Beyond the Brotherhood

So far 2020 has been chock full of culture for us, we’ve fitted in two museum visits and a movie trip and the month is not over yet.

First Saturday of January we took the train into the New Forest to see an exhibit at the St. Barbe Museum and Gallery in Lymington. The idea behind the exhibition was what would Romantic art look like today, and while it was a mixed bag there were artists and pieces I liked a great deal. Primarily we were there to see a big intricate piece by local Southampton artist Greg Gilbert, who we first found at the local museum here. We also had breakfast at Hoxton, visited every single charity shop (I found a Hario Jumping Leaf teapot), and had a lovely lunch at Lemana.

The next weekend John’s parents visited and was beer, Costco, and boardgames mostly. They kindly brought the things we hadn’t wanted to lug home after Xmas, so I now have a light box and a paper trimmer, amongst other things. Oh, and a hammer drill!

Finally las weekend we went to our local Southampton City Gallery for an exhibition called Beyond the Brotherhood: The Pre-Raphaelite Legacy, which is basically what it says on the tin. It had a wonderful range; the first section includes a wide range of pieces and types of art, from big familiar pieces to illustrations, sketches, and ceramics. I was delighted to see ‘Vanity’ by Frank Cadogan Cowper, which is just beautiful up close. The exhibitions then goes on to show the legacy in later art and illustration, up to and including recent and contemporary fantasy art, including Brian Froud and Alan Lee. It wraps up at the end of the month here but then moves on to the Russell-Cotes Gallery in Bournemouth, whose collection is the source of a lot of the major pieces in the exhibit.

All that, and we even made it to the movies for once, to see Jojo Rabbit, which I really loved. I expected the humour, but not the emotional depth necessarily, or not on that level. I basically cried nonstop the last ten minutes. Waititi is doing his own things, but there was a lot of Vonnegut in there, and not a little Dr. Strangelove… it also made me want to watch the original version of To Be or Not to Be. I’m going to be thinking about this one for a while.

2020

Well here we are in the far-flung future of 2020!

We had intended on a relatively low key NYE at Unity Brewing’s taproom, but both of us had sore throats so we scaled it back to a couple of pints at the Butcher’s Hook, where I had a lovely marshmallow porter and we had a nice chat with some strangers at our table. Back home we played a board game, ordered Indian food, watched the first half of Point Break, and were in bed just in time to wish each other a happy new year snuggled up with the cats as the fireworks went off outside. Perhaps not the most exciting new year’s ever but enjoyable all the same.

Coxon Christmas

We headed up to Peterborough on Monday, everything went nice and smoothly and the trains were not too busy so we got there in time for dinner. This year was a lower key Coxon Christmas, mainly John’s parents, his aunts, and us two – with guest appearances by George and Kathryn, and by his grandmother on Christmas day.

We were also only there through the end of the week, so no panto this year. All in all it was very chill, we ate lovely food, drank wine and beer, saw old friends, watched quiz shows, and generally relaxed. John and I also squeezed in a viewing of John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch, which was odd but worth watching if you like his sensibility.

Finally, we closed out the year with the Lulzine Holiday Special!

Turkey and burritos

On the weekend of the 23rd, we had an early Thanksgiving with John’s parents, George and Kathryn. I had made two practice pumpkin pies with the Halloween jack-o-lantern and although the third attempt was with canned pumpkin I was pretty pleased with the results. John’s turkey was very good indeed, and John got to open some early birthday presents, so a good time was hopefully had by all.

On Thanksgiving itself we were on a flight to San Francisco. We lucked out and had a row to ourselves, we watched the first ten minutes of Hustle, which was disappointing, How to Train Your Dragon 3, which was okay, and The Lego Movie 2 with I enjoyed more than expected. I then watched the first half or so of Ma, which felt like a lost opportunity.

9pm on Thanksgiving is not the best time to find dinner, but luckily Taraval had several options. We had a truly reviving hot and sour soup, plus a substantial set menu at 8 Immortals, and then walked to Palle’s for good company, cat cuddles, and sleep.

Over the next week we did a bit of shopping to take advantage of the sales, some minimal touristing, but mainly tried to fit in as many visits with friends as possible; we started Friday in Berkeley and then headed down to San Jose for a few days with Bryan and Mette and their adorable new kittens Heyes and Curry. The weather was truly terrible but we did manage a trip into town for Christmas in the Park.

Monday was back up to the city for lunch with Garcia at Super Duper burger followed by beer and pizza in the evening with Jade, Erik, and Joe Price at Cellarmaker in the Mission. Tuesday was John’s actual birthday so we got chicken and waffles at Lois the Pie Queen in Oakland, with key lime pie for dessert. We walked over to Emeryville for a bit of shopping and to see Knives Out, which was really great. And for dinner we met up with Anthony for more pizza and beer at Drake’s in Oakland. We ended with ice cream at the Humphrey Slocum stand outside, and barring Deb’s absence due to work it was pretty much the perfect evening.

