BristolCon and Other Adventures in the UK

I’m long due with this post. Forgive me, life interfered with my plans and I only just got around to finally organize my thoughts and impressions. Please get some drink and snacks ready, because this is going to be a long one. I’ll give you a few minutes to get yourself comfortable.

Are you ready? Okay, let us begin our journey!

October 24th, Wednesday: Budapest → London

I woke up with a massive freak out, literally being sick from it. I guess it was because of the journey before me, the meetings I faced over the weekend and some circumstances I wasn’t happy with regarding said weekend. By the time I got to the airport I somehow calmed myself down, and before boarding the other issue also got solved, so I was in a good mood by the time we took off. Upon arriving to the airport in London I took care of my airport transfer. I had a ticket for the coach between Luton Airport and Paddington station. I went outside, saw 2 coaches in, one of them heading to Paddington and a que. So I stood patiently, until my coach just drove away… I should have been a bit more straightforward and ask the people where should I stand, but me and my stupid fear of talking to people… After about 15 minutes of waiting, one of the workers came up to me and said the next coach won’t leave for 45 minutes. So I was stranded at the airport for an hour. From then on everything went smoothly, but of course my room was up on the second floor so I had to drag my luggage up. My muscles didn’t really like the workout I have to say. I was planning to take a walk that night, but I was exhausted so I just only went to get some food and drink before calling it a night.

October 25, Thursday: Aquarium, London Eye, South Bank walk

I only spent one full day in London this time around, so I had to make the most of it. I purchased online tickets for the Aquarium and the London Eye and also planned to take a walk from there to the Tower Bridge. It started out as a nice, sunny day. I had a card holder where I placed my traveling card and my credit card in case I needed them at hand. I started by the Westminster, which is under reconstruction, so it was covered up with nets. Then walked over to the other side, admiring the river and environment. And swearing all the while because there were so many damn tourists.

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Getting to the Aquarium in time, I tried to pull up my ticket on my phone, but the damn thing didn’t want to download. I had a really narrow time slot and there was a long line waiting for admittance and I was panicking. Turned out there are machines where you can print your ticket out in cases like that. I was lucky I could sneak into the front of the line and got admitted to the Aquarium, yay! If I want to be honest, it was a bit of disappointment. It’s quite impressive and they have a lot of animals and pools and it’s really well decorated – with a little Halloween mood – but damn those narrow, crowded corridors. If you have kids and endless patience, then it’s totally worth the time, because there are a lot of toys and spots where they can learn about the animals.

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I overestimated the time spent in the Aquarium, so I had about 1.5 hours to kill before my booked time for the London Eye. So, I sat down to grab a bite and passed the time reading. 15 minutes before time I walked over to the London Eye. And realized how damn naive I was. Of course there was a loooong line waiting for admittance and having a time slot booked didn’t mean anything. I was seriously considering to walk away, but then I decided since I paid for it I might as well wait. Let me tell you, I really hate waiting. It took about 45 minutes or maybe an hour to finally get into a capsule. To be fair though, the line moved pretty fast, so I was kind of impressed. By this time the sun of course went away to give way grey clouds, but the view was still pretty awesome.

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Having had enough of the crowd, I was happy to finally just take a walk and enjoy the sights. The south bank has a bit of a carnival feeling to it, and I’m sure there are much more musicians and artists to be find over the summer months. I was contentedly walking, when I realized that I’ve lost that card holder I mentioned above. The travelling card I didn’t care about, there wasn’t much money on it anyway, but the credit card was a blow. I had cash and another card I wasn’t sure was working, so I knew I could get on. But. And here comes the funny part. Before leaving for London I purchased a train ticket from London to Bristol through an online company. I had to choose between two, and one of them was slightly cheaper so I went with that. This meant I had to collect my ticket from an ATM at the train station, using my order number and the card I purchased the ticket with. I’ll let you work the rest out. So I was quite anxious, and couldn’t enjoy the walk as much as I wanted, and I also couldn’t walk all the way to Tower Bridge, and stopped by London Bridge. I was exhausted, angry and my anxiety level started to rise before my trip the next day.

