Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Orchids, Butterflies and Snow

Not something you normally associate together but today we were off to our favourite place, RHS Wisley, to  see the butterflies in the glasshouse.

This is an annual event and if you are local to Wisley (or not even) it is well worth the visit. On a cold, snowy day, the glasshouse is a welcome retreat too.

The staff at Wisley had done a wonderful job of clearing the paths. Did they also put this little fella here for us visitors?

I'm frozen!
Obviously many areas were closed off, with good reason, but you could still have an enjoyable walk around.

Into the glasshouse we went.  One of my favourite flowers of all time is here - the orchid.  I adore these flowers and have pots of them blossoming away year round on my kitchen windowsill. The size and colours here are beautiful.

Then in to see the butterflies. There was one with beautiful electric blue wings when it had them open but as I tried to take a photo, it flew off.  I couldn't capture it again but we still saw lots and the girls were really excited about them.

This one was trying to make a bid for freedom. A lady spotted it sitting on another lady's coat and got it off before she exited the area.  Unfortunately it then didn't want to leave her finger so she had to kind of pop it onto a plant.  Better luck next time butterfly.

Let me out of here

We had a sandwich outside on the bench by the waterfall then looked in at the cocoons.  One butterfly was in the glass case and one had just hatched so the girls enjoyed seeing that and talking about it.

The butterflies are in the glasshouse until 24th February.  If you're taking little ones, remember you have to leave your buggy outside for this event so you may want a sling if you have a babe in arms.

We had fun

Monday, 21 January 2013

Let it snow!

The weather turned last week and snow arrived in the South of England. As usual, traffic chaos ensued - trains were delayed, flights were cancelled and getting to work via ungritted roads was a nightmare. Fortunately none of that affected us.  The girls were delighted to see snow and we had much fun having some walks around in it. They even threw a few snowballs at me!

Look at all the snow in the trees

Daddy helped (a bit)
The only thing that we should have bought last year when it snowed was a sledge. I think we'll have to pick up a couple soon so that we have them for next year's snow ;-)

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Splish-Splash Splosh Suits

Is daddy going to shake the tree?
Yes, they are aptly named!  Our girls got these Regatta Splosh suits for Christmas from the outlaws and what a tremendous buy they were.  As you can see, they have been worn time and time again already.

What's so great about these suits you may ask?  Well, they are warm, all-in-one and waterproof. What more could we ask for for our girls.

Remember that we go geocaching in all weather and they love to go to RHS Wisley.  Now we can go anytime during the winter and know they are all snug.

The girls loved the suits as soon as they saw them and they are our current everyday wear while this weather is continuing.

RHS Wisley - very friendly deer
We had fun splashing around Wisley in them and we headed off for a very, very muddy geocaching adventure last week.  The suits were covered in mud up to the crutch but the girls were both warm and dry when we took them off.

We found the geocache!
The great part about the suits is that they have a single zip with a small piece of material that covers it inside so that water does not get through.  We pull them down over their wellies and away they go.  The only leak we have had was due to a hole in S's welly ;-)

This was the least muddy bit!
The hood is attached and has a fleece lining (as does the suit body) so even in the snow, they both were snug with just their normal indoor clothes underneath.

Another geocaching find
There is even a bit of reflective trim as you can see, not that our two can be missed in pink and red!

You can find the suits and other nice outdoor clothing at the Regatta website.

(This is a personal review and I was not provided with any incentive by Regatta)

UPDATE: March 2013 - Both suits split on the leg seam in February and were duly replaced.  However, less than a month later, they have both gone on the same seam again.  As the children aren't mountaineering or doing extreme sports, this renders the suits useless if they cannot even cope with children who walk a lot in wellies!  We have therefore returned them and obtained a full refund. I would not buy Regatta again.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Lucky 13 birthday geocache

You may recall that birthday geocaches don't appear to be too lucky for us so we were determined today to break that bad luck run.

It was 2013 so had to be a lucky year right?

Off we went after lunch over to Horsell Common to pick up the CD Swap cache.

This was one smiley face I wanted for my caching calendar (not that I don't need another 250 days you know) and as we failed last year, we may as well try this one.

