First overseas trip ever and it was for a convention to see Amanda Tapping at AT6. The event was run by GABIT, at the Renaissance Hotel in Heathrow, London, United Kingdom. This was such an exciting event to be attending. I was going to be meeting many online friends for the very first time. A lot of people I had met through the Amanda fandom and amazing community.
Special thanks to my mate Jen who was my travel buddy for this trip what an amazing adventure. Arriving in the UK we messaged friends saying we were on our way to the hotel. When we arrived there was a whole posse of people waiting in the lobby for us and it was incredible.
UK Day One
First full day in the country and we spent pretty much the whole day just hanging around the hotel. Meeting and chatting with fellow AT6 attendees as they arrived, it was a nice relaxing and fun day. There were around 20 Australians there for the event, some who we knew from other events. Some we had never met before, but it was great to just mingle and get to know everyone.
In the afternoon there was a quick GABIT introduction session for new attendees. Most of the Aussies were there and a staff member commented that they were warned the Aussies would be loud. Afterwards, it was great to spend time with people I had only ever communicated with online. Just being able to spend time together for real. When we were all sitting around Dennys and Ken showed up and everyone started cheering. We went over to say hi and some nice big welcoming hugs from them both.
There was a Friday night AT6 cocktail party and those invited heading off to that. The rest of us were just hanging out in the hotel bar or lobby. There were drinks going around, including shots and according to everyone I’m a cheap drunk. Den and Ken came out of the cocktail party and Den was complaining about having no internet access. Since Jen and I had picked up sims with unlimited internet access, we allowed them to use our hotspots.
There was a funny moment when the bar was filled with a heap of men and Cindy walks into the bar. All of the men suddenly disappear, leaving Cindy standing alone at the bar. We had a bit of fun watching all the fangirling that was going on. Those that were coming down to catch sight of Amanda both as she arrived and as she left. She was as amazing as ever and saying hello to everyone.
AT6 Event Review
The event itself consisted of a lot of panels and it’s not often that I sit through panels so I struggled. Amanda did at least two panels each day, which felt like quite a lot. Although Amanda is always amazing and entertaining, shares good stories. Personally, I felt like the event could have had a little more time for Photos and Autographs instead. I’m also not very great at remember what goes on during panels, only the moments that stood out the most.
I remember putting my hand up to ask a question during the first panel, Amanda saw me and yelled out “Smiley!!” My question was “Has Robin Dunne brought you any more pairs of shoes lately?” to which Amanda responded “No”. She then told the story of Robin buying her the shoes she wore to the Armageddon cocktail party the previous year. Amanda at Armageddon
During the photo session Jen and I were discussing what we should do in our photos. We’ve both had photos with Amanda before and wanted to do something different this time. I decided that I wanted to have Dennys is my photo with Amanda. I asked him if that was okay and he was all up for it, even went and checked with Amanda too. Den was such a gent, he even lined up in the photo queue with me. Which was funny because a lot of people were coming up and asking for his autograph as well. Jen had her photo first and it was amazing. Then I went in for mine and Amanda gave me a hug and then Den joined us. The photo was taken and I’m so happy with my Amanda and Den sandwich photo.
The first day of AT6 ended with a Sanctuary 4 Kids auction, where Amanda auctioned off the items. She was amazing and such a goof as she strutted her stuff with the different items. I didn’t have any money to spend so just enjoyed watching her being entertaining. We’d often get her to bring the items over to show us. I remember she brought a blanket over to us and Amanda was being cheeky when I reached out to touch it. There were some amazing items and a heck of a lot of money had been raised for the charity.
The Saturday night involved the AT6 Abnormal Ball. of the event. it was an absolute riot and it was the highlight of the weekend. it was amazing to just dress up, chill out and have fun with all friends new and old. Jen was dressed up as Where’s Wenda and I was dressed up as what was basically a bogan. Had an Aussie t-shirt with the sleeves rolled up, jacket tied around my waste, pair of sunnies on the back of my neck, cap on sideways. Even ended up with Vegemite smeared on my cheeks, which several people licked off as a taste test.
