An audience with the Nerd God and sandwiches on the TARDIS

It’s not all panels and queueing here at Gallifrey One. It’s often just wandering around, meeting interesting people and talking Who. But on this final day, we were determined to maximise our opportunities.

Here are Sunday’s highlights:

1. Mark Sheppard – the Nerd God, he of every TV series of recent times. Battlestar Galactica, Supernatural, Chuck, Medium and, of course, Doctor Who. He’s also a genuine fanboy himself. No need for an interviewer, he just came on stage with a mic and talked to an audience of at least a thousand for an hour. Everyone says he’s a thoroughly entertaining chap and we weren’t disappointed. Chloe even had to break her ‘don’t bother with autographs’ rule to meet him. Gorgeous. Allan had his Jackie Tyler moment last year, I got my Mark Sheppard moment this year.

2. Obscure episodes – so remember The Snowmen 2012 Christmas episode? The Doctor has met the Great Intelligence before, in two Patrick Troughton stories – the Abominable Snowmen and the Web of Fear. Only one episode of each survives and Chloe watched them in a chilly, dark room full of Who fans. Jamie was all ‘what’s a train?’, Victoria was all ‘aaah, cobwebs!’, the Doctor was all ‘it’ll be fine…probably’. Good times.

3. Meet Martha – Freema Agyeman, who played Martha, was funny and willing to share her personal observations. She offered a fresh perspective on a character who Chloe always felt was written a little lazily. Seems that she too questioned the decision to have Martha fall in love with the Doctor rather than strike out as her own person (though she finally remedied that) and was also a bit bemused how she ended up married to Mickey (love him and that, but can’t quite see it). It was pretty moving to hear tributes from fans who had waited a long time for a black woman to be cast in a leading role. Think we might revisit the Martha years…

4. Director’s Commentary – one of the things we both enjoy at Gally are the live Director’s Commentaries. Today was ‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship’, which Allan claims never to have seen (and it’s hard to imagine how he could forget it). Details are pointed out that you’d probably otherwise miss. The Mitchell and Webb robots? Great handwork by the operators. Dying Triceratops? Great eye-work by Matt Smith. Where did Rory’s Dad get the packed lunch he ate whilst staring down at the Earth? After much discussion by the production team it was decided that the Doctor did, indeed, have sandwiches in the TARDIS (a fact, incidentally, established as canon in the Web of Fear episode above).

5. Playing monsters – how do the people playing aliens and such manage to act under all of that latex, metal and paint? Dan Starkey (Strax the Sontaran) said that modern make up is surprisingly responsive, but that it took him a while to work out that it didn’t really allow smiling. OK for the role, not OK for being friendly on set after he realised he’d been treating people to rather alarming leers.

6. Amazing costumes – Americans do cosplay far more than their UK counterparts. Some of the outfits we’ve seen have taken months, even years, of work to perfect. Favourites from today were: cat nuns (who doesn’t love a cat-nun?); giant Adipose; and kissogram Amy and centurion Rory.

7. Celebrity Dalek – the surprise celebrity of Gally was a Dalek who sat out on a balcony for the duration and became a Twitter sensation (if only in and around the Marriot). We met it as it was leaving with its bodyguards after a hard weekend of sitting still and threatening to kill us all.

8. The Big Quiz Face Off – in the showdown between the Doctor Who Podcast and the Oodcast, the Oods carried the day. As if a few final puffs of the 2012 Olympic spirit had made it over the Atlantic to garner one final Team GB gold. Chloe managed to get the time wrong and missed the whole thing (probably still a little dizzy from meeting Mark Sheppard).

And thus ends another Gallifrey One. It’s been a blast. Roll on 2014…

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The greatest show in the galaxy

Still struggling with jet lag, so any awake time has been spent at Gallifrey One, but here’s the highlights. Things we know about Gallifrey One:

  • Sylvester McCoy knows how to work a room – a room of a thousand at least – instead of the sofa interview format, he got out and about in the crowd with his roving mike for the full hour. He’s mildly bonkers but was really willing to play, taking the worshipping, surreal and mundane in his stride. He was particularly sweet with some of the young kids who asked questions, painting little sketches of his own childhood climbing trees, eating porridge and drinking whisky in the freezing wilds of Scotland (there may have been a touch of artistic licence)

 

  • New costumes every year: this time a handful of Oswins, the forehead Dalek-stalk lady, Rory in his pants
  • An hour of geek stand up was brought to us by Charlie Ross, a Scottish comedian, who celebrated the joys of being a sci fi fan and debuted a great version of  ‘Oh What a Night’ with alternative lyrics (‘…late November back in ’63’)
  • Lots of very friendly people milling about all over the place – we’ve met a couple from Calgary, a short film producer, Doctor Who feminists, Jane Espenson (producer of Buffy and Husbands), the techno brigade from Seattle and more!

