Friday, April 26, 2019

Why the Leafs lost: Is it Babcock's fault?

Leaf coach Mike Babcock

Another Toronto Maple Leaf season is down the drain.  Once again, the Leafs were unable to get past the first round of the playoffs.  For the third time in their last four trips to postseason, they were defeated by the Boston Bruins.  For the players, it's pack your bags and head for the golf course.  For coach Mike Babcock, the defeat means a flurry of criticism and calls for his firing.  For disappointed fans, it's time to debate what went wrong.

I'd like to add my two cents worth.  For the record, now that the season is over, here is my post-mortem report.  Here is my analysis of why the Leafs lost.  It's free and at no cost to the reader:

The season started off on a sour note with the William Nylander fiasco.  After a regrettable contract standoff, the 22-year-old Nylander was signed to a six-year deal with a total value of over $40 million.  He returned to the team in early December after disrupting the flow of the season.  To put it mildly, he did not earn his lucrative salary, not by a long shot.  His performance was a major disappointment.  He recorded a paltry 27 points (seven goals, 20 assists) in 54 games.  His seven-game playoff haul was one goal and two assists for three points. 

To William Nylander's credit, he did not make excuses for his underwhelming performance.  He acknowledged that his play was a disappointment.  As the Leafs were cleaning out their locker after losing to the Bruins, Nylander stated, "This year didn't show nearly to where I can be as a player.  I have higher expectations for myself going forward."  Words aren't good enough, though, William.  You had better improve or your whole future as a Leaf will be reevaluated.  This season, you let down the fans and the Leaf organization.  Your contract dispute was a distraction the team didn't need.

Willaim Nylander

I've written before that the Leafs are urgently in need. the leadership of a captain.  In my opinion, John Travares has earned that designation.  He should have been given the "C" by the All-Star break because he deserved it.  In 2019, he gave it his all.  He had a stellar season (47 goals and 41 assists) and he played in all 82 games.  He also scored 2 goals and recorded 3 assists in seven playoff games. He endured taunting from the fans in Long Island.  Through it all, he showed leadership and class. The Leafs should begin next season by appointing a new captain, preferably Number 91.

John Tavares

For the second time in a row, Nazem Kadri got himself suspended in a playoff series.  I don't dispute for a moment that Kadri really tried hard and that he really wanted to win.  Nevertheless, one has to wonder how he could have been as foolish and as selfish as to make the same error twice,.  Perhaps he just lacks the discipline to control himself.  The bottom line is that his suspension hurt the Leafs.  He couldn't help his team when they needed him because he was unable to play.

Nazem Kadri

Coach Mike Babcock and GM Kyle Dubas, did not appear to be on the same page.  I don't know if there was bad blood between the two, but they seemed to be moving in different directions.  There were remours of disagreement between then.

The Maple Leafs would have been better off retaining Curtis McEhlinney as their backup goalie.  Admittedly, there were reason for going with Garret Sparks.  Sparks is about a decade younger.  He'd been with the Marlies for a while and it can be argued that it was his turn.  However, Sparks was unproven in the NHL, while McEhlinnry was more experienced.  When a team is going for all the marbles, as the Maple Leafs were this year, it should go with what a player whose abilities are know, not an unproven entity.  The situation was especially important for the Leafs.  The back-up goalie had to inspire confidence so that the team could rest Frederik Andersen more often and lighten his load.  Sparks failed to do that and he was eventually replaced by Michael Hutchinson.  If the Leafs are ever going to win the Stanley Cup, they are going to have confidence in their backup goalie.  They are not in the rebuilding stage anymore.  They can't wait for a backup to mature into the role and eventually become the regular goalie.

Does Mike Babcock bear some responsibility for the Leafs' defeat?  Absolutely.  He can legitimately be accused of mismanaging his lines and of not giving Auston Matthews enough ice time. However, to put all the blame on coach Babcock is grossly unfair.  He should not be made the scapegoat.  There is plenty of blame to go around for this post season of missed opportunities.  Sadly, the Leafs had victory within their grasp and they were not able to reach it.  If they had gotten past the Bruins, anything could have happened.  That is all hypothetical, of course, and we'll never know for sure.  It's a shame, though, because the Leafs had put together their most talented team in years.  Unfortunately, they were outmaneuvered strategically and psychologically by the Boston team.

