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Harry Potter Studios 2016

So while attempting to delete my second blog from my account (yes I have a second blog, I used this page for uni so there’s a bunch of attempts at journalism on here somewhere) I ended up on my drafts. And as it turns out, there are a couple of posts that I swear I’d already written on there…

So here we are with the first of them, scheduled to upload two years to the day of us actually going!

The drive was looong. A twelve hour, 600 mile round trip is not fun. We had two nights in a really nice hotel though, and some tasty food. We also went to a big sound stage to look at some old film props.

That is literally all I had written on the draft, so after I stopped laughing I had to think back and remember what we actually did. Luckily, I have a whole album to jog my memory! Looking back through these will be a chance to admire Emerald’s red hair and the fact that I haven’t changed a single bit in two years.

So yeah the drive sucked, but the hotel I booked was lovely, and we had a beautiful birthday dinner for Emerald where I had cake brought to us but no songs sang by anyone. Nailed it. On to more Potter pictures.

First of all, I have to point out that I am no Harry Potter fanboy. I read all the books when I was a kid, and I’d seen all the movies before I met Emerald – I’ve seen them all about 80 times since – but I’m not super into everything about it so I’m sorry if I get things wrong.

The sets they had through the whole tour were really cool, the best ones being the Great Hall right at the start, the outdoor set with houses and the Knight Bus (think that’s spelled right), and the Hogwarts Express.

Diagon Alley was cool, and there were a whole bunch of mannequins with different costumes from different films which I really liked, especially on the train. Emerald absolutely loved the entire thing of course, I think I’ll struggle to ever top this birthday.

The creatures were also all cool, but the huge Aragog above on the doors frightened Emerald and we had to hurry through to the next area.

It was a really nice day, I guess the south are used to having actual summers. I wish I’d got a couple of pictures of the hotel and the meal, but instead here are more pictures with one of me being exactly the same as always.

I also lost the ones I took on the train itself, but I have a few demonstrating how cool the mannequins were. The temporary exhibit was about Hagrid and had a big cool full size costume and once again I don’t know where those pictures went…

Collection of mannequins here, it looks weird but it really made me see into the making of the films somehow.

There are SO many props to look at it took us a good two hours to get through everything. I may also have put a photo or two in here twice, if so I apologise but they are in no kind of order and I wish I could remember which order we saw everything, but I can’t remember what I ate last week.

I could look up when Alan Rickman died, but I’m guessing it wasn’t long before this trip. I got Emerald a Pygmypuff (sp?) and we named him Alan after good ol’ Snape.

Oh! I forgot about the outdoor pictures, which brings me onto the one thing that was a huge let down for the day: the Butterbeer. It, was, awful. Like, the frothy stuff on top was like the end of a pint of lager, and the actual liquid tasted like three year old cream soda. Picture features a woman with dual ice creams though!

Lastly we have all the photos that I either couldn’t fit into a category or I forgot I’d already put them in somewhere else. Awesome trip, even for someone who’s not a huge Potter nerd. Would recommend for anyone who has enjoyed any of the Harry Potter franchise.

Side note before the actual real last set of pictures; how good is the soundtrack to Scrubs? I really don’t know where that show would’ve been without it’s montage music. And yes, I am watching the one where Ben get diagnosed with leukemia.

Anyway, the very end had a cool miniature of the entire castle and was awesome, and that’s pretty much all I got. Sorry about the two years that went by since I actually went! And the nine months or so since I last put up anything… Next holiday scheduled is Download which is going to be just the best thing ever, but by the time this goes up we may have organised something for Emerald’s birthday, who knows!

Just glad to be back in the swing of doing things that make me feel content.

Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack

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Dublin 2016! Guinness and guitars

I’m currently sat listening to Manchester United, by the sounds of it about 75 minutes away from losing to Chelsea, and so figured while I await the inevitable I pop up a little article on our Dublin holiday from 2016.

Albus and Opie are sprinting about all over the place too, so it’ll probably take me until the end of the match to have this finished because I keep getting distracted by rabbit-shaped shenanigans.

Dublin was a) beautiful and b) an absolute steal, as our return flight was delayed by four hours and we essentially got refunded the whole trip by RyanAir.

Man Utd 0-1 Chelsea. Sure…

When we got to Dublin we had one thing planned; a tour of the Guinness Storehouse. My dad loved a Guinness and it was the one place I really wanted to see. Plus, I wanted to pour my own pint!

Man Utd 1-1 Chelsea YES LUKAKU!!!

Anyway, the Storehouse was really cool, I always prefer free-roaming tours rather than being led around in groups. The very top was a panoramic bar area where we enjoyed a pint and some amazing views out over the hills. We also met some guys who I believe were from Pakistan if I remember rightly, it was a weird holiday where we actually spoke to other humans.

