So every year we have two Christmas trees (because why have one when you can have two!!)
I have already posted about our regular, lounge Christmas tree but, we also have a very special Christmas tree in our bedroom…
It’s a Harry Potter themed tree!
(What a suprise 🤣)
Originally I used bits of memorabilia to decorate my tree with a Sorting Hat topper, but as more and more Harry Potter stuff has become available (thanks Warner Bros and Primark!!) I have built up quite an extensive collection of baubles.
Most of them are from Primark sets but a couple are from the Studio Tour in Watford, as are the ribbons.
Without further ado, lets take a look at the different stages I went through to create my awesome Harry Potter themed tree.
They have had a little upgrade this year… but what could be more magical than star shaped fairy lights in the four house colours (nothing, exactly!)
I go for red and gold as although all Hogwarts Houses are represented on the tree anything like tinsel or bows are very much in a Gryffindor colour scheme.
As I said, alot of the sets come with a bauble for each house, so all are represented… but more heavily represented are mine (Gryffindor) and my husbands (Hufflepuff) favourite houses.
I bought two new sets of baubles this year (from Primark)… the top one is from a set of four and each bauble is clear with cute, thin tinsel inside to correspond with its Hogwarts House… the tinsel also has lots of tiny little stars in it. The house emblem and name is also written on the front in the same colour font.
These are my favourites so far. They are so pretty.
I also picked up another set with four baubles. Each one says something from the series, eg: ‘Platform 9 3/4, Lumos, Forbidden Forest & Golden Snitch’
Gryffindor themed of course!
I bought this in the sale last Christmas time. I think I got it just after Christmas so it was a bargain.
This is the first year I will have used it. It looks great.
Here is the final tree! – Looking super magical if I do say so myself 😉
We are halfway through 2022 (HOW!?!) So I thought I would do a halfway round up of what I have read so far…
Harry Potter and the Philosphers Stone: Minalima Illustratred edition
I know what you’ve done by Dorothy Koomson
Cometh the Hour by Jeffrey Archer
22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
Her majesty the Queen investigates… The Windsor Knot by SJ Bennett
Trust me by T M Logan
The Sanitorium by Sarah Pearse
The Land of Stories: An Authors Odyssey by Chris Colfer
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
Love, Locked down by Beth Reckles
Nalas World by Dean Nicholson
This was a man by Jeffrey Archer
Midnight is a lonely place by Barbra Erskine
Walking on Sunshine by Giovanna Fletcher
Wrong Place, Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister
The Summer Fair By Heidi Swain
The Baby is not mine by Oyinkan Braithwaite
The Donor by Clare Mackintosh
1. My Favourite book so far: ‘Wrong Place, Wrong Time’
This is an absolutely fantastic book. It had me at the synopsis – never have I sent a synopsis to so many people because it sounds SO good. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I didn’t want to put it down. The characters and their relationships were lovely and it was a great reading experience.
2. The most gripping so far: ‘Wrong Place, Wrong Tim’ & ‘The Hunting Party’
These were both brilliant books for making you say ‘Just one more page’. There was lots of drama, lots going on and lots to keep enticing you to the end.
3. My Least Favourite so far: I know what You’ve done.
Simply because I didnt find it as gripping as Dorothy’s other books and I found the characters less likeable. It did have a good few twists though.
4. Easiest to read: ‘Love Locked Down‘
It was weird reading a book about the madness that was the beginning of the pandemic but it was quite cool reading about something that you’ve actually been through in a relatively light hearted way. I liked the variety of characters.
5. One I would recommend: ‘Wrong Place, Wrong Time.’
The time loop and just the sheer depth of the plot ans suspense made it a fantastic reading experience. I really enjoyed her writing style.
First stop, airport breakfast. Are you even going away if you don’t have one?!?
We flew quite early on our first day (half a good idea as you get a whole day, half a bad idea as we were knackered and needed a nap before dinner)
Once we had landed we got the tram from the airport to the town centre, which was cool.
We then found our accommodation, left our bags and headed out to look around and book a tour. We had been hoping to book the tour that day as we had prebooked some others, unfortunately there were no slots available so we booked it for the second day.
We had a little bit more of a look around. The architecture and city centre are amazing, its such a beautiful place.
