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Unread 9 Nov 18, 07:44 AM  
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London Nov 2018 - Harry Potter And The Cursed Child *Complete

This story starts back in December 2017 when, after nearly 2 hours in a virtual queue I managed to secure 4 tickets to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I knew exactly who would be accompanying me on this adventure - my DD Nicola 18, D-i-l Georgie and Georgie's sister Emily. They are all, like me, massive HP fans. We've read the books, seen the films and visited the Studio Tour several times so we've all been desperate to see the play ever since we first heard that it was being produced.

I gave the girls their tickets for Christmas last year. It was a complete surprise to all of them. These were delivered, by owl (see pic) to the cupboard under the stairs at our house just in time for them coming round for Christmas Dinner! Each was complete with a personalised Hogwarts letter explaining the plan and a miniature character wand. So began months of anticipation, excitement and waiting...

When the day finally arrived we travelled down to London from the midlands by train. We bought the tickets in advance via Trainline using my railcard and paid just 23 each for off peak returns. We had to change trains once at Birmingham where we had a scary moment when a delayed train caused a last minute change of platform which had us chasing across the station with only 2 minutes to spare! Apart from this, the journey went smoothly and we arrived in Euston Station just 5 mins behind schedule at 12.45.

Our base for the next couple of days was to be the Premier Inn London Tower Bridge. DD and I have previously stayed in several different Premier Inns and find them ideal for a short break. We'd not used this one before and chose it purely on price - at 148 for 2 nights in a family room it was cheaper than any others in central London. Although officially a family room accommodates 2 adults and 2 children, we know from experience that once you've checked in online no one at the hotel queries the age of the guests!

We took the tube as far as Tower Hill underground station and then began our walk to the hotel, passing the Tower of London and crossing the Thames via Tower Bridge en route. Although the hotel is called Tower Bridge this was actually quite a walk and took about 20 minutes.

Our original intention for this afternoon had been to find something interesting to do for a couple of hours, then go back to the hotel and get changed before having afternoon tea. The afternoon tea was booked for 4pm. However by the time we reached our hotel it was nearly 2pm, we were all hungry and none of us fancied walking backwards and forwards from the hotel any more than necessary so we decided to get changed first and head straight for the afternoon tea in the hope that we could be seated early.

So once freshened up we set out again back towards the river. We had actually passed the venue - The Brasserie at The Tower Hotel - on our way to our hotel earlier so knew that it was a fare treck.

We took some obligatory tourist shots on Tower bridge as despite many previous visits to London we had never crossed it until today!

We reached our destination by 3pm and although we were an hour early for our reservation they were happy to seat us immediately.

We had booked this using a Groupon 2 for 1 deal and only paid 12.50 each so we weren't sure what to expect but approached it with an open mind.

I have to say that it was bargain! We have all previously had much more expensive afternoon teas and were very favourably impressed with this one. I would happily recommend it to anyone.

The view from our table across the river was lovely (had the weather been warmer, they also have outside tables on the terrace). The staff were welcoming, friendly and obviously familiar with the Groupon offer so we had no issues using our vouchers.

Once seated we were presented with a tray of the cutest little tea bags from which to select our drinks. Although we loved the look of these, being typically awkward customers, myself, Nicola and Emily don't actually drink tea so asked if we could have an alternative. This was no problem whatsoever and these were soon brought out - coffee for Emily and me and hot chocolate for Nic.

The sandwiches and cakes were beautifully presented on stands which were designed to look like the Tower Bridge. There was one stand between 2. The standard sandwich selection included ham & mustard, smoked salmon, egg and cress, cream cheese and dill and a little burger of chicken with avocado jam. These were all very tasty and fresh but for us the stand out filling was the chicken and avocado. Emily is a vegetarian so had asked for a variation to the menu, again they were happy to oblige and her meat fillings were substituted for veggie ones including cheese and pickle (I didn't make a note of all the veggie fillings, but she was happy with it!)

