Travel Fails: Belgium Edition

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Recently I got back from a trip with my friends where we visited Belgium. We spent most of our visit in Brussels but did have a day trip to Ghent and Bruges. Of course whenever I go away with my friends there’s always some kind of disaster and this trip was no exception so I’ve decided to write a post of fails that occurred in Belgium!

Disaster struck before we even got to Belgium. The first was when I woke up to a text message saying a payment had failed to come out of my bank account and an email from booking.com saying the hotel had tried to take out the full payment for our stay and it had failed. Of course it had, I didn’t have enough money to cover the entire cost. I sent a frantic message to the hotel to assure them we were still planning on arriving, paying in cash and asking them not to cancel our booking. They were very vague about why they’d tried to take out the money and what they could or couldn’t do but after many messages I assured them we would arrive at the hotel the moment check-in opened and they agreed they would still honour our booking.

The trip started to arrive and all of us were looking forward to going until I received a message off Jess at 3:20PM the day before we flew to say our flight had been cancelled. All of us were at work but luckily when I told my colleagues the flight had been cancelled they were very understanding and allowed me some time to ring the airline. After going through a ton of questions I got us rebooked onto a flight for around the same time but this flight was no longer direct, we would have to change in Frankfurt.

As compensation the airline offered to let us check in a bag on the way there so I said “Great! Can we also do that on the way back?” to be told no we couldn’t. Well then what’s the point in checking in a bag on the way bloody there if we can’t bring it home? At this point I was so fed up though that I hung up and asked my friend to confirm we were definitely booked onto the new flights and she said she’d received a confirmation email. I was so annoyed that I messaged the airline on Facebook to ask if there was anything else they could offer us and they replied to say we couldn’t even check in a bag on the way there and then got quite arsey with me when I pushed the matter and said there was nothing they could do.

Mostly I was just relieved we were still travelling on the same day meaning we wouldn’t have to rush to rearrange a new hotel booking or anything so I went to bed trying to feel optimistic. Four hours later I was up at 2:20AM to finish getting ready and my friend and her boyfriend pulled up outside the house at 3AM to take all of us to the airport.

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The first flight went without a hitch, we got through security okay, had a calm breakfast and boarded our flight to Frankfurt with no problems. It was the moment we got to Frankfurt that problems occurred. I’d been sceptical that 50 minutes wouldn’t be enough time for a change over but the plane landed in Frankfurt at the time it was meant to and I didn’t feel too stressed. Until we hit security.

I find changeovers confusing, do you need to go through security every time? On the way to Japan we changed at Istanbul and we were let straight off the plane into the airport whereas on the way back from South Korea we changed at Istanbul again and had to go through security this time. For some reason the security in Frankfurt was going at snail’s pace – I’ve gone through longer queues at Birmingham quicker than I got through that one. There weren’t even many people ahead of us but they were going SO slowly.

We were stood waiting when a man came up behind us and said “I have a flight at 9:30AM so I need to go ahead” and we told him our flight was at 9:25AM so he’d have to wait his turn. The people behind him didn’t hear us so started getting arsey with us for not moving out of his way. He kept tutting and shaking his head which was irritating because yeah it was stressful but it wasn’t our fault.

Becca and Hirst went through security first and when they were done they sprinted to find the gate whilst me and Jess waited for our stuff. That took forever to come through and once we had it we ran the direction Becca and Hirst had gone. I feel bad as I’m not the most athletic person ever so I had to keep slowing down as typically our gate was on the other side of the airport.

We finally spotted the gate at the bottom of a ramp where Becca was stood frantically making gestures at us to hurry up so we sprinted down to the gate and just as we got there the doors slammed closed. We’d missed our connecting flight. The woman at the desk came back out and kept looking at us and I was starting to get annoyed as she wasn’t saying anything but eventually she said “Your flight from Birmingham was cancelled wasn’t it? I’ll book you onto a new flight.”

Apparently she’d been quite arsy with Becca and Hirst as they’d asked them to hold the gate as me and Jess were literally running through the airport and she’d told them it wasn’t possible and then snapped “So are you getting on or not?” – funnily enough they didn’t want to get on without us. However she was nice as pie now that me and Jess were there. A few other people had missed the connection and they started complaining to the woman but we all felt bad ‘cos although it was irritating it wasn’t this specific woman’s fault.

It could’ve been a lot worse as we were booked onto a flight for two hours’ time, it just meant having to sit around Frankfurt airport which was irritating as we hadn’t even wanted to come to Frankfurt. Luckily our next flight left on time and we were finally in Brussels.

We’d been worried the hotel would be arsey with us but once we found it they actually didn’t mind that we were later than anticipated and we checked in relatively quickly. The room wasn’t the best we’ve ever stayed in but it wasn’t as bad as some of the TripAdvisor reviews had made it out to be. The main issues were just uncomfortable beds and the bathroom kept flooding, most other things were fine.

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Well, there was one other particular issue on the first night. When the lift opened to our floor the lights were off and all we could hear was somebody playing a violin which sounds innocent enough but was honestly like something out of a horror movie. It was about midday at this point so we checked into our room then went out to do a tiny bit of exploring and get dinner before heading back for an early night after our 2AM start.

