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Photography, Travel, UK

Hampton Court & meeting The Lilac Linnet

September 8, 2015

Hampton Court

Image courtesy of Llinos at The Lilac Linnet.

The Lilac Linnet is one of my favourite blogs; I read all of Llinos’ posts, and we both have a mutual love for castles. When she suggested an outing to Hampton Court, I wasn’t going to say no.

My trip to Hampton Court was slightly stressful. A journey that should have taken an hour and a half took three hours due to it being a Bank Holiday Saturday. The traffic was chaos and my Sat Nav was a bit mean.

When I finally arrived, I found Llinos and we went for lunch. My lunch was pretty disastrous also; I throw coffee all over myself and my sandwich. I wasn’t too fussed at ruining my sandwich because my scones were safe, but I did have to walk around with a coffee-stained jumper for the rest of the day.

Hampton Court

Hampton Court

Hampton Court

Once we’d finished lunch, we went for a tour around the castle, which is full of medieval weaponry and taxidermy animals. An unnerving amount of taxidermy animals.

Taxidermy lion at Hampton Court

The weirdest of which was this full size, stuffed lion. The lion is thought to be a zoo animal that I guess was stuffed when it died naturally. Apparently, it was taken to Hampton Court in the 90s.

Hampton Court library

Can you spot the false door?

Hampton Court bedrooms

Hampton Court

Hampton Court bathrooms

The rooms in the house were stunning, and so huge. The bathrooms were about the same size as my bedroom, which seems grossly unfair. All of the rooms were so beautiful decorated. Major home goals.

Llinos picked an excellent date to go because they had a medieval fair on, with a bird display. I always love watching bird displays and getting to see magnificent beasts up close.

That was probably one of the best bird displays I’ve ever seen, just because of how huge some of the birds were.

There was also this little guy, who reminded us of a puppy. He kept doing tricks and then running back to his handler for a treat.

After the bird display, we went to explore the marvelous gardens. There was so much to see, and it was so peaceful.

The gardens at Hampton Court

The gardens at Hampton Court

The gardens at Hampton Court

Sheep knitting at Hampton Court

Hampton Court gardens

Fairy door tree Hampton Court

I liked that the gardens looked slightly overgrown. Most of the time when you go to places like this, the gardens are ridiculously manicured, but this was slightly overgrown with plants hanging over the paths. It looked like someone’s garden; a garden that’s lived in.

Llinos remembered seeing something about a maze and we went in search of it. Honestly, I expected it to be a simple maze for kids, but it was actually quite big and quite tricky.

Tower in the maze at Hampton Court

It had a tower in the middle, with four different doors. Only one of the doors opened, the last one of course, and it took us a while to find it.

When you finally get inside the tower, you have two options:

  • Up
  • Down

Down takes you to a tunnel, which is pitch black in places, which comes out in a sunken garden. It’s leafy and overgrown, and would be a perfect place to read a book. It has a small waterfall, which you can walk behind.

Sunken Garden at Hampton Court

Waterfall in the sunken gardens at Hampton Court

Beyond the water fall at Hampton Court

When you go upstairs in the tower, you are greeted to views over the maze, the gardens, and towards Hampton Court.

Hampton Court maze

I had a really fun day meeting Llinos and exploring Hampton Court with her. One of my favourite things about blogging is getting to meet people with similar interests, that there’s no way you’d meet in the real world. I look forward to our next castle exploration!

Have you ever been in a maze?

Life, Photography, UK

Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour, London + tips

August 26, 2015

Hogwarts model Harry Potter studio

I’m going to interrupt the Stockholm schedule to fangirl about my recent trip to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London.

It was my birthday over the weekend, and a family friend’s son’s birthday, so we decided to combine our birthday outings and visit Harry Potter Studios. I first went a couple of years ago, but the addition of the Hogwarts Express was too much to resist. 

Harry Potter Studios Great Hall

Harry Potter studios Great Hall

Harry Potter Studios Great Hall

You start off in the Great Hall, which is fabulous, though I do always expect it to be bigger. There are things you spot that you never notice in the films, such as murals on the wall. 

The Sweet Treats feature was on when I went, and they’d lined one of the tables with tasty looking food. The feature was fantastic; it was really interesting to learn about how they make the food. 

