Saarbrücken to Berlin
We breakfasted early on the Thursday morning with a mixture of muesli, breads, cheese and meats and also leftover lasagne, chilli and cake. It was raining heavily when we set off from Saarbrücken. I joined Marie in her van with the majority of the luggage whilst Jenny’s car was packed full of Cameron, Juli, Ed and Helene. Marie and I slowly worked through her CD collection during the first leg of the journey while I finished off some of the cartons of milk from the house.
We pulled into a rest stop area for Marie and me to swap over to share out the driving. This was my first time driving on the right hand side and was very exciting. I pulled us onto the slip road and joined the traffic. Unfortunately I misjudged the amount of travel on the gears in Marie’s van and so dropped us into 3rd instead of 5th at an inopportune moment, an error which would have gone unnoticed I am sure but for the sound of the truck driver’s horn from behind us which continued for some time. Once I had scraped Marie off the ceiling we settled down and had a very pleasant ride, I adjusted quickly to the driving and we had a pretty smooth onward journey (Marie even had a nap!). The various big rainstorms had mostly cleared up so we stopped for a picnic lunch at a services area. The toilets were a long walk through the services and cost 70 cents. I tried to flush the toilet and a very strange contraption emerged from the back panel and then the seat started spinning around. I had never seen this before and was justly fascinated but it didn’t actually achieve anything. A quick scout of the cubicle revealed the actual flush button. Cameron admitted to me that he had had a similar experience so I didn’t feel quite so daft.
Marie and I swapped back and we had a very good ride up towards Leipzig. On the way I saw the largest manmade spoil heap/quarry hill I have ever seen. There were also some nice castles on the hills and some nice views/scenery.
There were a couple of accidents on the way although we were not held up for long, we did get split up when Jenny missed the autobahn towards Berlin. Marie and I ploughed on past Leipzig and then waited for them there. I sent messages giving our location and we settled down to a good game of Hive but some time later I got a call and they had gone past. We played catch-up and were eventually reunited at Rasthof Fläming. The remainder of the journey into Berlin was uneventful until we crossed the ‘Rhine’ and near took out Jenny’s car, longest skid I’ve been in, well done ABS I say. Not long after we turned into the FEZ driveway and parked up in the car park signposted for the convention.
Arrival at the FEZ
It was a long walk through the car park to the venue, apparently there was an event on the Friday and so we were not allowed to use the car parks closest to the venue. We dragged our cases through the lobby and headed down to the registration tent. We were issued with our ‘loser’ passes, which you can exchange for a real pass once you volunteer for something. Organisers are also allowed to grab you at any time to help with something if you have a loser badge which is quite a powerful incentive to volunteer. We were planning to run some workshops in any case and so we got our real wrist (and in some cases, ankle) bands and were able to head down to the campsite. We lost Cameron at this point as they were selling beer in the tent.
We picked a very good spot for our tents on a semi-grassy area on the sandy beach next to the lake which was conveniently close to an entrance off from the tarmacked path. We were trying to minimise the amount of sand we would need to walk on. Once we were set up we headed back towards the breakfasting area where we had spotted a pizza van trading on the way down. They were very nice pizzas and I thought they were very well priced. We ate in the coffee tent with plenty of familiar faces and Ed bought a coffee afterward.
The Main Hall
The hall was pretty full when we arrived and I spent a while saying a few hellos and chatting with people. Cameron and I had a bit of a passing session and managed my best ever run of 8 club swing and we had a few decent runs of 10 clubs. Jenny and I also passed balls, juggled the new toast base pattern and did a few 8 club patterns.
Combat got started during the passing so I went over when we had finished and joined in a few rounds of group combat. It didn’t last very long at all until there were only a handful of us left.
Ed gave me a top tip about the lockers, there were loads of them available for a refundable 1 Euro so I packed all my juggling kit at the venue rather than bringing it back to the tent or leaving it all in the hall. We then got our shoes (BJC flyering of the shoe rack, approved) and headed back to the campsite by the lake. On the way Juli offered that I could join her for a run around the park one morning later in the convention, I expressed reluctance but wished her a lovely time. I was leaving the toilet block after brushing my teeth when I bumped into Alex and Sarah and I actually got a big hug FROM ALEX! That really meant a lot when you consider the hugging avoidance workshop which he teaches. I gave them some toothpaste in return and then wandered off to find my tent in the dark.
