Tag Archives: Vancouver

The Great Canadian Adventure is FREE!

Great Canadian cover

Yes! To celebrate the fact that it’s been EXACTLY 7 years, 2 months and 14 days since we arrived in Canada, I’m giving away my account of our first year here for FREE!

It’s filled with fun pictures and interesting facts! It’s an e-book, so people won’t see it on your shelf and ask why you bought it! It’s free, so you won’t regret spending money on it! And it’s an Amazon product so you can leave reviews warning others away from making a similar error!

(I may not be good at this marketing thing.)

You can get your copy from Amazon.com, or Amazon.co.uk . If you live somewhere else, check out your local Amazon site and see if it’s free there too!

And ok, yes, it may not be because of the timing, but because i haven’t given away any of my e-books in a long time. There’ll probably be other giveaways coming up soon. I’m busy working on a new play, co-writing the next pantomime, and there’s a side-project running over on Wattpad that I’m not convinced will be worth publishing, but is making me smile. Also, I haven’t made any kind of replica film prop for more than a week.*

 

 

 

*There may be a complete set of plans for a Cyberman head in the bottom drawer of my desk. I refuse to comment.

Fan Expo Vancouver 2015

Cosplay girls and Fett

This was our Third Fan Expo – we don’t count that first trip because we didn’t actually get inside the building. I’d made several bold claims about how I was definitely going to wear a costume this year, but for various complicated reasons, I didn’t.

It’s a big thing to decide, actually. Some people go to events like SDCC and Fan Expo for the big name stars. This year Fan Expo wasn’t stinting on those, bringing out William Shatner, John Barrowman and Carrie Fisher, as well as other big names from series like “Once Upon a Time” and “The Walking Dead”. And, of course, there were big names I had no clue about, like the voice artists from anime series and real comic book artists.

Other people go for the costumes – they want to see and be seen. At least, I think so.

Can you name all the GoT characters here? Quick, before GRRM kills them off!

Can you name all the GoT characters here? Quick, before GRRM kills them off!

But say you have your costume. Maybe it’s as stunning as this one:

In case you were wondering, I added the blur afterwards....

In case you were wondering, I added the blur afterwards….

She looks fantastic, and as far as I can tell, it’s a spot-on match for the game graphics. But you look a bit daft carrying your bag of loot too, so you have to put that down every time someone wants a picture. And lots of people will want a picture if your costume is this good…

Spy Vs Spy! Now that took me back a few years...

Spy Vs Spy! Now that took me back a few years…

And what if you’re a masked character? When do you get to have a drink or a snack?

We met this guy carrying his helmet, and only putting it on for pictures. He said he could see fine, it was just breathing that was a problem....

We met this guy carrying his helmet, and only putting it on for pictures. He said he could see fine, it was just breathing that was a problem….

This year we helped Tiniest Weasel with her costume – Pippin the Hobbit.

She's the one in the middle

She’s the one in the middle.

It was a good choice – she was warm enough for the times we were outside, and though her custom made hobbit feet were a little uncomfortable, she put up with them for a couple of hours.

One does not simply take the escalator into Mordor....Unless you're showing off your custom Hobbit feet.

One does not simply take the escalator into Mordor….Unless you’re showing off your custom Hobbit feet.

It was a practical costume, easy to make and maintain throughout the event, and she was comfortable enough.

Eldest Weasel went one better, going for the “Minimalist 11th Doctor” look.

There's always a TARDIS at these things. Hey, maybe it's always the SAME TARDIS?

There’s always a TARDIS at these things. Hey, maybe it’s always the SAME TARDIS?

But Middle Weasel got the best of the deal. Thanks to a massive cosplay malfunction on the night before, her Astrid costume morphed into a Sherlock minimalist affair that looked cool enough to be recognised, but not bothersome enough to be hard work.

She's the blonde Sherlock. And no jokes about that, please. I'm in enough trouble....

She’s the blonde Sherlock. And no jokes about that, please. I’m in enough trouble….

I went as me, wearing my Darth Vader t-shirt and some badges I’ve accumulated over the years, and there was a wonderful freedom in NOT being dressed up. I could wander the stalls, take pictures of the others, and trade duties with Mrs Dim, since we had our three Weasels plus two friends on loan for the day – that meant lots of phone tag and texting “Where r u? We at T-shirt stall…” etc etc

What other costumes were there? Well, I’m glad you asked:

This was one of very few Lara Crofts, and she was brilliant - I played the game last year, so I know....

