Fake News Is Top Of The Class At Madame Tussauds London

After being at the forefront of popular and celebrity culture for more than 250 years, Madame Tussauds London has launched a new programme to support and educate students about fake news.

 

The ‘Fake News and the Media’ school lesson is part of Merlin Entertainments new ‘Today’s Lesson Will Be…’ educational programme that is being rolled out across the company’s London attractions. Created in collaboration with education specialist SHAPES for Schools this new lesson is linked to PSHE and the English national curriculum and is targeted at Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 students aged between 9 – 13 years old.

Taking place inside the world famous attraction on Baker Street, which boasts A-list celebrity figures such as Donald Trump and Kim Kardashian, the ‘Fake News and the Media’ lesson has been created as a reaction to the current issues around the distortion and misuse of false information and the influence it is having on young people’s choices.

 

As the lines continue to blur between what is a real news story and what is false, the interactive lessons will provide teachers and their students with the essential skills to navigate the news agenda safely online and across social media.

‘Today’s Lesson will be…’

Delivered by Madame Tussauds performers, the ‘Fake News and the Media’ lesson will lead students through a critique of how the media presents news whilst also analysing the difference between rumour, spin, satire and false information.

Lessons will include

  • Structured discussion around modern celebrity culture and the media, and how the two are linked.
  • Working in groups to categories news stories according to different criteria, including: how the news was shared; who wrote it, text and images, and the emotive impact on the reader.
  • A group-based definition of ‘fake news’ and other key terminology.
  • A game in which pupils try to identify their classmates’ real stories from their fake ones.

Joanne Channon, Education Manager at Merlin Entertainments, said:

“The dissemination of false information through the media both online and across social media can be incredibly confusing and challenging for young people. Out of the classroom learning is proven to be highly effective in helping to stimulate young minds while boosting student’s social skills such as confidence, creativity and communication. We believe our new workshop will inspire students this academic year and we hope it will have a positive impact on how they interact with modern media in the future.”

The fake news workshop helps children to stretch their literacy skills. They will learn how to identify different types of media, it’s purpose and to understand the concept of ‘fake news and how it impacts on modern audiences. Children will analyse a variety of news stories and by picking out textual evidence to back up their decisions they will learn how to assess whether they think the story is real or fake.

Learning outside of the classroom can lead to a deeper understanding of the subjects being taught by bringing it to life. It can help to inspire and reignite enthusiasm for learning. Hands on learning will also enhance a child’s personal and social communication skills by encouraging communication and increases engagement with in the subject.

The new ‘Fake News and the Media’ lesson can be booked as part of Madame Tussauds London’s schools package. This includes such benefits as a 40% saving on tickets and free Teacher Resource Packs. For more information please visit www.madametussauds.com/education

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Pumpkin Picking at Hurley’s Farm

Pumpkin picking is something I have only ever done in a supermarket, but it is becoming increasingly popular for families to visit local farms and to pick their own.

After seeing lots of pictures on social media last Halloween, I really wanted to try it out for myself this year. Living in London doesn’t help as most of the farms/patches are quite rural so you will need a car to get to them.

We found one out in Battlesbridge, Essex called Hurley’s Pumpkin Forest. Not only was the entry into the farm free but they also had fun family games area for the children to join in on.

As we arrived we quickly noticed how busy it was, there was ample of space for parking on site but it was filling up fast and people were having to park out on the road. We managed to find a spot on the farm and with two very excited boys off we went in search of our pumpkin.

To get to the pumpkin field you had to pass through the games area, which I might add was a lovely little surprise. I never quite expected there to be so much for the children to do. They got to

  • Find their way through the Witches Maze

  • Have a go at pumpkin bowling (no pumpkin was used just a ball)

  • Throw a welly boot at a target at Wizard’s Welly Wanging
  • Aim for the holes in Pumpkin Wizzbee

  • Ride in the Pumpkin carriage pulled by a pony
  • Paint your own pumpkin (£3)
  • Enter the huge maize maze (for a fee)
  • Plus plenty more games to try

The children were given a ‘Things I did today’ card as they entered the farm with all of the fun things to do on it and they got to tick each one off once they had done them.