For the most part, they take real food and freeze it so that they can make a mould. Once they’ve got the mould, they can make as many things as they need to. Of course, that doesn’t extend to the ice cream which is made using polyfiller.

Harry Potter Sweet Treats the Dursley's cake

It looked so realistic that it was really hard to tell the difference between what’s real and fake. 

Harry Potter Butterbeer ice cream

As well as selling Butterbeer, they were selling Butterbeer ice cream which was extortionately priced at £5, but it was delicious and I’d pay it again. 

Harry Potter Studios Platform 9 3/4

I guess this blog post is also a good time to explain why there were so few blog posts on Eat Read Glam last week. Some of us decided to go in cloaks, so I spent every spare minute of last week making cloaks for me and my best friend. I had a red hood lining, she went for yellow. Totally worth it, but do know I did miss blogging and I’m looking forward to catching up with you all. 

Harry Potter Studios the Hogwarts Express

Harry Potter Studios the Hogwarts Express

The train was even better than I thought it would be. 

It’s set up in an area on it’s own, and you walk into it and it’s like you’re stepping out into platform 9 and three quarters. The train looks glorious, and my best friend and I did get seriously excited and fangirl like we were 12 years old. It’s ok though; if there’s anywhere you can fangirl like that, it’s Harry Potter Studios. 

Harry Potter studios inside the Hogwart Express

Harry Potter studios Hogwarts Express

The cabins on the train are set up as they were for each film in chronological order, which was really cool. The Hogwarts Express was the highlight of the trip for me. 

Harry Potter studios Night Bus

In the Backlot is where you find the ridiculously priced Butterbeer ice cream, and the Knight Bus, Privet Drive, the remains of the Potter’s house in Godric’s Hollow, and you can pretend to ride a Ford Anglia and a motorbike. 

Harry Potter Night Bus

Harry Potter Studios Privet Drive

After the Backlot, you go through an area which shows you how they created the masks and creatures, which is fascinating.

Harry Potter Studios

It’s quite scary how realistic they look because that just looks like a shelf with a load of heads on it, which, lets be honest, is pretty sinister.

Harry Potter studios Diagon Alley

Harry Potter studios Flourish & Blotts

You then go through to Diagon Alley, which you can walk down and peer at the shop fronts. Unfortunately they are just that, shop fronts, and you don’t get to go in, which is a shame.

I just really wish I could go into Flourish & Blotts and Fred & George’s joke shop. I loved the way they did the joke shop for the film, it was almost the way I imagined it in my head.

Harry Potter Hogwarts model

Harry Potter Hogwarts model

Harry Potter Studio Hogwarts model

The jewel in the crown, is the Hogwarts model; it’s the perfect way to end the tour. You could spend hours looking at it. It’s so beautiful, detailed, and vast. I really don’t know why someone hasn’t built it. We’ve got plenty of castles in England, but I think it’s about time we had Hogwarts too. 

We had a bit of fun when a member of staff pointed out where the Gryffindor and Hufflepuff towers were and plotted how we would signal each other from so far away. 

If you’ve been a couple of years ago, I do recommend going back because it has improved since I first went. That’s not to say it was bad before, but there are more staff about to tell you more and answer questions, which I thought was really good, and it seems there’s always a seasonal event on. At the moment it’s Sweet Treats, but then there’ll be Back To School, Dark Arts, and Hogwarts In The Snow.

I’m planning on going back at Christmas because I really want to see it. I saw people’s photos last year, and they look stunning. I need to see it for myself. 


Tips:

  • Leave your camera at home – DSLRs struggle in the low light and you can’t take a tripod, but the cameras on our phones handled it perfectly. 
  • Book well in advance – time slots go quickly, especially if you want to go on a weekend or during the winter when they have everything dressed up like Christmas. 
  • You can take lunch – there’s a picnic area and you can eat your own food in the Backlot. 
  • Make a cloak! I used Simplicity’s 1582 pattern. It’s much cheaper than buying one, I think they’re around £70, and you can make it out whatever material you like, and whatever colour you like. The material for my cloak / robe cost £25, which is massively cheaper. 
  • Visit Primark for cheaper Harry Potter t-shirts before you go – they’re licensed and around £8 instead of £20+. 
  • Tell them if it’s your birthday – you get a badge. I like badges. 

