johncoxon: (Beer Drinking)
[personal profile] johncoxon
So, this blog article is a combination of the Beer Festival (Part 2) and my Zombiecon report. Unfortunately, since Part 2 of the festival report is late, I haven't got any more detailed notes on what the beers were like, so you'll have to make do with the rankings - the explanation of said rankings is in Part 1.

Abbeydale of Sheffield: Last Rites - GA (My half-brother had a pint, and I tried it and hated it.)
Brewdog of Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire: The Physics - SO
Cambridge Moonshine of Cambridge: Crime Watch - BD (This one was their festival special.)
Church End of Nuneaton, Warwickshire: Passport to Peterborough - AN (The festival special.)
Church End of Nuneaton, Warwickshire: Rugby Ale - SO (My Dad had this because he went to school at Rugby.)
Digfield of Barnwell, Northants: I.P.A. - SO/AN (I can't actually read my writing on this one but I think it says SO/AN - definitely says SO...)
Elgood's of Wisbech: Festivale '08 - SO
Exmoor of Wiveliscombe, Somerset: Silver Stallion - SO
Felstar of Felsted, Essex: Dancin' Hen - BD
Grainstore of Oakham: Silly Billy - AN
Grainstore of Oakham: Spank the Monkey - SO/AN (The festival special.)
Iceni of Ickburgh, Norfolk: Festival Special - AN (I can't remember whether this had a 'real' name, but it was a brewery near where I went on holiday with friends last summer, and by golly they do a nice pint!)
Jarrow of Jarrow, S Tyneside: Barrow Bitter - SO (It's described as a 'session bitter' but it fails, because you have to rank 'AN' to be a good session ale!)
Leatherbritches of Ashbourne, Derbyshire: Hairy Helmet - BD (Yes, we did just get it on the name...)
Wylam of Heddon on the Wall, Northumberland: Bohemia Pilsner - SO

So, that's one piece of out-of-date reporting out of the way, and onto the second - Zombiecon! Well, let's just get one thing straight - if you didn't go, you missed a cracker. Firstly, the zombie card game that was played during the con was great. Everyone was either a zombie or a human, and you had cards (zombies having offensive cards and humans having defensive cards) that would let you fight. The winner was the person who'd survived the most fights at the end of the con - or at least, that was the idea, until the game was completely overlooked in the closing ceremony... It was a game that perhaps needed polish, but it was not unlike something I wanted to see happen at Year of the Teledu and I felt that it was definitely a good idea!

Secondly, everyone received a very well constructed programme and Bleed Me in their membership packs, alongside a free book and a free comic (there was trading and giving away of aforementioned books and comics throughout the convention, I seem to have wound up with more than I started with...). The cover of the programme, especially, was very nifty, and this takes me neatly onto the panel items. These were great. The opening ceremony was awesome (and a blood warning was given well before any gore was present, at which [ profile] ang_grrr was able to make her escape) and the Friday also saw the 'Re-Animating the Dead' panel, which was essentially an excuse for [ profile] dougs and Elvis to get their electric things out and use them on willing volunteers. Poor Matt had his bollocks shocked, of which there are numerous photographs floating around the net...

The next day saw several panels that I thought sounded interesting but didn't bother going to because I was too busy talking to people in the bar, but I'm sure that everyone who attended had a great time. The first panel I actually attended on the Saturday was 'Night of the Living Teledu' (in the Bleed Me as 'Teledu of the Dead') which was really good fun. They had zombie-themed musical chairs, they had zombie target practice, zombie obstacle races, zombie dancing and so much more. Hats off to [ profile] darth_tigger and [ profile] tregenza for successfully recreating 98% of the fun of Teledu in a handy panel-sized chunk. Immediately afterwards came [ profile] emmajking talking about time travel in her talk on such things, in which I got to go in a TARDIS and she talked about several bits of very good and interesting physics.

That afternoon, I went swimming with Jane, [ profile] frandowdsofa and [ profile] johannes_d (who has cool Crocs) and we did some swimming and jacuzzi-ing (how the hell d'you spell that?) before we got out. That night saw six of us make our escape from the convention to go to a nice Indian place in Walsall which served the nicest weird red saucy stuff ever (we totally have to go back there) and we came back to find everyone made up and partying in their zombie makeup. It took me thirty seconds to be sure that the skeleton warrior I was talking to was in fact [ profile] hawkida and not just some random stranger I'd started a conversation with (although, given my sobriety, I think I'd have been forgiven). Later that night, I went to the 'Loving the Dead' panel, which was essentially some people talking about necrophilia for about an hour and a half (it devolved into a discussion of random stuff at some point, and James 'n' Stef fell asleep about halfway through, so there are a few photographs of that, too.