There is also a refreshment cart selling spiced pumpkin hot chocolate, as well as other refreshments like hot dogs and waffles.

The pumpkin fields are actually where the Christmas trees are being grown and the pumpkins are scattered around for you to choose from. There were crates that offered different varieties of pumpkin as well as squash. We went quite late in the day and these crates were pretty empty and also the pumpkins for us to choose from were not that big, but I imagine there to be a better choice and variety if you arrive earlier in the day.

I was a little disappointed as I had in mind that we got to, actually, pick our own pumpkins from the ground. But, we still had fun looking around the fields searching for our forever Halloween pumpkin.

Our pumpkin cost us £3 , I think my son was happy with his purchase. Beats shopping in a  supermarket any day!

There were also plenty of wheelbarrows scattered around for you to use and fill up till your heart’s content, or in our case have a well-earned rest at the end of a delightful and fun day

Hurley’s Pumpkin Forest is open until 31st October, 9-5 and is free to enter. You only pay for the pumpkins that you buy and any additional activities that you want to try.

 

 

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Encouraging my Children to be Adventurous

‘Fill your life with adventures and with stories to tell’

Children need adventure, they need to experience risk in order to develop their ability to deal with situations and to build up their self confidence. It encourages them to be more resilient and to think for themselves. Whether the adventure be small or big, indoors or out children should be experiencing adventure to build up their skills and to able to assess the danger around them. Not only do children develop trust, empathy and compassion but they  learn to master their own fears and are able to help others get through them.

As parents we should be teaching our children to assess the danger and how to deal with the risk of being adventurous. As much as I want to wrap my boys up in cotton wool and lock them away from any danger I know that I must allow them to experience adventure to gain knowledge and new skills.

I want my boys to have memories of us being adventurous together and hopefully they will last a lifetime and something that they will then take on with their own families.

I want us to visit new places together.

I want us to try new challenges, like rock climbing and diving.

A couple of years ago I took my boys camping in Lee Valley, we travelled around on our bikes and spent the summer nights out walking along the River Lee. It’s a holiday that they still talk about and are constantly requesting to go back. It didn’t cost much and wasn’t a glamorous holiday but it was something we did together as a unit. We cycled along the river bank with an unknown destination, stopping where it took our fancy. We cycled for miles using only our sense of direction to get back. Searched for geocaches. Played hide and seek in the forests. Climbed trees. And picniced in fields.

Enjoying the scenery

It was the first time I had ever gone out cycling alone so far with the boys, but I am so glad that I did it. As we don’t live too far from there, we travelled there and back on our bikes with just clothes in our rucksacks. We had to deal with getting lost, bee stings and how to deal with punctures. It was amazing, in fact I am too scared to go back as I don’t think we could experience another holiday like it.

Now, we’re not the most adventurous family but we still try new things, even if we are scared.

We have hiked up Mount Snowdon as a family  ,entered Mud races, jumped from a crane, been canoeing, open water swimming; not all that adventurous compared to some but it’s a start 🙂

We spent this summer in Malta. The boys went swimming in the sea everyday. They taught themselves to dive, to snorkel and faced their fears by jumping off of cliffs into the crystal clear water below.

I, myself, am not that confident and would call myself a scaredy cat. As I watched my boys jump in but couldn’t face doing it myself. It took me at least a week to pluck up the courage to jump in from about 2 metres high. I was so glad that I did it, my boys just kept hugging me. I felt that I had achieved something, although it was little in comparison to what my boys had been doing. I felt a sense of adrenaline rush through me.

Here are a few things the boys got up to in the summer

Exploring caves
Exploring under the water

Jumping from cliffs into the sea. They were taught to assess the danger first. To swim around first and to see how deep it was. And to also look out for any jellyfish.