This is the season that got away.  Yes, there's always next year, but the Leafs should keep in mind that a professional hockey team can only get so many kicks at the can before it has to start rebuilding again.  With 31 NHL franchises (a new Seattle team will begin play in 2021) it's much more difficult to win a Stanley Cup than it was when the Leafs last hoisted the mug on May 2, 1967, almost 52 years ago . . .and counting.

- Joanne

Monday, April 22, 2019

Reflections on Earth Day 2019

NASA PHOTO: Blue Marble 2012-Composite satellite photo of Earth's Western Hmisphere

Look again at that dot.  That's here.  That's home.  That's us.  On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.  The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king, peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there - on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.  

Carl Sagan in 1980
- Carol Sagan (1934-1996), American astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist
From Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space [1994]

Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.

- Cree proverb

The ultimate test of man's conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words and thanks will not be heard.

- Gayford Nelson (1916-2005), American environmentalist, 35th Governor of Wisconsin 1959-1963), U.S. Senator from Wisconsin (1963-1981)
From The New York Times, "Ah, Wilderness! Save it," September 4, 1984

The first ever Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970.  Where are we, 29 years later?  The danger is real and it is imminent.  A study published on April 2, 2019 by the Potsdam Institute for climate Impact Research in Germany found that human activity has helped cause carbon levels to rise to a level unseen since the Plicene epoch, 2.6 to 5.3 million years ago.

I believe there is much more genuine concern about climate change, especially among young people.  However, if young people really want action on the environment, they must get out and vote.  This is the only way to stop right-wing conservative politicians such as Donald Trump in the United States, Doug Ford in Ontario and Jason Kenney in Alberta from coming to power.  The climate deniers are loud and forceful and they prey on genuine fears about the price of gas.  Unfortunately, many people are unable to look at the big picture.  As Gayford Nelson put it, they are unwilling to "sacrifice something today for future generations whose words and thanks will not be heard."  I can understand the angst about the cost of gas, but cap and trade or a carbon tax is a small price to pay in order to save our Earth.  We have to find alternatives to oil and other fossil fuels.  We have to elect more environmentally friendly politicians. 

It is happening more every day - more flooding, more forest fires, more hurricanes.  Call me a tree hugger if you wish.  I know it's a derogatory term to make fun of those who are legitimately concerned about the environment.  There is so much ignorance out there, beginning with the President of the United States.  Donald Trump stated that the "noise" from "wind mills"causes cancer.  He was actually talking about wind turbines.  Then there are the people who think that one cold, snowy day in one specific place means that "global warming" is not a problem.  Many do not know the difference between "global warming" and "climate change."  That's why we have to act NOW.

WARNING!  Time is running out for Mother Earth. 

One more thing: Smokers, I implore you not to flick your cigarette butts on the ground.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this is the most common form of littering in the world.  Please remember that cigarette butts are toxic and they pollute.  They are deadly to living creatures.  Also, they look dirty and ugly.

- Joanne

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter 2019 and Notre Dame Cathedral

We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.

- Romans 6:9



As the ashes settle in the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, the laborious restoration process can begin.  Rebuilding will take years, possibly more than a decade.  Yet, for a Gothic masterpiece that famously took 107 years to construct, and stood for centuries more, this may simply mark the latest evolution of a building that has been reshaped many times in its 850-year history.

Those looking for hope amid tragedy will be heartened by president Emmanuel Macron's assurance that the French will "rebuild together" and the fundraising efforts that reached $670 million of the blaze taking told.

- Oscar Holland and Sheena McKenzie and Finona Sinclair Scott

This Easter, my mind is focused on the fire that caused so much damage to Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France.  I watched in horror and dismay as flames engulfed the religious, cultural and historic icon during Holy Week, just days before Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  I stared at the television in disbelief as Notre Dame's burning spire toppled over.  It seemed so surreal.  It couldn't be happening.  Yet, it was happening before my very eyes.  This holy place, this repository of priceless art, this Gothic wonder was ablaze.  Thanks to the bravery and diligence of the firefighters, Notre Dame was not completely destroyed and many of its precious artifacts were saved.  Their heroism will long be remembered.  Most important of all, though, not a single human life was lost.

Notre Dame Cathedral opened in the year 1345 and it will rise again in the heart of Paris.  It may take a while, but there is no doubt in mind that it will happen.  President Macron has vowed that this ancient edifice will be rebuilt within five years.  The people of France, with support from around the world, will see to that. Notre Dame will stand again as one of Christendom's most sacred monuments.  It will stand again as a symbol of Paris and of France.  This medieval marvel has survived World War I and the Nazi occupation of France.  It will rise from the ashes.

