Category Archives: Geekness

Getting my science on

This year I finally got tickets to go and see Brian and Robin’s Christmas Compendium of Reason after seeing so many tweets and blog posts about it over he last two years. It was amazing and this blog post is really for me to keep a record of all the acts we got to see on the night as I am rubbish at remembering these things. So here goes…

First up was Jack Liebeck’s quartet.

The Public Service Broadcasting who were so different it was good.

They even bought out a dancing astronaut/cosmonaut.

The Brian and Robin did a bit of an introduction to the night and as you can see we had great seats just back in the stalls.

Then we saw Helen Czerski with her pet globe.

Then we had computational biologist Andrew Steele who took us through research spending (I want his powerpoint presenting skills!).

A better photo of Robin and Brian.

Then Festival of the Spoken Nerd and I definitely want to see these guys again!

The we had a great presentation on genealogy by Adam Rutherford.

Followed by a talk from Steve Backshall.

 

Then Chris Lintott went through gravitational waves (I was lost!).

Then the next one I wasn’t sure about from Alice Roberts and Ben Garrod.

Then James Acaster performed his stand up routine.

Then before the break we had more music from Nitin Sawney who has a beautiful voice.

During the break we found that Steve Backshall was now sat in front of us and taking selfies with fans (I did not ask for one).

Then we had more music from the quartet from the beginning and The Hackney Colliery Band.

This was awesome and again I would look to see these guys again.

Sophie Ellis Bexter then joined them on stage.

Then Clifford Slapper and David McAlmont performed and were amazing!

Next was a panel that was most like the podcast I love – The Infinite Monkey Cage – I would have loved more of this, but it was a great show anyway!

The Lucy Cooke came on and really bought the science and comedy together.

The Greg Foot came on for some experiments and this was great fun!

The Ben Goldacre was fantastic and the fastest talker I have ever seen! This was really interesting as well as it was all about the trials that do not get published.

Milton Jones who is famous for his one-liner stand up, which I find funny to begin with, but then it gets old fast. Sorry Milton.

The we got to hear a brief talk about his time in space from Chris Hadfield.

Then the night ended with Duran Duran – who I totally did not have to ask my sister who is 10 years older than me who there were, definitely didn’t happen!

Overall this was a fantastic night and I hope to get tickets for next year!

I Am Sherlocked

This past weekend I took a trip to east London to go to the Sherlocked Convention. I decided to go earlier in the year and was planning to just do the same as I did at the LFCC by getting a standard entry ticket and seeing what is was all about. I changed my mind the week before as it was announced Benedict Cumberbatch was attending and would be doing a talk so I signed up and paid extra to attend a couple of different talks.

I got to the Excel Centre just before 10am and it was fairly quiet. There were quite a few things on at the centre and Sherlocked took up one stage, with an extra one for queuing for the talks. It’s fair to say it was a small event! It didn’t feel crowded at all and when I got there I totally understood why they offered package passes as there was not much there to do apart from meet the guests for autographs and photos. There were only a couple of stalls selling things and all the other events on at the centre were pay for entry. I wish I had taken a book to kill time between talks, but never mind, I’m still learning.

They did have a section of the costumes from the show, which were fab to see, especially THE COAT!! I would very much like a coat like this, but that suited me just as much as it does Sherlock and that would survive more than one winter. One day I will buy myself a very expensive and well-made coat!

The other costumes were mainly from the Abominable Bride.

I decided not to get any autographs or photos with the guests, but did capture glimpses of them as they were escorted to the places they needed to be. I got to see Wanda Ventham and Timothy Carlton as they headed for photos. Then Yasmine Akram and Alistair Petrie walked through the padcast recording I was watching. Then after his photos of the Victorian set I caught sight of Benedict Cumberbatch heading backstage!

The main things I decided to do was go to a few of the talks by the guests. I paid extra for the talks by Mark Gatiss and Benedict Cumberbatch and then went to the Molly talk for free.

Mark Gatiss was so lovely and funny. He didn’t give anything away about the next series, but you could tell he was thoroughly excited for everyone to watch it. I love the character of Mycroft as the extreme and lazy version of Sherlock. I recently re-watched the first series and suddenly thought they made it as though he might be Moriarty and he confirmed it during the Q&A (not asked by me though). I loved the fact Mark told us he loves Christmas Pudding and the scene in the Abominable Bride did put him off for a bit, but he had fun being the more original character from the books. If I go again I think I would get a photo/autograph with him as I think he puts everyone at ease.

I also love the character of Molly. It looks as though she takes a lot of shit from Sherlock, but you can tell they care about each other in their own ways and would go to many lengths to protect each other. I also love her fashion choices on the show and wish I had a quirky sense of style. Louise Brealey talked about getting to dress up as boy for the Abominable Bride and had fun with the wig and mustache.

