All Hell Breaks Loose 3 – The Australian Supernatural Convention

This event occurred over the Saturday and Sunday the 26th and 27th of May.

I met up with my little sister Nicole (29) who is currently working in Singapore (gymnastics coach) in Sydney and on Friday afternoon we both crashed out for a few hours in our beds in some dodgy hotel in called High Cross Park Lodge. We were both doing our best to catch up on much needed zees – Nicole after a 9 hours flight from Singapore straight after work and myself from flying halfway round the world.

Let me tell you the “Lodge” (see below)

was not so much like a Lodge but more like a halfway house in the midst of renovations and sketchy reception service, which is to say there was NO ONE on the desk when I huffily hauled my two mammoth suitcases (okay only one was mammoth, the other one was a relative lightweight at 23kg) into the narrow hallway which couldn’t even remotely begin to resemble a lobby. There was no lobby. There was a dusty cold, wind tunnel of a hallway and that was it. Oh and and a very lovely, of elderly persuasion, cleaning lady who did her utmost to get my room ready and find a key for me so I could just lay down, out of the cold and sleep. She didn’t know when someone would be back on reception but she certainly did her best to get me into my room and for that I will be forever grateful. So my sister arrived at some point in the afternoon and we decided to sleep before we needed to get up and head out to Australian National Gymnastic Championships. We headed off to Sydney Olympic Park around 6.30ish via taxi and vaguely wondered how we’d get back given the distinct lack of taxi rank spots outside the Olympic Park. Details, details.

The Champs were good and once again proved to me that this sport is indeed one of the most hardcore of sports. Gymnastics may be filled with tiny girls, with pretty hair and cute little smiles but underneath that seemingly innocuous exterior lies a fearless little warrior heart that never hesitates a millimeter, even when flinging her lithe frame into the air above a beam of wood the width of a human foot, or launching at great speed from uneven bars or being vaulted off a springboard at a great rate of knots. I do enjoy watching other people take risks apparently and certainly share their joy in a successful round. We eventually found our way back to the NotALodge and hit the sack knowing we’d be up fairly early the next morning for the walk up to Sydney University where the Supernatural con was taking place.

So the Supernatural Con. I’ve realised I didn’t actually post anything about the Jus In Bello Con I attended in Rome. Surprising because it was definitely one of the major highlights of the year so far for me. But these events are things people react to in one of two ways – they are either fascinated, intrigued and all enthusiastic and encouraging about it and want to know more OR they are just completely baffled, possibly a little disturbed and often fairly generous with the slightly judgmental looks that imply perhaps you should be spending your money on other things. It’s not alcohol or drugs or fast food so I say if it makes you happy spend it – you could be hit by a bus tomorrow and then where would you be? Either in the ground as resentful worm food or burned in ashes full of regrets thinking If only I’d… true facts. Anyway all metaphysical observations aside the Italians hosted an excellent convention event. What for? The TV show Supernatural. Supernatural has been on tv screens now for seven seasons. They are about to start filming season 8. This is no small achievement for a network TV show. It does show in Australia and around the world. Don’t ask me what it’s about because that would require a whole blog on it’s own (yes blog not blog post). If you want to know you can go here.

Anyway the show has a cult status following (it’s not a massively high rating show) with several million viewers around the world. As a result (much like Star Trek and co) it has Conventions that fans can attend. The Supernatural conventions are pretty different though – there are often very relaxed panels where fans of the show can interact with writers, directors, actors and other cast and crew as this show very much has “family” feel to the people who work on it for 9 months of the year. Most crew and cast have been with the show throughout all the seasons and there is an easy camaraderie on set that is lead by the two main stars of the show Jared and Jensen (who play Sam and Dean Winchester respectively).

Jared Padalecki above (Sam Winchester) and Jensen Ackles below (Dean Winchester)

The conventions make the fans feel like they definitely get their voices heard about the show, are able to feedback to cast and crew what it is about the show they like or don’t like as the case may be. There’s autograph sessions, small group meet and greets with cast members (groups of 15 to 20), photo sessions, general Q&A panels etc and so on. There’s always a few fans who dress up for the occasion and usually there is endless talk about the show, the stories in it and speculation on where it’s going next.