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October 26th, Friday: London → Bristol

Learning from my mistake, the second time around I purchased tickets I could use through an app, without mobile net even, so apart from freezing my ass off at Paddington station, my transport from London to Bristol was pretty uneventful. As we neared to Bristol, I was wringing poor Bluey – the new star of BristolCon 🙂 He was a gift from me to James, who decided to parade with him that night in the bar, lol. Anyway, meet Bluey:

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Upon arriving to the hotel, I instantly ran into people. Everyone was looking at me and I was embarrassed as hell. I needed a bit of time to get my bearings, but there were people there I already knew from online: James Tivendale, Graham Austin-King, and my fellow GdM reviewer, Tom Clews. As the day progressed, many more people showed up I was looking forward to meet: Laura M. Hughes, Sadir S. Samir among others. Being over my first shock and the most important first meeting of them all when I had arrived, for the rest of the day I was able to relax and I was very pleased that everyone was extremely friendly. I’ve never been the hugging kind of person, but once you are at BristolCon, people just keep coming up to you and give you a hug as greeting, because they are actually pleased to meet you. It was pretty awesome. At least for someone like me, who doesn’t really have friends or much interactions with other people outside of work. I realized that weekend, that I have much to learn in that regard. I’m still too reserved around people and feel like I don’t belong, like I have nothing to say and wonder what the hell am I doing here. I need to get over my insecurities to enjoy myself even more. I’m not sure if it was this night or Saturday night that I had a lengthy conversation with T.O. Munro who listened to me rambling about my short story I’m currently working on. Thanks again for listening!

To get away a bit from the noise, we went over to a nearby bar, because James wanted to play pool and I wanted to get some fresh air. It turned out to be fun, because they had some really good songs up that night, so I was rocking out and singing along while watching the game, and the people.

October 27th, Saturday: BristolCon

I had an early morning (and by early morning I mean 9 fucking am) breakfast appointment with Damien Black, Paul Lavender and James Tivendale. Let’s just say, it was a fun experience 🙂 But next year, please let me sleep at least until 10…

I didn’t pay for membership, mainly because panels and things like that bore me, and my first priority was to meet people, to get a feel of the Con, because this was my first event like this. At least I took a look around, and we helped Damien out with selling his books to innocent bygoers 😀 Fortunately even more people showed up around the bar and I could make even more connections 🙂 It was really nice to meet with Lee Conley, Rob Hayes, Dominick Murray – thank you for your kind words! It really meant a lot to me! – Anna Stephens, Anna Smith Spark, J.P. Ashman, Mark Lawrence just to name a few. The really good thing was that I’ve got a lot of positive responses about my reviews, about the work I do in the background with proofreading and editing. It gave me confidence that I’m on a good way to realize my dreams, to maybe one day be a freelancer 🙂 I’ve got a lot of positive vibes and I’m sorry I was a bit distant and found it hard to connect with people. I’ll try to work on this until next year.

I was planning to go out and explore Bristol, find some street art, but when I had the chance, it was raining, so I had a nap time instead before the night rolled in… when even more conversation took place, and I’m really happy that I got to know people I’ve never had connection with before, namely Rita Sloan, Julia Kitvaria Serene, Mariëlle Ooms-Voges. I’m really happy I’ve got to know you ladies!

We went over to the bar that night too to play pool – well, James played anyway, I only got to play once in a pair game, and my only move was to get the white ball into the hole… this was also the only game he lost, so yeah, I’m not going to be a pool player. We also got to know some locals, I made friends with a lady who was in the bar with his significant other. The guy wasn’t sober, and we tried to explain to him that we were in Bristol because of a book convention and that we were blogger, but poor guy didn’t really got what we were talking about. The lady was nice though, we had a good time chatting 🙂

As for the rest of the night, tired as I was, I hardly got any sleep. I was sandwiched between two not too sober guys, and they didn’t really leave me much moving space. Small as I might be, you’d be surprised how much space I need. The best thing was when they both started snoring at the same time…

I didn’t make many pics, but stole a few from others (sorry guys), so here you go:

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October 28th, Sunday: Bristol → London → Budapest

It wasn’t really a good idea to cram so much travelling into one day. Actually, next year I’m going to leave at least one day after and before the con and will fly directly to Bristol. Everything started out fine, I got on the train, we were on time. According to plan I had to arrive to Paddington at 12:45, my coach to the airport would go at 13:15 (5 mins walk from the station), I would be at the airport at 14:45 and my flight would leave at 17:30. Everything was planned out perfectly and for a change I thought everything will go without chaos. How very wrong I was.

At Reading, I had to get off the train, because of cable damage near Paddington. I decided to change trains which went to Waterloo station. I thought, okay, fine, I can take the Underground and even if it arrives a bit later, I still have some time to spare before my flight leaves. I ended up arriving to the city at 14:30, I got to the coach station at 15:00 and could get on a coach which left at 15:30. I arrived to the airport at 17:00. 30 minutes before my flight was supposed to leave. Of course they didn’t let me to check in. I had to go to the WizzAir table to figure out what to do. I was hoping I could get on the next flight. I was lucky though, because my flight was delayed by an hour, so in the end I could check in, had to run through the whole damned airport but in the end I got home fine. Tired and nervous as hell, but fine.

All in all, despite London clearly hating me, I had one of the best weekends and it came something out of it I didn’t expect 🙂 I hope to see everyone next year too and I promise I’ll try to be a bit more proactive and will get my hands on more books…!

 

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