June 20, 2013
Jeff didn’t sleep well last night worrying about picking up the car and then having to drive it. He was out the door by seven to come back and sweep us out of our London home by 8. We pulled away from the curb right on schedule, headed 20 miles north to Leavesden for the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour. Using my Port Orchard traffic math skills, I estimated that it would take around a half an hour to make it to our scheduled 10 am arrival time. Good thing Jeff had the foresight to leave early, because it took us one hour and twenty minutes to get to the “freeway” on the north side of town (8 miles). We made it to the studio with two minutes to spare. The studio was fantastic. There was something for all of us to enjoy, from the actual sets (indoor and outdoor) used in the movies to props and costumes. There were also exhibits on costumes and wigs, prop dressing, special effects, visual effects, art conception and (the piece de resistance) the room-sized scale model of Hogwarts that was used in all of the flyover scenes of the castle. We even got to sample some butterbeer! No wonder Hermione always wanted to head to the Three Broomsticks . It was de-lish!
From Leavesden, we travelled northwest for Great Missenden to visit the quaint but entertaining and informative Roald Dahl Museum. I enjoyed reading all about one of my favorite children’s author and the kids enjoyed the interactive exhibits. The town was adorable too, situated in the Chiltern Hills of Hertfordshire. We hadn’t had a meal yet, so we stopped in a local sweets shop and then hit the road for Oxford. After checking into the hotel and eating a proper meal we set out to find a “laundrette.” Jeff drove me in to Oxford and dropped me at the place the hotel suggested. Aaarrrgghh. There was no change machine so I schlepped all four bags of laundry to what I though was the bank, but turned out to be the sports book with a bunch of guys smoking cigars and watching a wall of TVs. After sorting the clothes and stuffing them into the machines, I discovered that the soap vending machine was out of order. I started the washers and ran across the street for soap and fabric softener but by the time I got back the cycles had finished. Oh, well. I was alone for an hour and that’s worth something. The serial killer that I kept expecting to arrive never did, so it’s all good. I now have a renewed thankfulness for my washer and dryer at home.
Today was quite the adventure in the driving department. Jeff likened it it to “driving down the McGee’s driveway with 2-way traffic at 70 mph.” I think it was more “life-sized” Autopia with oncoming traffic, no bumper bars and some massive trucks thrown in (but only on blind corners). We dubbed it Grand Torrismo UK. There were lots of things thrown in for difficulty: NO stop signs- only traffic circles (lots of traffic circles), tractors, two way streets that are (Jeff’s words) “1.3 lanes wide,” pedestrians and cyclists with no indication that they are aware of any traffic, hedges or trees right up to the edge of the road so that it seems like you are in the bottom of a hole or a never-ending tunnel, obscure street names and non-existent road signs. It was terrifying and comical at the same time.
All in all: another great day in Britain! 😉