Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Hannibal - Red Dragon Convention & Mads Mikkelsen October 2015

A random post for you all! I haven't posted since 2013... the last thing I posted about was my beautiful 'grandson' Blue, the pug puppy. Well, now he lives with us and life is absolutely amazing!

Now I have a new thing to post about. Something I did that was the best thing I have done in many years, if not my entire life! I have been hooked on a TV show lately, which started a couple of years ago, called HANNIBAL. Coincidentally, that is about the time I stopped writing this blog.... (If you haven't seen it, and you like the Thomas Harris books and enjoyed Silence of The Lambs, Red Dragon etc, then I suggest you watch it) It is the number one best thing I've ever seen, ever. Like in my whole life.

Here's a promotional cast shot:

Hannibal TV show cast (NBC)
I only really watched because I was convinced it was going to be awful and they would ruin my favourite 'horror' film. Well, about half way through the first or second episode I suddenly noticed that the guy they had playing Dr Hannibal Lecter was really quite pretty. Then within about another 5 minutes I was absolutely smitten with the bloke. I mean, I was proper hooked. He is the most beautiful and striking man I have ever seen. (Apart from my beautiful fiance Brian of course, who by the way is actually pretty similar looking to Hannibal) Anyway, I decided to find out what I could about this actor.

Here he is as Hannibal. You can see what I mean right?

Seriously hot Hannibal Lecter

His name is Mads Mikkelsen and he is a Dane and I knew I had seen him previously; he starred as the Bond villain Le Chiffre in Casino Royale, he was in Clash of the Titans, and Arthur, all of which I had seen. I then hunted out some more and came across some absolutely cracking films. Check out his IMDB page and see if you can get to see some. In particular, The Hunt is a fantastic yet hard to watch film. And A Royal Affair is another great one. He has done some brilliant stuff and he is a fantastic actor. I am steadily working my way through all his stuff :)

So, back to my blog post. After a couple of years lost in the rabbit hole that is the Mads Mikkelsen fan zone, constantly looking at photos of him, surrounding my workspace with photos of him, getting obsessed and geeky about the tv show Hannibal, replacing most of my wardrobe with new Hannibal merchandise, I started to get a bit sad that all these fans in the USA and elsewhere were meeting him and getting photos and I would never get that chance. Roll on to September last year, 2015 and I spotted that Mads Mikkelsen had been announced as a guest at a Hannibal convention in London. I dropped everything and bought a Gold weekend ticket and crossed my fingers that he would not cancel. The event was held 16th-18th October 2015.

The convention was called Red Dragon and was organised by a company called Starfury and was held in the Marriott Renaissance Hotel Heathrow. I had the most fun I have ever had in my life. The guests were: Mads Mikkelsen / Hannibal Lecter (OH MY GOD), Katharine Isabelle / Margot Verger, Lara Jean Chorostecki / Freddie Lounds, Kacey Rohl / Abigail Hobbs, Scott Thompson / Jimmy price and Aaron Abrams / Brian Zeller.

I went alone and was worried that I would not meet anyone or be able to talk to them as I am really awful on my own in social situations. In fact, I was the complete opposite and after a wobbly start there, I plucked up the guts to talk to a couple of people and I am so glad I did! I met the most lovely bunch of people I could have hoped to meet. We all had a fantastic time, a lot of laughs (booze induced!) and all met our idols and a huge chunk of the Hannibal cast. The Fannibals (definition here) were all amazing and lovely and every single person got on and had a lovely time.

Here's me at registration where I met the lovely Emma:

I was pretty excited at this point

I was so excited that I was going to meet Mads.