Having said all that, I am perturbed by the manner in which billionaires have so quickly donated millions to the rebuilding of the venerable cathedral, as if it's a means to promote their particular brand.  France's wealthiest businessman, Bernard Arnault, and his luxury goods LVMH group has pledged 200 million euros (U.S. $226 million). Meanwhile, billionaire Francois Pinault and his son have announced that they are donating 100 million euros from Artemis, the holding company that owns Christie's auction house and is the main shareholder of luxury fashion houses such as Gucci.  That's all well and good and it is certainly generous, but as Phillippe Martinez, Confédération générale du travail (CGT) trade union leader put it, "If they can give dozens of millions to rebuild Notre Dame, they should stop telling us there is no money to respond to the social emergency."  

Yes, Notre Dame should be rebuilt, but why haven't these billionaires stepped up with similar donations for the needy and the homeless.  Why haven't they done more to combat climate change and eradicate disease?  This Easter, can they not use their wealth to aid the unemployed, the sick and the marginalized?  The great Victor Hugo, author of The Hunchback of Notre Dame,  would not want "les misérables" to be forgotten.

- Joanne

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Travel Experts Create Interactive City Guide for King's Landing, Diagon Alley and More

Here is guide to fictional destinations for fans of film, television and literature.  I hope you find it entertaining and enlightening. 

- Joanne

Travel experts, alpharooms, have created the ultimate travel guide to the fictional destination, King’s Landing  (Game of Thrones) – before it is overrun with White Walkers.
 Let your imagination take flight as you browse the other three out-of-this-world destinations too:

Game of Thrones
King’s Landing, Crownlands, Westeros

4 stars out of 5

If you’re a history buff with a love for the dramatic, then King’s Landing is the place for you. King’s Landing and the home of the iconic Iron Throne has a population of 500,000 and is around 300 years old. The capital of the Seven Kingdoms is located on the east coast of Westeros, overlooking Blackwater Bay. Boasting a warm climate, iconic sights and famous cuisine, the capital is a brilliant destination to top up your tan, experience new cultures and, if you’re lucky, catch a Walk of Shame or two.

General Information

King's Landing, home of the iconic Iron Throne has a population of 500,000, and is around 300 years old. The capital of the Seven Kingdoms is located on the east coast of Westeros, overlooking Blackwater Bay. Boasting a warm climate, iconic sights and famous cuisine, the capital is a brilliant destination to top up your tan, experience new cultures and, if you’re lucky, catch a Walk of Shame or two.

At a glance
  • Capital of the Seven Kingdoms
  • Vast and luxurious shopping streets and markets
  • World-famous monuments
  • Year-round sunny climate

Where to stay

King’s Landing is awash with cosy inns, taverns and late-night establishments - catering to all travellers.

Old Inn on Eel Alley

Please note: A refundable deposit is required on check-in due to nefarious, previous occupants, and the inn reserves the right to keep the deposit without prior warning.

3 out of 5 stars
Rooms from 1 groat (£3) per night.
Located well away from watchful eyes, the Old Inn offers the peace and quiet most of us crave on our holidays. Once frequented by Queen Cersei and Ser Jaime Lannister - the inn boasts a number of basic, functional rooms offering straw beds for your weekend in King’s Landing.

With a number of additional facilities, including guest Wifi (parchment and quill to you), a 24-hour front desk, luggage storage, Bowl of Brown on tap and a never-ending stream of customers - you can enjoy a real taste of the capital at the Old Inn. When you do hit the hay, the rooms offer luxurious straw furnishings and air-conditioning when windows are open. 

  • Food & drink
  • Outdoor toilet
  • Parking

How to get there

  • horse
  • ship



What to see 

1.  The Red Keep

The Red Keep is the most famous monument in the capital and an integral part of your King's Landing holiday.  Overlooking the busy bay, the Red Keep is the fortress and foundation of the capital.  The Great Hall, The Tower of the Hand, The White Sword Tour, The Maidenvault, The Godswood and. of course,, The Traitor's Walk sit within the great walls.

2.  Iron Throne

The Iron Throne is the star attraction of your holiday destination.  Created in 1 AC, many a' good folk have sat on this throne - forged from the 1,000 swords that were surrendered to Aegon in the War of Conquest.  While you may not be able to sit on it (made from 1,000 swords), would you really want to?), it certainly makes for a good Insta story.