Everything was fine at first when we got back, Becca hopped in the shower first and then the violin started up again. Very loudly. It was still quite early but as mentioned we needed an early night after our early start that morning. We each took it in turns to have a shower and by the time I came out (I go last ‘cos I take the longest) the violin was still playing loudly away next door. It was such a specific issue that it was both hilarious and really irritating at the same time.

Eventually it turned 8:30PM and we were all ready to go to bed so Jess headed outside to say something to them whilst I lurked in the doorway of my room in case they tried to do anything to her. She knocked on the door and it turned out to be a little kid playing the violin (very well, to be 100% fair) whilst her Mom was sat in the corner watching. Jess asked them to keep it down and luckily we didn’t hear the violin again for the rest of our trip.

The next day went well. It did rain a bit but we saw a few museums, went on a waffle making workshop and generally had a good time. Then in the evening we decided to go and see if a room was available at a karaoke place near the hotel. It was around 7 – 8PM and we set off to a bar first so we could get a couple of drinks in. The bar Jess had found on her phone turned out to be closed so we went walking off and found the nearest one that served cocktails. Prices were through the roof so we only had one drink each.

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Jess looked up the karaoke place on her phone and realised that actually it was closed. None of us were thrilled but she booked us a slot for the following evening instead. In the end we did a bit of souvenir shopping before heading back to the hotel and having another relatively early night.

The next morning we did more outdoor stuff as the weather was better – we went to Mini Europe and the Atomium before heading off to do a spy experience. This wasn’t cheap as it was advertised as being two hours long but we all decided to give it a go. I was a bit nervous because I’d heard there was a bit with heights and as a massive wimp I didn’t want to do this but as the others were doing it and I didn’t want to sit alone for two hours I paid my money and followed them in.

This was a ton of fun but also a bit of a disaster. In the first room you have to put on your ‘spy uniform’ which is basically just a jump suit and there was a guide on the wall to advise you if you were a certain height which suit you should grab. We’re all around the same height so I grabbed a 4, same one as Becca without regarding the fact that Becca is literally less than half the size of me. It didn’t fit and I couldn’t figure out how to get back into the room with the jumpsuits. Luckily Hirst’s didn’t fit either and Jess found a way for us both to get back in. For some reason this room was timed so the pressure was on to grab a jump suit that fitted and then get through into the next room.

Most of it went okay and it was a lot of fun. There was one small dampener when we had to crawl into a ball pit and as I went to follow the others I got kicked in the face by Jess accidentally (who didn’t even notice). When we got to the high ropes bit I asked the woman if I could opt out and she said I could if I really wanted to. I watched my friends doing that bit feeling a bit salty that I’m such a wimp.

When we got to the end we had to walk to the top of the arena and there was a slide to go down to complete the course. I told my friends it was too steep for me and I didn’t want to so they told me to find the high ropes woman and tell her I couldn’t go down. I watched them slide off and went to find the woman – who’d vanished. Her stuff was there but she was nowhere to be seen. I was in this massive spy room by myself. I went back up to the slide, telling myself not to be a wimp and just do it but I chickened out at the last second. I went back down to look for the woman but again, nowhere to be seen. I went back up to the slide and this time just pushed myself down without overthinking it. I kept my eyes closed the entire time but hey, I did it! I was just in a foul mood after that as I didn’t get to complete the course with my friends but I still had to do the bloody slide anyway.

I went back into the changing room, stomping around angrily whilst my poor friends looked on and tactfully let me get on with my bad mood. We went to get dinner afterwards at McDonalds and I managed to calm myself down. I’m not sure why it irritated me so much, I just knew that it had.

The rest of the evening went well, karaoke was fun and after a late night we were all up and ready for our day trip to Ghent and Bruges. A friendly guy at the train station told us we only needed to get a ticket to Bruges, we could hop off at Ghent if we wanted to, and soon we’d arrived in Ghent.

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Ghent went well, we had some breakfast at Starbucks, visited Ghent Castle and then went off to Psychology Museum. I didn’t find it that interesting but I think my friends enjoyed it. The only fail in there is that me and Hirst went on ahead whilst Becca and Jess lagged behind and then decided to play a prank on us. Becca hid under a hospital bed and Jess came round saying she had no idea where Becca was, with the intention of waiting a few minutes and saying we should go find her – then Becca would jump out and scare us.

This didn’t happen for a few reasons. For some reason Jess sat down to do a DNA test that me and Hirst had just done which took quite a while. Also, I’d seen both Jess and Becca’s shadows walk into the room and knew for a fact they were trying to prank us. Eventually Jess suggested we go look for Becca who came round the corner looking livid and said “You just left me there!” She’d been hiding under the bed for probably a good ten minutes.

After the Psychology Museum it was getting quite late so we decided to head to Bruges to grab some dinner and explore there a bit. We were all starving so we ticked dinner off straightaway and then headed to the main centre of Bruges where we went into a church. We were in there for AGES as Jess likes to take photos and videos of every inch of wherever we visit so me, Hirst and Becca started up a game where we tried to predict what Jess would do next. We ended up laughing so hard that we got told off by a woman working in the church so we decided to leave.

We meandered down the high street and just as we reached a cute square it started to throw it down. It had been raining on and off for the past few days but this was a whole new level of rain. Not sure what to do we decided to get some cake for dinner so we went on an epic quest to find some as most places were beginning to close. We finally found a dessert shop, sat in there for about an hour eating overpriced desserts before heading back outside. It was still throwing it down so drenched and exhausted we decided to call it a day and head back to the train station. Unfortunately the train station was quite a walk away so we only got more drenched.

