lullula: (MCR: Frank)
[personal profile] lullula
So from Thursday to Tuesday I was down in London attending Eastercon! \o/ I think this was actually my 7th Eastercon (depending on whether Worldcon '05 was mixed up with Eastercon '05). Damn, that is a lot of cons.

I'm gonna put it all under a cut, as I have a few pictures/tweets and this is probably going to get looooong, and this post is all about travel and shit and so is not even about the thing which is in the subject bar... Naturally.

To get down to Eastercon this year, we decided that since there might be a fuel strike, to take public transport! Unfortunately, we decided this the week before and that really fucked with the prices. Dad, Aaron and I got a train (thanks to my knowledge of discount train sites, it was ~£60 for all three of us) and Mum was going to get a plane after her last day of work.

The train was fine! We dutifully piled on at 5.25am (I tweeted! And took a photo!) and arrived in London around 8.30am. We did a zombie shuffle to Kings Cross' left luggage facility and then sat about in a daze till the British Library opened. I did research/essay writing (Tweet + photo!), Daddy and Aaron went to the café and then ambled about in a beffudled fashion. Eventually I dozed off one time too many, had a glance at the Illuminated Manuscripts (Illuminated Manuscripts!!!! \o/!) before we decamped to the nearest Pizza Express and ate ourselves into (even more of) a stupor. We then had the utter joy of getting to Heathrow Travelodge via tube and bus. We did it! It was, as much as public transport can be, an actual utter joy. I'm as surprised as you, but then again, London's public transport is one of the very few things to recommend it.

So that was us.

Mum, on the other hand, found herself in a certain amount of difficulty.

We had booked her ticket (all told, £90) through the website, and they had sent us a booking confirmation. We assumed, as presumably anyone would, that this meant Mum had a ticket. So imagine Mum's shock to turn up at NCL only to be told, "No, they haven't bought you a ticket. You need to get into contact with them so that they can buy you a ticket or you need to buy a new one."

What. The. Fuck.

At this point, I was happily ensconced in the Travelodge having a kip. (Seriously, traveling to London on maybe 2 hours sleep is not fun at all)

And then I got a phone call... Mum, very upset, explaining that I needed to get into contact with and get them to buy her the ticket.

Fine, I went on their website, looked at their FAQ, found fuck all of any actual use, so I emailed the address they gave if your questions aren't answered.

A few minutes later, I get a response! Sweet, possibly good service!

Only it's just an auto email, giving a direct links to all the FAQ answers. I WENT THROUGH THOSE. I had to go through them to get to the fucking email address!

So I phoned Mum back, explained the situation, and gave her the REALLY EXPENSIVE help line number to ring. Knowing what help lines are like, I rang it too.

Mum gave up after 8 minutes.

I gave up after 15.

JFC guys, can you imagine this situation? My Mum has just finished an incredibly stressful day at work (in case you didn't know, she works in a hospice with people who are really close to the end which is stressful in and of itself!), only to be told she can't get on the plane because the company we used is a fuck up. That kind of stress is just... God.

So to cut a long story short, I had to buy Mum a new ticket! On a dinky netbook with ropy 3G internet. Luckily, BA actually has a halfway utile website, so it took me all of two minutes and Mum wound up with the last ticket available for the 20.15 flight to Heathrow. The kicker of this is, it only cost £76. Less than the original! But it was done! Mum got herself a coffee and calmed down, I went to bed, and a few magical hours later, Mum was with us in Heathrow.

The entire situation may have inspired a few somewhat angry and irate tweets.

And that was Thursday!

I am now skipping to the end of our trip, since the actual con report is going in another post, and this is just the personal travel post. (The reason I'm doing this is the con report is gonna get linked to [by me, on Twitter, not by my adoring audience, as I don't have one of those], this is not :D)

As Tuesday was the day we were leaving, the morning was spent shoving things into bags and figuring out exactly where to put the sudden abundance of books. Luckily, everything went smoothly and we left the Travelodge on time. We'd booked a taxi to take us to a tube station, but upon discovering the cost of getting to Kings Cross, Mum made an executive decision, we skipped the tube and taxi'd all the way in (tweet!). I know right? Damn if that wasn't excessive of us. Another brief stop at the left luggage, and a brief bit of lunch on the station, Mum and I left Aaron and Dad to meet up with Matthew and do their thang while we did ours.

Our thing happened to be us going to Hyde Park, with the idea of enjoying the sun and eventually ending up at Harrods for afternoon tea. I rather liked this idea, as wandering around a park always makes me feel a little like a Regency lady, out and about - seeing and being seen. :D

We started at Hyde Park Corner and meandered our way around the park, stopping to admire all the beautiful things:


:) My Mum would be one of those beautiful things.

We stopped in the Serpentine café for hot chocolate and biscuits (and reading Charlie Stross's Halting State which is really good btw), before carrying on. Although it was frequently sunny, it was just as frequently showering, which led to me looking very fetching, in an older lady kind of way:


We actually made our way around from Hyde Park into Kensington Gardens, and I finally saw the Peter Pan statue!


At this point we realised we probably weren't going to make it to Harrods. Since it was such a lovely evening (and I think I saw a juvenile cormorant! that was exciting for me), we decided to stay in the park.

From there we carried on, until suddenly a really massive shower dropped out of the sky and we took refuge in some kind of tennis club's tiny café. There was some poor kid in there who not only has a tennis coach, he also has a mother who goes on for AGES about how he hasn't done his Latin memorisation.

What I want to know is, what kind of school makes you memorise passages of Latin? I mean, I've had to learn vocab and shit like that, but never actually a whole passage... Maybe the mother was wrong. Or I misheard, IDK. It was still funny sitting next to them and watching the perfect manner in which he blanked her. It was kind of enlightening.

Once the rain and hail had finaaaally stopped, we carried on:


Around 7.30pm we headed towards the buses and got to Kings Cross just in time for dinner (er, at Pizza Express, again) with Matthew and Lise. A great time was had by all, and it was very sad when we had to go the train station, grab our bags and get on the train (~£100 for the 3 of us). We waved at them all, until Kings Cross was left behind us. Aaron had stayed back with Lise and Matthew as he was getting a bus up.

The train ride itself was fine - Halting State kept me occupied until about Gateshead, and getting a taxi from the train station to the hospice (where Mum had left the car) was easy enough.

On getting home, I had to grab the z-bed from the shed and put the mattress on the floor of the living room, as my room is currently uninhabitable.

And then the dog came in and was very affectionate (tweet!), and I guess that was the end of my Eastercon.

So that's that, basically, I'm home and I've had a great time!

Next up - the actual con report :D
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September 2014

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