The busiest talk of the day was that for Benedict Cumberbatch.  I’m glad I went, but it was quite costly for the time compared to the other talks. It was fun to here him talk about playing Sherlock and his relationship with the other actors and characters. He also mentioned Dr Strange and his loyalty to Sherlock and trying to fit everything in. It was funny that he talked about Sherlocks hair and that in the Abominable Bride it was so nice just to slick it all back and not have to worry about the curls!

I came home from this convention feeling a bit low. it was interesting and fun, but at the same time I felt very alone and began wondering if conventions are really for me. I didn’t meet anyone to chat to like I did at the LFCC and after a 3 hour drive home I found I wanted to share my experience, but couldn’t think of anyone who has my love of the show. The staff at the convention were excellent and it was well organised for the bits I did, but the people there were not as friendly as compared to LFCC, which was a shame. I think I was also having confidence issues that day. I tried to shake myself out of it by taking selfies, but felt so self-conscious that I didn’t have fun and let go. That is also why I think I don’t want to meet the guests as I am no confident in myself at the moment. This is something I want to work on before I go to another convention as I think I do want to meet a few people and I want to enjoy it!

So what did I learn from this experience?

  • Take a book to kill time while queuing or in between things you’ve booked
  • For this event take advantage the package deals to get better value for money
  • Try to ‘meet’ people before going to events so I can find people to chat to while there

Overall a fun experience and a well organised and fairly quiet convention. I would recommend this if you’re a fan of the show. I would also look out for other fandom specific conventions in the future.

Getting my geek on

This year I decided to make my first visit to the London Film and Comic Con at Olympia. I’ve been following a lot of people on Twitter for the past couple of years who always seem to have a fantastic time and I thought I would give it a go. I decided to wear my Harry Potter and the Cursed Child t-shirt!

I bought a ticket that allowed early access to the YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention), which I’m told was a much shorter queue than the standard entry. I got off the tube and was directed in the opposite direction than everyone else and headed to the YALC entrance on Hammersmith Road and got in the queue around 8:30am. The queue was fun and everyone was talking to each other. I was by a lovely group of ladies who were all there by them selves like me and it was nice to then bump into them at odd points the rest of the day. The doors opened at 9am and I was through the doors and in the convention by 9:30am.

The YALC was held up on the top floor and although it said you would not be able to get into the LFCC part until 10am, there didn’t seem to be any restrictions in place once you were inside. I got the elevator up (as I didn’t know where the stair were) with the girls I queued with and we went straight upstairs.

My first impression was that is was spaced out and much quieter than expected. I picked up a programme and decided to go sit in on the first panel of the day at YALC. It was all about rebellion in YA and it made me decide to buy a book I wasn’t planning on, but because the author spoke so enthusiastically and was super fun I decided to give it a go (I later ended up queuing to get it signed and it made me extra happy).

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I then decided to head down to the LFCC on the bottom floors. This was much busier, but still not as full as I expected. I had a good wander around looking at stalls, figuring out what areas were for signing and photographs and really just getting a feel for what it was all about. I went with no plans, I just wanted to see everything I could and get a feel for if I would want to go back next year to do it properly. 

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There were lots of fun stalls selling all sorts of film and comic related things. I ended up buying a Hobbit Hole doors necklace (I’ve been looking at one online for ages, but never bought it). I really wanted Rivendell Cider and the Prancing Pony t-shirts below, but as I had just recently bought two Harry Potter t-shirts I decided to take a photo and add to the list of future purchases. I otherwise kept it quite light in purchases and only bought 3 books and some sushi.

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My t-shirt was a great conversation starter as I wandered around as people wanted to know what I thought of the play. I was so relieved as I was nervous about wearing it for some reason, but it turned out great, the only downside was the Harry Potter Party was on the Sunday and I was only there on the Saturday! The main theme of the convention was the release of Suicide Squad and the place was decorated with banners and they had the original costumes on display (which for some reason I totally forgot to take photos of when I wandered round it). There were lots of people dressed as Harley Quinn in a variety of forms. All the cosplay I saw was amazing and so much fun. The effort everyone puts in amazes me and it made me appreciate it so much more getting to see so many different people in person. I don’t know if I’ll ever go cosplay, but it certainly inspired me to think differently about what could be possible.

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The downstairs area became busier as the day went on and also warmed up with more people and warmer weather outside. After I had had my fill I went back upstairs and it still felt very peaceful in YALC. It was busier, but there was still lots of space to find a space to sit and chill out for a bit. I then saw Alwyn Hamilton still had a queue for booking signing and as I bought her book after the panel in the morning I decided to go for an autograph.