Have you been / do you want to go on the Harry Potter Studio Tour? 

Photography, Scotland, Travel

Scotland travel roundup

July 28, 2015

A couple of weeks ago, I posted my final blog post about my trip to Scotland in April. As I posted a few posts, I thought I'd stick them all in one post as a roundup in case you've missed any. 

Oban from Strone Hill

Oban & Strone Hill

On day one of our Scottish adventure, we battled through a snowstorm to reach Oban, where we were treated to stunning views. 

Rainwbows at Lochawe

Rainbows at Kilchurn Castle, Lochawe

At Christmas, I went to Kilchurn Castle on Lochawe and were stunned by it's beauty. I went back with my Mum in tow this time, and managed to actually find the way into the castle this time. This time, the weather stole the show from the castle and we saw the most beautiful, and the brightest rainbows I've ever seen in my entire life. 

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Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness

Loch Ness & Urquhart Castle

No trip to Scotland is complete without a trip to Loch Ness. To my surprise, it wasn't as tacky or touristy as I was expecting it to be. 

We took a boat up the loch to Urquhart Castle, which is perched on the edge of Loch Ness. It must have been a beautiful place to live back when the castle was in it's heyday. 

 

The Glenfiddich Distillery Tour

The Glenfiddich Distillery Tour

Just like a trip to Loch Ness, an adventure to Scotland isn't complete without a tour around a distillery. I'm not a whiskey fan, but even I can't deny that the place smelled absolutely wonderful. 

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Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh

A day in Edinburgh saw us wander around the city, visit the Hard Rock Cafe (of course), and conquer Arthur's Seat. It was more than worth the trek, and our reward was views across Edinburgh. 

Falls of Dochart, Killin

Killin & the Falls of Dochart

On the final day, we explored the area we'd been staying in and had a walk around Killin and spend some time at the waterfalls which run through the town. 

Glen Coe, Scotland

Glen Coe - the most beautiful place in the world? 

We passed through Glen Coe a few times, which is perhaps the most stunning stretch of road in the world. It's unlike any other place I've driven through. It's so untouched, for the most part, and you can imagine it being pretty much exactly the same thousands of years ago. 

Loch Tay, at Kenmore

Kenmore & castle ruins

On our final adventure in Scotland, we explored the other end of Loch Tay, tried to find a castle, saw a baby red squirrel, and wandered through some spooky castle ruins. 

I'm pretty sure I've used the word 'beautiful' far too many times in this post, but as you can see for yourself, it's such a stunning place. I can't believe that it took me 22 years to visit. There's no way that I'll leave it that long before I go back again. 

Where are you off adventuring next? 

Scotland, Travel, UK

Kenmore & castle ruins – my Scotland trip comes to an end

July 7, 2015

Loch Tay

Loch Tay

Here we are, at the end of my Scotland trip. On the final afternoon, we explored Kenmore on Loch Tay and the ruins of Finlarig Castle in Killin.

After exploring Killin and Loch Tay in the morning, we decided to go to the other end of Loch Tay in the afternoon to see the replica crannog. 

Crannog, Loch Tay

It looks beautiful, and it must have been stunning to live in a house over the loch. 

The Kenmore Hotel

Taymouth Castle

After having a nose around it, we didn’t go in it or on the tour around it, we decided to head into the town of Kenmore. We stumbled across a huge, slightly eerie looking, gate and decided we had to see if there was a castle beyond the gate. (The gate reminds me of something off Oblivious, or Skyrim.) 

We were expecting to find ruins of a castle, but what we found was a school, some houses, a park, and a golf course. We followed the road for what felt like a ridiculously long time (it wasn’t really a super long time, but I was eager for a castle and was getting impatient) before being brought to a halt by the sound of rummaging in the trees. 

We looked up, and there amongst all of the greenery, we spotted a flash of orange; a red squirrel. Having never seen a red squirrel before, let alone in the wild, we quietly switched to our longer lenses and waited. 

Baby red squirrel, Scotland

A baby squirrel peeped out from behind a tree for just long enough for us to get a couple of photos. We stood around for about half an hour trying to get another good glimpse of him (or her!) but we were no match for a speedy squirrel. 

