Unpopular Opinions – Christmas Edition

I don’t know why but I love writing ‘Unpopular Opinion’ posts so much! Sorry if you are sick of all the different versions I have done by now but I cannot get enough of creating them, so here’s another one all to do with the festive season and Christmas itself.

1. There is too much pressure put on giving someone the perfect present

It feels like people view the presents they are given as a signifier of how much they are valued by the giver. However, presents should be all about the sentiment, not the price tag or what designer label it comes from. Giving presents these days feels like you are having to prove to the person how much you cherish them but that feels impossible to encompass in an item or two, so it ends-up simply being an unnecessarily pressurising process.

2. Opening presents in front of the person who gifted them to you is tense

When I am opening presents, I am way too aware of my facial expression! I worry that I’m either looking unimpressed or that I’m making too much of an effort to look happy with the present which means that I end-up looking like I’m faking my reaction. There is no satisfactory way to open a present and I wish people would accept that I am being truthful when I tell them that I am really grateful for their present rather than seeing the look on my face as the real signifier of truth.

3. Crackers are a disaster waiting to happen

Who thought that having multiple contests of strength occurring at the same time around a dinner table loaded with glasses, plates and drinks was a good idea? The males in my family especially really like to muscle-in on the crackers, so much so that their arms end-up flying back when they break and I live in worry that a glass of wine is going to go flying!

4. Flashing Christmas lights are too intense

I much prefer the softer type of lights where they either fade in and out or just stay the same. Some of the flashing Christmas lights around where I live look they are trying to replicate a secondary school rave more than be festive!

5. There are no Christmas-specific films that I love to watch

To be fair, I’m not really a big film fan anyway (except for the in the case of the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films!). Although, I distinctly remember the Grinch absolutely terrifying me when I was a child to the point where I would simply avoid watching it when it inevitably came on every year. It wasn’t even the fact that he was trying to steal people’s Christmas presents from their own houses which scared me, it was more about the way he walked around and his creepy fingers!

6. People who put cold cream on top of their Christmas pudding are going too far!

Every single year at Christmas, I will look around me as people tuck into their Christmas pudding and see people pouring cold cream (fresh from the fridge) onto their hot puddings and it continues to make no sense to me!

7. The expectations people have for Christmas Day are too high and put an unfair amount of stress on the host

Every year people stress about making Christmas Day absolutely flawless. People get so caught-up in trying to make everything look picture-perfect and ensure that everything goes off without a hitch that they forget to enjoy the moment. I feel sorry for all of the people who run around their kitchens, boiling hot and flustered, on Christmas Day and miss out simply relaxing with everyone else and enjoying the day for what it is. 

 

Find my other ‘Unpopular Opinions’ posts below:

Unpopular Opinions – University Edition

Unpopular Opinions – Harry Potter Edition

Unpopular Opinions – USA Travel Edition

Unpopular Opinions Part 2

Unpopular Opinions

 

If you want to hear more of my daily ramblings, follow me on Twitter – @RyanBInNature

 

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Closing The Chapter Of November

November has been a funny old month, full of a jumble of occasions, tough moments and travelling back and forth between my family home and University. So, in a bid to get my mind around everything that has happened in the last 30 days and document these events for my own memory, I thought I would do a post to close this month’s chapter.

Opening-up and being assessed

November brought with it more than its fair share of mental and emotional hardships. The weight became a lot for my mind to bear, so I reached out to different people for help. Although I didn’t always get the results I wanted or needed from these attempts, at least I know that I took responsibility for my own mental health again this month and didn’t completely close myself down, no matter how strong the temptation to do so was. I continued attempting to adjust to my new medication this month which prompted me to write a post about the stigma around taking medication for your mental health. Finding the right medication can be a long, confusing and winding road which I’m not convinced I have fully travelled yet, so this month was about me assessing the impact my meds were having on me and the extent to which they have been effective.

