Everyday Is A Miracle

Be happy and enjoy every single bite of it


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Chelsea Football Stadium Tour

If the boy’s wishes was to visit Legoland and Harry Potter Studio in London, and while my wish was to see the beautiful castles in any parts of the UK, then daddy’s wish was to visit one of the football stadium in UK since he is a big fan of football. He finally chose Chelsea Football Stadium simply because it was the closest to our hotel.

His first choice was to visit MU base camp, until this happened:

Daddy: What is the easiest and shortest way to go to Manchester United Football Stadium?

The boy: (searching in his tab for a few minutes, then answer calmly) It will take one hour and ten minutes from London……………………………………….by British Airways………………….

Daddy: What…………..????!!!????? Ok, just cancel it then. We’ll just go to the nearest one from where we will stay………

And that was it.

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Stamford Bridge in the morning, where Chelsea Stadium was located. We would love to explore the area if only we had more time

His options were Arsenal or Chelsea being the two nearest from our hotel. I preferred Arsenal just because I loved red color better than blue (red for Arsenal and blue for Chelsea), although I knew nothing about both teams. For practical reason, we finally decided to visit Chelsea Stadium because it was so close to our hotel. Besides, daddy said that Chelsea was a better team than Arsenal (I don’t if that is true or not, since, once again, I knew nothing about both teams and didn’t bother to find out either…………..).

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A short walk from tube station to Chelsea Football Stadium

Apparently, being the closest one from the hotel was also the reason for other participants who joined the tour. Well, I assumed actually because when the tour guide asked who was each tour participant’s favorite football team, no one answered Chelsea. When he asked who was their favorite football player, none of the answers were one of the Chelsea’s team member, hahaha………………oh that poor man, he looked a bit discouraged…………..but the show must go on……………..

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Yes…………Chelsea Football Club

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It was like a dream come true for this man

For information about tickets and tour time, you can open this website: http://www.chelseafc.com/the-club/stadium-tours-and-museum.html

We bought the ticket online one day before the tour because it was cheaper by 10%. We just had to show our e-tickets to the staff and we didn’t have to print them.

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Our future football player

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Chelsea FC players with daddy

All of the pictures above were taken outside the stadium. Before we could enter the stadium, there were security guards who checked our bags, but they didn’t ask why we wanted to go inside. Here are some pictures outside the stadium and in the souvenir stores: (although the sun was shining brightly, but it was very cold…………..)

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The front side of the stadium. There were two souvenir stores, the big one was in the left side of this building, and the other one was at the very back of this stadium (in different building)

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Outside the souvenir store

Since we came too early, we spent our time wandering around in the big souvenir store, and we felt that we wanted to buy everything if we could. I especially loved the all blue Christmas decorations because they were so classic and would look beautiful in our “future” Christmas tree………….since we didn’t have a Christmas tree yet

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Stamford Bridge in the old time

The nearest tube station from Chelsea Football Stadium was Fulham Broadway, and there were clear signs of where to go from the tube station (it was the shortest walk ever to our destination from the tube station).

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We Are Chelsea

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This way please………………..

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Chelsea Football Stadium which was very quiet that day since there was no game

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Blue color dominated the area

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We still had time before tour started at 10 am (which was the earliest tour time that day), so we looked around the souvenir shop

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So cute…………..I just loved these blue Christmas decorations

Tour started from the smaller souvenir store and inside the museum building. We showed our e-tickets to the staff, then she gave us each a neck lanyard custom printed with the name “Chelsea Football Club” which we had to use as our ID during the tour. Later on, we could bring home all the lanyards.

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We were so excited to start the tour

The tour started on time with one tour guide for every tour session, and lasted for about 1 hour. The tour guide took us outside the museum building and entered the stadium through one of the stadium door.

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Chelsea fans also bring their little ones to the game, the stadium has special area for family with little children

Our tour guide started the tour by asking us to introduce ourselves and where we came from, and well…………….all of us were tourists since none of us came from UK, but to our surprise, there was one family who also came from Singapore. Oh what a small world, hahaha……………..I mean, that family also chose the same date and time with us for their stadium tour was quite amazing to me.

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A happy face…………………to finally be able to stand inside a football stadium in London was like a dream come true……………….

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Anyway, he was kind of hoping to see Eden Hazard that day…………….hahaha………..which he knew was impossible of course………………

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Special seats with heater (seriously…………….), but only for VVIP

By the way, the field is also heated during winter time, so the players can still play during winter time.

 

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My favorite picture of the day…………

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He especially wore Chelsea shirt that day

The tour guide then brought us to the press room which could accommodate hundreds of journalists from all around the world. The press room facilities were included free internet and hot and cold food and beverages for the journalists. The team manager, coach, and one of the football player will answer questions after the games end. Sometimes, new players also sign their contracts here in front of the press

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Acting as football coach…………..

Next stop was the players room, complete with a kitchen, shower room, lockers, and massage facility. Although the tour was short, but we still had plenty of times taking pictures (and sometimes the last ones in the group because mamarazzi was busy taking photos here and there, hahaha……………). By the way, do you know that players have to take ice cold bath to ease their muscles after the games?

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What a life for the football players………………….but after a 90 minutes game, who doesn’t need a massage?

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Can you spot Hazard’s shirt?

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John Terry’s locker

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Some of the players that used to play against Chelsea

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Even the boy enjoyed the tour

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The long sleeve shirt belonged to Chelsea goalkeeper Asmir Begovic

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Picture taken while the tour guide was busy explaining about the room and the players………

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What’s inside the locker?

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Another picture inside the player’s room

After one hour, the tour ended in the souvenir store……………hahaha, so smart of the tour organizer to bring us to the souvenir store at the end……………where we could purchase our pictures (which we didn’t do) and buy some souvenirs to take home.

After some shopping, we headed back to the museum because we hadn’t seen what was inside the museum. It was not big, but there were many interesting things to see. Oh, and we could choose and watch some of the games that the teams had played for years in the big screen.

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When we were at the museums, the boy busied himself by taking pictures of almost all things that he saw.

There was also a small room which allowed us to play football (but all the pictures were blur, so I don’t attach any of them in this post)

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The sponsors of the club

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Trophies………………….

You will need at least 1 hour in the museum and 1 hour in the souvenir shop, so prepare at least 3 hours to tour around this stadium.

That was the end of our memorable tour in one of the Football Stadium in London.


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London At Night

When I was looking at almost 5000 pictures and videos that we took from our London Trip 2016, I realized that 1/3 of them were taken at night time. So I decided to put some of them in this post as a contrast to my previous post which showed us in our day time walking tour.

London at night time was also beautiful and to our surprise, even though it was very cold, it was also very crowded. These pictures were all taken with our phone camera, Samsung S7 Edge.  Although they were not as sharp as if we had taken them with a DSLR camera, but I think they were still okay and presentable in this post, hahaha………….

Once again, prepare to overuse your feet when you explore this city since it’s going to be a long walk from the tube station, and then to the next destination, and back again to the tube station. Sometime I even envied the children who sat down comfortably in the stroller while their parents pushed them, hahaha…………………………the worst part was the first day when we arrived, but after that our feet adapted well to the long walk and it didn’t feel so painful again at the end of the day.

First stop, let’s see Big Ben and London streets at night, then we walk along Thames River, and then we’ll continue walking to see London Eye at night time which of course is very different and colorful than at daytime.

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Big Ben at night. It was freezing cold…………

 

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The iconic red double decker London buses and Big Ben

 

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The statue of Winston Churchill

From here, we crossed the street to get a closer look of Big Ben, the we crossed the street again and walked along Thames River.

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Big and bright Big Ben in front of busy streets

 

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Thames River at night

 

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The view from Thames River

 

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London Eye in red color. The buildings in front of it was in blue color. The color of the buildings would change every few minutes

 

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A closer look of London Eye in red color

 

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The building in front of London Eye had turned color into blue. Since it was already dinner time and we couldn’t find any restaurants nearby, we finally ate in McDonald’s in the blue building (the only eating place nearby that we could find and it was full with long queue)

 

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London Eye and Thames River in the background

 

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In front of McDonald’s where we could see Big Ben stood still far far away (and still, we had to go back there to go back to the tube station)

 

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Walking home……………and that ended our Do It Ourselves Walking Tour that night

One thing that you can’t miss when visiting London in winter time is Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. Located in the one of the most famous parks in London, which is Hyde Park, Winter Wonderland is a festive events where the park is transformed into a magical wonderland of winter festivities. The entrance is free but you will have to pay to enjoy the activities.

The nearest tube station would be Knightsbridge or Green Park or Hyde Park Corner

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Walking from Green Park to Hyde Park

 

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Red telephone box, and of course we had to stop to take photos……..

 

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First things first, bag check by the security guard before we could enter. It was weekday night, but still, very crowded inside

They were an open air ice rink, Magical Ice Kingdom, circus show, ice dancing, Giant Observation Wheel, rides and attractions, Christmas markets, and food and drink to enjoy. For some attractions, you have to buy the tickets online. For more information you can open the website: http://hydeparkwinterwonderland.com/

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Mostly in red color souvenirs

 

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Angels Christmas Market. We just loved to see but didn’t buy anything

 

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On the background: the very scary ride that could turn into a 360 -degree angle.


