Details at the Harry Potter Studio

We are a family of Harry Potter fans, so when my daughter and I went to London last year, we just had to visit the Harry Potter Studio. We spent all day there and probably still missed some things. Every corner is full of sets, props, costumes, and special effects from the movies, there is just so much to see. The most amazing thing to me is that whenever you see a hand written label in the movies, it is truly hand written, not printed. One of the interpreters at the studio told us that just one little graphics department was responsible for creating all the labels used; that is every label on the boxes of wands in Olivander’s Shop, and all those labels for the potion bottles! Here are some of my favourite we saw during our visit.

Each cast member (and I think production member) has their own wand box here

Potions anyone?

Little vials full of memories

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Love – that’s all

I came across this little statue hanging on a wall in London; for the life of me I cannot remember where in London this was. I couldn’t help but stop and admire it, just hanging there, probably unnoticed by most passersby. I love to discover little-known places/objects/facts, and this one made my day.

 

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At the end of a long freeze

Here in Alberta we are used to having a week of -30/-35C here and there throughout the winter, but we have just come out of 2 weeks of these temperatures, and I am more than glad it’s over. Add to that the windchill and we endured temperatures of around -38C to -45C, not to mention the 50cm of snow we received just before Christmas.

This past week has thankfully been a lot warmer, with some days going as high as +5C. So the big meltfest has started, at least for now. So I took the opportunity to take a little drive around just outside of our town. Here are some of the views I came across.

We are lucky to be living just 40 minutes drive from the Rockies

A view of the magnificent Rocky Mountains

The sun was trying really hard to come through

One of the many back roads, some of which, as this one, are now free of snow and ice again

This field obviously escaped some of the big snow (probably due to the wind whipping it across the field)

Categories: Canada, Canadian Nature and Animals | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Frozen Soap Bubbles

After having enjoyed the mildest December since we moved to Canada in the first half of this month, Winter hit us with a dump of 50cm of snow the week prior to Christmas. After we dug our way out of this the temperatures dropped dramatically this week. It is quite normal for us to have at least one, if not two weeks of freezing temperatures of -35C, so this is nothing unusual for us.

For the past few years I have been saying that I would use one of those freezing cold days to try to make frozen soap bubbles (it needs to be at least -25C for this to work), so this year I actually did just that. I created the bubble mix by using some water, washing up liquid, sugar (for crystallisation), and corn syrup (to make the mix more stable). I found the recipe online, but the first mix (following the quantities given) was just not stable enough, so I added more corn syrup, but that gave a mix that just didn’t bubble too well, so more soap was added. After three different mixes (all of which have to sit in the freezer for half an hour before use) I got something that worked well enough. Word of warning if you want to try this out, you must have patience, as 9 out of 10 bubbles will burst before you get a chance to take any photos. I also found that using a straw to blow the bubbles worked better than the usual bubble blowing wand.

The whole enterprise would have benefitted from having a second person to help, but as I was on my own that morning it was just me trying to blow bubbles and then racing to the camera on the tripod to take the photos. I did try to use a remote shutter, but it was just so cold that the remote did not work. So it was me, a locked focus and some luck.

Here are the best of the bunch from my freezing morning.

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More from London

I haven’t really been very active with my blogging of late, somehow life got in the way in the past few months.

I find myself going back to my London photos again and again, and realizing that I still have a ton that I haven’t really worked on. So slowly I am working my way through them.

Here are a few that caught my eye this afternoon.

This is Leadenhall Market, which dates back to the 14th century and sits in the centre of Roman London. It used to be a meat, poultry, and game market, but is now home to boutique retailers, restaurants, cafes, pubs, and wine bars. It became famous world-wide as a Harry Potter filming location.

 

Leadenhall Market

St Katherine’s Dock is the place we called home during our stay in London earlier this year.

The docks were opened on 25th October 1828, and are situated between the Tower of London and the London Docks. Originally the area was home to a hospital, originally founded in 1148 by Matilda of Boulogne. The hospital, together with 1,250 houses and tenements, were pulled down in 1827 to make way for the docks. This left around 11,300 inhabitants looking for new accommodation elsewhere. These docks specialized mostly in tea from India and wool from Australia, New Zealand and the Falkland Islands. It also received a large array of luxury goods from all around the world, such as china, ostrich feathers, spices, mother of pearl, oriental carpets, and raw materials to manufacture perfume, to name but a few. Since the demise of the shipping industry, the area has been transformed into a mix of residential houses/flats and restaurants/bars/pubs.

St Katherine’s Docks

And finally for today, The Shard.

The Shard is now one of the iconic modern buildings in London; it was inaugurated in 2012 and opened to the public in 2013, and was designed to be a vertical city, containing offices, restaurants/bars, shops, a public viewing platform and apartments. It stands 95 storeys tall (310m high) and is currently the tallest building in the UK. I hope on our next visit to actually make up to the viewing platform.

The Shard

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London at Night

As I am going through some more of my London photos I found these night shots.

London at night is just wonderful and provides for so many great photo opportunities. We were very fortunate that our AirBnB rental for the week in May had a great view out to The Shard. However, my most favourite building to shoot at night is the Tower of London. Unfortunately, I have not had time to work on those shots yet; something for another post further down the road I think. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these night shots.

Sunset in London

St Paul’s Cathedral as seen from the Thames

London’s City Hall

The view of The Shard from our London base

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London Streets

One of the great things about London is that, despite all the modern buildings, the street layout has not enormously changed for the majority of London streets. The medieval road system can still be traced in most areas and you really feel and see this all over London’s inner city. I loved exploring different parts of London and wander down some of the small roads that clearly followed some very old-established ways.

So, here are a few photos of some of those small streets which I have not yet shared on this blog.

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Underwater World

I sort of hibernated today, as it was -20C here. So I took the opportunity to dip back into creating composite images.

This is the result of around 4 to 5 hours of work (on and off) during this afternoon. I am sure there are things that could be improved (especially once I look at it again in a few days or so), but I am fairly happy with the outcome.

Underwater World

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Night photos

As we are bracing for some snow up here for the next few days I tried to cheer myself up by looking at photos from warm places we visited this year.

These night shots from Las Vegas grabbed my attention. Hope you enjoy them!

The view from our room in the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas

The famous water fountains at the Bellagio Hotel

Downtown Las Vegas

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Autumn – How long will it last this year?

The Canadian Geese are once again flying directly above our house; a true sign that Autumn is here and Winter is on its way. We are directly in their flight path and every Spring and Autumn we enjoy watching them over the house. In Spring we cheer their arrival and in Autumn I can be heard screaming “No, please don’t go yet, come back!”.

Autumn brings a ton of colour, and photo opportunities are everywhere, but I couldn’t resist plundering out little Evans Cherry tree for this shot:

Despite high winds of 90-130km/h this past week our little tree is valiantly holding on to its leaves. However, it is just a matter of time before the tree will be bare and snow will be on the ground.

We always consider ourselves lucky if Halloween is snow-free. This year is looking good, in fact, some days we are reaching 17C with full sun, and others are more around the 5C mark. I am hoping that Winter is delaying its arrival a little longer so that we can enjoy the view of our colourful tree a little longer.

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