Recapping where we started from, I headed down to Union Station to pick up Erica, the fifth member of the 2t0nic committee who was joining me on the trip, while Gretchen and Katie stayed home this year. (We weren't nearly ready to wrangle Katie on a transatlantic flight.) The train was about three hours late getting in due to an extreme cold snap, so by the time it arrived Erica was ready to eat anything that was moving slowly. We headed to Steak and Shake, grabbed some dinner, went home, and got to sleep.
I had to get up the next morning and go to work. Eventually I left for a very late lunch as my last work-related act of the day, picking up Gretchen, Katie, and Erica who had also not yet eaten, a bit to my surprise. Then it was back home to finish packing, accumulate my passport, print out bunches of stuff, and head to the airport. I kissed Gretchen and Katie good bye as they dropped us off and away we went.
Erica had the fine idea of seeing if we could get the center five seats of a row to ourselves, as the flight was pretty empty. The agent at the counter was happy to oblige, we checked our bags (including my guitar), passed through security without incident, save that the TSA apparently now wants you to remove your CPAP from the bag, the same way that you have to with a laptop. Had they posted that, I would have done so. They didn't, I didn't.
But we were there in plenty of time, so no problem. We got to the gate, settled in, grabbed something to drink, and started chatting. About nine hours later, our flight landed at Heathrow, so we stopped chatting, cleared passport control, collected our luggage, and met Janet, another of the 2t0nic committee members, who drove us back to her and Robert's new house where we said hi to Robert (also on the committee) and not too much later, collapsed into bed for a four or so hour nap as we tried to get our circadians adjusted.
We ordered in Indian food for dinner, England apparently being a good place to find it for some interesting historical reason. :) I had a moderately spicy sweet and sour lamb curry that I think I'd had three years ago on an earlier visit.
Later, Erica and I went over the song list for my concert set and figured out which songs she'd be singing backing vocals on. Since I was doing all material that I'd written in the last two years, this made things a bit more difficult for her, as the only song that she'd worked on was Wings and there was one song that she hadn't heard before that night. Fortunately, she's good at it. And after that, it was time to crawl back into bed.
The next morning, the four of us piled into a car with our assorted luggage and headed north to Grantham. Traffic didn't seem too bad, despite a bit of weather that included a brief snow shower, but we were a bit later than we'd intended to arrive at the hotel. The committee folks went to work making badges and getting registration set up; I wisely got out of the way, as there were enough hands working on the problem. And there were plenty of friends arriving to say hi to.
Opening Ceremonies went off without a hitch and ended a bit early, so I set out into my concert set. This included:
Genie In a Bottle
Buttercups and Roses
Into the Day
Erica sang on the last five songs of the set and as nearly as I can tell, things sounded pretty good, although I could also tell that my voice was starting to get just a touch rough by the last song. This means that it was probably good that I finished just a hair early.
Nemesis and Anke were up next and I would have stayed to listen to them, but Erica and I really needed to get some dinner, so we grabbed some food in the hotel bar, then headed back for the last of the concerts -- which as I recall included Andy and GK (the last two members of the concom) singing I Want a Baby With a Snooze Button, a sentiment that I'm starting to understand -- and the open filk. We accumulated enough folks that the circle had to be expanded, and we had a fine time singing with the Bohnhoffs, Mich, Marilisa, Chris M., and others. It being Friday night, everyone folded up before 2 AM.
British hotels include a lot of breakfast and we had to be up early to get it, as I was running the improv workshop at 10 AM. I'd asked Erica if she'd be willing to assist and she'd happily agreed. We had somewhere between 16 and 18 people there and a fine -- and funny! -- time was had by all.
After some more concerts, Erica and I thought we might look for lunch somewhere other than the hotel. I studied the map in the program book and concluded that we should be able to find the Farrier, a nearby pub. We headed off in that direction, concluded we were going the wrong way, and decided to look in the opposite direction.
Eventually, we arrived at the Isaac Newton, another pub listed in the program book, with the notation that it was under new management and they hadn't had the chance to check it out. Ok, any old pub in a storm.
Except they weren't serving food yet. That would start next month. When we asked for a suggestion of where we could get something to eat, they recommended the Farrier. It turned out if we'd walked another fifty feet or so from the point where we'd turned around the first time, we would have seen it.