 

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Marshmallow toasting…………..you don’t have marshmallows? Don’t worry, you can just warm up in here. So romantic…………

 

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Rides and markets

 

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Churros food stall…………….yummy…………..

 

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Spanish churros coated with sugar or chocolate……………

 

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The boy’s first chocolate coated churros, and he loved it!

 

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Blizzard ride, anyone dare to try…….?

 

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Wondering around in Winter wonderland

 

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Blink blink Roller coaster

 

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Chips and Dips

 

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In the background was not a Carousel, but a rotating bar

 

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Where should we go now?

 

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Popcorn stall with big giraffe on the roof

 

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Colorful rides

There were still many things to see, but we were too tired too continue (plus it was very cold), so we went back to the hotel although we still loved to see other things around the park.

We also especially went out at night time to see Tower Bridge. Why did we go to see the Tower Bridge at night? Because the boy really wanted to see the bridge being lifted up. During our trip, Bridge Lift Times was only scheduled on the first day that we arrived, so even though we were super tired, we dragged ourselves down from the bed and changed clothes and had a quick dinner at the nearest KFC, and almost ran to the tube station. The nearest station was Tower Hill, and from Tower Hill, it was still a long walk (again) to Tower Bridge.

 

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Tower Hill Pier. I’m not so sure if you can enter the pier at daytime and get very close to the bridge, but at night time, we just walked through to the edge of the pier

 

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Tower Bridge in purple color

To learn more about Tower Bridge lifting times, you can check in this website: http://www.towerbridge.org.uk/lift-times/

 

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Tower Bridge at night. A perfect spot to watch the bridge being lifted

 

 

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Yes, it’s happening. The bridge was lifted before a big boat came

 

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The boy was confused of why we kept taking pictures instead of watching the attraction, hahaha………..

 

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Closing time

 

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Beautiful view of Tower Bridge at night

It was almost midnight time and finally, it was time to go back to the hotel……………img_6651 Tower Hill Station, time to go back……….

 

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K.O………………the train stopped several times because of technical problem, and he was just asleep during the ride

 

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Back in Hammersmith where our hotel was located: Chirstmas Tree in Lyric Square in Hammersmith

 

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London bus in Hammersmith

 

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Still hungry? Let’s buy some cakes in Patisserie Valerie in Hammersmith

And that was all that I have . Mostly, we choose to stay at the hotel at night time because we were very tired. The boy loved to watch the British Channel on TV (no other options, only local channels that were provided by the hotels), and he even downloaded the app to see the movies and shows online. Sadly, the app couldn’t be opened outside UK, so he can’t watch his favorite shows and channels in Singapore.


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One Fine Day in London, A Beautiful City………..

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Buckingham Palace

It was so fortunate that the weather was just so nice during our London Trip, and by nice means no rain at all during our trip. I monitored the weather forecast since one month before our trip, and it was mostly raining in some of the days, and that made us a little worried. Even the weather forecast said it was going to rain on some of the days during our trip, so I had to plan carefully of when we had to go for indoor and outdoor attractions based on the weather forecast, but as always, things didn’t always work out the way we had planned.

So we were so thankful that we had good weather for that one week during our trip. It was cold because it was winter, but no snow at all (which made the boy a bit disappointed because he really wanted to see the snow). The temperature could drop to less than zero (Celsius), but it wasn’t too windy. So as long as we kept on walking, we felt warmer…………….but when we stopped walking (for taking pictures usually), it started to feel really cold.

Since it was winter, it started getting dark at around 4 to 4.30 pm, and most of the attractions closed early during winter time. Our friend said it would be best if we we could enjoy outdoor activities until night time and most of the attractions open until night time. I will say that for us, going on winter time gave different feeling and experiences, especially because we live in a country where the sun shines 365 days in a year and we can’t live without air con every single day (the weather just feels hotter everyday). Besides, it was almost Christmas, and we loved to see Christmas decorations almost everywhere. It gave warm feelings although it was cold outside.

Do we need thermal underwear when we go on a trip during winter time? Since it wasn’t snowing, I didn’t wear thermal underwear, but it was just fine for me. Mostly, I only wore turtle neck long sleeve top as the first layer and my winter jacket or a long coat as the second layer. Sometimes, I also wore a mini dress on top of my long sleeve shirt and changed the winter jacket with a sweater. At night time, which was cooler, I wore 3 layers of clothes including a winter jacket. Most important things for me were gloves, hat, and winter socks. Daddy, who couldn’t stand very cold weather, wore thermal underwear, long sleeve shirt, a sweater, and topped with heavy and thick winter jacket. The boy sometimes wore his thermal underwear, and sometimes he didn’t, but since he handled cold better than us, it was no problem.

So, for layering of clothes during early winter time in London, it will depend on how resistant you are to cold weather. For cheaper options of winter clothes with good quality in Singapore, try shopping at Decathlon Bedok. Thermal underwear, socks, gloves, hats, waterproof pants, sweater in good quality were cheaper than let’s say: Uniqlo or other winter clothes stores at the mall. For winter jackets, they are varied from not so expensive to very expensive ones. Of course, we don’t talk about the newest fashion or styles when shopping here, but for something that we rarely use, I still think that it’s worth the money. Plus, we loved the concept of this sport store and the boy and me even tried to ride their bicycles around the store several times (oh and he also tried the roller skate, scooter, played badminton, soccer, and basketball). So we ended up doing many things inside the store instead of focusing on searching for our winter clothes, hahaha………..

Start the day by having a good breakfast

Start the day by having a good breakfast. Don’t worry, we were going to burn some calories later, so big breakfast was okay, hahaha…………….This was actually our breakfast on the last day, but believe me, we did eat a lot like that everyday, or even more…………….

Now that we were ready with appropriate clothes for winter, we would start to explore this beautiful city (mostly on foot) for the whole day.

This would be our “Do It Yourself” Walking tour, or as my son said: “Free and Easy Days”. There were so many options and so many things that we wanted to see, but at the end, we had to choose (and it wasn’t easy at all) of what we really wanted to see in such a limited time.

The actual itineraries for our one day walking tour were as follows:

  1. Buckingham Palace
  2. St. James’s Park
  3. London Eye
  4. Big Ben
  5. Westminster Abbey
  6. Trafalgar Square
  7. (by tube to) Tower of London
  8. London Bridge

That was the ideal plan, but we actually couldn’t do all those in one day because there was 1 day that the boy didn’t feel well so we had to stay back at the hotel for 3/4 of the day. The next half day day he was still in recovery so we didn’t want him to get too tired and took a cab or walked slowly according to his pace. We could have planned everything well, but sometimes something happened in the last minute and we just had to go with it and still be happy and enjoy our holiday. After all, we were just so happy that he recovered fast and stayed healthy for the rest of the trip.

That day, we ended up with itineraries as follows:

  1. Buckingham Palace
  2. St. James’s Park
  3. Lunch at The Orangery Kensington Palace
  4. Kensington Garden
  5. Tower of London
  6. Dinner in Wagamama Restaurant near Tower of London
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We started early in the morning. During winter, the sun arose at around 7.30 to 8 in the morning and dark came very early, so we had to maximise our times . The photo was taken near our hotel in Hammersmith

 

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Hammersmith in the morning, where we saw people walked to the office and kids walked to school. Pret A  Manger on the background was a restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner

 

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Morning market in Hammersmith

 

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Morning market in Hammersmith which didn’t open everyday

 

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The Swan Hotel and Restaurant which was just across Hammersmith tube station

 

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Can you spot double decker red bus on the background?

On this free and easy days, we would be staying outdoor most of the time (except when we had lunch and dinner), so of course we had to wear very comfortable shoes. Sport shoes, sneakers, walking shoes, flat shoes, or anything that are comfortable for your feet for a long walk are highly recommended.

We started tour own walking tour by visiting Buckingham Palace. There is a Changing Of The Guard Attraction for tourists which I’m sure would be very interesting (we didn’t do it because we came on the wrong day). The schedule can be seen in this website: http://changing-guard.com/dates-buckingham-palace.html

The nearest tube station from Buckingham Palace would either be St. James’s Park or Victoria. We alighted at St. James’s Park and walked around 20 minutes to Buckingham Palace. Since we knew there wasn’t a changing of the guard attraction that day, we just walked slowly while looking around and took photos along the way. The walk to Buckingham Palace was also very interesting since we loved to see British houses like we saw on TV, red telephone box that surely was one of the icon of London (and you must stop and take picture when you see one), old mailbox like in Peanuts movie, a lonely chapel on the street, but most of all, we really enjoyed walking on a very quiet street in the morning.

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Quiet street in the morning

 

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Westminster Chapel across the street

 

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The real old red mailbox

 

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Red Telephone box, my favorite one

 

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Vintage buildings

 

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Entrance door to a house. Very lovely…………….

After exactly 20 minutes, we finally saw the crowd (first) before we saw the huge Buckingham Palace surrounded by tall gates. Basically, you can’t go near the palace. You can only see it from outside the gates.

