As somebody who regularly attends comic conventions and often immerses herself in other worlds, there's really no greater thrill than dressing up and playing 'let's pretend' for a little while. I'm always thrilled to find new ways in which us grown ups (apparently) can let our hair down, dress up in silly clothes, and leave the real world behind far behind. One of my absolute favourite ways to do that is by attending the 'Secret Cinema' event that take place each year in London.
I adore Secret Cinema. I've attended five of their events now - Star Wars (The Empire Strikes Back), Dr. Strangelove, 28 Days Later, Moulin Rogue and now I've just come back from their 2018 offering; Blade Runner.
In short, the whole event was incredible, but I've honestly come to expect nothing less from Secret Cinema. After watching Luke Skywalker land above us in a life-sized X-Wing, after evading zombies while running through the streets of London, and after drinking absinthe in a bohemian cafe on a dark Parisian street, I had faith that this event would be just as immersive and exciting as the others. I'm a sucker for cyberpunk and urban dystopia, and while I wasn't immediately familiar with the movie (we all made a point of watching the film before attending Secret Cinema, as I believe your experience is heightened if you know what's going on and who the key players are), I knew that Blade Runner was the granddaddy of the genre, and I couldn't wait to see what they would do with it.
What they did with it was incredible. If you aren't familiar with Secret Cinema and how it operates, it's pretty much a fully immersive interactive experience that puts you smack bang in the middle of the movie. Prior to the event, you get given a character and role to play that all unfolds on fully themed and completely authentic-looking websites and social media pages. They advise you on costume choices, but generally you can wing it a little so long as you look the part and as long as you wear a few key items that help their actors identify your role. When you actually get to the event, everybody, and I mean everybody is in character, from the security team to the barmen, and sometimes it's even difficult to tell the actors from the more dedicated attendees.
From there, the night is up to you and entirely dependent on how much you want to put into it. You can absolutely go straight to the bar, find some food and sit back to enjoy the atmosphere, but I really would recommend just plain throwing yourself into the moment and having a little fun. At first, you might feel silly talking to actors (who are all incredible and put up with even the most reluctant attendees), but it really doesn't take long to shed your regular self and become your new persona. I put that entirely down to the sheer talent and improv skills of the actors, as well as the detail to every set you'll encounter. And boy, were the sets in their Blade Runner event amazing.
My role was a 'professional friend', a companion or, as Hannibal Chew addressed me, 'sex lady'. My partner, Moose, and my friend Sarah were both Tannhauser Industrialists while my friend Luke was a Tannhauser Technician. In the paperwork we were sent before the event, we were all sent a contact to find (each one a key character in the movie), and items to bring that we might use to interact with them. I won't spoil too much of what we did in the evening, because the event is still running and I really don't want to ruin it for anybody else, but it was all absolutely incredible. We spent most of our time running between the Snake Pit (one of the bars in the film) and Chew's laboratory, tasked with various activities that we got so involved with that we ended up taking a moment out just to plan how best to manipulate it all to suit us and our individual roles best. I ended up with a hilarious interaction with Mr. Lewis (the owner of the 'Snake Pit' bar) that set me off into hysterics (while Mr. Lewis himself was 100% professional, in character and incredible, despite my completely melting down on him in an uncontrollable giggle-fit at my own poor performance.)
I can't speak too highly of the event. The atmosphere inside was thick and loud and neon, just as you would imagine the atmosphere of a futuristic dystopian L.A might be. They advised us to bring umbrellas and raincoats to protect us from the 'acid rain', and boy, did it rain - even though the whole event took place inside (apart from the queuing area, which is the only place you were allowed to take photos as, per every Secret Cinema event, cameras and phones are strictly forbidden and you're forced to seal them away in baggies before you enter).
Secret Cinema is Disney World levels of stage design, actor professionalism and immersion. People wince at the prices (this latest event had three ticket tiers, £48, £60ish and VIP passes at around £100) but when you compare the night to a trip to the theatre, it really isn't that extortionate. For that money, you get an interactive show, a game that lets you completely lose yourself in the moment, and, of course, a movie screening at the end of it all.
