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Back from Leicester

John was off in the US for the better part of two weeks, meaning I caught up on my own tv shows and played a lot of Fallout 4. He got back just in time for me to join him in London and us to take the train together to Leicester in order to attend his friend Lianne’s 30th birthday.

For a change we stayed at a hotel, a little place called the Castle Park Hotel right in the middle of town. A well located, reasonably priced, and friendly place that has clearly seen better days but had a nice big room and a pretty good continental breakfast. There was no elevator and we were up on the third floor, but that also meant we had a little extra distance from the sounds of the street and Firebug next door.

We arrived in Leicester around lunchtime and after getting settled in he went off to touch base with University people and I wandered around town checking out what has changed since our last visit. Most obviously the site of the old indoor market is now an open plaza, which looks like it will end up being an interesting zone as the businesses around it adapt. There seems to be a lot of redevelopment going on and the effects of the Richard III center on the city’s approach to tourism definitely seem beneficial.

I found  a place that does pizza by the slice (a thing I miss) and had lunch there, then in the evening met up with John again on London Road and had some very nice Nepalese food at Mumbai Spice, a place we visited during the reception last year based on someone’s recommendation.

Saturday we got up in time to have the continental breakfast at the hotel, which is always a crapshoot as to whether it will be enough food. This one was a pleasant surprise, nothing fancy but just what we needed. The birthday tea was at 2pm at the City Rooms, a place I have been curious about as you often see dressed up people filing in for some event or other. It’s a pretty venue, obviously very well located, and they did a very nice cream tea. I also got to meet a couple of people from John’s old gang who I had only previously heard about.

Afterwards we went back to Alex & Lianne’s for the rest of the evening, drinking g&t’s and tinto de verano in the back yard and eventually ordering some much needed curry in order to not fall over on the spot. We got back to the hotel around midnight and had no trouble getting to sleep regardless of club noises.

Sunday was for breakfast at the incomparable Bar Dos Hermanos – the full monty is still the best breakfast in Leicester, maybe in the entire of the UK. Then a long and exhaustingly hot train ride home almost did us in but we rallied after getting into the nice cool flat and finally checked out the beer garden in the Blue Keys hotel down the road from us. It was friendly and tasty and we will definitely be back.

Isle of Wight

We have been talking about taking the ferry over to the Isle of Wight pretty much since I got out to Southampton, so we used our anniversary as an excuse to do just that.

We made a loose plan that gave us a couple of destinations to aim for without trying to pack too much in and decided to go on Saturday to have more time. I spent quite a while reading up on the Isle, which turns out has quite a lot of points of interest, definitely more than we could hope to see in one day without even counting outdoor activities better saved for the warm weather.

The Red Jet passenger ferry service to West Cowes takes about 25 minutes and was much more comfy than I had expected, my only previous ferry experience being the one to Corsica. The ferry runs every half hour for most of the day and then hourly for the last few, so we have a lot of flexibility. And as a happy bonus we crossed paths with one of the feeder vessels I often book cargo on from Spain, the UECC vessel Autostar, it was very cool to see it up close. We also passed what looked like a Polish military vessel festooned with bunting, which was a bit confusing.

On our end ferry terminal is around the corner from where I work, very easy to get to, and on the Cowes end it is right in town as well-so it is almost surreally easy to pop over to the IoW. In any case, we spilled out of the terminal and once past the first row of tacky souvenir shops we emerged into a very pretty little town. The first thing we noticed was the red and white flags everywhere, which John pegged pretty quickly as Polish flags since we had just seen that polish boat, which makes sense except that it doesn’t without some reason so I figured must be the IoW flag or something. We argued about it until google confirmed that it was indeed the Polish flag and that this was the 70th anniversary of the Defence of Cowes by the Polish warship Blyskawica.

East Cowes is clearly a tourist oriented place but in an relatively upscale way, lots of sailing and fishing gear shops, several nice looking restaurants, and boutiques. We had a little wander and visited some charity shops before popping into a place called Sails for some breakfast to get us started. Afterwards we caught a bus into Newport, which is the main town on the IoW in order to check out the local comics and games store, Cheap Thrills. As luck would have it May 6th was Free Comic Book Day so it was the perfect time to visit and we came out with some free comics as well as some Star Wars: Destiny cards for John naturally.