This was one of very few Lara Crofts, and she was brilliant – I played the game last year, so I know….

My 11th meets a pretty good 4th.

My 11th meets a pretty good 4th.

Amy Pond and Rose Tyler

Amy Pond and Rose Tyler

The one, the only, Captain Jack Sparrow! Well, one of several that day, as it turned out...

The one, the only, Captain Jack Sparrow! Well, one of several that day, as it turned out…

Brilliant Weeping Angel

Brilliant Weeping Angel

I haven't seen

I haven’t seen “The Book of Life” but I can tell these guys are good. And one of them is Captain Jack Sparrow again…

Another 4th Doctor... It's the scarf, isn't it? Or maybe the jelly babies...

Another 4th Doctor… It’s the scarf, isn’t it? Or maybe the jelly babies…

More memories from my childhood...ok, from last week. It's Mean Machine Angel and a Judge.

More memories from my childhood…ok, from last week. It’s Mean Machine Angel and a Judge.

Pippin meets Tauriel.

Pippin meets Tauriel.

Huntress and Black Canary

Huntress and Black Canary

Oh, come on guys... Starlord? The famous outlaw?

Oh, come on guys… Starlord? The famous outlaw?

Nightwing and Young Thor

Nightwing and Young Thor

Lady Loki

Lady Loki

How does Luke Skywalker get across the road? Ewoks!

How does Luke Skywalker get across the road? Ewoks!

It wouldn't be a FanExpo without Rimmer, Arnold J.

It wouldn’t be a FanExpo without Rimmer, Arnold J.

Filli, Pippin and Killi

Filli, Pippin and Killi

Sherlock is not impressed by Jango Fett or Bossk.

Sherlock is not impressed by Jango Fett or Bossk.

The Book of Life crew don't rate a smile either.

The Book of Life crew don’t rate a smile either.

The same goes for this Nightwing.

The same goes for this Nightwing.

...And if you're not impressed by this bunch, what hope is there?

…And if you’re not impressed by this bunch, what hope is there?

These costumes were top notch...

These costumes were top notch…

As was this ShadowTrooper

As was this ShadowTrooper

When I was a kid, THIS was what Batman looked like. None of your modern Kevlar and nightvision.

When I was a kid, THIS was what Batman looked like. None of your modern Kevlar and nightvision.

These guys proved you don't need to look to Superheroes or television to find great cosplay ideas...

These guys proved you don’t need to look to Superheroes or television to find great cosplay ideas…

Gandalf, Pippin and Aragorn save the day!

Gandalf, Pippin and Aragorn save the day!

We’ll be back at Fan Expo next year, though it’s going to be in November in stead of April. I might dress up, I might not, but I know I’ll have a great time there. It’s a wonderful atmosphere, and we all agreed – when you see a cosplayer, you smile. It doesn’t matter if you know the character or not, you can’t help grinning like a loon. They’re happy, they’ve worked damn hard on their costumes, and no matter how tired, hot or hungry they are, they’ll take a second to pose for your camera.

(But if I do go in costume, I’ll look an awful lot like this:

I got the whole thing finished and ready to go...

I got the whole thing finished and ready to go…

So watch out next year for Shakespearean Darth Vader!

So watch out next year for Shakespearean Darth Vader!

They make you swear, they really do….

Actually, that’s not true. In the Citizenship Oath, you have the option to swear OR affirm.

WP_003747

It wasn’t that long ago that I shared this post about sitting our citizenship exam, and we began the wait for the Oath ceremony. Certainly the exam was the more nerve-wracking of the two – though there were several dire warnings about what could happen if you failed to repeat the oath, or didn’t produce the required documents.

The main difference this time was taking the entire boatload of weasels along. Only Eldest Weasel was actually required to make the oath, the other two being below the age of fourteen, but we made this emigration as a unit, and we signed in as a unit too. They seated us together, a row of five seats on the right hand side of the same room we took our exam in. The clerk explained what would happen when Judge Nguyen (pronounced “Wen”) took her seat and began proceedings. The judge was a calm, smiling presence, and took the opportunity to tell us about her own history – nine escape attempts from her home country when she was only a little girl. At least six trips to “Re-education camps” before the successful escape which led to a refugee camp and finally Canada. Mrs Dim and I exchanged glances. Suddenly the various stresses and panics we’d suffered in the run up to our own arrival here seemed very, very minor.