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Buckingham Palace tall gates

 

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This was not holiday season yet, but it was already full of people. Imagine how crowded this place would be once the holiday season starts

We actually just planned to just see the palace and took some pictures very quickly and then continued to other destinations, but it turned out that there were many things to see around the palace. The boy was also taking his own leisure time taking pictures and videos of the things nearby. So we ended up staying near the palace for almost 1.5 hours.

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The carriage horses of the royal family passed by several times while we were around the palace. So we just waited to see what else would pass by after that

 

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The Queen Victoria Memorial across Buckingham Palace

 

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The boy was busy taking pictures and videos with Buckingham Palace in the background

 

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The central monument, was created by Sir Thomas Brock

 

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The gates, piers, balustrades and retaining walls of the Memorial Gardens are all protected landmarks

 

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Can you spot London Eye in the background? We could walk from the palace to London Eye

 

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The boy was still busy taking pictures and most of the time, walked and explored the area on his own

 

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A foggy day in London Town (reminds me of the song “A Foggy Day in London Town” by Micheal Buble)

 

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The fountain in The Queen Victoria Memorial

 

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The monument was built to commemorate the death of Queen Victoria in 1901

 

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The Memorial Gardens was across The Victoria Memorial

To go to the Memorial Gardens, we had to cross the street. We then continued walking on the pavement before we spotted St. James’s Park on the right side.

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Policeman with big and tall horse

 

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The band walked along the street. This was one of the best spot to take pictures

We then walked inside St. James’s Park which was very pretty, and we loved it the minute we saw it. There were pigeons, ducks, squirrel, herons, and other birds. Such beautiful color that we saw in the very quiet park that day. We didn’t see the whole area in the park since it was quite big and we were also tired of walking. There should be a lot more to see and this was just some parts of the park, but the point is……………we loved it so much and if it wasn’t very cold outside, we could spend the whole day here and also looked for pelicans and playground. There was also a small food and beverage kiosk inside the park near the toilet, so no need to worry if you want something hot and yummy along the way.

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St. James’s park, the oldest royal park in London

 

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Moat around a small island in St James’s Park.

 

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Beautiful warm colors

 

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I felt in love with the color of the tree, such a contrast to its surrounding

 

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It was just so unimaginable that behind those trees were the streets full of people and cars

 

Rest................

Rest…………….

 

 

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Where should we go next? Let’s see the itinerary……………

 

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Signage……..where to go…………….

 

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A man was feeding a squirrel

 

Crossing the bridge

Crossing the bridge

 

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A cold and foggy day

 

Westminster Abbey in the background (it would take another 15 to 20 minutes to walk to Westminster Abbey)

Westminster Abbey in the background (it would take another 15 to 20 minutes to walk to Westminster Abbey)

 

Beautiful scenery

Beautiful scenery

 

The trees' shadows in the water............I would love to just stand on the bridge and looked at the shadows again and again (but it was too cold to do that, hahaha........)

The trees’ shadows in the water…………I would love to just stand on the bridge and looked at the shadows again and again (but it was too cold to do that, hahaha……..)

 

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Looking at the water which started to turn into ice, so the birds could walk on the water

 

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A good way to warm up was to jump…………….

 

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We loved falling leaves

 

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A walk in the park

 

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Cold but happy

 

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Statue of a boy

 

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Into the woods………………….. (the right side of the park looked like the woods)

 

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Outside St James’s Park. It would be wonderful to have a house right across the park

The next best thing to do was to actually continue the walking to London Eye, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey. Since we already visited them the night before, we changed the plan to Kensington Palace to experience having an afternoon tea in the city of London (I will be writing about The Orangery later).

The nearest tube station would be High Street Kensington, and after that we still had to walk for another 20 to 25 minutes on very busy streets.

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St Mary Abbots Parish Church, Kensington

 

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We walked along very busy streets

The highlight of our visit was none other than the very beautiful Kensington Garden. We were so happy that we could see two beautiful gardens in one day, and really hoped that we extend our trip to see other beautiful gardens too. This calm and peaceful place called Kensington Garden was a contrast to the outside world which was very busy and crowded. The boy was also very excited and he didn’t stop taking pictures and videos on his own.

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The very spacious Kensington Garden

 

We had to walk through this area to get into Kensington palace

We had to walk through this area to get into Kensington Palace

 

The back gate of Kensington Palace

The back gate of Kensington Palace

 

It seemed like an unending walking that day

It seemed like an unending walking that day, and yes, we still had to walk through that long road at the back

 

 

The entrance door to Kensington Palace

The entrance door to Kensington Palace

 

Since we were there to have lunch at the Orangery Restaurant, we didn't enter the palace

Since we were there to have lunch at the Orangery Restaurant, we didn’t enter the palace. You will have to pay to enter Kensington Palace

 

Beautiful lake with pretty white swans

Beautiful lake with pretty white swans which were friendly to people who wanted to take pictures with them

 

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White swans, ducks, and birds. Some people fed them and they were pretty tame actually

 

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So blue……………..

 

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A very excited boy, he explored the area around the lake by himself and took good photos and videos,

 

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while the parents were also busy taking pictures of themselves and not the view, hahaha……………

 

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Me and the white swans. Can I take one of them home………….?

 

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Another photo by the lake

 

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If we hadn’t had another plan to visit Tower of London, we would have stayed here for hours

 

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Finally, the photo of the boy and the view

Wow, that was a very long walk for the day, and we enjoyed it so much. We loved being outdoor, we liked the parks so much, but it was very tiring. Most of the tourist attractions are easily reached by tube or bus, but after that you will still need to walk and walk and walk and it will seem like an unending journey for your feet.

After that, how we still managed to take the tube to Tower Hill and explored The Tower of London was unimaginable, but that will be another story for another day………………

Back to Hammersmith in the evening.............we were very glad and relieve that we finally back to

Back to Hammersmith in the evening………….we were very glad and relieve that we finally back to the hotel that day, because we really needed to rest our feet and our bodies and sleep……………


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Free Museums in London: Natural History Museum and British Museum

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National History Museum London

After Legoland and Harry Potter Studio Tour, National History Museum is next to the boy’s most memorable visit from our London Tour.

We’ve learnt about this before we went to London, and he was very enthusiastic to visit this museum. He liked things about nature, dinosaurs, animals, ancient history, and things like that, so no wonder he really waited for his visit to the museum.

He was the one who asked me to write about this museum after I finished with Leeds Castle post, and he constantly remind me again and again to continue writing about our London trip, hahaha………….I can be discouraged lazy sometimes that he has to say it several times in a day: “focus………..get back to work…………..start writing again………………”  absolutely my mood booster, hahaha………..

Okay, back to the topic, the museum was so big and we didn’t have enough energy to visit all the exhibitions (seriously, this time although we had enough time, but it was so tiring to go to all the areas in the museum, so we gladly skipped some exhibits that didn’t seem too interesting for us).

The boy’s writing about our plan to visit the museum:

While on the plane, my father asked what we were going to do first. After five minutes of thinking (14 hours and we only spent five minutes thinking), we decided to visit the National History Museum first. After checking in the baggage in the hotel, we had breakfast and took the District Line train to West Kensington. We got off and headed towards a flight of stairs,which led us to the entrance of the museum.There was an ice skating rink inside as well as a carousel.

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Only 2 stations from Hammersmith tube station (where our hotel was) to South Kensington where the museum was

South Kensington tube station

South Kensington tube station

Following the signs from the tube station to the museum

Following the signs from the tube station to the museum

We actually had other plans that day, but due to some internal technical problem with our stomach (we planned to visit Borough Market to have our breakfast and lunch, but since we arrived early in the hotel and after checking in the luggage the hotel gave us free breakfast that day, which meant we already full, we changed the plan to the museums while waiting for our room to be ready).

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Natural History Museum was behind the big tree

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There were carousel and ice skating rink in front of the museum (to celebrate Christmas and new year I guess)

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Ice skating rink

There was a long queue before entering the museum (it was Saturday afternoon by the way), but the queue moved quite fast. Later we found out that the queue was for bag check. I think they were looking for sharp objects like knives and scissors, so it was okay to bring food and drink.

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Entrance door to the museum……………so lovely…………….

First, of course we met this enormous dinosaur’s fossil that was very famous and one of the reason why we wanted to visit this museum:

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Meet giant Diplodocus fossil (found in USA)

Near the big Diplodocus fossil, there was some museum’s staff who explained about this big dinosaur. The boy was asked to find which part of the body was the skeleton that he had in his hand……………

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Learn more about Diplodocus from the museum staff

Next stop, of course……………the dinosaurs exhibition, but we got lost since this museum was so big……………..

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Love………love…………love…………………the architecture of the museum

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Look at the details of the building……………..

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The statue of Charles Darwin

After getting lost for 2 times , we finally could find the dinosaur exhibition. The signage was clear actually and we also asked one of the staff there, but we were still confused of where the entrance door was……………and also we were a bit sleepy so we were a little bit disoriented, hahaha………..

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This T-Rex could move and was very noisy…………..

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Triceratops……………..I seriously only knew T-Rex, so all the information about the dinosaurs here are relied by the boy’s knowledge………….