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I wish we’d had more time to visit Bruges but my Mom’s been on about visiting for ages so I may have to take her there one day so we can both have a good look around.

I think that was about it for fails in Belgium! The next day we checked out of the hotel, went to the airport and our flight home went without a problem. This post was a lot longer than I thought it would be – but I should’ve known that when all four of us go we never have a trip without a few fails!

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Us (Jordan Peele, 2019): Review by Hollie Bareham

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I can’t remember when I first saw the trailer for ‘Us’ but from the moment I saw it I was excited to see the full movie. There’s nothing I love more than a horror movie and this looked promising. I’d also enjoyed Jordan Peele’s ‘Get Out’ and the whole psychological element, so I was pretty certain I’d enjoy this film too.

CAUTION: This review will contain spoilers.

Once the movie was released I booked me and my friend’s three tickets and before I knew it we were at the cinema ready to watch the movie. All three of us were looking forward to it and hoped it was good – generally horror movies are either amazing or rubbish and we were keen to see which category this film fit into.

When the credits rolled at the end my first thoughts were ‘… What did I just watch?’ It was one of those films that had the three of us talking the entire car ride home because we were all quite confused about what happened. When I got home the first thing I did was pour over the imdb page, Wikipedia page and any articles I could find that explained the plot. Although I’m more with it now I’m still not sure if I 100% understand it.

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Firstly, the film was amazingly done. The cinematography was on point and the acting was phenomenal, especially from Lupita Nyong’o – she played both her parts incredibly well, especially ‘Red’ who was super creepy. When the doppelganger family first enter the house and Red starts telling them a story her voice was really putting me on edge, it was excellent acting.

I love that this movie didn’t 100% rely on jump scares and managed to be creepy in its own way. The shots of all the tethered holding hands across the country was somehow super creepy and superbly done, it’s definitely something that will stick with me for a while. In fact just seeing the tethered go through their clumsy movements in the tunnels had me on edge. It wasn’t entirely ‘terrifying’ as there were some moments of comedy and I feel like these were executed well whilst still keeping the atmosphere.

What bothered me the most when initially watching it was the ending – it’s hard to explain for those who haven’t seen but we are shown that the doppelgangers are called the ‘tethered’ and they were a government experiment to see if US citizens could be controlled with a copied version of their bodies. When the experiment failed the tethered were abandoned underground having to copy the actions of the ‘real life’ versions of themselves – it’s implied these people don’t have a soul, any real emotions or much freewill. We’re sort of taken along this journey of the tethered deciding that it’s their turn now to live and they all come to the surface to kill the other version of themselves in order to replace them.

When Adelaide was a child she met her tethered (Red) and throughout the film Red mentions how she and the rest of the tethered grew up without sunlight and says something along the lines of “I wonder what would have happened if you’d taken me with you” to Adelaide. Except in the final moments of the film we find out Red was the original Adelaide – when they met, Adelaide knocked her out, took her down to the tethered and left her there so she could replace her. It was an interesting twist but unfortunately didn’t seem to fit in with anything we’d heard previously to that.

The thing I find confusing is that part of the deal with the tethered was that they were soulless and were forced to just awkwardly follow their counter-parts movements. Why was Red different? How were her and Adelaide able to meet? Surely once she’d been dragged down to the tethered she could’ve found her way back out – it didn’t seem that complicated and it’s not like the other tethered would’ve tried to stop her considering how lifeless they were. How did the tethered snap out of their copying regime to follow Red’s orders to go to the surface? Why did the government leave millions of people underground without destroying their creations when the experiment failed? It’s an amazing idea but I just don’t fully understand it.

It’s never really clear whether Adelaide or Red remember that they were swapped round until the end when it’s revealed to the audience. Surely they were more than old enough to have remembered and I assume Red must have because she retained her speech whereas none of the other tethered could talk. But neither of them mention it. I suppose the filmmakers wanted to save it until the end as a big reveal but it seemed to contradict everything they’d been talking about. For example it was Red that explained the tethered experiement to Adelaide – as a tethered she should’ve already known what they were and Red would’ve known that she knew.

They did throw in a few hints that Adelaide was a tethered (her savagery when killing other tethered for example), but I just don’t think it was executed as well as it could’ve been. It seemed a little bit thrown in at the end to add shock.

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Regardless of this I did enjoy the film. It held my interest from the start and kept me guessing right until the very end. It was certainly something new – my friend once told me we are living in a generation of remakes and sequels so to see something like this was so refreshing. I love the whole idea of it and wouldn’t mind another movie exploring it a bit more but I doubt that would happen – it could very well just ruin this film anyway.

Overall, this is definitely a film I’d recommend to any horror fans. Regardless of my confusion with the plot, which could probably be explained away, the film has left a lasting impression on me and I’m just really impressed. I’m looking forward to any future horror releases by Jordan Peele.

Time for my piece of trivia which I now include with all my horror movie reviews – Lupita Nyong’o based Red’s voice on Robert F. Kennedy Jr and specifically the spasmodic dysphonia he suffers from. There were quite a few pieces of interesting trivia on the iMDB page to be fair but I went with this one as Red’s voice really did put me on edge.

Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts on the movie and if you haven’t already seen it then I definitely recommend it.

The Travel Tag

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Regular readers of this blog know that I love a good tag so I decided to combine that with my love of travelling and complete ‘The Travel Tag’. I found this tag at this blog so be sure to check theirs out – and now for my answers!

Which countries of the world have you already visited?

UK (because that’s where I’m from!), Spain, Cyprus, Tenerife, New York, France, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Poland, Greece, The Netherlands, Japan, South Korea,  Romania and Belgium – I don’t think I’ve missed any! I’ve done layovers in Turkey and Germany but since I never saw anything of the countries I wouldn’t count them.

Which destination is number one on your bucket list?

This is so difficult because I’ve always said Japan but now that I’ve ticked that off I’m struggling to pick one and stick with it. At the moment I’d say probably Taipei in Taiwan but it also flits between Bangkok in Thailand and Vancouver in Canada.

What is your most ideal holiday?

I’m not really fond of going places just to sit in the sun – I wouldn’t mind for like a weekend or something but a week would be way too long. I don’t really have an ideal temperature for a holiday – my supervisor recently asked me why I always go cold places but it’s because I don’t really mind the temperature.

I love going to a city and having enough things to explore. Tokyo was ideal for me because I feel like we did so much (we were up at around 6AM and back late pretty much every day) and there was just a bit of everything. There was the traditional history side of things, mixed with modern things to do and then a couple of theme parks. I love being able to slot in a theme park day on trips even though I hate big rides – it’s just nice to have a more relaxed day.

I guess my ideal holiday is a big city with plenty of variety of things to do. I couldn’t just do museums and historic sites; I like to have something ‘fun’ to do as well!

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Which place did you think was so special that you would love to go back there someday?

A bit obvious because I talk about it so much but Tokyo is definitely my favourite place I’ve ever been but as I’ve already mentioned that I’ll pick somewhere else. Oh gosh, there are a few places I’d love to go back to. With my friends I’d love to go back to New York and I’d do all the typical tourist things with them all over again. By myself I wouldn’t mind going back to Vilnius in Lithuania because I was actually surprised by how much there was to do and it was such a pretty city.

Show us your nicest holiday photo!

I feel like this means ‘prettiest’ holiday photo but I’d be trawling through tons of photos for that so I’ll post my favourite one from my recent trip to Belgium, not necessarily a beautiful/scenic photo but one that makes me happy!

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Did you have to travel for work sometime? If so, where?

Although I love my job I’m primarily based at an office with occasional visits to schools or hotels for meetings/training. I doubt I’d ever have to leave my home town for something work related which is something I don’t love about my job. Especially since my step-sister has been to Dubai and China for work. She gets to fly business class on the plane and everything. If I could change anything about my job it’d be that I get to travel more but realistically there’s no way that would ever happen.

Equally though I think what I love about travelling is that I can leave all my responsibilities behind and just do what I want. I thought about working abroad but would that just ruin the experience, not having much time to explore? Probably. So maybe it’s just as well.

Who are you most likely to go on holiday with?

I don’t mind going by myself but if I was going with anyone my first choice would always be my best friends Becca, Hirst and Jess. After that probably my Mom. I don’t think I’ve ever been away with anyone else before. My Dad took me and my siblings to Cyprus when we were kids but has refused to take us since because of how much it cost which is fair enough I suppose.

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Who would you like to go on vacation with sometime?

I assume this means someone I haven’t been away with before? I’ve thrown around the idea of going away with my friends Emma and Sorcha but Emma’s always broke and I’m worried Sorcha would panic on the plane. I don’t really think there’s anyone else I’d go away with.

Who or what would you take with you to an uninhabited island?

Am I trapped on the island or just going to explore? If I was trapped I’d take my three best friends because we’ve often discussed this scenario before so I’m sure we’d get rescued eventually and if not we could probably build a civilisation. If I was just going to explore then I’d take a camera and plenty of water.

Have you been on vacation to the Netherlands? If so, where?

Yes in 2017 me, Becca, Hirst and Jess went to Amsterdam. Primarily so me and Becca could see 24K live but we also love an opportunity to look around a new city. We had amazing weather and Amsterdam was beautiful. I’d love to go back someday because there were some things we didn’t get to see – for example the Anne Frank House was sold out and I’ve heard that’s amazing. It’s just a beautiful city.

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Would you rather go to an amusement park or a zoo?

I have been to a couple of zoos whilst on holiday but I think I’d always pick an amusement park over a zoo. If I’m travelling with friends I wouldn’t be able to visit a zoo or aquarium anyway because Becca despises them and I can see why. I went to a zoo in Poland and although I like seeing animals many of them did seem quite sad. At least you can enjoy an amusement park guilt-free. I don’t like big rides but I just love the atmosphere of theme parks – especially the Disney parks!

Would you rather go on a ski or sun vacation?

I think I’d be at risk of breaking a leg on a ski vacation! I’ll take the sun vacation so I’m not risking my health.

What is your nicest holiday memory?

Watching the electric parade at Tokyo Disneyland after an amazing day of going round the park. The parade was amazing and I just felt really good. Plus knowing I had almost two full weeks of exploring Asia left was good. If I could return to a holiday moment it would probably be that one.

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What is your least nice holiday memory?