Having a mud wash

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In this day and age where children would rather communicate via social media and spend most of their spare time with their face in front of a screen I think that it’s important to encourage our children to venture outside and explore, to learn for themselves and to achieve that sense of adrenaline from adventure. I want my boys to be challenged and to be comfortable in their surroundings.

I want to spend time with my boys outside, it’s something we can do together without the distractions of modern technology. It’s about making memories, enjoying each others company and creating stories to tell for when they grow up.

 

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Healthy Hot Chocolate for Winter Days

There is nothing quite like a nice, steaming cup of hot chocolate on a winters day to warm up your bones. The luxurious taste and feel of drinking hot chocolate that then warms your whole body is exquisite! It is thick, silky and rich tasting!

I think what makes a cup of hot chocolate so satisfying is that there are so many health benefits from drinking it. Skip those store-bought hot chocolate packs, and make your own cup of cocoa using real cacao powder; the higher the cacao content and less processed the cocoa, the greater the antioxidants.

This hot chocolate is thick, creamy and so satisfying. It gives you that warm glow and because of the ingredients used it fills you up too!

Ingredients:

  • Handful of raw cashew nuts
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 1 heaped tbsp oats
  • 1 heaped tbsp cacao powder
  • Coconut milk

Method:

Blitz the cashew nuts and cacao nibs in a blender with a little of the coconut milk until it forms a paste like texture.

Add in the rest of the ingredients.

Heat the coconut milk and then add it into the blender (there is no guidance on the milk, just use what you feel is right for you. I like my hot chocolate thick so i didn’t use too much)

Blitz until combined and creamy

You can add more milk if it is too thick or more oats/banana if you need it to be thicker.

To give the hot chocolate that extra winter taste add in some cinnamon and top with some squirty cream.

Enjoy 🙂

 

 

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Bonkers about Conkers

It’s that time of year when the ripe seeds from the Horse Chestnut tree fall to the ground.  The conkers are encased inside a green spiked capsule, which are attached to the branches of the tree. When the spiky capsule begins to turn brownish in colour they fall to the ground. It’s a sign that Autumn is on it’s way.

My youngest has never really been that into conkers, that is until this year and he has absolutely gone bonkers for conkers! Collecting well over 400 of them; with the help of friends.

Wherever we go: on the way to school, to the park, to football practice or walking to the shops, he is always on the lookout for a conker. When we get home he empties his school bag, trouser pockets and even his lunch bag and places them into his growing collection.

With so many conkers I asked him what he wanted to do with them. His reply was just that he wanted to collect them and see how many he could find.

I know conkers are, apparently, good for keeping spiders away if placed in the corner of the room. So I think we will be safe for a while from our eight legged friends.

Apart from the obvious of playing conkers we decided to get our craft heads on and do something a little different with what we had. We made conkers paintings and snail conkers.

Conkers paintings are really simple but can get quite messy.

You will need :

  • Conkers
  • A tray
  • Paper
  • Selection of paint

Place the paper into the tray. Then add in the paper and squirt some poster paint around the paper. Place some conkers on to the paper and now the fun and messy part. Start to shake the tray so that the conkers roll around in the paint leaving a coloured trail behind them.

About to roll
Finished picture

Conker snails were so much fun

You will need:

  • Conkers
  • Paint pens or acrylic paints
  • playdough

First we made up our playdough. We added in chocolate powder to give it that earthy colour. My son loved making the playdough as he likes to get messy and it’s really good for the children to practice their measuring and motor skills.

Then, we decorated the conkers with the paint pens, we used my posca pens but you can get cheaper versions which are just as good. Once the conkers were dry we moulded the playdough for the snails body and placed the conker on top for the shell.

Aren’t they just so cute!

You could even hide the snails around your local park for other children to find or even just the decorated conkers ( just like the rock decorating craze)

As a child, I used to love playing conkers with my friends and big brother. It was something that my parents had taught me. Who had the strongest conker? There were even methods that you could use to strengthen your conker; keeping a conker for a year, baking, soaking, boiling in vinegar, or painting with clear varnish. Nowadays, children don’t seem to want to play the simple, but fun games that we played when we were younger.

