Sorry for the delay. I slept much of Monday from my jet-setting whirlwind weekend from Dallas to Blackpool, UK. Can I just say, even I can’t believe I did that! But I did. And had a blast.
Flew from Dallas to Manchester, England. Then on to a train from Manchester to Blackpool. And whaaaa??? No cell phone service. I couldn’t call my hubby and tell him I was ok and arrived safe and sound. I asked another passenger on the train if she had service. Yes she said. Oh boy. I explained why I was hoping I would have service too. And then another passenger on the train heard my convo and said, ‘here… use my phone.’ Wow. Such generosity from a total stranger and to an American. I’m so grateful. I texted Allen that all is well with me across the pond.
Love this sign on the train. It made me smile.
Got a cab at the train station in Blackpool. Lovely older gent who I called… ‘a young man’ was a hoot to talk to. In a VERY thick northern English accent he asked ‘did ya know the Jacksons are here?’ What? As in Michael Jackson’s brothers? ‘Yea… for sure. And Will Smith will be here Sunday!’ Huh?! So that’s how US celebs keep the $$ rolling in their bank accounts. Trust me on this. Blackpool is a quaint coastal town with lovely people. But Vegas it’s not.
Ok… the hotel. Hmmm. What comes to mind ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say… then say nothing at all.’ BUT… I shared the ‘penthouse’ with Beth… the cross stitch queen… and Pilar, a TV journalist. If we had their ‘best’ room… then lord help those living in a garbage dump. I think my roommates thought we might as well stay where the convention is held because we won’t have a car… and it’ll make things easier. But… in truth… sleeping on the beach would have been better and cleaner. 😀
Friday was opening day. Lot’s of activities for registration. As it turned out this was an international event in a literal sense. I personally counted people from 12 diffrent countries. There were probably more…
Scotland. England. Australia. USA. Italy. Sweden. Japan. Austria. Brazil. Spain. Germany. France.
And from the USA… TEXAS! Was well represented. WHOOHOO! My Texas peeps had Texas t-shirts that signified their online group. But I know Kansas, Arizona, New York, and Philadelphia were represented. Most likely there were more states for sure.
Here are some pics from opening night. On hand were… Lotte Verbeek… ‘Geillis’… Annette Badland… ‘Mrs. Fitz.’ Rosie Day… ‘Mary.’ Graham McTavis… ‘Dougal.’ Stephen Cree… ‘Ian Murray.’ Grant O’Rourke… Rupert. Stephen Walters… Angus. Gary Lewis… ‘Colum.’ And Finn Den Hertog… ‘Willie.’ (BTW… Finn was unrecognizable with eyeglasses, dark hair and dark beard.) MIA was Cait on opening night. She was not scheduled until Saturday and Sunday. And of course Sam, The Laird of Lallybroch” was off shooting a movie.
Note: Gary is wearing a Texas t-shirt. He yelled… ‘who’s from Texas?!’ What!!?? That’s MY cue! “ME!!!” But someone in the middle of the room got his attention first and got a kiss. To me he said… ‘I’ll see YOU tomorrow!’ And ran backstage.
Let’s not talk about the super mediocre dinner meal at the hotel.
So Saturday! The three of us got ready to get our photos taken with the cast. We’re also gearing up to present to the winner of the charity raffle for Beth Elahmar’s incredible cross stitch portrait of Jamie. My goal as a seasoned media veteran is to schmooze my way into getting someone to ask Cait would she help present the framed portrait to the winner?
The winner by the way is a lovely English woman… Amanda Dixon who happens to live in London. She also happens to be a descendent of Lord Lovett… remember him? In the ep on Outlander… ‘The Fox’s Lair he was a cad and a conniving politician. Interesting man to be sure. How perfect is that she’s the winner of this incredible piece of art craft.
When we all got together near the registration table… Amanda handed Beth a gift package. It was wrapped in red plaid paper. Beth opens it and it looks like a lovely Scottish plaid scarf with a beautiful pin.
So we ooh and ahhh over this beautiful gift. Then Amanda says… ‘hold it up.’ That’s when we all realize it’s not a scarf but a kilt purse! Oh how wonderful!! Then Amanda says you haven’t seen the best part. NOTE SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT A SCOT WEARS UNDER HIS KILT… SKIP OVER THIS PART.
But if you do… you’ll laugh for sure. So Beth flips the fabric over and lo and behold!!
Yep! The creator of this little gem included a bag with a photo underneath of her hubby’s buns on the back side (yes pun intended) for a realistic view of what’s under a kilt from a personal point of view!! BHAHAHAHA!!!
As you’ve seen before from my blog posts… Beth’s portrait raised nearly 11K $ for both Sam and Cait’s charities. Sam never saw the piece framed… but he did see it for the first time completed at SDCC. Here, Beth is telling him how much money her work has raised for Bloodwise.
I carried the portrait with us everywhere. Lots of positive reaction. And I mean LOTS…! And lots of super positive reaction from people who might help make Beth’s dream come true to have Cait’s involvement in the presentation. But still no definite plan or comittment from anyone who could make it happen. . Lot’s of ‘we’ll try’ or ‘we’ll let you know.’
