As I sit here the scent of wild woodbine (honeysuckle) is starting to fill the room. It smells devine and reminds me of summer in Donegal and of my grandmother who is no longer with us but she loved woodbine too.
We were fortunate to have a few days in London back in March. I was browsing the web one day while the oh was at work and thought I’d organise a wee weekend away. The main reason for going was to visit the Warner Brother Studio tour to experience The Making of Harry Potter Tour as myself and the oldest boy are massive HP fans, the younger boy is starting getting that way too. I read most of the books with my eldest until he got to the stage when he wanted to finish the last couple of books himself.
We flew from Belfast International to London Luton based on the fact that on the day of booking flights to Luton were the lowest.
From the airport I booked a taxi to take us to our hotel in Watford. Watford was chosen as a shuttle bus leaves from the train station there to the Warner Bros site. I looked a taxi reviews on TripAdvisor (I check this for most trips, hotels etc) and chose a local firm called Lucketts (http://www.luckettscoaches.com). They charged the quoted price, the driver was nice and chatted away and the trip cost about £40 and was hassle free. It would have cost more and been much more hassle to gets trains etc.
We stayed in Premier Inn in Watford and it was clean and quiet. We stay in Premier Inn often and have never had a problem. Always comfortable, clean and quiet. after checking in we headed out into Watford to get our bearings and have a reccy. The high street has lots of places to eat and it’s only a 5 minute walk from the hotel. We had a quick bite in Five Guys (there is one on Belfast but had never been before – it was OK, nothing special but just a warning to those with peanut allergy because their fries are cooked in peanut oil.
There is a Tesco store across from the hotel for stocking up and buying toothbrushes (ooops).
After a decent nights sleep we had breakfast (the usual fare – good selection of breads, cereals etc but the cooked breakfast had to be ordered which disappointed the boys a bit because they do like to go up for hot food seconds). So fed and watered we headed of to the central train station to get the shuttle, this was further than we initially thought and took us about 30 minutes but it was a nice morning and a bus arrived just as we did so we didn’t have to wait around for long. The shuttle cost very little for the 4 of us, return was around £10, I think.
The Harry Potter Tour was AMAZING. Myself and the boys absolutely loved it. Not embarrassed to admit it but at the very start of the tour I felt a wee bit emotional but a ‘look’ from my eldest boys put a stop to that lol. It was well organised and although there must have been 100 people per tour there was enough space to see the exhibits and no queues for photos etc (which is very important for me as I hate queuing). It was like being in one of the books. I will definitely be back some day. There is a cafe stop during the tour which is great for a cuppa or a snack. We got some butterbeer but we weren’t fans – like liquid butterballs which we love but it is sooo sweet. If you are a family on a budget I would recommend buying one and everyone having a drink to try it as I think it might be an acquired taste. We took our time and took lots of photos and I think we were there 2 and a half hours (the longest tour was 10 hours according to one of the tour guides – haha).
We got the fast train into the city from Watford Junction. It took about 25 minutes and took us to Euston where we joined the Underground. So in London we took the boys to Hamley’s; Oxford Street; Trafalgar Square (where M&M World was spotted and visited) but we avoided the Lego store as the queues were ridiculously long. Tired and hungry we headed to the hotel and had a picnic dinner courtesy of Tesco’s.
Sunday was home day and also the St Patrick’s Day Parade around Trafalgar Square which we were keen to avoid as we wanted to get as much packed in as we could before heading to the airport. We dropped our bags off at Victoria Coach Station where our airport bus left from and this was a good idea as we had no bags to drag around. We went to Buckingham Palace but the crowds were crazy and we could see nothing. We went to the Natural History Museum which was fantastic. By this stage we were tired and ready for home. We got a National Express coach (hadn’t been on one of those since the 90’s) to Luton and it left Victoria and arrived at Luton airport on time, it was very cheap compared to the train and was comfortable and roomy. No complaints there.
All in all we had a great weekend but there was so much we didn’t get time to see so we will have to go back again to see some more. The boys loved it and it was so nice to see it though their eyes as Chris and I had been many times before.
The ’50 films to watch before you’re 11′ – and what the list is missing
I spent a pleasant couple of days in beautiful Donegal with my mum and sons. Donegal was recently voted the coolest place on earth (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/01/donegal-tourism-coolest-place-on-planet-national-geographic), this was not news for us because my family have been going to the same spot in Donegal for over 40 years. The part of Donegal we go to is very remote and not at all touristy. There a number of holiday homes in the area owned and rented by people from all over the world, who like us, have discovered this little piece of heaven on earth. It’s a two and a half hour drive from our home and we stop off at Aldi in Dungloe town to stock up on food for our stay. This is a bit of a treat as there are no Aldi in Northern Ireland as far as I know so it’s somewhere ‘different’ to shop. Dungloe is a vibrant little town with places to eat and a few shops which I will mention in later posts as we didn’t stop this time apart form Aldi. It is also home of the Mary from Dungloe festival ( http://maryfromdungloe.com/ ) and the Daniel O Donnell Visitor Centre ( http://www.danielodonnellvisitorcentre.com/ ) – Daniel is from nearby Kincasslagh. Dungloe has a new hotel which looks lovely and mum and I have promised ourselves a night there before the end of the year http://waterfronthoteldungloe.ie/ (a bit of a change from the caravan we normally stay in).
So we headed away to a place right beside the sea with no electricity so no WIFI and therefore no TV or PlayStation etc etc. Heaven. We only went for one night so the boys didn’t suffer too much from tech withdrawal!!
I took my new camera for the first time so was in heaven trying it out on the wild flowers, the beach etc. We went for walks, skimmed pebbles, talked, read and it was nice just to be together in a peaceful, quiet haven.
I went for a walk on the beach today with a dear friend and it was lovely. A couple of days ago I felt the need for a walk and and chat. It was supposed to he hot and sunny but that happened after our walk. It would have been lovely to have had the sun on our face but never mind. We put the world to rights (much talk about politics, elections) and got some exercise as well so win win.