The flags were waiting for us on our seats, along with copies of the Oath and little Maple Leaf pins

The flags were waiting for us on our seats, along with copies of the Oath and little Maple Leaf pins

We were all asked to state our full names in loud clear voices, one at a time. I was happy to note that even Tiniest Weasel had no trouble with this, and then we were reciting the Oath in English and French. After that it was a simple matter of lining up to receive our certificates and take photos with the judge.

DSCN0837After that it was much like the day we took our exam – with a beautiful day outside and no one having to really be anywhere for a while, we walked the seawall all the way up to Milestones on English Bay. Anyone who’s read this blog for any length of time will know that’s the first restaurant we visited after arriving in Canada. It’s just round the corner from the apartment we rented during our first month, and we’ve celebrated at least one arrival anniversary there. Since we missed the five year anniversary meal out, this seemed like a great opportunity for a double celebration.

Walking the Seawall. I love Vancouver.....

Walking the Seawall. I love Vancouver…..

Messing about in Milestones. Good food, though!

Messing about in Milestones. Good food, though!

Every time I think “Ok, that’s it, now we just start living…” another big moment pops up. Is there more to come after gaining citizenship? Now we have to apply for passports and things, and I already miss the security of carrying my Permanent Resident Card with me. But I can vote now! I get to take an active interest in the things going on around me, because I have a voice and I am going to use it. Local, Provincial or Federal, I will get out there and use my vote!

Hey, Random Citizen….

Citizenship.

When we told folks we were emigrating to Canada, many of them asked us if we were going to get Canadian citizenship. At the time it seemed a ludicrously precipitous question. We needed jobs, schools, houses, short scruffy dogs, that sort of thing. But citizenship? No, not really.

That’s not to say we were opposed to the idea, but it wasn’t something we were really prepared to think about. Like asking a twelve year old about their pension plan. Sure, they’re going to think about it sometime , but right now? Nope.

But over the last year or so, it’s been more of an issue. We’ve been here long enough to apply, we’ve met other ex-pats who DID apply, and the question of electing people we actually WANT in government has become more interesting. To vote, we need to be citizens.

So we underwent the gruelling form-filling and document finding, made all the more gruelling by the fact that we were duplicating a lot of the effort we had to make to renew our Permanent Residents Cards (turns out the “permanent” only applied to our residency status, not the life of the cards themselves, which need renewing every five years…)

We’d been told that processing the papers took a good length of time, so we were very surprised to find an invitation to attend our citizenship exam on April 1st. Surprised and, of course, suspicious. April 1st? Really?

But it was true. I can’t go into details about the exam itself, or I’ll invalidate my own application, but I will say that the booklet “Discovering Canada” is a great source of information. Mrs Dim and I learned a lot about our new home country, as well as discovering that learning new facts has become harder now that we are old and set in our ways (by which I mean “used to Googling stuff we don’t know, so we don’t have to remember it”) I was seriously worried about retaining all this information – Canada’s history, political system, cultural icons…. For a young country, it’s been busy!

On the fateful morning we lined up outside the building with a wonderful variety of folks from all ethnic backgrounds. The test itself went by in a whirl, and then we had a brief interview before our details get passed to an immigration judge. Mrs Dim and I took advantage of our mutual time off to walk through Downtown and admire the city that is our home.

Just a house in Downtown Vancouver...With the most amazing Magnolia tree.

Just a house in Downtown Vancouver…With the most amazing Magnolia tree.

Whatever the final result of the test, I’m happy to be living here, to have the chance to walk through Vancouver, or over Burnaby Mountain. Most of all, I’m happy that my Weasels have the chance to do these things.

When people ask me “Why did you emigrate?”

WP_002610San diego 6 060Me and the weasels eat lunchThe view from the Yacht ClubWP_000331Viewty spaghetti and doors 017 095 Viewty Victoria ferry trip 015 Deep Cove 011 007 Katie Lily Doughnut Skating and fireworks 117Rocky Point November WP_000713 WP_000753 026 036 (2) Bloedel conservatory 165Any questions?