No worries. We had fun. As we waited for certain events… photos or autographs… or panel discussions… we chilled in the lobby before we had to get in line.
What is Beth holding? Oh… that would be ‘The Lady!’ The compliment to ‘The Laird.’ This new piece is of Cait in the famous red dress and will also be raffled off just like the Laird was for charity. Let’s take a closer look.
Beth says ‘The Lady’ will also take 150K stitches. Oh holy haggis! Who does that??? Beth does. Here’s what the final piece will look like. There are more than 20 colors in her lips and more than 30 colors in her eyes.
So we did our photo thang. Here’s mine with the most gorgeous, classy woman… Ms. Balfe.
Can you even imagine looking that wonderful with hundreds of people getting a pic with you over several hours? Cait is amazing. And very generous. Talk about winning the genetic gene pool. Oh yes. She did. Cait exudes radiance.
Later that day we got to our seats for the panel with Graham and Cait. Still no definite word from the movers and shakers about whether Cait will present Beth’s portrait to the winner to make a bigger deal of the hand off.
Enter ‘Michelle Wonder Woman Redmond.’ I see the convention organizer… Sean Harry and quietly say… “Oh Sean… just letting you know we’re over here.” Immediately he holds up his hand… as in ‘just a minute.’ Sean goes off in the opposite direction behind a curtain. Comes back quickly and says… “after the panel. We’ll make it happen.” SCORE!
Graham and Cait had a fun time answering questions and ribbing each other. I’ve got to say… some folks need to learn what it means to ask a question. And move on. That’s the broadcast expert in me. Get to the point quickly. Do NOT give your personal biography or backstory and THEN ask a question. In one instance… Cait said.. ‘so do you have a question?’ High-larious! (not really cause I was peaved but I’m trying!)
And then it was time for the big exchange between Beth and the raffle winner Amanda. Oh… wait! I want to keep you in suspense a moment longer.
We’re sitting at the table. There were a few empty seats at our table. When this woman slams unceremoniously into her seat. And nearly smacks up against the framed art piece I have leaning against the table at my seat. I say quietly, please be careful, I’ve got a framed piece here. She says… ‘so move it.’ I say no, I cannot (which was true… Beth was next to the piece. There was no place for this large piece to go except laying flat on the floor. Beth would have had a stroke over that!) She says, “you mean you won’t move it…even though you could.” WTF??? I say, ‘no, I cannot move it. I’m sorry but we were here before you. Sorry. I just need you to know I need to be careful.’ Her response… “oh, you’re an American!” Clearly, she was disgusted! And she turns away from me. So I lightly tap her on the arm and say there’s no need to be hostile…I’m trying to… /// “JUST STOP JUST STOP JUST STOP!” she yells at me. WoWowowowowow!
Ohhhhkay. Deep breath. Deep breathe. I’m not being an ‘ugly’ American. She’s being an ‘ugly… wherever she’s from.’ Then Sean the convention guru… announced after the panel wrapped what was coming next. He looks to me and says ‘hold up’ the art piece so the crowd could see. Think of the chicks holding up a sign announcing the round in the boxing ring. That was me! I’m holding up this piece of work which is more than 4 feet high framed and twirling slowly for the crowd. Giggle much?
Then I hand it over to Beth and say… ‘good luck’ as she and Amanda head for the stage.
Let me just talk about the framing for a moment. It’s done by Beth’s one and only favorite framer, Erin McBride in Tucson. Here’s a last look at “The Laird” before it goes bye bye to Amanda’s home in London. 9-months of work. 150-thousand stitches. We got Sam’s autograph at SDCC and the Je Suis Prest crest at the top is created by Erin. The frame is Celtic inspired. Just wow. BTW… Beth pays out of pocket for the framing.
We spent the rest of the evening reveling in what just happened and enjoying the moment. This is the after the presentation look. Beth is understandably emotional. While those two bonded…
Pilar and I went to our hotel room to collect all the packing material to keep ‘The Laird’ safe for his ride to his new home in London. Already Beth is asking for visitation rights
Then we agreed to have dinner. Oh boy. Another blah blah blah dinner at the hotel. And then said goodbye to The Laird and Amanda Saturday night. I was leaving very early Sunday morning for Texas. Did I say the crappy hotel had spotty wi fi service and my cell phone never worked though I bought an international plan? So… while I was packing… my roommates were cross stitching. BTW… this is the longest I’ve gone without TV in my life. Why? The TV didn’t work. (Neither did the in-house phone).
This was such a fun weekend. The crappy hotel could NOT take away from the experience. My roommates were great and the fan girl experience was what I’d hoped for and more. Keeping my focus on the event and not our accommodations made all the difference.
While these two slept… I was out the door at 3am on Sunday. I had a cab coming at 4:45a and didn’t want to oversleep. So…I never went to sleep! But too funny… the lobby was active with so many folks coming in at that time of the morning or even later from their night on the town. But best of all was a local guy…drunk out of his mind. He’d just come back to the hotel from a ‘stag’ party… aka bachelor’s party. My friend (could not understand his name) figured out I was American. He wanted me to know he was a good friend of Lincoln. And in Abe Lincoln.
And with that… I said cherrio mate! Buh bye Blackpool! My taxi is here. 😀