Welcome to the second post in my wrap up on my recent trip to London – take a look a day one here if you haven’t already.
After a double musical day of emotional musicals, I think both Liz and I were happy at the prospect of getting out of theatres and heading out of London for our planned activities on Sunday but, as you will see, things didn’t go quite as planned. I know how to do suspense, don’t I?
We woke bright and (reasonably) early, excited for our day at the Warner Brothers Studio Tour in Watford, and donned our Harry Potter related clothing, also bundling up with scarves and gloves after a quick peek at the snow (!) falling outside. Sunday mornings in London are weird, to say the least, because there are so few people on ordinarily busy streets and the snow was also good encouragement to stay indoors if you could. Even so, the snow wasn’t settling as the ground was already wet, so we decided to walk the twenty-minute walk to Euston. I wouldn’t presume to speak for both of us but I believe that we quickly regretted this decision to walk when Liz discovered her Vans weren’t quite as waterproof as we first hoped and my Chelsea boots, whilst pretty, had no grip to speak of on the soles. This makes for a very interesting walk on slippy streets.
Still, we had no time to spare, so we quickly as we could marched off to Euston, by way of the stations Pret to grab some breakfast (and all important coffee) to go as well as some sandwiches from M&S for a packed lunch at the studio. After buying tickets we gratefully got settled into our seats on the train and scoffed down our breakfast since it was only a short twenty minute-ish train ride to Watford. My chocolate croissant was definitely a good decision, well done past me. As we sipped our coffee we laid out our plans for the day, thinking gleefully about what photos we would take, and how much money we were about to blow on merchandise (I’ve had my eye on a wand for years), but got distracted by the view of the snow out the train window. We gleefully took photos of the snow… right up until we got off the train at Watford and realised that not only was the snow falling heavily, it was doing what it couldn’t do in London – it was laying on the ground.
Bracing ourselves for the cold wind and snow whipping in our faces, we got out into the station and were rightfully identified by staff as heading for the tour – there must be a look they can spot a mile away, I guess? They pointed out a bus shelter and said the first bus should be along shortly… there quickly gathered a crowd at the bus shelter, to the point that the shelter provided no shelter to speak of because there were too many of us trying to huddle under it without encroaching on other people’s personal space. The snow began to get heavier and it’s safe to say we were stood there for a good half hour before we truly realised how cold we were. It’s no exaggeration to say that I’ve never felt cold like it and I was the idiot that didn’t bring a hat or hooded coat so all I had was an umbrella which, whilst pretty, isn’t the sturdiest of its kind. So, after my toes had gone so cold I couldn’t feel them, the novelty of the snow had well worn off.
Speaking to staff there (who were also waiting for the bus to take them to the studio) it started to become apparent that the first bus hadn’t even left the studio yet. In fact, we could infer from what they were (and weren’t) saying that the bus was stuck there until the roads got cleared enough for it to be safe to drive. The snow, meanwhile, was only getting thicker and settling on the roads so we weren’t exactly optimistic that the buses would be heading our way anytime soon. There were people with small kids and I felt so sorry for them because they were freezing waiting for the bus that probably never came. In the end, some people started organising taxis to take them to the studio because they were sick of waiting.
Now, I take full blame for what happened next. Cold, frustrated, miserable, I’d had enough. It was clear the bus wasn’t going to be able to battle through the snow to us to take us there, so I began to highly doubt it would be able to drop us back off at the station at the end of the day. I didn’t want to get stuck at the studio. Also, as evidenced by the staff members waiting with us at the station, staff members were struggling to get to work too. The studio was going to close earlier because of the snow. Not many people had been able to get to Watford in the first place because the snow was also settling on the ground elsewhere. It was beginning to feel like a lost cause. I went on Twitter and saw the Studio Tour were offering to rebook tours for people who couldn’t get to the studio and showed Liz. Some umming and aahing ensued but with the snow showing no signs of stopping, we settled on calling it a day and heading back into London, defeated, before the weather got any more miserable.
As we regrouped on the train, we crossed out fingers that London was still as snowless as it had been when we left in the morning and it was mostly slushy and wet. We headed back to our hotel in Covent Garden via Tube (we’d learnt from the slippy pavement experience) and I’ve never been so grateful to see spare socks and blankets. We warmed up and made a cup of tea because we are stereotypes and tried to sort out what we could do so the day wasn’t completely wasted. Liz had text her parents about the failed Studio Tour and her dad and brother suggested an alternative, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Tickets are notoriously hard to come by but, just as the snow was causing problems for the Studio Tour, it was causing problems for people trying to travel into London to see the play. Return tickets were coming in thick and fast apparently.
We bundled up and trudged to the theatre, hopefully hearing for the box office in much better moods thanks to warm socks and the prospect of the play. I’m not going to lie, the tickets weren’t exactly cheap but after a ruined day, we needed something to cheer us up. Two potentially impulsive purchases later, we had tickets to both parts of the Cursed Child for that day. The first part started soon enough so we just headed straight into the theatre.
I had some trepidation; I hadn’t even managed to read both parts of the play because I’d given up after part 1 because the script seemed so ridiculous to me. People who’ve seen the play are famously tight lipped on its staging (#KeepTheSecrets) but all say that the play script isn’t a patch on the actual performance so I was cautiously optimistic. I wasn’t disappointed.
I can’t begin to explain it, even if I tried. Suffice it to say that Scorpius Malfoy is, by far, the best character and he’s such a squish that I wanted to wrap him in blankets and protect him from the world. Ron is hilarious, they’ve cast him and Hermione expertly. The whole cast was a lot funnier than I expected, and Myrtle in particular had excellent comic timing. Most importantly, though, the magic… I can say without hesitation that the magic alone is worth the admission price, and then some. The staging and the choreography of the ensemble cast is masterful, they should be given much more credit because they truly keep the show running smoothly.
After part 1 finished in late afternoon, we quickly nipped back to the hotel before part two and I wrapped up a bit better for the night ahead as it was much darker and colder outside. We also dumped as much of our belongings as we could as space was at a premium in the theatre (read: our legs were squished). We headed back for part 2 with high hopes that were not dashed by the concluding half. It was also nice to be able to finally give the cast the round of applause they deserved since they don’t bow after the first part, so their bows were several hours in the making! We also made sure to take photos of the theatre facade outside as it looks amazing in the dark, all lit up.
When we got out of the theatre, having successfully avoided the lure of merchandise, we quickly left theatreland as quickly as possible and headed back to our hotel. We may have accidentally acquired a Dominos pizza each on the way back too, oops! We headed up to our room with the lovely smell of pizza tempting us and tucked in as we were starving by the time we sat back down after a day of highs and lows.
So, all in all, the day had started with the snow taking with one hand but it sure did give with the other, and we made sure that come hell or high water (or snow) we had a wonderfully Harry Potter related day!