3.  Flea Bottom

Don't be put off by the name; this is a true taste of King's Landing - particularly with Bowl of Brown originating here.  Flea Bottom is the poorest slum district in the capital, but there's a real sense of community here.  The streets are full of tanneries, inns, alehouses, brothels and pot-shops serving the aforementioned stew.

4.  Dragonpit Dome

The Dragonpit was part of the very legend of King's Landing.  The dome - the location for King Aegon II's coronation - today has fallen into disrepair; the doors have been sealed for more than a century.  But, that could be changing in the not too distant future.

5.  Fishmongers's Square 

Fishmonger's Square is located within Mud Gate, home to sea captains, fishmongers and all walks of life.  The streets are littered with market stalls and food vendors, serving up catch of the day and fresh rat skewers.

What to eat

What to eat
From years-old broth to fresh rat meat - King’s Landing certainly deserves a foody reputation.

Bowl of Brown
1 halfpenny (£0.50)
Made famous by Flea Bottom, the broth is stewed for years and made from unidentifiable vegetables and meat.

Rat Skewers
1 penny (£0.77)
Freshly caught from some of the many market stalls within Fishmonger’s Square.

3 pence (£2.31)
Soak up the brown with freshly-made bread, available at almost all food stalls - costing around three coppers.


After dark, King’s Landing turns into a very different place. The taverns throw open their doors and stay open ‘till late.

The Broken Anvil is one of the more popular inns in King’s Landing, offering food, drink and a bed for the night. The inn, overlooking the Gate of the Gods, has seen plenty of people come through their wrought doors - including royalty.

The Old Inn on Eel Alley has played host to the likes of Queen Cersei and Jaime Lannister. The inn is tucked away on a side street in the centre of King’s Landing, promising good drinks, a rowdy crowd and a down-to-earth landlady. 


Moon, Stag

Star, Groat, Halfgroat, Penny, Halfpenny

It will cost you £134,475 to sneak in and out of King’s Landing if you're up to no good.
Loaf of bread costs, an average of £2.31.
Sign up for a joust and expect 80,000 gold dragons (around £717 million) for taking the title.
Hiring assassins is commonplace in King’s Landing, costing upwards of £301.

Rooms from 1 groat (£3) per night.


"Anyone know what the parking is like for a couple of dragons and a reasonably sized fleet? Asking for a friend"
- Daenerys Targaryen

"I was really excited to visit King's Landing.  I'd learned so much about the pageantry and class of the place.  Sadly, the realty was very different.  Felt very claustrophobic and the people just aren't as friendly and trustworthy as those up North."
- Sansa Stark

"I visited King's Landing for the first time last year, but I've been wanting to visit since I turned 14.  Me, my aunt and some of my folk took the trip and I tell thee, it's a lot warmer than I expected.  I'll be returning soon, chuck."
- Jon Snow

Star Wars
Tatooine, Outer Rim Territories, Arkanis Sector

4 stars out of 5

General Information

Tatooine - the homeworld of Jedi legend, Luke Skywalker - is a desert planet located in the Outer Rim territory. Its two suns guarantee scorching days while three moons provide beautiful nighttime vistas. With vast shopping markets and plenty of packed watering holes - Tatooine offers a rough, ready and uninhibited holiday. The weather is always hot, the locals are an eclectic mix of species and, quite frankly, there’s no better place to enjoy a glass of Ardees than Tatooine. 

At a glance

  • Hot weather
  • 'Blue' milk on tap
  • Home to the universally famous Chalmun's Cantina
  • Legendary locals

Where to stay

If you’re on the hunt for cantinas, Sullustan staff, Wifi and, of course, parking for your dewback - Tatooine offers quality spots to stay for your holiday.
 Spaceport Hotel

Please note: Rooms start from 2,400 wupiupi (15 credits per night), but those prices are subject to change in peak season between May and August.

4 out of 5 stars

Rooms from 15 credits (£60) per night
The Spaceport Hotel is our most luxurious accommodation option in Tatooine. Established during the Rebellion Era and located within the heart of Mos Eisley, it caters to many tourists and locals.

The Spaceport Hotel offers 40 spacious rooms equipped with modern amenities, including sonic showers, air-conditioning, room service and free subspace comms (or Wifi for you offworlders). The staff - including welcoming Sullustans - are available 24/7, with the front desk capable of satisfying all manner of requests. Local charges may be applied to dock your dewback.