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Some of the fossils that we saw. I don’t know how the boy could remember all the names that I wrote here………………

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More dinosaurs fossils

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When the boy asked why I don’t even know the name of the dinosaurs, I said to him that my job was to taking photos only and it was his job to learn about the dinosaurs……………….well, at least we have dinosaurs pictures now………………

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Dinosaurs claws with Tuojiangosaurus above the heads

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A closer look of Tuojiangosaurus

Next stop, just across the dinosaurs exhibition, was the Mammals and Human Biology Exhibition. The three of them (Dinosaurs, Mammals, Human Biology, and some other exhibitions) were in the same zone, which was The Blue Zone.

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Directory of the museum for the Blue Zone

I was really impressed with the Mammals Section. Forget about the very detailed information and description or explanations about these mammals because I didn’t read any of them (let’s leave this reading part to the boy because most of the time I tried to find a place to sit since I was very tired), but the animals were in life-size. Real size of elephant, giraffe, and even whale. Big size animals came in their real size was very impressive.

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Cave lions and sabertooth tigers were small enough compared to what we would see in the next room

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Toothless mammals such as sloths, anteaters and armadillos

Now here comes the big animals:

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Mammals such as blue whales,elephants,rhinoceroses,dugongs and hyraxes. By the way, the picture on the left was just the whale’s mouth

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This is what happen when you compare a giraffe and an elephant side by side

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There was a machine that could compare your weight with that of an animal’s

It was very difficult to take pictures of the whole bodies of the big size animals, so we were glad when we went to the second floor and found out that we could easily see all the big animals from upstairs and took complete pictures of them.

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Dolphins, whales, sea mammals, orcas and porpoises. All in life-size

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Mammals…………picture taken from the second floor. My favorite was the giant whale. By looking at these animals, can you imagine how big this museum must be?

When we finished exploring mammals area, we went to see Human Biology. We only spent little time here as we already saw almost the same exhibition in Singapore Science Center. I didn’t take many pictures here too.

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Old phone (this phone was used to listen to some information I guess). I’m not really sure, but since the boy asked me to insert this picture then I had no choice………….

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Funny mirror in Human Biology Zone

When I thought that we’ve covered everything (by that time I couldn’t barely walk anymore)and it was time to go back to the hotel for some rest, the boy said that he hadn’t seen the Neanderthals. “WHAT?!” I seriously didn’t see any Neanderthals around here, but he insisted that there should be ones (someone did his research well before visiting the museum, and it wasn’t me, hahaha…………). So we asked the staff and she said we should walk to the other side of the museum. Yeah, rite, there was the other side of the museum which I completely forgot………….

So we had to walk to the Red Zone, and it was a long walk……………………… and we passed by this restaurant on our way to the Red Zone. Although all the food looked delicious, the parents were not in the mood of eating bread, and even daddy said: “Why there is only bread in here?” hahahaha……………….I bet he was searching for rice or noodle which he would never be able to find there.

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North Hall Cafe. According to the boy, we didn’t eat at the cafe because no one was hungry (the parents were hungry but didn’t want to eat bread actually…………..)

After a long walk, we finally got to the Red Zone:

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Red Zone Directory. And there was even a Green Zone………..well, forget it, there was no way that I was going to walk all the way back to the green zone

To my surprise, I really loved the Red Zone, which was, once again…………Impressive!

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Big Earth

When I thought that it was just a model of the earth, we found out that there was an escalator going up, and so we thought oh yeah, we would go inside the earth for a while and going down again after that…………….but we were wrong! The stairs took us to “the center of the earth”but it was actually the second floor where the exhibitions of Volcanoes and Earthquakes took place. It was a huge area inside and we ended up looking around and reading very interesting information about Volcanoes and Earthquakes. There was even an earthquake simulation that happened in Japan years ago. This was absolutely my favorite place.

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Going to the center of the earth

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Inside the “Earth”

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Yes, there was even some information about volcanoes in Indonesia. I know all about them because I learnt about them when I was in Primary School

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“The Earth” from the second floor

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Complete Stegosaurus fossil

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Earthquake simulation in Kobe, Japan. The simulation took place in a supermarket which looked like real. This place was shaking for about 1 minute and I somehow felt scare imagining what actually happened on the D-day

Finally, we were in the Human Evolution Area to see The Neanderthals.

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The history of human origins

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Skulls from 7 million years ago to present time

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The last Neanderthal skulls, who became extinct thousands of years ago because of unstable climate and competition from another human species like us

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Replica of Neanderthal man. Only the most resourceful and adaptable would survive

And that was the end of our trip to the Natural History Museum. This museum is huge and you will need at least 3 hours to explore all the areas of the museum.

Our next visit (different day) was to British Museum which was also free. This was also very big. Bag check. Nearest tube was Holborn. Night at the Museum 3 was filmed here.

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British Museum

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Another very big museum to visit for free

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Don’t you just love the architecture of the museum?

Sarchopagus or Sarcophagi or stone coffins were reserved for royalty and the elite

Sarchopagus or Sarcophagi or stone coffins were reserved for royalty and the elite.The name of this person was blanked out to curse him.

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The statue of Paris, discovered outside rome in 1875. Paris was an attendant of the oriental God Mithras

The statue of Paris, discovered outside rome in 1875. Paris was an attendant of the oriental God Mithras

The statue of Zeus

The statue of Zeus

Hercules, found in the foot of Mount Vesuvius

Hercules, found in the foot of Mount Vesuvius

Memorial slab carved in Ogam script. One of the three Ogam stones reused in medieval ring fort, Ireland

Memorial slab carved in Ogam script. One of the three Ogam stones reused in medieval ring fort, Ireland


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London Trip 2016: The Very Beautiful Leeds Castle

One of the reason why we chose UK as our holiday destination at the end of 2016 was because we wanted to see (at least) a castle. A real one! The one that was built nine hundred years ago and with a long (and maybe dark) history where real Kings and Queens and Princes and Princess once lived there.

The boy was so crazy about The Medieval Period (since he read Geronimo Stilton books…………..see, Geronimo Stilton books are actually not just the ordinary children books, they present histories facts in a fun and easy way for the children to understand). He was interested in the history facts about Kings and Queens, how they lived, how they died, the wars, etc from the Middle Ages. So, it was no surprise that he really wanted to see real castles and castle ruins during our trip.

After I searched on the internet, the nearest and most recommended castle was Leeds Castle. It was said as a family friendly castle with lots of attractions for children and adults. It is also said as the loveliest castle in the world.

Since we would visited during winter, opening and closing time were different than during summer time. Some of the attractions were also closed during winter. For more information about the castle and its facilities, you can check on its website at www.leeds-castle.com. You can also book tickets online through the website which will also be cheaper than buying tickets on-site.

We were ready to go from Hammersmith Station on a cold morning

We were ready to go from Hammersmith Station on a cold morning

The nearest train station to Leeds Castle is Bearsted Railway Station. We used direct train from London Victoria Station to Bearsted Station with some stops in between. We had to buy the tickets online (cheaper than buying on the D-day in the station) at www.southeasternrailway.co.uk. You can also search for the cheapest option by booking online (date and time of travel will effect the price) . My suggestion is to book an open return ticket so you can come back at anytime of the day.

I bought the tickets from London Victoria to Hollingbourne

I bought the tickets from London Victoria to Hollingbourne (Hollingbourne station is after Bearsted Station), because we planned to visit Hollingbourne village after visiting Leeds Castle, but we were too tired so decided to came back to London after finished exploring Leeds Castle. The price from Victoria to Bearsted or Hollingbourne was the same at that time. Using the tickets, we could break our journey and continue again as long as it was done in the same day

From the nearest tube station from our hotel (Hammersmith Station), we took the tube (it was like MRT in Singapore) to Victoria Tube Station, then walked all the way (just follow the sign or ask the staff) to the National Rail Station. The staff told us to exchange our e-tickets with real tickets in the self service ticketing machine. We then asked the staff again which platform was the train going to be, and she said between platform 1 to 7. We had to look for the train that went to Ashford International Station via Bearsted Station. There were big signboards above the entry gate to the platforms, so look carefully in which platform your train is going to be.

We were waiting for our train platform to be displayed in the signage board above our heads

We were waiting for our train platform to be displayed in the signage board above our heads. Daddy was also checking the platform number through the website

It was quite confusing for us as first timers, so we did ask the staff or customer service several times before we finally managed to get to our train. The train didn’t stop for too long, so enter the platform as soon as you know in which platform your train is going to be. Victoria Station is huge and can be confusing for first timer tourists like us, so ask the staff or customer service for assistance if you’re not sure of what to do.

The boy bought ham and cheese sandwich to be eaten on the train

The boy bought ham and cheese sandwich to be eaten on the train

The train was clean and quite empty that day. As it was almost empty, we switched seats from one seat to another and we could enjoy the view from both sides of the windows.

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Happy faces on train ride

We really enjoyed the journey which took 1 hour and 15 minutes. We loved the view as it was very beautiful. We saw old English houses, farms, the farmers going for work, old churches, big grass fields, horses and cows eating grass, birds flying, and even small train stations just like in Enid Blyton or Agatha Christie books.

