Thursday, September 24, 2015

Paddington, Potter & Holmes

Okay, switching away from sunny southern California, because the temps are inching back up toward 100 in Burbank and my lodging has no AC. Thank goodness it has two opposite exposures and an almost constant cross breeze, plus nicely lower temps in the evenings, but I'm starting to get a little cranky in the afternoons. Hoping thoughts of cooler London town will help.

You know, kids are always reminding you that they don't know everything you know. When we are trying to see so much in a place like London or Paris, where there are SO many things to see, and seemingly so many obstacles getting in your way of seeing them, my mind is often brimming with logistics. So I forget about things I know they will get excited about. 

It happened when we were staying near Earl's Court station and I forgot to tell them that is where the Tardis was that I had showed them during our first Google Hangout, until Peri spotted it herself. And it happened again the first time we changed trains at Paddington Station.

As soon as they heard it, the name caught both Peri and Donovan's attention. "Paddington!?!" they said in unison, then simultaneously babbled about the bear. We didn't have time at the moment, but I promised them we would come back. 

Well, there were a few days when we just made pit stops in London for a night or two, either in transit or to welcome/say goodbye to others. There wasn't enough time to really see much on those stops, but it was perfect to run in to check out something like this. So, one evening, that's just what we did.

As it turned out, we came to the station on foot from somewhere nearby, rather than up from the Underground. So they got to have the full experience of going to Paddington Station.

I knew the bronze statue of Paddington Bear was somewhere in the station. Not only had I read about it sometime before even coming to London, I'd actually seen it once after I got there, when catching a train. But I was so intent on not missing my train, I didn't really notice exactly where it was located. 

Not that it was a problem, I imagine 99% of the people in the station knew where it was. So we asked someone and found it easily. 

There was also a bench, so naturally we had to get photos of that, as well

And then, it turns out there was another statue outside the inevitable souvenir shop. The station definitely gets its money's worth out that little freaking bear.

So that was Paddington, all taken care of.

Peri off to Howarts!
Another place we were in and out of a LOT is King's Cross station. We stayed in the area, used the Underground all the time, and we left and/or arrived out of St. Pancras next door. But we were always on our way to or from somewhere. So we'd never made it to Gate 9 and 3/4, where Harry Potter had always left for Hogwarts.

But the day before we left for Africa, it was getting toward evening and we had just enough time to do something like this.

Donovan wore the specs. If he were brunette...
It's set up really well, there is an orderly line and very friendly staff who will help you choose props
and even take your photo if there is no one else to do so. I should have just handed over my phone. I have to apologize for the quality of these pics, which are even worse than what I normally have to offer. But it is quite tricky to catch someone just as they're making a quick jump.

You got to choose which House's scarf to wear, whether you wanted a wand or Harry Potter specs. The snowy owl is sitting on top of the bags in the trolley, and the whole thing is just done very well, in my opinion.

The wait wasn't very long, the staff kept things moving right along. And it was interesting watching the people before us, so the entire experience was truly fun and filled with laughter.

Even Adrienne gave it a shot. She was the only one we managed to photograph actually getting off the ground. I'm not sure what that leap was supposed to be about anyway, the students just rushed the wall and it disappeared to reveal the gate, I don't remember anything in the books about leaping at it. 

Of course, I didn't see any of the movies, so maybe it was in those. No big deal, it was all great fun.

Afterwards, Adrienne needed to run into a drugstore in the nearby shopping center. But the kids didn't mind, because there was a swing inside of this fabulous giant birdcage like structure. No one was on it, so they took turns swinging. 

Then, as dusk started falling, the structure started flashing colored lights. It made a really lovely end to the evening, and I can't even begin to express how much I love that London has these kinds of things just randomly placed around the city.

And then there was Sherlock.

We went through Baker Street station several times, and the city has done a great job on that station. 

So, the same day we'd gone to Paddington, we also got photos of the kids here. I told Peri that her mom would be so jealous to see that, because they are both big fans of the TV show, and Danielle wasn't going to be in London long enough to go there herself.

And I was right. Danielle got right back to her saying exactly that.

If you will click to embiggen the photo at the top of this post, you will see that those silhouettes of Sherlock Holmes are made up of miniature silhouettes. It's very cool.

In related TV/Film tourism news, we went all the way to Wales for just one night, so they could go to the Dr. Who Experience. It actually wasn't that far, we took the train back to Bath the same day, and it was definitely worth seeing. But I know that Wales has a great deal more to offer, and it was a shame we couldn't see more of the country. 

In any case, that is another story for another day. There are lots more stories for lots of other days, so if you keep checking in now and then, I'll tell you all about them.

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