As the Autumn leaves fall…

Must be Fall... There go the leaves.

Must be Fall… There go the leaves.

One of the things we told people about wanting to live in Canada was that there were real seasons over here. Summer was hot, Autumn was crisp, Winter was cold and snowy. I think we were both remembering those mythical seasons of childhood, when Summer went on forever and the snow of Winter came up to your hips.

It was an odd claim to make, because until we emigrated, we had only spent three weeks in Canada. Three weeks of glorious Autumn, granted, but in Ontario. We were visiting my Aunt and Uncle, and they certainly told us of cold and snowy Winters: They described being woken on a Winter’s night in their cabin by the sound of trees exploding – the sap had frozen, expanded and broken the tree trunks. We saw the wonderful colours of the trees, enjoyed the late sunshine and the good weather as we drove an RV down the edge of Lake Huron.

But when we came to Vancouver, it was a different story. We arrived just after the worst Winter that many people could remember. Snow had fallen Downtown, and Vancouverites had demonstrated their inability to drive in the snow. Spring was cold and wet and lasted a long time that year, giving us the impetus to book a springtime holiday in San Diego the following year, which turned out to be bright and warm and sunny.

The view from our San Diego balcony March 2010

The view from our San Diego balcony March 2010

Last year was another cold and wet one, with people reminding each other that this area is a temperate rain forest, and really, if you want sunshine, you should be going to Hawaii. We went back to San Diego in the Spring, determined to get some sunshine.

But the Summer was awesome this year. Long, long hot days, breaking records with a completely dry July. We baked ourselves in our own yards, and it’s possible that some of those green lawns may have been illegally using their sprinklers. We were prepared for September to bring the rains again, but the sun has persisted, carrying through into Autumn days that might have sprung from a Famous Five book. The leaves are dropping, crisp and brown, and you can sweep them up because the rain hasn’t plastered them to the ground.

September's weather was good enough for camping and hiking with friends.

September’s weather was good enough for camping and hiking with friends.

Whatever the Winter brings, we’ll be ready. Our Vitamin D reserves have been topped up,and we have the box of gloves, hats and scarves sat by the back door. Not far from that box is the one that holds the ski gear.

Whenever you’re ready, Winter – BRING IT ON!

Grouse Mountain 029

Preparing to recross the pond

It’s been a long time since I’ve talked about emigrating. Long ago life settled down into a regular form, became just the ordinary every day. Yes, there are still times I marvel that we live in Canada, that I tell which direction I’m driving by seeing the mountains on the North Shore, but I don’t convert dollars into pounds any more, trying to see if things are cheaper or more expensive. I don’t flinch from saying “pants” instead of “trousers”, and I no longer think “parkade” is a fizzy drink.

Soon we’ll head back to the UK for our second visit since we emigrated. This time we’ll be going back in the winter, with all the added unpredictability that brings. Will there be a sprinkling of snow that closes roads and railways? Having once shoveled my driveway clear three times in the same day, I’m inclined to roll my eyes at that thought. And we don’t get “real” snow here in the Vancouver area… Just ask someone from Winnipeg.

Our last trip back was a summertime thing, and we met friends on the beach in Bournemouth. We walked through parks, in London and Worcester. When I think of going back, those are the images that come to mind.

Weasels and pigeons in the park, Bournemouth

Weasels and pigeons in the park, Bournemouth

After a while out here the view of the UK becomes somewhat idealised, like this:

Younger Weasels and their Grandma in a very English garden.

Younger Weasels and their Grandma in a very English garden.

But we’ll be there for early nights, cold, brisk days. And probably rain. We’ll be spending almost every day going from one place to another so we can visit as many friends as possible, but we also have to set aside time so we can celebrate Christmas with the family we’ve been away from for so long.

The travel is, as ever, the part that bothers me the most. Our appreciation of distance has changed significantly. To illustrate, let me show you our last but one holiday : we went to Cardiff-by-Sea, Encinitas, by way of San Francisco. We drove, and it took a week or so to get there. It was fun (except for going through LA, obviously.) Here’s what that journey looks like:

Thank you, Google Maps!

Thank you, Google Maps!

