Day 8 – Westminster Abbey and Warner Bros. Studio Tour
Today, two coaches infused with excited anticipation departed for a brief morning visit to Westminster Abbey and continued on for an afternoon of magic! The sun was beaming through the windows as we arrived at the breathtaking gothic monument of the Abbey, where the time-worn walls have seen many a notable coronation, royal marriage and funeral. A holy place saturated with history and tradition, where even in recent years the world has witnessed the funeral of Lady Diana and the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Below the aged stone of the abbey lie great, illustrious men and women. We admired the resting places of Kings and Queens, scientists Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin, explorer Dr Livingstone (I presume), poets and storytellers Geoffrey Chaucer and Lewis Carroll. We took a moment over the grave of the Unknown Soldier, a resting place symbolic for all the anonymous brave men who perished in World War I. We even got to see the one and only magnificently regal (albeit quite rickety by now) chair that has seated monarchs on their Coronation Day for over 800 years!
On a day like this, what could be better than a picnic lunch in St James’s Park? Absolutely nothing! The park’s lush patches of green were decorated with countless of blankets and sunscreen bottles and, yes, even the pelicans were out to greet us today! We sat in the grass, nibbling on our sandwiches before we made our way to Platform 9 and 3/4, where we boarded the Hogwarts Express – well, almost! Our friendly coach drivers drove us to the Warner Bros. Studio but that didn’t take away from the magic! As we opened the towering doors to the Great Hall of Hogwarts, (an honour given to our very own birthday girl – Andrea) we were struck by a whirlwind of witchcraft and sorcery (and a pinch of fan hysteria). We witnessed the ‘Making Of’ process of one of the most magical worlds our planet has grown to love. From props, to costumes, to blueprints, even full sized locomotives and castle models – a place where the real magic was exposed. We walked through mysterious, some even spectral structures, listened to booming sound effects and some of us even bought our very own wand to curse our ISCA faculty members with! Not one eye passed through the Harry Potter Studios without a hint of a gleam… and yes, we’ll never look at Quidditch the same way again! After a truly magical day, everyone took part in an evening of art, frisbee and cricket. Now all the students are in bed, most probably dreaming of casting spells on basilisks, centaurs, dragons, trolls, thestrals and three-headed dogs! Next stop….Stratford-upon-Avon!!