The highlight of this meal was, for us, the cakes and desserts which consisted of a scone with jam and clotted cream, a white chocolate cheesecake with black currant jelly, a dark chocolate mousse cake, a lemon and chocolate tart, a small chocolate chip muffin and a panacotta with raspberry compote (my favourite!). None of us managed to finish these but we gave it a good shot! I'm not sure if we could've had the left overs boxed to go because we didn't ask - we were all stuffed and as we were heading to the theatre wouldn't have wanted to carry them round with us all night. We ate at a leisurely pace and had another drink whilst enjoying the views - wine for Nic, Emily and myself and orange juice for Georgie who isn't currently drinking alcohol. We didn't feel rushed at all and the staff were attentive and informative without being too intrusive. I really can't praise the service or the food highly enough.

Appetites satisfied we settled our drink bill and left a decent tip before setting off again towards the underground and Covent Garden.

I love the Covent Garden area of London and could happily spend hours mooching around the shops and market and enjoying the entertainment but before any of this, we had a very important job to do...

... when I said at the beginning of this report that I'd given the girls their HP tickets for Christmas, what I'd actually given them was a print out of the order confirmation. The real, physical tickets had to be collected in person from the box office. So our first port of call was the Palace Theatre. There was no queue, so we were glad that we'd decided to do this now rather than waiting till later this evening.

We soon had these safely in our possession...

... the excitement was getting palpable!

We still had a couple of hours to kill before the performance so set off for a wander around the area just browsing and taking in the atmosphere.

The market stalls were beginning to pack away but we managed to make a few purchases. I bought a lovely little reversible pinafore dress for my 2 year old granddaughter, Elsie; Georgie and Ian's daughter.

The Christmas decorations are beginning to appear and it's all starting to look very festive.

The time soon passed and before long we were standing outside the Palace Theatre again waiting for the show.

The queue appeared long and snaked right round the side of the building but despite security and bag checks it moved quickly and we were soon inside the lobby.

I was very restrained with my my souvenir purchases and I'm proud to say only bought a programme! Emily however, bought quite a few things and Georgie got a cuddly Hedwig to take home for Elsie.

With cravings for HP merchandise satisfied we set off to locate our seats.

I had grown quite concerned about the location of these since booking. I knew when I set out to buy them that I would only be able to afford the cheaper seats but had had balcony seats and restricted view seats for many previous shows in other theatres before without issue so didn't really think that it would be a problem.

I paid 20 per performance for tickets at the front of the Grand Circle. These were to the side of the auditorium and were described as restricted view but I thought that they were probably a better bet than the rear balcony seats which were 5 less because they were so much closer to the stage...

... then I started to read the seat reviews online! People were complaining that they couldn't see half the stage, that they were the worst seats in the house and should never have been sold. But there was nothing I could do. They were booked and paid for and all but the most expensive seats, which were totally beyond budget, were now sold out anyway. So we were stuck with it. I just had to keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best!

... this was the actual view from my seat (B4) and I'm not going to lie, the very right hand side of the stage couldn't be seen and the railing that can be seen on the right of the photo was initially distracting.

However, we all agreed that we didn't miss any of the special effects and that it didn't spoil our enjoyment of the play.

It was possible to lean right forward to get a better view of the stage as there were no seats directly behind us. Even Nicola (who was the only one of us who'd not previously read the script) said that it didn't stop her from following the story line.

Given a free choice, would I book these seats again? Probably not. But I don't think that I really need have worried and some of the online reviews are unnecessarily harsh!

For those who have survived my waffling so far and are still with me, I'm sure that what you really want to know about is the play... so I'm not going to tell you anything!

I really don't want to give any Spoilers. Obviously, we were first time viewers ourselves and NOT knowing exactly what was going to happen or how certain effects and events were going to be portrayed really added to the excitement so I don't want to ruin this for anyone else. Sorry, but if you've not seen it yet, when you do you'll thank me (honest!) and those of you who have already been will know what I mean.

Suffice it to say that the performance exceeded all expectations. We were spellbound from beginning to end. The special effects are amazing and so cleverly done. The cast are very talented and the interaction between the characters is perfect. If I had to pick a favourite character it would probably be Scorpius Malfoy who whilst at times hilariously funny also managed to inspire my empathy.

It kept us on the edge of our seats throughout. The spectacular final scene ends with a cliff hanger that creates an unbelievable level of anticipation for part 2 - I would've happily watched it immediately, however we had to wait till the following night.

On leaving the theatre everyone was presented with one of these button badges... so I promise to do as instructed and #keep the secrets.

