* I opened a pineapple tin!

TL;DR: I finished my walk, watched a couple of my writing heroes in action (Talking about you, Mur & Connie!), and was pleasantly relieved that I didn’t have to pull out the Fielding Mellish trial quote during the Hugo ceremony.

Today was the day that I did it! I finished the last (or first really, since I’ve been going from west to east) leg of the London section of the Thames Path. I had a long slog from ExCel to Hampton Court Station, but I made all my connections, and I only had to change train cars once to free myself from the screaming and spitting (!!!) of some kids misspending their youth.


Today was also a day of thinking about Three Men in a Boat, as they start out on the river in Kingston, and pass through the maze at Hampton Court Palace with hilarious results. I didn’t do the maze, mostly because I wanted to get back in time to shower before the “So grim. Much serious. Wow.” panel, because not showering wouldn’t be fair to anybody.  Also I figured I’d suffer the fate of Harris and get lost in there, a gaggle of tourists waddling behind me. Also it hadn’t opened for the day when I got there.


Actually 2 women and a man in a boat, to say nothing of the dog, specifically because there wasn’t one

The walk today was easy and pleasant. I spent much of my time thinking about the book, giggling whenever I saw three men rowing upstream in a skiff, and enjoying the atmosphere of the area. Many anglers lined the path, some with many poles in, some with enough infrastructure to support a fishing industry. They focussed on their lines with the intensity of Billy Crudup in Stage Beauty. As such, not one of them said hello. Between Hampton and Teddington almost everyone else did. Very nice.

It wasn’t too hot, it wasn’t too cold, and my legs felt like the very latest model, so I made good time. This time I moved to the south bank as soon as I could (in Kingston).  Took some pictures of people in skiffs, because, you know. The Teddington lock seemed to go on and on. I feel like it must be the place where all those Victorian era photos of hundreds of skiffs and rowboats and the like all jammed into one lock were all taken.

Along the way I passed a wild bird refuge and saw many instances of this little guy:


It’s impossible to see in this picture, but it has a black head and tail, with white in the middle and blue markings on the wings. Hmm, I should be able to look that up. It’d be funny if it’s a nuthatch, since I’ll be using Olsen’s Standard Book of British Birds (expurgated).

Huh! It’s a magpie! I thought I knew what magpies were but I guess not. Now I have the magpie theme song in my head, as interpreted by Death by Chocolate. There could be worse things, I suppose.

I started hearing gunshots, but I had read in my handy guidebook that a rifle range could be found on the Ham Lands, which I had passed into,  so I kept calm and carried on. Before  I could imagine it possible, the Richmond bridge appeared around a bend in the river. My quest had come to an end. I did a restrained jump for joy, and looked for the pub.

I had a Sunday roast and a Young’s Special at the White Cross in Richmond. A massive meal, but I polished it off enough to make Mr. Lieff proud. I had considered sitting in the garden by the river, but I had gotten fed up with the wind so I sat indoors. Good thing. By the time my food came, a tempest crashed against the countryside, the wind setting the drops on a horizontal track, leaving no sanctuary, not even under the generous-sized umbrellas. It was a wonder they stayed up, I thought.

I had a talk I wanted to go to, so I zipped up my raincoat and put on my hat and stepped out into the storm. The rain immediately stopped, and the sun came out, baking me in my wet-weather gear. No matter, I thought. Bake away, the rain will come again if I take it all off, so I won’t tempt fate! It didn’t rain. But! When I approached the railway station (NB: I originally wrote train station there, but I’m in Ennnnngland, dammit! Railway it is!) a woman offered me a sampler of Foster’s Radler. Now you might not know me personally; you might, for instance, have come here to hear what I had to say about LonCon 3 (don’t worry, I’m getting there). The number one hit on my blog is a review I did of this Slovenian radler called Union Red Orange Radler. Go take a peek, I’ll wait. Back? I have a soft spot for these drinks. The Red Orange, not so much. The Foster’s? But I’m getting ahead of myself. So I have this can of radler, in the middle of this square. Can I drink it? Hm, maybe I’ll stick it in my raincoat pocket, as I’m feeling kind of awkward walking around with it now. I reach the other end of the square, and another can is proffered to me. Automatically, I take it (long walk, big meal, and beer will do that to a fella) and stick it in my other pocket, and carry on. I ended up drinking them at the hotel before going to the con, as this is a budget hotel, and they have no concept of ice.