So I attended the Rome one and was blown away by the approachability of everyone there. Made new friends, am now in frequent contact with them via the social networks and just generally reveled in the fact that I could turn to the people next to me and just talk about the show in detail and they know exactly what I’m on about. That kind of connection was very cool. I met Ana from the UK, Linda from Vienna and Kat from Germany and Krista from USA…and I wasn’t the only Aussie there! Over 45 Nationalities attended this con.

Got to have a few pics taken too!

It was great to actually meet the guys and talk about their work on the show and in other projects, you get a very detailed insight into the makings of a TV show like this, what the daily grind is like for them (not grinding much at all really – they work long hours but are paid well and hey it’s not rocket science although acting definitely presents a more than a few challenges).

So the Rome one was very special as it had many cast members there and the Aussie ones were pretty good as well – although missing Jared and Jensen they did manage to get a number of other regular cast members to attend and that was brilliant. Nicole and I had breakfast with them all on the Sunday morning and that was great, very relaxed (although some in attendance looked a little overwhelmed by it all) and laid back with much comparison between US and Australian breakfast foods and the actual legitimacy of vegemite (a couple of Americans there pro Vegemite a couple there vehemently ANTI vegemite!) as a spread that people would consume and enjoy. We both got photos done with all of them as part of the ticket price on Sunday and that was a lot of fun. It was Nicole’s first convention and it looks like it’s definitely not her last. There was even a fantastic 1967 Chevy Impala (this car is iconic in the series and practically is a main star character on the show!) – all black and and shiny, I took plenty of pics of it.

The guy who plays the Angel on the show Castiel – Misha Collins was kinda taken with this young fan’s efforts to emulate Castiel on the show:

Misha in full Castiel outfit

Misha and young fan. Oh and this is not a TV show for this age group by the way – in case you were wondering! Yes it’s probably safe for 13 years and up…and not those rare sensitive souled 13 year olds either…more like the ones that think Saw and Halloween are way cool!

The 67 Chevy Impala – if only it didn’t get such crap mileage I’d have one in a heartbeat!

Rare Sister Moment!

Next up….THE NATIONALS!!!!!

This is what is known as RETROSPECTIVE Blogging :)

Most lax of me I know, not to have posted here in over a month and I’ve lost count of the number of moments where I’ve just stopped, breathed a little deeper, thought a little longer and concluded I really must post that on my blog. However I think this Retrospective Blogging idea could take off!

We (Pip and I) had some fun in Derby and the UK.

Early morning shot taken out my window from where I was staying in Derby.

The rosette and 1st place glass coaster (currently residing on the loungeroom coffee table) for winning Grade6/7 Agility.

In line at Camddwr Farm Wales – in front Darleyfalls Tog aka the “Tog” man! ๐Ÿ™‚ Love this boy, ran by Stu and trained and loved by both Ann and Stu, he impressed me last year and this year he impressed me even more!ย  A big, bold tri colour he really raised to the occasion, Stu being so unlucky not to podium with some brilliant and quick runs with him. Behind Tog is his sister (repeat later mating) Pip in charge of the toys as usual ๐Ÿ˜‰ and behind her the more lady like Noonoo!! (Well she was being lady like in this pic at least) Ann and Noo had a FANTASTIC World Agility Open, I was so chuffed for them both, Ann running Noo clear twice inside in the superb indoor arena and Stu finishing with a top three placing with her in one of the Pentathlon rounds. She didn’t put a paw wrong and the excitement coming off her and her owners/handlers was palpable and infectious! Go the Noo!

The World Agility Open Championships were held in Belgium in a little town called Neeroeteren at a world class equestian centre called De Warre. This event is just going to get bigger and better with each year it is held I believe, already the standard has improved from last year with a number of FCI World dog/handler teams choosing to compete this year. This was a fantastic venue that met both practical and aesthetic needs. Nestled in a very pretty area, surrounded by woods it made for a lovely setting. There were three rings in all, total and that is a credit to the organisers managing to run through so many dogs and runs with just three rings.

Pip and I soaked up the atmosphere of it all. We had our first runs on Friday – three in total – one biathlon jumping where we ran clear, won our group and finished 5th out of all the 525 dogs. In the two pentathlon runs – the first one being our very first run in Agility that morning – we E’d at the tough weaver entry. It was definitely doable but we definitely needed a bit more practice together before tackling that sort of challenge.

