Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Review of 2014

Review of 2014

Checking previous blog entries it’s been three years since  I last attempted a review of the year style blog and I’m not surprised because if memory serves they tend to be quite epic efforts creatively. But after having lost all motivation to do this since the end of year holidays began I’ve awoken today with enough motivation to make a start so lets see how far I get.

Big Finish Day 4

Fan activities began this year with a journey into the unknown, the first three Big Finish Days were held in easy to travel to East London and I’d worried about the move of this event to a hotel in Slough, but the day began easier than expected as I soon spotted a couple of people also staring at the GPS on their phone to find the venue, so after a short conversation we all headed off in the right direction and soon found the hotel. The first panel with actors Paul and his son Jake McGann had already started but thankfully seats were still available. I’ve seen Paul at a few cons now and he’s clearly getting better at them, I used to think he was a tad shy and not necessarily as good an anecdote teller as some guests but as I said he’s definitely got the hang of conventions more recently and regaled us with how he first found out about his surprise tv return to the role in Night of The Doctor. The con itself was a small and compact affair and I had to agree with other fans that it lacked things to do beyond attend panels or buy Big Finish and other merchandise  on sale. There was a good selection of cosplayers attending ranging from Unit Soldiers to Fem 6th and 7th Doctors. Other panels that day included ones on The Avengers(a show I really must watch the boxed sets of one day) and Sherlock Holmes who Big Finish are taking a more traditional approach to than the current BBC TV show. The walk back to Slough Station at the end of the event was easier than expected given that this was my first visit to the town and I decided to definitely attend Big Finish Day 5 but more of that later in this blog. https://www.flickr.com/photos/tdrury/sets/72157639902291876/


Cambridge to Bradford in a Day

Bradford is not a short journey from my home town of Cambridge but with careful planning and compromise it can be visited as a day trip. The event that drove me on back in February was a small-ish but interesting exhibition at The National Media Museum entitled Doctor Who and Me: 50 Years of Doctor Who fans which proved to be quite a nostalgia fest of fanzines, books, merchandise and other creations such as some fine example of fan art ranging from small items such as 3D knitted objects through to wall sized art works and a very inspirational full sized TARDIS replica. It also gave me a chance to cross paths with Michael of The Tin Dog Podcast who had lent his home made cyberman head to the exhibition. Due to the frustrating barriers of geography me and Micheal usually only cross paths at Whooverville so it was great to meet and catch up on a less pressured day. After Michael's departure I ended my time at the museum with an all too brief look around their amazingly comprehensive camera selection in The Kodak Collection housed in a sizably extensive basement exhibition area. Other areas of the museum would have to wait for another day but I vowed I would return as soon as possible. https://www.flickr.com/photos/tdrury/sets/72157640694083755/


Dave Keep’s Birthday  

Also in February I visited friends in Crawley to celebrate Dr Who fan and fellow podcaster Dave Keep's birthday, unlike my last visit to the town I opted to stay in a large hotel a short walk from the station, though work on the lines meant it was a replacement bus for part of my journey to and from the place. Much fun was had in the pub that night and I always welcome any opportunity to eat, drink and hang out with fellow fans and friends. https://www.flickr.com/photos/tdrury/sets/72157641018283134/

Surrey Steampunk Convivial

Also in February I braved the cold to hang out in a wonderfully warm pub with the equally wonderful Steampunks of Surrey. There was home made food, art and craft creations for sale and I took part in the always entertaining tea duelling. I missed out on the next day’s outdoor activities as I only came on the Saturday but I hear there was Ostrich racing which must have been a fun, yet odd sight for the locals. As ever the steampunks were in all their finery as you’ll see from the group photo below, I’ve never been one for dressing up myself but others efforts are always admired and appreciated. I did make a nod to costume that day by buying a bowler hat that later in the year would gain it’s own Steampunk goggles. Company and conversation was supplied by Jean from the Staggering Stories podcast team and the event itself was surprisingly large spreading to a second venue on the other side of the road. I’ll definitely return for more steampunk fun in 2015 possibly staying longer next time for the evening musical entertainments.