I had my first panel at 3! I rushed and rushed and rushed and thought to myself, gosh, wouldn’t it be nice to try out that gondola? This tube will be stopping in North Greenwich, it’s the only time where I wouldn’t be just taking it and going back immediately. I can use it as a transit alternative! I convinced myself and got off at said station. Only then I realized my mistake. Twas quite a hike to the gondolas, and they aren’t the turbo ones like at Mont Tremblant. No. This little detour added an extra 20 minutes to my return trip. Oh noes! Might I get to the panel and find all the seats taken, and then miss it? A calculus occurred then. Fortunately for all my fellow con-goers, I took the shower that I considered skipping to make up time. A cold one; I didn’t want to be George Costanza, and dressed and out and rush rush rush, Oh, there’s Connie Willis. She was part of the panel I was on my way to see, and she was on her way into the hotel. Now, I can’t remember if I related the whole “OMG, Connie said good morning to me! I have goosebumps all over!” episode of a few days ago, but I guess that fuelled some level of boldness.

“So, I guess I shouldn’t be rushing off to your panel so quickly,” said I (though I have to admit while that sounded haha and dashing in my head, I twisted my tongue around while I said it, because, you know, I’m kind of teasing Connie Willis (!!!) ).

“Don’t worry!” she said, “I’ll be there!”

I smiled, relieved that she actually understood me, and I waved and carried on. I managed to get to the queue for the room at 2:30. More than 30 people already stood around, waiting to be let in. I had arrived, it seemed, at exactly the right moment, for not five minutes later, the line stretched behind me to the end of the hallway. I exchanged pleasantries with my line mates, made terrible queue-based puns that don’t need to be repeated (so DON’T ask!) and eventually got in and sat and waited for teh awesomes.

The panel, “So grim. Much serious. Wow”, featured Connie, Mur Lafferty, Tanya Huff, Darren Nash, Simon R. Green, and Ellen Klages. Everyone was late. I had expected that what with Connie not only at the far end of the convention hall (it’s a big hall) but actively going into her hotel. No one was really late, except Ellen, who, of course, was the moderator. The panel, if you can’t guess it from the cast of characters named, focussed on comedy in genre fiction. It was quite good, with anecdotes, good advice, funny jokes, a not so funny joke by Simon that he got called out for, and mostly a good author-based discussion of the pitfalls of being known as funny (I say it like this because Nash, the digital publisher for Gollancz, faded into the background once everyone got started). Well worth standing around for 20 minutes.

Bundoran Press hosted an event in the fan village. Being a proud Canuck, I went to support them and give a “Go Canadian Small Press!” cheer and all that. It was great fun, and I had many intelligent/silly conversations, so much so that when I went to my next panel, the room had filled up already. I had a sad, but then continued on with intelligent/silly conversations until my blood sugar level said, “Hey, eat something you hockey puck!”


Then a line up for the Hugos, and I had an amazing seat until Brad, the telepresence guy, parked his robot in my line of site. I forgave him once I realized he’d been taken over by a dalek. The Hugos went almost as I had voted,  the exceptions being Gravity and SF Signal, though they were both my number 2s. I am pleased beyond belief that Randall Munroe’s Time won for Graphic Story, as the four months that time was running was not a productive time at work for me, and I wanted to be sure it was worth it. It’s amaZONG. Anyway.

After that Irena, from the group of Croats at the con, invited me to their beach party, where I amazed — amazed, I say! — everyone with my Croatian pronunciation skills. And I un-amazed myself with my ability to drink fig brandy. The fig brandy is why this update is two days late. But it was worth it! Urp.