We had what they call the 'Meet and Greet' for Gold ticket holders on the Friday evening after a nice and rousing opening ceremony where all the guests came up on stage to say Hi. Well, apart from Mads who was flying in at that point from a film festival in Lyon, France. The meet and greet was great. We were sat at round tables in groups of about 10. There were no photos allowed although some people did take some but I won't post them as we were asked not to do it. And I'm a stickler for the rules. There were nine of us on our table if I remember rightly. A lovely lady I met in the registration queue, Emma, had been so bloody nice and saved me a seat. She couldn't have picked two better seats either as we were sat right opposite the guest seat. I thought wouldn't it be great to be sat next to them, but this was better by a billion miles. The guests basically looked right at as the whole time as we were right in front of them in their eye line. Good going Emma ;)

That's just a filler picture haha of my beer and my GOLD TICKET!! I love that pass and it hangs proudly in my bedroom now, much to Brian's delight ;)

So all the guests were absolutely lovely. A couple of the girls seemed a bit nervous at first (Lara and Kacey) but it was their first convention so I guess they didn't know what to expect. Plus it is a convention for fans of a serial killing cannibal, so maybe they were a bit concerned what we would be like....! Katharine seemed so full of confidence and was really lively. She was amazing. So funny, so hot and beautiful, so normal too. I know they are all normal, but you know, you kind of forget that when you're talking about 'celebrities'. The lads were pretty funny and confident too so that was nice. I'm not going to lie though, Mads was the main deal for me. And he was awesome and completely lived up to my expectations. I thought I wouldn't be able to talk to any of the guests, let alone Mads but with a few beers in me, I was non stop Miss chatty!! I have to say by the time Mads reached our table, I think he had had a few shots and a few beers because he seemed pretty tipsy. He is really just as beautiful close up as he is in his glamorous photo shoots.

He talked to us about a couple of his films and what he was promoting at the film festival. I can't really remember much else. Not because I had been drinking but because I was so overwhelmed by the whole thing I just can't remember much. He kept looking right at me and Emma though, as we were sat right in front of him. I remember him saying about his film Valhalla Rising, after I mentioned that I quite liked it, that it was a pretty weird film. That's about all I can remember. Apart from me keeping on nudging Emma's leg the whole time because I just couldn't quite believe he was there in front of us. Then as he got up to go, he gave us a wink and we actually both had a full on swoon. Like a proper fangirly swoon. That meet and greet alone was worth the £160 ticket price for me.

Here's another filler picture. My pass, auto ticket, poster and programme. Ellen Muth (Georgia Madchen in the tv show) was supposed to have been a guest too but unfortunately she was taken ill and could not make it.

My Red Dragon memorabilia
I also prepaid for some photo shoots before the event which cost me a fair chunk of money but they were absolutely worth it. Since this was the first time I had been to anything like this I had nothing to compare it to and no idea what to expect. I've since realised that compared to other conventions, this was a very well organised, very reasonably priced event. You got to spend a good chunk of time with the guests and there were plenty of talk panels and auto sessions and photo shoots to keep you busy the whole time. Not to mention a party each evening and a great costume competition on the Saturday night. It was fantastic. The prices of the photos were also extremely cheap compared to other events I have seen.

So onto the photo shoots. I purchased:
The Group photo: (Which was signed by all the guests, I loved that!)

Awesome group photo with the Hannibal cast
Lara Jean (who was teeny tiny and made me look enormous!):


Scott and Aaron together:

I also purchased one with Katharine and Mads together:

Hot damn. Sexy sandwich!

That was way too sexy for words. Like just wow. Look at them. My boy and girl crush together. I couldn't speak any words...  Think this might be my favourite photo of them all. I look so incredibly happy but then who wouldn't be sandwiched in between those two beauties :)

Then I got one with Mads on the Saturday (first one) and I was so disappointed with it, I looked horrendous so I got two more on the Sunday. They made up for the bad one. (That meant 3 x hugs with the most beautiful man on the planet)

God I hate that photo ^^. Although Mads looks amazing and he's smiling too which I love but I just cringe when I look back at me! I was not brave enough to step closer so I look all weird.

Just look at his face!

This last one I was super happy with but I wish he'd had the nicer smile he had in the first one. But I got braver this one and stepped right in, face on for a better photo. My new friend from New York, Laura, gave me that advice and I ended up with a great photo. So thank you Laura!