Sonic Showers
Food & Drink
Subspace Comms

How to get there

  • spaceship
  • dewback

  • sandcrawler
    • Sandcrawler

What to see

1. Mos Eisley

The largest spaceport town and settlement on Tatooine offers plenty of activities for visitors.  Around 60,000 people call this place home - split into the New Quarter and Old Quarter.  The New Quarter is a haven for tourists, boasting Chalmun's Spaceport Cantina.  The Old Quarter, on the other hand, is more traditional, boasting a thriving marketplace.  As the largest of all districts, Mos Eisley has a steady flow of hotels, casinos and cantinas to keep you entertained throughout your holiday.

2.  Mos Espa

This expansive spaceport is located near the Dune Sea.  The former home of divisive figure, Anakin Skywalker, is a thriving district.  Famous for its junk dealing, weaponry stores and former seasonal residence of the late Jabba the Hutt, this district provides a real taste for life on Tatooine.  Mos Espa Grand Arena, boasting a capacity for 100, racing fans, is the legendary destination to celebrate Boonta's Eve.  You can also get seats to a public execution for as little as five wupiupi.

3.  Beggar's Canyon

This canyon is part of Tatooine legend - especially when it comes to trying your luck and flying through the narrow rock formations.  Today, Beggar's Canyon is home to landmarks including the treacherous Dead Man's Turn and Diabolo Cut.  The dry river bed is at its best during Boonta's Eve, where residents take part in the notorious Boonta Eve Classic race.

4.  Dune Sea

This vast strech of dessert - once a great ocean - is an iconic attraction on Tattooine.  Those who have an interest in history will find this place of substantial interest, particularly with plenty of fossil-bearing rocks and eroded canyons.  Other points of interest in Dune Sea ar ethe Great Pit of Carkoon and Jabba's Palace.

5.  Jabba's Palace

This palace is notorious arond Tatooine - the former home and base of operations for crime lord, Jabba the Hutt.  Now a memoria for the planet's turbulent past, you can visit the throne room, the Great Room of the Enlightened, Alkhara's Tower and subterranean passages.  Below these dungeon levels, you can dig deeper in Tatooine's history through the tunnels and chambers, the B'Omarr monks once lurked.

What to eat

From the likes of 'blue milk" to frogs - Tatoonie has food and drink options for even the fussiest of eaters.

Bantha 'Blue" Milk
200 wupiupi (£2)

The infamous Bantha 'Blue' Milk helps young boys and girls grow big and strong on Tatoonie.  Produced by female Banthas, the milk offers an authentic taste of the planet; also used as a base for other notable dishes, such as butter, ice cream and custard.

Klatooine Paddy Frogs
100 wupiupi (£1)

While not native to Tatooine, the Klatooine Paddy Frogs were expected in satisfy the late crime lord, Jabba the Hutt.  These frogs can still be found on the planet today.

Hubba Gourd
100 wupiupi (£1)

The Hubba Gourd is the primary source of nourishment on Tatooine.  The melon - translating to the 'staff of life' - is an eye-opener for tourists, particularly when it comes to the sour juice.


Nightlife in Tatooine is diverse, loud and an adventure from start to finish. Your first port of call is none other than Chalmun’s Cantina, located in Mos Eisley. This dimly-lit tavern is known for its tunes, diverse customers and, if you’re hungry for action, the occasional bust-up. Speaking of drinks, this bar serves up 12 regular drinks on tap. The most popular beverages include the likes of Bantha Milk, Tatooine Sunset, Jawa Juice, Yatooni Boska, Tatooni Junko and, of course, Hutt’s Delight.

Due to the large number of visitors, Mos Eisley is an excellent base for hotels, casinos and cantinas. The Lucky Despot, owned by Lady Valarian, is one example of a casino turned hotel - offering cheap drinks and a lively backdrop to your holiday.


Wald’s Parts: This junk shop is world-famous. Despite its size, the shop is well-stocked for droid technology and smaller machinery. Take home moisture vaporators, calibration devices, moobian torsion valves and even a droid lubrication bath. Larger vehicle parts - turbine engines, hyperdrives etc. - are kept outside.
Tosche Station: A power station and repair shop located near Anchorhead, on the Great Chott salt flat of Tatooine. The site features recharge facilities to keep your landspeeder ticking over, a sales office for those looking to snag some power converters, and, if you’re looking to add some high stakes to your holiday, a discreet games room.
Arms Emporium: Conveniently located in the centre of Mos Eisley on Paradise Road, you don’t have to look far to get your hands on some quality firepower. Owned by Masse Goskey, this weaponry dealing venue has enough arms to cater for all holiday guests; no matter your preferences.