As it had been a long day and we were all feeling quite tired and achy it seemed like a good idea to get an Uber back to the hotel rather than battling the over crowded underground and facing another long walk. Despite having downloaded the app months ago, I had never used it before so I also wanted try it out before we go to Florida.

I'd checked the fare estimator earlier in the evening and it was quoting 8.97 - which seemed reasonable. However, due to the crowds, they were now using surge pricing and the estimate had risen to between 14 & 23. They were also quoting an expected wait time of 20 minutes. We still decided to go for it ... nearly half an hour later my phone rang and it was our Uber driver saying that he was stuck in one way traffic and couldn't get near us. He asked me to cancel the booking and try again!

The second car turned up about 15 minutes later and seemed to take ages to drive to the hotel. I was watching the route on the app throughout the journey and he appeared to take several wrong turnings. Not being familiar with London roads or the Uber system I can't be sure that he was doing anything wrong but we were charged the maximum 23.

To add insult to injury, when the charges came through, we'd also been billed 6.69 by the first driver who never even showed up! A quick phone call to Uber was sufficient to sort this out and the second charge was immediately refunded however, the whole experience was pretty negative and has left me worried about using them as our main form of transport for our holiday.

It was almost midnight by the time we were back at the Premier Inn and as it was a long time since our afternoon tea we were all hungry. We'd spotted a Papa John's across the road from the hotel so nipped over and ordered 2 large pizzas to share - Ham & Pineapple for Nic & me, Margherita for Emily & Georgie. These were gorgeous and exactly what was needed. We sat in bed eating them and reliving the highlights of the day. All agreed that we'd had a fantastic but tiring day and within half an hour we were fast asleep.

I failed miserably to take any pictures of the pizzas but by the following morning this was all that was left...

... so I think it's safe to say that they went down well.

As an early riser, I was awake again by 5am. Not wanting to disturb the others at this unearthly hour, I ran myself a long hot bath to soak my achy joints and started typing up my trip report. Emily was next up, at 7am, shortly followed by the others. It didn't take long for everyone to get showered and dressed.

We hadn't booked the hotel breakfast. I love a Premier Inn brekkie but seeing as we'd booked a family room, pre-booking breakfast online would've given us 2 free children's meals. As it was fairly obvious that we were a party of 4 adults this felt like taking the p*** and would probably have raised awkward questions in the restaurant.

I was secretly delighted though when the others agreed that the best option was still to eat at the hotel.

As I'm sure most of you are aware, Premier Inn breakfasts are all-you-can-eat and served buffet style. Nic and I opted for the full buffet at 10.50 each, whilst Georgie and Emily went for the continental breakfast for 8.50. As always there was a plentiful range of hot items available as well as a good selection of cereals, pastries, fruit, yoghurts etc. We also all had fruit juice and coffee.

Hunger pangs satisfied and fully revived and refreshed we were raring and ready to go for day 2.
I decided to sacrifice style in favour of comfort today. Gone were yesterday's heeled ankle boots to be replaced with these...

... and my large MK tote bag was dumped in favour of this ...

A quick consultation with Google maps suggested that our hotel (despite it's name!) was actually closer to London Bridge Station than Tower Bridge. So we set off in the opposite direction from yesterday for the much more manageable 12 minute walk to the tube.

We couldn't really miss Tower Bridge Station as it is right under neath this. I'm probably showing my ignorance here, but I'd got no idea.

Today we were heading for Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery.

We timed this perfectly as the gallery was just opening when we arrived and there was no queue whatsoever. There was already some pretty impressive pavement art outside which wet our appetites for the morning ahead ...

It had initially been Emily's idea to come here. She is currently doing a degree in fine art and was particularly keen to see Van Gogh's Sunflowers. The rest of us were happy to oblige as we all have an interest in art and it was several years since our last visit.

We spent a couple of hours wandering around viewing the exhibits and discussing our favourites.

... before heading to the gift shop where I purchased a massive chocolate coin and a London Bus money box to take home for DD Chloe and a Peppa Pig Visits London book for DGD Elsie. Not really quite sure what relevance any of these have to the National Gallery, but it seemed like a good idea at the time!