When my friends got back in Amsterdam after eating a space cake (I’d opted out) – one of them told me to go to bed so I did and laid in bed listening to the three of them laugh in the living room. It’s not a feeling I would’ve wished upon anyone.

To which country (countries) are you going this year?

So far this year I went to Romania by myself and then this month I went to Belgium with Hirst, Becca and Jess. In April I’m off to Dublin by myself and then in May I’m going with my Mom to San Francisco. I’d been wanting to go away for my birthday so I’ve booked to go to Hong Kong for a week which will be my first solo out of continent trip and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve been thinking about booking something for July but with everything else I’m not sure I’ll be able to afford it. I still have plenty of trips to look forward to though!

Where would you never go on holiday?

A country where I wouldn’t feel safe. I think people think that I just book places on a whim but I do actually research whether the country I’m visiting is relatively safe. Nowhere in the world is going to be 100% safe but you know the kind of places I’m likely to avoid.

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I hope you enjoyed my answers, feel free to leave a link in the comments if you decide to do this tag –I’d love to read your answers!

Weekend in London: 2nd March – 3rd March 2019

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You may recall my post from last year where me and Becca went to see Cursed Child for the first time. Before the show had even finished we both decided we needed to come again but this time in better seats. More tickets were announced about a month later and we quickly snapped up two tickets worth £150 for both parts which was a bit of a leap from the £30 we’d paid for both parts the year previously. We had to wait almost an entire year but eventually the date came around and we were off to see the show again.

The first time we went we came on a Wednesday meaning we’d both had to book two days off work. When we booked the second batch of tickets though we both knew we worked Monday – Friday 9 – 5 so we were sensible and bought tickets for a Saturday so we didn’t have to take any time off work. London was a little busier due to it being a weekend but it’s not like it mattered as we were in the theatre for most of the day.

We caught the 10:08AM train just as we did the year before which got us into London Euston at 12:33PM. Both times I’ve been super stressed that one of the trains is going to get delayed and we’re going to miss the first half of part one but of course that didn’t happen. Our train was reduced from ten carriages to five but we both managed to get our seats and our carriage actually wasn’t too busy which was strange.

By the time we got to London we were starving but knew there wasn’t much time to be fussy about where we ate so we ordered food inside London Euston. I got Burger King which I don’t love but will eat when desperate and Becca got two pizza baguettes. Last year I’d been convinced the show started at 2:30PM when it actually started at 2:00PM – we were lucky we’d arrived early to take photos outside the theatre as otherwise we probably would’ve been late.

This year we were way more stressed for some reason and the moment we finished eating we went straight to theatre. Google Maps kept screwing us around but luckily we managed to find the theatre okay, picked up our tickets and went straight inside. We were so worried about being late we actually ended up in our seats 35 minutes early. This was good though as it gave us time to use the loo, grab a drink and just generally chill before part one started.

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We were on Row J in the stalls at the end of the aisle so the view was much better than when we’d been at the very top of the theatre. Last time there’d been a whole section of the stage we couldn’t see. I’d been worried about someone tall sitting in front of me and they did but if I leant forward I could see between their heads and still had a good view.

Some of the cast had changed whilst some were still the same – me and Becca had a conversation about who we thought had changed and we mostly disagreed on who was the same but both agreed it was definitely the same Draco as when we’d last been. Regardless of whether they were the same or not the cast were amazing and I quickly got sucked back into the story. I’m not a big fan of the plot but it’s told better on stage than it was in the screenplay, it just works better.

I think I prefer Part Two to Part One but Part One is still amazing and it was great getting to see the magic closer up this time. Before either of us knew it Part One was over and we had to come back later for Part Two which started at 7:30PM.

Because we’d been in such a rush to find the theatre and get inside we hadn’t taken any pictures yet. Luckily it was still bright out so we took individual pictures in front of the theatre and Becca eventually worked up the courage to ask a woman if she’d take a photo of the two of us. It came out really nice and then we set off to find somewhere for dinner.

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Last year we’d checked straight into our hotel so we could dump our bags but this year they weren’t too heavy so we decided to just go out for dinner instead (which turned out to be a good choice as you’ll discover later). Finding somewhere to eat with available space in Central London is never easy and we walked around for maybe half-an-hour to an hour before finding an Italian place that was relatively reasonably priced and had a table so we went inside.

It was a bit crammed but it was a nice place. Becca flitted between wanting a meal, wanting a starter, not wanting to eat at all, and then said she’d love a dessert but there weren’t any on the menu. Luckily I found the dessert menu on the table so Becca settled on a slice of apple pie and two chocolate milkshakes whilst I had an orange juice and spaghetti Bolognese. It was a nice meal and killed sometime between part one and two.

Last year after seeing the show me and Becca had made some poor decisions and spent a lot of money on unnecessary Harry Potter merchandise. We both agreed this year we would stop each other from spending – mostly because of a concert ticket fiasco the day before but let’s not get into that, that’s for another post. We needed money for the following Friday so we agreed not to let each other make any unnecessary spends. Which is why I was nervous when Becca kept suggesting we go to PRIMARK as they had a Harry Potter section.

After getting Becca’s word that neither of us would spend any money we went to have a look and it’s safe to say the pair of us nearly caved in. There’s nothing I love more than house specific merch and our town is dreadful for that. Becca really wanted a Slytherin night shirt and I wanted a Hufflepuff nightie but we didn’t let the other spend any money before heading off to see Part Two.