Galatic Credits

Pegaat, Trugut, Wupiupi

Docking fee for spaceships around £323 per night.
Local delicacy, Gorgs, are available for as little as 7 pence.
Tatooine Sunburn is served at many cantinas, costing £22.61 per glass.

Purchasing six dewbacks will set you back £22,000.

Rooms from £60 per night.    

"Do not recommend.  I did not find the droids."
- Sandtrooper

- Chewbacca

"There's nowwhere better to bullseye Womp Rats in a T-16.  Make sure you head to the Tosche Station for a great deal on power converters!"
 - Luke Skywalker

Lord of the Rings
The Shire, Central Eriador

5 stars out of 5 

General Information

Largely removed from the often dangerous ongoings of Middle-earth, The Shire is a lush, green, quaint homeland for the majority of hobbits. Filled to bursting with cheerful residents, inns, taverns and locals celebrating their eleventy-first birthday - The Shire is quite the party paradise.

The hobbits are renowned for their love of feasting, and regularly spend several days eating and drinking mead. Holidays to note include Lithe - Midsummer celebration lasting four days - and Yuletide, an epic six-day winter extravaganza.

Please note: The Shire is a bartering community. Tools of trade and food items are used regularly as currency. However, pence is an accepted form of currency when purchasing ale and food. 

At a glance

  • Home to Middle-earth's greatest ale
  • Year-round celebrations
  • Popular vineyards
  • Bustling regions

Where to stay

Where better to enjoy your breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner and supper than surrounded by the lush greenery of The Shire.

The Green Dragon Inn

Please note: Height restrictions may apply to those taller than 3 feet 6 inches.  Please check with the agenc before booking.

3 out of 5 stars

Rooms from £5 per night

The hugely popular inn, located in Bywater and exceptionally close to Hobbiton, is frequented by almost all travellers to The Shire.  The precise date the inn was founded is unknown, but what we can tell you is that the likes of Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf, Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee have all enjoyed the food, drink and atmosphere at The Green Dragon Inn.

There are several quaint and charming rooms available at the inn.  Rooms feature comfortable beds, luggage storage, scenic views and housekeeping.  Hot food and beverages are available at an additional charge.  Shoes are optional.

  • Plentiful Mead
  • Comfortable Beds
  • Luggage Storage
  • Parking

How to get there

  • horse
  • ship


Pre-order is required for horses, with pick-up available at The Green Dragon Inn and The Prancing Pony.  Ponies and goats are available for those under 3 foot.

What to see

1.  Bywater

Located in the Westfarthing of The Sire, the Bywater village houses The Green Dragon Inn, hobbits and plenty parties for your holiday.  Lined with hobbit holes, inns, quaint homes and rolling hills - Bywater is a touch of paradise, right by the water.  Just south from the east road lies the route to take to visit neighbouring Hobbiton.

2.  Hobbiton

Within the borders of Westfarthing lies Hobbitton - the biggest attraction in the Shire.  The quiet peaceful village boasts a number of hobbit holes. along with the famous Old Grande and Sandyman's Mill.  Additionally, Bag End can be found in Hobbiton, where you can visit the former homes of the famous ring-bearers, Frodo and Bilbo Baggins.

3.  Michel Delving

The chief town of The Shire is considered the 'capital'.  Hobbit holes are interspersed with buildings above ground - ideal for those taller than 3 foot.  Don't forget to visit the Town Hole - home to the Mayor of Michel Delving - and Mathom Hose, where the hobbits collect and display 'mathoms' or items that have no particular use.

4.  Buckland

Originally independent from The Shire, Buckland is now recognised as part of the region - offering plenty of attractions to keep you entertained.  The childhood home of Frodo Baggins has certainly lived up to its reputation as a popular destination for travellers, with locals enjoying the likes of boating and swimming.  Some hobbits have been known to wear shoes in Buckland.

5.  Bree

While not officially part of the Shire, Bree can be reached in around one day and regularly welcomes hobbits - particularly from buzzing Buckland.  Located on teh most importand crossroads in the north, there are many inns to welcome travellers - although the area is still relatively untouched by tourists.  Serving up tasty ale and food, and a warm, comfortable bed after a day of travelling - there's little wonder Bree is becoming increasingly popular.

What to eat

The vineyards, pipe-weed, sweet treats and ale will keep your stomach full throughout the entire duration of your holiday.