Next stop was Carisbrooke Castle, about a half hour walk away. There is also a bus but it would have taken us about the same amount of time so we just pointed ourselves towards the castle and followed the signs. We still managed to get a bit lost since the driving and pedestrian routes are not quite the same, but eventually we did make it to the castle more or less intact and only a little irritable.

Carisbrooke Castle is stunning, high up on a hill and surrounded by deep ditches and earthworks. It must have been a very disheartening sight to attacking armies. It’s a motte and bailey castle apparently, primarily 13-16th century but with a Norman Keep and lots of later modifications and additions in accordance with its nature as a working fortification. Charles I was imprisoned there before his execution and Princess Beatrice lived there as governor of the Isle.

I had expected about an hour or so of good stuff maybe but in the end we spent a good three hours exploring. There is a rather eclectic museum  with an interesting World War I exhibits among other things, we didn’t walk the walls of the castle but climbing up to the Keep was rewarded with really stunning views of the surrounding countryside. And then there were the donkeys, which I guess the castle is famous for. Once upon a time they were used to bring water up from the well using a 16th century treadwheel. Now they still have short demonstrations but are no longer required to raise the full heavy barrel. Our donkey was Jill, clever and a clearly loving the attention.

Eventually we had seen everything and after a quick stop in the gift shop where John bought some bookmarks and we got to taste some ginger wine, which I had never had before but is very nice indeed. On the walk back we went down through a footpath called The Shrubbery apparently, which sounds modest but is actually a deep path lined with tall trees that filter out the sun but let in the light, it’s a cool green space and fittingly romantic.

We got back into town not quite hungry enough for dinner but ready for a pint and a bit of a sit down, but as we researched likely pubs John saw that there was a comment on one of  the photos I had posted of us in the Castle. Turns out an old friend of mine from the SF Net days lives a couple of miles away! We arranged to meet him at the Bargeman’s Rest and spent an hour or so catching up before we had to leave to make our dinner reservation back in Cowes. Not only is it pretty wild that someone from back in the day now has a place so nearby, he had actually only gotten back the night before and was still jet-lagged, so it was the purest of chance that we happened to both be around at the same time in the same place.

At Joliffes we had nice steak which we cooked at the table on a hot volcanic rock. It was very neat, and the steak and accompanying stilton sauce were both lovely. The best thing about the place though is the old Art Nouveau building that houses it, with the original stained glass and signage. We had a leisurely meal and caught the ferry back in time to be home by midnight.

America After the Fall

The Friday after Eastercon we headed up to London to visit with Jo and Meg before having a Saturday out in the city with John’s parents.

The Friday was a relaxing hangout of red wine, delicious burritos, and too many snacks. We talked fandom and art, and I terrified John a bit by enjoying the trampoline far too much. There was a cat named Fart and general merriment until the wee hours when we staggered off to bed. In the morning we woke up relatively early to catch our train and did our best not to wake anyone up, but Jo’s hostess sense tingled and we got to say our whispered goodbyes before heading out.

I was miraculously un-hungover and able to enjoy the bustle of the Borough Market. It was Raw Cheese Day, so we had a lot of samples of raw cheese-all of them delicious. We had scotch eggs and wandered looking at all the delicious choices, it was very difficult not to bring home bags of food but we restrained ourselves and only ended up with a piece of Cabrales cheese.

After the market we walked along the waterfront to the Royal Academy for an exhibition called America After the Fall. The exhibition was of American art from the Great Depression; Ed Hooper, Grant Wood, Georgia O’Keefe, etc. The central piece was American Gothic, but what I took away was an appreciation for Ed Hooper that reproductions hadn’t elicited and some artists I was not previously familiar with, most notably Morris Kantor. It was also interesting to see an early Pollock, before he was doing that Pollock thing.

After the exhibition we went over to Camden to have far, far too much meat at a place called the Blues Kitchen. It was a full day well spent.

California

The last few months have been dispiriting to say the least, and for a lot of people I know one of the side-effects on a personal level a has been a distinct lack of enthusiasm for creative endeavours. Everything seems small and trivial when the world appears to be falling apart at a global geopolitical level.

So it was with mixed feelings that I made plans to travel to California for a two week visit culminating in attending Gallifrey One. The planning had happened in the run up and just after the election, and there were times when I seriously wondered if it wold be better to just cancel, but seeing the post-election protests and organizing did help a bit.

So on Feb 5th we flew into LAX, first to spend a few days with my sister in Santa Monica. We arrived to rainy weather which lasted most of the two weeks we were there with the exception of two lovely sunny days. The rain was the end of a decade long drought in California so one can’t complain too much, but on the other hand it also caused massive flooding and damage to the Oroville Dam, so it wasn’t a drizzle either.