I personally think Part Two was funnier moments and just generally prefer it (although as mentioned, Part One still has amazing moments too!) so I was looking forward to this one and it was just as funny as I’d remembered it. Obviously the whole of it isn’t hilarious there are some dark or sad moments too but it’s still amazing. And just like that Part Two was over! The day we’d been waiting for over a year had finished.

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I won’t talk anymore about my personal opinions on the show as I already did that on last year’s post but like if you’re a Harry Potter fan you need to see this show, it’s actually amazing. If you read the screenplay and hated it, don’t worry, I get you, but it’s much better on stage than in the book.

After leaving the theatre it was time to check into the hotel which should’ve been a half-an-hour tube journey away. We got on the Northern line to Waterloo and prepared to change to the Jubilee line only to hear an announcement that it wasn’t running. Neither of us had any signal so we left the station and went to find an alternative route. My phone was being relatively useless (telling me we needed to catch a boat) but luckily Becca’s phone took us on a route that involved a bus ride and then getting on the DLR.

It was getting quite late at this point and both of us were exhausted. I was suddenly worried check-in would close and checked the booking.com app to see if this was the case and it advised check-in was until 11PM. It was now 10:50PM. I tried ringing the hotel to let them know we’d be late and ask if anyone would be there but nobody would answer even though I was getting charged 19p a minute to call the stupid number.

When we finally got off the DLR Becca followed the Google Maps instructions on her phone and was clearly so keen to get to the hotel that as I hurried to keep up with her I almost fell over. Unfortunately it was really confusing trying to find the hotel as it was next to a river, lots of areas were blocked off and there was construction work everywhere. At one point I could see the hotel but couldn’t tell how to get there. We even had to duck under a chain (or crawl under in my case) to get to the pavement. I could see Becca getting increasingly frustrated and was relieved when we finally reached our hotel.

Last year we’d booked a twin room and had arrived to find we’d been given a double bed but decided to just put up with it. This year we were actually given twin beds but they were so close together it might as well have been a double. We were so tired that neither of us cared and within an hour we were both in bed.

Neither of us slept particularly well but we couldn’t have a lie-in as we had a slot booked at Madame Tussauds for between 9:45AM – 10AM, and as the jubilee line was down we had to allow for more time to get there. I got up feeling like an absolute zombie but managed to throw some clothes on and we were out by 8:15AM.

The trip to Madame Tussauds turned out not to be too difficult but we did both nearly fall asleep on the first bus. We were a bit early so we grabbed a drink and then played I Spy to pass the time. In the final round I nearly murdered Becca ‘cos her one was stupid (“I spy with my little eye something beginning with T” – answer turned out to be ‘Transport’). Whilst we were playing we joined the queue and before we knew it we were inside.

I hadn’t been to the Madame Tussauds London since I was about 12 with my Mum – we came to London for the day, queued three hours to buy our tickets and by the time we were done it was all we’d had time to do. With Becca we bought our tickets in advance meaning we got in a lot quicker. As it was a Saturday it was quite busy but it was worth it, we love places with lots of photo opportunities and that’s pretty much what Madame Tussauds is for!

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We took tons of photos in every room and I’m happy with most of them, I wish my hair had looked a bit better but that’s life I guess. We had our photo taken on the ride mid-way through Madame Tussauds but neither of us liked it very much which was lucky as we didn’t really have the money to spend on anything other than food. They’d also added the Marvel 4D cinema since the last time I went and as a massive Marvel fan I really loved it. The last section was Star Wars themed which went completely over my head but Becca’s a big Star Wars fan so she had lots of photos in there.

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Madame Tussauds had killed an hour or two so when we came out we still had a few hours to go until our train home so Becca asked what I wanted to do. I said I wasn’t sure so with a grin Becca asked if I wanted to go to Kings Cross.

We’d been last year and that had been our absolute downfall, I’d spent way more than necessary at the Harry Potter shop and knew I would again if we went but for some reason we still agreed. As we got on the tube I made Becca agree that we’d only spend £15 each.

When we got to Kings Cross the queue to have your photo taken with the trolley had been cut and we were a bit confused so we decided to go into the shop instead and there was even a queue to get in there. I’ve never seen it so busy in my entire life but it was midday on a Sunday so I guess it made sense. Inside was absolutely rammed so I felt like I couldn’t have a good browse, just getting to Hufflepuff section took about 50 years. It didn’t stop me from buying a Cursed Child lanyard (which I now wear at work like a lame-o) and a Hogwarts Oyster Card holder (as my Hufflepuff one from three years ago had finally bit the dust). Overall I spent about £7. Becca spent about £25, I can’t even remember everything she bought, I know she bought a little Ron necklace to match her Harry one which I’m a bit jealous of. There was a necklace with Luna’s glasses on, I might have to go back and buy that ‘cos it was so cute.

Once we were done in the shop we went and asked about the queue for the trolley photo and the woman informed us it hadn’t been cut it was just so long that we had to go and queue outside so we did that. This was only the third time I’d been but the other times I went it had only taken about 20 minutes max to get your photo taken – we queued for over AN HOUR. We’re such Harry Potter trash I swear to God. We killed time in the queue by doing impressions and just generally messing around until finally it was our turn.