Parked up and had a nice walk through the woods to GZ.

GPS jumping around a little under the trees but a quick spot by hubby who then called the girls over and suggested they have a look around the base of the tree.

Two delighted little ladies found the cache.

N put it back but needed a bit of help covering it up again.

Back we went to the car. It was very cold out and we had achieved what we had come for - a cache on hubby's birthday.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Warner Bros Studio Tour - Harry Potter

Yesterday J and I headed off to the Warner Bros Studio Tour at Leavesden Studios to see The Making of Harry Potter.  We were very, very excited.

Here we are!
We have both watched all the Harry Potter films and have really enjoyed how the story has evolved and the characters matured.  It was therefore the icing on the cake to go and see the sets, props and making of.

Lots of car parking when we arrived and you are directed to spaces, Disney style.  Our entrance was at 5.30pm so the place wasn't too busy.

We couldn't believe it when we were standing just by the large chess pieces outside as a shout went up and running into J's arms was her cousin!  Who'd have thought it.  She had just come out and said it was brilliant.

Chess anyone?
As we were early, we had a hot chocolate to warm ourselves up first in Costa, then decided to look around the gift shop.  As expected, unless you had a second mortgage to spend, everything was very expensive.

It's a nice scarf
I would have loved a house scarf but at £25 that just wasn't going to happen.

The Every Flavour Beans were also a bit of a shock at just shy of £10 a box.  We didn't fancy finding they had lots of earwax, vomit or earthworm flavour either.  Call us picky.

We also loved the house cloaks. Excellent for a fancy dress party but at almost £80 each, again it was a luxury we were never going to use.  In fact, you could buy pretty much every house colour full uniform there. Amazing.

Some of the masks, charms and wands were lovely to see.  Here is a selection of them.  They were £25 each but I would only buy one if they did real magic - sadly they didn't.

L-R: Harry, Hermione, Ron
Once we had finished looking around the shop (we bought a chocolate wand and a blood lolly), we went and joined the queue to go in.  At the entrance to the tour is the Cupboard Under the Stairs where Harry had his room.  A good insight of things to come.

Harry's bedroom
The doors opened and in we went.  A little film show about how the films came about and then into the theatre next door for another introduction by the main characters.  The screen lifted and we were at the entrance to Hogwarts!

Hogwarts entrance
Doors opened and in we went.  Wow!  It was amazing.  Here are a selection of photographs for you. I'm sure you will recognise lots of the areas and props.

We had to take the opportunity of getting photos of us flying on broomsticks (I'm sure my ex-husband won't be surprised by a picture of me on one).  You could also get a photo of yourselves in the flying car.  The photos were reasonably priced - £12 for one or £16 for two and as you could mix and match, it was a good offer.  J and I were delighted with our pictures and what a lovely memory.

This Quidditch game is easy
After we finished this stage area (there are two called J and K oddly enough - I wonder why? ;-) ), we went to the outside lot where there was the Knight Bus, car, motorbike and sidecar, Privet Drive and the bridge at Hogwarts - all great photo opportunities.

At the entrance to the next stage were some more chess pieces. They really are magnificent as you can see.

Heads without bodies
Next was the creature feature, where all the masks were made and the creatures designed.  Again, amazing to see.

We then all the technical drawings for different parts of the set.  Some of these pieces were then made out of paper.

Original artwork was on the walls next.  I wonder what it is worth?

Round the corner to some more paper pieces. I never made anything like this out of paper at school!

Paper Hogwarts
Whomping Willow - made of paper
Through another area to literally be met with a Wow! experience.  The scale model of Hogwarts. You really can't get the best impression of the fine detail from the photographs but I'm sure you will get an idea of just how impressive it is.

Lastly, the wands. All the boxes are individually made and there is one for every person who was involved with Harry Potters - writer, cast and crew - from J.K. Rowling through to the driver of the Hogwarts Express and every cameraman, electrician and make-up artist.  Amazing to see.

The Harry Potter tour is a must for any fans.  The tickets may well seem expensive but it is worth it.  We went for the basic entry ticket.  We didn't need a guide book and we didn't hire the digital guide and we really didn't miss out.  For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, get yourself along.