Enjoying the view of old stations like in the story books

Enjoying the view of old stations like in the story books

 

Lovely view on a lovely morning

Lovely view on a lovely morning

I told the boy that the old fashioned station reminds me of The Five Find Outers and A Dog from Enid Blyton book series. It the books, the four children (Larry, Daisy, Pip, and Bets) and a dog named Buster often waited for Fatty (his real name was Frederick but his friend called him Fatty), their friends which was also the leader of the group and Buster’s owner. Fatty came home from his boarding school during the holiday by train and he would stop in a small station near the village that they lived in. There was a police officer named Mr.Goon who disliked them and they didn’t like him either. He would chase and yell and scream every time he saw the children, but he was very afraid of the dog. We always laughed when we read that scene.

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A perfect place for the Five Find Outers to wait for Fatty, their friend

Just when we stopped at a station, we saw 4 people and a small dog were waiting in the platform. There was also a policeman sat down inside the station. So I said to my boy that they were Larry, Daisy, Pip, Bets, Buster, and Mr.Goon waiting for Fatty. The boy agreed with me and we laughed together. The scene was so real and we really wanted to believe that they were the main characters jumped out off the books, hahaha………….

A lonely chair in a train station in the village. This would be perfect for Dick and Julian from the Famous Five

A lonely chair in a train station in the village. This would be perfect scene for Dick and Julian from the Famous Five to wait for their sister Anne and cousin George with her dog, Timmy……….

 

After more than 1 hour, we finally arrived in Bearsted Station. It was also a lovely station in the village.

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Bearsted Station

To go to Leeds Castle, we just had to take the shuttle bus / or van that was already waiting for its passengers outside the station. It took about 20 minutes to Leeds Castle and we paid GBP 2.5 per person for one way journey. We exchanged our e-tickets with real tickets that could be used to enter the castle for 1 year in the ticketing office. we also got the castle maps from the ticketing office. There was no bag check so we just entered the castle grounds.

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Finally…………….Leeds Castle……………

The Cascade garden was indeed very beautiful. I would love to visit Leeds Castle on different seasons (Summer, Fall, Autumn, Winter / Snow) if I lived nearby to see the different colors of the trees in the gardens.

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Black swans in the castle pond

 

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Big moat in the castle ground

 

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Still taking pictures with the same moat in the background. Do you see the different color of the trees behind?

By the way, Leeds Castle and its surroundings are really huge. It took us more than 30 minutes (including time to take pictures) to walk from the entrance door to the castle itself. And then behind the castle, there were still more super huge gardens, pond, falconry, maze, grotto, playgrounds, food court, and museum. So prepare to walk and walk and walk with your most comfortable outfit, but especially shoes.

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Lovely view in the castle ground

 

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We didn’t mind the walk to the castle actually, as the scenery was really breathtaking, but on the way back it was different, hahaha………………we were so tired and it was like an unending walk

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Walking happily to the castle

 

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Ducks and pigeons were everywhere

 

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We watched 2 ducks fighting for food in cold water

 

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Beautiful color of the leaves

 

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It was very cold that day

 

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Are we there yet? Apparently, not yet…….hahaha………..

 

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Look, we finally see a glimpse of the castle. Does this mean were already very near to the castle?

 

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Taking pictures (again), hahaha…………….it was so lovely that we couldn’t stop taking pictures………….

 

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The long road to the castle

 

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The building in the background was actually a small museum (the Gatehouse) to introduce us to the castle and its history, toilets, and a souvenir shop

 

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In here, we learnt about the history of Leeds Castle

 

According to its website, 

Leeds Castle has been a Norman stronghold; the private property of six of England’s medieval queens; a palace used by Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon; a Jacobean country house; a Georgian mansion; an elegant early 20th century retreat for the influential and famous; and in the 21st century, it has become one of the most visited historic buildings in Britain.

The name “Leeds” comes from an old English word: “slope” or “hillside”

The castle is now owned by Lady Baillie who bought the castle in 1926. She then redecorated the interior. Upon her death in 1974, Lady Baillie left the castle to the Leeds Castle Foundation, a private charitable trust whose aim is to preserve the castle and grounds for the benefit of the public. The castle was opened to the public in 1976.

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Another big pond at the back of the castle

Just when we thought we were already very close to the entrance door to the castle, the staff told us that it was the exit door and that we had to walk again to the back side of the castle to enter the building. Ohhh…….noo………….and yes, it was another long walk again………..

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Can you see how big it is? We were on the other side of the castle grounds

 

 

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I bought a tripod so we could take picture together, but the boy didn’t like it as it made us move slower, hahaha………….so after 3 photos, we were done with the tripod and I just put it back in my bag…………sigh……..

 

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The third and last picture of us together

 

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Going down

 

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Lovely view everywhere

 

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Finally, we could see the castle building

 

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Imagine what happened centuries ago in this castle……………….

 

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We were entering the castle from the back door

 

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Inside the castle………….this was what we saw when we first entered the building

 

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The full picture of the castle with Lady Baillie’s painting

 

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Real fireplace with real fire (first time we saw it………….)

 

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I have no idea why they call it The Quuen’s bathroom, it was more like a kitchen to me………….

 

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One of the queen’s bedroom

 

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The Yellow Bedroom……………and I would love to have one like this please………

 

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Seminar Room. I love the green color in this room

 

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Henry VIII Banqueting Hall…………..another old fireplace………….

 

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Praying in the chapel (for photography only, hahaha……..)

 

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I loved the fact that the castle had a small wooden chapel

 

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Look at the stairs…………I could imagine back then when electricity ha sn’t been found yet, the people inside the castle would use candles at night to help them move from one place to another

 

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It was almost Christmas, so of course there were Christmas tree in almost every room, but this one was the biggest among all

 

And now, we’ll see what was inside Lady Baillie’s room:

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Bathroom

 

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Beautiful bedroom

 

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Inside the bedroom

 

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A fireplace, a Christmas tree, and a picture of Lady Baillie

 

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Room with a view. I would love to wake up with this view every morning

 

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Library

 

 

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Cozy reading corner…………..also in my bucketlist to have someday………….

We were so hungry by the time we finished exploring the castle, so we decided to grab something to eat, but then again, it was a long way to go to the Fairfax Restaurant. We needed to walk for at least another 15 minutes to go to the restaurant (as you can see, you really need to be very fit to explore all the area of Leeds Castle). Luckily we didn’t go on a hot day, so it was actually quite comfortable to walk around the castle and the grounds.

Although the temperature dropped to almost 0 Celsius degree that day, but there was no strong wind, so as long as we kept on walking, it didn’t feel so cold. When we stopped then it felt very cold.

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The castle main door which was also the exit door for our tour

 

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The castle was surrounded by big lake

 

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In front of the castle

 

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The Maiden’s Tower in the background

 

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This was not even half of the castle, it was so big inside, but I said to the boy that I wanted to sleep over for the night. He refused and said that it would be very creepy at night, hahaha…………

 

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After we walked through Barbican and Fortified Mill, we arrived at the other side of the castle

While walking to the restaurant, we could see another sides of the castle and the big lake surrounding the castle. It was so breathtakingly beautiful. All the pictures here don’t do justice to the beautiful scenery that we saw that day. Although I’ve never been to another castles, but I believe when they say that Leeds Castle is one of the loveliest castle.

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The lake surrounding the castle

 

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The castle from another angle

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Ducks and swans roamed freely

 

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There was suppose a free train ride along the castle ground, but that day, the train was broken, so we had to explore the grounds on foot

 

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It was a good thing that we explored the castle on foot, since we could stop anytime and anywhere we wanted to

 

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Beautiful autumn color

 

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Another view of the castle

 

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Finally, we arrived at the restaurant. There were some buildings in the area which made this place looked like an old town

 

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I could imagine that this could be Miss Marple’s house (from Agatha Christie’s mysteries books)

 

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Fairfax Restaurant

 

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Chicken, fish, and kids meal for lunch. Drinking water was free

 

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Finally……….lunch…………

There was a small dog collar museum in front of the restaurant. I inserted some of the photos below. The boy was the one who curious and wanted to see what was inside.

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Dog collars from time to time

 

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My cute lil puppy

Even after all that walk, we hadn’t finished yet. There were still Lady Baillie’s garden, maze and grotto, falconry, and children playground.

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In front of Lady Baillie’s garden. We didn’t explore all the area of the garden because were too tired

 

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Long walk to the falconry and to see the bird show

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Lost inside the maze

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The maze…………it was so difficult and we got lost several times

 

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The top of the maze . From here, we could go down to the grotto for a short cut to the exit door

 

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Another beautiful view from the top of the maze

 

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The confusing maze below

 

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Children playground in the background

 

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This playground was for older kids. There was another playground which was more suitable for younger kids next to this playground

 

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The castle bridge in the playground

Last but not least, we visited the souvenir shops. There were 2 souvenirs shops in Leeds castle, one was near the castle, and the other one was near the car park. We spent more than an hour here because we loved seeing everything inside. I felt like I could buy all the lovely things that they sold there.

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The castle shop

 

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We loved all the colorful and pretty things in the shop

 

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There were magnets, key chains, premium tea, candies, Turkish Delights, books, and the so pretty Christmas ornaments

 

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We ended up buying fridge magnets

The visit to the souvenir shop also ended up our tour. There were some parts of the castle that we hadn’t seen yet, but since it was winter, the castle closed early so we had to go back. We spent around 5 hours and that wasn’t enough!