Becca’s been a few times so she’s had her photo taken with every scarf at some point so this time she picked Gryffindor as it matched her outfit. I did the same as I already have Hufflepuff and Slytherin so I only needed Gryffindor and Ravenclaw to complete my collection and Gryffindor matched my outfit. We asked if we could have a picture together and we changed into our actual house scarves (Becca’s a Slytherin and I’m a Hufflepuff) and asked for a fight photo. It came out quite well so when we went in I bought the group one where we’re looking at the camera, Becca bought both group ones and her solo one. Becca ended up going quite a bit over the budget in the end.

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As we’d queued so long to have our photo taken we now had to head back to Euston to grab lunch and head back home. We were both exhausted and kept falling asleep on the first train back but after that we had to change twice until eventually my Mum picked us both up from the station.

Overall it was an awesome weekend, it was great to see Cursed Child again (in better seats) and we’re already talking about going next year and visiting the Studios as well next time which would be so much fun. I’m already going to see the show again with Hirst in August and my friend Janie has mentioned going and seeing it but honestly there is no such thing as too many times with Cursed Child!

Harry Potter Films: Worst to Best

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It’s no secret that I’m a massive Harry Potter fan and since watching Cursed Child my love for the Harry Potter universe has only intensified. So I wanted to put the Harry Potter films in order of my least favourite to my most favourite. I won’t be taking into account the books at all because that would be a completely separate list. So, here goes nothing!

8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One (David Yates, 2010)

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I used to absolutely despise this film because what actually happens? Not an awful lot. When I went to an eight film Harry Potter marathon over the span of a weekend I was dreading re-watching this film but to be fair, it wasn’t as bad a second time. But it’s still definitely the worst film out of the series because it’s just building up to something that’s not delivered because it all happens in part two. Although I wouldn’t go as far to say I hate the film anymore it’s definitely the worst one in the series.

7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two (David Yates, 2011)

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Part 2 is massively more interesting because there’s the battle of Hogwarts and generally just a lot more going on but it’s still towards the bottom of my list. Probably because although I did like the Deathly Hallows movies I still prefer the films that are set completely at Hogwarts, showing lessons and general student life (and obviously Harry, Ron and Hermione’s adventures). It’s also the end of the series which is just generally quite sad.


6. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (David Yates, 2009)

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I know I said I wasn’t going to bring the books into this but actually the book helped me enjoy the film. When I first saw this movie I don’t think I really understood it (I was 12 I think when it was released) and I hadn’t read the books. Years later, when I turned 19 I finally got into reading the Harry Potter series and found myself feeling deflated when I got to the Half Blood Prince book – I was surprised when I ended up really enjoying the book. So I gave the film another chance and ended up enjoying it this time!

It’s still not one of my favourites because I think I enjoyed the book (I keep breaking my own rules) a lot more but I still appreciate this as a film and love it a lot more than I used to. I love that there’s more Luna in this film since she doesn’t enter until the fifth film and she’s one of my favourite characters. I also love the scene where Harry’s taken the liquid luck and goes to Aragog’s funeral with Hagrid and Professor Slughorn. So yes, it’s definitely a film I love more now that I’m older.

5. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Chris Columbus, 2001)

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It’s crazy that I was five when this film came out and that for a while this was the only Harry Potter film to exist. I remember owning it on video and I’d rewatch it over and over again. I tried to get into the books but I just couldn’t do it at the time but I was more than happy to sit and watch the film. I think it’s one of those that because it’s been around for so long though that I’ve seen it so many times that I couldn’t say it’s my favourite. I actually haven’t seen this one in a while, I wouldn’t mind rewatching it.

Ultimately, how can you not love the first film? The film where we’re introduced to Hogwarts for the first time and are introduced to all our iconic favourite characters. This film is a classic and I don’t think a day will ever come where I dislike it.

Quick story – I was at work and told my colleague, Sue, who sits next to me that I was going to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the theatre and she told me she’d never seen a Harry Potter film. I was honestly horrified and was even more horrified to find out my other colleague Shirley hadn’t seen any either. I thought this was weird but I was even more horrified when I asked our seventeen year old apprentice Kelsey what her favourite Harry Potter film was and she replied “I actually haven’t seen any of them.” What are you guys doing? These films are absolute gems!

4. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Alfonso Cuaron, 2004)

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I remember going to see this at the cinema when it was released and it was probably the first Harry Potter film I’d seen at the cinema. Unfortunately I was probably a little bit too young to appreciate it at the time and I remember getting a bit bored so I ran up and down the aisle pretending I was riding a broom stick like Harry (then came home and borrowed our brush so I could carry on pretending in the garden, haha!). Now that I’m older I love this film and fully appreciate it.

There are so many things to love about this film; Harry riding on Buckbeak just looked absolutely amazing, getting introduced to the marauders, Harry casting his first patronus, time travel… There’s just so much to love! This is another film I really want to rewatch now; I haven’t seen it for ages.

3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Chris Columbus, 2002)

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For a long time this was my favourite film from the Harry Potter franchise but unfortunately I think it’s one that I watched too many times. I do still love it obviously but I don’t know. I’m not even particularly sure what made it my favourite, it just was. Interesting fun fact for you all even though this book was the second shortest it is the longest Harry Potter film. It’s just one of those films that you can’t help but love – until you watch it too many times. But it’s definitely still one of my favourites.