I'm not actually a huge fan of Blade Runner - it's 'okay', and I'm grateful for what it did for the cyberpunk/dystopian genre (uh, y'know, by creating it) - but it's not a movie I'd actually plan to ever see in the cinema or make any special arrangements to view again. However, because I love the setting and the world it presents, I loved this Secret Cinema event just as much as the others, even despite not being the biggest fan of the film. That's all down to the sheer level of work and attention to detail that the Secret Cinema company puts into their productions.
Honestly, if the show wasn't entirely sold out, I'd go back. I'd go back if only to experience the world they've managed so successfully, yet again, to create. Let's face it, where else in this world can I dance in acid rain or eat noodles under a neon soaked sky?
You may remember a while ago I mentioned that I'd started using the Zombies, Run! 5K training app to try to bring a little fitness into my otherwise very sedentary life. I really enjoy the Zombies, Run! story but unfortunately, after a really busy March full of conventions and associated prep, the weekly training kind of petered out. Once I'd lost the rhythm for it, I found it really hard to get back into - there was always an excuse, some dumb reason why I couldn't start training again. You know how it is... why do today what you can put off until tomorrow? Only, for this lazy broad, tomorrow never came.
But, I had my heart set on entering the Zombies, Run! Virtual Race, and even though my training had taken a complete nosedive after week four, I still had the virtual run in the back of my mind. So I signed up and paid, which forced my hand in actually taking part and completing the run - otherwise, it would be a complete waste of money, right? And I'd own a medal for no good reason, because what on Earth is the point in lying to yourself?
Well, I'm so proud to say I achieved it! I actually ran the race twice, but I had my step counter and pacing off the first time, so the app finished before I'd actually completed the 5K according to the treadmill. On my second attempt, I used the treadmill's settings to run a session that was exactly 5K long. I'm not going to lie, it was a real slog. My time ended up being 50:14, which I know is incredibly slow for a measly 3.1 miles. But y'know what? I'm still really proud of myself! I didn't stop, even though I experienced a stitch for the first time since P.E lessons at school!, and even though my calves were really unhappy about the whole affair. I came off the treadmill sweaty and out of breath and feeling so accomplished! In all the training I'd done, I never felt so absolutely exhausted, but I did it! And now I have a bar set for improvement!
Now that I can say I've actually completed a 5K, I'm going to ditch the training app and dive straight into the regular Zombies, Run! story, which I am so excited about listening to. I'm going to work on improving my time, with a final goal of being able to achieve 5K in 30 minutes! Wish me luck!
Here in the UK, the sun finally decided to make an appearance! We haven't had much of a Spring, but all of a sudden it feels like Summer. I'm sure this weather won't last very long, so I thought I'd make the most of it! We had a lovely day out in Dorchester where I spent entirely too much money on Summery new cosmetics (and some adorable glue-on face gems from New Look for our up-coming Secret Cinema outing!) and thoroughly embraced the new, if fleeting sunshine!
My Mum bought me this dress for Christmas and this is the first chance I've had to wear it! I absolutely adore Lindy Bop's style of dress and their prints. They have fast become my favourite brand for pretty, vintage style dresses. This one is called 'Hot Rod' in their 'Daria' style. I love the scalloped neckline, and I think it's a really flattering fit. Sometimes I'm a little wary of the skirt flaring out a little too much in swing dresses (especially as I'm a short lady with larger hips), but this one fell with just enough 'flounce' to be shapely without looking too frumpy. The fabric also has a little bit of stretch too, which is very welcome and forgiving!
I partnered the dress with a dusty pink belt, to match my hair, accessories and shoes. The dress originally came with a thin black belt, but I think pink was just perfectly suiting to the sunshine!
The shoes are from Joe Browns' amazing shoe collection - and they are unbelievably comfortable! I'm always on a personal quest to find comfortable, cute kitten heels, and finding them in cute colours in the UK is a complete nightmare (sadly, we don't have easy access to B.A.I.T Footwear over here!) Discovering Joe Browns has been a dream come true - I mean look at these! You can get lots of pretty colours and styles and I can walk in them for hours, even without tights or socks. What's not to love?
