Monday 25 May 2020

There's gnome place like home

De-gnoming - is on the list of jobs for the day, but breakfast first - Mrs Weasley certainly seems to be making up for the starvation rations at the Dursley's - eight or nine sausages plus 3 fried eggs!  wow - it's no wonder that Harry can hardly move when he goes to help Ron de-gnome the garden - and I must admit that the Harry Potter style gnomes seem to be worth getting rid of, they sound much less loveable than the traditional British garden gnome (silly hat,  fishing rod etc. . ) I'm a great fan of gnomes, and pixies (not forgetting piskies!)

When I visit Devon, usually on the way to Cornwall - which, as everyone knows is the finest county in the whole of the United Kingdom, there's a more or less mandatory detour to Pixieland, Dartmeet, on the B3357 near Yelverton, the exact location is 50°32'46.2"N  3°52'57.0"W but you'll probably find it easier to look on Google Maps and search for 50.546163, -3.882486

It's famous for pixies, and (this bit is supposed to be a secret - but I'll tell you if you promise not to tell anyone else) - Pixieland is also where you can find (and sit on!) Cherry's very favourite Toadstool in the whole world!

You can just see Cherry's toadstool on the left-hand side of this view of Pixieland taken from the Google maps location above.

Cherry's favourite toadstool

Harry has gained an admirer, Ginny - who gets extremely shy whenever Harry is about - and Mr Weasley gets back from work - and seems an affable kind of chap.  Harry settles into his new room, and decides that The Burrows is a lovely place to be.

Sunday 24 May 2020

Harry moves to the Burrows

Ron turned up during the evening at Harry's window in a flying car - the vehicle is described as 'an old turquoise car - parked in mid-air'. 

From the Harry Potter films and promotional material I've seen over the years, I had thought the magic flying car was specifically described as a Ford Anglia in the books - but that seems to have been selected by the screenwriters and film producers. 

On the other hand, having driven one - I can confirm that there's nothing enchanting about a Ford Anglia, (though Ford enthusiasts may disagree)!

Either way it did the trick - Harry, and his luggage, (liberated from the cupboard under the stairs by George, who used a hairpin - to do a little 'muggle lock-picking' to get the luggage),

Harry nearly left Hedwig behind, until he heard a stray screech, which also woke up Uncle Vernon - but finally everyone is aboard and the flying car is driven away from the Dursleys, with Uncle Vernon spluttering to Aunt Petunia "He's Getting Away"...  You would have thought that would make him happy, but he now seems to regret Harry making good his escape - you just can't please some people....

Once under way, Hedwig is let out of his cage and allowed to fly alongside the car to stretch his wings.  During the journey Harry also finds out that Ron, George and Fred had been sending messages to him by Owl for weeks and wondering why Harry hadn't replied - (Thanks Dobby!). 

Arriving in the village of Ottery St Catchpole, Ron plans to sneak the 'borrowed' flying car back in before anyone notices, but Mum is waiting for them at the Burrows, 'marching across the yard, scattering the chickens' - I loved the following description of Ron's Mum - probably familiar to most worried Mums who have had to wait up for their missing offspring!

"for a short-plump, kind faced woman, it was remarkable how much she looked like a Sabre-toothed tiger".

"Have you any idea how worried I've been .... 
"beds empty! No note! Car gone . . . could have crashed . . . out of my mind with worry"

Followed by the traditional -

"you wait until your father gets home . . "

"Mrs Weasley had shouted herself hoarse before she turned on Harry, who backed away."

"I'm very pleased to see you Harry Dear", she said "Come in and have some Breakfast".

Thankfully it looks like Harry has found a nice family to stay with when he's not at Hogwarts.

I'm beginning to warm to book two, after my initial feeling of 'Here we go again - more Vernon, Dudley and Petunia.   Together with Dobby the House Elf, causing trouble and stealing Harry's mail - which made me less than eager to continue with this volume.

However - now I've read further on, it seems to be waking up a little and I'll carry on reading it - after all it's not like I have a choice! 

I promised Cherry that I will read all of the Harry Potter books, and I will.

Based on the first book, I'll sure that I will enjoy the journey, and look forward to learning more about the wizarding world, and in any event, I bought books 1 to 7 in a box, so I've got no excuse.

After giving myself a short holiday from Harry Potter, when I had other stuff to do, and to be absolutely honest, using my bedtime reading time to finish reading another book I got temporarily hooked on,  I'm back in the saddle - and Harry is back on my bedside table ready to read.

Stay safe all.

Wednesday 6 May 2020

Book Two - Dursleys and the pink pudding

One of the things I was most relieved about in Harry Potter book one, was that as soon as Harry went to Hogwarts, the Dursleys faded into the background.  

I started book two, with a feeling of 'we've been here before', Harry is back with the Dursleys, Petunia is being as irritating as ever, Harry's wizarding gear has been locked in the cupboard under the stairs, Vernon is as overbearing as usual, and Dudley is just Dudley!

Even Hedwig is imprisoned - locked in his cage to stop him carrying messages.  Harry's Twelfth birthday is made even more miserable by Vernon holding a dinner party for a 'very important' customer - packing Harry off upstairs where he is told not to make a sound. 

Just as I was thinking it couldn't get any worse, the hedge grew eyes, and Dobby the house elf  appeared begging Harry not to go back to Hogwarts, but refusing to explain who he was working for of what the specific threat to Harry was.  Dobby has also stolen all the letters posted by Hermione and the Weasleys, which seemed a particularly unhelpful thing to do.

Last but not least, Dobby, for no particular reason casts a Hover Charm on Aunt Petunia's pudding - 'a mountain of cream and sugared violets' raising it up to the ceiling, and when asked nicely by Harry to stop, just drops it on the floor.   

Almost immediately a letter arrives by barn owl during the after dinner mints.  Addressed to Harry, the letter informs him that the Ministry of Magic 'has detected the improper use of a hover charm at twelve minutes past nine', and Harry is in trouble.  

It occurred to me that if the Ministry of magic could detect and locate the magical incident, and identify the precise time and nature of the charm employed - surely they could tell that it was done by Dobby the house elf, not Harry. - This seems a bit unfair.

Monday 4 May 2020

Norbert's Teddy

I've been anticlimactixorcised, or that's the way it feels . . .Yes I know that's not a word but it precisely describes my reaction to finishing Harry Potter Book One, so it is a word now!.

I've spent the whole book, (which is after all called Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone), waiting so see what Harry or Dumbledore do with the Philosopher's stone, when they inevitably triumph over the many adversaries standing in their way after getting past Fluffy and gaining entrance to the trapdoor. 

By the way - am I alone in thinking that playing music (any music - even Harry on flute!), is a pretty soppy way of defeating the fearsome Fluffy!  Not very magical or wizardly, was it?

Sorry - got side-tracked there, as I was saying - Hagrid gets drunk and accepts a dragon's egg from a stranger in an Inn because he always wanted a dragon, and then hatches a Norwegian Ridgeback egg in his hut with a flame thrower. 

The dragon bit was very amusing - Hagrid found out that Dragons don't stay cute for long, and raising a fire breathing mischievous infant (Norbert), in a wooden hut may not have been his greatest idea! 

Hagrid's short spell (groan), as Norbert's Mummy comes to a sensible end, when Ron's Brother Charlie from Romania, (who is conveniently studying dragons) agrees to collect Norbert, and the baby dragon is crated up for shipment.  This leads to my very favourite bit in all of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

"He's got lots o' rats an' some brandy fer the journey,' said Hagrid in a muffled voice.  'An' I've packed his teddy bear in case he gets lonely.'   From inside the crate came ripping noises that sounded to Harry as though teddy was having his head torn off.

Pure inventive genius! firstly giving a (presumably furry and slightly inflammable?) teddy to a dragon is just brilliant - and Hagrid's poignant parting words to Norbert - "Mummy will never forget you!"


Norbert's Teddy.
Either way - that's it - I've finished a whole Harry Potter Book.

The anti-climax? - well, having spent the entire book leading up to capturing the mystical and powerful Philosopher's stone, (apparently the book was called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's stone in America). - I'm not sure if the stone got renamed throughout the american edition. 

Either way - Harry got the stone from the mirror of Erised, and just managed to keep it out of the clutches of the evil Quirrell, - who turned out to be the REAL villain!!! - that was well hidden! - (I might even have to say sorry to Professor Snape, who I had previously been mentally booing throughout the book). 

Then all we learn about the stone, is that when Harry comes round after the struggle with Quirrell and Voldemort, with Dumbledore looking after him in the infirmary, it turns out that Dumbledore had discussed the stone's future with the mysterious Nicolas Flamel while Harry was unconscious.

Dumbledore just said "As for the Stone, it has been destroyed".

What? - that's it? and anyway - with all these Wizards and dark arts practitioners around - what does 'Destroyed' actually mean - has it REALLY been destroyed? or will it return?

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