Saturday, October 22, 2011

London Diary, Day Six: Harry Potter’s London

Deb: Today I took one of the tours I had been waiting for with bated breath. Harry Potter’s London! Okay, let me start with the disclaimer. It is impossible to do a single Harry Potter walk given the fact that the “real” locations are spread all over the very large city. So our walk was concentrated on a two-hour tour (a two-hour tour ...) of walking and, as such, they had to do some stretching. But as I am the type of character who cannot be daunted when I am interested in something, I was tickled with even the most mundane of facts.
Deb and Big Ben can’t wait for Potter tour!
We started by the Thames at the Parliament buildings for our first Potter locale. My picture is waaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyy far off as I am using my iphone for this trip in an effort to keep it simple. This farrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry offffffffffffyyyyyyyyyyy photo shows the bridge from Prisoner of Azkaban where the triple-decker bus had to squeeze for its life between two other buses. Next stop was the tube turnstiles at Westminster where Ron couldn’t get his ticket through. Next stop was my back is killing me and I have pins and needles down my left leg. Try to figure out what film that was from!
Triple-decker bus escape!
Ron can’t get through the turnstiles.
Moving on with the real Potter tour, we went to 10 Downing Street, which as you know is the residence of the Prime Minister. Our guide recalled for us a scene in the Half Blood Prince where the Prime Minister heard a cough from a painting that ended up being a message from the Ministry of Magic appearing in the fireplace.
 Scotland Yard. Harry, Hermione and Ron try to sneak in to M of M!
Death Eaters would not dare show their faces on such a fine day!
He Who Must Not Be Named has found another gig, clearly!
Guy in green is standing where Ron peeked around looking for danger. 
Scotland Yard supplied our next Potter location with Ron peeking around looking out for enemies and the phone box appearing under the stone overpass as they dialed the number 62442, which our guide pointed out translates to MAGIC. Next stop: Trafalgar Square where the Death Eaters flew menacingly, threatening London and the world. 
10 Downing Street-Ministry of Magic needed more than ever!

The phone booth magically appears
The last spot we visited was a wonderful little alley of bookshops, which was actually suggested to me by Barb’s friend. This was the alley that inspired Diagon Alley! So wonderful, I browsed for an hour after the tour. 
J.K.'s model for Diagon Alley
Our guide finished the tour with a fact that you may well know but I did not. When J.K. Rowling finished the first book she submitted it by her name which is Joanne Rowling. Her publisher told her that her book could be a big hit with boys but it would not be if she published it under a woman’s name and suggested she do initials. So she kept the J, and took her Grandmother’s name of Katherine. Wow, never changes for women, does it?

After the tour I had a bite and went to the National Portrait Gallery, which was amazing. They had an exhibit featuring the “first actresses” which was as fine an exhibit as I have ever seen. The main feature for me was the actress “Sarah Siddons” who was one of the few actresses at the time who did not rise to her status from the brothel. I also had no idea she was a real person as I had figured they made up the name “The Sarah Siddons Society” in the movie “All About Eve”.  Exquisite portraits in this gallery. 
The Early Actress series 
 Stunning oil portrait of two loving brothers who happen to be princes.
I could have spent days but my back and the time would not allow. Damn White Rabbit reminding me that I had to get to my husband’s show. Which I did and which was great. I think it is going to be a big hit, so stay tuned. That’s it from London for tonight. I’m your correspondent Deb McGrath signing off. 
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  1. Deb, so thrilled that Colin's show is going well. Can't wait to see it!! Love the Potter tour. Another great idea for a tour. Have mad desire to take walking tours all over now. xo

  2. Sounds fun. Wow love it.The walking tours sound so fun. You have got to see some great things.
    Also I hope your back keeps getting better and better each and everyday Deb.

  3. Good evening/morning. Deb McGrath here reporting from the London office to say that the photos are all screwed up. Many of the captions do not match and the key photo is missing. The one of Diagon Alley. Barb said that they came in out of the order of the captions and she paired them up as best she could (bless her) and I guess in trying to match up, she left the alley off. I am sure she will fix as soon as she can! Sorry for confusing you all. Doing the best we can with low speed internet, five hours time difference and iphone. Add to that the fact that it is 3:30 am London time and this reporter has a big fat freaking case of insomnia! xo

  4. Lyndsie the walking tours are such fun! My back is a little better tonight. Keep your fingers crossed for me. I plan on doing more walking tours alone and with a guide!

  5. Sorry about the insomnia, Deb!!! Okay, blog pics and captions fixed! And I don't know if it's sympathetic suffering, but I have pain in my shoulder and down my arm and hand like you would not believe (carpal tunnel? RSD??? soo uncomfortable. Makes typing and computering excruciating, argh!!!) Sleep, Deb, my sweet!

  6. Pix are perfect Barb thanks so much. It is 4afigginm. Sleeping pill not working. Won't be worth a fig tomorrow I am afraid. So sorry about your arm. Hope it's not frozen shoulder. Can you move it? If it is, I have great exercises. Carpal tunnel? can it happen all down the arm? How awful for you! Can you please sleep witch me?