You can see (perhaps) that that journey is 2197 km. If you need a translation, that’s 1365.153 miles, or a trip from John O’Groats to Land’s End and more than halfway back again. We did the journey home again in three days.

We won’t be traveling nearly as far in our trip around the UK, but our nomadic lifestyle prior to leaving the country means we have friends all over the place, and I look at the map of the UK Mrs Dim has pinned to the wall and the little flags stuck into it and I think….”How hard is that going to be?”

Four and a half years is quite a long time. It’s time for a child to be born and reach school age. It’s been time for one of our Weasels to reach High School and settle in. Middle Weasel is now in the top age group in her school. I’m on my third job, and am convinced the ancient curse has followed me to Canada (I worked for TVS – they lost their franchise. I worked for Peter Dominic’s – they went out of business. I worked at the Bell Hotel in Alresford – it looks like they did  a good job of rebuilding it after the fire. Here in Canada I worked for Canpages and they went out of business.) But I’m happy in my library job and hope to stay with it for a long time to come.

I guess the idea I’m circling here is that the only part of the UK we miss is the people. We moved every two years all the time we were married, and learned to place value on friendships, rather than places. We loved the old stuff like the Cathedral in Winchester, the Standing Stones in the Avebury Ring, or Roman ruins, or Iron Age Forts. We loved medieval towns and historical buildings, and we loved the modern parts of the country too, but they’re not why we’re going back. *

We’re going back to see our friends and family, and we’re only sorry we won’t be able to visit everyone in the time available. And of course, if it snows, we may not get out of the airport….

*There are certain factions within the family that maintain the ENTIRE reason for the visit is The Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff. If anyone from the BBC is reading this, we know the perfect person to co-ordinate a Doctor Who Exhibition in Vancouver – she already knows EVERYTHING about Doctor Who.

Doctor Wheasel - TARDIS not included.

Doctor Wheasel – TARDIS not included.

An afternoon at Twelfth Night

Screen-grab from YouTube : Go see it in 3D in Vanier Park!

Screen-grab from YouTube : Go see it in 3D in Vanier Park!

I am often surprised by the things my Weasels enjoy, or think about. Last year, I had trawled through the selection of things to watch while I ironed, and found a brilliant film version of “Twelfth Night” (By Shakespeare, in case you were wondering.) Tiny Weasel, and then Middle Weasel crept in, drawn by the sounds of TV, and both watched the film with apparent interest.

So when it turned out that “Twelfth Night” was one of the plays in this year’s Bard on the Beach, we booked tickets. We would have booked tickets anyway, but there was, at least, a reason for choosing this play over “Hamlet”.

Just like last year, I was tremendously impressed. Firstly, the staging is so simple.

Last year's staging

Last year’s staging

With an entrance from the back of the stage and two side entrances, and all props and set wheeled or carried on by the actors themselves, we moved from Hotel, to beach, to Bath house and on. It sounds simple enough, but I read plays every week that struggle to convincingly produce two or three locations on one stage. Like many playwrights, I prefer to find a single location for my action to simplify staging*. Seeing productions like this makes me feel I am limiting my imagination too much. It’s also the definition of what makes theatre a different experience from film.

This production moves the time period to the 20’s with jazz as a soundtrack and Olivia’s House is presented as a hotel. However these details don’t really matter, as the quality of the acting and the singing soon sweep you away into the story. Like many of Shakespeare’s tales, it’s a little unlikely – twins separated by a storm, the girl dressing as a boy to preserve her safety and falling into the service of local Duke. She is forced to carry his profession of love to Olivia, even as she herself has fallen in love with him. Olivia is too deep in mourning the death of her brother to hear talk of love, until she sees the disguised Viola and falls in love with him/her. It’s the classic love triangle. As a subplot you have the officious Malvolio (here the Hotel Manager) tricked into believing that Olivia is in love with him and desires that he dress in ridiculous stockings and smile more. To add to the confusion, Viola’s brother appears, now her true double since she’s disguised as a boy and willingly consents to marry Olivia, who thinks he’s Viola, whom she calls Cesario… You get the picture.

Tiny Weasel found it hard to stay still, but she wasn’t bored. She watched the whole production and followed the story without a problem. It wasn’t updated language, but the original text, and all three Weasels enjoyed it immensely. I’m really glad we went, and we’ll go back again next year.