The next day, I was on a panel at twelve entitled 'Comics for Kidults', a panel about adult comics and why comics weren't for kids and related stuff, accompanied by Al Davison (a GoH) and Matt Langley. That was really interesting - one of the graphic novels I always mention in that kind of arena is Hellblazer: Haunted by Warren Ellis, purely because of the rather graphic murder/rape scene which is an extremely good way of quickly illustrating the point that comics are not for kids. The other two panellists had a lot more to say on the subject than I did, but it was still good fun.

Other than that, there was just the Closing Ceremony, in which some people bought some stuff and some people won some other stuff and it was good, before the Undead Dog Party, at which I drank rather more beer than I'd intended to and stayed up til 05:30 talking shit at anyone who stayed still long enough. It eventually ended up being [ profile] hawkida, [ profile] lproven, [ profile] tobesv, Elvis and [ profile] lara_collins in a bar with some other chap who goes to Sproutlore events. Max and I went to bed slightly before everyone else but I got the impression that most people went up shortly afterwards anyway.

It was a really, really good con. I got to meet new people, I got to become better friends with people I'd already met, I got my copy of Hunter's Moon signed, I got an awesome tie with skulls on it, I got a hanged Lego figure, I got a Necrocard to tell the doctors to let my body be used by necrophiliacs when I die, and all in all, I had an awesome time.

Also, one last thing - the hotel. I just want to say that this is my first time at the Novacon hotel, and I confess that I don't think the evening meal was optimal (it was edible, and it wasn't nasty, it just wasn't as good as it could have been). However this was the only real problem I had with the venue - otherwise, the room was good, the swimming pool was clean and nice to use (according to Fran, this is an improvement, I think), the breakfast was made of win, and the butties available at around midnight in the bar were absolutely brilliant (probably the best evening food I've encountered at a con). The hotel, on the Sunday night, having not been contracted to do the bacon/sausage/chip/cheese butties for that night, came and asked the Undead Dog Party whether we wanted them to do it later in the night - since only about thirty people were still around and most of us had eaten already, not expecting the butties to be available, the consensus was no, but it's the principle of the thing. The hotel staff were consistently really friendly, quick to respond to your needs and facilitating, which is not always the case. If all else fails and you really do hate the hotel, there is a hotel just the other side of the roundabout, but I felt the hotel was perfectly adequate for the purposes of the con, and the breakfast was absolutely brilliant. The hotel wasn't as nice as Chester, but it's probably the second-nicest con venue I've been to so far, so I'm at a loss to explain all the negativity.

Date: 2008-09-11 02:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
the butties available at around midnight in the bar were absolutely brilliant (probably the best evening food I've encountered at a con)

The midnight snacks were introduced by Novacon about three or four years back, IIRC, and are always very popular, a little pick-me-up to keep members energised into the wee small hours.

it's probably the second-nicest con venue I've been to so far, so I'm at a loss to explain all the negativity

Familiarity breeds contempt, I suspect, and there were definitely a few problems with certain of the rooms before the refurbishment.

Something similar happened with Novacon's previous long-term venue, the Royal Angus. There were always mounting grumbles every time the committee announced the convention was returning, matched only by the complaints when another venue was chosen. At least, unlike the Imperial Centre Hotel (Novacon's first venue), neither the Angus nor the Quality managed to poison half of the membership.

Btw, has Procrastinations been posted out yet?

Date: 2008-09-11 02:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Btw, has Procrastinations been posted out yet?

Shit. Whoops. [goes to the Post Office]

Date: 2008-09-11 02:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Watch out for zombies.

Date: 2008-09-11 02:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That looks like an awesome book! I have How to Survive a Robot Uprising by Daniel H. Wilson, but not that one.

Date: 2008-09-11 03:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I don't have a copy either (it's available here), although I can certainly recommend the short film Guy's Guide to Zombies.

Date: 2008-09-11 03:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It is rather good. Well worth reading in combination with the superlative comic, The Walking Dead.

Date: 2008-09-11 03:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Quite happy with those scores for the Grainstore Beers. Spank the Monkey was a one-off and I've yet to try it - we've got a 4.5 gallon pin waiting for team-tastings so I'll let you know what I thought of it. You really must come over and have a proper look around the Brewery some time. Why not hop off the train next time you're passing through Oakham.