Conkers is a game that could dates back as far as 1821. To score in Conkers you must break the opponent’s conker to gain points – you can score when you are attacking or defending. If strings become entangled the first player to shout ‘strings’ gets an extra turn.

I have not given up on introducing the boys to the game, as I know they will just love it as much as I did.

All ready for a game of conkers

But, this activity is for another day 🙂

 

 

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Christopher Robin: Afternoon Tea with the Voice of Pooh and Tigger – Jim Cummings

Just over a week ago we were invited along, by Disney, to celebrate the upcoming release of Christopher Robin for an afternoon tea with Jim Cummings.

It was truly a magical experience.

If you are anything like me and you grew up watching/reading Winnie the Pooh, then you will understand how excited I was to be able to meet Jim Cummings and listen to him read a short extract from the book of the film. Winnie the Pooh was the first teddy bear that I bought for my eldest boy when he was a baby, you which he still has now.

Christopher Robin is a heartwarming film about a young boy, who on embarked on countless adventures with loveable animals, who has now grown up and lost his way. It is now up to Christopher’s childhood friends to help him remember the loving playful boy that he once was by venturing into our world.

‘Sooner or later your past catches up to you’

The afternoon tea was being held at Claridges. We arrived and was quided to a room that was full of Pooh themed food, tea (obviously, as it’s afternoon tea), face Painting, colouring in tables, old fashioned games, biscuit decorating and a lovely big chair – hmmm, I wonder what that was for!

The boys quickly made themselves at home, grabbing some of the delicious cakes and sitting down in the corner on the cushions to eat them whilst cuddling their Winnie and Tigger teddies.

They designed some balloon shaped cookies with lots of sugary items and ate some ‘beary’ ice cream.

I’m not sure what this design was but he assures me it tasted nice.

As the children enjoyed getting their face painted us adults sat down to tea and cake.

It wasn’t long before we were joined by Jim Cummings, he sat down in the chair and the children gathered around him on the cushions. Clutching on to their Pooh bears, Tiggers, Eeyores and Piglets they say mesmerised as Jim read an extract from the book to them.

The room was silent.

Adults and children around the room were quickly joining Pooh and Christopher on their adventure, getting lost in imagination as Jim brought the characters to life.

I couldn’t help but smile.

I looked around the room, I could see the magic I the children’s eyes as the story was coming alive. It definately was a wonderful thing.

Once Jim finished he kindly waited around for photos and chatted to the children.

We had a wonderful time and are very thankful for the invite. The boys came away with a plush teddy and a memory that they will cherish forever

Christopher Robin opens in the Cinemas on 17th August.

We can’t wait to watch it! How about you?

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A Short Break At Hermanus, Winterton On Sea

Hermanus Holidays park is situated In Winterton-On-Sea, Norfolk. The site is close to the beach with just the sand dunes separating them from each other. It’s a small site with a choice of beautiful scenic accommodation to choose from; charming thatched round houses, chalets and bungalows. The family run site makes for an ideal retreat away from the hustle and bustle of everyday lives.

We went to Hermanus for a short weekend, arriving late on Friday evening and left around mid day on Sunday. Although we was there for only a short time, we managed to do so much. It may seem like we had a busy weekend but it was actually very relaxing.

Arriving late on Friday meant that we missed our dinner so we headed on out in search of a nearby Fish and Chip shop. The chip shop in Winterton closed at 8pm so we had to drive to a nearby village, which was also closed but we did find a kebab shop that we ordered a salad from. There was also a co-op where we stocked up on the essentials we would need for the weekend. I hadn’t packed anything as I had no idea where we was going, as my partner had booked it as a surprise for my birthday (otherwise food would have been organised).

