Sunday, August 26, 2012

Stokesley and Surrounds

The home of Kat Copeland's parents. The whole town is very proud.

Scarey Sis took us for a trip aboard the Moors Bus, which sounds like something out of Harry Potter, but isn't. We were the only people who had to pay - everyone else had a seniors' pass. In fact it was so long since they'd had a paying customer that they didn't know what to charge us. It was a little odd, like something out of Pinocchio or Animal Farm where the unsuspecting characters are driven away to certain doom. We didn't get to certain doom, but we did get to Osmotherley.

We walked/jogged back along the Cleveland Way, having a lovely day out chatting to ramblers and horse-riders whom we encountered. Scarey Sis sounded off about her work and we admired the beautiful countryside; open fields, small woodlands, dry-stone walls, grazing sheep, rolling hills and moors bedecked with heather.

Roseberry Topping
The Cleveland Way
Scarey Sis
Scarey matches the heather
Him Outdoors' folks came over to visit from Burnley and it was lovely to see them. We had cups of tea and conversation, then giant Yorkshire puddings down the pub.

Malcolm and Barbara Blackhurst
Timmy had got tickets for the match between Burnley and Middlesbrough so he donned his flat cap and we headed to the ground, picking up Buddha in the Bow on the way. Burnley actually played decent football for about half an hour, and then seemed to panic and return to hoof and hope.

Scarey Sis, in Pollyanna fashion, said it was good that we got to see five goals. That's true, I suppose, although both times that Burnley scored, Boro banged one in straight afterwards. It was a shame about the eventual result (although not to BitB, who is a Boro fan and had to sit in the Burnley end with us and try not to smile), but not a bad match all things considered.

Yorkshire Timmy and me
'Supporting' Burnley!
Scary Sis had planned another walk for some scenic photo opportunities but it chucked it down, so we went car-touring and tea-shopping instead.

A rather soggy Roseberry Topping
Although Kat Copeland's parents live in Stokesley and everyone thinks this would be a good spot for the gold postbox (every Olympic gold medal winner gets one in their village), her official town is considered to be Ingelby Barwick (a giant housing estate), so that's where the postbox stands on a non-descript road. We tracked it down (with the sat-nav on Scarey's i-phone) and I posted a letter to Him Outdoors in it.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Family Stuff

Marlow is a beautiful town. It is particularly beautiful early in the morning when the air is calm and clear. Whenever I'm back I take a cup of coffee down to the lock and watch the river folk wake up.

The obligatory shot
My wonderful parents have been married for fifty years; that deserves a party. So they had one. It was a good excuse for a big family gathering, with all of us arriving from around the globe to help celebrate.

Us lot

Mum and Dad with the grandkids
Cake-cutting duties

Another favourite spot to visit is Marlow Common. I took photos of the light filtering through the trees in this gorgeous green-lit world, while the children (and their parents) played hide and seek among the trenches.

These earthworks are training trenches, dug during the First World War, which now provide an entertaining play area. We used to play here when we were children - it's nice to see the next generation doing the same.

The Seeker
Hiding, or an excuse for a nap?
And then it was time for hurtling through the woods on the rope swing.
Nephew Adam

Nephew Olaf
Nephew Aidan
Niece Rachel
Niece Niamh
The super-in-law
Tonton Tweet and Dad play Pete and Dud

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Marathon Viewing

Went into London with various family members to watch the men's Olympic marathon. While Hoggy tried to work out the best place to watch the race, the rest of us amused ourselves.

When we arrived at Paddington, Hoggy told Aidan that if he ran at the wall on the platform it would open up and let him through, as in Harry Potter. Aidan gave him 'the look' and told him not to be so stupid, everyone knows that's at Charring Cross. I'm not quite sure what Hoggy was hoping for.

We sat on the Embankment and watched the runners flash past. Once again, there was a great atmosphere with thousands of people lining the route three-deep and all cheering and waving flags.