2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Mike Newell, 2005)

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When I ask people what their favourite Harry Potter movie is most of them say this one and I can see why. It’s packed full of adventure and it’s sort of the last light-hearted one before everything goes to shit and Voldemort comes back and all that jazz. There are so many iconic and funny moments in this one and I never got bored of rewatching it. Also it’s got a lot of Cedric Diggory in it which is always fun – until the inevitable happens and then it’s just sad again.

Every Harry Potter fan always agrees this movie is awesome and it stays pretty true to the book so it’s a good one to watch!

1. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (David Yates, 2007)

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Back when I’d only seen the films this one was my favourite. I’m not really sure why, I liked the beef with Umbridge and the secrecy around creating Dumbledore’s Army – it was really exciting! It’s been my favourite for ages and most people argue with me and say it’s boring but I completely disagree. It’s definitely my number one favourite.

Due to it being my favourite film I was looking forward to reading the book and this book is my favourite too. However it’s sort of made the film a bit disappointing. This is the longest book and yet this film I believe is the shortest. I suppose a lot if had to be cut ‘cos it does have a lot of side plots, what with Hermione starting SPEW and Ron joining the Quidditch team but even if they’d given these side plots a little nod that would’ve been enough if they didn’t have time for the entirety of it.

Well there you go; those are my favourite Harry Potter films from worst to best! Feel free to leave a comment of your favourite Harry Potter movies.

Review: Bad Apple by Zoje Stage

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I’ve mentioned a few times that I’m attempting to read at least two books per month this year. I’m doing okay so far considering its early March and I’ve just finished book number 11. Book number 11 happened to be ‘Bad Apple’ by Zoje Stage. I’ve not really read much adult fiction, I prefer to stick to Young Adult but I was staying the night at my brothers and wanted something to read. After scanning the shelves of ASDA this book seemed relatively promising so I picked it up.

WARNING: This review will contain spoilers.

The basic plot of the book is that Suzette and Alex have a daughter named Hanna who puts on an innocent front for Alex but with Suzette acts differently. Suzette starts to worry that her daughter’s bad behaviour will turn into something far more sinister. Is Suzette in danger of harm from her own daughter?

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I don’t even know where to start with this book. Before I bought it I gave the first page a quick read and it sounded okay but as I began reading I started to get increasingly irritated. Although the story was told in third person it flipped between the point of view of Suzette and Hanna and God this just really didn’t work. I know Hanna is supposed to be super sinister but ultimately she is still a child and her chapters didn’t seem like anything a child would think or do. Also it took away a lot of the suspense – knowing what Hanna was doing and why she was doing it didn’t leave any mystery.

Hanna is mute and at one point decides to torment her mother by finally speaking and pretending to be someone called ‘Anne-Marie’, the last woman to be accused of witchcraft in France and burnt at the stake. I feel like this would’ve been interesting but because we can read things from Hanna’s point of view we knew she was only pretending to be Anne-Marie and how she’d found out about her and everything. I don’t know. It just really didn’t work for me.

Also Alex was just fucking ridiculous. His daughter had been kicked out of three schools, cut off Suzette’s hair, MADE A FUCKING COLLAGE OF DEAD CORPSES OF WOMEN WITH A PICTURE OF HIS NAKED WIFE IN THE MIDDLE and was like “Aw my little girl is just misunderstood”. I’m surprised Suzette could stand him by the end of the book to be honest.

To be honest though Suzette started to get on my tits towards the end and I could not figure out her relationship with Hanna for the life of me. One minute she’s giving Hanna the finger, basically calling her a little shit and generally acts like she hates her – then Hanna literally tries to burn her alive and then Suzette gets seriously concerned because Hanna may have sprained her wrist? If someone literally tried to set me on fire, child or not, I would not give two shits about what happened to them. One minute Suzette couldn’t stand Hanna then the next she loved her and was willing to do anything for her; regardless of the fact Hanna literally tried to kill her twice. Her attitude kept flipping and I couldn’t keep up with it.

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The book, thankfully, eventually ends and I imagine it was supposed to be all sinister and creepy but it was just stupid. I don’t even care. I hope Hanna does go home to her parents and finishes the fucking job; they’ve been so stupid throughout that they almost deserve it.

Also maybe I’m thick but I couldn’t get to grips with Suzette’s beef with her own mother? She kept making references to how her mother was really crap and I couldn’t really figure out what was going on, like at all. Maybe I’m just an idiot, I don’t know. I did skim over a lot of bits to be fair ‘cos this was a difficult read – difficult in the sense it was a bit fucking boring.

In terms of storyline, there doesn’t even really appear to be one. Hanna is trying to kill her Mom… That’s the entire basis of the book. There’s no suspense, anything… Hanna doesn’t even creep me out because she just seemed so unrealistic throughout the entire book.

The one redeeming quality was that I did finish this book quite quickly and was eager to see what happened at the end – I was disappointed with what did happen ‘cos it was a bit dull but like… Yeah.

I was hoping this book would be similar to ‘Orphan’ or ‘We Need to Talk about Kevin’ but it wasn’t, it was just dreary. A really dreary read.

Overall, I don’t really recommend this book because the entire plot is written on the blurb. Hanna is evil. It upsets Suzette. That’s the whole plot. Feel free to leave a comment on what you thought of the book!