*It’s true that a director can make the decision to radically alter the staging, but in Shakespeare’s theatre, all these locations would have been presented in the one area, and the impression of each given more through dialogue and mime than exotic set dressing. The Bard on the Beach production is, therefore, very traditional in nature. I believe the onus is on the playwright to communicate the nature of the intended staging. Whether or not the director takes that intention to heart is out of the writer’s control.

Book Launch: The Great Canadian Adventure

The terrific cover designed by Eduardo Ramirez

The terrific cover designed by Eduardo Ramirez

It’s been almost exactly a year since I last worked in an office for someone else. In that time I’ve increased the trade through the Lazy Bee Appraisal Service, completed hundreds of play reviews for my publisher and written a handful of new plays and sketches.

Behind it all, I’ve been polishing old blog posts and working with some neat software to repackage that material with some new entries and information to make this book : The Great Canadian Adventure.

The whole family, just before we left the country

The whole family, just before we left the country

This is the true story of our emigration to BC from the UK. Starting the week before we flew out, it tells of our rush to clear the house we’d been living in, the whirlwind tour of family and friends and the first twelve months finding our feet in the Vancouver area.

But it’s not just a memoir – along the way I’ve collected useful links and made note of things I wish I’d known in advance, and laid them out in the book. Thanks to the Amazon Kindle technology, you can read this book on your PC, your smartphone, your iPad…or even your kindle… and follow those links to learn more.

Writing this book took over four years and several thousand pounds – I had to apply for residency in Canada, and move three children and one wife. We had to get new jobs, a new car, a new house and a dog. And dogs aren’t cheap.

Enjoying our new life in BC!

Enjoying our new life in BC!

Officially launching on May 1st, if you’re seeing this blog post it means you’re special enough to warrant a head start on everyone else! Plus, for the first month, I’m lowering the price by fifty percent. Buy now to avoid disappointment!

If true-life stories of emigration, excitement and orthodontics aren’t your cup of tea, then perhaps you’d rather take a look at some of the other ebooks I’ve written in the past:

Troubled Souls : Three short stories told from the male perspective, each dark and a little disturbing.

Coffee Time Tales 1 and 2: Easy reading for coffee time, two collections of five tales with warmth and often, romance.

Sci-Fi Shorts: Four stories of Science Fiction and Fantasy, including “Twist Stiffly and the Hounds of Zenit Emoga”, a golden-age sci-fi romp.

Writing a play for the Amateur Stage: Guidance and advice on writing plays for community theatre groups, written from the perspective of someone with over a decade of experience in the field. (Me.)

If you’ve produced an ebook, or have some other kind of project you’d like to shout about, HOP ON THIS BANDWAGON! I’ll be posting links to this page as I travel the internet, hawking my books, so why not drop a link to YOUR brilliance in the comments section?

Suit up! It’s Vancouver Fan Expo time!

Fan Expo 053

If you’ve read much of this blog, you may know that last year’s Fan Expo was an interesting experience for me and my family, but one we only got to see from the outside. Nonetheless, the parade of costumed characters coming and going was impressive.

This year, to avoid being left out in the cold, we booked our tickets well in advance. Although I’d put together my suit of Mandalorian armour in time for Hallowe’en, it wasn’t quite right, and I stripped it down for a rebuild, which wasn’t done by the time Fan Expo rolled around. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it…

Mando costume

…Not appearing at this year’s Expo…

Eldest Weasel had rallied some friends and was flying the flag for Doctor Who, having transformed herself into River Song and her mates into the Doctor (11th) and TARDIS.

Fan Expo 031That left Mrs Dim and myself to herd the two smaller Weasels into the Fan Expo.

So, you need to arrive early, especially if you’ve booked photo shoots or signings or whatever. We rolled up around eleven and joined the “Saturday only” queue, which was moving along, and a pretty jolly affair. We chatted with the lady in front of us, proudly wearing her Buffy t-shirt because she would be meeting James Marsters shortly.

Fan Expo 022There were plenty of costumes to see in the lineup, but most were in the “Two Day” line, which wasn’t moving as fast as ours. We passed the Bunny-eared Master Chief on the way up Canada Place, and then back down it, and he didn’t seem to have moved at all….