 

Deadlines crept-up on me

I handed-in my first two proper essays of my second year at University. One minute their deadline dates seemed in the far distance, then suddenly they were upon me and I felt woefully unequipped to tackle them. Whilst there are many ways I could have better approached these assignments (essentially giving myself more time to do them!) I’m proud that I managed to give them a good go whilst juggling some of the heavy mental health-related things which were swirling in my life.

 

Back and forth

The train journey between where I live at University and my family home has become a habitual presence in my life over the course of this past month. Due to birthdays and appointments, I have been needing to be present at home quite frequently. Each time I go back there, I gain a new appreciation for how much I miss the simple things which come with being home. The town I grew-up in makes me feel nostalgic these days with every corner prompting memories from my childhood to flash in front of me, whereas before I only held a seething resentment for the (admittedly very much imperfect) place.

 

Birthdays at every corner!

There was a grand total of six birthdays within my family during November. First of all, it was my Godmother’s 31st birthday then her sister’s 22nd. It’s crazy to think of them as being at these ages, it makes me wonder where all those years went between them being the girls I once saw them as and the confident young women they now are. Then, there was a 17th birthday in the family, another milestone that I cannot quite believe has crept-up so quickly, especially when I remember going around to said boy’s house when we were nothing more than tiny tots. Then, both of my brothers and my grandma had their birthdays. My grandma turned 91 whilst still holding herself with the youth, energy and wit of  someone years younger. Also, she is nothing less than a flipping style icon to be honest; that woman knows how to put together an outfit!

 

Fantastic Beasts, The Crimes of Grindelwald

It takes a lot to get me excited about a film because I’m not particularly a movie fan considering that I usually find it boring to sit through over an hour of watching something. However, JK Rowling’s wizarding world has a place in my heart that I cannot even attempt to explain or summarise, so the second Fantastic Beasts film had been a date in my calendar for quite a while. I went to see it in the cinema (a very rare occurrence for me) and I was blown-away by the spectacle of it. I genuinely believe the people who work on the visual effects of those films must be near geniuses! As we re-visited Hogwarts, I felt a very real tug on my heartstrings and the phrase ‘Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home’ played in my mind.

 

I can’t say that I’m always proud of myself

My attendance this month at University has been patchy at best. When my anxiety in particular rears its head in its customary vicious fashion, I struggle to even open the door of my flat let alone take a step outside of it into the danger of the wider world. Therefore, my attendance at seminars and lectures took a hit. The thought of sitting through a class whilst destructive thoughts raged within me and words stuck in my throat was, at times, too much for me to bear. I couldn’t pretend that I was ‘well’ when, in reality, I was feeling at the complete mercy of mental health. However, for the classes I did manage to attend, especially in the last week of this month, I can be pleased that I pushed myself to regain some control over my academic life and didn’t let my lack of attendance spiral out of control too far.

 

So, it is now December. Who knows what this month will throw at me or you, yes you, reading this. However, I’m immensely grateful for whoever will be here to read the following instalments on this blog and follow my somewhat volatile ramblings as I relay my thoughts, feelings and emotions. To anyone who has commented or given me a like this month, I am so, so grateful to you! You have no idea what a boost those such things can give to my day when I am feeling low or anxious or anything in between.

 

If you want to hear me ramble on everyday follow me on Twitter – @RyanBInNature !

 

Unpopular Opinions – Harry Potter Edition

 

1. I actually do enjoy the Fantastic Beasts franchise

Since the release of ‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’, I’ve seen a lot of criticism online about the Fantastic Beast stories as a whole. People have said that it is unnecessary to make more films about JK Rowling’s Wizarding World and that they should have left the Harry Potter series as the ending for this world. Also, others have said that Fantastic Beasts simply resembles leftover author’s notes from JK Rowling and that she is prolonging the series for the sake of money etc. Apart from the fact that, I assume, JK Rowling has more than enough funds to be getting on with, I genuinely do enjoy this new franchise. Whilst I am not blind to its flaws (such as continuity issues) the visual experience of seeing these gloriously detailed films and revisiting Hogwarts (my spiritual home!) is more than enough to get me hooked!

