down below in the comments your thoughts. 🙂

Thank you for reading, and take care.
All the best,
Joshua 🙂

Short Stories & Why I Like Them | Do Something New

I’m sat here on a cold and icy morning, tucked away in a corner of a library, and so it’s the perfect time to write a blog post. 🙂

Recently, I read a short story which I LOVED. It was called “Leave The Window Open”, written by Victoria Schwab. (If you wish to read it—and I highly recommend that you do—I’ve left a link at the bottom of this post.) It was a short story that was set in the world of The Archived, her YA series—and as I was reading it, I began to realise just how much I missed short stories.

For those of you who don’t know, I used to write short stories before writing full-length novels. In fact, this site is called joshuajstories because I originally posted short stories on here—they’re still on here, actually; you just have to scroll down a lot!

I used to write them because they took less time; you were able to be creative and express yourself in a story that perhaps took a couple of days, a week, or maybe even an afternoon—and, even better, people were able to read them in one sitting, and if they liked it, it felt like a nice little snack that they had grabbed during the day—quick and easy, and yet just as satisfying.

Of course, I love writing books. I wouldn’t be doing it as a job if I didn’t! But I do miss short stories, and after reading “Leave The Window Open” I felt inspired to do them again. I think it’s nice to be able to create another world and to be able to share your creativity with others in a short amount of time, and of course because of their length, short stories mean that you have to be more choosy about which words you select, because every word literally does count. I guess I slipped out of writing them after I started writing novels.

And so I’m going to try and write one a month now. Even if I just keep them to myself, I think it’s good to be stretch your writing muscles now and again, instead of sticking to your comfort zones—and I challenge you to do the same.

Of course, if you are not a writer, then try something else related to what you enjoy that perhaps you used to do, but that you don’t anymore—or just try something a bit different. If you usually read crime fiction, maybe try a contemporary? If you usually run indoors, maybe try running outdoors? If you usually eat Chinese when you order in, perhaps try an Indian instead? (Okay, I said that one because I’m hungry, but trying food from different cultures is important. 🙂 )

So, there you go. Thank you for reading, and let me know down in the comments your thoughts, or perhaps what you’re going to try this month.

See you soon and take care,
Joshua 🙂

Back to Blogging! | 2015 Bits and Bobs

Happy New Year!

I can’t believe 2015 is here already— I feel like 2014 has passed me by in such a blur!

But first things first. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I spent mine at my house, and this year my family came to stay at mine instead, which hasn’t happened in a long time. It was really nice to have 4 generations of my family all staying together underneath one roof, and celebrating Christmas together.

But now it’s the New Year, and it’s the year which brings around a lot of changes for me, and so I thought I would share some things that 2015 is bringing to me, and wish I hope to bring to 2015…

1) I have 3 more books being published throughout this year. I hope I can make each one better than the last.

2) I’m moving just after the summer— I’ll be about a six-hour drive away from my family, and living alone in my own place. I’m both excited and nervous. How does one do this “living” business?

3) I started running! Yesterday! I hope to carry it on and build up my distance— one day, I would like to enter an event, such as a 10k or something along those lines. Hopefully I won’t get bored after three days… I’ve also tried to begin drinking two litres of water a day, but it’s more difficult than one anticipated— I kind of feel more like a fish, to be truthful!

4) My YouTube channel has been up for nearly a year, but I’ve only recently started posting on it. I would like to make a schedule for it, try new things, and continue uploading. 🙂

5) The same goes for this blog! 6,000 people have now read this, which is mind-blowing— but I’ve recently stopped blogging as much, so I would really like to get back into it. After all, I literally wouldn’t be doing any of the opportunities I’m doing now if it wasn’t for my blog. I think the idea that thousands of people read what I write suddenly dawned on me, and I got a bit scared! But I’m back now, and delighted to be sharing my words again. Not sure if they’re any good then! I’ll let you be the judge of that. 🙂

6) This year, I would like to be myself— I think living alone later this year in a new, undiscovered place will help me with that.

7) Take risks. Creatively and personally. I would like to say “yes” to more things, and write stories that scare me and put me out my comfort zones; make videos that are ambitious; and generally just do things that I previously haven’t done.

8) Be more charitable/raise awareness. I feel a responsibility to spread awareness of issues I personally believe in, and use my voice that I have been given. I feel extremely grateful and thankful to be in this position, and I truly do not want to waste it.

9) Have fun. In 2014, a lot of things changed for me, I felt, and sometimes I found myself bottling things up, trying to put on a happy front, and then finding myself in my own bubble of stress. This year, I need to understand that downtime to switch off is just as important as productive time— especially if I want to continue my output. After all, exhaustion doesn’t help!

10) Go with the flow. Sometimes things just happen for a reason, and this year whatever will be will be. I’m just thankful to be on this journey.

That’s all for this post. I would like to hear what you want to bring to this year, and what you hope this year brings to you.

Also, what would you like to see on this blog? Any new features or a post on a certain topic or…? It would be great if you could let me know down in the comments— I would really appreciate it!

Thank you for reading and for so being so supportive. I’m unbelievably grateful every single day. 🙂

Talk soon!

Joshua 🙂

New Year’s Day Chat | A Little Catch-Up!

Happy New Year, dear reader!

I wasn’t going to do a post today, since I have one scheduled for tomorrow, but then I changed my mind since I thought it would be nice to just stop by and have a little chat—something I feel I haven’t done for a while, and since it’s the reason why I created my blog back in Summer 2012 in the first place, I’ve really missed it.

Saying Summer 2012 makes the fact that it’s now 2015 sound really futuristic—I feel so old! I can’t believe how much things have changed within my life during these past few years, and especially during 2014—so many opportunities and experiences have come about, and I still can’t really believe it!

This year, there are a few things I really want to do, but I’m not going to go into them right now (but tomorrow’s post might just feature them *winks*). One of them is running.

In fact, I’m supposed to be running in an hour or so—it’s currently raining however, so I think we shall see about that! Haha! I’ve eaten way too many chocolates and sweets this festive period, but I’ve really enjoyed Christmas, so I think I’ll let myself off! In fact, I even took a couple of weeks away from working on my WIPs and projects so I could properly enjoy Christmas.

This year, Christmas was hosted at my house. It was really nice to have my family stay here instead, and it was lovely waking up on Christmas Day morning and have 4 generations of family all under one roof. My living room ended up looking like a sea of wrapping paper by the time present opening was done! It’s seriously been one of my most favourite Christmases yet. 🙂

But now I’m looking forward to getting back to work tomorrow and immersing myself back into my ongoing projects. I’m working on the second book in my middle-grade series, as well as outlining a new secret project—it’s set in Santa Monica in California (somewhere I’ve never been before!) and it’s brought on the urge to travel! I swear I will never cure my ongoing case of wanderlust; the world is too big to stay in one place, after all. 🙂

I’m especially excited about moving this year. I’m moving down to Brighton, if everything goes well and to plan (!), and although I’ll be about a 6 hour drive away from my family, I’m looking forward to a new start and discovering a new place, as well as transitioning into a new period within my life. I’m sure it will be more than interesting!

But, whatever happens, I feel as though 2015 is going to be a Big Year. Moving, new places, new starts, new people, more books, and an aim to continue blogging and making videos.

I guess whatever will be, will be, but I’m determined to make this year bigger and better than last year, if that’s possible!

Anyway. I suppose I better go and gear myself up to go for this first ever run (it’s still raining!), so wish me luck and I’ll see you soon!

As always, thank you for reading. I appreciate your time! I wouldn’t be able to do the things that I do if it wasn’t for you.

All the best,
Joshua 🙂