That’s all there’s time for this morning – we’re off to see Freema Agyeman (Martha). Here are some photos.

 

 

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From muscle men to ice kings

Been a bit slack on the posts lately, so here’s some of our news from Friday. It was pre-Dr. Who convention on Friday morning so hardcow decided to go to Venice Beach after Chloe booked in for a posh facial near the beach. Venice Beach seems like a mix of really good, ok and unbelievably tacky. The really good included a beach that went on for miles and miles plus the canal system just behind the beach that could have been from the Italian city of the same name, the ok included some decent live music and people watching and the unbelievably tacky, well, just think of the tackiest parts of Carnaby Street and multiply by 10 – full of rubbish clothes shops, pizza by the slice, very busy and general atmosphere of low level threat. A few CDs were purchased including a guy called Josiah Willows who was doing some fantastic live sampling – let’s see what the CD is like, but sounded very good on the beach.

Onto the evening and whilst Chloe was getting her first Doctor Who fix, Allan went to an Ice Hockey match. After only just remembering not to wear the NY Rangers t-shirt, the journey along the Inter-state freeway on the bus/metro zipped Allan to the Staples Center and the home of the Los Angeles Kings, the champions of last year. Much “Go Kings Go!!” was shouted, a foam hand was purchased to match our NY Rangers one and a low scoring encounter ended up with a very nervous 2-1 win to the Kings against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The locals went home happy and a far longer journey back to the hotel was the order of the day – LA is big, especially on buses that stop every second junction.

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Happy Valentine’s Day

Thanks to jet lag caused by travelling through four time zones in two weeks, Valentine’s Day dawned at 4.30am in LA.

Time-based troubles are appropriate, since the reason we’re here is for Gallifrey One – the oldest and biggest Doctor Who convention on the planet*.

Since smoked salmon and champagne are unavailable in Los Angeles airport, we celebrated with an omelette. Oh, the romance. Though there was bacon, which Allan prefers over caviar any day of the week.

*Disclaimer: Allan would like it known that it is Chloe who needs to be at Gally, he is accompanying her because he is a marvellous and wonderful human being.

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Top of the Tower

We booked dinner at 360 degrees, the revolving restaurant at the top of CN tower in Toronto as a pre-Valentine day treat. This could have been a little bit of an anti-climax after dinner the night before that involved overlooking Niagara Falls all lit up by colourful search-lights eating some quality steak.

For those who don’t know, the CN tower is big. It is the tallest free-standing structure in the western hemisphere and we went to has the highest revolving restaurant in the world and the highest wine cellar at an impressive 351m above the ground.

 

The views were stunning and, as we booked for just before sunset, they went from daytime to lots of blinking lights in the buildings and on the freeways when darkness fell. Just as impressive were the stupid cocktails ordered, the $72 excellent (but massive portions) fixed price 4-course seafood menu topped off with Canadian wine from just down the road in Niagara.

It does make us wonder how we can beat our eating viewing from now onwards.

Niagara Falls again

We got up early and, after a breakfast that combined both pancake day and also the finest Canadian maple syrup & bacon, managed to walk the 1km to the Niagara Parkway road that lines the Canadian side of the Niagara river. The 80km/h gusts of last night had calmed down a lot, but the wind was freezing!  Some truly superb views were seen although the highlight was possibly the noise – a huge rumbling of the water sounding like a constantly taking-off aeroplane.

