May. 7th, 2017

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Up early for breakfast before J gave me a lift to Paddington, following a back route that took us through St John's Wood, past the crowds waiting to see England against Ireland at Lord's, and through Little Venice. From Paddington I caught the Heathrow Connect — somewhere around half the price of the Heathrow Express — arriving at the terminal in plenty of time to get checked in.

Reaching departures with plenty of time to spare, I was struck by an attack of battery anxiety and bought myself a copy of Sylvain Neuvel's Sleeping Giants. By the time I'd got to my gate, I'd already blitzed through a sizeable portion of the book; and, despite sleeping for the first part of the flight, I'd finished it by the time we reached the half-way point. I'll probably write more extensively about it later, but I enjoyed it immensely and it really is as good as everyone says it is.

During the remainder of the flight, I polished off Brian Staveley's Skullsworn, which I also enjoyed and whose last twists surprised me. I really must go back and read Staveley's earlier novels: I've had a copy of The Emperor's Blades, which I got free at Bristolcon, sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read for at least the last 18 months.

The flight passed uneventfully and we arrived at Seattle-Tacoma Airport after an 10 hour flight and a mere two hours — local time — later than when we left London. Passport checks and customs were extremely efficient — there was an absolutely adorable beagle checking the luggage for contraband foods — and I got out quite quickly. Knowing that I needed to get to Redmond and get checked in ahead of a social event at six, and being unwilling to attempt to navigate public transport after what had been a very long day, I bit the bullet and got a taxi to take me to my hotel. It was expensive but worth it: I later discovered that TL had used public transport and, although Sound Transit makes it pretty easy, it took him the best part of two hours to get from SeaTac to Redmond.

Dropping off my stuff, I headed to the conference hotel — naturally, I was staying somewhere much cheaper but within walking distance — to get registered in time for the meet-and-greet evening.

After getting some directions from the woman on reception, I followed Redmond Way until I saw the Marriott sign and used that to navigate my way closer. When I signed in, one of the events staff recognised me from last year — I'm always surprised when people recognise me because, in my head at least, I think of my appearance as terribly anonymous — and said that she knew that at least one other Brit would be there when she saw my name on the list.

The evening event kicked off at six — 2am British Summer Time — and consisted of a free bar and some snack food — the lone vegetarian item being creamed corn croquettes. I bumped into someone from Altair at I arrived and, not long afterwards, TL arrived in concert with a couple of people from the European Centre — one of whom was staying in the same hotel as me and had had a day to acquaint himself with the route back from the Marriott. We stayed until around half-eight, at which point everyone agreed that honour had been satisfied and that the jealous gods of jet lag could not be put off any longer.


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September 2017

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