Alwyn was super nice and even after three hours of signings was talking to every single person about their day. She loved my t-shirt and asked if I was staying for the party as she was going to the Hufflepuff team captain and I was super sad I couldn’t make it. I started reading the book in the queue and was honest when she asked what I thought of the book as I said I was inspired to try it out after hearing the panel and she was super nice and hoped I enjoyed it. There is a sequel in the works as well so I’ll let you know how I get on.

Overall I had a pretty fantastic day. I enjoyed taking the day out to indulge in my geekness and join a community doing the same. I was nervous to go, but once I was there I felt like I fitted in no problem. I definitely want to go back and next time for more than one day (maybe even all three) and fully immerse myself into it. I would want to go to more panels and maybe a workshop in YALC and get some autographs and/or photos with my favourite stars in LFCC. I would love to meet people from Buffy and Angel or LOTR. I would want to feel more part of the weekend rather than just a flying visit. So I’ve jotted down some things for me to remember for next time!

Things I learnt for a future visit:

  • Take drinks and a flask of coffee – made it much more enjoyable to just stop when you wanted without having to search out drink stops
  • Comfy clothes and shoes – it wasn’t that hot the day I went, but it got warmed inside
  • Take lots of cash (within budgets of course)
  • Be prepared to queue a lot – make new friends in the queues!
  • Look at the programme for everything first and plan what I want to do and see
  • Stay over local to the venue (note for any convention!)
  • Take more photos! With people!

I’m looking forward to next year already 🙂

#KeepTheSecrets

I’ve just had the most magical weekend and I can’t let it go, which is why I think it’s taken a few days back at home and work for me to sit down and want to write this post as it feels like it’s done then. I know it’s not really, I’m being over-dramatic, but that’s how it feels.

An upfront note – there will be no spoilers in this post. I will talk about how I felt, but no plot or character details will be shared #KeepTheSecrets

In reality this all started in October last year when the tickets went on sale for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and I managed to get in the queue with only around 1000 people in front of my. Compared to friends who got in the queue not long after and it was up in the 6000 range and even more I did really well. It only took about 25 minutes of waiting in the end and I got tickets for myself and my friend Ingrid to see one of the first Saturday double bill previews. I was so happy and so excited to have something new added to the stories I’ve been reading since I was 16! I’m not 31 so it’s been pretty much half my life! It felt exactly the same as a new book coming out – the unknown and the excitement and the trepidation around what could happen. It’s Harry Potter, anyone could die!

Side note – it’s also now totally okay to have a crush on the actors playing Harry, Ron and Draco and a girl crush on Hermione! Amazing actors all round.

I then booked a hotel in Covent Garden, just up the road from The Palace Theatre in Soho. It was a perfect location as it only meant getting the tube to the hotel and then we could wander everywhere. The first thing we did of course was go to the theatre to see it all set up. I took lots of photos of the posters as it was all helping build up the excitement even more than I thought I could contain. Make sure you go and see it during the day before a performance as once we were there for the show it was so busy it was impossible to get the photos I took.

Everything about the set up felt right. It was very much linked to the books, rather the films and I liked that a lot. It was continuing the story for those characters and for the fans who have been there from the beginning, or almost the beginning in my case.

Setting it nineteen years later felt exactly right too. I think this is because I am now an adult and so it would make it easier to relate to them now as adults as well. We grew up together and now we were getting the chance to see who they had become.

I also love that this is in a different format. As a play there is something completely different about it, but at the same time there is something completely familiar. It made it even more excitng for me. It was like the film experience when you are in the cinema with everyone, but with the theatre atmosphere where it’s totally okay to react out loud.

The Palace Theatre is also an amazing building. I recommend walking the whole way round and see the brick structure and take in the architecture that you can then compare to what you see on the inside. It’s like a Tardis!

As we arrived on the Friday we had a day to kill and made the most of it by totally immersing ourselves in our Harry Potter geekness. We went to the House of Minalima, who did all the graphic design work for the films. It is amazing! It’s a combined gallery and shop over multiple floors.

It is a beautiful space, full of colour and fun. It’s mainly Harry Potter, but it also contains other work by the designers, which is just as amazing.

There are some of the original props used in the films as well. The amount of detail and care that went into all this and continues to go into for the new movie is staggering. The love and commitment to the work and the world took my breath away and I could have stayed in there all day.

I want them to come and decorate my house. The floors and stairs especially!

We then went to Cheeky Nails to get our nails turned into Hogwarts House colours ! I never get my nails done so this was exciting. It is attached to a bar as well so is perfect for a Friday night. They ladies there were so fantastic to us and fitted us in and did the details we wanted. I think we entertained them for the night too!

