Tuesday, 10 June 2014

The Search for Bellatrix's Necklace Is Over!

It may have taken me two years, but I've finally found the perfect replica for Bellatrix Lestrange's necklace!

Now I'll be honest, when I discovered that the actual necklace worn by Helena Bonham Carter (below) was provided by Crazy Pig Designs, and that I could buy one from the company for £200, I was all set to start saving every penny that I could find.

Was this because I absolutely had to have one from the same company?

No. It's because I couldn't find a decent enough replica anywhere. However, as much as I would love an actual 'replica' from the same company, even I have to admit that it's a lot of money to spend on a necklace that, let's be honest, I'd be too scared to wear outside in case I lost it.

I'd searched everywhere for a cheap lookalike, anything that remotely resembled the one worn by HBC in the Harry Potter films. Just when I was about to give up, my attention was brought to what has now become one of my favourite eBay shops. You can click here to check out Muggle Market, from whom I bought the following two necklaces:

(Wrist tattoo not included!)

I can't believe how beautiful that bird skull is. Okay so I'm not going to pretend it's exactly the same as Bellatrix's, but I'm sure you'll agree that they're strikingly similar:

(Left: me. Right: Ms Bonham Carter!)
I cannot quite believe how perfect it looks. It's the only one I've ever seen where the eyes aren't too narrow or too squished, or where the beak isn't too long and pointed. The shape and size are both spot on, and the black chain that came with it is wonderful too.

Now for the best part: the bird skull necklace cost just £10.50. I know, it's incredible! Sure, I'd love the official one from Crazy Pig Designs, but I'm more than happy enough for the mean time with this beautiful option.

I also have nothing but praise for the Dark Mark/Nagini necklace too, which I purchased for £6.50 in the same order. This one was just as exciting as I'd been desperate for a Dark Mark necklace for several months now, but only ever seemed to find either really expensive ones or really tacky non-Dark Mark snakes. This one is exactly what I wanted - I couldn't be happier!

You can either visit the links above or head to http://www.ebay.co.uk/usr/potter1anna for the full range of Harry Potter items (and more) the store has to offer. I have my eye on a few other things from there too, but I'm trying to be good! We'll see how that goes...

If you're looking for a replica of Bellatrix's necklace - and, let's face it, who wouldn't want to wear a bird skull? - then I definitely recommend you take a look at this one. It's well made, perfect in size, and is pretty inexpensive. I think it's safe to say that it's definitely been worth holding out for two years to find one in which I can find no flaws.

Amy x

Wearing the necklace!

Monday, 2 June 2014

Finding Byron in London, Cambridge, and Six Mile Bottom

This is the second of two posts as part of my London Series of May 2014. You can find the first post (Harry Potter) here. There are video clips from my travels related to Lord Byron here and at the end of this post.

There's an odd thrill of excitement in stepping back in time as I walk down the streets Byron used to frequent. Some have noticeable alterations, others have been completely rebuilt. And yet there's something about the imagination that doesn't let any of this taint the experience. On my recent visit to London I was enthralled with the delights of several of the streets upon which Byron, at one point in his life, had taken lodgings. Let us look:

8 St James's Street and 13 Piccadily Terrace
These properties are not as they were. 13 Piccadilly Terrace is said to have been in the location of the now 139 Piccadilly. The tall building photograpphed, appropriately named Byron House, is now 8 St James's Street, but as far as I am aware this is not the building as it was. Nonetheless, we can say safely that Byron would have breathed the air in that very spot. It doesn't get much more exciting than that...

Actually, yes, yes it does. As I turned the corner onto Bennet(t) Street, wherein he used to lodge at number 4 in a building no longer standing, there was a giant wall to mask construction work on the other side of the road. On this wall could be seen - and I dare say it would be impossible to miss it - a rather giant head of Lord Byron. Needless to say, I took this opportunity to be photographed with His Lordship.

Heading up the road took me to 50 Albemarle Street, more famously known as the home of John Murray Publishers. It has been situated there since Byron's life, so that's definitely a treasured location.

You will also find a rather peculiar statue of Byron in Hyde Park. Located on a roundabout just outside of one of the exits, it's quite an odd looking statue and one, if I may say so, that doesn't do him any justice. However, me being me, I had to take a picture of it. I'll let you make up your own mind about what you think!