1 seed cake

Ale is a primary source of nutrition in The Shire, with alehouses and inns located in each village.  Many hobbits gather together in the local inns to barter their belongings in exchange for money over a refreshing pipe-weed - an art the hobbits have perfected over time.

Seed Cake
2 pence

This local delicacy, a fluffy cake filled with caraway seeds, is available at almost every inn and hobbit hole.  As mentioned above, it's encouraged to barter possessions as opposed to using coins, and you can exchange family heirlooms and trinkets for a delicious slice of seed cake.


The hobbits and The Shire, in particular, are well-known for their love of partying - so you’ll be in good company. Any excuse to celebrate, and The Shire will do so. If you are looking for dates for your holiday, we suggest looking in early April - where the Party Field plays host to a great celebration - as well as Midsummer and Yuletide.
When it comes to inns, there’s certainly no shortage of ale. The Golden Perch Inn, in the Eastfarthing of The Shire, serves some of the best ale in The Shire. Likewise, The Floating Log is another pit-stop in Eastfarthing. If you are heading west for the night, we recommend visiting Ivy Bush - where hobbits from both Hobbiton and Bywater come to drink and socialise.
In Bree, you’ll not go far wrong with The Prancing Pony. This is a well-travelled inn due to its location on the major road of the Greenway, with plenty of hobbit-sized rooms should you over indulge on the ale.


Michel Delving: Mathom-House is situated in this village and is where hobbits display items that are no use. However, it is not unusual for visitors to exchange their belongings for items displayed in the ‘museum’.
Southfarthing: While well-known for its pipe-weed, Southfarthing is particularly noted for its vineyards - producing a strong red wine’ that is enough to keep you very merry throughout your trip.
Scary: Not quite as scary as you might think, as this village boasts plenty of stores stocked up with drink and food, which is regularly used by the hobbits for their Yuletide celebrations.

Silver Farthing, Fourpenny, Silver Penny
Brasslings,, Buttons
Copperlings, Quarter

Renting a pony will cost, an average, of four silver pennies or £3.41.
Pipe-weed is favoured in The Shire, and can be used to exchange for food and drink, amongst many other items.
Rooms from £5 per night
"I've enjoyed a fine many a fine morning in The Shire with the hobbits, and would recommend for friends far and wide across Middle-earth.  You shall pass." 
- Gandalf

"A merrier place I've not seen."
- Thorin II Oakenshield

"Great food and great ale."
- Ori


Diagon Alley, London England

5 stars out of 5

General Information

The cobblestoned shopping area, otherwise known as Diagon Alley, is legendary in the wizarding world. Offering a menagerie of restaurants, magical supplies and, of course, butterbeer - Diagon Alley is the latest destination of choice for UK travellers. Invisible to muggles, Diagon Alley is the heart of wizarding London. The entrance to the bustling street is located in the world-famous Leaky Cauldron. And, any holiday destination that starts with a pub is a winner in our books. 

At a glance
  • Centre of wizarding London
  • Rich tapestry of species
  • Shopping haven
  • Invisible to muggles

Where to stay

London offers plenty a cosy pubs for the wizarding world, but none quite so popular or as famous as the Leaky Cauldron… 
The Leaky Cauldron

Please note: There is a 100 galleon prize for anyone prepared to finish Gamp's Old Gregarious, which boasts such a distinctive, disgusting taste that no wizard is yet to finish.

Four out of five stars
Rooms from 8 galleons (£39) per night

The more than 500 year old The Leaky Cauldron has played host to a number of extraordinary visitors - both muggles and wizards alike. Noted for its most ‘excellent and delicious luncheon’, The Leaky Cauldron offers several private parlour rooms, ranging in space and amenities, set above the public bar.

There are 11 large, traditional-style bedrooms available at the guest house - reached via a handsome oak staircase. Rooms offer amenities such as four poster beds, luggage storage, room service, housekeeping, crackling fires and, in some cases, talking mirrors. 


  • Daily Housekeeping
  • Butterbeer
  • Free Wifi
  • Talking Mirrors

How to get there

  • spaceship
    Floo Network
  • dewback
    On foot

Please note: Not recommended for first time floo powder users as it can be very disorienting. For backyard access from The Leaky Cauldron, tap the brick three up and two across from the trash can.  Alpharooms are not liable for any travellers pronouncing Diagon Alley as ‘diagonally’.

