Since I am now living on the other side of the world to my family and most of my friends this blog is about things I enjoy, things I notice, people I meet, people I miss, history, planning for the future, love and life in general! I guess it's about whatever pops into my head which I want to share with my friends and family... and who knows? I might make some more friends along the way!

14 October, 2008

The best part about Dragon*Con...

OK, so I have now been to two D*Cs in two years! This would have seemed an impossible dream to me a couple of years ago, but now I am living in the UK and it's a little bit closer and a lot less expensive to get there!
I also have a lot of wonderful friends whom I have met initially online, but have also spent precious time with at Dragon*Con. To me that is worth all the time on a plane, all the money on airfares and hotels and every moment that I lost out on sleep for the manic 4 1/2 days in Atlanta!
It's funny, because in the lead up to Dragon*Con all you seem to hear about is the guest list! First Jewel Stait, then Morena Baccarin then Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk... and is he or isn't he... Adam Baldwin...? (He didn't in case you're wondering...)
Then there's the added bonus of knowing other shows you enjoy and other actors you admire will be there! Meeting Edward James Olmos was a highlight for me, and one of which I have no tangible evidence. I saw him sitting in the 'Walk of Fame', but with autographs costing US$60 each I simply couldn't afford one! I decided to say hello all the same, and I went over and shook his hand, introduced myself and told him that I was a fan who had enjoyed many hours watching him in various roles, and that for me he made Battlestar Galactica the high standard program that it is! He was a lovely, charming and easy-to-converse with gentleman, and I shall treasure that memory for a very long time!
In addition, you actually meet folk for the first time. When wearing your Firefly themed costumes you get a lot of comments from other fans of the best show in the verse, you see the same people over and over at panels and parties and in queues... and then there are the people you know from online but never really 'got to know' until you met them in person... of course they can be the very best - but I might be biased there because last year I had barely exchanged one or two comments with 'Naughtyman' from, but when we met and talked and spent time in person it was a different matter... in case you're wondering he is my Frank, and we are planning to spend Christmas together this year!
I love the time spent absorbing people's accents and the way they animate when they are talking with you! I love to see them in person and bump into them when wandering around the convention! I love the fun and relaxed time, which is both surreal and more real than you could imagine! I love the fun, the random jokes, the imagination, the chemistry and the comraderie that comes from getting together with a few thousand folk, many of whom you know in one capacity or another, and just celebrating the things that brought you together as friends in the first place!
Most of all I love the memories, the photographs and the stories shared for days and weeks afterwards, and the build up and anticipation of next year's convention! I can tell you that at the time of writing this blog there are 323 days to go until I am meeting up with friends from near and far, embracing folk I know in person, from telephone conversations and from online forums, and laughing and anticipating time spent with my browncoat family!
If you ever want an experience like no other, come to Dragon*Con, Atlanta, Georgia for the long weekend which ends on the first Monday in September! If nothing else it will be something you will never forget!

So this blog is dedicated to Jimi-bear & to my Kaylee-clone, Cindy, to Tinker Jenn & to my life-friend Aleta, to my Mei Mei's Rose & Engie, to the two Scotts ( I mean from Scotland) both called Michael! To my li'l sister, Lila & her lovely man, Joe (who met through Firefly as well!), to Katy& her Chad, to Amanda, Bridget, (& the boys who sang to her too!) & Niki & Ken (who not only met at D*C last year but married there this year!) To Shelle Belle (Roxy) to Captain Chris (Steamer) to Rican & Jack & Share, & to Cedric & Hawke (the wonderful Bedlam Bards)... to Mike & his beautiful Erica, to Philippa, to Sara, to Birddog & Bill (Doctor Bill!), to the littlest 76th member, Stevie & her gorgeous Alison, to the delightful Lissa and to the warm and wonderful Melissa, to the dedicated and quietly supportive Mary (Kaele) & her sister, Daisy, & to Kelly... to all the friends who are more like family, those who are a part of the 76th battalion. This blog is dedicated to those I met last year, and those I hope to meet next year. It's for the naughty Renn who had me doing vodka shots before 11am, and to the wonderful (& beautiful) Beth with her tireless efforts for the Austin Browncoats fundraising! For Rican & Carl & Autumn & Audrey! It's for Angela & Erin, for Ilse & Nico, for Marina & Tom, for Lost & Artcat, for all the Captain Mal's, Jayne-hat-wearing browncoats, for the family who dressed as Big Damn Hero's right down to 7 month old Kaylee! For the all-singing, all-dancing and all wonderful fun folk who make D*C worth travelling half way around the world for!

And if you were there - it's for you too!

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05 October, 2008

Being the guest of Lord Sackville, of Knole

I am so privileged to have been the guest of Lord Sackville, of Knole, Sevenoaks, and allowed to wander in his garden for some time this Wednesday, last.

OK, that sounds good, but in fact I was not the only one, and all I had to do was produce my National Trust membership! (Thank you once again, Mum!) On each Wednesday of the ‘open house season’ Lord Sackville very kindly allows the National Trust to open up his private gardens, and I was thrilled to visit on a day that was not only sunny (in patches) but had brooding, black clouds hovering the whole time! This is the beautiful kind of weather, typical of spring and autumn, which I love to take photographs in, and so I did!
I had such a lovely time wandering through the garden via the many paths that criss-cross and wind their way from formal and open areas, to herbaceous borders to the wilderness section of the garden with its many different varieties of oaks… there was even a eucalypt! The wilderness section was possibly the first of it’s kind in England, and was started in Tudor times by a previous Lord Sackville, and is mentioned in the diaries of Lady Anne Clifford, who was one time Lady Sackville, and was also the heir to Skipton Castle in Yorkshire. I actually read her diaries many years ago, never dreaming that I would, one day, wander in her wilderness for myself! One of the things that makes this place so magical to me, is that whilst being a remarkable grand house, really on the scale of a palace, it is also a family home. There was evidence in the vast gardens with the tennis courts, swimming pool (covered for the cooler season, and probably for the safety of small children) and the small see-saw just outside one of the doors, near a vast area of lawn! It was almost exactly like one which the children I nannied for 7 years had in their play room, and I thought how similar children’s taste in play things is the world over!
I kept coming across the house from different angles, all of which were impossible to view from without the Medieval garden walls. The sun kept peeping through the dark, clouds and the sky was stunning! I was thinking “this is a jigsaw puzzle photograph!” Just inside the gate, where visitors enter and exit and private gardens, is the herb garden. I loved the way it was laid out, in a wheel-like formation, with a cherub statue in the centre, and different species of herbs of many varieties both within the the ‘wheel’ and around the edges of the garden, which is enclosed by a hedge. It was fragrant and pretty!
Knole seems to have some kind of magic to it… I am drawn to this place, again and again! When I first saw photographs of it I thought it looked grey and dull, and nothing near as exciting as nearby Ightam Mote, but each time I visit I am amazed to discover something new about the house, the park, the history and the magic of the place! The surrounding park, in case I failed to mention, is the oldest existing deer park in England! The deer are so beautiful too, and although still officially wild, some of them will let you get quite close.
I suspect I shall keep returning to this ancient seat of the Sackville family many more times whilst living in Kent. I also suspect this shalln't be the last blog I write on the subject! It’s a topic that is already very dear to my heart!

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