It was h2g2's eighth birthday last Saturday and some brave people went to London to celebrate. Although attendance in total was surprisingly small, the number of Researchers coming from abroad was quite high. There was our hootoo president Hypatia, who had come all the way from the USA. Hati had come from Estonia, Titania and Dragon Queen from Sweden, Hapi from the Netherlands and myself from Germany, as always.
Friday 27 April, 2007
For me, the meet started on Friday after my plane had landed. Icy North met me at the airport and took me to the British Library, which was conveniently directly opposite the youth hostel1 where I stayed, so I checked in first and got rid of the luggage. It was the first day of the library's summer exhibition: Sacred: discover what we share, presenting religious texts from all over the world. Icy had printed me lists of the exhibits, so I could look through them on our way to the library and tick the 'must see' things.
The exhibition was absolutely fantastic, as was the company throughout the weekend. If you get a chance, you really should go and see the exhibition. Admittedly, the light was poor in order to protect the scriptures, but we managed to decipher a word or two. We started with the permanent exhibition, then had a cup of tea/coffee in the patio, enjoying the sunshine, then went to see the summer exhibition, which Icy had booked tickets for.
Time passed very quickly, so at about 5.00pm we headed for the Anchor in Southwark, where we were meant to meet a few other Researchers for a meal and a pint or two at about 6.00pm. On our way there, we got off the Tube a station early, intending to have a stroll along the Thames on the Thames Link Path. Well, we did find the path, but the Thames was nowhere to be seen once we had descended from the bridge.
Our group consisted of lil and husband, Virtuouschuffed and husband, Liquid Warrior, MazinMadFiddler, Alex 'Tufty' Ashman, Icy North and me — with Phil arriving later in the evening. The pub was crowded and very noisy, which made it really difficult for me to follow a conversation. Queuing for a pint took up to 40 minutes, so it was only clever to order more than one pint in one go if you were thirsty. I managed to shock Alex by grabbing for my biro before he could pass it on (those things have a tendency to vanish if you don't pay attention, and as this was my husband's biro, I just had to bring it back). Later on, we had a good laugh at Alex, who managed to mix up lil's husband and Icy, who had already left.
We all had a great time and many silly photos were taken. I tried to get some footage for the h2g2 AViators, but messed it all up by switching my camera off before the recordings were saved, hence there's no Oddcast and no photos from me. We left late, but managed to fetch the last Underground train. Mr Ashman had to change trains, so we parted at King's Cross and he dashed to reach his last train home.
Saturday 28 April, 2007
I got up early on Saturday morning and left the YHA after a very good breakfast. I had planned to meet Cunningly disguised as an adult, but had been unable to get hold of her phone number to make final arrangements. I decided to go to Liverpool Street station, look for possible trains and hope for the best.
Do you think London is huge? Well, I did, until I went into King's Cross station and literally bumped into Dragon Queen, who was just on her way to her hotel with her partner. The look on his face when DQ and I started the hugging and smooching was priceless!
Well, what a coincidence, you may think. Believe me, it was nothing. It got 'curiouser and curiouser', as Alice would have said. When I arrived at Liverpool Street station, I ran straight into Venus, who was on her way to Kew Gardens. I'm sure I'd have difficulties believing this if anybody told me, but it's true, as DQ and Venus can confirm.
Now, I was still without a number to contact and it was getting late, so I decided to join Venus and go to Kew Gardens after all. The message I had waited for only reached me when we were in Hammersmith, which is at the opposite end from where I had initially planned to go. Sorry CD, I really meant to visit you. Hope we'll meet next time2.
We arrived at Kew Gardens in time, so we sat on a bench and waited for the others. By and by they all arrived, so we were a considerable group. As always, MMF had planned and arranged everything perfectly, even the weather. We had glorious sunshine and a good 25°C if not more. After a lot of walking, interrupted by the frequent 'ohs' and 'ahs', as well as photo shootings of plants, bipeds and everything, we eventually gathered for a cuppa. The group had grown by a few latecomers, all well coordinated by MMF with the help of his mobile phone.