I've been unhappy about my weight and general fitness for a while now, and putting on another half stone during the Christmas period really put a dampener on my body image! As somebody who works as a digital artist with sedentary hobbies like gaming and blogging, I don't exactly have the most energetic lifestyle! Which is why, when I discovered the Zombies, Run! App, I was incredibly keen to try it out. Zombies, Run! is a podcast, a game and a running app all in one that incorporates gaming elements with a really engaging story. The basic plot outline is that you are a survivor of a zombie apocalypse and have settled in a town called Abel, and now you've joined a group of people tasked with the job of fetching supplies and scouting the local area. Runners, as they're called, are the hope and future of Abel. You are Runner 5.
As Runner 5, you run or walk while listening to the app, and the plot gets more and more involved with each episode. There are actually two versions of the app, the regular Zombies, Run!, and a 5k training mode which operates like other Couch-2-5K apps with weekly goals to help get you in shape. In the regular app, there are periodic 'zombie chases', where you're urged to run faster to escape the oncoming onslaught of zombies, and you collect 'supplies' during your run that the game tracks and monitors for you. If you don't run fast enough during the zombie chases, you risk losing some valuable supplies!
The Zombies, Run! 5K Training app doesn't include these chases, and you don't pick up in-game supplies. Instead, the app presses you with training drills, including running, walking, various exercises and stretches to increase your running stamina. Each week increases the amount of running you do and pushes you a little but further, while of course offering an engaging story to compliment your run. The goal is that by the end of week 8, you'll be able to run a full 5K, or for 30 minutes straight without stopping.
Since Zombies, Run! has become quite an important part of my weekly routine now, I thought it was about time I started tracking my process here. I've just started week four, which means I'm nearly half way through. Regrettably. I have to take a bit of a break this week, because I'm being forced to miss two of my run days to convention prep and travel, but I'm going to get back at it again next week and hope my legs don't hate me too much for the break! I thought I'd track my process each week by showing the little images the app gives you on completion of each run.
Here's the training so far:
I've already completed workout one for week four but as I have to miss the next two, I'll start again next week and will post weekly updates from then on! As for my personal experience with the app, I'm finding it really fun, but it is a challenge for me! As you can see from my time and pace, I'm extremely out of shape! I used to love track and field as a kid, but even then I wasn't a long distance runner. 200 meter sprint was more my speed, so even though I'm slow and out of shape, I'm quite impressed I'm now able to run (well, alternate run/brisk walk, if we're going to be honest!) 2 miles without stopping. In fact, I don't get out of breath at all while doing these runs, even though I do work up a heck of a sweat. What I do struggle with are my calf muscles. I've been stretching every day between runs and they still feel like glass within minutes of running, even after three weeks of training. I know, I know, three weeks isn't long after decades of no real exercise, but still! They need to sort themselves out sharpish, because I'm planning on entering the Zombies, Run! Virtual Race this April! Wish me luck!
Hello everyone!! It's me again, the sometimes-blogger who often tells the world how she'll “blog more from now on” and then invariably... doesn't. Honestly, I hate to buck a trend, so I'm going to start this post by again apologising and telling you all that I promise I'm going to be more active here from now on. Honestly, honestly, hand on heart!
I hate starting a new year with a post talking about the old year, but I really feel like I owe it to 2017 to write a few words about it. The world around us had a tough time, and a lot of people are justified in their desire to say goodbye to 2017, but truthfully, from a personal perspective, I've had a pretty great year, all told. So much so that I'm going into 2018 with a huge dollop of optimism and wide, starry eyes.
In 2017 I...
… celebrated my seventh anniversary with Moose, in a gorgeous apartment in Bristol, scoping out the city we'll hopefully soon call our home.
… went ice skating a lot!
… broke my wrist ice skating, which saw an end to that!
… sold art at my first ever MCM Birmingham in March, which was so good I did it again in November.
… attended Rezzed and played a whole lot of video games.
... said a very sad goodbye to our favourite pub, The Hobgoblin, in Bath.
… sold art at the London Video Games Market.
… helped out Just Fur The Weekend as a dealers liaison and tabled there as an artist as well.
… attended the an AMAZING Secret Cinema event - Moulin Rogue!
… Attended Bristol Anime & Gaming Con – would love to sell there someday but it's always sold out!