While in SoCal we squeezed in as much as we could in a short time. The first thing we did though was check out the local Pokemon, because first of all Tauros but also as it turns out, big cities have waaaaay more Pokemon and Pokestops than small ones and LA, Santa Monica, Oakland, Berkeley, and SF are all pretty big. So many Pokemans y’all.

On the first morning John had some errands to run so after a nice big breakfast Ashley and I went to see the excellent, infuriating James Baldwin documentary I Am Not Your Negro. I have never read any Baldwin and expected a biographical look at his life and work, which it only sort of is. More than that it’s about the assassinations of Medgar Evers, Malcom X, and Martin Luther King Jr. and Baldwin’s thoughts on race relations in the US. The short takeaway is his quote that “white is a metaphor for power” .

After the movie we met up with John and headed downtown on the new Expo line, which is finally up and running, to visit The Last Bookstore. I had not heard of this place before but it is a wonderfully sprawling space filled with new and used books. The upstairs has an excellent science fiction section as well as a row of artist galleries and we spent a happy couple of hours exploring. Then it was back home where Andres cooked up a tasty pasta dinner and we tottered off to bed embarrassingly early.

Tuesday Ashley had to work so we headed out on our own and after pancakes at IHOP hopped on Expo to see the California Science Center where the Space Shuttle Endeavour is on display. We spent a couple of happy hours visiting that exhibit, which is already pretty great but apparently in the process of being upgraded till it was time to meet up with my brother, who picked us up and whisked us up to the Griffith Observatory for even more science.

I’m pretty sure I have been up to Griffith once before but found it closed on that visit, because I don’t remember the interior at all and it is pretty spectacular. We saw a show in the planetarium and then ran around looking at the various exhibits and the beautiful art deco building. One of the standouts for me is along the Cosmic Corridor down to the lower level along which 2200 pieces of astronomy related jewelry are displayed in a glittering ribbon.

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Being Los Angeles, the drive home was long and full of traffic, so we arrived with plenty of appetite in time for a delicious steak dinner and some drinks before once more retiring at a sadly reasonable hour.

Wednesday my brother picked us up and kindly took up to a good old fifties diner called Pann’s where John had chicken and waffles and I had an excellent hot link breakfast.

We flew into Oakland rather than SF and caught more Pokemon (hella Magnemites) before getting BART to the Sunset where we were crashing with my old roommate Palle for the next few days. The first order of business was cuddles with Harold, who has gotten even rounder and fluffier since I saw her last. Cat soundly cuddled we walked up to El Burrito Express for a burrito and settled into mainline some Better Off Ted. It was a good, relaxing way to spend our first day in SF and culminated with a late night excursion with Mr. Joe Price to get milkshakes at Orphan Andy’s in the Castro, just like the good old days.

Thursday we’d planned to head into the city but right after our first breakfast at the trusty Tennessee Grill the skies opened up and a deluge of biblical proportions ensued. Umbrellas were useless and neither of us had brought waterproof shoes, much less proper raincoats, so we were soaked to the bone in seconds. We retreated to Palle’s and spent an enforced lazy day hiding from the weather. This allowed me to subject John to The Dalek Invasion of Earth and The Terror of the Autons in preparation for Gally. When Palle got home we ordered pizza from Cybelles and mainlined a bit more Better Off Ted. Not the best use of holiday time but enjoyable nontheless and given my continuing post-airplane sniffles probably about right.

Friday we headed to the East Bay and our first stop was Games of Berkeley, which has moved to new digs. I was a bit worried that the move was bad news but am happy to say the new location is if anything superior and the store looks great. Done with that we stopped by Rasputin and Amoeba looking for a few things that are hard to get in the UK and popped into one last game store called Eudemonia in John’s epic quest for Star Wars Destiny boosters. Miraculously they had some! John was very happy indeed and we left Berkeley triumphantly after a well deserved beer and pizza. Next stop, Oakland.

We got off at the 12th St. Oakland station by the wonderful Tribune Tower, which always looks fantastic at night. We had an hour or two before meeting up with our friends Anthony and Deb for drinks so the next order of business was some slightly more substantial food to lay down a base for those future tiki drinks. We Yelped a few options and I found a likely looking place called Abura-ya which proclaimed itself to be Japanese Friend Chicken. It’s a counter service place with relatively little seating so we snagged a couple of stools facing the window and ordered ourselves eight pieces of chicken in two excellent sauces, one some kind of bbq and the other wasabi based. We spent some time chatting with the guy sitting next to us, who seemed charmed by John’s Englishness, before heading back out into the night.