I have to say here that Mads was so snuggly. All I can really remember is that he has the sexiest voice/ accent ever and that he is really warm and snuggly. To be fair, he was pretty poorly apparently, the whole weekend (thanks for passing on your bug by the way Mads, a whole bunch of us got sick after that weekend haha) Maybe it was being poorly that made him warm? I don't really care what made him warm to be honest. I loved it.

Each Mads photo was £45 and the other guests were £20. The group photo cost £125 but as a gift they got all the guests to sign the group photo which I thought was a great thing to do. I think overall the weekend cost me in excess of £800 and I only came from Southampton to London but I do not give two shits about that because I had the most fabulous time and I still haven't really come down from the high of it all to be honest. It was worth every single penny.

I took my book 'The Art and making of Hannibal' to get signed by all the guests as I am not really an autograph person but one from everyone was included in the ticket price. I'm glad I did, it looks great now!

My signed artwork book
Whilst waiting in line to get Mads to sign my book, I was ok, but then about 20 minutes away from him, I had a sudden meltdown. I still feel so sorry for the lady I was stood with in line, Deidre, as I was just a right pain in the arse! By the way, Deidre is admin for a fantastic site called 'Wear The Rude' about all the clothing and fashion items used in the Hannibal TV show, you can also follow on Twitter here.

I fell to pieces unfortunately when it came to meeting Mads in the auto section. Even though I had already chatted with him comfortably at the meet and greet, and managed to hug him in my photos, I just couldn't get any words out. It was actually quite humiliating in the end and I'm still gutted about it. Next time I'll be carrying my Fannibal Hipflask with me to ensure I get some Dutch courage.... (I'm hoping he'll be there but if not, the second one will still be a blast I know! More on this further down)

My customised Fannibal Hip Flask
If you are reading this Emz of Dilligaf Decals, I got you one too. So no buying one before RDC2!!

When I finally got to Mads' table, I handed over my book and just kind of stared at him. My words were trying to get out. They were trying so hard but I just couldn't say them. I had planned to tell him that I thought his portrayal of Hannibal Lecter was absolutely ingenious, that I had been worried he would not live up to the Hopkins standard but he had nailed it completely but in a different way to Hopkins. Just as brilliant in his own right. I wanted to tell him that one of my favourite films of his was Flame and Citron and that I thought it was fantastic and his acting was superb. I wanted to say thank you for coming to the event and for being so gracious with 400 odd fans, sitting there signing that many autographs and having the same conversations over and again, whilst feeling ill. I wanted to say thank you for giving out so many hugs and for being once again gracious and obliging when people were asking for strange poses in their photos. Unfortunately, none of that came out and instead I looked at him right in the eyes and just said the following... (I am so embarrassed): "I just have to tell you something before I burst. You are so pretty. And beautiful and just really fit".

OH MY GOD. I was mortified. How much more frikken awkward could I have been? Ugh. I hated myself right at that moment. He responded with something pleasant but I saw his eyes roll a bit and I just felt humiliated. I humiliated myself in front of my bloody idol. Ugh. I cannot believe I said that. I wasn't even thinking it at the time, it just kind of forced its way out of my mouth. But, it happened and I need to suck it up and get on with life!

After that, I got really drunk at the Saturday party, we ended up in McDonald's at 4am and about 2 hours later I woke up in my hotel bed, totally naked with a half eaten cheeseburger on my belly. And then I ate it and went back to sleep. Saturday was not a good day for me!!!

The Saturday party however, was great. it was the night of the costume party and there were some really great entries. This was on top of the people who were in cosplay pretty much the whole time anyway. Oh and I forgot to mention the flower crowns. It's a Fannibal thing.

I love this photo showing the guests reactions whilst judging the costume party!

That's me at the front holding the champagne bottle! And all my lovely new Fannibal mates!
Here is me with my American twinnie Jayme. So many similarities and coincidences, it was very amusing. Can't wait to see everyone again at Behold The Red Dragon 2016!

