Monthly Favourites #2

Ahh, February the month of love and romance and none of that will feature in this monthly favourites post.  Not a lot of favourite in this post as it was a quiet four weeks for me working and studying.

Film of the month: Big Hero 6
Big Hero 6 is set in San Fransokyo and tells the story of Hiro Hamada and his robot Baymax. I think Disney was hoping for this film to have the same success as Frozen but with boys instead of girls. However, I have yet to see this take off yet but that may change in time.  The film has a focus on brothers instead of sisters and friendship plays a huge element in the plot. Overall, I think the film is enjoyable and I can certainly see myself watching it again.

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Band of the month: Imagine Dragons
On my Spotify account this month I have been listening to Imagine Dragons, a lot. I first heard about Imagine Dragons when one of their songs, It’s Time, was used The Perks of Being A Wallflower trailer back in 2012. I then saw them live at Hove festival last year and I really enjoyed their set. Since then I have been enjoying them and they recently brought out a new album this month titled Smoke + Mirrors, which I have been listening too. I also bought tickets for their show in London later this year, so in summary Imagine Dragons have been my jam this month.

TV Show of the month: Broadchurch
Broadchurch is a UK crime drama program, which is finished up its second series this week. Admittedly, at the time of writing this blog post Broadchurch did not impress me as much as its original series however, it did keep me gripped. I can’t really talk about the plot of Broadchurch without spoiling the plot for those who might watch it but essentially the overhead plotline revolves around the murder of a young boy in a seaside town and how the whole town deals with grief, suspicion and the media attention from it. I do believe Gracepoint was the American version, which starred David Tennant and Anna Gunn, it seemed like the season did well but was not renewed for a second season. I strongly recommend watching the first series of Broadchurch because what a TV show! It just keeps you gripped and hooked every single episode.

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Purchase of the month: The White Rabbit
I did fall in love this month, with this White Rabbit cuddly toy from the Disney Store.  I do enjoy Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, I find it beautifully coloured and wonderfully imaginative. When I saw The White Rabbit for sale as soft toy I had to buy him. Not only is he high quality (I would expect nothing less from Disney) but he also so fluffy and he just melts my heart. I claimed that I was buying myself a Valentine ’s Day gift when I bought the little fella. I don’t know how long Disney will have in their stores for but if you know someone who loves Alice in Wonderland this might be the perfect gift for someone.

White Rabbit

Food of the month: Pick Up! By Bahlsen
This little delight of milk chocolate sandwich between two biscuits is stuff that dreams are made of. In regards to chocolate, I am not tied to one brand but this month I have found something delicious. It does not help that these bars are so moreish and I don’t feel guilty after eating one. Little things like this really make life wonderful!

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Not that many things this month but like I said it was a slow month, next month may be jam packed with things I enjoyed!

You’re a wizard, Harry.

On the 29th of January 2015, after three long years I finally went to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter. A big thanks to my students union, who organised the trip for free otherwise it would have cost an arm and a leg for me to go to the studio.  Now before I jump into talking about the tour of the studio itself I must provide some background information about my love for Harry Potter.

Harry Potter Studio Tour
I was very young when my dad began reading the first Harry Potter book to me and my brother; he also read us the second book . I remember reading the third book but due to my parents divorcing and moving several houses, I lost the book and subsequently forgot about Harry Potter and the world of magic. I picked up Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince some years later but I was completely lost. I saw most of the films but missed Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, so when I saw the Half-Blood Prince in the cinema I was once again lost. At this point, other books had entered my life and I fell in love with reading again. For my seventeenth birthday, I asked for all the Harry Potter books, I received them all as hard backs (thanks Nanna, you are the best!) and I treasure them to this day.  Just under a month I managed to reread all seven books (many of my friends and family doubted I would do it); this helped due to travelling to London for a school trip (I saw people queuing for the Harry Potter premier while in London) and reading during my lunch breaks at work. I finished the Deathly Hallows on the morning of the day that I was going to see the final film. After that night my love for the books and the films reignited and it has been an emotional ride ever since.

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When I arrived at the studio, I was ecstatic to say the least and as soon as we could, I joined the queue for the tour.  The tour quickly to underway and it must say that you only have a guide for a small part of the tour, the rest you do yourself. You start in the Great Hall, which was Christmas themed, as when I went on the tour it was still ‘Hogwarts in the Snow’. The Great Hall appeared to be much smaller than what I thought it would look like but the guide explained that the Great Hall had been moved and scaled from one of the two soundstage to its current area. After the Great Hall you are free to walk about the next two areas on your own, however, it is a one way system so once you have gone through somewhere you cannot go back.