Wednesday was our quiet day, so we stayed in the Sunset. Still, that involved breakfast at the Tennessee Grill, a long walk to collect my Xmas present from John, followed by coffee at The Beanery on 9th and Irving, a long walk back to Parkside with a stop at The Sunset Reservoir Brewery which had a lovely cucumber Gose, and we tasted a really nice chilli liqueur. The quiet day ended with burritos from EBX and a rewatching of Hot Fuzz.

Thursday we spent the morning running separate errands, I stopped by Borderlands, which is still looking great, then headed to the Haight to see Steve. We had beers, comfort food at Orphan Andy’s, more beer at Noc Noc’s, and watched the Harry Styles episode of SNL. Then Joe Price picked us up a traditional nightime drive through the Bay’s beauty spots.

On the drive back along Park Presidio we had noticed a big stately white building. I looked it up and it turns out it’s the home of the Internet Archive, at they do tours on the first Friday of each month. So on Friday that was our first bit of proper touristing, it was pretty neat and inspiring. For the evening we went south for excellent Spanish food with Leigh Anna and Leo at Iberia in Belmont, followed by cat play time with their lovely, fluffy new kitten.

And then it was my last day, we had a big breakfast at the grill, quality cat time with Harold, then suffered a replacement bus due to flooding in the West Portal tunnel in order to hit Ghirardelli for a decadent ice cream lunch. Santacon stragglers, holiday lights, and shopping crowds made me feel nostalgic and it was a nice way to end my trip.

Food, cats, more food, more cats.

Yesterday we walked up to Wickes to find out about bathrooms (spoiler; they’re pricey) and had a lovely meal at Steak Bar, the little eatery attached to Uptons of Basset. They’re a Slovakian style butcher (I don’t know exactly how that differs from a British butcher) with lots of lovely things I had to restrain myself from purchasing. We shared the Butcher’s Block, which had pork pie, brie and stilton cheese, sliced meats, piccalilly, lovely bread, some pickled onions that actually tasted nice (!!!!), and Scotch eggs with runny yolks. Nom.

In the evening we caught up on The Good Place and I even got some reading time in. I’m really enjoying The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E. Harrow, author of this year’s wonderful short story Hugo winner A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies.

Today we walked down to God’s House Tower for their official opening weekend celebrations, which featured singers and dancers from Art Asia. We had some really nice sandwiches from Hoxton’s and generally enjoyed the vibe. They also do a three month Tower pass that is only £5 for a tour and access to all the exhibits, but we decided to come back with more time to enjoy it properly.

The wind had picked up when we left and the day gone from lovely and crisp to finger numbingly cold, so I was happy to get back home even if there were still chores to do. Michael came over but my grumpy tired ass retired to do fanac and pet cats, leaving him and John to play board games until dinner time, when we watched an episode of The Expanse, in which Shit is Getting Real for the crew of the Roci, and everyone else too really.

And that was the weekend.

No Novacon, yes chilaquiles.

On the weekend after Halloween we had planned to go to Novacon, but a proper look at the budget suggested that actually maybe quality time with the cats would be better.

As a consolation prize we did get to attend an excellent Mexican brunch birthday party hosted at the other Southampton fannish household. Nick Gibbins put on his chef hat and prepared an amazing spread, there was plenty of lively conversation, plus some tequila, so honestly it wasn’t a million miles off of the Novacon experience in the end.

Besides that I learned how to make pumpkin pie and how to pickle jalapeños, we played some board games, caught up on The Expanse, and terrorized innocent bystanders in the form of goose. Not a bad way to spend a weekend.

Treats, mostly

Hot damn, it’s almost Halloween! (Guess who forgot to post her draft!?)

Inktober got rudely shoved aside so I could get art ready for World Fantasy. John helpfully worked around me as I buckled down and spent most of the month working on that, and I’m reasonably happy with the results. Next up is Novacon, which I’ll do regular 2D pieces for, as much for the variety as for the feeling that November isn’t really folding fan season.

We managed to get some fun in before and after I disappeared into all-fans-all-the-time; firstly we went up to Bristol to visit John’s friend Tony for the weekend. It was a nice weekend, a bit rainy but not too bad, and we played some boardgames in between exploring the city. We started off strong with a  burger at JKJK and a wander through the market, then went up to the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, which has my second favourite version of La Belle Dame Sans Merci, by Frank Dicksee. There is a bunch of other cool stuff there, ranging from local history (lots of lovely glass) to an Ai Wei Wei piece. On the Sunday we had breakfast at a place called Boston Tea Party, which for some reason really reminded me of the places I used to get breakfast back in the nineties in Lower Haight. We did some more wandering and saw the statue to Cary Grant, a Banksy, and the waterfront.

The next two weeks are a fugue of course, but then I packed up the box to ship off and I was free! And just in time too, because it was Tobes visit weekend. His plane was delayed, but finally arrived late morning. We fed him some espresso and then started an epic beer crawl through Southampton. We aimed for Unity to start but it was raining and there are two pubs on the way, so we stopped at the South Western and the Junction Inn before braving the walk along the river to get to Unity. The last bit was a bit muddy but we managed it and rewarded ourselves with pork bao buns from the Demaine Artisan food truck outside, plus of course beer. Out next stop was across the Itchen for a half pint at Paddle and Peel, followed by one last drink at the Butcher’s Hook before going home to dry our socks, have a coffee, and catch the train to Woolston where we crammed into Olaf’s Tun and ordered pizzas from Spitfire up the street.  