We arrived at Longitude a bit early and were lucky to snag a booth in the corner. The easy way to describe the place is as a tiki bar, but it really is more explorer/adventurer themed. We ordered blind and am honestly not sure what we got, the drinks were delicious all night but the service was a little vague. Once Ant and Deb arrived it didn’t matter because Anthony could guide our drink orders and the company more than made up for any lapses in waitressing. It has been ages since I got to spend any real time with these two and it really did my soul good to see them again. Best part of the trip hands down.

Saturday was our last full day in the city and it was a good one too. We had a really nice lunch and caught up with Palle’s parents, who are really just the best. It was one of the nice weather days of our visit so afterwards we walked over to Haight to see my friend Steve. We passed some older folks playing a banjo and hanging out in front of their house with a protest sign, probably from that morning’s  Ocean Beach protest. We stopped at the Haight St. Amoeba store, hoping to find The Middleman but coming up empty handed. We did locate a copy of Better Of Ted season 1 for cheap, so that turned out okay. We also took a brief detour to Gamescape on Divisidero because John really can’t help himself, and then we headed to Steve’s place. We hung out and talked till we got hungry, then popped across the street to Sushi Raw for some really great food, before wrapping up the evening with Saturday Night Live (Melissa McCarthy killing it as Spicer) and beers. We arrived back at Palle’s tired but happy.

The next morning we woke up appropriately late, grabbed one last breakfast at the Tennesee Grill, squeezed Harold one last time, and then headed off to catch Caltrain to San Jose where Bryan and Mette picked us up at the station.

Before heading back to their place we grabbed dinner at a strange but good Vietnamese place called Bò Né which is outfitted like a nightclub from an early 90s low budget cyberpunk movie; led tables, murals of angels and fairies, and what I assume was a stage for karaoke. I didn’t quite understand it but the food was good and I don’t guess the decor was particularly aimed at me anyway.

The next day we went into San Jose for a bit to visit a game store, where Mette and John wandered about happily looking at all the things, and then downtown where we managed to run into Derek McCaw, who was also attending Gally this year. We had a chat while eating some chicken wings, then got Psycho Donuts and got back to the house in time to go get dinner at a Salvadorian/Mexican place called Chalateco which was loud and crowded but had pupusas and burritos and really good agua fresca, among other things.

I had originally had some grand ambitions of heading back into SF for Hubba Hubba/Death Guild and some last visits but the on again off again not-quite-a-cold that had been dogging me since the plane flight came back with a vengeance so we watched a strange and really dark early Mads Mikelsen film called Adam’s Apple before calling it a night.

Tuesday was up and out at a reasonable hour in order to make good time down to the LA area. Nerds that we are we spent most of the trip playing trivia games and listening to stand up comedy, although John nailed multitasking and managed to read an entire book at the same time. We stopped for food and insanity at Bravo Farms and made nice time most of the way down. Bryan and Mette dropped us off at an Expo Line stop and headed to the LAX Marriott while we toddled off back to Santa Monica again to get some laundry done and catch some Pokemon. We also lucked out and found the local Sears was having a closing sale and managed to find some really good deals on Levi’s. Round up the night with some good NY style pizza and colour us happy.

Although the convention official starts on Friday, Thursday is the official unofficial start so we had the hotel reserved from then, which meant that Wednesday was our last day of adventuring. We rejoined Bryan and Mette for it in Universal Studios, the original plan had been for Andres to join us as well but he got called into work at the last minute unfortunately. We got there early and spent the first couple of hours at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which was really very cool. The design of the place is top notch and although I didn’t go on the ride itself I walked through the waiting line sections which are worth it all on their own. We also spent a bunch of time in Springfield and had a Krusty Burger. We took the Studio Tour as well, which started off a bit rough because of the super loud rattling sounds coming from the back of our trolley but redeemed itself with several highlights including a very good Norman Bates, a couple of silly but amusing rides, and most of all the bit where we went through the set for The Good Place, a show we just finished watching a few days previously.

We ran around looking at things and being nerds until around 3pm by which time we were pretty tired. We managed to run into several Gally folks by that time though so John and I left Bryan and Mette to hang out with them while we headed back to Santa Monica. We repeated our pizza experience, repacked and weighed our suitcases, and got one last night of proper sleep in preparation for the start of the convention.