After Dinner it was time for the boys to choose what room they wanted to sleep in. Our chalet had 3 bedrooms; 1 double bed, 2 single beds and a room that had a double and a single in. All rooms had a spacious wardrobe and a desk.

There is ample of parking right outside of the Chalets and table and chairs for those moments where you want to sit outside and take in the surroundings.

The boys spent most of their first night running from one to room, playing hide and seek.

We had a lovely nights sleep and all refreshed for our first day at Hermanus Park. Whilst I made breakfast the boys went outside and played on the field at the bottom of the park. We had brought along boules and a bat and ball to play with.

The whole idea of the weekend was for us, as a family, to spend quality time together. The first thing we did after breakfast was to head on over to Gorleston for the 5k Parkrun. The boys in my family love to run, wherever we go they are either joining in on a race or going out for early morning/evening runs.

Gorleston Parkrun is in fact a course along the sea front, whilst the boys joined the rest of the runners at the start line I positioned myself along the promenade ready to cheer them on.

Jak came second in the run
Daddy and Oliver running along

As parkruns go, this has got to be one of the most beautiful scenic one. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend your morning, than running along with your family next to the sea with the sun shining.

On our way back to the site we stopped off at a strawberry picking field and picked some strawberries and raspberries to eat once we got back to the chalet

Once back at the chalet it was time for a quick drink and then out to the field for a game of rounders and Boules. It was so quiet, we were the only family around playing. The children ran along the grass with their shoes off; we laughed, we played, we cheated and we won.

A game of Boules
A game of rounders

It was also a perfect time to get out my new little toy that I had received for my birthday present; A canon EOS200D. I don’t know much about how to use it to its full potential at the moment but I am loving learning and looking back at the photos that I took. It’s great for catching those moments that the phone can’t do.

We went back to the chalet to eat some of our berry pickings and then packed up a bag ready for a walk along the dunes down to the beach. Walking from our chalet, we passed by the gorgeous thatched round houses

Could you imagine staying in one of those, looking out of the window at the sand and the sea…Breathtaking!

We was very lucky with the weather; the sun was shining and the sky was clear. There wasn’t even a breeze to taint the day.

Walking along the dunes and down to the beach was like being abroad. The beach and dunes go on for miles.

walking along the dunes
taking in the views if the sea
Jumping down to the beach below

The beach has a vast stretch of sand between the dunes and the sea that gives it an open feel to it. As we walked along the sand, there were moments that we were the only people around. It was quiet, relaxing and beautiful.

We walked along watching the Turns dive in for fish and the seals swimming amongst the waves. I tried to get pictures of the seals but they didn’t come in close enough. It was just so nice to walk along with nature all around us.

The boys spent time cracking open stones to look for geodes.

We must have walked about 4  miles and quickly realised that we would have to walk back, we could have walked forever, just enjoying each others company. Dad decided to run back to the site and get the car, we arranged to meet at the next car park along at Horsey gap. About 45 minutes later we met up with Dad and got in the car ready to go back to the site. On our way back we stopped off at Horsey National Trust Windpump for a refreshing drink and ice cream

The windpump
relaxing along the river bank

Before long it was time to head back to Hermanus Site for a spot of lunch.

It was a lovely day weather wise, so we headed on over to the heated outdoor pool for a little swim. The pool has a brick wall around keeping out the coastal breeze. It has plenty room around it to sunbathe and spend time relaxing, whilst watching the children play in the pool

After our swim we headed on into the bar area where there was a small arcade that had pool tables in. Here we taught our youngest how to play pool, he loved it. Along with the arcade and bar, Hermanus also has a restaurant and a function suite.

The site and accommodation are quite dated but that is what gives it its charm. It feels unspoilt by the ever-growing community around it. It doesn’t need any fancy updated leisure facilities as it is just perfect the way it is.

We cooked dinner in our chalet that evening and enjoyed it sitting around the huge dining table, all together talking about the day that we had.