Grey squirrels are really common in the UK, so it amuses me that I was so excited to see a red one; it’s just a change of colour, right? I think they’re both beautiful creatures, but it was special to see a red squirrel in it’s natural habitat. 

Tom got bored watching us wait for the squirrel and went for a wonder and came across a deserted old house. It was quite eerie, and felt like the start of a horror film. It looked so beautiful from the outside, and I couldn’t help but wonder how nice it must have been to live in a house in such a wonderful setting. 

Getting eager for pizza, we gave up on finding Taymouth Castle, and head back to the car. When I got home I googled it, and I wish we’d pressed on a little further. Look at how amazing it looks

We headed back into Killin to collect our pizza, and spotted signs for Finlarig Castle and decided to have a look. There was a pretty eerie sign up saying enter at your own risk, which made me even more excited to discover the castle. 

Finlarig Castle, Killin

Gravestones at Finlarig Castle, Killin

Finlarig Castle, Killin

Finlarig Castle, Killin

Finlarig Castle

There wasn’t a whole lot left of the castle at all. We were a bit naughty and climbed up some walls and onto the second floor where we found one room that was fairly intact, apart from lacking a roof entirely. 

I’ve visited so many castles, some of them ruins, but this one really had an eerie feel to it. Maybe it was the gravestones. Maybe it it was the trees around it. I don’t know, there’s just something dark feeling about it. It was definitely a different castle experience for me though. 

That’s it! That’s the end of my Scotland posts (though I think I will do a roundup in the next couple of weeks) and I miss it so much after writing this final post. It’s such a beautiful part of the world, and I highly recommend you visit if you ever have a chance. You won’t regret it. 

Have you ever been to Scotland? 

 

Cambridge, Travel, UK

Punting on the River Cam

June 30, 2015

Punting in Cambridge

Carrying on from last week’s post about a drizzly weekend in Cambridge with Travelodge, I’m going to share a few photos about our punting trip on the River Cam. 

I always enjoy exploring places from water, Tom wasn’t particularly keen but I wore him down in the end. 

There are a few punting companies in Cambridge, and plenty of students walking around selling tickets at different prices, however you can haggle with them easily and they will match the price the Tourist Office give. 

We booked our tickets and met outside King’s College just before 11am. A guide took us from there down to the boat, and we got chatting to her about her home country (Italy), what she thought of life over here in comparison to Italy, and her studies. 

At the boat, we met our guide, hopped on, and set off down the River Cam. Our guide told us about the history of the buildings we passed, traditions, and interesting stories. 

Cambridge garden party

We punted (Sailed? Drove?) past a few garden parties. I’m guessing students were celebrating the end of the year. We also saw lots of students who looked worse for wear and couldn’t figure out if they’d got incredibly drunk very quickly, or were still drunk from the night before. 

My favourite story was one that involved Lord Byron and a bear. The poet went to Trinity College in 1805 and tried to take his dog, but was told that dogs and other “domesticated pets” were forbidden. The dog went, and Byron came back with a bear. 

No where in the college’s rules did it say bears were not allowed, so the bear stayed. Unsurprisingly, this didn’t delight people as the bear apparently tried to have a little gnaw on a few people. 

Mathematical Bridge on the River Cam

Mathematical Bridge, Cambridge

The bridge in the photo above, is called Mathematical Bridge. The story is that when it was originally built, there were no nuts or bolts. Careful planning meant that it held together all by itself. It was also alleged that Sir Isaac Newton built it, which was impressive given that he had been dead for 22 years when the bridge was built. 

Apparently, students then took the bridge apart to figure out how it worked but couldn’t put it back together without the use of nuts or bolts, which is supposedly why the bridge now has nuts and bolts. 

It’s all untrue, as it was designed by William Etheridge and built by James Essex, and it did contain some kind of nuts and bolts when it was built in 1749. 

While I’m sharing interesting facts with you, there is no bridge in Cambridge called Cam Bridge. 

That’s it, I’m all facted out. 

Have you ever been punting? 

Cambridge, Travel, UK

A drizzly weekend in Cambridge with Travelodge #BloggerLodge

June 23, 2015

Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

Four red telephone boxes, Cambridge

When you think of England, one of the first places you might think of is a beautiful, old city like Cambridge. Despite it only being a couple of hours away, it’s taken me 22 years to visit Cambridge. 

