I made it to Downton Abbey at last!!! 參觀塘頓莊園

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(Edited)

I'm a big fan of the UK period drama Downton Abbey and have wanted to visit its main filming location Highclere Castle for many years. This is the view I've been looking forward to all these years. I made it to Downton Abbey at last!!

身為英國劇集唐頓莊園的鐵粉,多年來一直也想去拍攝現場 Highclere Castle 參觀。今年終於如願以償,能夠親眼看到一直只能在劇中才見到的場景實在太開心呢!

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In the past, I've visited one of the other Downton Abbey filming location Basildon Park, but Highclere Castle is THE place to go for DA fans. When Downton Abbey started in 2010, the summer tickets for Highclere Castle was always sold out as soon as they were released. Then I was out of the country for a few years, and when I returned, everything was shut down due to Covid. Finally!!! This year I was able to get some tickets to Highclere Castle.

Standing at the front door was so surreal. In the film, the actors and actresses would line up here to welcome guests and dignitaries and now I was standing at the exact same spot.
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We walked around outside Highclere Castle, which isn't really a castle, but a very big house. It was really fascinating to see it so up close and personal. Everything is coming true!
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Apart from the front of the house, this is another very familiar sight that always appears in the film's posters. I found it by accident as we were walking around on the grounds. Suddenly I looked towards the house, and thought... I've seen this view a million times before! Another massive tick off my list.

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Tour of the House

The highlight of my visit is of course to tour the inside of the Highclere Castle, and see the lavish rooms where the Crawley family live. This is where all the drama and gossip happens. Before I get you all Downton Abbey fans hyped up with images, I'm sorry to say there are none ☹️. Highclere Castle is the private home occupied by its owners the 8th Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, therefore no photography is allowed. I would have loved to take home more memories with me especially those that I can share with everyone, alas, things don't always work out. Let me still give you an overview.

We entered the house via the front door, first impression was it was smaller than in the film. Then we turned left into a series of rooms and that's where the oohs and ahhs started. The pictures hanging on the wall, the book case, the side table, the red sofa where the Crawley family sit in their lavish outfits, the door where Mr Carson the butler walks through. All these scenes we see in the film and now it's a dream come true as I'm walking around on a real film set. An experience that all Downton Abbey fan would have on their bucket list.

Then we move upstairs to see a few bedrooms, a couple of which are used as filming locations. There's a balcony that looks down to main ballroom downstairs. On one side of the balcony is a walkway, this has appeared in the film many times where people stop for gossips or first kisses. I remember those scenes well. From there we go down the main staircase, another familiar scene in the films. How I wished I could have taken a photo here. And finally we go into the dining room.

I was very disappointed with this. The dining table is one of these collapsable ones and they had set it to a small table for probably 10. Big for you and my dining room, but very small in the grand scheme of this room. Furthermore, they hadn't set the table at all, it just had a pair of candlesticks on it. Overall it looks so bare and sad.

This was the last room of the tour, and I have to admit it wasn't the best way to end the experience. You want visitors to end the tour on a high, not to exit via a water-down version of a grand house. Also, I get this is a private home and we have to respect the owner's privacy. However, it would also be nice to allow visitors to take photos in at least one room, maybe the last one out. That way visitors can feel they've walked away from the grandeur of Downton Abbey which is the reason why everyone comes here. That would have made so much difference to the whole experience.

參觀大宅是整個行程的亮點,可惜大宅內不能拍照,未有照片可以跟大家分享。從鐵分角度也總算還了心願,能夠親眼見到唐頓莊園家族華麗的一面。唯一就是意猶未盡,因為開放給參觀的房間不算多,尤其最後一間大飯廳,裏面只放了一張光禿禿的餐桌。就這樣結束一個參觀行程,帶著一點兒失望而離開很可惜


Garden

Given we couldn't take any photos inside of the house, I made the most of the outdoors. Highclere Castle is located on 5000 acres of ground, so big it took me a while to drive around the estate to leave. The garden area by the house is pretty smallish but well kept. The only downside is the grass area look quite dry due to the recent hot weather. Plus it was scorching hot that day, we couldn't stay outdoors for too long.

大宅內不能拍照在外面其他地方多拍幾張。這裏的戶外花園也蠻大,但當天天氣實在太酷熱,我未有在外面逗留太長的時間。
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Gift shop

The gift shop was located inside an old barn and had the whole range of normal touristy products on sale. Such as these Her Ladyship and His Lordship mugs. Plus there were edibles such biscuits, chocolate, jams and personal wellbeing products like soap and handcream etc. The barn was quite small and it got a quite crowded inside. I think they could easily expand the gift shop area, it's not like they have not space. That would make the whole customer experience much better and drive up more sales.