My (smaller) American doppelgänger Jayme and me :)

All in all, I think I had the best weekend of my entire life (apart from being with Brian that is...!) and I felt so miserable once it had finished and the high of the weekend had gone. I still like to talk about it now and have the photos and memorabilia everywhere.

One funny thing that happened is that my boss, who by the way has met Brian so many times, saw all my photos of me and Mads around my desk. He works away so was not aware of the convention. So I told him about it and said look, you see the guy in all my pictures here, well I met him at the con and look these are the photos I got. And he said that he thought they were me and Brian and we had paid to get a fancy photoshoot done! I was in stitches. Mainly because Brian hates it when I or other people tell him he looks a bit like Mads Mikkelsen. (He has fair hair, same kind of nose, a lack of eyebrows... well light blond ones that is)

So, the bit about the second convention. The guests seemed to have a great time and there were tears on the stage at the end from the girls. I think they were probably surprised and maybe overwhelmed by the outpouring of love that came from us all. There has not been any event until this one just based on Hannibal and just for them. The girls definitely enjoyed it because all three of them have now been confirmed as guests for the next one. We were unsure if there would be a second one as Starfury had struggled to sell the full allocation of tickets, even after Mads had been announced. This was surprising and worrying. Maybe the people who did not buy tickets were not expecting it to be as amazeballs as it was, I don't really know. So we were all holding our fingers crossed for a second event as the organiser seemed to think it had been a great success. Hopefully, the amount of photoshoots and autos that were bought helped sway things. Anyway, apparently as Mads was leaving he mentioned to Sean, the Satrfury owner, that he had two plans for the next year. One was to get a season 4 of Hannibal (please God!!) and the other was to bring Hugh Dancy (Will Graham) to the convention next year.

Here is a picture of some us in the evening in the hotel lobby, and some fabulous cosplays!!

Fun times at the Red Dragon Con. Amazing memories :)
So the fact that the organiser told us this gave us all hope that there would be a second one (and that Mads and Hugh might come!!). And then thankfully he announced that there would be! And the next one would be called 'Behold the Red Dragon' and would have a lot more tickets and would be held at the Radisson Blu, Heathrow on 7th-9th October 2016. With no announced guests they managed to sell out the Gold tickets in about half an hour and now there are only a few regular tickets left. If you would like to purchase tickets, go here to Starfury's website. I would recommend it 100%. You do not want to miss out!! So there are three confirmed guests so far: Katharine Isabelle, Kacey Rohl and Lara Jean Chorostecki. I am of course hoping for Mads again but I booked my ticket based off the fact that last year was such a fun time and if he was not to come, I would still have an amazing time and see all my lovely new Fannibal friends again. I urge you to buy a ticket if you are considering it. Do it now before it is too late and then you regret it. There are Fannibals coming from all over the world. Australia, USA, Canada, Russia, Poland, UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Japan, Thailand- all over! Join us!!

I met some lovely people at the con who I now consider friends. If any of you are reading this, then you know who you are :) I love all of you and am so glad I met you all.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. I will try to get some more done at some point.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Pug Puppy - Blue the Pug cross French Bulldog (Frenchie Pug or Frug)

So the other day Brian and I got to baby sit Blue, his daughters Frenchie Pug / Frug puppy. He is one quarter French Bulldog and three quarters Pug. I say he’s a puppy, he’s actually just over a year old now but he’ll always be a puppy to me. I love this boy so much it is unbelievable. And, I am a cat person so it surprises me how much I love him!

This is the beautiful boy:


Anyway, seeing as Blue has an immense amount of energy and is completely relentless ALL THE TIME we decided we would have a crack at knackering him out so he would sleep all night.

