Saturday, 20 October 2018

UK PonyCon 2018, Saturday daytime: A Taste of the High Life

This year's con exclusive: a 3D printed figure of UKPC mascot Britannia
For once on a pre-con Friday night I got a reasonable amount of sleep, so getting up in time to meet Hawthorn for breakfast at 7:30 the next morning wasn't too bad. In any case, he'd arrived on a late-night Megabus, so if anyone had the right to be exhausted it was him. As the hotel restaurant didn't open until 8:00, we made our way to the Joseph Else, another 'Spoons. This was named after a local sculptor, but more importantly it did me a 1,500+ kcal breakfast and coffee while we chatted.

This pub is about ten yards from a tram stop, and this was exciting because I'd never been to a convention by tram before. (I'd had the chance for BUCK in Manchester years ago, but hadn't taken it.) Nottingham's tram network is better than Birmingham's and just a few minutes later we were making our way to the inevitable QueueCon, where I gave a wave to Griffin and BBQ/StewArt and got a hug from fursuiting con mascot Britannia. It was still blowing a gale, but otherwise the weather wasn't too bad and nobody got wet while waiting for the doors to open.

Among the first to sign the Griffish Isles flag, later auctioned for £95
For the first and quite possibly last time, I didn't have to join the regular queue, but could instead go to the VIP line on account of, well, my VIP-tier ticket. These sold out in twenty-six minutes this year, so we're talking Glastonbury levels of demand. Sort of. Moody Magpie was the only person I could find who I knew at all, so we chatted vaguely until, at 9:00 the doors opened. One of the VIP perks was being let in half an hour early. The bag check was quick – top tip: tote bags are much faster to get okayed than rucksacks with 267 pockets – and so was registration. I was in!

UK PonyCon has doubled in size in the five years I've been attending, but an endearingly homespun feel still holds on around the edges: I wrote in my own name on my con badge in biro. I also got a goodie bag: T-shirt voucher, tote bag, exclusive art print and VIP lanyard. Time to head for the vendor hall and have the first pick of the merch! Here I picked up a lovely little canvas painting of Scootaloo from Jowy's stand and some equally adorable Fluttershy-themed Christmas cards from EileMonty's. Both really nice people, I'm happy to say.

BBQ's glorious picture of Team Custard in the con book
By this time other members of Team Custard were filtering into the venue, and (as I had) discovering with surprise the fantastic cartoon of our various OCs drawn by BBQ and now appearing in the con book. There was an A4 print of it for each of us as well, which was really generous. The usual desultory early-morning singalong (because few people were inside yet!) was followed by an opening ceremony which was fine, but about which I remember pretty much nothing beyond the theme (Crystals). Sorry!

At 11:00, most of us filed into an upstairs side room for Idris's "Joining Things" panel. Not about clubs and meets, but instead literally about joining things for cosplays etc. Bolts, screws, buckles and the like, all passed around for us to have a peer at. If you've ever been to an Idris panel, you'll know that his laid-back likeability makes it feel like a relaxed chat with a mate, and so ideal to ease ourselves into the con. Idris said afterwards that he thought "Wonderbolts and Glue" might have been a good title! :D

The cosplay contest; we were in the basement, natch
There was a bit of a lull around lunchtime, so being the strange person I am, I grabbed some food – though given that breakfast, I bought only sweets and a muffin. One of the few irritations at UKPC this year was the cafĂ©: the range was decent and cheap, and the staff were friendly, but one "catering pod" was insufficient for the attendance and queues sometimes got silly. We ended up going to the Roebuck for lunch, though I only had a cider. On a happier note, the water cooler and drinking fountains were extremely welcome as it was unseasonably warm and this was reflected inside.

The cosplay contest was pretty much compulsory to attend, though I must admit I rarely find them that interesting, preferring to see people's costumes as they wander more naturally around the con. A special note here for con treasurer Guiding Breeze, who had made a superb "Coinky-Dink World" dress. They're not comfortable with photos, so didn't enter the contest and you'll have to take my word for this, but it was outstanding. I thought about going to the G1 Show Discussion panel, but didn't get round to it in time. Never mind: simply chatting to other pony people was good enough.

Looking down on just a few of the ~50 stalls
My Little Karaoke is always a highlight of UK PonyCon for me, so it was off there next. I went out on a limb and chose Phileo's rather unjustly forgotten "The Way She Flies" and... well, let's just say there's a reason I'm not a professional rock singer. I wasn't awful, but MLK's volume was set so low I could barely hear it and so I got out of sync with the beat at times. I'm glad I gave it a go, but I don't think I'll be choosing that song at future cons. After an hour or so enjoying others' singing, I left and headed for the cinema room. You'll have to wait to find out why...

Next time: Tears of Joy, Tears of Laughter

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