A Night at the Movies

April this year marked possibly the least use I’ve had from a hotel room as the whole night was spent in a nearby cinema enjoying the Sci-Fi London film festival’s Alien 1-4 all nighter event. The audience was small, barely 20 of us but it was a very rare chance to see all four Alien movies in extended cuts on the big screen. The first three of the films I’d never seen at a cinema before and it was quite a revelation as to how much better they looked on the big screen. I don’t think anyone in the audience stayed awake for the entirety of all four films, I myself frustratingly missed the famous “Get away from her your bitch!” speech in Aliens but Alien 3 which followed was surprisingly better than I remembered from my last viewing of it. There were breaks between each film and free cups of tea on hand nearby to aid our sleep deprivation! It’s certainly an experience I’d love to repeat so will be keeping an eye out for details of Sci-Fi London 2015’s programme of events.


Returning to Bradford

In May I took advantage of the May Day Bank Holiday weekend to pay a return visit to Bradford this time with a couple of nights in a hotel so the city itself could be explored as well as The National Media Museum. Bradford has a wonderful mixture of old and newer architecture and I have to admit I rather fell in the love with the place. On my first evening in the city I had a brief visit to the Media Museum to see one of their 3D IMAX films, Bradford is home to the oldest IMAX cinema in the UK as far as I know and the Museum and it’s cinema have steadily been modernised and expanded since they first opened back in the 1980s. On day two of my visit I walked the short distance to the Museum and spent most of the day there taking in it’s amazingly large collection which spans the history of home computers, television, radio and as a camera collector photography is of special interest with their aforementioned extensive and historical collection of cameras. My only criticism of the museum would be it’s cafe which only has a small selection  on the menu so I headed into the city centre for lunch but this did have me discover how good the local free wifi is with a large coverage area in Centenary Square that even at times spread to my nearby hotel room. To any US or Canadian friends reading this I’d urge you when visiting the UK to take in Bradford for yourself because the Media Museum alone begs to be visited.

Geekfest 2014

Also in May I took advantage of the mild Spring weather to head to a small sci fi event in the south coast town of Folkestone. Geekfest 2014 was mostly a gathering of dealers, cosplayers and fans but with a few signings going on too I was able to add to my Red Dwarf autograph collection when I met Danny John Jules who plays Cat in the show. I also took the opportunity to take a selfie as it was an excuse to show off my Bowler Hat which proved a useful cover from the harshly cold sea air outside. Somehow I forgot to photograph them but friends Adina and Pete were present Pete in his Star Wars costume adding not only to the atmosphere but also to many people’s photos that day. Folkestone itself proved well worth the journey and after leaving the event I walked down to the beach for the many photographic opportunities it provided.

Bond in Motion Exhibition

Late May marked the birthday of friend and fellow Dr Who fan Dean Hill which we celebrated by a trip to London’s Bond in Motion Exhibition of Cars, Vehicles and Props from the many James Bond movies. A good time was had by all and the exhibition itself was preceded and followed by a pub crawl, I’m not a big pub person myself but with company this good who could refuse?


Mythmakers Doctor Who Convention

Early June marked a frustratingly rare opportunity, these days certainly to attend a Doctor Who Convention in London. DWAS had organised a one day event about the making of the classic series taking a script to screen approach the guests included writers Terrance Dicks and Derek Sherwin, director Graeme Harper and the 6th Doctor himself Colin Baker who is always good value at such events. The venue Hammersmith Studios is being redeveloped soon so this was also one last chance to attend an event there.

Steam Punk II in Cambridge

Mid June marked a rare chance to attend a local Steampunk event with Steampunk in Cambridge, the second of these annual events I had missed last year’s having only found out about it after the event. Again there was a good selection of dealers to browse and it also marked probably my best appearance yet in the Tea Duelling maybe my Bowler Hat helped, by this time nicknamed my lucky hat. Again I skipped the evening events but may make the effort to attend them next time.


Shada Tour 2

I’ve already written a blog about the second tour of Dr Who: Shada filming locations that I held back in August so I’ll leave a link to that here and take the opportunity to say there will be a third, this time slightly expanded tour in 2015 as I realised one of the bridges is well within walking distance of where we went this year. Stay tuned for further details but again early August is the likely date of the tour in 2015.  http://tdrury1.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/the-shada-tour-2.html

Nine Worlds Geekfest 2014

August rolled on and I was conventioning again, this time at an event with a difference, Nine Worlds Geekfest takes what feels like and old fashioned but welcome non celebrity approach to a fan event which was for a change dominated by discussions by writers and other science/science fiction experts and also had it’s fair share of Steampunks present though the only bit of their offerings I witnessed was a rather fun and interesting fashion show in which people explained their outfits and how they’d been constructed and designed. I shot a lengthy video of the fashion show which is well worth a look if the subject is of interest to you https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pc8nNkG5ZU

Again an event which I’ll try to get to more of in 2015 if only to catch some of the science content all of which I missed out on this time.