After being dropped off at the bus station for our bus/train combo to Toronto, we ended up chatting to the very friendly bus driver who proceeded to tell Chloe that his daughter used to live in Ealing (London, UK not Ealing, Barbados) and when he visited her, he loved walking around the park next to Chloe’s Mum and Dad’s house. Small world indeed. The bus passed through some small towns on the way to our bus/train changeover in Burlington with the most original of street names, including; Maple Avenue, Lake Street, Ontario Avenue, Fallsview Road and, wait for it, Casablanca Boulevard.

First quiz question of the day, why a street name of Casablanca Boulevard in an obscure small town near Toronto, Cananda?

Second quiz question is in regard to the local ice hockey team here in Toronto. Why are they called the Toronto Maple Leafs and not the Toronto Maple Leaves?

Third quiz question is whether we can be bothered to do another post on where we just had dinner. Actually the answer is no. That will wait for tomorrow when we go to the USA and not just be less than 200m away as we were at Niagara Falls.

Until that treat, here’s yet more photos of Niagara Falls.

Thanks Barbados and goodnight

8 nights have gone and it is time to say goodbye to the lovely Island of Barbados. We haven’t done a lot, but that was the idea. Barbados for us was exactly what we needed and is very low key with very few hawkers and no hassle. In fact, the biggest hassle Allan got was from a guy down the fish market who offered some weed and when the offer was refused, talked about nothing in particular for the next 15 minutes and ended up with a “hug a Rasta” and best wishes for the rest of the holiday and life. All the people we met, whether locals who just wanted to pass the time of day or ex-hedge fund managers who live 6 months a year here were very friendly. It is re-assuring that, unlike many other countries in the world, little things have been thought about for locals and semi-independent tourists alike with no such things as private beaches and good public transport.

We’re glad we stayed in a real house and not hidden away in some 5* luxury, gated and all-inclusive place and we’re very happy that we choose this, the most easterly island of the Caribbean. It would be lovely to come back, the weather was just about perfect, although Allan went a little red on the last day due to forgetting to put P10 on. Also, next time, we may actually do something apart from laze around and eat loads of shrimp & fish. Or maybe not.

A special mention to Air Canada who made us to stay an extra 4 hours due to late arrival of their plane. It did allow us to hear our last whistling frogs (listen to frogs recorded earlier in the holiday) and see our last sunset of the holiday. If there’s any airport to be delayed in, then I suppose this is the one, with its open air check-in area, Banks bar and 25c heat. The least said about the very bumpy next 6 hours the better.

Next stop, snow and visibility allowing, is the mighty Niagara Falls.

96 hours later in Barbados

It’s been a while since we did a post. You may think that this is because we’ve been dashing around the island with gusto seeing all sorts of exciting sites. Simply not. Allan intended to go to a cricket match, although finding out what time it started was as far as that plan went. We did have a very nice dinner at a local posh eatery, Cafe Lunawhich was both delicious and very low-key service. Another booking was made for Saturday, our last night in Barbados. We also went swimming in the lovely clear sea twice, yes twice, but mostly it has been a fantastic relax with lots of reading and avoiding the heat from midday-3pm. Lovely. And, of course, Allan eating more King Prawns from the fish fry.

We did manage to drag our bodies to Harrison’s Cave. This has been recommended by various people both in the UK and over here and involves a tram-ride down through a set of caves in the middle of Barbados (via Garfield Sobers roundabout of course). Our experience  was a mixture of impatience, scariness and wonder. Arriving just after 10am, we were informed that the next tram was not until 11am although there was a big school party just ahead in the queue. We proceeded to the entrance at just before 10.40am as instructed, kept waiting, then shown a brief video giving the history of the cave, kept waiting for more than half an hour again, then we were off on the tram only to skid on the first bend due to possible dubious breaks on the tram. We therefore had to change trams at the first photo stopping point although officially due to a dodgy guide microphone.

The caves themselves are full of stalagmites, stalactites and underwater streams. The tram followed a concrete pathway down over 150m into the heart of the caves and some of the views were simply stunning. However, the atmosphere was very much spoilt by up to 30 odd people taking flash photography at the same time as well as 2 annoyingly loud American teenagers in the front of the tram. One of the best moments was when all the lights were turned off and we were all asked to turn off all cameras – all that could be heard was running water in the pitch black – very atmospheric. That lasted all of 10 seconds and the tram started moving again.

Coming back to our house just after 1pm it was time for lunch and siesta with very little planned for the rest of the day. That’s more like it!