So we took him for a walk at 12.30pm. We went to a place called Hamble, Southampton and walked him up and down the beach:


We then went to a beautiful place in Hamble called HambleCommon. We walked around the woods and along the waterfront to Hamble Marina where we had an ice cream and Blue watched the other dogs playing in the water. We walked back through the common and all along the river where blue watched some Spaniels having a whale of a time. Blue is not really into water so much but as it was hot, he did have a bit of a paddle which we thought was pretty brave for him. Then he had a little accident and ended up falling in some very deep water. It was so funny! He went right under the water and disappeared but luckily he was on the lead so Brian managed to drag him back up! He was not impressed and looked so surprised when he popped back up! We were laughing so hard we ended up in tears. Needless to say blue did not find it so amusing. We carried on walking and went back to the beach and walked some more so he could dry off a bit.



In this photo below, he was standing 6 inches from where the water got very deep. He couldn’t see the edge though like we could.



After Hamble, we went to Manor Farm Country Park for some more walking. This country park is lovely and is mostly woodlands with a couple of open fields and play areas for children. It was heaving that day as it was so hot and sunny. We had to keep Blue on the lead unfortunately as he has a little problem with picnics. He has a habit of launching himself into, yes… INTO peoples picnics and coming out with their food. Needless to say, we thought it best to keep him tethered during the walk at manor Farm. The country park also has a section that runs along the Hamble River so it is a really lovely place.

After our walking, we got home and had some dinner. We then decided seeing as it was still sunny that we would take a walk down to the park and then onto the White Swan Pub for a beer. We like that pub as it sits right on the River Itchen and it's only a 35 minute walk away from us, through the beautiful Riverside Park. The walk there and back home again is 5km in total. So we thought it’d be good for tiring out Blue. We took a tennis ball and all the way through the park we were making Blue run and chase the ball. And I mean pretty much non-stop. This dog does not seem to have any pug or French bulldog traits (apart from looks and cuteness) as pugs and Frenchies do not run too much. They pant and fuss and then just sit down for arest after about 5 minutes of exercise. Not Blue! He just will not stop! When we got to the pub he was starting to look a little sleepy so we had a nice pint outside and made the journey home.


Along the way we made him chase the tennis ball again as much as he could manage and he enjoyed chasing all the crows too. Then by the time we got home it turns out we were the knackered ones and ended up in bed at about 10pm! So poor old Blue had been out walking and running and chasing balls and birds, swimming and exercising from 12.30pm until 9.30pm. He was bushed and ended up sleeping like a baby until 6am. When of course Brian got up to take him for a walk whilst I stayed in bed!

When his Mum and Dad came to get him that day, he looked so tired. They went to the pub for lunch and said that for the first time in his life, he slept through their entire pub meal rather than trying to get fed every five minutes. They had never seen him so tired! Blue is not normally that way ever.

This is him conked out waiting for Mum and Dad:


We had a great day and night with Blue. It reminds me how lovely it is to have a pet dog or cat but also reminds us why we do not have any companions at the moment. It is hard work and a lot of commitment. We couldn’t just go out at the drop of a hat like we do now. We couldn’t just up and go in our camper van. We couldn’t holiday as much as we do and we certainly would be able to think about leaving the country in a few years. Not without careful planning and consideration for someone other than ourselves that is. I think we are content to have the kid’s puppies as and when we feel like it and they need us to. Even though I find puppies so damned cute!!

I hope you liked my post today. If you did, I’d be grateful if you would ‘+1’ this or ‘like’ it to share it. You know what to do! Don’t forget to check out my Flickr page where I store the majority of my photos. I will be back again soon with some new posts for you to enjoy including a post about a recent ‘pug meet up’ that Blue was a part of.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Isle of Wight Beauty

Today I want to show you a few photos from a visit to the Isle of Wight. The Isle of Wight is a little island across the water from Southampton, UK. We love going to the Island as we always have a lovely time there. It is genuinely beautiful and we love just driving around looking at all the beautiful scenery and coastline.

We always take the car ferry over the water, Red Funnel, as we like to stay and camp at our favourite campsite Ninham, near Shanklin. It is a great site with two small carp lakes that we love to fish. It is within walking distance to Shanklin beach too and we often walk down for food and beer and sometimes visit Sandown too. The Isle of Wight is perfect for short breaks really. The reason we have been there recently was to do my photography days at the Isle of Wight Zoo where I got to get really close to the tigers and lions. See my post from the visit here.