There was some really amazing costumes that night, they put my lazy one to shame. However, I could play the character of a bogan so very well. Especially when it came to the dance floor because their was a lot of bogan dancing. Pretty much all the Aussies and more joined in, showing off our bogan dance moves. We had the sprinkler, shopping trolley, lawnmower, whipper snipper, chain saw and any other. No-one believed that I was 100% sober, even though I’d only had a glass of cola. I did end up washing the Vegemite off after a while.
The Sunday was much the same, involved mostly panels with Amanda, don’t really recall a lot from the panels other than when a young girl got on stage with Amanda and they did a Gangnam style dance. The last question of the first panel was the best of the weekend at least for my friends and I as we were in absolute hysterics. Jen was told to ask a question and no one thought she would (except for me) but she did. There was so much laughter as she asked Amanda “Can cows be lactose intolerant?”. Surprisingly, Amanda was actually rather stumped by the question and had to think about it for a moment.
Photographs were available for collection after the first panel of the day. Then attendees were able to get their autographs from Amanda. At one stage I was walking through the lobby when Amanda was, I looked across and she was like “I see you”. To which I responded “I see you too”. But I wasn’t watching where I was going and walked straight into the Reception desk. Very good at making a fool of myself in front of Amanda.
Waiting for autographs Den was off to the side signing autographs himself. He made a comment that Amanda signed too big, so Jen and I went and got him to sign our Amanda pictures first. Which he basically signed right across Amanda’s face, then Ken signed them too. This left very little space for Amanda, but that was the whole point of it and it was funny. As we were waiting in line for the autographs Jen and I were mucking around and having a laugh. A lady in front of us Steph, had been feeling very nervous. She thanked us for making her laugh so much, it eased her nervousness, Jen and I were happy to help. When we got our autographs, Amanda had a good laugh at our Den and Ken autos calling them losers.
During the day there was also a silent auction going, raising money for Sanctuary 4 Kids. I put a bid on an item which was actually the Armageddon poster from the previous year in Australia. It was signed by Amanda, Robin and Agam. I actually won the item and laughed at the irony as it was me who originally put the poster up on display at Armageddon.
As the weekend came to an end we had these memory books, they were to get our friends to sign as a memento. I had a lot of fun wandering around the event and asking people “Do you like challenges?” – “Would you like the challenge of writing something nice about me in my memory book?” Keeping the weekend catchphrase of “Do you like challenges?” going.
Making a fool of myself in front of Amanda again, she walked past as I was laying on the floor playing with the dogs. There was a closing ceremony to finish of the weekend. This is where we were advised of how much money had been raised for charity. The total was £39,999.99, I may not have given much myself but it’s still great to be a part of.
I’m pretty sure I managed to ask the last question of the day, or at least I tried. I asked “Do you like challenges” but my voice disappeared mid way so Jen had to ask it on my behalf. Amanda was hesitant than replied “Yes, what do you have for me” to which I responded “Nothing, just wanted to know if you liked them!”.
There was another embarrass myself moment in which I almost took Amanda out with my poster tube. My “Shit, I’m sorry” and Amanda ‘you just swore’ look had Michelle (SanctuaryAngel) in hysterics. Then decided I should take my weapon aka tube up to the room so I don’t hit anyone. Getting into the lift I look across to the lift adjacent and Amanda just started waving at me like a loon. From behind Den and Ken, so I waved like a loon back.
After the event a bunch of us went for dinner at the pub down the road ‘The Three Magpies’. We had a great night to finish off such an amazing event and weekend. There was so much laughter and fun. We even made friends with one of the staff. We were picking on her colleagues who were giving her a hard time. Then there was the great mayonnaise incident with Ashley (Monkeybum). She squirted it all over my arm and turned into a deeply inuendo conversation.
The event may have been over but there was still many more memories to be made with friends old and new. A large group of us started with having breakfast together which included a sugar packet throwing contest. Michelle and I were throwing packets at each other trying to land them in each other’s cleavages. From opposite ends of the table.
Afterwards, there were a lot of goodbyes as people started to head their separate ways. There were hugs and tears and lots of exchanging of details. After the many goodbyes a large group of us then decided to head into London. We went on the London Eye together and we had an absolutely amazing day enjoying being touristy in London. As well as each other’s company, it was a fantastic day and a great way to end our time together. This was such an amazing way to start my first ever overseas trip and I am so happy to have had the experience.
*Note: Most of these photographs were taken by others as my own camera charger broke, so I could only take photos on my phone.