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I am not going to go into every detail of the tour because;
1) I do not want to spoil it for anyone who may go
2) There is so much to see, like a lot.
The tour takes an average of three and half hours but some of the group I went with flew through it. The tour is set over two soundstages, J & K and J appears to be the bigger one of the two. In J, you will find some of the sets, lots of props and costumes. It is also where you can get your Quidditch experience photo taken (I did), the queuing time while vary depending on how many booths are open. There are many videos and signs to read about the various sets and props and I could have spent a lot more time in there. Some of my favourite sections included Dumbledore’s office, the Dark Arts sections and the Gryffindor common room. The attention to detail to the props really blows you away, major kudos to the departments involved, it has truly made me appreciate the films so much more.

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After Hall J you enter the Backlot where you get to see some of the buildings and objects used in the films, most notable Privet Drive. You can also try Butterbeer! Which I must warn is somewhat sickly after the first few sips. When I reached the Backlot it was snowing and freezing, so we rushed through this section. I got a picture at Privet Drive and even used the knocker on the door! I would have stayed in the area much longer but I was incredibly cold at this point, I had to retreat indoors.

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Soundstage K is smaller but none the less still fascinating, a large section is dedicated to the creature effects and prosthetics which there are loads of.  You get to see scale models of the actors in certain films and see key creatures such as Aragog, Buckbeak and Fawkes. By far one of my favourite models was the Thestrals, despite their appearance I feel a strong connection to them. Buckbeak was visually stunning but I expected nothing less from a Hippogriff.

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After this section Diagon Alley is next and it is truly magical, once again the attention to detail leaves you amazed. The street is cobbled and the shops are designs are truly magical (no pun intended). In Flourish and Blotts in the window there is a ton of Gilderoy Lockhart books, which you only just seen in the films for a few minutes (if that) but they all look ready to read.

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After some amazing concept art, which given the chance I would buy without a second thought you finally get to see the model of the castle. I was already emotional by this point, so when I turned the corner and heard the soundtrack from the Goblet of Fire (Harry in Winter), I nearly cried. The model is much bigger than expected and it just astounds you. It was great to see the whole school and all its little nooks and crannies.  With the snow dusted over the castle it made the whole experience feel even more magical than before.  I am so glad the castle is last because it reminds of what J.K Rowling said at the final premier.

“Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”

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I would truly recommend the tour, even if you are a small fan of the films because you will come out with a whole new appreciation for the films. I would go again? For sure, but maybe after the extension in March because who doesn’t want to go on the Hogwarts Express?!

Monthly Favourites #1

January is apparently the month of January blues, which I did feel at some points in this month. I also found this month be a sluggish one of sorts. After the rush and excitement of Christmas everything seems to slow down this month.  Nevertheless, this is what I enjoyed this month.

Film of the month: Into the Woods
I went to see Into the Woods very early on this month, in fact on the day of its release and I was blown away. I am sucker for fairy tales and musicals, throw them together, and you have Into the Woods. According to those who have seen Stephen Soundheim original musical (based on James Lapine’s book) it stays true to the musical (apart from some changes that were made by Disney).  Into The Woods is somewhat dark compared to Disney’s usually story but I found nothing wrong with this. I loved the casting and found the acting was top notch; no doubt, I will be buying this musical on DVD as soon as I can.

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TV show of the month: The Thick of It
I knew of Peter Capaldi’s swear sensation Malcom Tucker before he became the Doctor but I did not have chance to watch the show and found politics a bit of a drag. However, with The Thick of It on my Netflix to watch list that is how I kicked off the New Year. I am very close to finishing the final fourth series and hope to watch the film, In The Loop soon after. I have laughed a lot because of this TV show, the writing is amazing and the insults that are made to all the characters are the icing on top of the cake. I would not recommend The Thick of It if you are easily offended by swearing. However, if you have a slightly dark sense of humour and love good British drama this is the show for you.

tumblr_inline_mutinbWtwV1rr159v(The most PG Gif I could find, not mine.)

Character of the Month: Thranduil
I blame tumblr for this one.  I saw the final Hobbit film back in December and enjoyed it but over the Christmas period and well into January, I found myself beginning to search for Thranduil related things. The sass king of the Woodland Realm was defiantly a highlight to my January. It also helps that Lee Pace is a great actor. So thanks tumblr, Thranduil is the star of the Hobbit films and no one can tell me otherwise.

tumblr_mg0ijxzzVr1r7f4plo1_250(Found here)

Song of the Month: Take Me To Church – Hozier
I am very late to the party with liking Hoizer’s song Take Me To Church. It has been put on repeat multiply times on my Spotify and I am more than a hundred percent sure it will make its way onto my iPod by next month. There is a lot of religious imagery in the lyrics but I enjoy the song purely for its killer chorus, it just such a great song and you can give it a listen here.

Picture of the Month:
I went to the Harry Potter studio tour this January (blog post next week) and I took many pictures but this has to be one of my favourites from the whole of January.

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That is it! The first monthly favourites post over. Please feel free to let me know you what you think, if I should include anything next month. Alternatively, do you have any recommendations? I’d love to hear them.