Our next stop was to be Waterstones book shop on Piccadilly. We were all keen to visit here as it is the biggest one in the country. It is also home to the 5th View Cocktail bar and unbeknownst to the girls I had decided to treat us to cocktails there.

This was another Groupon deal. I'd paid 28 for 6 cocktails. For this you could choose any drinks up to a value of 9.95. Seeing as Georgie is no longer drinking alcohol we decided to maximise the value of the voucher by using it for 2 cocktails each for the rest of us and I then paid OOP for Georgie's drinks.

I had a Peach Bellini and a Strawberry Lady. My favourite was the Bellini which was lovely and refreshing. The flavour of the gin in the other one was a little too strong for my taste.

Nicola also went for the Strawberry Lady but had a Martini for her second choice. She had wanted the Passion Fruit Martini but they were out of Passion Fruit so the waiter suggested making it with orange juice instead. She described this as, Different, but I don't think that she'd bother again.

Emily had an Espresso Martini and a Strawberry Bellini whilst Georgie had a Virgin Bellini and followed it with a Mocca. These all went down well.

We didn't eat here because we were all still quite full from breakfast and already had plans for a meal this evening.

The views from the cocktail bar weren't as spectacular as I'd hoped. They are described as impressive views across the rooftops of the city. But that's literally all that you can see... rooftops! It wasn't helped by the fact that it was a grey, wet miserable day. Still, it was a pleasant relaxing break and the drinks were very good value for London.

We then descended into the shop itself where the choice and variety is huge. Some serious money was spent here. Amongst other things, Georgie bought a lovely Christmas book for Elsie and I managed to sort out Christmas presents for Emily and her and Georgie's Mum, Fiona.

Once we'd finished in Waterstones we headed to Regent Street and Hamley's where we were pleasantly surprised to find that in keeping with the theme of our trip, they have a whole department dedicated to Harry Potter.

I resisted the temptation to buy anything here but took full advantage of the photo ops!

Next on the must do list was Nicola's holy grail of shopping - Top Shop on Oxford Street. In the past she has been known to spend over 3 hours in here but had been warned that, on this occasion, she couldn't expect Emily and Georgie to wait while she tried on the entire stock.

She still managed to buy a couple of jumpers and I bought her a dress and a pair of shoes to put away for Christmas.

We carried on up Oxford Street, popping in and out of various shops and making a few purchases. We finally reached Primark at Marble Arch where I had high hopes of finding reasonably priced Harry Potter and Disney clothing for our upcoming holiday but, although there was a staggering amount of choice, I didn't manage to find anything that took my fancy. Whether I was all shopped out or just overwhelmed by the choice I'm not sure but I left empty handed.

We hopped back on the underground at Marble Arch. We had a reservation for dinner at 5pm at Maxwell's in Covent Garden and it was time to start heading in that direction. This is our go to eatery when in London and we always try to ensure that we fit it in at least once. This is the first time that we've been since they moved to the new premises in King Street and we were hoping that it still lived up to our memories.

I had the Stack Burger (above) which is a huge double burger with bacon, cheddar cheese and mushrooms. The burger was juicy, very flavourful and perfectly cooked - it is also very messy to eat! It is served with coleslaw and fries, which I subbed for sweet potato fries.

Georgie and Nicola both had the New Yorker which was basically a smaller version of mine, containing one 6oz patty and minus the mushrooms. Yes, I confess now to being the greedy one!

Emily had the vegan burger (pictured above) with a side of Mac'n'Cheese. All meals were excellent as always.

We all had drinks with our dinner. A Pornstar Martini for Nic, Mango No 5 for Emily and me and a Diet Coke for Georgie.

Most of us were too full for dessert but Emily couldn't resist the Nutella Glazed Donut which she pronounced delicious.

As we still had plenty of time before this evenings performance we sat and chatted over a second drink. Emily and Nicola had the same again. Georgie tried a sip of the Mango No 5 which she loved so the barman offered to make her an alcohol free version. I had a Maltesertini - this was gorgeous and very smooth - Maltesers blended with cream and vodka. What's not to love?!

This meal wasn't the cheapest but I thought that for the quality of the food and the location it was still pretty good value. My share of the bill (for me and Nic) came to just over 70.