Yes, the ears are funny, but that's an MA5B Assault Rifle on his back....

Yes, the ears are funny, but that’s an MA5B Assault Rifle on his back….

When we got to the door we had to pass an angry woman who’d been waiting a couple of hours with small children, demanding to be let in ahead of the queue because her photo shoot time was coming up. The guy on the door was apologetic but firm, explaining that there were over thirteen thousand people to organise.

We’d planned to make purchases and all kinds of excitement, but the reality was that we goggled. There’s not much opportunity for goggling in the real world these days, but at Fan Expo it was positively encouraged. Everywhere you looked were either amazing displays, like the Lego booth:

WP_002005

Middle Weasel goggles at the Lego Booth.

Or it was the endless stream of fantastic outfits roaming the crowded walkways.  Mrs Dim kept reminding me that they wouldn’t mind being stopped for photos, but my essentially English nature prevented me from stepping forward often enough. We were delighted to meet two of Ankh-Morpork’s finest Watch officers, Captain Carrot and Sergeant Angua, and they were delighted that we knew who they were. The two tiny weasels are considering being Nobby Nobbs and Cheri Littlebottom next year.

Carrot and Angua appear most often in the "Guards" book s of the Discworld, by Terry Pratchett.

Carrot and Angua appear most often in the “Guards” book s of the Discworld, by Terry Pratchett.

The standard of the costumes ranged wildly, from things people had clearly cut out of cardboard the week before, to outfits that were indistinguishable from the original movie costumes. The ratio of costume to regular folks was about 1:3, so if you’re considering a costume for next year, don’t worry about being the only one – there’ll be plenty of others.

After two or three hours of strolling and gawking we were hungry and overstimulated. We wandered out and across the road to a food court and saw the most amazing mix of costumed characters and regular Vancouvians sharing tables. We queued up for pizza in front of Arthur Dent and (another) eleventh Doctor, but just behind a Hobbit. She explained she’s gone for the Hobbit costume rather than her Trek outfit. Imagine having a choice!

Even Ghostbusters need a lunchbreak...

Even Ghostbusters need a lunchbreak…

We took our pizza outside to sit in the weak sunshine, where the gardens around the fountain were dotted with X-men, Sailor Moons, Whovians and people I still don’t recognise. Maybe they were just from Vancouver?

Jean Grey is having hair trouble, it seems...

Jean Grey is having hair trouble, it seems…

After lunch it didn’t seem like a good idea forcing the Weasels back into the crowds, so we walked back to Canada Place and watched the plaza fill with people. There were dozens of impromptu photo shoots going on, and we grabbed the chance to get photos of our heroes.

These Guildies may have been one short, but their costumes were spot on.

These Guildies may have been one short, but their costumes were spot on.

GLaDos - the best interpretive costume we saw all day. She was stopped dozens of times for photos in the space of ten yards.

GLaDos – the best interpretive costume we saw all day. She was stopped dozens of times for photos in the space of ten yards.

Who wouldn't recognise that hat?

Who wouldn’t recognise that hat?

As we finally headed back through the Convention centre to the car park, we found the big group costume photo shoot going on. Everyone was smiling and laughing while a huge Thor directed like he was arranging wedding photos:

“Now VILLAINS! Ok, now all the Spidermen at the front, Batmen at the back! Black Cat, can you and that other Black Cat lie down at the front there? Let the Ghostbusters through, please!”

From above it looks like chaos, but it was organised chaos. Well, fairly organised...

From above it looks like chaos, but it was organised chaos. Well, fairly organised…

We didn’t come away from Fan Expo 2013 with a lot of loot, but we’d seen some amazing costumes, been inspired all over again for next year (and Hallowe’en!) and we’d even taken some time to speak to the comic artists who are after all, the reason for the whole event. Middle Weasel was told “You have to do a million bad drawings to get a good one” and that’s good to remember in life no matter what.

Thanks for a fun day out, Fan Expo!

You never know WHO you'll meet there!

You never know WHO you’ll meet there!

Doctor Horrible meets his nemesis...or biggest fan

Doctor Horrible meets his nemesis…or biggest fan

Maybe next year Fan Expo needs to be bigger on the inside?

Maybe next year Fan Expo needs to be bigger on the inside?

Capn America