The next day was our last one and we had to be out of the chalet by 10am. We woke up early and sat outside on the bench with our morning coffee. The site welcomes pets and most of the accommodation is pet friendly. We had families either side of us dogs but didn’t hear a peep out of them all night long.

Before it was time to say goodbye to Winterton and Hermanus we had one last walk along the beach, where we made pebble towers, ran through the waves and felt the sand between our toes. We even got to spot a few more seals in the distance

Morning run on the sand
pebble tower
walking through the dunes
his face when he runs! lol

We had a lovely weekend and I am sure that we will be visiting again soon. Winterton On sea is very close to the broads so Hermanus is ideally situated for the beach and days out on the broads. It is also just down the road from Great Yarmouth, so you can visit the shops if you wanted to. For us, it was just nice being together in the idyllic scenery of Hermanus Holiday Park

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I am Scarred, I am Here, This Is Me!

For the past year and a half I have been living with a Colostomy due to treatment for Bowel Cancer.

I have never been a very confident person and will often hide behind my children when it comes to being social.

I shy away from confrontation and hide my body behind clothes that are not figure hugging.

Learning to live with my stoma has been hard. Learning to accept how my body has become has been a journey. I am still not fully confident with myself, but I took the first big step a few days ago. That was, to share a picture of me in a bikini (not a high-waisted one) on a couple of my social media outlets.

I was worried that people would reject me and call me hideous but I needed to do it for myself.

Recently, the blogging community had been shocked with the sudden death of a highly respected blogger. Her main motto was to live for the day, her approach to life was honest and carefree. She was bold, caring and funny. I didn’t know the Kate but I had seen her at events that I had been to and followed her on Twitter, where I got to read about her dating exploits. This week, a huge following of bloggers shared photos of themselves, on social media, in their bikinis. Kate’s tips on getting your body bikini ready was to simply just wear one!

My facebook and Instagram feed quickly became full of beautiful ladies of all ages sharing their bikini bodies. I became inspired to share mine.

If everyone else could, then why couldn’t I?

I first shared the picture on the blogs facebook page and then on Instagram. I was worried about receiving negative comments, but in fact I received some lovely comments of support and encouragement.

You see, I see my body as hideous. Ugly. Gross. A monster hidden beneath the clothes.

I want to be accepted, even though I am different.

I want people to know but I don’t want to be ridiculed.

I don’t want people to stare at my tummy, scanning over my clothes looking for where my stoma is.

I am quite anxious talking about my stoma and letting new friends know about it. I don’t want to be treated differently.

But, I shouldn’t be feeling like this. I should be proud that I am still here. Still alive.

Beauty isn’t just about having a perfect body with no imperfections or having a pretty face. It’s about having a pretty soul, a good heart and a strong mind.

So with Kates ‘this is me- take it or leave it’ attitude I share with you all now how I look today

This is my F**K You Cancer Jump

Never stop believing in yourself!

 

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An Emotional Last Walk To Junior School Together

The time has eventually come for my little boy to leave junior school; the school that he has been a pupil at for 8 years. That is a big chunk of our children’s lives. Their junior school is all they know. A place where they made their first friends, where they learnt to read and write, where they were taught discipline and where they grew into the children that they now are.

My son has learnt so much more than I ever thought would be possible.

He has learnt how to overcome difficulties and not see them as a chore but to tackle them head on and come out winning.

He will be leaving year 6 with skills that will guide him on his way into year 7.

He will be leaving with hope and dreams.

He has learnt that with the right mindset that he can go anywhere and be anything that he wants to be. He has learnt that anything is possible with determination and drive; focused on achieving and pushing himself academically to the next level.

He leaves year 6, leaving his nest and soaring into the sky. Reaching for his dreams, following his heart and soul. He is leaving behind his past and spreading his wings and flying to bright future.

On Friday we held hands the whole way to school for the last time. I held onto it tightly. For 20 minutes we held hands and talked.

We talked about our memories of school and how much he has progressed in the last year.

