Finally, it was the day of the party! The sorting hat was laid grandly on a star-spangled chair ...
...and Platform 9 3/4 had appeared in our front door ...
... while inside the Hogwarts banners fluttered in the breeze.
Students were asked to wear full school uniform, and on arrival visited Madam Malkin's to don school robes over the top. At Eeylop's Emporium they were given a magical pet ... perhaps an owl, spider, dragon, cat or unicorn.
To begin, each child was sorted by the hat, which called out their house loudly (we'd tucked a mobile phone into the back pocket of the hat), and given a house sticker to pin to their robes.
Then lessons began. First, Professor Sprout took students down to the greenhouse for a Herbology lesson in which they saw the dangerous "Snapdragon" (a hand puppet that rose up out of a pot and tried to bite one of them!) ...
Next, it was time to pot up baby Mandrakes to take home.
I'd hidden five Golden Snitches in the garden earlier, and the students then ran around madly searching.
The prizes were a bag of Golden Galleons (chocolate, of course) from Gringott's bank.
Broomstick races were next ... we'd made the Nimbus 3000 and the Firebolt, and students divided into two teams. The kids loved this bit ... even though the Nimbus lost its bundle of twigs. (We'd made the brooms ourselves one afternoon with brushwood and string.)
Then it was time for birthday singing and cake ... a huge luscious chocolate mound make by Grandma. Do you recognise it from the books? It's just like the cake that Hagrid brings Harry for his 11th birthday, when he first discovers he's a wizard. (It was the easiest cake I've ever had the pleasure to messily decorate!)
Professor Snape then gave a Potions lesson. The children had to collect herbs from the garden, and mix these with Floo Powder (bicarb), Pixie dust (cake sprinkles), and Unicorn Tears (Vinegar). The resulting fizzing Invisibility Potion was a huge success. Eric said this was his favourite part of the party (that's him in the Harry Potter glasses in the second photo).
The Dumbledore (my brother-in-law Richard, in a dubious beard) did some real magic tricks ... he's an amateur wizard and great with kids. Much to their delight he made sweets appear out of thin air, did marvellous card tricks, and played games with them.
Next was a trip to Florian Fortescue's ice-cream parlour, for cones covered in Dragon's Blood (strawberry sauce), sprinkles and chocolate.
All day the kids had been asking me when they would be receiving wands ... I hadn't wanted to hand them out too early since they are pretty delicate (I made them from rolled up paper and glue), and I didn't fancy anyone losing an eye at the party. Papa was a perfect Ollivander, handing each child a wand with great ceremony, and reading out the wand label to them. We'd set up a lamp in the corner of the room with a very long extension cord, so that it could be switched on and off by a a person in the next room. The children had to point their wands at the lamp and cry "Lumos!". If the light came on then the wand they were holding was the right one for them ... otherwise Ollivander gave them another wand to try. They were thrilled ... and none of them twigged to how the trick was done. Later on I found a few of the kids gathered around the lamp, pointing their wands at it and shouting out the spell. They were most disappointed that the magic didn't work!
I didn't get a shot of the wands, except for Eric's at the end of the day (Rowan, 11-inches long, with a Phoenix Feather core), so thought you might like to see them. There's also one of our Golden Snitches, a schoolbook (which each child got in their take-home bag), and the ticket which I put into every invitation. I've framed it to put on Eric's wall, as a momento.
Now that the kids had their wands it was time for the last lesson of the day ... Defence Against the Dark Arts. For this, we were to fight a real Dementor. We learned the spell "Expecto Patronum", then set off down the garden. It was almost magical ... the kids were so immersed in the world that it felt almost real. I even heard one little girl say to another: "I'm really quite scared ... do you think we'll defeat it?".
My nephew was hiding down in the Forbidden Forest (a copse of trees down the paddock), wearing a black cloak and scary mask. The kids went crazy, yelling the spell and waving their wands. It was terrific fun. After a while poor old Axl lay down and "died", and the kids were delighted.
Then it was all over. Take home bags were handed out, filled with Drooble's Best Blowing Gum, Fizzing Whizbees, Acid Pops, Chocolate frogs and other original morsels. Each child also took home their cloak, mandrake, magical pet and a Hogwarts school book.
And after tidying up a bit, our whole family sat down together for a barbecue, while the kids ran around in the gloaming, wearing their cloaks and casting spells at eachother.
Eric was absolutely beaming from start to finish. He loved every minute ... which made it all completely worthwhile.