… Sold yet again at MCM London in both May and October.
… Dressed up all pretty for the Vintage Nostalgia Show in Stockton.
… Went to London Anime Con for my birthday weekend in London!
… Attended Hyper Japan and thoroughly fell in love with it for being such a different type of show! I plan on selling there at some point in 2018!
… Broke a huge record at MCM Manchester and really levelled up in terms of confidence and pride in my art.
… Cosplayed Yuri at Kitacon, had the most AMAZING time with the most amazing people!
… Spent a couple of days at Alton Towers with Moose and completely fell in love with 'Th13rteen'.
… Attended UK Ponycon and spent the weekend with my dorky pony family.
… Had an amazing week in Bristol with my favourite people from all over Europe <3
… Finally got to a carnival, which I haven't done properly in years.
… Saw Hamilton on its very first week in London!
2017 was the first year I think I can safely say I actually worked between conventions at being an artist (as opposed to not drawing much for weeks and then panicking in the eleventh hour, heh.) I managed to produce at least one art print piece every month. Thanks to MCM Manchester, I was also finally able to pay off my ever-looming overdraft, which has been a financial hurdle to a lot of things for a very long time. I took on a few extra hours at my part-time day job, which I always considered a backward step in my quest to being an artist, but has actually given me so much back in terms of stability, freedom and flexibility. It has allowed me to take larger risks, and it has taken the pressure off from the daily hustle that being an online artist can be.
There's a lot I'm looking forward to in 2018. I don't have another convention to sell at until March, so I'm spending the next two months working on new products and new prints, and re-arranging my display a little bit for the new year. I plan on buying a banner to better promote my table with at conventions, as well as changing up my display a little to offer a bit more variety in what I sell.
2018 is the year I think I'll finally be able to gather some actual savings, which is handy as it's also the year Moose and I said we'd make a conscious effort to move in together. As of this month, we've been together eight years, and while I'm a complete home-bird that adores living here in my comfortable, safe, surroundings, it's really getting to the point that he and I need to fly the nest. Only a little, though. I'm only moving an hour away. My parents can't get rid of me that easily.
But that means 2018 should be a year of tremendous, and, frankly, terrifying change. Exciting, though, as well! I can't wait to set up an art area, to decorate our own little home, to have a nest I can call my own (well, our own, I guess, haha). It'll be surreal waking up next to the man I've dated long distance for eight whole years. I can't wait to have friends around for gaming evenings or long Netflix marathon sessions. One of the very first things I want to do is actually cook (I don't cook) a big fancy meal (I really don't cook) for my parents in my very own kitchen! Did I mention I don't cook? 2018 is going to be a year for learning a whole lot of things. Best remedies for food poisoning may well be one of them.
Shorter term, however, 2018 is off to a really exciting start with a short break to Amsterdam! Moose and I usually do something a little fun and different for our anniversary in January – and a trip away is a really fun way to shake off the post-Christmas blues. I'm not really sure why we settled on Amsterdam as a city to visit, but I'm looking forward to exploring it and taking on a few canal dinner cruises! Now we've discovered how cheap a European city break can be, I think we'll be doing a lot more of them in the future. The world is very big, and there's so much I want to see.
Resolutions? I know some folks really hate them, but I love making them, even though I'm fully aware each year that I probably won't stick to them. Because everyone else seems to hate them, though, I've taken to calling them 'goals', which sounds less guilt-laden to me. A resolution sounds like something you have to start in January and stick to, whereas a goal is something, anything, tangible you can achieve. I've set myself a bunch of resolutions, or goals, for the year – small frivolous things to larger, more exciting things, and things I downright know I won't achieve. There's lots, mind, but I figure, if I list a whole bunch of things, I'm bound to achieve at least one of them, right?
In 2018 I'd like to...
… move out with Moose (and probably Luke too, haha) into our own little nerd nest.
… continue drawing at least one print-worthy piece of art each month.
… revamp my Patreon, Ko-fi and Redbubble accounts to make them exciting and great value for my wonderful fans and supporters.
… revamp my commissions too and drum for business without the stress of actually needing it. Becoming so reliant on commissions was so stressful and horrible. I'm so glad I can now try and take on private work without that angst.