There was no more shuttle bus to Bearsted Station by the time we got back to the entrance door, so the staff at the souvenir shop offered to help us get a taxi by phone. It took about 30 minutes for the taxi to arrive. The car was very clean and smelt very nice, and it only cost GBP 8 to go back to Bearsted Station.

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Bearsted Station at night

 

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Waiting for the train………..we were so tired of walking

 

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The train that would take us back to London

Phew……..finally, we arrived back at the hotel and just bought take away food for dinner. It was very tiring, but it was also a very lovely day at Leeds Castle. I would love to go back again someday on another season. I saw in the pictures that it was very beautiful on snowy days. So hopefully, we will come back again someday.


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Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter

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Yes, finally, it was the D-day! The day when we visited Harry Potter Studio on our third day in London. As a big fan of Harry Potter, the boy was soooo………..excited that day. We woke him up early in the morning so we won’t be late because it would a long journey from where we stayed.

The nearest train station from the studio is Watford Junction. From Hammersmith station (this was the nearest tube station from our hotel), we took the District Line train to Earl’s Court (2 stops), then change trains and go to West Brompton (1 stop only), and then change train again to Willesden Junction and finally took the train to Watford Junction……..phew………. After that, we had to walk to a bus stop and ride the Harry Potter tour bus.

Another option is to take fast train directly from Euston to Watford Junction, but since we were staying quite far from Euston, we chose to take train to Willesden Junction and then to Watford Junction which had many stops. It cost us GBP 4.9 per person one way (which I think was also way cheaper than taking the fast train from Euston).

From Watford Junction, we went out to the bus station which located just outside the train station, and look for bus stop 4 (it can change, so please check again to find out where to wait for the bus) and wait for Harry Potter Studio Tour shuttle bus that would take us to the studio.

We had to pay GBP 2.5 per person to board the bus and we must also show our entrance ticket to the bus driver before we could purchase the bus tickets. Don’t loose the tickets as you will have to show them again to the bus driver on your way home. The tickets were for 2 ways journey by the way.

When waiting in the bus stop, daddy asked what was the bus number how would we know if the right bus was coming? And our answer: “Oh don’t worry, you will know, you can’t miss it……………” with big grins on our faces………… 

And of course we wouldn’t miss it, we could see it even from far away, because the bus looked like this:

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Harry Potter Studio Tour Shuttle Bus

The shuttle buses were all double deckers, and of course we chose to sat on the top. The first bus of the day that we took was full of happy and excited people. Of course we were………….we were going to a very exciting place, were we not?. I am not a big fan of Harry Potter actually, but I also felt very excited that day. So, what was waiting for us there?

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Finally, arrive at the Warner Bros Studio

For your information, the entrance ticket to Harry Potter Studio Tour must be bought online through the website: www.wbstudiotour.co.uk. You can also check the shuttle bus schedule in this website.

We chose the earliest tour of the day, which was at 10 am (the best choice is to take the earliest time as possible in my opinion). Although there were many people visited the studio that day, we didn’t feel that it was overcrowded. Probably because it wasn’t holiday season yet, and we figured out that it could be very crowded when holiday started (thankfully, Singapore school holiday was ahead than most other countries, so we could start the holiday before everyone else did).

After we arrived, we still had to exchange our e-tickets in the ticketing machine before we could proceed to the entrance door for security checking. Although there was bag check, but we were allowed to bring food and drink (but only allowed to eat in the Backlot Cafe and not inside the studio).

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Once we were inside the studio, we saw this big Christmas tree and the pictures of the characters from Harry Potter movies on the walls

 

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White Christmas (tree) with Mad Eye Moody and Professor Mc Gonagall

We had to queue again before we could finally enter the studio. Look what we found when we were queuing:

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Harry’s Bedroom under the stairs in Privet Drive (when he lived with his uncle, aunt, and cousin in the Dursley House)

We had to enter the studio in batches, and we were in the second batch. It was good though, because with so many people being in the first 3 rooms together will reduce the dramatic effect that we felt when we first saw The Great Hall. First, we entered the room with full of posters from Harry Potter movies from all around the world (in many languages). A very funny emcee did the greetings and asked us where we came from, and  there were people from around the world such as Costa Rica, Portugal, Italy, Malaysia, Japan, South Korea, USA, and even Singapore, and other countries too……………all the Harry Potter fans were in the same place, hahaha………Then he explained about the posters and did some introduction about making of Harry Potter Movies.

Then we entered another room (this time cameras were not allowed) when another funny staff greeted us. We saw some scenes from all Harry Potter movies and then, we finally could entered the first room that played a very important part in all the movies: (we stood in the front side, so we were among the first ones who entered the room)

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THE GREAT HALL………………….

The staff only gave us limited time and asked us to continue to another room before the next batch came, but we had enough time looking around and taking pictures actually. There were not many people in one batch, so we could still enjoy walking around and taking pictures in this huge hall.

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Slytherin Table and House Points Counters

 

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Hufflepuff Table and Ghost Costume

Can you see that the hall looked empty? We could take pictures without worrying that other people might come into the scene. So its best to book the tour as early as possible so you don’t have to queue for a long time to enter the studio.

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The Professors Table (there were Professor Mc Gonagall, Dumbledore, Snape, and Hagrid)

Aren’t you always salivating and feel hungry too when you read in the books all the food that was being served in the Great Hall? Pumpkin juice, fries, fruits, sandwiches, sausages, butter chicken, chicken drumstick, roast beef, roast mutton, etc………So, here’s an up close and personal look on some of the food on the dining tables that makes you want to be a Hogwart student just so you can join the feast:

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Food in Hogwarts: tart, fruits, chicken, and peas. Look at the cups and plates, so cute………

PS: To be honest, I don’t know all the details about Harry Potter books or movies, so all the details here are provided by the boy who seems to remember every single detail and differences from the books and movies……………

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Gryffindor Points Counter, and after this we would enter another room in the studio

When we entered the next room, we were greeted with this:

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Ice Sculpture from the Yule ball (from the fourth movie: The Goblet of Fire)

 

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Dining table from the Yule ball and costumes from the Yule ball: , Hermione, Viktor Krum, Harry, and Ron (bottom right).

I remember the scene of when Ron was trying his suits for the Yule ball that his mother gave him and it was so funny. He said he looked like his aunt Tessie and smell like his aunt Tessie and to be honest: the suits was a big no no for him, hahaha…………

Floating candles on The Great Hall

Floating candles on The Great Hall

Next stop, we skipped everything else first and went straight to the photo booth (the queue would get longer, so went here first). We bought 2 printed pictures (the first one was the first photo on this post / the family picture), and the second one was this:

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Ravenclaw School Robes and Broomstick (the boy wants to be in the Ravenclaw house, so he always identifies himself as a Ravenclaw student…………..)

We bought the GBP 40 photo package which includes 2 printed pictures with soft copies (to be download at home), and a Harry Potter USB that shows the boy flying up high in the sky with a broomstick (the special effect was very good and the video taking process was very fun).

Flying scene (print screen from the video)

Flying scene (print screen from the video)

Once that was done, it was time to explore the rest of the room:

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Moving Staircases and a real size Hagrid  (below the staircases) compared to human (me). He was so big…………..

For children, don’t forget to ask a passport from the staff and then you can go snitch hunting, answer the questions (quiz) about Harry Potter, and even obtain stamps of all the 4 houses.

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Harry Potter Passport

We then just took our time to explore the area full with costumes, broomsticks from time to time, accessories used by the casts, trophies, Goblet of Fire, the Philosopher Stone, Azkaban Prison number, and basically all things related to Harry Potter movies. This certainly will satisfy all the Harry Potter fans.

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Gryffindor boys’ dormitory. Hogwarts dormitories made me wanted to enter a boarding school (like this one of course)

 

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OWL exams timer (I wouldn’t be able to concentrate when doing the exams if the timer was like this)

 

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Griffin Staircase (the entrance to Dumbledore office) with password that constantly changed (but always related to sweets such as lemon sherbet, ice mice, chocolate frogs, fizzing whizzbees, and a bunch of other stuff……..I wrote exactly what the boy dictated to me, hahaha………I’m so hopeless about this)

 

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Gryffindor Tower (top left), Headmaster’s Office (top right), Hagrid’s Hut (bottom left), and Potions Dungeon (bottom right)

The boy also tried to do some magic stuff, like making the broomstick going up by itself (like in the fist movie when the first grade students learnt how to use broomstick for the first time with Madame Hooch). They had to say up and the broomstick would go up into their hands.

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“Up…………..” and the staff would press the button so the broomstick would go up, hahaha………looks like real though. 

Don’t forget to try this too:

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Wand choreography, learning how to use wand with 3 kind of spells

Next, we continued to the other side of the room:

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The Burrow (The Weasleys house where house cleaning, clothes knitting, and cooking could be done with magic……………OMG, I would love to master those spells, it there were any…………..)

 

 

The knife could work by itself and the cooking equipment could wash itself............what a life.........

