Finally, after having the tickets for ever and a day, we took the trip down to London, well the North of and visited Warner Bros Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter...! I'd booked us an overnight stay at The Manor, Laura Ashley in Elstree - not quite realising that Elstree is a through-town, meaning that it's a collection of houses built around major travelling roads - but only a 20 minute taxi ride to WB Studios. Thanks to Google I had guaranteed us enough time between our flights and getting to the studio for the tour on time (there are strict windows!). However, Google and I had had a misunderstanding.
So our early morning flights were perhaps too early, the train journey destined to take an hour took only 20 minutes and the taxi journey to the hotel took another 10. So we arrived at our hotel at 09:30, four or so hours too early to check-in, two hours too early to sit in their bar area and have brunch and three hours before we needed to be at the Studio tour. Ever so slightly miscalculated. However we recovered ourselves and with Sean's, slightly ropey, directions hit the road... well, the pavement... and walked until we found somewhere to get some brunch in Elstree. Hint: this is not the easiest thing in the world and by the time you find the Starbucks prepare yourself as it's super busy, all the chairs are taken (of which there are not enough) and you will be awkwardly sitting eavesdropping on what you can't quite decide is a friendly chat with an overly bossy person or some form of job interview. However, drinks and food can be found here and it means you only have to sit and kill an hour or so...
Long story short, we went to the studios early, did a recce of the gift shop (OMG) and got in line. I was the most excited I have been in ages! Clearly I am an ultimate Potter fan. Sean pretends he's so chilled - he lies, he was excited too.
Well all I can say is "mind-blowing" - you walk into the Great Hall, the Great-frickin'-Hall! You are surrounded by costumes from characters; 'ice' sculptures from the Tri-wizard tournament ball; the Gryffindor "boy's" dormitory; the Gryffindor common room; Hagrid's hut and fly on a broomstick! You can see the length of Nagini and the size of the Ministry of Magic set; cauldrons stir themselves as you're walking through; you see the kitchen at The Burrow with knitting needles knitting, iron ironing, dishes washing, carrots being chopped... and then brave the Dark Forest with Buckbeak and Aragog welcoming you - in the most friendly and inviting way possible. Then see the Knight Bus and Number 4 Privet Drive in full scale!
Then just absorb in awe the talent of the set-designers, costume-designers, graphic-designers as they unfold layer upon layer of art work, architecture, original designs, white cardboard scale models of every major building in the movies from The Burrow to Hogwarts to Madame Maxime's flying horse-drawn carriage to the Durmstrang ship. Finally, when you think you've seen it all, you turn a corner and... there it is... a 1:24 scale model of Hogwarts, with every boulder, tree and lit window in place. It took 8 weeks to complete the build and it is mind-blowing... Standing looking at it you could see the movies playing out across the lawns; see the tower from which Dumbledore fell; see the boathouse where Snape's memories were shared; see Sirius for the first time as a huge black dog to his eventual escape on Buckbeak... I could have stayed there for hours.
You collapse then into the gift shop where delighted sales staff are there to sell you anything and everything Potter all at extortionate prices that you're also willing to pay because you're so drugged up in the Potter-verse. Say hello to your new miniature cauldrons, a collectors edition of wizards chess (moving pieces not included) and a box of chocolate frogs (which were so expensive you feel bad wanting to immediately eat them!).
The answer: Is Harry Potter a wizard?