Earlier this month, I was invited to stay in Cambridge Newmarket Road Travelodge for a couple of nights. Before we go any further, I want to point out that I wasn’t paid to say anything nice, and being offered this chance would not affect my opinion in anyway. Continue Reading…

Photography, Scotland, Travel, UK

Killin & the Falls of Dochart

June 16, 2015

Falls of Dochart, Killin

We’re almost at the end of my posts about my trip to Scotland; I think this is going to be the penultimate post! 

On the last day of our holiday, we explored the town we were staying in, Killin.

Killin, near Loch Tay

Tree roots

In the morning, we took a walk around the shores of Loch Tay, in search of a crannog. It was marked on the map, so we thought there must be something there. 

Loch Tay, Killin

Unfortunately, all that’s there now is a piece of land jutting out into the loch (where the clump of light green trees are sticking out into the loch) that you can’t possibly walk on and get to the end where the crannog should have been. While I was a little disappointed, I wasn’t too disappointed because we knew there was a replica one built at the other end of Loch Tay. 

Grass and trees

St Fillan's Episcopal Church, Killin

We walked back through town and pre-ordered our pizza for the evening. (We’d spotted a sign saying ‘pizza Friday’ on the first day, and decided it would be a good meal to end our holiday.) 

We then made our way towards the Falls of Dochart. On the first trip into town, I spotted these and I’d been excited about visiting all week. 

Falls of Dochart, Killin

Falls of Dochart

The Falls of Dochart, are a collection of waterfalls which run through the middle of Killin, and my are they stunning. 

There are plenty of huge rocks around, so you can explore the falls quite easily. It was a nice, sunny day, so I decided to eat an ice cream sat on a huge rock at the edge of the water. 

Falls of Dochart, Killin

Falls of Dochart, Killin

Despite the noise from the water, it was surprisingly peaceful. I found myself wishing I’d have put a book in my bag, because I’m quite sure it would have been lovely to read a book while surrounded by waterfalls. 

I had to practically be dragged away from the falls, because they were so beautiful. I could happily have stayed there all day. 

Killin

We walked back across the bridge to head to the car, because we were planning to visit the other end of Loch Tay, when Tom spotted a stye over the other side of the bridge. He decided this obviously meant that we could climb over it and view the falls from the other side. 

So, over we climbed and we explored the other side, where we found a few more falls. 

Falls of Dochart

Killin and the Falls of Dochart were so beautiful, and are well worth a visit if you’re up in that part of the world. 

The next two travel posts will be about my trip to Cambridge, so the final post about my Scottish adventure will be up in three weeks. 

Have you ever visited waterfalls before? 

Photography, Scotland, Travel, UK

Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

June 11, 2015

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh

I have a bit of a thing for finding a high point in a city so that I can look over it, and get a good view of the whole city. When we went to Edinburgh in April, a trek up Arthur’s Seat was at the top of my list.

We were blessed with a gloriously sunny, fairly still day, which made the trip even more enjoyable. 

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh

To start with, we got lost trying to find the top. There were a couple of paths, but no clear signs, so we followed the one that looked most used. 

It turned out that it wasn’t quite the path we wanted, as this one just went around Arthur’s Seat instead of up it. We weren’t going to complain though because it provided us with beautiful views over Edinburgh, including the glorious Edinburgh Castle. 

Edinburgh Castle from Arthur's Seat

View over Edinburgh from Arthur's Seat

Interesting fact: In the photo above, on the right hand side, in the grass, you can kinda see a couple who were full on going at it. 

View over Edinburgh from Arthur's Seat

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh

After getting about halfway round on the path well worn, we decided to turn back around and went in hunt of the path up to the top. We found it, and it turned out to be a little treacherous. You know the kind of path that just looks like it’s desperate to break one of your ankles? 

On the way up we were passed by a bloke who was running. He was running up something that I was out of breath from just walking up! It was so steep. Major props to him, he must have been fit as a fiddle. 

At the top, we were treated to spectacular views over Edinburgh. 

Edinburgh from Arthur's Seat

View from Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh

View from Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh

We sat at the top for a while and drank in the view. I love being able to view a city from above, you spot things that you don’t see while your wandering around the streets. 

I always find that memories of cities from afar, like this one, tend to stick with me a little more than 

Do you like seeing places from above?