We continued to browse our way around the Covent Garden shops including Michael Kors where Nicola had her eye on a gorgeous red leather handbag. On enquiring about the price she was informed that it was 360, which she decided that she couldn't justify, so we made a hasty retreat. I think that we've got too used to the USA prices!

We soon made our way back to the Palace Theatre again where we were excited to continue with the story of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

We were in the same seats as the previous night but swapped between ourselves just in case the end one had a more restricted view than the others. I thought that it was only fair to share any potential disadvantages and this time I was in the last seat (Georgie sat there last night) but it honestly didn't make a great deal of difference.

Once we'd re-located our seats, the girls went off to the toilet and to get drinks. Whilst I was sitting there on my own a member of staff approached and asked if we'd been sitting there the previous evening. I replied that we had and he asked if any of us had lost a programme. I knew that mine was safe as I'd been reading it at the hotel but Emily had also bought one so I explained to him that I didn't know. He told me that one had been found on our seats when they were cleaning the theatre and said that if it was ours we could collect it from him at any time before or after tonight's show. When Emily returned she said that it probably was hers as she didn't know where it was, so we went and claimed it.

This might only seem like a little thing but I thought that it was an example of really good customer service which is often sadly lacking these days. The programmes are only 5 and it would have been so much easier for them to throw it away or even re-sell it than to save it and go to the trouble of finding us the next night. I was really very impressed!

Once the second part began we were quickly absorbed in the world of Harry Potter again. The second part of the play was just as well put together as the first and although it is perhaps less visually spectacular I found it more emotionally moving with some very touching scenes between the main characters.

I really can't praise this production enough and it proved a very fitting conclusion to the story of Harry Potter and his friends. There were a lot of the old familiar characters included but also enough new ones to add an interesting new dimension. I absolutely loved the whole thing and was quite sad that it was all over.

At this point I have to include our one and only photo of the play. I had done as I was told and switched off my phone (honestly) so stole this off Emily's Facebook but I was quite glad to discover that one of us had been rebellious enough to take one!

We were in no mood to repeat the Uber catastrophe of the night before so walked to Leicester Square underground where we got the tube back to London Bridge. We were back at the Premier Inn not long after 11pm.

We spent a while discussing our impressions of Cursed Child and various other important issues that the play had raised - including the correct way to pronounce Voldemort, what type of hat the sorting hat should be and whether there is a physical description of Hermione Grainger in the books or whether we just expected her to look like Emma Watson!

Eventually we all fell asleep.

The following morning we had breakfast at the hotel again (similar selection to yesterday so no photos) before packing and setting off for Euston Station.

Our train left at 10.47 and we had a nightmare journey. The train was packed. It was standing room only and so hot! Georgie and I eventually got seats when other passengers got off at Milton Keynes. Poor Emily and Nicola had to stand all the way back to Tamworth where we changed trains. We were back in Burton for 12.50 and Ian (my son, Georgie's husband) picked us up from the station.

So that's it, all over 😢

... well not quite, while we were in London we realised that Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald opens at the cinema on 16th November. So we've booked tickets and are planning a cheeky night out next week.

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Unread 9 Nov 18, 09:19 PM  
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Looking forward to this👍
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Unread 9 Nov 18, 11:15 PM  
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We saw this last week... sh! Keep the secrets! Most fantastic show... really hard not to tell everyone everything!

I couldn't get a PI so stayed at a travelodge near kings cross... mmmm... wished Id been at a PI instead.

Love those little owls, too cute x

Edited at 11:18 PM.
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Unread 9 Nov 18, 11:43 PM  
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Oh wow! We saw this last week and it was so much better than I expected. We accidentally landed up at the stage door and the actors were so lovely and signed my daughters book. She was in her element.
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Unread 10 Nov 18, 04:16 PM  
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Very exciting - lovely afternoon tea👍
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Unread 11 Nov 18, 02:52 PM  
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New Photo Added by ally1966 - 11 Nov 18 1:52 PM.
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Unread 12 Nov 18, 06:54 PM  
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Loved your report 👍 we have tickets in May😊. Can you take bags into the theatre with you ?
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Unread 12 Nov 18, 07:12 PM  
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Yes, its OK to take bags in. On the second day we had several carrier bags each! There is a bag check before you go in and security look in every bag - they wont let you take food and drink in.

You will love it, its amazing!
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