Also Emerald had planned ahead and had some custom made pint glasses waiting for us at the store when we got there because she is the best. I don’t often use them because they are very special.

After that we went to that famous place I’ve forgotten the name of, Temple Bar? Yes it was in Temple Square too I believe, apparently it’s a big place to see in Dublin. We sat at the bar and used our special glasses for another couple of pints of Guinness. We almost lost them to the bar but fortunately I caught them before they accidentally put them away. Switched to whiskey after that…

After that we chatted to a couple of American girls for a while, and took them to the restaurant adjoining our hotel because we wanted some more of the greatest chips in the whole world. Seriously, the food at that place was outstanding and now I’m hungry. If you’re ever in Dublin, go to The Gasworks.

We had seen a sign that day for a Rock n Roll museum, so the next day we had a wander back into the city and checked it out. It’s actually a still-functioning studio, and also has Michael Jackson’s pyjamas on the wall…

I’ve lost Albus… One sec.

Alright found him sleeping under the table. The museum had so much cool stuff, records from quite a lot of bands I am a fan of; Feeder, Arctic Monkeys, AC/DC and a bunch of others. There was also a studio where people could make absolute cringeholes of themselves with a full band setup, and a dressing room with riders from bands who had stayed in the studios over the years.

Lastly, the top floor is entirely dedicated to Thin Lizzy. Along with the original analogue mixing desk are guitars and recording equipment the band used. All really cool for fans of any sort of rock music.

The prices in the city itself aren’t exactly cheap, but they’re no more expensive than somewhere like Manchester. I’d really recommend Dublin for a little city break, especially in the sunnier months.

I will leave you with that picture of MJ’s pjs. And the football is still on, I did it!

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Fine set of pyjamas, but where are the bottoms…?

Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack

Poland pictures: Krakow 2015

As promised (two and a half years ago), here are the many many pictures I took while we were on holiday in Krakow in October 2015. Enjoy! You can read about the time we had in my words post here. I may actually go back and check it out myself, this blog is a great way for me to remember things that happened more than three hours ago.

 

It’s mainly the salt mines, and I am sorry if a lot of them are too dark to really see but it was really dark, so not much to be done as I am not yet proficient in any kind of photo editing. Hope you enjoyed!

Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack

Prague 2016!

Another classically late post about something I did months ago. Today, the holiday I went on in January with Emerald…

I can’t even remember if I put the photos from Krakow up on here last year, I certainly meant to. Anyway, this will be pretty much the same as what I hope I did with that trip, more pics, minimal droning from me.

And if I didn’t remember Krakow, expect that along with Harry Potter Studios later on this week…

Luckily these are all in order on my laptop! Makes things easier. First up I have to say we almost spent our holiday in Manchester, we got stuck in traffic for 2 3/4 hours on the way. A burning shortbread lorry nearly cost us our flight in classic England fashion. We got to the airport with about 45 minutes to get parked, through customs and find the gate. Positive side, no waiting around in the terminal for hours!

So we made it, and we made more than one trip to this awesome comic book store between our hotel and the town centre. As well as these really cool busts of Iron Man they had a whole bunch of figurines and clothing and general merchandise. Oh and lots of comic books. They were Czech though obviously.

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This was where Emerald got a very nice Star Wars jacket and I got a Watchmen hat. There is below a three floor musicy comicy clothesy place in town that was very rock and very exciting.

 

I also got a Sparta Prague shirt to go with my Poland shirt from Krakow so that was very exciting for me. Anyway, now here are all the pictures of nice looking things, starting with all the ones I found of the town square and the buildings in it. We had two full days there and spent six hours wandering around both days.

 

There were a lot of Segway people wandering around renting out Segways for some reason. We did not take one. Oh also there was a bubble man blowing lots of bubbles!

Also also every hour on the hour the astronomical clock (bottom middle and top right) chimed and a little Death came out of the top and rang an equally little bell.

On our last full day there, we had another wander through the town, but we came across a couple of fun museums that we walked through and got a few pictures. One was a torture museum, the other one was a wax museum. Let’s see them now.

 

Not a lot of information or tour guide type things going on, but it was about £5 to go through it and was pretty fun.

The wax museum was cool, halfway through where the sports players are there was a lifesize Pong you can play by controlling the paddles with your hands. We both sucked at it.

 

Most of these are Emerald being very silly with waxworks, which I assume we’re all okay with. I also apologise if some of the pictures turn out quite small, WordPress has put in a new feature that makes adding lots of pictures easier but arranges them in a weird random mosaic. Also, yes that is a football goal in a urinal.

Another lovely experience we had was at the Cafe Louvre, somewhere Albert Einstein used to go and be in. They had tasty cake and turtles in a tank!

