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Although I had not read the book I was still interested as our guests had already started visiting the set and I wanted to know what it was about so I could pass on the local knowledge i.e. - what was Hobbiton like? is it worth going?
I have to say I was very impressed by what I saw and the level of detail that Peter Jackson had gone to to ensure that no stone was left unturned to get everything 110% right. from the breed of sheep on the set to the individual piles of firewood outside each hobbit hole nothing was left to chance.
The Hobbit holes were made in 3 sizes to cope with the different heights of the Hobbits and Gandoff of course and Jackson even made additional Hobbit holes he did not need just in case he needed them.
Trees had to be just like they would have been in middle earth and to ensure authenticity some tinkering was done to ensure they were just right i.e. some 300,000 leaves were wired to a tree to ensure it had the right look.
Thatch on the pub and mill roofs was cut from rushes around the Alexander farm.
The oak tree overlooking Bag End was cut down and brought in from near Matamata. Each branch was numbered and chopped, then transported and bolted together on top of Bag End (weighing 26 tonne).
Artificial leaves were imported from Taiwan and individually wired onto the dead tree.
The finishing touch is having an ale in the Green Dragon Inn at the end of the 2 hour tour - very authentic and a great way to end the tour and there's bragging rights as you tell your mates I had a beer in the Green Dragon Inn.
For any Hobbit buff it is a must and for those of you like me who has just a passing interest it is well worth the visit.