All of which was a prelude to the Woolston Craft Beer Festival! We didn’t know what to expect, Woolston is not large and it was in the local hall. But it was well supplied and busy, and we had a lovely few hours happily trying out beers, plus Bark and Brisket were there serving food so we had a late dinner of pork baps.

Inktober

The second half of September had two Coxon family visits in a row.; first George and Kathryn came down for a brief visit which involved pizza and beer and Into the Spider-Verse. The following weekend John’s parents came to visit, met the cats, and were kind enough to take us to IKEA not once but twice.

As a result I have a corner desk and a kallax unit and my habitat is a bit more unfucked than it was. It’s almost, dare I say it… nice? I thought the storage would be the best part but honestly I didn’t even know how much I really needed a new desk.

Now John is off on his annual trip to the wilds of someplace or other (Herefordshire? Surely not, that sounds made up) and I am trying to hunker down and focus on getting fans done for World Fantasy. On the plus side I am getting extra cat time, which is nice.

And then there’s inktober, which I’m participating in for the first time at least partly as an effort to not spend my weekday lunches at my desk. It’s only sort of working so far, but it’s early days so we’ll see. I am enjoying how the prompts are deceptive, the easy looking ones turn out to be the absolute worst.

Weekends!

The last few weekends we’ve stayed in Southampton, but managed to have nice mini-adventures regardless.

The last weekend in August Michael came over and we wandered across the bridge to Riverside Park and Trifest, a new crowdsourced neighbourhood festival. We arrived pretty late in the day, so we missed the food, and it was pretty small, but for a first year crowdsourced event it was solid, with musicians all day and some local arts and crafts, as well as a couple of local charitable organizations. I bought some upcycled jewellery from Sylvie Leost and some duck feed from a charity. Unity had a beer stand, so we had a half pint each and enjoyed talking to a friendly but confused drunk guy.

After the festival, we walked along the river down to the Unity Tap room to enjoy more beer and some very good food from Hibiscus Mexican Kitchen. Turns out the tap room now has a different food truck on site every Saturday! We walked back, hoping to feed some ducks on the way, but saw no waterfowl at all due to the low tide. The rest of the weekend was board games and chillin.

Then last weekend Anna and Hogg came down from London to visit for the weekend! We saw Criminal Ornamentation at the City Arts Gallery, which was excellent. I also finally had a chance to have a look at the Perseus Series by Burne-Jones, which had been on loan last time I was there.

We got breakfast at La Baronia and then walked into town for donuts and and coffee, and then walked back home along the river, this time there swans but I had no food for them. We spent the rest of the afternoon fighting unspeakable horrors in Arkham and eating delicious brownies cooked up by Anna. Then we ordered Nigerian delivery from Afritopia, the menu stumped us at first since most things were labeled as “soup”, but Anna helped puzzle some things out and we ended up with a really delicious meal.

On Sunday I made pancakes for breakfast and we played with the PSVR set that they had brought down with them, I had skipped my turn the night before because I am entirely useless at flying games, but this time it was Beat Saber, which is much more my speed. I enjoyed it immensely, though I don’t know if I’d want to spend that much money on the hardware. Though I do see No Man’s Sky is an option…. hmmm.

We finished off the visit with a massive lunch at 7bone (do they do any other kind?) and enjoyed the sunshine on the walk home. John popped into Argos for a sorely needed new wifi router, and once Anna and Hogg left for their train home he promptly went to work setting it up while I finished my chores for the weekend.

By evening we were still full from lunch, and too tired to do much more than veg, so we watched This Is Spinal Tap, enjoyed the speedy new wifi, and got to bed at a sensible hour for once.

A wedding

The weekend after we got back from Dublin it was time to head up to Peterborough for Kathryn and George’s wedding!

We got a ride with John’s Aunt Jennifer, and arrived in Peterborough in time to get a few hours in at the Beer Festival with John’s brother David and his partner Becky. I had a few nice beers and one or two not-great ones, and we ran into Andrew Ellis which was nice. We chatted and drank for a few hours, won a couple of bar mats in the tombola, and then it was time for dinner at the Blue Bell with the bride and groom and their families. It was a good meal, and we were seated near Kathryn’s brother and his partner, who actually live close to us and gave us a ride back on the Monday.

It was held at the The William Cecil, a lovely building in the beautiful stone town of Stamford. The ceremony was outdoors, with the wedding breakfast in a tent directly after, followed by a couple hours for people to relax and change if they wanted to before the evening’s disco and hog roast. It was a lovely ceremony, followed by a reception in a tent. The food was good, though it was far too hot that day for me to want any wine, by the evening things were much more pleasant and everyone seemed to be having a lovely time.  

Monday was a bank holiday, so we had a lie in before the long ride back south.