Of course then we had to make sure we got the most value from them by getting them in pretty much every single photo for the rest of the weekend.

We woke up Saturday and could not wait for 2pm. We went for a relaxing breakfast and then we wandered through some bookstores to keep ourselves calm, but get ready for what was coming. We got into the queue just before 1pm to give ourselves plenty of time to get merchandise, drinks and to find our seats. They check your bags on entry and even if the queue is long you’ll be fine as they are quick.

Then we were ready to see Part 1! I took some photos inside before and after the play, but that would give things away so they are just for me as memories. I can’t really say any more as I do not want to make JK Rowling angry by hinting at anything that happens.

All I will say is that I loved it!

We then went to a local sushi restuarant in between the parts. I woudl recommend booking to make sure you get somewhere close as it was super busy being a Saturday and also Pride. To save stress book someone and enjoy discussing (carefully) what happened in Part 1!

Then it was time to join the queue at 6:30pm for Part 2! Everyone was even more excited than before. We were also talking about our theories for what would happen and it was so much fun! Everyone was there as a fan and there was so much love and loyalty in the audience it was amazing. There was also some great discussions, not debates, but people being open for things to go where ever they might go.

Then is was over! It was exactly like finishing one of the books for the first time. Happiness that you now knew what happens and how the story and characters develop. At the same time sadness that it was over and you won’t get to experience it in the same way again. To sum up my reaction without any spoilers is basically me in this photo, taken in the ice cream place opposite right after the we came out of the theatre. It was magic in reality for me!

I am in awe of JK Rowling for creating this world and sharing in so many ways. I totally respect her call for everyone who has seen the play to #KeepTheSecrets to let others see as we had just done. I cannot wait for the script to come out as I will be able to read that while replaying the play in my head. I would say to anyone who has tickets to wait to watch the play first before reading the script as I can tell you it will not be the same and your patience will be worth it.

I treated myself to quite a bit of merchandise and love it all! I’m keeping hold of my tickets as memories too. It was an experience I will never forget and feel lucky to be one of the first people to have seen the play in full in one day. I don’t think I could have waited 24 hours for the second part to be absolutely honest!

I would also say to anyone who is a fan to keep trying to get tickets from the official website. I hope one day they will tour it or do a live showing broadcast to cinemas, but I also hope that will be a few years away to give as many people as possible the chance to see it as it is meant to be seen!

#KeepTheSecrets

Photo Opportunity!

One of the main things I’ve been wanting to do to improve my blog is to take better photos. So for the last 6 months or so I have been swapping swimming lessons for photography lessons. My friend Edith is an amazing photographer, I think she is professional, but not sure if she would describe herself as one as she does not do it full time, and is taking me through the essentials of photography. In exchange I have been teaching her to swim and she just completed her first triathlon and she is looking for another one to do later in the year. It’s been great as although it requires commitment we are able to be flexible between ourselves.

I have first learnt that it doesn’t matter what camera you have, as it the camera you have on you when you want to take a photo that matters. I switch between three cameras – my trusty iPhone camera, an Olympus DSLR, and a Cannon point and shoot – and which one I use depends on what bag I am taking out to be absolutely honest. A shift I would like to make is to not only go out specifically to take photos, but always be carrying a camera, not just my phone.

SO far I’ve been learning to edit my photos on a basic level, such as looking at the colours and adjusting the image crop and straightening. Each time I learn to spot new things and make smaller adjustments as I set up my photos better when I take them. Developing the eye for spotting interesting opportunities is hard to learn, but I keep on trying.

I’ve also bee learning about using aperture for depth of field and f numbers. This has been a struggle for me and I keep having to talk myself through what I am after when I try to use it, but it makes me think and try things out. It also gets me out of the auto setting.

I’ve taken photos at night using slow shutter speeds. I’ve taken photos in the snow using shadows and features. I’ve taken photos from interesting aspects that I wouldn’t have considered before. I’ve been experimenting and really enjoying it.

I’ve still got a lot to learn, but all I am after is to be able to take great holiday photos I want to print off and hang up. I can’t remember the last time I printed a photo as wither everything being digital I just never do anymore. I want to change that and cover my home in photos I’ve actually taken.

Here are some of my favourite photographs of the last 6 months:

 

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Greens in St James Park
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Golden gates of Buckingham Palace
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Lion and Man outside Buckingham Palace
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Spotlight on the bluebell
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Bluebell in the late evening sun
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Rays on the bluebells
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Surrounded by bluebells
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Reflections on the river in Bath
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Turning right in the night
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Ghost bus
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Busy in the dark
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Lonely red lights
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On the catwalk
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Chocolate fountain
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Interesting shapes
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Snow angel
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Mountain resting place
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Drive by
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Moody woods
Routes through the snow
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