This was our very first course of the WAO:

The E in the Jumping in the afternoon came about when in my efforts to guide Pip as tightly as possible around the course I didn’t take into account that these giant wings have giant feet on them! The fall by me was quite smooth ๐Ÿ˜‰ but a fall none the less that brought the bar down and gained me an E for contacting on equipment. It was nice to finish the day with a clear and sitting 5th place going into the biathlon final agility. However the two Es in the Pentathlon meant that there would be no runs for us on Saturday.

What that did mean though – in between taking Pip for nice long walks in the woods, getting her pet passport checked off and having a play with her in the practice ring – was that I was able to sit back, relax and take in everyone elses’ runs and I was sure glad of the opportunity to do so (would have been more glad to have run of course but I just had to suck that one up). I managed to watch most of Daisy and Solar’s runs which were just GREAT to see live for a change instead of via the internet. Solar and Daisy were LOVING the Pentathlon courses and were putting down some very nice, smooth moves that got them through courses clear and in top five and winning a couple of the pentathlon rounds too I think.

My team mates were having a mixed bag Saturday – Megan and George had gotten through to the next round of the Pentathlon (only having one fault per round in the the first two rounds – a great effort), as had Di and Dottie and Tracey and Spud. None of them managed clear rounds on the Saturday except for Tracey and Spud who put in a nice clean jumping round with Spud. Simone Holt, Tom and myself had not made it through, but both Tom and Simone were doing the Games runs as well so they had those to focus on as well as the last round of the Biathlon to be held on Sunday. Karen and Cody, Jules and Magners were not having such a brilliant time with their dogs – both these littlies had run well for the girls at previous events but it seemed the different atmosphere, location and overall newness of it all meant that both Karen and Jules worked hard to try and get them round courses but it was not meant to be. The ladies did their best though and whilst disappointed were still able to make the most of their opportunity to be at this event and watch some top teams of handlers. Frank and Zuma were a different story – Frank managed to get Zuma around most courses – not clear – but not slow or distractedly either. Frank did very well with Zuma, who is 9 and a half years old and runs very different from all Frank’s dogs, and so when he finished with her, the applause was definitely audible.

The Aussie team: From leftย  to right – back row: Megan and George, Jules and Magners, Karen and Cody, Di and Dottie, Frank and Zuma front row: Me and Pip,Tom and Hydro, Simone H and Buster and Tracey and Spud.

Sunday all day I had one run with the Pipistrelle – I think she was more than raring to go. Probably a little put out that there were no runs for us on the Saturday. Either way she came out like a freight train and I had an absolute ball guiding her round the course. We had two blips unfortunately – again probably just a lack of time together and I’m talking a couple years here ๐Ÿ˜‰ – where if I had just thrown in one more verbal (on top of the two I’d already given) we could have avoided a refusal and then one where I was in too much of a hurry for her, again a refusal. No off courses, no bars down and she was moving pretty quick ๐Ÿ˜‰ But sadly, of course in such top competition in a two round event, those two refusals cost us and we dropped to 16th in the standings. Not what we really wanted in the end but still, I was proud of our 5th place run (2nd through to 6th were all within 1 second of each other) and also our win at the KC trial the weekend before. It was a total honour to get to run a dog like Pip at an event such as this, as I said to Sandra – it was the first time I have ever stepped to a start line with a dog (including all my own and others I have run for other people) and felt that this dog could do it all, she has a start line, she has contacts, she has brilliant independent obstacle performance skills and she has all the jumping skills. And on top of all that she was definitely one of the quickest across the ground. It was with absolute sincerity that I felt that Pip is Sandra’s one in a million dog, once in a lifetime dog. She’s had others and will have more of course – but Pip? She’s never going to be surpassed. If I’d thought for a second Sandra would consider it I would have happily made her an offer! As it was I was busily daydreaming about all the possible explanations for how I managed to sneak her into Australia! I think the final highlight for me was when Sandra asked if I would like to do the WAO again next year – I said if I was lucky enough to be on the team I would for sure. And Sandra promptly went on to let me know that Pip would definitely be available for me to run again next year. ๐Ÿ˜€ The emoticon cannot do the enormous grin on my face justice but it goes a little way.

The intensity and drive on this little girl is fabulous, the camera does it’s best to do her justice!

So that was the end of the World Agility Open adventure. For now. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It was time to repack the extra luggage, say goodbye and be on my way to the east coast of Australia where I was meeting up with my sister, Nicole.

I think I better put that one in another post!