… Save more money!! Now my overdraft is paid off, I can focus on other things.
… lose weight. ha. ha.
… have my art in a zine! That'd be a fun goal. I adore fanzines so much. C'mon, me. Do the thing.
… get 1000+ Twitter and Instagram followers. C'mon, I said some of these were frivolous.
… blog more!! Hey, this is a good start, right?
… use my Youtube channel again! For vlogs, art videos, book hauls, anything. I know, I'm rolling my eyes too.
… read 20 books. I know, that's such a tiny number for a lot of bookworms, but I am a terrible, lazy person who spends every evening in video games. Speaking of...
… get rank 7 on Rakan in League of Legends.
… stream? Art? Gaming? Anything? Bueller?
… actually scrapbook the year. And catch up on the past years too. I've got several unfinished 'Project Life' scrapbooks here with half a year of memories in them. I need to sort that out.
I think that's everything I'd like to achieve. It's all the enhancements I want to make a regular thing in my life, really, not just a few limited to 2018. I really hope I can look back on this post in a year and cross off at least a few of those things, but who knows! I know resolutions don't really matter and it doesn't matter if you keep them, but it's sure fun making a list of goals anyway. Or maybe that's just the bullet journaler in me. Oh, maybe that should be another one. Start bullet journaling. Brilliant.
I'm sorry for this post that has become a major wall-of-text – call it a make-up post for all the posts I should have made throughout 2017. See, I'm already on good standing with one of my resolutions up there! At any rate, I hope everyone else had a wonderful Christmas and New Years and I hope 2018 is kind and fruitful for you all. Make this the year you achieve the best you. I know that's my goalest goal of all.
Next weekend I'll be selling at UK Ponycon, which is a convention that has been going since its debut in 2004 and is dedicated to all things My Little Pony! The con started as purely a collector's con, way before My Little Pony had its viral resurgence in the form of the new cartoon, Friendship is Magic. There, collectors would trade and sell their extras and generally use the weekend as a chance to meet other like-minded fans. In 2010, the new cartoon would bring a whole new group of people to the convention, fans of the show who called themselves 'Bronies' and who shared our passion for silly colourful horses.
Since then, UK Ponycon has grown into a mid-sized convention that collectors and new fans alike flock to from all corners of the globe. People dress up in pony cosplay, sell sell handmade art and customised ponies and take part in all the fun events Ponycon annually has to offer. I have attended nine of the thirteen (!) Ponycons so far, and I'd like to think I've got a pretty good handle on what to expect from the event, so I thought I'd write up a little guide detailing the sort of thing you might expect to experience if you attend UK Ponycon!
Friday was our last day of the holiday, and because we had a painfully early flight the next day, we decided to spend our last day locally, in the gorgeous little seaside spot of Saltburn by the Sea. Saltburn has a historic cliff lift that takes you down to the beach and it was a wonderful little thing to experience! We all bundled into the old carriage, which had beautiful stained glass windows (not original, sadly, but reinstated in 1991) and headed down to the beach. Of course, the one time we decided to spend the day at our local beach was our first bad day, weather wise! It was drizzly and rainy the whole day, but fortunately Saltburn by the Sea has a little arcade by the pier so we took refuge in there while we waited for the rain to ease a little.
We decided to grab something to eat at a very appealing looking restaurant pub overlooking the sea called Vista Mar. It was very cosy and comfortable and the food was delicious, the perfect way to enjoy a grizzly grey sea view.
With full bellies, it was time to head home. We had a slow stroll across the beach before returning to the cliff lift, and spent the evening cleaning and tidying the house, packing and getting ready for the unearthly 3am start we had the next morning (our flight was at 7am, at an airport two hours away, yeech.)
This trip to Yorkshire was absolutely phenomenal. We all had the most wonderful time. I loved returning to the comfort of such a gorgeous holiday home and chilling out in the games room. Eden Camp was incredible, Beamish was just as fun as I remembered from my childhood, and York is a beautiful old city I'd love to return to someday. We haven't had a group holiday this year, and finally finishing this trip report has made me so ready for one!