What to see

1.  Knockturn Alley

Similar to Diagon Alley, the street is not directly accessible to muggles, but can be reached through entering Diagon Alley, or via the Floo Network or apparition.  Knockturn Alley is dedicated to the dark arts, with stores such as Borgin and Burkes and many other vendors selling the likes of poisonous candles, human bones, shrunken heads and cursed jewellery.

2.  Horizont Alley

Horizont Alley, so named as you travel 'horizontally' via The Floo Network, is a cross street of Diagon Alley, intersected by Knockturn Alley.  While slightly quieter than Diagon Alley, the street is littered with quaint stores and barbers.  Here you can scour the lighting devices at Flimflam's lanterns, peruse the toys at Pilliwinkle's Playthings and sit down for a decent pint of butterbeer (or Wizard's brew for those feeling particularly brave) at the Fountain of Fair Fortune.

3.  Carkitt Market

Carkitt Market is located on a side street just off Diagon Alley, in the very heart of London's legendary wizarding quarter.  The market is bustling every day of the week. offering customers the latest in magical fireworks (Dr. Filibuster's Fireworks), silver unicorn horns (Apothecary) and vast amounts of potions (Eternelle's Elixir of Refreshments).  Plus, there are 10 regular draught drinks available at the Hopping Pot.

4.  Gringott's Wizarding Bank

The only bank in the wizarding world is so much more than a place to store your galleons.  Owned and operated by goblins - with dragons policing the subterranean levels - the second oldest building.  It's also one of the most secure banks in the world, with only two break-ins - one in 1991 and the other 1998.

What to eat

Diagon Alley is home to an eclectic mix of magical food and 
drink; you'll be spellbound.

Pickled Eel
1 galleon (£4.93)

A house specialty of The Leaky Cauldron, pickled eels are a favourte for pub regulars.  The dish, best served alongside roast hog, is best known to rampaging mountain trolls.

Pumpkin Pasties
10 sickles  (£290)

Similar to Cornish pastie but filled with pumpkin instead, you'll find the greatest pastry treats at Sugarplum's Sweet Shop.  The sweet shop also serves liquorice wands, cauldron cakes and the world famous Bertie Bott's  Every Flavour Beans.  

5 sickles  (£290)

Made from butterscotch, sugar and water, Butterbeer is a tasty, sweet treat.  At  a cost of as little as five sickles, there'll be plenty left over for a plate of pickled eels.


The Leaky Cauldron is your first port-of-call; ideal as your room is located above the bar. Prices for beer average at two sickles each, with an 100 galleon reward for completing the man v Gamp’s Old Gregarious challenge.

Moving on from The Leaky Cauldron, The Fountain of Fair Fortune is a popular haunt for locals and tourists alike. Serving up Gillywater and Dragon Scale - you can make a night of it in this bar, particularly when the magical karaoke starts…

Last but certainly not least is The Hopping Pot, where you can pick up a cool, refreshing drink of Fizzy Green Ale.


Weasley’s wizard Wheezes: Located at 93 Diagon Alley, this joke shop is world-famous. Selling a number of magical pranks, including extendable ears, love potions, pimple vanishers and pygmy puffs - it’s highly entertaining for both children and adults alike.
Ollivander’s: Widely acknowledged as the finest wand shop in Great Britain, Ollivander’s sells thousands of wands from as little as seven galleons.
Flourish and Blotts: With shelves stacked to the ceiling, you can pick up a number of wizarding books at the most extensive bookstore in the whole of London. Just some of the best-selling books include the Charm your own Cheese (five galleons) and The Standard Book of Spells (one galleon).
Eeylops Owl Emporium: Take home a pet with an extensive number of owls available; the most expensive priced at 15 galleons.


Finish a pint of Gamp’s Old Gregarious and earn £493.
Butterbeer available at The Leaky Cauldron from as little as £1.50.
Pumpkin pasties starting from £2.90 at Sugarplum’s Sweet Shop.

Owls available for £24.95 at Eeylops Owl Emporium.

Rooms from £39) per night.


"Ah,  yer wunt find nicer folk than those at the Leaky Cauldron.  They offer bucket-sized ale for no more than one galleon."
- Rubeus Hagrid

"I recommend visiting Diagon Alley for butterbeer corks to keep away the nargles.
- Luna Lovegood

"I used to think Flourish and Blotts was the perfect place to stock up on all the books you need.  Sadly, in recent times it has become clear that works by, or even about, House Elves are severely underrepresented on their shelves.

- Hermione Granger