The knife could work by itself and the cooking equipment could wash itself…………oh what a life………

 

Malfoy Manor (the home of Draco Malfoy and his parents) where Lord Voldemort and his allies killed the Muggle Study Professor, Charity Barbage (you can see her hanging on the roof)

Malfoy Manor (the home of Draco Malfoy and his parents) where Lord Voldemort and his allies killed the Muggle Study Professor, Charity Burbage(you can see her hanging just below the lamp)

 

One of my favorite room : Dolores Umbridge room with pink color everywhere

One of my favorite rooms : Dolores Umbridge room, clothes, and shoes all in pink color

 

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Ministry of Magic Atrium

 

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The Ministry of Magic Fireplaces

 

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Apparition Hole (to enter The Ministry of Magic)

 

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Chamber of Secrets from the second movie: “The Chamber of Secrets”

After this, daddy asked if we were done and that was the end of the tour. And I said I don’t think so, there should be more. And yes, we were so not done yet. There were still lots of things to explore.

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Yes, finally…………..Hogwarts Express

The Hogwarts Express departed from Kings Cross Station to Hogwarts in Scotland during the series.It took approximately 13 hours from one place to the other. Each compartment could fit about six people and six animals (my boy wrote these details as I never knew myself, hahaha…..).

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We were wowed by Hogwarts Express. We were really curious of what was inside the train. The boy kept saying that he wanted to be in the real Hogwarts Express

 

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Whose trunk was it? If you answer Ginny Weasley, then you got it wrong. It belongs to George Weasley.

 

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Waiting for someone special in Platform 9 3/4

 

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And this was my someone special, hahaha……….

 

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Don’t forget your trunk and push the trolley through the wall

 

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Let’s go…………..we don’t wanna be late……………..(Interior of the train). Bottom right: Train from the movie “The Philosopher’s Stone”. Top right: Train from the movie “Goblet of Fire”.

We also tried the movie shoot and it was fun (we could buy the pictures after that but we didn’t as I took some photos with my iphone……….pssstttt, secretly of course)

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Movie Shoot………..outside was the flying car belonged to the Weasley Family

According to the boy, the parents (me and his dad) were terrible actors during the movie shoot. We were supposed to be wizards but we took out muggle phone, we laughed and cheered during Dementor attack, and we didn’t speak English although we were supposed to be British Wizards. Wow, so many sins during the movie shoot, hahaha……….

Next, we arrived in Backlot Cafe to have our lunch. Of course we had to try the Butterbeer, the very famous drink from Harry Potter books and movies. It took some times to convince daddy that it wasn’t an alcoholic drink. Don’t worry, it is a non alcoholic drink, it is only rootbeer (mint coke) topped with vanilla ice cream (or maybe just cream).

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All ready for his first butterbeer

 

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For GBP 6.95, we could also bring home the butterbeer glass. There was also a cheaper option if you choose to drink in the plastic cup instead of glass. We didn’t try butterbeer ice cream, and now I feel like we should have tried it while we were there………..

 

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Butterbeer, did not taste good…………hahaha………..the boy didn’t like it…………

 

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When I asked: “So, how was it?” His answered was: “Poisonous” huahahahaha…………….that was how he described that he didn’t like it but then said that he would like to try pumpkin juice too……….

 

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Expensive but not so good lunch in Backlot Cafe. There were very few options for lunch and mostly, we didn’t like them, so daddy and I only ate the bread that we bought in the supermarket the night before.

From the Backlot Cafe, we could see the outside and couldn’t wait to explore all the excitements that awaited us. From our seats, we could see this very famous and big and tall bus that was known as the Knight Bus:

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Knight Bus, in Prisoner of Azkaban, Ernie Prang drove the bus and Harry was squashed multiple times during the ride.

 

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Knight Bus Interior………..Oh, I would love to try being in the Knight Bus and travel from one place to another just like Harry Potter

 

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Privet Drive, the home to the super horrible Dursley family, and the place where Harry spent his childhood.

 

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Dursley House, Number Four Privet Drive. Knock knock…………”Hello, is anyone inside?”

 

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We tried to knock on the window too, but no one answered………….

 

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Ford Anglia, the flying car in the Whomping Willow Scene from the movie “Chamber of Secrets”

 

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Hagrid’s Motorcycle from the movie “Deathly Hallows” (but this motorbike actually belonged to Sirius Black)

 

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Hogwarts Bridge, from the movie: “Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban” to make Harry and Hermione’s journey with the Time Turner more physical and exciting

 

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Ready to go back to the past with the Time Turner………….

 

The Chess Pieces from the first movie: "The Philosopher Stone"

The Chess Pieces from the first movie: “The Philosopher Stone”. “They were standing on a huge chessboard, behind the black chessmen, which were all taller than they were and carved from what looked like black stone” – JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone-

We though it was the end of the tour, but it wasn’t, and once again, there were still lots of things to see (this time would be an indoor tour).

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From the make up room: Buckbeak from the movie: “Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban”

And finally…………..DIAGON ALLEY…………to my surprise, it wasn’t as narrow or crowded as I imagined it would be. The road was quite wide and there were not so many people inside.

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Diagon Alley

Harry Potter bought books from Flourish and Blotts, Hedwig from Eyelops Owl Emporium, quills from Scribbulus, school robes from Madam Malkin, a wand from Ollivander and potion ingredients from the Apothecary. So, here are the stores:

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Diagon Alley, ready to shop……….

 

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Scribbulus

 

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Ollivander’s

 

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Mullpeppers Apothecary

 

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Wiseacres Wizarding Equipment

 

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Weasleys Wizard Wheezes, where Fred and George Weasley sold Pygmy Puffs and clothes that could repel spells

 

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Fred and George Weasley sold stuff useful for getting out of classes and for getting rid of Umbridge such as Puking Pastilles and Fever Fudge

While we were there, we met primary school students and kindergarten students with their teachers. They were on  a field trip to Harry Potter Studio. So my boy said: “Whoa………..it’s so good when you go to school in London, you go to Harry Potter Studio for your field trip………………” Yes, so true indeed………….

Although we didn’t want the tour to end, but we knew that the journey finally came to an end when we saw: The

Wand Shop and The Souvenir Shop……………

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Wand Shop, and among the wands were Daniel Radcliffe’s Wand, Rupert Grint’s Wand and Emma Watson’s wand. If you want to know which was Harry Potter or Ron or Hermione or anyone elses’ wands in the movies, just ask the staff who will tell you where exactly to find them (they seemed to know and remember everything………..)

 

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Souvenir Shop, where we could find the newest books based on the movie: “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and of course the boy had seen the movie

 

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Nimbus 2000

The shop sold clothes, books, wands, sweets, mugs, cushions, brooms, toys and many more. We spent quite a long time looking at all the super cute souvenirs and felt like we wanted to bring home everything……….

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I want the mugs from all 4 houses, the cushion, sweaters, candies, and all that I saw……….

We went back to the same bus stop and took the shuttle bus back to Watford Junction. We showed the tickets that we bought earlier to the bus driver and didn’t have to pay anymore.

Taking picture in front of the bus while waiting for other passangers

Taking picture in front of the bus while waiting for other passengers

 

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On the Bus Home…………..a happy and satisfied visitor……….

You will need at least 3 to 4 hours to finish the tour. The staff told us that once, a person spent 13 hours inside the studio and that was the longest time record up to that day. Wowwww……………….


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The Boy’s Bucketlist: Legoland Windsor: Checked!

One of the boy’s wish list was to visit every Legoland in the world……………..okay, that doesn’t sound impossible, but that is definitely will cost us a lot of money, hahaha………….

This year, we finally made his dream came true, and that was to visit Legoland Windsor. It took quite sometimes to persuade his dad to make London as our holiday destination this year (and so we could visit Legoland), but after calculated and tried to reduce the budget here and there, he finally agreed………….yeaaaayyyyy…………!

Legoland is located in Windsor and it is outside London, so we needed to go to Windsor area first by train or bus and after that we still had to take shuttle bus to Legoland. The shuttle bus is within walking distance from Windsor and Eton Riverside Train Station.

We took bus number 8 from Heathrow Terminal 5 and stopped opposite Windsor Paris Church (more about this in my post about Windsor). Then, we just had to cross the street and waited for Legoland shuttle bus right in front of Windsor Paris Church.

For Legoland shuttle bus timetable, you can check in this website: https://www.firstgroup.com/berkshire-thames-valley/plan-journey/timetables/?day=2&source_id=2&service=200&routeid=16827881&operator=1&source=sp

It took less then 15 minutes ride from Windsor to Legoland and we were happy to see that it was a double decker bus (we had no chance to ride one of the red double decker bus in London except for Harry Potter Studio Tour shuttle bus which was also a double decker), so we were very happy to finally able to ride another double decker bus.

Lockers were provided outside Legoland and it cost 1 poundsterling, so if you need lockers, please prepare at least one of these 1 pound coins. There were also toilets near the lockers before entrance door.

By the way, there was no bag check before entrance and we just had to show our e-ticket to the staff. Since we went there on winter, not all rides were open. In winter, we also had a chance to meet Father Christmas aka Santa Claus, and since this was the first real experience for the boy, he was quite exciting actually…………..and the parents were very excited too, hahaha………..