我走到紀念品商店逛,裏面面積有點小擠了不少遊客,我逛了一陣子就跑了出來也。我相信如果空間大一點遊客可以逛得比較舒服,生意額也一定會上升。

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Cafe

The other area I think they totally missed the mark was on catering. When you pre book tickets (they're sold out this summer now), you can order a £60 picnic box that came with half a bottle of champagne. Or you can order the afternoon tea package which was only available if you book a more expensive tour which included an Egyption exhibtion. I didn't know about that. When I arrived on site, the catering options were quite limited and they didn't even have many cake's available. In the end we had to do a DIY afternoon tea with there not so glamorous sandwiches and scone. I'm sure if they offered a simple English afternoon tea set packaged up nicely, that will sell very well and again enhance the overall customer experience.

另外一點我覺得未如理想就是飲食方面。到這裏的遊客大都想同時享受一個傳統英式下午茶,但這個要在預購門票時訂購。到達現場時,可供選擇的食物不多,結果我們要勉強地自製一英式下午茶。如果現場可以供應一個簡單英式下午茶套餐,我相信一定很受歡迎。

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Overall verdict

Given the opportunity, this is definitely a must go pilgrimage for all Downton Abbey fans. Many visitors during the day were from overseas, Americans, German etc. If you're a Harry Potter or Games of Throne of Hobbit fan you will know what I mean when you get to visit the actual scenes in the film. However, I think Highclere Castle could have done a lot more with little effort to enhance visitor experience and to drive up revenue, crucial when it cost so much to maintain such a massive property.

I would rank the tour 7.5 out of 10. It gets full marks for visiting the property used in the films, you can't beat that. The customer experience started off on a high with the lovely rooms we see in the film, then the rest was rather flat. It feels like I've drank a bottle of coke to ease my thirst, and I'm still quite thirsty, but there's no point in drinking more as it makes no difference. If they could improve the customer experience, I'd definitely go back again.

For now, I've been there and done it, and am a happy Downton Abbey bunny!

以往每年 Highclere Castle 門票一推出已很快沽清,所以我很高興今年終於購得門票。我認為去參觀這裡是唐頓莊園鐵粉必要去潮拜一趟。如果可以改善一下讓遊客體驗變得理想,我一定會再去。現在就總算還了心願,去了就算,再去的機會應該不大。

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You can checkout all my travel post on the Pinmapple here or click on Mr Pinmapple below



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It certainly is a spectacular building - I'm glad you got to tick something of your list !!!
!ALIVE

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Absolutely, it was still a great day out, especially with my two sisters, we're all Downton Abbey fans

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You were there! Lucky you! I'm so happy you got to visit Downtown Abbey. Wish the experience would have been 100% amazing, but you were actually there! ♥️

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Despite the not so perfect experience, it was still very extraordinary, especially walking into the drawing rooms where we always see the family sit around for conversations and chit chats. They spaced out the people entering the house so it wasn't crowded and we could take time admiring everything. Very nice in deed!

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I'm quite envious that you were there!

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We're very blessed to have Downton Abbey being filmed in the UK 😁

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That is so cool! As you said, there's something otherworldly about visiting the location of a revered series/book. I mean, even if you're not a DA fan, the house itself would still be amazing to visit, I imagine. As for the overall verdict, I guess that's just the risk we gotta take. I think few things we wait for for a long time actually live up to the expectations. Still, the alternative would've had you forever wondering what visiting this beautiful place would be like. Best to know than be left wondering, I say.

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We have plenty of these old grand houses in UK, I love visiting them, always lovely to see how the rich used to live. This one was all the more special because of the film, and maybe that's why the expectation was very high. Still, I'm very pleased I went, wouldn't have turned down the opportunity at all.

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This would definitely on my bucket list if I were to visit the UK as I am a die-hard Downton Abbey fan. I watched the series twice as hubby had not seen it, and he also became hooked. We binge-watched the first couple of seasons one weekend before we'd started the BnB!
Highclere Castle looks so grand, it must have been a let-down at the end!
Nevertheless, I'm sure it must have felt awesome being there.

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omg!!! What a lovely relaxing way to take a break before diving into the BnB venture!

It was pretty surreal getting there, especially the first sight of the house. The rooms inside were amazing, including some that weren't used in the film, they were still decorated very elegantly. There was one smaller room next to the main rooms used in the film, that the volunteers said Maggie Smith like to go sit there and rest when she had break. It was cordoned off to visitors but had a lovely decor and a comfy grand sofa. I heard a visitor ask the volunteer " Is she allowed to sit in here?" And I thought to myself, of course she is, she's Maggie Smith!!!! 😄

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It sounds really lovely and such a treat!
Maggie Smith was brilliant as Violet, I loved her dry sense of humour! Sad to see her go, but I suppose she has to stop acting at some stage!
Your photos are really gorgeous😍

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It would have been a bit tricky for her to to live on forever

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It seems like a dream come through going to your dream place, Downton Abbey.
This is such a beautiful place there and i hope you will bring some goodies for me back 😋

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ha ha!! Lots of lovely goodies there. I didn't buy anything as it was quite expensive, but I did try some of their tester handcreams in the shop!!!