It was emotional knowing that this was our last journey to his school together. There may have been a few tears hidden under my sunglasses.

My little boy is now a big boy. How am I going to cope?

He told me, on our last journey together, that he wasn’t ready to leave, he didn’t want to go to secondary school. This got me choked.

I know he is ready but the fact that he feels he is not is upsetting.

I told him that he has to leave in order to climb that mountain and make his way to greater places.

He takes with him amazing friendships and memories that will stay with him forever.

I savoured every step and I breathed in every moment. I held his hand like it was a piece of me.

His next journey to school will be with his older brother in September. I will not be holding his hand nor will he be receiving a kiss at the gate to his school.

It’s time for him to climb the mountains and soar high into the sky, showing everyone that there is no limit to what he can achieve.

It’s time for him to refuse to be average and disembark on a new adventure, to make new memories and bonds with new friends.

 

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Harry Potter Goblet of Fire at WB Studio Tour

The Warner Bros Studio Tour recently invited us along to witness the new additional special feature to the Making of Harry Potter. The tour has launched behind the scenes secrets to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the special feature is dedicated entirely to the fourth instalment of the film.

The Goblet of Fire has not been in the Great Hall since 2010, when the filming of the magical film finished, it has now returned to it rightful place and will be there for everyone to witness from now until Sunday 23rd September 2018.

Harry Potter has always been a huge thing for me, reading all the books and then watching the films. I remember thinking how I couldn’t wait to read the books to my first-born 15 years ago and hopefully share the excitement and love I had for the characters. Harry potter is one of those books that you can read again and again. Both my eldest and middle boy have read all of the books and, along with me, have been drawn into the exciting world Of Harry Potter.

As you first arrive into Warner Brothers tour you will see the Triwizard Cup on display, just as you are queuing up to enter.

 

When you first buy your ticket to the tour you can choose the time to enter. Everyone gathers around the entrance and you are all taken into a room with tvs mounted on the walls all around you. Here you get to watch short clips of how Pottermania began and the history of the making of the films. An interactor – a member of staff who knows a hell of a lot about Harry Potter- gives a short talk about what to expect to see throughout the tour, they also get you all into the mood by asking what house everyone belongs to. Everyone cheers when your house is called. Once this is over, you are all moved along into a cinema screening room where you watch another short clip where the actors share some of their memories of making the films. Once this is finished the screen is pulled up and behind it a big curtain is drawn open and the lights go on to reveal a huge impressive door. People whose birthday it is are shared to open the great big door. As soon as that door opens, everyone’s mouths are agape as this is the start of something special. You enter into the Great Hall, and Great it is! It is amazing and such a dramatic entrance. You quickly realise what magical, truly magnificence you are about to see.

The Great Hall was where the students and teachers dine and congregate is was also the place where the announcement of the Triwizard tournament took place.

Standing at the end of this impressive room was the Goblet of Fire, along with the age line and the twins on the floor.

Here we got see a live Special Effects demonstration on how the Triwizard Champions’ parchments were expelled from the Goblet. We watched as the Goblet spat out Harry’s name on a piece of burning parchment as the fourth champion in the triwizard tournament.

We was all told to stand around the age line drawn on the floor, obviously there is always one person who tries their luck. Just like the Weasley twins, my Oliver attempted to cross the line but I caught him just in time.

You are in the Great Hall for a short time but this is where you can head of on your own and go at your own speed throughout the rest of the tour. As you leave the Great Hall and head on into the first backlot you can grab a souvenir parchment to keep for yourself.

The first backlot is full of props and costumes from the set. Here we got to see the sculpture from the Yule Ball

along with the iconic taps from the Prefect Bathroom. On the advice from Cedric Diggory, Harry took a trip here in order to complete the first challenge. These taps have 53 spouts, cast in real bronze for strength and durability, they expel a rainbow of coloured water just as they did in the film.

They really are mesmerizing, we stood for a while just watching the water spurt out of the taps.

Every part of this tour is breath-taking, from the golden eggs to the costumes and props from the films.