When I was finished inserting Legoland pictures and started to write, the boy asked if he could write some of the post and photo captions on his own……………and of course I said yes! He also asked to add some more pictures, and of course as a result,  this post will be full with Legoland pictures. So this post was a collaboration between me and the boy. So, enjoy the story and the pictures……………..

PS: the words in italics are my comments, hahaha…………..

The bus service to Legoland was called the Legoland Shuttle(obviously)/bus service 200.

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Bus service 200

On the bus ride, there were several huge alphabetical letters along the road to Legoland Windsor from staff entrance, Legoland Hotel, and then finally to Legoland bus stop. It was quite fun to see. After the bus ride, my parents took about a million pictures and spent about an hour trying to fit the suitcases into the lockers(sounds impossible,doesn’t it? but my mom could finally manage to do it).Then, they took more pictures and forced me to go on the Bricksmas Express first (because it was the first thing we saw and the quickest way to take us to the rides, hahaha……….).

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Leholand Windsor entrance

 

Before entering Legoland Windsor, all children received a Christmas Bricktacular passport. The passport included a christmas pudding hunt (my father asked me to hurry up and finish Miniland so I stopped to look for puddings (we had to catch the bus back to airport and came back to Singapore with the last flight, but so sad that we only had little time in Legoland), an elf hunt and a ticket to receive a gift from Santa.

Christmas Bricktacular Passport

Christmas Bricktacular Passport

 

THE RIDES AT LEGOLAND WINDSOR:

Bricksmas Express

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Colorful Bricksmas Express

The  Bricksmas Express is a train ride from The Beginning to Lego City. Along the ride, I found one of the lego elves.I was on the red compartment.

LEGO CITY

Balloon School

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Finding our ways through the Map

The only ride open in Lego city was Balloon School. I skipped Aero Nomad and Dessert Chase.He was afraid of heights and didn’t want to be high up, but I ignored him and I pulled the balloon up to the full height.

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View to the super mini Ferris Wheel

 

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Have fun at the Balloon School

Dessert Chase

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Aero Nomad

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LAND OF THE VIKINGS

Spinning Spider

The only ride open in Land of the Vikings was Spinning Spider. This was after I skipped the two rides marked with ‘No Data’ above.The compartments spin very fast and this is not recommended for people who get dizzy easily (e.g. my father).

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Spinning Spider (the spider reminds me of Aragorg from Harry Potter)

 

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Spinning Spider

 

KINGDOM OF PHARAOHS

Laser Raiders

** No pictures are available. (probably because we were not allowed to take pictures during the rides or it was too dark inside, but as far as I remember, we were not allowed to take photos inside). 

In the morning

Taking pictures while queing

Laser raiders is a ride where you have to aim at targets at fire the laser guns. My father won with the highest score. Afterwards, this ride was closed for a while for maintenance. When we came back (twice), the queue was very long and didn’t move at all until we finally decided to skip the second and third ride to save time. But when we came in the morning, it was empty and no queue at all. 

 

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Simple yet elegance Christmas tree in Kingdon of Pharaoh

Beetle Bounce

Beetle bounce

Beetle Bounce which was not too high actually and was fun

Beetle bounce is a ride where a row of seats go up and down (bouncing) and the entrance is the same as Laser Raiders.

Thunder Blazer

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A ride for little children.This is a minor version of the flying swing. Only a true scaredy-cat would be scared.

 

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Lego camel in front of the entrance door for Laser Raiders and Beetle Bounce

 

LAND OF THE PIRATES

Jolly Rocker (it was a big ship that swung high up in the air)

Jolly Rocker is not for the faint hearted. According to adults, it’s veeeery scary. That’s why I strongly reccomend it for young children. Confused? Read on.

 

Only adults were screaming! Not surprising. When your mother says you must sleep alone although you don’t want to remind her that kids are actually braver at certain events than adults

. The ship swung back and forth until it was nearly upside down. People were shrieking.They say it’s super duper ultra mega veeeeery veeeery scary. That’s why I rode it twice. Adults behind me said that the children enjoy this more than us, hahaha……….

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Jolly rocker. No photos in the air.

Christmas Kingdom

There were decorations and fake snow in this kingdom. There were elf workshops that connected one part of Legoland to another. There was a person dressed up as a lego Santa and an actual lego Santa.

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Elf workshop in the background

There was a stack of ornaments.

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Beautiful and colorful Christmas lights

After that, we went to see Santa.There was a long queue to meet him through a forest of trees and a castle drawbridge.

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We found this spot for photo taking while queuing

 

The queue moved slowly, so we had no choice than taking pictures........

The queue moved slowly, so we had no choice than taking pictures……..

 

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The castle in the background were actually the Dragon Ride that was closed that day

 

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Tim and Truffles, Santa’s elves asked some questions whether I was a good boy during the year or not. And of course I said yes!

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Each family got an Elf to assist them. This was our cute Elf

Tim and Truffles were among Santa’s elves.Truffles led me to Santa’s hut.The door opened and I saw Santa sitting on a chair in the house. He thought I was 21 but I was way younger. After a long talk, he gave me a leather bag as a present. Inside was a Lego set.

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The elf helped us taking family picture in front of Santa’s hut

 

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Finally, I met Father Christmas and he said that he’d been to Singapore too…….

 

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Yeay………..I finally got a present………

 

Family photo with Father Christmas

Family photo with Father Christmas

 

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On the way back from Santa’s hut

 

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Just in time………we saw Lego Santa was on duty

As part of the ticket package for adult, we got 2 cookies and 2 hot chocolate drink for free. We spotted 2 places to redeem the vouchers, near Knight Quest Ride or Laser Raiders.

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After the  Santa visit,we redeemed our free cookies and hot chocolate.

 

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Gingerbread cookie……..very hard to chew…………

 

Enjoying a cup of hot chocolate on a very cold day

Enjoying a cup of hot chocolate on a very cold day

Dragon’s Apprentice

No pictures, the ride was too fast.  This is a roller coaster in the shape of a dragon. It moves along the twisting track very quickly and goes around twice.

Knights Quest

 

Knights Quest

Knights Quest, a super fast train rides with the shortest queue besides Jolly Rocker. My mom felt dizzy after 3 times riding it

 

Christmas decoration outside Knight Quest

Christmas decoration outside Knight Quest

Pirates’ Burger Kitchen

There were only 2 restaurants opened that day, and both were very full. The one near the Dragon Ride needed a reservation first and we still had to wait for 2 hours, so we went to Burger Kitchen instead. The queue was super long inside Burger Kitchen.

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Happy Pirates in the background

 

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In Pirate Shores

 

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More photos with the snow

 

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Cold but not windy

I ordered a kids meal, which included french fries, a burger, apple slices and a fruit drink.

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Kids meal

Miniland

Only the lego models of England and Scotland were open that day, while others were closed during Winter.

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The boy in Miniland

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Castle in England

 

Another castle

Another castle

 

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Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and London Eye

 

London Eye and Big Ben

Mini size London Eye and Big Ben

 

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It’s England, so of course it should have a football match, hahaha…………

 

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Stonehenge, we didn’t had time to visit this place, so at the moment, this should be enough……….

Tips before visiting Legoland Windsor:

  1. Legoland Windsor does not open everyday, especially on winter. So please check its opening times through its website at www.legoland.co.uk before your visit or even before you book your flight.
  2. Not all rides will be open during winter time, so to avoid disappointment, check again through its website and re-consider whether you still want to visit or not.
  3. If you decide to visit during winter time, pre-book your entry ticket and also what time your children want to meet with Father Christmas. Book your time to see Father Christmas as early as possible, and my suggestion is not later than 12 pm. After that, the queue would be longer and longer. We were shocked to see the queue got longer every time we passed by that area. Thankfully, we were done meeting with Father Christmas by that time.
  4. The elf would happily help to take your family picture with Father Christmas. And she did a wonderful job by taking several good pictures too. So, although we wanted to see and buy the official photo of our family with Father Christmas, we decided not to do so to save time, because even the queue to view our pictures was so long. So prepare your best camera and let the elf do the photo taking for you.
  5. Come as early as possible and try the popular rides first (such as Laser Raider or Dragon Apprentice). We only managed to ride some of the rides once in the morning. We didn’t have much time to wait for the queue to move forward so we just chose another rides with shorter queue such as Jolly Rocker or Knight Quest.
  6. You can bring your own food and drink. There was no bag check by the way………..
Bye bye Legoland Windsor

Bye bye Legoland Windsor………………the boy said he would love to go back on summer to enjoy more rides…………….

We took bus number 200 back to Windsor Area. We didn’t have to pay again since the tickets that we bought in the morning already consist 2 ways trip from Windsor to Legoland and back to Windsor again. It cost us GBP 11 for 2 adults and 1 child. Each journey was only 10 to 15 minutes (depending on the traffic).

The boy said that he loves the visit to Legoland the most during our London trip, so that is why it is my first post from my other soon to come posts about our London trip. Although there were not many rides opened during winter, but this is a chance to visit and see a different Legoland that we will not experience in Legoland Malaysia.

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