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Things are really expensive
Sorry about that
Have a lovely trip💕

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How awesome that you were finally able to visit this location. I know what you mean about not being able to take pictures inside. We had that same thing happen this past Spring when we visited the Andrew Jackson estate in Tennessee. It really made what could have been an awesome post a quite average one! :) It looks like you had an awesome time here! Great photos!

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Absolutely, it's just lacking that something isn't it. I took a lot of photos elsewhere, but it's just not the same. Still had a lovely day out with my sisters as we're all Downton Abbey fans.

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That is awesome. Time spent with family is worth it no matter what!

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never seen this programme!!! But I do know Rodda's clotted cream is the best in the world ever. Jam first cream second 😂 !!

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What!! How could you have not watched it!!!! ??

Snap!!! A light spread of jam, topped with loads and loads of cream. Way to go!!!!

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These are wonderful ! Remember the episode when cora and robert were fighting and sleeping in separate beds. it just made me tear up

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Lady Grantham's bedroom was one of the few that was open to visitors. They had a sign there about how crowded it was to fit 30 crew in there when filming, and a funny anecdote of how O'brien would come through the door on the right hand side of the bed, but that door is in fact a cupboard!!

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So cool! That must be great to be there, I love the series too! And after seeing your photos and reading your opinion, maybe they need to put something else there in order to make more attractive for the fans of the serie, it looks more like a normal historical castle visit, isn't it?

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We got to see the main rooms that was very nice, plus seeing the actual Downton Abbey house was awesome. If they had done that little extra it would have made all the difference to visitors and I'd be happy to come back again for my DA dose

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At least you have been there and felt the DA atmosphere!

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I can imagine how it must have felt for a DA fan, thumbs up on ticking this off. I thought that garden looked great,.I wasn't expecting it the way the post started off. That's also a good looking house, why did you say it's not a castle but a big house? What's the real difference/stuff that makes castles castles?

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They call it Highclere Castle, but castles to me are medieval structures which are very old and often have a moat around it and maybe an outlook tower for defence purposes. 😄

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Are there servants quarters or a downstairs? I assume there are not or you didn't get to tour them. So sad to not see photos inside, but I can understand why. So cool that you got to tour there and thanks for sharing all the photos that you could. The grass does look dry! How much did the tour ticket cost? It is sad some of it was a disappointment.

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We didn't get to see the servants quarters, just the upstairs glamourous part. We were told the kitchen has been modernised as the owners live here and all the kitchen scenes are filmed in a studio.

The tickets cost £20, a little expensive but is about average for these types of large houses as the maintenance cost is very high. Overall still worth going, at least once!

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20 isn't bad, I don't think! Really interesting. I wonder what a tour of Hobbitville in NZ is...I bet it is more than 20! I figured there were various parts that were filmed in a studio - you just never know these days! Cool!

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From memory Hobbiton in NZ was more expensive but I can't remember how much. I went there a few years ago, and with me not being a Hobbiton fan, I still think it was worth it despite the price. It was really quite spectacular, and you can take loads of photos!!!!!

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That is really cool! Would be fun to see some of these places in real life.

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I enjoyed the view from the outside of Highclere Castle. I was impressed with its old architecture as well as the very big trees around it and its garden. People did a great job maintaining it. Thank you very much @livinguktaiwan

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Glad you enjoyed it, I wished I could have showed everyone the inside as well, but anyway... life isn't always perfect

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How cool is that, that you visited the castle at least. Especially when you are a fan of that series. I understand…
Thanks for sharing the entire experience.
Have a wonderful day today @livinguktaiwan 👋🏻😊

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Thanks for dropping by Jackie, and apologies for the delay in responding, been so busy the last few days.

Normally I enjoy visiting these grand houses, but being a big fan of the series makes the visit that much enjoyable

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No worries @livinguktaiwan 😉 I understand 😊🤗

Indeed it makes it extra special. Have a wonderful week 👋🏻☀️

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That's really cool to be able to tour a film set like that and the castle itself looks amazing from the outside. Too bad you couldn't take photos inside - that happens with some locations. Sounds like there is some room for improvement but 7.5 out of 10 is decent 👌

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It would have been so easy for them to up the score, fans are pretty easy to satisfy, they totally missed the trick

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I didn't know whether the story of the characters behind the popularity of this series, which left a massive fan base, or the image of the castle that looks magnificent :)) If we add to this admiration your narrative that you decorate with visuals, I can start the first part of the series :))

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I think English period drama has quite a following around the world and Downton Abbey is definitely the most successful one in recent years. Plus we have plenty of these houses around the country that makes the perfect setting for them.