2. I love Slytherin House

I am very, very biased about this one considering that I am in Slytherin myself according to Pottermore! However, I do think that the House is unfairly demonised by people who assume everyone who belongs to it must be evil. In fact, I believe, the traits of the House amount to a person being resourceful and knowing what they want which are no bad things (as long as people do not go too far in their quests for what they want!).

3. I find Dumbledore vaguely annoying!

I know that it seems wrong to say this about such a well-loved and and cherished character but honestly the way that he manipulates events and withholds certain truths when he feels like it became really quite frustrating to me during the Harry Potter books and films. The fact that he was always so sure that he knew best and asked so much of the people around him was not a typically benevolent characteristic. 

 

CONTACT ME:

Twitter – @RyanBInNature

 

Read my Harry Potter Tag here.

Awkward Confessions – Halloween Edition

1) I have only been trick or treating once

One Halloween, I went round to my friend’s house and her dad took a little group of us around their neighbourhood trick or treating. We must have been around 7 or 8 years old and I found out later that her dad had gone around prepping all the neighbours for our arrivals. My parents never let me go trick or treating around my area although, to be fair, I’m not sure I would have wanted to anyway but being with my friends and one of their dads, I felt like it was an amazing adventure, especially because they lived near a graveyard which made the whole experience extra spooky!

2) My family used to close the curtains and pretend we were not home when trick or treaters came around

I feel quite bad about this one but I think this was because my parents did not want older kids coming around and causing trouble from what I remember. Also, we were inevitably that family who had forgotten to buy any sweets for the occasion so even if we had of answered the door the best the kids would have got would have been a few mints from the bottom of my mum’s handbag!

3) I used to hate dressing-up for Halloween

I used to hate dressing-up full stop actually, no matter what the occasion was. The whole process of putting on a costume and embracing fancy dress has always gotten me embarrassed and feeling flustered. Part of that is probably down to the fact that I am a very self-conscious person and inherent in fancy dress is having to be able to pull-off an outfit and be confident enough own your look. Suffice to say, I have always avoided dressing-up wherever possible. 

4) I am awful at carving pumpkins

For some reason, it used to fall to me to carve our pumpkin each year which is actually very puzzling because every year I would do a pathetically bad job of it! Apart from the fact that I hate scooping-out all of the gloopy insides from the pumpkin, I have always struggled  to do anything fancier than a few triangles for the eyes and nose and then a slightly jagged line for a mouth.

5) I like celebrating Halloween…just not at parties!

I know that I am most likely the exception but I enjoy celebrating Halloween in my own ways and mostly on my own. I am not a fan of parties no matter what occasion or time of the year it is, so Halloween celebrations are no different. Instead, I have my own traditions which I enjoy largely in my own company.

(Wow, I’ve just realised how much of a misery guts I sound…)

 

YOU CAN FIND ME HERE…

Twitter – @RyanBInNature

Instagram – @awalkwithnature00

 

Lessons High Schools Could Learn From Hogwarts

Yesterday was one of those days when I was reminded how lovely a place social media has the potential to be. It was 1st September and #backtoHogwarts was everywhere on Twitter and Instagram, as people took magical photos to mark the departure of the Hogwarts Express from Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station. The joyful atmosphere surrounding that hashtag got me thinking about how muggles always dread going back to school and I imagined an alternate world where every student actually faced the oncoming academic year with the same enthusiasm as Hogwarts’ students. I came to the conclusion that there are many lessons which High Schools could learn from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to make the education system a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved. Whilst, Hogwarts is not without it’s faults (the fate of multiple Defence Against the Dark Arts teachers was at the very least unsavoury), it was considered a second (or first in some cases) home by its students rather than a place of misery and boredom which many High School attendees regard their schools as being.