At the end of the week we took a day trip up to Cambridge so I could see the university. Unfortunately, it wasn't the most pleasant of experiences. Perhaps I just picked the wrong day. Maybe not. But, for whatever reason, I decided almost immediately that I do not like the area. It was nice to see the statue of Byron in the Wren Library, even if some of the staff were unacceptably rude, but I can't say I'll ever be going back in a hurry.

On the bright side, we did then travel from Cambridge to Six Mile Bottom. This couldn't have come at a better time for me as I'm currently doing a lot of research into Byron's relationship with his half-sister Augusta Leigh, and a connected link with Mary Chaworth, and a great deal of this focuses around the once-residence of Augusta, now known as Paddocks House. It's a gorgeous building, and I feel honoured to  have been inside it. I definitely recommend you visit if you get the chance - a taxi from Newmarket station is most certainly the easiest way to approach it if you, like me, do not drive!

With the dampener that is Cambridge aside, it's been a very satisfying week with a lot of Byron all around. There are still several places on my list I'd like to check off in the UK before I branch out and begin exploring the Byron of the rest of the world, but for now I shall enjoy the adventures of the recent past. I hope you shall too!

Amy x

The Making of Harry Potter: The Tour, The Sets, and an Excitable Slytherin

This is the first of two posts as part of my London Series of May 2014. You can find the second post (Lord Byron) here. There are video clips from my travels related to Harry Potter here and at the end of this post.

Now, I'll be honest. I don't know where to begin. There's so much I want to share with you, but I know I must refrain from inundating this with all the photos I've taken over the last week. Instead, I think I'll include just a small selection, perhaps just enough to whet your appetite, and hopefully you'll enjoy these as much as I do. Allow me to start with Diagon Alley...

The above picture is of Leadenhall Market, seen in the films as Diagon Alley. It's not too difficult to find, situated near Bank tube station, and the image here is taken looking down from the main entrance. If you wander around a bit (and we had to do quite a bit of wandering!) you'll find this:

That there is no ordinary doorway into an optician's. No, that is the doorway to the Leaky Cauldron! Sadly, there was no sign of any witch or wizard in sight willing to help us pass through this magic doorway, but it was fun to visit there all the same.

The last stop on our magical Potter trail around London is Great Scotland Yard:

Yes, that's none other than the exterior for the Ministry of Magic. It's slightly different, as the bridge has been duplicated and added to where the front door can be seen in the photo, thus acting as a pillar next to which the red telephone box is situated, but it's still instantly recognisable. I think, out of all three here, this was by far the most thrilling to see.

However, the winner, insofar as it excelled my excitement levels to heights I didn't even know existed, is the Warner Brothers 'Making of Harry Potter' Studio Tour. Full details can be found on the website as linked, but in brief an adult ticket costs £30, and it must be pre-booked. I definitely advise anybody to take the tour bus from Watford Junction station as there are a few interesting features on there that you wouldn't get if you drove to the studios.

Once there there's a brief introduction from a member of staff - it's not as boring as it sounds, I promise! - which definitely helps to set the mood and get fans even more excited. After that, you're free to look around at your own pace. I thought this was fantastic as I'd originally assumed that it was a timed guided tour. How long I stared at Bellatrix's dress for was probably more than socially acceptable, but I remain thankful for not being pushed for time!

As much as I'd love to share all the pictures I took, we'd be here forever. Instead, I've selected three I particularly like - one set, one costume, and one too awesome for words - to introduce you to the tour's beauty. I really cannot encourage you enough to go along and enjoy it for yourself. The props and costumes on display were the actual ones we see in the films, and it really helps to bring everything to life.

Who doesn't love pink?

Anyway, I'm afraid we've come to the end of this particular Potter session. I do hope you've enjoyed this as I fully intend to remain enveloped in this magic until the grave and beyond. If there's anything in particular you'd like to know about the tour or any of the locations mentioned then please don't hesitate to email me via the address above and I shall try my best to answer any questions from my own visitor perspective. Do look out for my second blogpost and make sure you check out the Harry Potter footage in my video below!

Amy x

Oh, and just one more thing: long may Slytherin reign!