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I’m so happy that you finally had the opportunity to visit this amazing place, dear @livinguktaiwan
Downtown abbey is one of my favorite series. I remember that when I saw this castle - I was so impressed and I put it on my wish list “to visit” 😀✈️
Now that I saw your post it brought me some great memories of the whole series. I’m really surprised that you weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the castle, having in mind that we saw almost everything inside the castle during the tv series.
Happy for you that you had a great time. I’m waiting with excitement for your next travel post :)

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So glad to hear that you're a fan as well, seems like there are quite a few on Hive!! Hopefully you will get an opportunity to visit as well one day, just remember to book tickets in advance!!

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Absolute delight! Your pictures made my heart beat faster. What a great chance!

Who's your favorite character? Mine is Violet 💛😊

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there are so many, but yes, Violet is one of my favorite, also Mr Carson, he was so funny in the latest film but I don't know if you had the opportunity to watch it yet as it was released a few months ago.

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Ahh, Mr Carson! Yes, he's so sweet even when try to have strict look.
And no, I didn't see it, thanks for the news! Maybe I can find it.

I liked their lifestyle, their manners, the way they communicate. This is something that is sometimes lacking now - distance, respect, incertitude.. 😇😊

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To be fair, it was released a few months ago and I guess watching movies wasn't top on your list of things to do back then.

I know timing still isn't great now, but perhaps a little light entertainment will help to ease the in pressure. Hope to enjoy the film when you watch it.

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I am not familiar with the film but I can totally relate to fangirling and doing the pilgrimage. 😅
It's just so sad that you weren't allowed to take photos indoors, it would have been a great remembrance. And the last one should be the peak of the tour so they should have made it grander.
They definitely can improve on these areas, especially about the food too.
Overall, it's still a very great experience I think. Not the perfect one but definitely one for the books!

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I think any fan visiting a film location would be over the moon, or even if you're not a fan and if the locations are really cool, it's a very nice experience. I've been fortunate to visit a few Harry Potter filming locations, and even though I'm not a fan, I was very impressed

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Well, I agree! Maybe after visiting film locations, they will earn another fan 😅

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Love the castle. With this blog of yours, you made me want to watch Downtown Abbey. I've heard DOwntown Abbey many times before but I never had the time to pay attention to it.

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I think English period drama attracts a particular type of audience, some love the grandeur of the period yet other thinks it's too stuffy.

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Charming and interesting place! Thanks for your sharing.

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Glad you enjoyed it.

Btw, are you in Vietnam or Ireland now?

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We love Downton! We now live down the road about 30 minutes from there and haven’t been yet. We must pull up our socks and go!

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Lucky you!!! You're so near and haven't been? Do you watch the series as well? The drive wasn't too far for us, about hour and a half along the M4 so it was a good day out for us

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We’ll go sometime I’m sure. Yes watched all of it. All series and the films too.

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A connection can be made between the stories of the characters in the series and the living environment. I can say that a true story emerges from every corner of this admirable series from its rooms in the house. Although we can't see the inside of the castle, I guess from the exterior shots you took, it is extraordinary. Thank you for sharing this wonderful article with us. 🥰🤗

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Having watched the series for so many years and then visiting the location brings everything to life, it was a lovely experience. I'm so glad I finally made it after all these years

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fantastisc castle, thanks for share. And this backyard so so beatiful! looks like the nicest place for a coffe time !

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We stopped by for afternoon tea, but as soon as we opened up the jars of jam, all the bees came over, it was quite annoying to be honest. Other than that and the rather meh food, it was nice!!

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Castles have always fascinated me because each one hides the secrets of a life that took place within their walls a long time ago. I know how popular Downton Abbey was, but I didn't watch it. Now I'm interested to watch. 😊 Highclere Castle looks amazing! It's a pity that photography of the interior is not allowed because the imposing exterior arouses curiosity.

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We're blessed with having many of these big nice houses in UK that are open to the public, it's always nice to to visit them, and even nicer when I watch the series that is filmed there!!

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Yes, you really are. I would like to have the opportunity to visit those amazing places one day. It must be a fantastic feeling when you visit the places where your favorite series were filmed. It's so exciting. 😊

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Ah, you must have loved it! I haven't seen it yet, I suppose I should get around to watching it but the thought of plowing through such a series is a bit daunting.

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There's a lot to go through if you watch the TV series so yeah it can be a bit daunting. I could see you mucking about in your garden all the time, but somehow you don't seem like the type to sit at home and binge watch 6 seasons (or maybe you are🤔). Or you could watch either of the films. You'd miss out on some of the relations between actors, but both films are quite independent.

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Haha I'm a chronic binger... After it gets dark!!

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