Date: 2008-09-11 03:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I really ought to come along and have that tour, yes, it'd be great to see you! :D

Date: 2008-09-11 04:01 pm (UTC)
cdave: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cdave
I think it's an okay cheap clean hotel. Free parking. Near to transport link. I like it well enough.

But to play devils advocate:
3 people I know of got insect bites.
The "fire exit" sliding doors were locked shut.
There were huge chunks of enamal missing from the bath tub.
If you twist in your sleep and lose the sheet, the blankets are fairly scratchy.
They took my towels (which were hanging up, in the standard "I'll reuse" position) and and didn't replace them.
The sign posts were missing, leaving a large panel frame with "Free WiFi in public areas" at the bottom as the only clue as to the location.

Date: 2008-09-11 04:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ok colour me middle class but INSECT BITES from bedding (I assume?)is just not acceptable in a hotel. And there are stories about it every year. I really did not enjoy my room two years ago (grubby) and three years ago (freezing) and the pool was yucky - good if that's been fixed.
Should I however (as usual) be the untactful person and say that I assume a certain amount of the hostility to the hotel is a tactful way of expressing a feeling that Novacon is just not a very excitinmg convention to prioritise going to these days?

Date: 2008-09-11 04:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You can be untactful, but the people who let their feelings about Novacon not being exciting stop them going to a James 'n' Stef con are weird, weird people.

Date: 2008-09-11 04:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hey , me, I was moving house :-(

Date: 2008-09-11 04:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
No, I meant, there are people who hate the hotel to an extent that they didn't come to Zcon in spite of it, and if you hate the hotel because of Novacon, then why not come to Zcon? I wasn't trying to get at you! :S

Date: 2008-09-11 07:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Good points Dave, will take them back.

who got bitten? I heard fran had a bite, but from before the weekend. Thats not so good.

Did you get your towels?
Really if your bath was not so good, we could easily have gotten you moved.

The 'fire exit' doors are not a requirement. The alt had 2 fire exits directly to outside, and the Main had 3. The make up had 1. The reg area had one past the gents, therefore those double doors, which were used as a wall and loading, were allowed to be locked. We puposely utilised this space.

as for your sensitive girly skin and restless sleeping, I have nothing to say.

would you go again, if we ran a con there again?


WE had 4 fire alarms 3 during the con.

Date: 2008-09-11 10:48 pm (UTC)
cdave: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cdave
Bites. Had one on my arm. Confused it for one of Dougs scars. Noticed it bar and quoth person beside me "I've got one too! Thought it must be from when I left" I think it wasn Kat D. May possibly have been Fran (in which case was only 2 (and if she was outside hotel, 'twas only me))

Towels: Didn't notice 'till 8am, and was too late. I'm sure tehy would have replaced them, but I'm a hoopy frood, and used my own rather than going to reception dirty.

Re: exit. Turn the damn light green sign off then. I saw people pulling on those doors during two fire alarms.

:) beer helps sleep.

I would be back there in a flash for a con. It's got got great space, and is cheap, and did good nosh and ale, and (if I hadn't got lost (twice)) near transport links. As I said. Fine hotel. Just playing devils advocate. I'm hardly going there for the room.
It's not like there's no others nearby if people really don't like it.

Date: 2008-09-12 03:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thats a fair point about the light. Good idea. You should have said it to me.

Also, Free Wifi - we could have put up a poster - we had many - an easy fix?
We'll have it sorted next time, if there is one.

Not sure about bites now, were they even at the hoetl? but as soon as someone tells me my hotel of choice is infested, you are doomed!!!!


Well there is nearly a boycott of the hotel at the moment, for various reasons, mostly 'dirty' 'shithole' 'I hate it' and grubby.

Hard for us as conrunners to counter this feeling. Hence JOhns comments above.

But I welcome the feedback, thanks Dave. (wheres my college list)


Date: 2008-09-11 11:03 pm (UTC)
cdave: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cdave
Also I'm not blaming the bedding? Could have been a con member, or the large amount of standing flood water arond the midlands.

As for bath. 'twas room 214 if you want to poke the hotel. I recognised the missing enamal, as it matches waht I assumed for a while was a hair dye stain in my rented flat.

Date: 2008-09-11 05:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Sounds as though it would have been worth a visit.

Glad much fun was had.

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