Without further ado, here are just some of the lessons High Schools would do well to learn from Hogwarts:

1. Never underestimate pupils

For many, High School can be a time of confidence-crushing experiences, in which teachers impart on you the impression that success will always remain out of reach during your life. People who do not excel during classes are often told that they are destined for failure whilst they are at a startlingly tender age and have not had time to let their talents bloom yet. I’ve known someone very close to me who was told in primary school that he would not be able to progress through the school system and would have to be withdrawn to a specialist school to have even a slim chance of reaching his GCSEs. However, he is now completing the third year of his University degree. High Schools could learn a great deal from the stories of Hogwarts’ students such as Neville Longbottom. Neville was constantly undermined and chastised by his teachers for his anxious and forgetful demeanour, so his talents went vastly overlooked for many years as teachers did not invest time in developing his self-confidence. Yet, it was Neville who destroyed the last Horcrux and was able to wield the Sword of Gryffindor which only choses the most noble witches and wizards to be of use to. If there is anything to glean from Neville’s school years, it is that pupils should not be underestimated simply because there talents are not easy to spot from a distance, those who flourish slowly are infinitely valuable too.

 

2. Everyone needs a Hagrid during their school years

Although his cooking was perhaps not up to much and his unwavering trust in all magical creatures sometimes put his pupils in less than comfortable situations, Hagrid was often a crucial shoulder to cry on, especially for Harry, Ron and Hermione. I could think of no-one better to lead the first years from the Hogwarts Express across the Great Lake with his guiding light showing them all the way. Hagrid’s kind and open heart endeared him to his students (except for certain Slytherin cohorts) and by being such a generous soul, he showed his pupils that they should not believe in all the stereotypes they are fed due to his being an unconventional giant. His passion for his subject shone through in every lesson he conducted whilst he strived extremely hard to make every lesson enjoyable for his students, his heart always being in the right place. With the restrictions in school funding in the muggle world, pupils often do not get all the pastoral care they deserve. High School can be a confusing and isolating experience for too many pupils and a Hagrid-like figure could make all the difference in making their experience more bearable. School is not only about academics and peoples’ final grades, an emphasis too should be placed on the learning of core values which will help shape students into adults who are equipped for the world ahead of them and who have had confidence instilled in them by understanding figures like Hagrid.

3. Food is important too!

I believe that Ron would be especially passionate about this point considering his undying passion for Hogwarts’ feasts in the Great Hall as well as any sugary treats he could get his hands on. Whilst I do not expect High Schools to lay on extravagant feasts for students, food is an extremely important fuel to facilitate learning during the school day. Joking aside, too many pupils have to go to school each day on an empty stomach because their families’ could not afford to feed them breakfast and that reality is heartbreaking. When food is scarce at home, pupils often struggle to concentrate and take information in during lessons, rendering them at a distinct disadvantage to other pupils whose families are able to afford sufficient nutrition. Poverty creates a chasm of inequality in every level of schooling, so schools need to have the funding made available to them so that they are able to give pupils at least a good breakfast and hot lunch, in order for them to get anything out of the school day, something which the Hogwarts house elves who worked in the kitchen would agree with wholeheartedly!

4. A feeling of belonging makes all of the difference

If a student feels like they have a real place at school, their academic efforts and contribution to the establishment can increase hugely. Partially due to the house system, the vast majority of Hogwarts students felt a sense of belonging inside that magical, grand castle. Pupils worked hard for their house because they wanted their house to succeed at the end of the year and also because their house became another family to them. For me personally, I never felt comfortable being at school during all those years I was at different establishments. I was on edge constantly during the school day waiting for the next taunt to be flung at me from one of my classmates or worrying about who I would be able to hang-out with at lunch. Feeling like the odd-one-out made me resent school and, as a result, I never contributed during classes because I was always worried about the reaction of  my peers. Essentially, I never found a place for myself at school. However, at Hogwarts, the feeling of belonging students had was something for them to fall back on during hard times. Even if the library was your safe place, as in the case of Hermione, there was always a space for pupils to slot into at Hogwarts which stopped them from feeling completely adrift.