English Christmas

Chistmas in Peterborough was lovely as ever. No snow this year but the traditional mince pies, Xmas stockings, and carols on the green with John’s family. The pantomime this time around was Dick Wittington,  which I had never heard of but seemed well known to everyone else, but as the actual panto story is always basically the same I don’t feel I missed out by not being au courant with the source material.

For NYE we headed up to Leicester and had a chance to visit with folks there before heading out to 33 Cank Street, same as two years ago. This time it was just John and myself without Ruth and Charles, which meant there was no one to stop us from the delicious but not entirely wise decision of having an enourmous barbecue feast at Grillstock before our night out. It took us a bit to ramp back up to speed but the cocktails were delicious and the band high energy so were up and dancing in time for the countdown.

Some memorable moments from the evening include stepping outside shortly after midnight to gets some cool air and seeing a Hare Krishna parade dance past, also being outside when the bar was insufficient to contain the conga line which spilled out and swept us up, and John winning us a free round of cocktails by posting the photo below.

@futuriana going more sinister at @bar33cankstreet…

A post shared by John Coxon (@johncoxon) on

 

Almost Xmas

We’ve been at the new place for four months now, and it is overall an improvement despite a few quirks like weirdly shallow closets and hardwood floors that react somewhat alarmingly to the weather.

Highlights from the last few months include several visits to Winchester, which is a really pretty place with a fantastic cathedral. I went there with John for a pub crawl and with work colleagues for the famous Christmas Market, and also with my brother Raul when he came to visit. During his visit we also played tourist in Southampton itself (Old Town mainly) and spent a day in London seeing everything we could in the British Museum and ending the night going up the London Eye.

There were other visits to London during this period, to see the Georgia O’Keefe exhibit at the Tate Modern and then again for Star Wars: Identities on John’s birthday, both very enjoyable in different ways.

And now its cold and rainy and the town is looking pretty, with a German Market in the town center and a generally festive air. The English do Xmas quite well.

Goodbye Bridgewater Court

This past weekend John and I said goodbye to the old flat and moved into a new place a little further up Shirley. The old place had a lot of good stuff going for it but the landlord decided to move back in so there wasn’t much to do about that, luckily we managed to find a place that is overall nicer despite a couple of odd quirks. Luckily the bathroom is far superior to the old place, which for some incomprehensible reason had a separate toilet room which was too tiny to contain even a sink.

So after a couple of weeks of stressful packing, cleaning, moving, and unpacking, we are now for the most part settled into the new place saver for the usual fussing around finding the right spot for things and getting a few new items like our own television set. The neighborhood is nicer as well, a bit more suburban and quieter but the same distance to work for me and a nicer walk. John is closer to his work, which is nice, and we’re only about five minutes further away from our favorite kebab shop. Pretty much the only disadvantage is we are twice as far from the train station, but even that only comes to a twenty minute walk.

Best part might end up being our new proximity to the Southampton Commons, which I’ve been meaning to explore since I got here.

August

The summer adventures continued on a smaller scale with a trip up to London to visit Laura last weekend.

We had originally thought of going up on the Friday but being in the middle of packing to move that seemed a less than great idea by the time it rolled around. Instead we went up reasonably early on Saturday morning and after dropping off our suitcase wandered over with Laura to check out Daughts, London’s own boardgame cafe.

It’s a pretty cool place, with what looked to my untrained eye like a solid library of games. They have the usual coffee shop selections, alcoholic drinks and cocktails, plus pretty good food. The tables are all the same size and design and you pay £5 a head to stay and play for 4 hours, not bad at all. We were one of three tables occupied when we arrived but by the time we left the place was completely full.

John and Laura checked out the selectiom and came back with two classic looking board games, racing and elder god themed respectively plus a card/story game called Dixit which reminded me a lot of another game I played with Bryan and Mette once or twice. I played the racing one, coming in third out of three of course and then sat out the Cthulhu one before diving back in for the card game, which I don’t even think we kept score on. As a non-gamer I will recommend it with the caveat that the seats are surprisingly uncomfortable and once full the place was very load, no doubt due to the brick dome of a ceiling.

Afterwards we headed to the nearest Brewhouse to meet up with Laura’s beau Aaron and had some very nice beers while playing casual Trivial Pursuit, again without keeping score-just judging each other loudly when we failed to get an answer. A bit more wandering and some pizza and sitcoms rounded out a pretty chill Saturday.

