Tag Archives: nottingham

2019

Once again John and I headed up to Casa Coxon in Peterborough to spend the holidays with his parents. It was a smaller affair this year, his grandfather wasn’t able to come down from Halifax and of his brothers only George was about – but it was still nice, with good food and good company.

Things kicked off for me with my office Xmas dinner on the Friday before Xmas, which was four of us eating a heroic amount of Mexican food at La Baronia, and no one telling me they didn’t like tequila until after the pitcher of margaritas I ordered arrived. Saturday we just relaxed, did a couple of chores, and packed for the trip. We took the train up on Sunday. Monday night Xmas Eve, which meant carols on the green, a lovely tradition that was very well attended this year and ended with a mini “snow” storm provided by the Blue Bell pub, which adjoins the green. We each opened a small present in deference to my family traditions and then got to sleep early to be ready for crack-o-dawn stockings! Sanity prevailed this year and it was a much more civilized 7:30am wake up call… positively decadent. Everyone got too much chocolate and just enough toys, I snagged some really great socks to boot.

John’s grandmother came over a little later in the day and we had smoked salmon and champagne to tide us over to teatime, which was the traditional Xmas dinner, excellent as always. George and Kathryn were there in the morning but headed out to do presents and dinner with her parents this year. John and I had received our big present, a Dyson vaccuum, early – but there was still an abundance of great gifts. John got me a pendant to replace a previous one I was crushed at having lost, it’s even nicer than the original. Plus a Virgil Finlay wall calendar, something I did not know existed. George and Catehrine got me The Strange Case of the Alchemists’ Daughter, by Theodora Goss – which is good stuff so far.

The panto this year was Peter Pan, which had good sets and costuming, and generally a very good cast, but a middling dame unfortunately. Also I wonder if Pan is a good fit for a pantomime really. Still, it was a nice outing and all the yelling is always fun.

On the Friday we went up to Nottingham to visit Dave at the pub he manages there. It didn’t really make sent to bring two cars so John and I headed up on the train earlier and made a day of it, John by meeting a friend and a boardgame cafe and myself by visiting literally every charity shop in the city. It was great. The pub was very nice and located by a lovely old church, and we ended the night with dinner at Belgo – conveniently near the train station.

Then on the Saturday it was up to Halifax for lunch with John’s grandfather, at – you guessed it – a pub! This was more of your standard family friendly, food-serving sort of pub and the food was very nice, I had a extremely tasty bit of crispy pork belly.

Sunday was pretty relaxed, with the highlight a trip into town to have lunch with Laura and Julie, plus a quick jaunt to TK Maxx for me where I finally found the missing component to my NYE costume.

And then, just like that, it was the 31st. In the morning met G&K at the cinema to see Ralph Breaks the Internet, which I liked even better than the first one. In the afternoon we had coffee with Andrew and Katie, and little baby Sophie. And then it was basically time to get ready for the evening, which was a NYE shindig at the pub on the village green – basically right around the corner from the house. There was a very gently suggested costume theme of ‘rock n roll’, so I did a basic greaser outfit, made my hair as close to a pompadour as I could manage, and practiced my Fonz thumbs. There was a small smattering of people in the theme, and one awesome family decked out in full KISS makeup and outfits, with inflatable guitars. I felt a bit abashed as one of three entries we all received a prize (drink tickets!) when they had done such a great job, but it was very fun.

And then it was today, and time to take the train home. We made good time, even with a detour to Forbidden Planet on our way to Waterloo Station, and now all the presents are unpacked and put away. Still, the decorations will stay up until Friday, and the stocking chocolate will no down last well into next month.

Novacon 47

his was my first Novacon, and I didn’t really know what to expect. John had warned me it was small with a single track of programming, and it was that, but it was also well designed for the space it occupies so despite being around 200 people it never felt constricted or claustrophobic.

The Park Inn has seen better days but still manages to be friendly and comfortable, and has the advantage of being on a street with multiple pubs and restaurants in reasonable walking distance for most folks. I didn’t get to see a lot of Nottingham on this trip but there are some gaming and comics shops also a short distance away and the city looked worth adding a day to next year’s trip for some exploration.

We arrived at around 4:30pm, a couple of hours before Opening Ceremonies. This gave us time to unpack and hang art, John had brought TAFF donated art and I had some new flat pieces as well as a few folding fans. The show was larger than I expected for the convention size and I ended up selling a fan and two pieces, so that was a pleasant surprise.