  7. Sleep witching you now, my darling! And, yes, give me exercises! (but not till after good night's sleep!) I can move it but not so well. Cramping muscles all up and down, argh!!! Sleeeeeeeep.

  8. That "no sleep" thing... would it have anything to do with "The Wizard of Oz?" Oh, I'm sorry. We're discussing Harry Potter here.

    My favorite picture by far is the one of the alley. I am immediately brought to Diagon Alley, the place where, for me, the magic truly begins. (And where I fell in love with the owl.) I'm afraid I didn't finish reading the HP series, but this still would have been a cool tour.
    Were there families on this tour, or kids who've read the books? It must have been a kick seeing the looks on their faces.

    It doesn't seem to matter what camera you use. You are a wonderful photographer. You have a good eye for color and interesting stuff. (I hope I haven't confused you with the technical words there.)

    I am DEFINITELY looking forward to seeing how this tv show turns out, and where and when, too. Could be lots of laughs. ;)

    (If there is any chance of the kids joining me for a drink or something before or after the Nov 4th shows, my email is:

    (I figured it couldn't hurt to ask.)

  9. Loved the tour even though I didn't read one Harry Potter book or see any of the movies. Feel better. It seems to be taking a long time to get that good back, back. Hope your kidneys are okay.

  10. Hi Dawn, Yeah the Wizard of Oz thing was great fun and kept me from losing it last night. There were many kids on the walk and most were extremely well versed in all thing Potter. At the end of the tour, the guide asks for a round of applause for those people on the tour who don't give a fig about Harry but came to support a friend or loved one. Out of fifty-two, there were three and we gave them a rousing ovation. Madge my kidneys are just fine thanks for asking. The back isn't that painful except after long really every day but the leg is still pins and needles. I will deal with it when I get home. It will not heal without treatment and that will just have to wait. Thanks for asking.

  11. These are delightful!!!! I feel like I am walking through London with you and learning so much. I have never been there, but I now know what I'll do when I go. So glad Colin's show was a huge success. I admire your enthusiasm to keep on exploring with a sore back!!! Hope it gets better soon.

  12. LOVED that you got to do this! When I was in Edinburgh, I went to the restaurant known as "The Birthplace of Harry Potter." It was called The Elephant House (look it up! It is a delightful little place.)

    I do hope your back gets better! Joint injuries are the worst, aren't they? Still enduring near-chronic pain from a sprain almost 2 years ago (still working on a solution. Just need a dear friend of mine called time). Sending you lots of well wishes from Kentucky!! Can't wait to see the new show! :]

  13. oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh HARRY POTTER!!!!!!

    I did get a chance to visit 10 Downing Street and I was on a river boat tour when I passed under the bridge from movie 6...needless to say, a bunch of American girls started freaking out! Absolutely beautiful shot of Trafalgar (LOVED that place). Saw the last movie at a 3D IMAX theater in Kingston-upon-Thames and it was easily one of the most memorable experiences of my time there!

    On another note, I really hope that you start feeling better soon! Hugs from Kentucky! :)

  14. P.S. Also bought all seven paperback limited edition cover Bloomsbury published Harry Potter books! Love them! :)

  15. P.P.S LOVE the Big Ben picture!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) here's me!

  16. Lunnon town- Potterized or not - always a kick. And the pictures r great I cont w the vote for the ally shot.
    Sorry to hear the back is still aching. Have you tried accupuncture? Just a thought.

    Looking forward to more of The Adventures of Deb and Her Colin.

  17. Thanks Mary-Jo, insomnia kept me up until four thirty and as a result did not do tons of walking today. Back is thanking me so maybe it was meant to be. Thanks Holly glad you could relate to the Harry blog. I will take those good wishes from Kentucky and put them in my pocket. Feeling better today. Sharon I am so glad you commented. Welcome! At this point I am using advil, heating pad and common sense. I will deal with it full on when we get home! But thanks!

  18. Deb, I also love your little "oh, by the way, here's Colin and that tv show thing" picture you tacked on to the end of the scenery pics. Touring, shopping, food... THOSE are the priorities! LOL

  19. Yay . . . you made it to Cecil Court/Diagon Alley . . . what a wonderful place to spend an afternoon!

    Laura in ATL

  20. YAY!!!!! You know this is the London I was most geeked about (in fact I did a similar in Edinburgh where I went to the cafe where she started and hotel where she finished the writing)--surprised there is no King's Cross 9 3/4 pic! I didn't do a formal tour so THAT and searching for the Leaky Cauldron entrance (hard when the street is FULL of book stores and plum CLEAR of record stores). Loved seeing these other sites though!

  21. Enjoyed this so much, Deb. Thanks!!! Great that Colin's show is going well too.
    love and hugs from Montreal Annie

  22. Thanks so much for letting us journey with you across London Deb! Since I just had an insanely busy work week, followed by a just as busy weekend and am now realizing I've got to do it all over again tomorrow, it's wonderful to be able to vacation through your blogs!
    I love London! Been there a few times. The only walking tour I've done is a Beatles tour, which was alot of fun. Next time I go, I should look into more of them. I definitely want to go on the Harry Potter tour!!
    Hope your back heals soon! Back pain is awful ...


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