We found this awesome place for some lunch. How cool is it!! Bats are my favourite animal so I fell in love with this place immediately. It was really quirky and unique inside too, I love finding independent places like this.
Once we had enjoyed our food we wandered back to our accommodation as we could now check in. Hubby listened to the football whilst I had a nap as I was knackered thanks to the end of term/early start. It was much needed.
We got up and ready for the evening and went to a delicious Italian (our favourite) which we had spotted earlier.
We just had a chilled evening as we were both travel tired and wanted to be ready and raring for the next few days.
A brilliant start to the trip!
D A Y • T W O
For our second day, we headed back down to the Royal Mile for our first tour of the day.
Our first tour was called ‘The Real Mary Kings Close’. It is an hour long guided tour where you learn all about the history of the different closes and the people who lived there. Our guide was brilliant in character and really funny, which made the experience that bit more fun too.
After the tour, we hung around the Royal Mile for a bit, had some lunch and a drink before our second tour.
Our second tour was a history of the old town. It was so interesting and really cool learning about the different buildings all around the Royal Mile and their significance in the growth and development of Edinburgh.
We were shown the ‘only official’ Harry Potter merchandise shop on our tour, so at the end of it, we queued up (yep, it’s so popular you have to queue) and we went in. It was so cool, the decor is insane! And there’s so much cool merchandise.
We rounded off the evening with ‘The Best Fish & Chips in Edinburgh’ which tbf were pretty delicious. I even tried a battered Mars bar, which was really yummy.
D A Y • T H R E E
We enjoyed a yummy breakfast at our ‘hub’ Accommodation before walking the length of the Royal Mile to Holyrood Palace.
I always loved the Queen, so it was cool to see Holyrood Palace and its grounds. We didn’t have time to go in, which was a shame, but it was a lovely day, so we went for a walk through the garden and admired it from the outside.
We also had a look around the Scottish Parliment building, which was interesting, too. You had to go through proper airport style security to get in, which was a bit mad (but understandable).
We then walked all the way back up the Royal Mile to Haymarket station where we met my Uncle.
He lives in a different part of Scotland, so we arranged to meet up with him for a day while we were close by. We took the bus together and went to Edinburgh Zoo.
It was an unprecedented hot day in Edinburgh, and everyone had obviously decided to do the same as us and visit the zoo… the queue was mad, but we got in eventually, and we had a lovely day.
It is such a lovely zoo and a really good variety of animals, some which they don’t have in our local zoo.
We especially enjoyed seeing the different types of penguins (the King penguins are amazing!) and the Gentoo penguins, as well as the Sun Bears, Sloths, and most incredible of all, the Giant Panda!!
That is an animal I never thought I would actually see, and it was so cute.
We rounded off a brilliant day with a delicious Italian before we headed back to our respective homes. It was one of my favourite days of the holiday and it was great to catch up.
D A Y • F O U R
For our penultimate day, we had an earlier start. Again, we enjoyed a hotel breakfast before heading back to the Royal Mile for our Harry Potter tour!!! Exciting ⚡️
Here is a little rundown of some of the cool things that we saw…
Harry Potter Walking Tour ⚡️🏴
1. Outside The Elephant House Cafe where JK often wrote ✍️🏼 2. Sorted into our houses at the start of the tour 💛 3. Tom Riddles grave 🪦 4. Hogwarts inspo for the exterior, houses & alot of interiors eg Great Hall 🏰 5. Victoria Street, the inspiration for Diagon Alley 🪄 6. Outside the shop that is believed to have inspired Flourish & Blotts Bookshop 📚 7. Bank of Scotland, inspo for Gringotts 8. The Balmoral Hotel where JK finished writing the last ever Harry Potter book ⚡️📚 9. On the Royal Mile, the main body of this monument inspired parts of the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets 🐍 10. JK Rowling’s Handprints on Edinburghs very own ‘Walk of Fame’ 🖐🏼✨️
Once we had some lunch, we headed to the National Museum of Scotland. They had a Doctor Who exhibition that we wanted to look around.
It was really good, we enjoyed looking around the exhibits.
We even went inside a Dalek!
We had a brief look around some of the animal areas of the museum before we headed back for a chill before dinner.