 

Lastly, this was the view from the top of the tower in the square. Prague is such a lovely city and everyone should go and look around.

 

It was actually quite warm for January, and we could not throw money away for the life of us. I brought about a third of my spending money back, and I was walking around on the last day actively trying to spend it.

So them’s all my pics, I’ll go back and make sure Krakow is up and if it is then Harry Potter Studios will be next. The hotel was really nice too, byeeeee.

Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack

Krakow 2015 :)

Hello again!

It’s been ages, a good 20 days since my last post. Since then I’ve been working lots, and had a holiday!

Now I have two days off, it’s payday and I’ve already spent a buttload of money on Christmas presents and my car, so I thought I’d do something free and write about my hols to Poland with Emerald.

It started swimmingly. I got a small amount of sleep in before we set off at about 1:30am. The journey down to Liverpool went by fine, until we got to a closed off section of the motorway and got diverted around to the road leading into the south of the city, where our directions became useless.

We were leaving the car at Alex’s house in Liverpool, and he would take us to the airport. When we got into Liverpool he gave us the wrong postcode and had to come and collect us to take us to his house to take us to the airport. Confusing. Also we literally drove past the airport on the way to his house.

So we got to John Lennon Airport, drove into the car park to get dropped off about 5:30am. Alex then couldn’t get out again because he needed to pay for the barrier and had no wallet, so I had to run over and get that sorted.

After that everything went perfectly, flight was around 7:30 and we got into Krakow for lunchtime.

We spent the first day settling in to our awesome hotel room (Aparthotel Leone, if anyone wants to go), and wandering around near the hotel. We found a supermarket where noone spoke English unfortunately, and a little cafe where you could get a meal and what might as well be a teapot full of tea for £3.

Pretty much everything there is crazy value for money, except the brand name shops because obviously. Emerald did pick up a pair of Vans for £30 though.

Monday it snowed all day, which was fine it made the place look all pretty and we were wrapped up nice and warm.DSC_0028

This was the view nice and early Monday morning from our hotel. Gonna jump into a few pictures since they’re much better than me just describing everything.

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This was our first tourist stop, Wawel Castle (and Emerald in the corner doing some mad films). All the snow made it super picturesque and lovely to walk around, which made up for a lot of the exhibits being closed. We had a wander round here through the armory and another place I have totally blanked on. No pictures from there because they aren’t allowed, but Emerald got some clips in there for her film because she’s an international criminal apparently. I got some good shots of the outside though, the two here are my faves.

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Came out through the Dragon’s Den, was too cold for the big dragon they had outside to breathe fire, but the river was right over the road and looked very serene in the white wintery white.

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After the castle we still had loads of the day left to have an explore, so we decided to have a wander into the Grand Market Square, the biggest of its kind IN THE WORLD.

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Pretty sure it was called Grand Market Square…

There were cafes and shops and little souvenir places that sold souvenirs that you might actually want. We even found a little rock and metal stall with a bunch of shirts and Zippos and belts that were cool.

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There was also this big long open air market in the centre of the square. Every single stall had at least one showcase of amber coloured jewellery.

On our other full day in the city we took a bus out to the Wieliczka Salt Mines, full of salt and 800 stairs to go down.

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The mines were amazing, we spent a couple of hours down there covering 1% of them. Our tour guide was really nice and funny and taught us a lot about the history of the place. They have all kinds of sculptures and carvings and all sorts down there, and some really cool chandeliers made partly of salt.

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The most impressive and beautiful part of the tour was just after the gift shop area (so weird seeing ancient stone work behind a vending machine hundreds of feet underground).

A huge cathedral looking room with an altar, 3D carvings in the walls and a statue of Pope John Paul II was the highlight of the day, near the end of the tour.

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I have loads more photos from the mines and a few more of the castle, which will go up on a separate post to have them all on show if anyone wants to see them.

Again, the salt mine tour was early in the morning, so just like Monday we had half a day to wander around and explore so we went through the square again to a huge shopping mall, to see if we good get any decent deals compared to back home. Emerald got her Vans and a jumper, I got a nice wooly scarf but there wasn’t much in the way of bargains there, especially compared the rest of the city.

We both got a few cool presents for people, and we got a beastly mug each for tea and things like more tea. I also finally own a Jakub Blaszczykowski shirt, found one for £30 on the way back to the hotel.

So we flew back early Wednesday, had a chill at Alex’s and drove back home so Emerald could get ready for a gig that evening. Krakow is an amazing city, two and a half days was plenty of time to pack in a lot of stuff, it was cheap, the hotel was nice, most of the people are lovely, and I’m sure we will go back one day!

Picture edition of holiday post will go up soon, can’t wait for another holiday next year, Guinness in Dublin sounds very tempting.

Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack