What I learned on our first day trip in two years

A child running through platform 9 3/4 on a day trip to Harry Potter Studios.

We went on our first proper family day trip in two years at the weekend. We’ve had the odd afternoon out locally, of course, but this was the first time we’d been on a full day out since before the pandemic. As the nine-year-old is about to become the ten-year-old and nobody has had a decent birthday treat since covid reared its ugly head, we went big.

We visited Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter. Quite a departure for us after not leaving East Sussex for two years!┬áHere are the things that I learned.

Trains are still a nightmare

This isn’t much of a surprise, of course, but the apparently simple act of getting from A to B via trains still isn’t simple. It used to be possible to get from our station to Watford Junction with just one change. Not this weekend!

Including unscheduled connections on the London Underground and walking down the stationary Hogwarts Express, we boarded new fewer than 10 trains on the day. We’re going via the Floo Network or Portkey next time.

Three children at the Harry Potter Studio Tour.

We can still think on our feet

The nightmare that is public transport gave rise to another discovery – we can still improvise when out of our comfort zone. I really wasn’t sure we would be able to, being so out of practice. We’re so used to the slower pace of our mostly rural surroundings that I thought crowded places might be a bit too much for everyone.

But we all managed to get there and back even when things deviated from the plan. And the kids were great – they went along with it and didn’t whinge much at all. This bodes well for the summer when, all being well, we’ll be off on holiday.

Going out is exhausting

I expected to be tired afterwards. Knackered, even. But I wasn’t expecting to feel physically and mentally exhausted. Although I guess multiple trains and huge crowds will do that. Especially as we’re outnumbered by our kids and therefore rely on zonal marking.

This wasn’t helped by the clocks going forward immediately afterwards! I still feel like this goblin looks two days later.

A stern looking goblin at the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tour.

You enjoy it in hindsight

This probably sounds grumpy but it was only once we got home that I truly enjoyed the day. This is no slight on the attraction, which was brilliant. It’s just that, while we were there, I was constantly worrying about the kids getting lost and one of them – who is on the spectrum – experiencing sensory overload.

Coupled with travel and the kids’ twin obsessions of eating snacks and visiting every toilet it was a lot. But once we were safely home and looking through the pictures, it hit me that it was a lovely day out.

We will venture out on another day trip in a couple of months, once we’ve recovered from this one!


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