First overseas trip ever and it was for a convention to see Amanda Tapping again, which was perfectly fitting, the event run by GABIT was at the Renaissance Hotel in Heathrow, London, United Kingdom. I am very excited for this event; I was going to be meeting a lot of online friends for the first time and it was amazing I adore the Amanda community and fandom. 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 and when we arrived there was a whole posse of people waiting in the lobby for us and it was amazing.
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 Australian events and others we hadn’t 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 did comment that they were warned the Aussies would be the loudest. Afterwards there was more just hanging out and it was amazing, spending time with people who I had only ever communicated with online and just being able to spend time together for real. As we were all sitting around Dennys and Ken showed up and everyone started cheering, went over to say hi and got some nice big welcoming hugs from them both.
There was a Friday night cocktail party and those invited heading off to that whilst I lot of the rest of us were hanging out in the bar or on the seats outside, whilst we were hanging out there was alcohol and shots and according to pretty much everyone I am a cheap drunk, this is because I don’t really drink often. 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 so we allowed them to use our hotspots. A great memory of this night was the moment the bar was filled with a heap of men and Cindy walks in to go to the bar and they all suddenly disappear, leaving Cindy standing alone. 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’s amazing and says hello everyone.
The event itself consisted of a lot of panels and it’s not often that I sit through panels so I did struggle with this a little bit, Amanda did at least two panels each day as it felt like quite a lot especially for me who always struggles to sit still for long periods. Although Amanda is always amazing and entertaining and the panels are good I felt like the event could have had a little more time for Photos and Autographs because they felt incredibly rushed. I’m also not very great at remember what goes on during panels, I remember the things that stand out to me which is what is important. I do remember asking her a question during the first panel and she saw my hand and yelled out “Smiley!!” my question was “Has Robin Dunne brought you any more pairs of shoes lately?” to which Amanda responded no and then proceeded to tell the story of Robin buying her shoes that she wore to the Armageddon cocktail party the previous year.
During the photo session Jen and I were discussing what we should do in our photos, as 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 so I asked him if that was okay and he was all up for it, even went and checked with Amanda to see if it was okay, Den was a gent and 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, and the photo was taken, and I’m so happy with my Amanda and Den sandwich photo.
The first day ended with a Sanctuary4Kids auction, where Amanda auctioned off the items and 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 and we’d often get her to bring item back to show us. I remember she brought a blanket over to us to show 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 that Abnormal Ball of the event and it was an absolute riot and it was the highlight of the weekend as it was amazing to just dress up, chill out and have fun with all friends new and old and we had a ball. Jen was dressed up as Where’s Wenda and I was dressed up as what was originally suppose to be an Aussie Olympian but ended up being a complete Aussie bogan with my green & gold clothing, Aussie t-shirt with the sleeves rolled up, jacket tied around my waste, a pair of Aussie flag sunnies sitting on the back of my neck, cap on sideways and Vegemite smeared on my cheeks, which several people licked off my cheeks as a taste test. There was some really amazing costumes that night that put my lazy one to shame but 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 and pretty much all the Aussies and more joined in, we had moves such as the sprinkler, shopping trolley, lawnmower, whipper snipper, chain saw and any other random moves we could think of, it was brilliantly fun. There was definitely no-one there who believed that I was 100% sober the entire night, even though I’d only had one glass of cola all night. I did end up washing the Vegemite off after a while, and one of the Aussie Michelles had my Aussie flag and my Willy the Koala (Olympic mascot from 1984) who was sitting in the stop of her dress.
The Sunday again involved mostly more 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 and 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 for available for collection after the first panel of the day and then attendees were able to get their autographs from Amanda, at one stage I happened to be walking through the lobby as Amanda did the same, I looked across at Amanda and she was like “I see you” to which I responded “I see you too” and then because I wasn’t concentrating on where I was going I walked straight into the Reception desk because that’s how I roll, make a fool of myself in front of Amanda.
Waiting for autographs Den was off to the side signing autographs himself and he made a comment that Amanda signed too big so Jen and I went and got him to sign our Amanda pictures to which he basically signed right across Amanda’s face, then we got Ken to sign them too which left very little space for Amanda but that we the whole point of it and it was funny. As we waiting in line for the autographs Jen and I were mucking around and having a laugh, a lady in front of us Steph asked us who had been feeling very nervous thanked us for making her laugh so much as it helped to ease for 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 again raising money for Sanctuary4Kids, I put a bid on an item which was actually the Armageddon poster from the previous year in Australia signed by Amanda, Robin and Agam – I actually won the item and laughed at the irony as it was me who originally put the Velcro on it and stuck the poster up on display at Armageddon.
As the weekend came to an end we had these memory books so that we could get our friends from the event to sign them, 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 weekends catchphrase going. Again, making a fool of myself in front of Amanda she walked past me as I was laying on the floor playing with the Hearing Dogs. There was a closing ceremony to finish of the weekend and here is where we were advised on how much money had been raised for charity which totalled £39,999.99, I may not have given much myself but it was still amazing to think that I had been a part of making it to that number, how incredible. I’m pretty sure I managed to ask one last question of the day, or at least I tried… I asked “Do you like challenges” but my voice disappeared on my half 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) who was with me in absolute hysterics. Then decided I should take my weapon aka tube up to the room so I don’t hit anyway, 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 – good memories! After the event a bunch of us went for dinner at the pub down the road ‘The Three Magpies’ where we had an absolute ball of a night to finish off such an amazing event and weekend, so much laughter and fun was had and we even made friends with one of the staff as we picked on her colleagues who were giving her crap. Then there was the great mayonnaise incident with Ashley (Monkeybum) where she squirted all over my arm and turned into a deeply inuendo or not 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 as 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 and go on the London eye 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.
Complete Guest List: AMANDA TAPPING.