5. Get yourself a Professor McGonagall

You would never want to get on the wrong side of her and she dealt-out her fair share of tough love but Professor McGonagall was a pivotal figure in her students’ lives. Minerva McGonagall had the ability to chastise a pupil for their wrongdoings perfected beyond that of most other teachers, however she also had the ability to sit a student down, offer them a biscuit and give them some crucial words of wisdom. She was an extraordinary teacher who treated her pupils with a very real sense of love and protection. Overworked teachers and underfunded High Schools mean that students are not able to be given the sort of Professor McGonagall-esque treatment that they deserve. Teachers do not have the time and schools do not have the resources to stretch every pupils and make sure that everyone reaches or exceeds their potential whilst also making them feel cared for like Professor McGonagall did. 

I hope you enjoyed these little Hogwarts-inspired pointers and please drop any more that you can think of in the comments if you have ideas on how to make school more enjoyable and preferably more like Hogwarts! Thank you for reading and, as always, feel free to reach out to me on social media if you wish…

TWITTER: @IssieLouH

INSTAGRAM: @awalkwithnature00

The Harry Potter Tag

No amount of Harry Potter magic in your life is too much. Recently my mental health has been quite up and down and, as silly as it sounds, the wizarding world of Harry Potter always allows me some escapism, even at the age of 19! I love retreating into the fantastical world of Hogwarts and diverting my mind from the negative thoughts spiralling around my head. So, today I thought I would complete the Harry Potter Tag in a bid to spread some magic and light to other people’s lives.

*I believe that this tag was created by Cassie over at ZombieGoddess Beauty, so all credit to her*

1. What house are you in?

I am a very proud Slytherin! Whilst some people find my house controversial, I firmly believe that not all Slytherins are evil or necessarily drawn to dark things. We are resourceful and cunning but we can chose to use these qualities in any way . Also, being ambitious (which is another house quality) does not have to be a shameful attribute. Striving for the things you want in life is very important for self-fulfilment.

2. What is your patronus?

My patronus is a buzzard according to Pottermore (which is a bird if you were wondering). I’m not sure what to say about this really, except for that I think having a flying creature for your patronus is quite cool, especially in a visual sense.

3. What is your wand?

My wand is alder wood with a unicorn hair core, 10 inches long and quite bendy. 

4. What would your boggart be?

Probably me as a deeply miserable old woman. As someone who suffers from mental health issues, there is always a worry in the back of my mind that my problems will stay with me all my life and that I will never be far from depression and anxiety. The idea that I would spend my whole life in that state is very frightening to me.

5. What position would you play in Quidditch? 

I think I would be a Beater. I would not like to be a Seeker because that entails too much pressure and attention from the crowd. Being a Keeper might make me jealous of my teammates because they would be able to fly around a lot more than me. Also, I don’t think I would have the speed to be a Chaser whereas a Beater would quite suit my fiery nature.

6. Would you be a pure blood, half blood or muggle born?

I could imagine myself as a muggle born because I am usually the odd-one-out in a lot of situations! I am quite an awkward person as well which would correspond with the awkwardness of being the only one in the family with magical ability. I’m not sure what my fellow Slytherins would have to say about it though!

7. What job would you want to have after graduating from Hogwarts?

Running my own magical shop in Diagon Alley sounds like a nice prospect! Perhaps I would run a shop in my retirement after serving as an auror during my employment years. Catching Death Eaters and other dark figures would be very satisfying and give me a chance to prove all those Slytherin stereotypes wrong.

8. Which of the Deathly Hallows would you chose?

The Invisibility Cloak has always greatly appealed to me. As a very anxious person, being able to hide from certain social situations sounds great to me. Also, with the Invisibility Cloak I could investigate all sorts of forbidden places which would make for great adventures.