Loncon 3 and The Hugo Awards 2014

In mid August I attended a day of the huge but fun and interesting Lon Con 3, a rare London outing for the World Science Fiction Convention. Again this was a less celebrity style event but it meant fans were out in force not only cosplaying, or exhibiting artwork but organising meet ups such as the ZZ9 HHGTTG one I attended which took the form of an indoor picnic. The day ended with me attending  most of The Hugo Awards ceremony which although large in scale, venue and audience had a friendly if highbrow fan style of presentation which contrasted interestingly with it’s huge showbiz style venue. I rather enjoyed Loncon but my budget doesn’t stretch to attending it outside of the UK, so I will wait patiently for its eventual return.

Whooverville 6

Late August marked my annual return to Derby for Whooverville as always an enjoyable one day con only marred this time by poor weather preventing me from attending the Whooverville Eve event the previous night but this was balanced by a rare opportunity to watch Dr Who with fellow fans as there was a screening of that weekend’s episode Into The Dalek not long after the con finished. Most seemed to enjoyed both convention and episode but a longer blog chronicling my whole weekend, especially travel problems can be read here http://tdrury1.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/whooverville-6.html

Big Finish Day 5

Mid September and I was heading to Slough again for the fifth Big Finish Day, guests included Tom Baker, Peter Purves, William Russell, Matthew Waterhouse and Dan Starkey. All were happy to share memories of working on new and classic series and Mr Starkey was also on hand to judge the cosplay contest. I had to leave over an hour early as I wanted to get home in time to see that night’s Doctor Who episode but this was a much improved event on Day 4 with the cosplay contest and an exhibition of costumes from Blakes 7 to help break up the diet of panels and merchandise browsing/buying. Here’s a link to video of the cosplay contest for you to enjoy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ciIpavzjY0

Crossness Engine Steampunk Convivial

Late September marked the final Steampunk event of the year for me but the most exotic location the Victorian Crossness Pumping Station a day of music, tea duelling, umbrella fencing, morris dancing and good company in several members of the Staggering Stories Podcast team. Special thanks must go to Jean who gave me a lift to and from the station which would have been a rather long walk otherwise. The venue is amazing the company was fun and the weather was gorgeous too, the journey home sadly wasn’t trouble free with one rail company failing to provide enough replacement buses meant a 45-60 min wait in a car park whilst one arrived. Hopefully there’ll be another event at the same venue in 2015 and things will work out better on the transport front.

The Tower of London Poppies

Three times this year I visited the installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red which marked the 100th anniversary of the beginning the the first world war with 888,246 hand made ceramic Poppies in the moat of the Tower of London. One Poppies for every british death in that horrible conflict which proved to be a very moving and appropriate way to mark this moment in history. The crowds that gathered were quiet respectful though not necessarily as educated as myself on the subect, some of them for example were unaware as to why the Tower was chosen. It was in fact a major recruiting and training location during that war. Wikipedia has more information on the artwork http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_Swept_Lands_and_Seas_of_Red
My best photos were taken on my final visit there in mid November https://www.flickr.com/photos/tdrury/sets/72157648916590700/

Radiophonic Workshop Live at The BFI

Early December was one of my final visits to London this year and I spent some of the time enjoying something that I thought I’d missed (as several of their gigs were cancelled) I rushed to buy a ticket to see former members of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop perform a special sci fi themed set at BFI Southbank a venue better known for TV and Movie screenings than live music but it was more than up to the task at hand with comfortable seating and great acoustics. You can hear a brief on the spot review of the event in my podcast http://tto.libsyn.com/tims-take-on-episode-257tom-baker-phillip-hinchcliffe-and-marc-platt-at-big-finish-day-5

Plans for 2015

It’s early days yet but my plans for next year include visiting Scotland for the first time as Glasgow is the capital city of the Police Box with six of them still on the cities streets also in the offing is attending the Dimensions convention in Newcastle, not many guests announced yet but it will be fun to get to my first UK multi day convention in several years http://www.tenthplanetevents.co.uk/conventions---dimensions-2015-777-c.asp
All this and I haven’t even written a single paragraph about my efforts to build my own TARDIS a process that started a year ago from me typing these words but started to take shape properly in May you can watch the story so far in my video build diaries here https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLzudry55L5VbU8gwwL1WddVvBzhdMAOSt

Not much more to add other than well done if you read right to the end!

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