On that note, I'm sorry it's taken over a year to compile this report - I've been a terrible blogger lately but I'm determined to make a change to that now. There's something about Autumn that makes me really love blogging, cosied up in comfortable slouchy clothes with a cup of hot chocolate at hand. I spend so much of my creative time these days drawing, I've been missing my writing side lately, so it's nice to flex my, erm, fingers a little here on the blog. Thanks for sticking with me, guys! I'll be back more often now, I promise.
Today was the first day to divide our group! Moose, Luke, Sarah and I wanted to explore Flamingo Land, a theme park and zoo resort in North Yorkshire, while Pash, Joe and DC decided they'd rather go back to York.
I'm a sucker for theme parks (obviously). I adore roller-coasters and I heard there were some pretty unique ones at Flamingo Land, so I was super excited to check them out. I'm also crazy about animals (again, obviously) so I was really excited to visit the zoo part of the resort, too.
One of the very first things we did was rode was the log flume, Lost River Ride. Fortunately, it was a gorgeously sunny day, because we got absolutely soaked! We then made our way around the various roller-coasters, including Hero, which you sort of stood up into and it leaned you forwards with a really weird sensation of free flight! The sensation was... weird. It was really the oddest coaster I've ever been on, and I'm not sure I'd be in a rush to return to it!
We took a break at a cute American style diner there, before checking out the zoo section of the park. We managed to catch a sea lion show and a bird display, both handled very professionally and by people you could tell cared for the animals and their well-being.
Honestly, the resort was a lot better than I'd been expecting! I'd not really heard much about Flamingo Land before we looked into places to visit in Yorkshire, and I'm so glad we discovered it. Some really great and unique rides for roller-coaster enthusiasts, plus the nice zoo gardens, made it a really busy and tiring day out for us! I'd definitely go back if we were 'up North' again!
Wednesday was our day in York! I've been to York before but honestly couldn't remember much about it, and certainly didn't remember what a beautiful place it is. We began our day by checking out the National Railway Museum, which honestly wasn't my first choice but I gotta say my Dad would have loved it! It was essentially a giant warehouse full of different trains through history and I'd say it would be a wonderful (and free!) trip if you're interested in this sort of thing. They had a workshop you could look down into where people were actually actively working on restoring parts, which was really interesting to watch, and my personal favourite area featured a train that had been used to transport injured soldiers during the war.
We then headed to the York Cold War Bunker which is way more my sort of thing! I'm super interested in the Cold War and I love learning more about it. This bunker was active all the way through the 1960s to the end of the Cold War in the 1990s and was designed as a nerve-centre to monitor fallout in the event of a nuclear attack. Our tour guide was fantastic and enthusiastic (they only allow guided tours) and made the whole visit very enjoyable indeed.
After our tour, we journeyed into York itself! It really is such a beautiful place to explore. We weren't able to go inside York Minster but spent a lot of time walking around the grounds, before wandering the narrow streets and exploring the many independent shops there.
By the time we grabbed food and wandered back to the car, we were all absolutely exhausted. I think I slept most of our drive back, but it was absolutely worth the trip!
Firstly, apologies for the ridiculous lateness in this post! I want to get back to active blogging but I feel really weird just ignoring the rest of the Yorkshire blog posts to do so! So, even though this is all ancient history, allow me to take you back to September 2016 where we continue my holiday report!
On Tuesday, we stayed with a historical theme, and visited a place I'd never actually heard of before called 'The Eden Camp' Museum'. Occupying a WW2 prisoner-of-war camp, Eden Camp now covers all aspects of the war through the 33 huts spread out across its grounds. Each hut is filled to the brim with information and historical artefacts pertaining to WW2, including fully recreated scenes retelling the horrors of the blitz and streets full of shops selling the products of the time.
The photos I took really don't do the place justice. It was hands down my favourite part of the trip! We spent the whole day there wandering about but I think we could have easily returned as so much of it had to be skimmed past in order to see everything. There was a lot to take in! Here are just a few shots from the day.
I'm Selena, an artist, blogger and gamer - but maybe not always in that order! Dream Somehow is a blog dedicated to travel, geeky adventures, vintage style and a little bit of Disney Dreaming! If you'd like to learn a little more about me, click here.