One of the advantages of a smaller event is you get to actually spend time with just about everyone you want to. By the evening I had at least said hello to everyone I already knew who was there, but as I am still a newcomer to local fandom there were plenty of folks to meet for the first time, or to have my first proper conversation with.

John and I braved the cold to get supplies from the Co-op down the street, then enjoyed some wine at the book launch party for Dogs of War, the new book by GOH Adrian Taichovsky. We stood around, chatted, and drank wine until we got peckish, then popped down the street to a place called The Cod’s Scallops. It’s a very cute upmarket fish & chips place decorated in a retro English seaside resort theme, all striped cushions and saucy postcards. They had a table service section but the prices are higher there so we chose to head back to the hotel with a ridiculous amount of battered fish (monkfish for me, seabass for John), a huge portion of chips, plus some extras like scallops, cockles, and fried black pudding. Our little hotel room smelled of fish for the rest of the night but it was worth it and we were well fortified for the ensuing night of drinking.

We chatted with the usual suspects in the bar till around eleven thirty when we started to fade and seriously considered going up to bed, but we ran into Jo Playford who helped us rally a bit longer so we eventually got to bed at a sensible but not embarrassing hour with our dignity intact.

Our first hotel breakfast on Saturday was pretty good despite truly terrible coffee, bad enough I didn’t finish my first cup. Like many hotels the Park Inn has installed those little coffee machines that produce bad coffee and do it slowly, inconveniencing both the customers who have to stand in line and the staff who has to manoeuvre around the people blocking the floor, and maintain the stations as well as take care of tables. (I dislike them, in case you can’t tell)

Still, it was a good breakfast and we got in some quality chat time with Fran Dowd as well before heading off to check out the art show and the dealer’s room. The former had a few tempting pieces and a lot of artists I am not personally familiar with, which is always nice. The later was mostly books and convention tables, plus a cool jewerly vendor.

At noon there was an excursion to a nearby pub called The Lincolnshire Poacher, which was warm and cozy with a nice beer selection. We spent an hour or so there and then left folks to their pub lunches while we took advantage of the hotel pool and sauna.

Then it was time for the first programming item I was excited about; The Rise of African SFF

Moderated by Geoff Ryman, editor of 100 African Writers of SFF it had three authors on it; Ezeiyoke ChukwunonsoMasimba Musodza, and Nick WoodTosin Coker was also listed but did not appear, sadly making it an all-male panel. But it was a good one all the same, Chukwunonso in particular had some interesting points to make about afrofuturism, African SFF, African diaspora SFF, and how they relate to each other – there was a lot to chew over there and some points I had not considered. There was a handy printed reading/resource list provided by the African Speculative Fiction Society, and after the discussion ended the authors all did short readings.

The next stop was the bar for conversation and beer, of course. We chatted till dinnertime, then found Claire and Mark and attempted to find Tobes – who ironically turned out to be on a panel about food! He promised to join us once that wrapped up so the four of us headed over to Royal Thai down the street, it was the only place that had a table for five available but fortunately it also turned out to be really good. Tobes joined us eventually and we had a nice relaxed meal.

Back at the hotel I got changed and made it back down just in time to take advantage of the free bar generously provided by some mysterious anonymous fan. Then it was time for the Pub Quiz, which was a lot of fun, though by the end of the two hours it had gotten rather chaotic and I had stopped remembering little things like book titles, author names, my own name. We eventually spilled out into the bar and spent the rest of the night chatting. I switched to wine until the bottle ran out and then as the bar was long since closed, the resourceful Ellie Winpenny provided vodka. At around three am I left the remaining souls and staggered off to bed.

In the morning John literally dragged me out of bed for breakfast, which I put down to the inferior quality of the duvets at this hotel and their inability to really get a grip on when you need it. Still, breakfast was necessary and I eventually forgave him. We vaguely considered attending programming but ended up at the pool instead for another lovely soak and swim.

Thus refreshed we packed our suitcases and left them at reception so we could enjoy the last few hours of our convention. Follycon hosted a tea party, with biscuits and muffins as well as far superior coffee to what the hotel had provided so far. Afterwards we picked up our remaining art and the cash for our sales, one of the things I love about UK conventions is the fact that they pay up on the spot rather than after the convention.

The last hurrah before we left was Doug Spencer’s Recycling The Redshirts talk. It was about ST:TOS, its unfortunate death count, and also cannibalism. It was both informative and odd, and a pretty good way to end the convention for us.

We said what goodbyes we could and then disappeared into the chilly Nottingham night.

(Old post recovered from Dreamwidth)