9. Favourite book?

The Prisoner of Azkaban. As this is the book where Harry, Ron and Hermione are in their Third Year, we see them as having matured (to an extent) for the first time and we get an insight into their emotional complexity, especially with Harry in regards to the death of his parents.

10. Least favourite book?

The Chamber of Secrets. I could not bare the character of Gilderoy Lockhart, so reading through scenes with him made me cringe and squirm furiously! However, it goes without saying that I still love the book.

11. Favourite film?

Again, I would say The Prisoner of Azkaban. It has everything in it that I love about Harry Potter films. Also, this film is the first time we see Sirius Black who is my favourite character and the scene where he flies off on Buckbeak’s back is iconic!

12. Least favourite film?

I would have to say The Chamber of Secrets again. Every time Lockhart’s face appears on screen, I groan!

13. Favourite character?

Sirius Black, I love that he is so complex. His family background is really interesting considering that they rejected him whilst he was still young because he diverted from their Pure Blood fascination. His courage and willingness to fight for what is right, his passion for being a good godfather to Harry and the injustice of him being imprisoned for a crime he did not commit all make a really intriguing character for me.

14. Least favourite/most hated character?

Lucius Malfoy, he is portrayed as spineless and incredibly passive, especially in the films. Whenever he has a task he is unable to do his own work, he never stands-up to people, his snobbery is infuriating and his son is endlessly miserable which is partly due to his dire upbringing.

15. Favourite teacher at Hogwarts?

This changes quite often for me but at the moment it is Remus Lupin who comes to mind. His lessons were imaginative and engaging for his students. His own story about becoming a werewolf at such a young age and facing social stigma because of it is another intriguing strand to his backstory. Also, the fact that he was one of the infamous Marauders helps my liking of him!

16. Least favourite teacher at Hogwarts?

Delores Umbridge, although Gilderoy Lockhart comes a very close second! Umbridge was endlessly evil and her torture of those who opposed her was shocking. She had an answer for everything and constantly found a way to legitimate her actions. Also her bright pink outfits along with her cat saucers, which lined her walls, were horrible.

17. Do you have any unpopular opinions about the series?

I thought that a lot more attention could have been given to Harry and Ginny’s relationship to be honest. Their connection wasn’t developed enough for me and did not sit naturally in my mind. 

18. If you could save one character from the final battle who would you save?

I think it would have to be Fred Weasley; he was so young and the other half of George who could never conjure a patronus again after his twin’s death. Whilst I think that Lupin and Tonks deserved so much better, I couldn’t save one without the other and at least they had been given the chance to live a life before they died.

 

I tag anyone else to do this who needs a little more magic in their life at the moment!

CONTACT ME:

Twitter: @IssieLouH

Instagram: @awalkwithnature00

Unpopular Opinions

I thought I should share a bit more about my personality here on my blog, so I’ve decided to share some opinions of mine which people often find to be weird or unusual. People have called me quite contrary in the past but I would be interested to hear what you think about the items on this list and whether you agree or disagree with me!

So, without further ado, here is a list of some unpopular opinions I hold:

1. I find Kindles annoying, so I will only read from a physical book.

2. I hate the word ‘banter’ and I cringe when people say it.

3. I think the Twilight films are great and I still watch them now.

4. Long nails scare me so I would never have fake ones put on.

5. I don’t think enough emphasis is placed on creativity or individuality at school.

6. I dislike watching TV and I never usually finish a TV series as a result.

7. For the most part, I find short stories boring.

8. I prefer Vans to Converse.

9. I think silver jewellery is much nicer than gold jewellery.

10. I’m not a fan of rose gold or copper ornaments and decorations because they remind me of the colour of dirty pennies.