We went back to our favourite Italian ‘Pomo’ one last time for some delicious food.
I had been eyeing up the frozen Raspberry Daiquiri all week, so I decided to have one ok our last night… it was amazing.
We then headed back to the lovely bar we visited earlier in the week – The Hanging Bat 🦇 we got a cocktail each to round of the evening.
D A Y • F I V E
Our final day!
We went out for breakfast at a little cafe before heading to the Royal Mile one last time.
We went to the Writers Musuem, where they have rooms all about three famous Socttish writers; Robert Louie Stevenson, Robert Burns, and Sir Walter Scott.
We then walked down to the new town and had a look around, had a drink,and even got to get right up close to ‘The Balmoral’ (as mentioned in the HP tour on Day 4) which was really cool.
Finally, we headed to the castle to have a closer look before we left. We didn’t get around to going in, but to be honest, there is so much to do that we could definitely visit again.
The views of Edinburgh from up by the Castle were amazing, too.
We rounded off the trip with one last lunch stop at The Hanging Bat 🦇
We’re going to miss this place!
We then grabbed our things and headed off to the airport.
All in all we had a brilliant trip- Edinburgh is beautiful and we got so lucky with the weather. There is SO much to do and it would definitely be great to go back.
So, last months Book Club book was ‘It ends with us’ by Colleen Hoover.
Now I know she is a bit of a marmite author and to be honest I was dubious when it was chosen as our latest book club book, however I was pleasantly suprised.
I had seen this particular book all over TikTok but I had resisted reading it, I’m glad I did.
This books genre is a romance.
It ends with us by Colleen Hoover.
Here is a brief overview of the plot:
‘Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town where she grew up—she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. And when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life seems too good to be true.
Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.
As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan—her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.’
Some opinions on the book:
Such an easy read!! I couldn’t stop once I started and was so invested in where it was going.
I instantly wanted to read the sequel to see how the story ended.
Surprising turn of events in the story, that I didn’t see coming.
There were some sweet characters. I also really liked the unusual names.
It addresses and gives voice to important issues.
Some of the relationships, the friendships particularly were born very unrealisitisly quickly and were a bit obviously plot driven in some ways.
I’m sure an independent business isn’t as easy to set up and make a success as it is suggested in this book.
Out of 5 stars I would give this book ☆☆☆☆
I really enjoyed this story, I couldn’t put it down and it reinvigorated my reading mojo! I’ve read so many books since I finished it which is awesome as I had been in a bit of a slump.
It’s been a little while since I’ve done a book recommendations post so I thought I would do one for you this weekend.
I chose the Thriller genre because 1, its one of my favourite genres to read (for many reasons) but 2, because it is a saturated genre and sometimes overwhelming… so take a look at a few that I have read and would thoroughly recommend, you know to make it easier for you!
These are all books that I have read (of course!) and that I would 100% recommend to people if they asked me.
These are some of the best books I have read and give you that perfect mixture of being gripped and gasping in shock!
Wrong place, Wrong time by Gillian McCallister
‘It’s late. You’re waiting up for your son.
Then you spot him: he’s with someone. And – you can’t believe what you see – your funny, happy teenage boy stabs this stranger.
You don’t know who. You don’t know why. You only know your son is charged with murder. His future is lost.
That night you fall asleep in despair. But when you wake . . . it is yesterday. The day before the murder.
Somewhere in the past lie the answers – a reason for this crime.
And your only chance to stop it . . .‘
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
‘Alicia Berenson lived a seemingly perfect life until one day six years ago.
When she shot her husband in the head five times.
Since then she hasn’t spoken a single word.
It’s time to find out why.‘
The Girls Who Disappeared by Clare Douglas
‘THREE GIRLS MISSING
Twenty years ago, Olivia Rutherfood crashed her car while driving home with three friends. When she regained consciousness, she was alone – her friends had vanished.
THEY WERE NEVER SEEN AGAIN
Now, journalist Jenna Halliday visits the town where it happened, determined to unlock the girls’ disappearance.
But Olivia won’t speak. And as Jenna probes further, the locals grow frightened . . .
How many secrets can one small town hide?‘
The Invisable Girl by Lisa Jewell
‘YOU DON’T SEE HER. BUT SHE SEES YOU.