So we walked the mile or so back, found the Farrier, and had a quite acceptable lunch before heading back to the con so Erica could prepare for her concert. I thought it went really well. I sang backing vocals on Ruins which I'd also done on her new album and I think they came out ok, although it was hard to tell on stage.
We decided to grab dinner at the hotel buffet with Ju and were later joined by Alexa. The conversation was good; the roast beef a bit underdone. Not that it stopped me from eating it, but I tend to prefer that my cow have spent a bit more time studying the flame. :)
After that, it was off to the evening concerts where Rika and the Backup Band of Doom kicked butt and took names, as did the Bohnhoffs, and Christo did an admirable job of following them both. (Fish!)
Unfortunately, I concluded that I no longer had enough voice to sing in the open circle. Neither did Erica, so we wound up camped out in the bar in a variety of conversations. Katy was good enough to ask for the chords for Crystal Dance which I'll be sending along shortly. I spent a large chunk of the time noodling on the guitar. And then there was the post-midnight chocolate run, which was simply odd, but allowed Chris and Smac to return with bunches o'chocolate.
The next morning was another early breakfast, as Erica had been recruited to run the juried one-shots and had recruited me as the primary tech commentor, while Erica dealt with vocal issues, and Mich with everything else. The participants were (in order) Smac, Dave Weingart, Mike Richards, and Kathy Songbird, which gave us a number of different styles to look over. Everyone did well overall, although I admit to having been a bit strident about Dave's mic technique. There were a lot of good comments from the audience, especially from Mike Whitaker, a man who also has a pretty fair idea of where to place a microphone. :)
I was still full of breakfast and was feeling a bit out of it, so I eventually grabbed my guitar and spent a bit of time noodling on it in the extra function room which was unscheduled at the time. This was nearly as good as a nap. :) Then I caught the nMC concert where they surprised (I think) Sutton with their cover of Midnight at the Well, followed by Rika's second set -- with just a little bit of backup from additional vocalists and still just as much fun. Then came the last of the Main Concert, the Sams, the Sams concert, and Closing Ceremonies.
Franklin had been good enough to invite me to join his group on a quest for Indian food. I ended up in a delightful conversation with him, Ju, and Anke which ranged over a wide variety of topics, from "The Sound of Music" to Mel Brooks.
By the time we got back, the Dead Dog filk was in full swing. I found a chair and sang one song (Spin the Planet), but realized that I didn't really have enough voice to carry well in a large, crowded room. However, Erica and Ju had made plans to head to a small space and sing depressing songs, which I thought would be a fine idea, so I joined them. We were later joined by Mikes Richards and Stein and sang a lot of songs that you don't necessarily hear a lot.
After we finished up, I wandered back to the Dead Dog and sat down to listen for a bit. Things were getting pretty thin when I asked to borrow Marilisa's guitar and I sang Promises which went fairly well, other than my attempt to break down in the last verse. Emotional loading will get you every time, especially when you're busily reversing the gender of the child in the song for the first time.
The next morning, it was one more hotel breakfast, packing up, getting hotel bills adjusted, saying good byes, and heading back south with Robert and Janet. We had a good time chatting and later listening to the rough mixes of Smac's new album before collapsing into bed.
Tuesday morning, we packed up for the last time. Robert dropped us at Heathrow in plenty of time. We grabbed lunch, wandered around the mall looking for presents (Gretchen got a Beefeater bear; Katie got a Paddington Bear), and eventually boarded a flight back to the U.S. where we once again had a center section to ourselves.
The weather in Chicago was iffy, so we ended up looping around for an extra hour, but the conversation was good. Clearing back into the U.S. was easy, save for the fact that I got sent to the line behind the problem child who had to be led away to a little room. But that simply meant that Erica had retrieved all the bags by the time I caught up with her.
Gretchen and Katie picked us up, we headed off for dinner at Spaghetti Warehouse, then home where we continued to recap the con before finally getting some sleep.
And the next day, I dropped Erica back at the train station and the con was officially over.
Looking back, I see that I've omitted little bits and pieces of things:
And the con ran well, with no uncorrectable glitches. Compliments to the concom!
We must do this again some time.