Hoggy with London skyline
Scarey Sis and Nephew Aidan
Cousin Rachael
I liked the bank of photographers on the back of a truck focusing their lenses on the lead runners - a bunch of Kenyans and a lone Ugandan who eventually won his country's only medal. We had a couple of Brits competing and they received a resounding response, but there were lots of cheers and support for everyone.

Cousin Rachael commented that she forgot how many non-English people there are in London, particularly at weekends and events - I love London; it's such a cosmopolitan city!

Photographers in action!
Waving the flag(s)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Harry Potter (Part Two)

An outdoor section had the flying motorbike, the Knight Bus, Privet Drive, the giant chess pieces, Tom Riddle's grave monument, the Potter's old house, and the uneven bridge from Hogwarts.

We sat in the courtyard drinking butterbeer which, sadly, contains no alcohol, but a lot of sugar - like a cream soda.

The Knight Bus
Inside the Knight Bus
Little monsters on the Flying Motorbike
Drinking Butterbeer
Tom Riddle's grave
Hogwarts' bridge
Wizard chess pieces
The creature workshop was fantastic. Here is where you get to see how Dobby functions, how Hagrid's giant head is made to move, and how the uprooted mandrakes wriggle and scream. All the magical mythical beasts are explained with working models, from thestrals and hippogriffs to mermaids and werewolves.

The table of latex elf and goblin heads is a little spooky, but the tone is lightened by Luna Lovegood's lion headdress.

In the creature work-shop
"Thestrals can only be seen by people who've seen death"
Turning a corner, we entered the spectacular Diagon Alley. I loved this cobbled street lined with Olde Worlde shops; it remined me of Haworth!

There's Olivander's Wand Shop, crammed with boxes of wands, each in a hand-painted container. There's Potages, stocked with all-purpose cauldrons of every possible size. There's the imposing exterior edifice of Gringotts' bank.

Mr Mullpepper's apothecary sells clabbert pustules and various livers and fangs, but warns against asking for unicorn blood because it is 'not sold'.

An owl emporium displays cages of the beady-eyed predators, while Wiseacres Wizarding Equipment and Quality Quidditch Supplies boasts broomsticks in the window.

Florian Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour is probably the most 'normal' shop on the street, although Flourish and Botts, dispensing quills and other writing utensils, may also be able to lay claim to that title. Not so Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, with its puking pustulles and other gimmicks. It was a fabulous street/set and one of the highlights of the tour.

Another corridor led us past some of the designers' artwork (they envisaged these scenes so intricately!) and scale paper models of Hogsmead, Diagon Alley, the moving straircases (complete with mechanical engineering images of how this would work), and the Durmstran ship that carried Viktor Krum.

Artist's concept for Fawkes the phoenix
Ukranian Ironbelly Dragon crashing through Gringotts' roof
Artist's impression of Hogsmead
Hogsmead scale model
Moving staircases in paper detail
And then, the big reveal! a 1:24 scale model of Hogwarts, with details taken from the original sets of Alnick Castle and Durham Cathedral. It took 86 artists and crew to construct the first version, which was then rebuilt and altered many times for the next seven films.

All the doors are hinged, real plants are used for landscaping, and miniature birds are housed in the Owlery. Over 2,500 fibre optic lights simulate lanterns and torches, and give the illusion of students passing through hallways. The lighting is demonstrated to full effect with a day-to-night cycle every four minutes, highlighting the changing atmosphere at the castle/ school.

Just before the gift shop are the cases of wands - every member of cast and crew had one made for them, and you can hunt for the names. I found Dawn French, Helen Bonham-Carter, Alan Rickman, Dilip Patel (assistant accountant) and Jenny Harling (hair stylist).

The nephews and niece wanted robes but they were pretty expensive so, after Aunty Sarah promised to make them, they settled for scarves and wands. Nephew Olaf and Nephew Adam both got Harry Potter's wand, while Niece Rachel chose Hermione's.

The Weevil got Fleur Delacour's wand and, when we questioned the concept of a grown woman buying a wand, she countered succinctly, 'How else am I going to defend myself?' Fair enough.