Hospitality In The Park 2016

25/09/2016 Finsbury Park, London N4, UK


Okay, so - where to begin? Hospitality in The Park was insane!

The lowdown: My favourite Drum and Bass record label, Hospital Records put on their first ever Hospitality festival with a massive host of acts performing at Finsbury park this weekend and after having our early bird tickets purchased in advanced since April earlier this year, we were more than ready for this to kick off.

My friend Lewis and I started our weekend by heading down to London on Friday which meant we could explore some of London on the evening before the festival on the Saturday. We checked into our hotel which was right on the doorstep of Finsbury Park and headed out onto the tube, where we stopped off in Shoreditch for a night of food and drinks which acted as a nice little warm up session before the full day at the festival.


After an hour long queue to get in due to some prolonged sound testing, we managed to make our way into the festival, along with thousands of other people who kept coming in throughout the day. We also managed to meet up with my friend Kirstie, whom the last time I met up with was down in Brighton for Hospitality @ Concorde 2 around two years ago! There was such a good vibe around the site with plenty of people repping Hospital and other DnB record label merchandise, it was an awesome feeling knowing everyone was there for the same reason - a love for DnB music.

With a sold out attendance of 10,000 people, the day just got better and better as more people came in and the crowds in each tent made the event come to life. We managed to see quite a good selection of artists from Maduk, Etherwood, Friction, Fred V & Grafix, Critical Sound System, Spectrasoul B2B LSB, Bailey, Nu:Tone B2B Logistics and High Contrast. The ones that stole the show for me being Etherwood, Maduk and High Contrast with just absolute roller after roller playing out.

Needless to say, now that Lewis and I are back home after a midday train ride back to Hull, we're both feeling some serious post festival blues and just want to be back in all of the atmosphere with the good vibes rolling. Same again next year please, Hospital?

A video posted by Luke Taylor (@hiluketaylor) on


A video posted by Luke Taylor (@hiluketaylor) on

The Making of Harry Potter - Warner Bro. Studio Tour

18/09/2016 Watford, UK

Being well overdue for a much needed get away break to de-stress and briefly get away from the daily grind, I decided to book a trip down to London for three days this week with Tori; with the main focus of the trip on being able to visit The Making of Harry Potter - Warner Bro. Studio Tour, down in Watford. I booked us in at a cosy little hotel in the Paddington area of London where we could see the sights of London over the course of our stay whilst being in comfortable travelling distance of the Harry Potter studios in Watford.

We were able to catch a train straight to Watford Junction, to then hop on board a shuttle bus which the WB Studio Tours ran every 20 minutes directly to the studios. Upon arriving at the studios we were taken through to a small cinema style screening room, where we were shown a few brief montages of the creation of Harry Potter and given a brief introduction to the studios by staff all dressed in Hogwarts robes. After their introduction speech the cinema screen rose and the entrance to Hogwarts' Great Hall stood before us. The tour guide had us leave our seats and make our way up to the stage where we went through the entrance of the Great Hall to begin our tour. As we headed through the doors you got the sense that you were leaving the muggle world and stepping into the magical world as we were instantly greeted by all of the props and sets used during the filming, all while the theme music from the films played in the background.


 The tour around the various exhibits was really in depth, giving lots of information about the making behind the various pieces on display. I loved how you could get right up close and see the very small details, whether it be of your favourite character's costume, a large set piece or a step by step visual process of how they made various designs; some of which, for example, the Chamber of Secrets and Gringots Bank Vault doors were a lot smaller in scale than I originally would have expected them to be, though it didn't diminish how awesome they looked in person. 



There was so much to see in all directions, I'm certain that I must have missed some things as there was just so much to take in. It was a great feeling to be so fully immersed into the world of Harry Potter with the theme music playing in the background, tour guides around various exhibits explaining the sets and props, and recorded videos of the actors explaining their roles. There were people of all ages attending during our time slot at the studios; which emphasised the fact that the Harry Potter franchise has has become such a large phenomenon since when the books first released back in 1997.



I really loved how well planned out the studio tour was with it being in a large warehouse/hangar style studio, the layout was really spacious with exhibits to see from every angle, whether it be the selection of wands used by the actors at eye-level or Dementors suspended above; no matter where you looked you felt really immersed in the magical world. The both of us walked around the exhibit like two kids at Christmas, getting excited over all of the props that were on display and reminiscing over the films. 


One of my favourite moments at the studios was entering the area where the Hogwarts Express stood. It was so impressive to see in person with the steam emitting from towards the front of the train every few minutes. Towards the rear of the train was a great display with mannequins of both Harry and Ron's costumes sat in the carriage with the selection of sweets that Harry bought in the first film during their journey to Hogwarts; whilst opposite were the costumes of Harry, Ginny, Hermione and Ron's costumes from the final film where they are seeing off their children at Platform 9 3/4. It was quite a heartwarming contrast, being able to see the costumes and sets which showed the growth in maturity from two innocent boys eating a variety of magical sweets, to grown adults sending their children off to Hogwarts also.



Whilst at the studios we had the opportunity to grab some food from the on sight cafe which featured none other than the famous Butterbeer drinks, with the option to be served in a souvenir plastic stein to take home (with an increased price point, of course). The taste was quite, shall we say - unique; reminding me of Butterscotch, caramel and a hint of cream. It was very sickly, though a novelty to drink never the less. Tori wasn't too keen on the taste so I drank the majority of hers too, which was a huge mistake, leaving me feeling worse for wear.


Concluding the tour was the Pièce De Résistance, a model of the full Hogwarts Castle, used in filming for when the camera did panning shots of the castle with some added special effects. Held in the centre of the room with a walkway circling it from every angle, it was an impressive sight to behold and gave me such a buzz to see in person; bringing back so many memories of reading the books and going to see the films when they released with my friends as kids. The roughly three hour long journey through the studios came to a climactic end and was so much better than either of us had imagined it to be. The both of us left the studios on a complete Harry Potter high, having so much fun viewing the various displays. I can't recommend the studio tours enough, these few photos from the over 300 that I took around the tour really don't do it justice, its simply a must see for any Harry Potter fan!


Of course, no visit to the Harry Potter studios would have been complete unless I spent far much more than I care to admit at the gift shop. I picked up a Ravenclaw t-shirt, Iron on patch, Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans, Magical Chocolate Frog, Death Eater Wand and a Ravenclaw scarf which is currently wrapped around my bed post. (Go Ravenclaw! am I right?).

Have you been to the Harry Potter studios? Do you have any questions about the studios if you're planning a future visit, leave a message in the comments below!

August Favourites

04/09/2016


This month was a pretty busy one for me, packed mainly with lots of TV & film and gaming. I've been getting up to quite a lot of things lately and figured I should really start making a favourites list each month to keep a track of the highlights that each month brings me. 

TV


During August I managed to watch the entire season of Stranger things in one day, which isn't all that hard when there weren't any dull moments in the plot. The eight episode long season had me hooked from the start, with a Goonies style sense of adventure, aura of mystery, high suspense and great cast. I need season 2, now! I also started Mad Men this month; with being a Graphic Designer myself, I've wanted to watch Mad Men for some time now as it is set during America's golden age of Capitalism, Consumerism and Advertising, one of my favourite periods of recent history (Ah, the American Dream). I finally sunk my teeth into the first couple of episodes this month but unfortunately haven't had much time to really sit down and watch more of it, it's high up on the to-do list though. Finally, I also started to find myself becoming obsessed with Peaky Blinders, hell, I even went for a Thomas Shelby haircut. Again, I'm only a couple of episodes into the first series but I'm really digging it so far. I can't recommend all three of these programs enough!

Film


Some great films have come to theatres this Summer, my favourites among them have all released during this month. First off, let's talk Nerve; I wasn't expecting a great deal from this film but was pleasantly surprised with the plot, casting and visual effects. One thing I picked up on was that lately, a lot of films are featuring on screen text/messaging/app use when a character is using their phone and showing messages popping up in real time rather than just a close up of their phone in hand; I think its an awesome way of progressing the plot and gives the option for some nice cinematic visuals to accompany them. For instance, the main character, Vee, was cycling and there was a kind of 'rule of thirds' happening on screen with her on the bike, a large open spacious background and the texts that she was receiving were popping up in the background. Just a little added touch to the film but it scratched those creative itches that I get when watching media. 

Next up, Suicide Squad. I'll keep this short and won't go into too much detail about how much I liked the film as I mentioned it over on my previous blog post over here - where I discussed Marvel & DC. I really loved how Joker & Harley's relationship was portrayed and Will Smith just being, well.. Will Smith. Sure the plot was a little hit and miss and I did leave the cinema wanting more but I guess they've set the scene now and can follow on with more Suicide Squad/villain focused DC films.

Lastly, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. As soon as I saw the trailer for this movie I text my mate and got us tickets to go see it the following day. With an American Pie, Teen movie feel to it but slightly more mature, I absolutely loved this film. It was hilarious, stupid and just an all round fun film to watch with Adam DeVine rendering me in stitches laughing for the majority of his time on screen. This is definitely one to pick up when it gets a DVD release for a night in with friends and a few drinks.

Gaming


Blizzard have once again had me over a barrel this month and had their way with my wallet but god damn it, they make outstanding games. Let's start with World of Warcraft: Legion. As someone who has played WoW on and off again over the course of eight years I can say that no other Warcraft expansion even comes close when it comes to how much fun I've had whilst playing through Legion. After checking out a few twitch streamers and reading a few articles about the new expansion I reinstalled the base game and pre-purchased Legion the day before release. Whilst checking out some of the many new features, I immediately found myself fully immersed into the world of Azeroth again for more whirlwind adventures and classic Blizzard storytelling. Whether you're a new or veteran WoW player, now is definitely the time to play such an awesome MMORPG.

Whilst we're on the topic of Blizzard, I have to talk about my experience with Overwatch this month. After a month or so break from the game after getting a little disheartened with the competitive feature that was implemented I figured I'd give it another shot and boy was I glad that I did, up until the release of Legion, Overwatch is all that I've been playing. I love how simple the game is and that you can just hop into a quick 10-20 minute team and skill based game and then log off feeling like you've accomplished something, a feeling that no FPS has given me since CoD4.

Finally, let's end with the Battlefield 1 beta. Man do I love what DICE are doing with the Battlefield franchise; no other military FPS game makes you feel like you're a part of a huge battle and gives the feeling that every player in the match is an integral part of the struggle to victory. Whether it be that you're a medic on the ground giving the rest of your team medkits to survive the next bombardment of artillery that's being called down on your position from afar or that you're taking the fight to the enemy in a tank filled with 4 other people, Battlefield 1 is another fine addition to the franchise. I've played a few matches on the open beta on PC and have thoroughly enjoyed my time with it so far - in fact, I'm trying to write this post as quickly as possible so that I can get back into the action with it!

Which TV, Films and Games have you been enjoying lately, do you have any recommendations? Let me know down in the comments!
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