Anyway, enjoy the beauty that the Isle of Wight has to offer!


This is a garden display at Ventnor, one of our favourite places:



Beach huts at Ventnor beach:


This was the view whilst walking, somewhere on the Island!


And this is a light house we found during that walk:


Down by one of the beaches:


This is the cable car up at the Needles:


This is the view out to the Needles:



I think this is looking down onto Shanklin beachfront:


And this is a pretty hotel at shanklin or Sandown:


And I thought I’d finish off with some funny looking mushrooms I spotted (photographed whilst drunk so excuse the slight blurriness!)


Why not ‘like’ this post or ‘+1’ it if you enjoyed it? Also, don’t forget to check out my Flickr page where I store the majority of my photographs. I’ll be back soon with more posts!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Tunisia New Year 2012/2013- Hammamet

This past New Year, we decided we wanted to go away with Brian’s children and their partners. We set ourselves a very low budget and began to have a look at some winter sun destinations. We wanted to go to Egypt but for that week the prices were ludicrous and more than we had paid for our 2 weeks a year ago.

We ended up booking Tunisia on the off chance it might be warm. We went to Hammamet. Well, it was certainly warmer than the UK during winter but it wasn’t great. We were up most mornings swimming in the heated outdoor pool and walking along the beaches. We ate breakfast outside everyday so the weather was pretty ok. Very sunny, just not hot. To be fair, we were in t-shirt and shorts most days so it wasn’t all that bad! The kids of course, were not impressed! They didn’t even go in the pool that was 27 degrees because they said it was freezing! It was amusing. Me and Brian made the most of the holiday anyway even if the kids weren’t that motivated.

We made sure to walk along the beach as much as we could. Our little bit of beach was beautiful, but either side was pretty horrible. It was like the buildings were empty ad no one had cleaned the beaches in years. It looked pretty awful. The streets outside were quite the same. I think since they have had their revolution (the so called Arab Spring started off in Tunisia), there has been less tourism and a lot less money being spent on tourist areas. The streets were strewn with rubbish and it just looked desolate and empty. To be fair though, the hotel was fine for what it was- a 4* all inclusive.

So here are some of the photos from that week in Tunisia over New Year 2012. As you can see- the sky is mostly blue and the water is stunning. Just one day I got a black sky in the photo.

The beach at the hotel:


Brian looking lovely at the beach:



Look at that water:


Oh, and a camel and black skies:

Sunsets at the beach:



 Hotel grounds:





This is the outdoor pool- not heated so not in use- and that is where we had breakfast in the mornings:




This was the heated pool, half indoor and half outdoor. We were in there every day for a good couple of hours until the sun went away:



This was a stunning display that the hotel had in reception. It was ALL made from food! All of it- every last bit. Needless to say someone got drunk and had a nibble… but it wasn’t me or Brian:



The hotel was home to many, many cats which I absolutely loved! The hotel staff looked after them and asked people not to feed them as they were already being fed, but obviously people carried on regardless. The girl cats were really friendly and cuddled up to you at breakfast times- we ate outside. The boy cats were not as friendly and were pretty much there for the food and to hump a female cat if he got the chance!

These two look *exactly* the same as my cats from when I was younger- Reggie and Billie. They are also mum and baby too. It was eerie to say the least! You can see posts about them much earlier on in my archive. These two were nice and cuddly:


Look at these beautiful little kittens we found! Their mother (the one at the front in the photo above) had hidden them away behind a pillar near the breakfast restaurant and by the heated pool.


The main shopping village at Yasmine Hammamet:


Neighbouring hotel and sunset:


Beautiful scenery along the beach towards the old souk/ market (you may recognise one photo from my header!):




I have more photos at my Flickr site if you want to take a look. If you liked this post, please give it a share of some sort and I’ll be eternally grateful! I will be back soon with some new posts and photographs.