Friday, 28 October 2016

UK PonyCon 2016, Friday: Giant horses and onion bhajis

Equus Altus sculputre, Trinity shopping centre, Leeds
Giant Horse activate!
I spent last weekend at UK PonyCon 2016, which was held in Leeds. More precisely, in the Royal Armouries Hall at the Royal Armouries Museum. (It was the Royal Armouries, don't you know.) The tl;dr version is that I had an absolutely fantastic time, and might well rank this as my favourite MLP convention of all five I've attended (BUCK 2013 & '14; UKPC 2014, '15 & '16). Assuming UKPC 2017 happens, and if I can be there, I will be there.

Come past the break with me for the thrilling tale of packed trains, giant horses and muffins that was Friday.

It's about 140 miles from my home in Worcestershire to Leeds, so it was an obvious train journey. Having managed to scrunch the stuff I wanted to take into two bags (pretty much one for clothes and one for literally everything else), it was just about bearable. This in spite of CrossCountry's bloody awful Voyager trains, which are almost invariably overcrowded owing to their being too small to cope with the big increase in rail use since they went into service.

Whinge, whinge, grump, grump. Let's skip forward a bit.

Travelodge Bradford on a misty morning
You can see the sort of jet-setting, billionaire circles I move in
Because I am an almighty cheapskate and Leeds is a rather expensive city, I wasn't staying in the city centre but about eight miles away on the outskirts of Bradford. Specifically, at this Travelodge. I'm quite a fan of the chain, and I couldn't really argue with paying under £80 for three nights at the start of half-term. Check-in was from 3pm, and I arrived at about ten past. Woo! I didn't unpack more than the bare essentials, which was lucky as it turned out...

There was an unofficial pre-meet at the Brewdog pub in Leeds city centre. I went, but felt a bit out of place: some very fine people of course, but the venue itself was small and cramped and clearly aimed at beer aficionados – something which I'm really not. They had precisely zero sugar-free soft drinks that weren't Diet Coke, which was frankly poor. In the end I had to settle for a slightly weird black coffee. Served in a glass tumbler. It tasted like it sounds. The 'Spoons last year was much more comfortable for someone like me.

Royal Armouries Museum main entrance
The venue itself! We queued just to the right of the black and yellow notice
After a while, a few of us went off to the local shopping centre to find somewhere we could actually sit down. The big Trinity Centre was open until 8pm on Fridays, and it was only about six, so we all wandered inside. Mostly, we did this to see Equus Altus, a sculpture by Andy Scott (of Kelpies fame) that everyone unceremoniously dubbed "Giant Horse" for the duration. Next to it was not only a small toy shop (not many ponies) but also a Muffin Break, so in we went. Peach spice muffin for me (nice!) and an hour or so's chat (also nice!) before it was time for me to head back to the hotel.

Once back in Bradford, I discovered that the lock on one of my windows was wonky. I reported it and was swiftly moved to a very similar room down the corridor. In return, I received some onion bhajis from reception. Yes, really! They were quite tasty but not enough for a full meal, so I walked to the Co-op and bought a loaf of bread (to dip in Cup-a-Soups), a chocolate bar and a packet of sandwiches. This was my tea. Then it was time to prepare for the morrow and to attempt to get some sleep.


  1. I love reading this; it's bringing the weekend back to me. :')

    I fully agree about the Cross Country Voyagers. The train I got to and from the con was the Penzance to Aberdeen service, run by a 5-car unit. I wouldn't wish that journey on anyone.

    I look forward to reading your other Giant-Horse-Con blogs. :D

    1. Be warned: the Saturday one (which might be done for tomorrow, otherwise Sunday) will be a lot, lot longer! As it was the longest day of the con by far, I suppose that's not surprising.

      If I ever need to go to Leeds again, I'm actually considering going via Manchester with LM/Virgin to avoid Voyagers. :P

  2. I'm looking forward to the Saturday and Sunday blogs :D

    1. I hope they'll be entertaining! The Saturday one has been written now and will be up tomorrow (*looks at watch* okay, today), while the Sunday one will probably appear on Monday. Then there'll be a fourth one with a summary, merch haul photo and so on. :)