11. Winter is my favourite season whilst summer is my least favourite.

12. I really do not understand the appeal of fizzy drinks, to me they taste horrible.

13. I think breakfast is the best meal of the day and I would happily eat it for lunch and dinner as well.

14. My favourite Harry Potter characters are Sirius Black and Remus Lupin.

15. The feeling of velvet makes me want to gag because it feels so repulsive to me.

16. If someone hugs me or even just touches my shoulder without my express consent, my head feels like it’s going to explode and I really do not understand why some people feel the need to constantly touch the person they are talking to whilst they are in a conversation.

17. Going to Primark is my idea of a terrible time and even the thought of it gives me anxiety.

Living In A Make-Believe World

Though my heart may long for the ocean
And my soul may pull towards cleansing,
The lush green grass outside my car window
Will always dance around my mind, echoing.

An imagined reality, surpassing that of romance;
I am heartily enthralled by the impossibility,
The fantastical chance for a happy ending.

My mind’s eye sees in a variation of coloured pens,
Fat, vast, greedy lines pass my sight,
Eventually fulfilling the outline of a child’s fantasy.

5 Things To Do In London

For those of you who don’t know, I was born in London and have lived just outside the city for the majority of my life. I’m not a natural city-person though, crowds trigger my anxiety and I get easily stressed-out if there’s lots of noises around me. So, sufficed to say you might think that London would be an unbearable place for me but people overlook the areas of the city which aren’t filled to the brim with the hustle and bustle of thousands of people rushing past you. Apart from the most well-known tourist attractions, there are so many other places you can go without feeling like you are being suffocated by sensory overload. So, without further ado, here are 5 lovely things to do in London:

1) Go to Battersea Park

When you are walking around Battersea Park it is hard to believe that you are in one of the busiest cities in the world! It is an oasis of calm and nature within the hive of activity that is the city of London. The fields of green seem to stretch endlessly in front of you which is probably because the park spans a huge 200 acres! Just beyond the park is the scenic River Thames as the park lies on lively Southbank  Battersea Park has its fair share of history within it too as it was opened back in 1858 by Queen Victoria. 

bridge london

2) See a play at the Globe Theatre

Entering The Globe, it feels like you have stepped back in time. It looks nothing like the other theatres you can find in London, such as those in the West End. It is modelled on the theatre which William Shakespeare’s plays were performed back in the late 16th and early 17th century. It is an open-air theatre, so on sunny days it is a particularly glorious sight, especially as it is placed on the banks of the River Thames. Many of the audience members are extremely close to the stage, giving any play you see there an immensely intimate feeling within the magical atmosphere of the traditionally built structure. If Shakespeare plays are not your thing, the Globe also puts on lots of other plays by different playwrights. 

3) Go on the London Eye

My obsession with the River Thames continues apparently as the London Eye is also located next to the glorious river! The London Eye is essentially a giant ferris wheel which is designed to go very slowly so that the people in its pods can enjoy a spectacular view of London from the height of 443 feet. On a clear day you can see for about 25 miles when you are at the peak of the Eye’s cycle and this includes a bird’s eye view of the Houses of Parliament which lie just across the River and which hold an immense amount of history. I would definitely recommend booking your tickets in advance though, otherwise you might find yourself queueing for quite a long time before being able to board the Eye.

london eye

4) Have afternoon tea at the Intercontinental Hotel

This is a very luxurious treat but if you’re visiting the city why not feel like you are living the high life during your stay? Every facet of the hotel is exquisitely built and decorated, so much so that you feel like you are living someone else’s life whilst you are there! Each course of the afternoon tea is dainty, delicate and freshly made but by the end you will find to your surprise that you are completely full. Afternoon tea seems to me a very quaint English tradition or activity, so it is nice to indulge on the rare occasion when you can. Also, the hotel lies within a wonderful setting as it is surrounded by Hyde Park on one side and Green Park on the other.

5) Visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour

The Warner Brothers Studios are in Watford, so they on the edge of Northwest London but are easily reachable within 50 minutes from Central London. At the risk of sounding cliche, the Studios are a mind-blowing and magical experience…honestly there is no other way to describe the feeling of walking through the creative masterpieces which make-up the world of Harry Potter. Even people I know who are not Harry Potter fans (which I thoroughly disapprove of) really enjoyed the Studios, simply for the rich, immersive experience. Often the Studios have different features on where they showcase particular features of the world of Harry Potter but my favourite part of the tour will always have to be seeing and boarding the Hogwarts Express for a myriad of reasons. I cannot put into the words the feeling which comes over me when I see the train, I would just urge everyone to go visit and see for themselves.

 

The Wisdom of Rubeus Hagrid

Hagrid is an often overlooked character in the Harry Potter series. Readers may chuckle fondly at him and his clumsiness or his many ambitious schemes to conceal or train magical creatures, however Hagrid is not given enough credit for the virtues he displays or the hardships he has to face. So, to give Hagrid the attention he deserves, here are three lessons which the Hogwarts Keeper of Keys and Care of Magical Creatures Professor taught us throughout the Harry Potter books.

1. Our differences gives us a unique insight rather than being a burden to hamper us

Hagrid lives his life on the fringes of the magical community as a half-giant. He was lumbered with the weight of the many stereotypes which wizards and witches attributed to giants; that they must all be stupid, without compassion and undeserving of the same privileges which the wizarding community could enjoy. However, Hagrid proceeded to show all of these stereotypes to be wrong; he had the highest understanding of anyone about the workings of magical creatures, as well as showing the most love and empathy to both them and his pupils. His experience of being consistently undermined, persecuted and insulted by wizards and witches alike gave him the insight to understand how other marginalised communities felt. For example, when Hermione was first called a ‘mudblood’ by Draco Malfoy, it was Hagrid who could comfort her the most because he knew what it was like to be ridiculed for being different. Also, he had unique sympathy for the cruelty Harry experienced when living with the Dursleys because he knew what it was like to be treated as an inferior and frequently criticised.

2. Love and loyalty breeds the strongest relationships

Hagrid was the first person to show the 11 year old Harry proper love and almost paternal affection. Hagrid never doubted Harry for one moment throughout all of the years when he was being ridiculed by the Ministry and The Daily Prophet and, in return, Harry counted him as one of his closest friends and allies, as shown when they stopped to hug each other even when the Battle of Hogwarts was raging around them. The loyalty Hagrid showed Dumbledore when he obliged any request which the Headmaster gave him was also met with loyalty in return as Dumbledore would not hear a bad word about the Keeper of Keys and protected him in his job when most members of the wizarding community would not have given the position to the half-giant in the first place because of their own prejudice.

3. Hard work and dedication can overcome the obstacles others place in your path

Hagrid was denied the education that was rightfully his as a young Tom Riddle took advantage of the many stereotypes which people attributed to giants and used them to frame Hagrid as the pupil who had opened the Chamber of Secrets. Therefore, Hagrid’s learning was cut short and he was burdened with the label of being a particularly dangerous member of the magical community. Through this he was stripped of his right to ever use magic again and had his wand snapped (although he did find ways around this with his pink umbrella!). However, Hagrid did not let any of these things stop him as his love of magical creatures continued to flourish and he found himself back at one of the most prestigious magical schools in the world within an official staff role. Later on, when Hagrid was again convicted of opening the Chamber of Secrets in Harry’s second year, he eventually returned to the school with his name cleared and without a hint that he would ever take a step back from his role in the magical community even though he was aware of how easy it was for his peers to suspect him of terrible and violent crimes. Whatever hardships and barriers were placed in Hagrid’s way, he found methods to navigate them whilst never showing any shame for who he was and continued to show love and compassion to his beloved magical creatures.

“I am what I am, an’ I’m not ashamed. ‘Never be ashamed,’ my ol’ dad used ter say, ‘there’s some who’ll hold it against you, but they’re not worth botherin’ with.” – Rubeus Hagrid