On Sunday we started out a bit more ambitious, planning on a fry up, a trip to one of London’s markets, and then the Tate Modern for the Georgia O’Keefe exhibition there. Breakfast ended up being problematic and we settled for admittedly tasty croissants and flat whites before heading to the market. Unfortunately the one we aimed for doesn’t happen on Sundays so we had to find a smaller one, which was still way, way cooler than anything in Southampton. We had some chicken and waffles, a chorizo scotch egg, and a filled donut, all of which were very good indeed. This fortified we walked to the met through the increasing heat, arriving more excited for the air conditioning that for the art, to be honest. Luckily both were there to restore our spirits and soon we were enjoying a really wonderful exhibit of an artist I only knew the vaguest outlines about before.

The exhibition was arranged in the usual biographical style, in this case each room was very well organized to a time period in O’Keefe’s life and seemed very well curated. The famous flower paintings were a small fraction of what was on hand, a lot of powerful abstract works and some fascinating 1920s cityscapes stood out far more to me. Intermixed were photographs and some art by her circle, including a delightful Ansel Adams photo of her and a man named Orville Cox.

 

Star Wars Celebration Europe

July’s big deal was Star Wars Celebration Europe.

John posted about it in greater detail over on LJ so read that for a more in depth look. I am not as massive a SW fan as he is but was looking forward enough to go along with the plan of trying to be in line in the Excel Center at 5am.

You see, SWCE had decided on a bit of a mess of a process that involved lining up to collect wristbands to guarantee entry to your chosen panels. All well and good but the actual distribution was to happen at 6am, a whole four hours before the convention actually opened. The Saturday panels of interest to us were not the massive star-studded ones, but  at the same time information was scant as to capacity and expectations for attendance and we didn’t want to risk it and potentially blow the trip.

We got a scant three hours or so of sleep at Laura’s house in London and then bussed it to Excel to arrive just after 5am.

We met up with Josh and I made myself comfortable on the cold concrete floor for a catnap. I woke intermittently and each time John was scouring the program book and positively vibrating in place with excitement for the day. It kinda made the ridiculous circumstances worth it.

We collected our wristbands for the Star Wars Rebels panel and then got in the now shorter line for the EA Games one and got those too. Then we had a chunk of time before opening but of course very little outside Excel was open for business yet so we made do with Costa coffee and toasties, which were actually pretty good.

Once the doors opened there was a bit of a mad rush to get in and then it was time to explore. I adore being surrounded by colorful masses of geeks, regardless of specific genre, and SWCE was no exception. A ton of costumes from the whimsical or silly to the spot-on recreations. There were a handful of really good twi’leks, a great older Luke, a bunch of good Finns, that last a particularly popular costume with very young girls. And of course representatives of various 501sts.

The merch on hand ranged from the usual stuff to some very cool launches like the remote control wristband to control BB8 units and the Propel quadcopters. The official gift shop had bizarrely long lines so we left it till last by which time it had been ransacked pretty much. We did pick up an extra of the awesome lightsaber lanyards though.

The panels were both good, with Warwick Davis serving as moderator. He also had the best intro and entrance of any convention guest I’ve seen since Peter Davison’s TARDIS landing at Gally a few years back. Unfortunately I was pretty exhausted by the time of the Rebels panel and fell fast asleep once they lowered the lights, missing the entirety of the two preview episodes. Ah well.

After the convention wrapped up for the day we said goodbye to Josh and headed over to visit Anna and Hogg, who were putting us up for the night. Hogg had decided to hit up Celebration the next day, based partly on John’s recommendation, and Anna was in the final stages of prep for her currently ongoing TAFF trip but they still had time to host our exhausted selves for a few hours. We had the best Thai food I’ve had in ages, maybe ever, and I went to bed at a reasonable hour while John attempted to burn the candle at both ends.

And that wasn’t even it for the weekend! The next day we left from their flat into London for the annual Coxon family picnic in Regent’s park. As usual there was Pimms and good food and French Cricket (which I didn’t play this time, it was far too hot) and for the first time this year extended Pokemon Go excursions by the younger generation. We’ll see if that becomes a tradition.

Eventually it was time to go, we left the earliest to catch our train home. On the way back to Southampton we spotted plenty of folks coming home from the Sunday of SWCE, including a couple from Winchester who we had a nice chat with on the train itself.