Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Cefn Onn Park

As I'm about to move out of Cardiff (again) in a few weeks I thought I'd share one of my favourite places in the city, Cefn Onn Park. 

Cefn Onn Park is in the Lisvane area of Cardiff and thankfully very close to where my parent's house is, even when I was in Caerphilly it was only a 15 minute drive away from my house. I've probably spent hours and hours here over the years, walked a variety of dogs and seen it through all seasons. It's really a wonderful place for a walk at any time of the year. 

Once you're out of the car park and you've walked under the M4, the further into the park you get the more the roar of the motorway fades until you hardly hear it and you could be in the middle of the countryside and not in a capital city. It had a huge variety of trees and plants, as well as a pretty impressive pond.

Once you've headed up the paths you come to an open field boarding Llanishen golf course, a great place for picnics as long as you watch out for golf balls coming your way! You're afforded a stunning view of the trees within the park too from the field.

I feel like I've let people into a bit of a secret when it comes to this place, but I think it's one worth sharing. I'm going to miss being so close to it when we move to Monmouth, hopefully we'll find equally lovely places to walk close to our home when we get there.


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Visiting the Harry Potter Studios

For my birthday this year Jon treated me to a day out at the Harry Potter Studios, a place I'd been before but when he asked what I wanted to do for my birthday this seemed like a great idea for the giant Potter nerd that I am. We had to book the tickets back in March to get the time slot we wanted, having learnt our lesson after we attempted to get tickets to go last November and they were sold out ages before.

It was an absolutely sweltering day, the complete opposite to the freezing cold weather I experienced last time I was there. Things had changed a little since my last visit, last time I just waltzed in and joined the queue near the cupboard under the stairs, but this time there was a huge queue for security checks to get in. Jon strolled through the checks but I had to get my bag searched, which was actually more thorough than any airport bag check I've ever been through.

I won't spoil the first bit of the tour for those who have yet to visit, so I'll jump straight to the Great Hall. I love this part of the tour so much, if it wasn't for all the other visitors and for looking up and not seeing the Enchanted Ceiling, you could be at Hogwarts. It was amazing to get to see the costumes up close, especially seeing Daniel Radcliffe's costumes and how Harry changed over the years. 

Out in the main studio area you're free to wander around with no long lines of people waiting to see things, which is nice and gave a much more relaxed feeling as you could take as long as you wanted looking at sets. After seeing the Gryffindor common room up close, I don't know why you'd want to be in any other house when it comes to such a cosy room to hang out in.

Hello random person taking a selfie with us...

There have been a few changes and additions since my last visit. I don't remember seeing The Burrow set previously, but I loved it. I've always thought it sounded cosy from the description in the books, as well as how it's portrayed in the films and the set really did a good job of making it feel homely.

I've not included any photos here as it's so new, but the Forbidden Forest part of the tour is great fun. I won't spoil it but lets just say that if thunder and lightening scare you, you may want to skip it...

When we headed out into the backlot I discovered that things had changed out there too. There is now a large eating area, we contemplated getting something but it was packed so we decided to skip it. The Knightbus is still going strong, though strangely most people seemed to be taking photos next to it but not going on to have a look. I was disappointed to see that Tom Riddle's grave has been moved inside and placed way up in the roof space, that was one of my favourite props when I last visited.

The biggest surprise for me came when I realised that they've now opened up part of the Dursley's house! I was so excited to be able to go in this time, and loved the letters flying around the living room.

Back inside was probably Jon's favourite part of the tour. He's not a fan of Harry Potter really, he's seen the films but not read the books (don't worry, it's a mission I will one day complete), however he's really into design as a product design teacher so he seemed much more into this part. This part of the tour felt the most cramped, there were large groups of teenagers from tour groups going through at the same time as us so the room filled up pretty quickly. Having said that, I still managed to see everything.

After we'd finished the tour and I'd had a very comprehensive browse around the gift shop (hello new Deathly Hallows keyring) we headed to the restaurant for a quick sandwich and something to drink. Our ticket for entry to the tour was at 12.30pm so we'd pretty much spent lunch in there so I was in need of food by the time we got out.

It was a really magical way to celebrate my birthday, something I'd recommend to any Harry Potter fan out there. I can feel a summer of re-reading the books coming on...
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