It’s hard to know what was new for the tour and what was there previously. There are so many things to look at that I am sure we missed so many items. By the time the production of Harry Potter had finished in 2011, five warehouses had been filled with thousands of props that had been used by the actors and as set decoration. Thousands of props were either made specifically for the films or bought in from speciality shops, including 5000 pieces of furniture, 12000 books and 40000 Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes products. Most of these can be seen in the tour.

The sets in the tour feel so real, It’s like you have been transported into the film yourself.

Tom Riddles grave is now in the studio tour just before the Forbidden Forest entrance in order for everyone to get a 360 tour of it. The sculpture was created before the details of Voldemort’s lineage were known meaning the dates had to be changed in post production.

One of my favourite places to see was Dumbledores office. Here we got to see Dumbledores fascination with the universe and the skies, tucked away in the upper chamber is his largest telescope.

We also got to see the Memory cabinet and the pensieve in action. Because it carries powerful and complex enchantments only the most advanced wizards can use it. obviously, that includes us!

Before we headed on into the Forbidden Forest we thought it would be best if the boys received some basic wand training. They were taken through step by step by a video of Paul Harris, the choreographer of the battle scenes in the film Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

They were now ready to face any mystical creature that we come across in the Dark Forest. As we headed through the towering trees we came across Buckbeak and Aragog

I am pleased to announce that we made it through the forest unscathed and ready to jump on to the Hogwarts Express

We had so much fun here. Most of the scenes that took place on Platform 9 3/4 were actually shot on location at Kings Cross Station in London.

We boarded the train and took our seat in one of the carriages ready to embark on a journey

During the making of the films, the windows of the carriages were replaced with moving backdrops and special effects like hopping frogs and flying dementors.

When the glass goes all icy you just know what is going to happen next.

Oh dear! My poor little wizard was very scared!

After all that excitement it was time for a spot of refreshments next to the Backlot. After eating our food the boys were treated to a Butterbear

I must admit this wasn’t very nice. I know many people who have enjoyed this beverage but we found it way too sweet for our taste buds.

The next part of the tour took us past the Knight Bus, Privet Drive, Hogwarts Bridge and any other buildings and items that were used in the outside scenes of the films.

Only one section of the Hogwarts Bridge was very built; using computer generated effects the rest of the bridge was created.

As we exited the Backlot and entered another studio this is where we came learnt all about the magical creatures, special effects, make up and prosthetics. It was lovely to see how Dobby was created and you even get to control him by moving your own limbs.

Pass through special effects area and you enter Diagon Alley.

The original design of the street was inspired from the streets described in the works of Charles Dickens. Diagon Alley constantly changed throughout the films, moving shops fronts and walls in order to create the perfect setting and was even redressed for use in the village of Hogsmeade.

We even spotted a dementor hiding down one of the alleys ready to jump out on us, lucky for us we had our wands with us and sent them packing.

We were nearing the end of our tour and didn’t think our smiles could get any bigger but as we entered the last room we were completely in awe at the majestic model of Hogwarts Castle. The intricately detailed model was built for the first film, every part of the model was filmed and then enhanced with digital effects to create the realistic views of the school.

This place is amazing! I could just sit and stare all day long at this model, it is a magnificent piece of art work. Detail is second to none, which is what we thought throughout the tour on every singe item we saw.

The castle has a new addition just for the Goblet of Fire exhibit; a scale version of the Beauxbatons carriage complete with winged horses poised to land on the Hogwarts grounds for the first time ahead of the Triwizard championship.

There are interactive screens around that give you more information on the building of the model.

Exiting the Hogwarts Castle you enter the wand room and gift shop. This is where we saw the triwizard cup.

We had an awesome time and could go back again and again as I do believe there are so many more incredible things to look at. We definitely did pursue an adventure.

We were invited along to a special preview of the Goblet of Fire exhibit. We were provided with tickets, food and had a photo opportunity. No payment has been received.

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