Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cardiff Doctor Who Convention

Fellow time-travellers! Tardis builders! Timelord wannabes! Bow tie and fez enthusiasts! Fish-fingers and custard consumers! Sonic screwdriver possessors! Weeping angel photographers! And those of you who discovered a crack in your wall and keep opening and closing a fobwatch hoping you'll reach some sort of epiphany about your identity!

This blog is for you.

On March 24th to 25th 2012, there was a Doctor Who convention for the meticulous exhibition, and promotion of wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff. It was held in Cardiff, only a stretch of water from Dublin, which promptly led me to drag my sidekick and take the next plane out (we took the slightly long way by touching London, but you can also take a direct route with the ferry easy peasy). However, the utterly outrageous prices of last minute tickets caused some great unbalances in expenses and to compensate for those ridiculously costly tickets we chose the hobo life for the weekend.

A night at the bus stop. The sissy pink love-bear blanket wards off any thugs.

And now, moving swiftly from the intro to the bulk of this blog - the pictures of the conventions. See if you can recognise and name the ailens! (Seriously - I need help with these.)


The Silence.

Queen Elizabeth and the Freaky Plastic Mannequin Thing Thing.

The Cat-nun-nurse-lady.

Pig Slave!

Davros. Oh isn't he ugly!

Weeping Angels.

Wooden Queen (Christmas special).


Vampires of Venice.

Tick tock goes the clock.


The one with lots of gas.

The one wearing red.

The one with evil Christmas angels.

Silence in the library. 

And now for the suits

Companion suits.

9th and 10th. Disappointed at the lack of David Tennant that comes with this suit. 

The 11th.

Besides admiring the artistic handiwork of various props and displays, Doctor Who convention allows you to engage in other activities, such as:

Mingling with the celebrities some 400 metres away with 1200 other people (Producer Caroline Skinner, writer Steven Moffat, Matt Smith as the Doctor, Karen Gillian as Amy Pond, Arthur Darvill as Rory).

3 seconds with Arthur Darvill.

Prosthetics demonstration - and very expensive Halloween ideas.

Doctor Who gaming.

For the earlybirds and VIPs (me, yes me) there was also a special trip to the Tardis set, where we could fiddle around with all the knobs and cogs and levers and buttons.

Inside the Tardis.
Levering the levers.

Knobbing the knobs.
Where to, dear companion?

Let's go to the Impossible Planet!

If you are a doctor who fan, you should be familiar with the spinoff series "Torchwood," centred around Captain Jack Harkness, the Doctor's dashing friend. It is also set in Cardiff - here's my sidekick popping up from the Torchwood underground headquarters.

Popping up from pavements, just another day at work. 

If you do decide to go to the Doctor Who convention, here's some additional advice:

1. Doctor who convention tickets are competitive! Be as quick as you can for it.

2. The convention is held at the Millennium Centre, not the Millennium Staduim. Awksies when you find yourself in a massive and majestic yet deserted venue just five minutes before the opening.

Millennium Stadium - hmm something is missing here...
The Millennium Centre - this is more like it.

3. Cardiff castle might be a nice place to visit if you have a bit of time. It costs 11 pounds and you get to hang out with ultra-tame peacocks who are eager to display their plummage for a bit of sandwich crumbs on your palm.

We couldn't afford to go in this time but I remember being in there as a kid. The peacocks were frighteningly large at the time.
4. if you are going to dress up - go for it! There are plentiful doctors to choose from. And if you don't get to dress up you can buy t-shirts that have prints of the past eleven doctor outfits. But if you're going to be the Doctor for the day don't be the snob that feels the need to provide a running commentary during shows and interviews in a voice louder than a Sontaren. Nobody likes a Doctor Who-the-hell-does-he-think-he-is.

5. Here's a nice place to eat

The Prince of Wales pub - LOVELY interior (this picture only shows a teeny corner of the most mundane part of its loveliness) with free wifi and good breakfast. 
And a cozy place to stay -

YHA, some two hours walk from Cardiff City Centre. A bus will take considerably shorter time.

By golly, isn't that a good load of information. If only I had written and read this blog before I went to the convention myself. But that would involve some advanced wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff.. hmm let me think... pen and paper, check. Bowtie, check. Madwoman in a box...


Spotted! Kiwi bar in Cardiff!

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Scotland doesn't really sound like a place where big things happen. I heard the three days of crisp weather I had in Edinburgh were the only "sunshine" they had all winter. The city, when I arrived, as beautiful as it was, seemed like it was in deep hibernation. (Puts a writer in a good mood though - perhaps this is why J.K Rowling was able to draft her Harry Potter series) But when you least expect things to happen, they happen to happen, at the most inconvenient time of your life, at the most unexpected settings, at the most unsettling circumstances. Such was Edinburgh to me, making it perhaps one of the most unforgettable trips in Europe.

In the morning of the flight, after a hearty 75cent meal (I've thanked them once, I'll thank them again - thank you, Marks and Spencer, for selling reduced to clear products near closing hour. These meals are extremely filling and good, not sure about healthy, but they are as healthy as packaged ready-made tv dinners can get. I thoroughly recommend them. Grafton Street on Dublin, everyone, around 7pm.) we Ryanair-ed our way to Edinburgh in the middle of the week, in lieu of lectures, tutorials, and assignments.

Edinburgh Castle, from the peasant's view.
Also called "The City of Literature" <3 

It was in Edinburgh where I first saw a 1950s blue police box in real life. As a Doctor Who enthusiast (and a whole blog dedicated to that later ;) ) I was stoked when I spotted this -

Ta-da! Turns out you can pretty much find these on every street corner. So don't be upset if you didn't get to snap a shot with the first one you saw. 

More people would have visited the outside of the castle and left than those who paid to see what's inside. Even the tour guide didn’t recommend it. The best you can do for this is not to expect too much. Here’s a glimpse of the interior, and I’m not sure how close I am to the main poll for tourists, but I did enjoy learning a wee dram of Scottish history by walking through the castle.

Gather at 1pm (daily) to hear the cannons (or was it guns) fire.

"Excalibur! 'Tis mine!" 

There is also a lovely park in Edinburgh with lots of lovely buildings surrounding it

I had stayed up all night finishing an essay the night before the trip, which made me fall sleep in The Elephant House cafe (Harry Potter's birthplace) by an unfinished hot chocolate, and also fall asleep during the pub crawl that night (takes a lot to fall asleep during a pub crawl). Perhaps that is the reason Edinburgh seemed like it was asleep - because I was asleep.

Pretty streets are always a delight to walk through.

The National Museum of Edinburgh is quite the visit. Jump around and let yourself loose.

Memoir scribbling.

Bagpipe attempting.

Feet texting.

Button pressing.
Catapult testing.

Doctor calling...
(Mini) Tardis controlling!

When in Scotland, there is something you just cannot miss – and that’s haggis. It tasted good, then a bit bland, then a bit rich, then a bit repulsive. But you have to try it. With Scottish beer, like the Flying Scotsman (or was it Dutchman…).

Haggis made fancy.
In the end travelling sums up to the people you were there with. I don’t remember much of a London trip I went alone. It felt like I had stepped out for a breath of fresh air and come straight back to my room again. It’s the people you met and the games you played that makes a new city memorable. Sometimes something like that is worth skipping a few lectures for.

That part where you gaze at a glowing city through the darkness on a hill.