MIDNIGHT. In the bad part of town, where cats prowl and foxes shriek, a girl is watching…
When Saffyre Maddox was ten, something terrible happened, and she’s carried the pain of it ever since. The man who she thought was going to heal her didn’t, and now she hides and watches him, learning his secrets, invisible in the shadows.
Owen Pick is invisible too. He’s never had a girlfriend; he’s never even had a friend.
Nobody sees him. Nobody cares.
But when Saffyre goes missing from opposite his house on Valentine’s Day, suddenly the whole world is looking at Owen.
Accusing him. Holding him responsible for Saffyre’s disappearance…‘
The Holiday by T M Logan
‘Four women who have been best friends for as long as they can remember – Kate, Rowan, Jennifer and Izzy – making the most of a luxurious villa in the south of France. But Kate has a secret: her husband is having an affair.‘
The Perfect Lie By Jo Spain
‘He jumped to his death in front of witnesses. Now his wife is charged with murder.
Five years ago, Erin Kennedy moved to New York following a family tragedy. She now lives happily with her detective husband in the scenic seaside town of Newport, Long Island. When Erin answers the door to Danny’s police colleagues one morning, it’s the start of an ordinary day. But behind her, Danny walks to the window of their fourth-floor apartment and jumps to his death.
Eighteen months later, Erin is in court, charged with her husband’s murder. Over thatyear and a half, Erin has learned things about Danny she could never have imagined. She thought he was perfect. She thought their life was perfect.
But it was all built on the perfect lie.‘
Have you read any of these? Have you got any good Thriller recommendations?
So, something super fun happened last weekend! March 4th.
Me and my Husband went to our very first comic con. Now, don’t get me wrong, it was at times as stressful as I thought it would be… but also, not as stressful as I thought at the same time…
Let me explain – so I don’t think the where’s and when’s of your photo experiences were massively well explained. I was never explicitly told a time but thankfully someone I know worked it out for me and we arrived with plenty of time, without prior con knowledge I have no idea how you’d ever work it out… but,
Once we were there the staff were super helpful and it was relatively easy to find/ask where you needed to be and when for any experiences and photos you may have booked, so that made it alot less stressful! Everyone else who was also visiting were helpful too which was lovely.
So, anyway – our first comic con was really fun and it was exactly how I imagined it to be. There were so many people in so many costumes, epic costumes. Seriously impressive stuff. It was just a vast room filled with people geeking out, having fun and being unapologetically themselves and maybe slightly irrationally excited about celebrities 🤣 (my self included) I walked past Sylvester McCoy for christ sake!!
And best of all… I MET JOSEPH QUINN.
It was actually surprisingly nervewracking just before the photo slot but it all went well, mostly… I had to have my photo done twice as the camera flash left a glare on the photo because of my glasses… so I had to go again… I had to stand and have everyone look at me as I had a photo taken, again… which I hate… but, it meant I got to say ‘hi’ and put my arm around Joseph Quinn twice so… 🤷🏼♀️🤣 I’d take that as a win tbh
Plus – I thought it was really nice that they let me go again and made sure everyone got a nice photo.
I mean, I literally said ‘hi’ x2 and ‘bye’ and ‘thanks’ to him but in those 10 seconds he seemed very lovely (as I had heard he would be) his very enthusiastic ‘HI’ and smile as you walked over was very sweet. I kind of wish I had plucked up the courage to say a bit more to him but you don’t really have much time anyway… I would probably buy a autograph next time if he goes to any nearby cons again.
The two things that struck me the most were how totally normal he looks (and I mean like in a non celebrity way, he looked great but I think it’s very easy to forget that celebs are just people and they don’t like float around on clouds, with gold sparkles around them or whatever ) and how friggin tall he is in real life- jesus.
I enjoyed having a walk around and looking at the stalls and costumes. A highlight being when I rounded a corner and saw Ghostface casually browsing a t shirt stand 🤣🤣
I got me and my sister a cool Stranger Things Poster each and then we headed over to the mainstage and queued for Joseph’s talk. It was the final event of the day and it was so packed, I’m glad we started queueing when we did.