Kew Attendees (in alphabetical order)
- Bald Bloke
- Dragon Queen (DQ) & Scott
- Galaxy Babe (GB)
- MazinMadFiddler (MMF)
- Trillian's Child (TC)
- Wilma Neanderthal
- Yet another er
After the coffee/tea break, we split into several groups and headed into different directions. The meeting point was at the same gate we had arrived at, at 5.00pm. Sadly, Wilma had to go home at this point, but the rest of us took the bus into Richmond, where MMF had booked us a table in a pizzeria. We had a nice dinner there and a brief break for our legs and feet.
London, Shakespeare's Head
As TC was staying at the same youth hostel as me and wanted to check in and get rid of her luggage before going to the pub, we left the group earlier and headed for London. When we eventually arrived at the pub, it was so late that some Researchers had already left. I do hope somebody will be able to fill us in on those I missed (preferably in a conversation attached to this report). A small group of Researchers was sat at table no 42. I asked where the others were, as I had expected a much larger number of non-Kew-goers to be there, only to be told that the others hadn't arrived from Kew Gardens yet. So, 2/3 of the meet attendees had spent most of the day together. Well done MMF for organising such an attractive daytime activity!
It didn't take too long until the Kew crowd arrived, and then the hugging and smooching started again. As it was so late, nobody really missed the quiz (thank goodness), although a few people asked for it. MMF had donated a prize for the badge contest and had asked Hypatia to determine the winner. The choice fell on coelacanth, but I'm sorry to say that I don't know what the prize was. Hypatia had brought a birthday cake for hootoo, so she lit the candles and DQ, who shares her birthday with h2g2, was allowed to blow the candles out. Then we all sang Happy Birthday for DQ and she got a lovely card which MMF had made for her and which we all had signed. We toasted to absent friends — lil had brought Ivan the plastic kangaroo in lieu of Ivan from Australia, and GB flashed her boobs in lieu of Serephina who was not there to do it this time. By and by more people left in order to fetch trains home, and TC and I left just in time to reach the very last underground to King's Cross.
Attendees at the Pub
- Alex 'Tufty' Ashman
- Bald Bloke
- Dragon Queen & Scott
- Galaxy Babe
- Increase Mathhrubers (IMSoP)
- lil & husband
- MazinMadFiddler (MMF)
- Trillian's Child
- Virtuouschuffed & husband
- Yet another er
Sunday, 29 April, 2007
I woke after only a few hours of sleep with a raging headache. Although my stomach was fine, my bowels weren't. I can't quite believe that just two pints of beer should cause such havoc, but there you go. I had intended to have breakfast with TC, but had forgotten to activate my alarm clock, so she rang me to tell me that she'd come in a minute to say goodbye before she left.
I started my day on chamomile tea, tried to eat some Weetabix but failed and so nibbled on a fresh apple instead. MMF sent me a text message to let me know he was up, so after having packed my few things, I headed for Brentford. Arrived there all right and was very grateful for the coffee MMF had made for me. He helped me to check in online and print my boarding pass, as well as topping up my Oystercard which he had so generously paid for and sent to my home before I came. After the second cup of coffee I felt much better, so we had a nice stroll along the Thames, chatting about the meet and how sad it was that it was over again.
At about 1.00pm we left for Heathrow, as I prefer to be at the airport a good hour before the plane is due to leave. All went very well, except for the first security check, where they insisted on one piece of hand luggage only — which meant I had to leave the bag with the wine glasses lil had given me with MMF, as there was no way I could have fitted them into my suitcase without breaking them.
A last goodbye to MMF, and then I went through security. The rest of the day was eventless and I arrived at home, tired but happy. A big 'Thank you' to all my friends who made this meet very special once again.