It was so surreal seeing the set up that I have watched so many times on tik tok of his previous con ‘talks’ but it was really cool to listen to one and see him chatting in real life. To be honest, if you’ve seen one you’ve probably seen most as he gets asked alot of the same questions… but there were some really funny moments that made it worth it… and some adorable moments from a few little kids too.
All in all I really enjoyed my first comic con experience and I would definitely go to one again and be more confident and less panicked now that I know how it all works.
So this weekend saw our first trip of 2023 – and we visited Wales 🏴
Friday 24th February 2023
📍Merthyr Tydfil 🏴
We stayed in a lovely AirBnb…
We drove up on Friday night in order to give ourselves maximum time on Wales. A quick stop at a services on the way and we made it in time for bed, ready to start the adventure the next day.
Saturday 25th February 2023
📍Barry Island 🏴
I was super excited about this day!!! We got to visit somewhere that I have wanted to visit but never thought I would… Barry Island.
Now this may seem like a strange choice but if you’ve watched the TV show ‘Gavin and Stacey’ then you’ll get it.
I was literally having my Gavin and Stacey moment and it was awesome. Seeing the seafront where so many iconic scenes took place, Nessa’s slots, Marcos cafe, Gwen & Stacey’s house, Bryns house and Doris house… it was friggin’ epic!!!
Honestly one ot the funnest days ever. So amazing.
We spent most of the day enjoying the seaside sights and then we headed home via a shop to make dinner at the air bnb.
We played games and of course watched some Gavin and Stacey to round off the day.
Sunday 27th February 2023
As the capital and as it was on the way home we decided to spend our last day exploring the city.
We started off by getting some yummy lunch!
After that me and my sister had a look around the Primark (Standard!) Haha
We then looked around the Castle. We didn’t pay to go inside but you can walk right through the middle and see it all from the outside which was really cool.
Our second stop was the National Museum of Wales.
This was really cool, in particular the animal section and dinosaurs. My Nephews really enjoyed it too.
The architecture of the building and the town hall next door was amazing too.
We enjoyed the extra ‘100 year’s of the BBC’ exhibition that was happening at the time too. It was really interesting to see the evolution of television over the last century.
There were some really cool parts to the exhibit like props from Cardiff filmed BBC shows such as Dr Who. There was also a cool set up of a 1970’s lounge complete with retro furniture and TV set… and finally there were some awesome retro children’s toys that were on programmes over have all been on the BBC – very nostalgic.
We headed off once we had, had a refreshment at the cafe (I tried a Welsh Cake – the regular ones were delicious but a scone is better!!)
& of course once we had been to the gift shop…
They were very happy with their Wooly Mammoth and Pteradactyl!
The journey home was pretty straightforward and it didn’t seem quite as long as in the way! We made another, quicker stop at a service station together on our way home and finally got back around 10/10.30 which wasn’t too bad.
We had such a great weekend and we managed to cram lots in, in order to make the most of our time there. I’m looking forward to more trips throughout the year.
Have you been to Wales before? What was your favourite sight?
So, we have had book club meeting number one of 2023.
(A little later than planned as the madness of Christmas/January meant we all, for the most part needed more time to finish up)
This book was chosen as our December/January read – hence the Christmas theme. Although this was far from my usual cheery, festive fiction jaunt.
The Christmas Murder Game is by Alexandra Benedict.
Here is a brief overview of the plot:
Twelve clues. Twelve keys. Twelve days of Christmas. But who will survive until Twelfth Night?
Lily Armitage never intended to return to Endgame House – the grand family home where her mother died twenty-one Christmases ago. Until she receives a letter from her aunt, asking her to return to take part in an annual tradition: the Christmas Game. The challenge? Solve twelve clues, to find twelve keys. The prize? The deeds to the manor house.
Some opinions on the book:
A different, interesting twist to a Christmas book.
Easy to read.
An interesting plot which made for a really good story.
Something different to what I have read before.
It would make a really good film.
Some points are a little unbelievable.
The bonus riddles are so hard to find!!
Out of 5 stats I would give this a ☆☆1/2.
Simply, for a Thriller it wasn’t that thrilling. It was an easy read for sure and it was a good story… we were all in agreement that actually it would make a really good film, but I wasn’t personally gripped by it even though it is very easy to read.
Have you read this book? What did you think of it?