I awoke on Friday feeling a bit groggy and miserable. I was actually very comfortable, just awake too early and unable to get back to sleep. I headed up the beach and had a shower and instantly felt a lot more awake! The water shifted between lukewarm and cold but it was the cold morning wind which blew under and over the cubicle which really woke me up. ‘Refreshed’, I headed up the beach to the breakfast area and managed to catch Jenny and Marie. I enjoyed my muesli and yoghurt for breakfast. I first went to the Berlin convention in 2012 and got hooked on the idea of muesli with yoghurt, it make so much more sense than milk and I have had it for breakfast ever since. I went to wash my pots with Andy and he pointed out a red squirrel. These are not rare in this area of Germany (or these particular woods?) and I got a wonderful view of it as it ran around, what a treat!
Back in the hall, Jenny and I passed 8 club patterns again and I had a solo club session. I actually ran into Neil Smith in the hall and had a really good catch up (his regards to Dave Kelly and Ball Spinning Pete), it was lovely to see him again and hear how he was getting on.
I had a really good passing session with Jaymo where we did some tricky 7 club patterns and siteswaps before moving up the numbers and hitting some nice runs of 8 club ultimates. I met Ian Deady in the hall and had a nice chat but had to run off and grab a quick food break before we needed to practise for our Ambled Toast workshop. Ed led the workshop and Helene, Juliane and I played demonstrators and went around the groups giving tips and advice. It was pretty well attended and the groups did well, but the pattern does have an awkward turn and immediate double pass which caught a lot of people out. The workshop went down well.
Fight Night Qualifications
Plenty of combatters were congregating at one end of the main hall and bashing clubs together so I headed over and played a few rounds to warm up before the qualifications kicked off. There were 26 players taking part and we were divided into two groups. I think that our group was possibly harder than the other group. I managed to win all my matches bar my match with Luke which I lost dismally. My playing style just doesn’t seem to ever cut through his defence. I had to take a big time out during my match with Ian as I caught my finger badly on my own arm and bent it quite far backwards, it swelled up massively and started to bruise. We postponed the match till later as I was in a lot of pain and couldn’t realy catch clubs. It got a little better and I eased back in again after 20 minutes or so. Despite my injury I was thrilled to find I had seeded 4th. I was not sure that I would qualify (I mean come on, it’s Berlin!) so I was pretty over the moon with that result. Luke wanted to play out the round of 16 matches before the tournament but a number of players had wandered off and couldn’t be found so those matches were held during the tournament.
I sat and played ‘guess Jon’s job’ with the Alexes, Sarah, DJ and friends which was quite amusing and hopefully interesting (I didn’t initiate the game by the way).
I re-joined the gang and we headed back out to the pizza van again to grab some food before the Open Stage, and we stood at the back of a massive queue. I am glad we went down early as it took ages (sheer weight of jugglers). Ed had time to walk down to the other food place, order, be served, bring it back, eat it and then sit about chatting for ages, and we were still not much further on. I ordered eine pizza hawaii mit spinat, and we carried our pizzas back to the foyer (or was it a lobby?) where the Open Stage show was to be held. We climbed the spiral stairs and dragged a table over to the balcony to watch the show, it seemed to be the done thing. I had forgotten my notebook and so irritated everyone round me by typing notes into my phone and taking photos to help me write about the show.
The Open Stage Show
Our moderator for the evening was Lisa and she was in charge of keeping the energy going and introducing the acts to the stage. Unfortunately, due to the acoustics from where we were on the balcony I missed a lot of the performers’ names.
The first act (possibly Mr Coli?) performed a routine which I think was entitled Cosmic Balls. It was a pretty funny routine with sequences timed very well with the music. There were also a lot of music related gaggery. There was a point about three quarters of the way through the act when I wanted to see some more juggling as the gags got a bit heavy, but it was very well performed and thought out. I enjoyed the recurring Spice Girls.
Next on stage was a very well dressed performer who entered with a suitcase and proceeded to perform a contact ball routine with the ball rolling around the edge of the case. Again, it was nicely thought out and performed. I wanted a few more varied tricks to creep out but the character and presentation was excellent throughout.
Ian Deady (announced Deadly) wowed us all with a stunning hula hoop routine. I know Ian as a tough combat opponent and he casts quite an intimidating figure and so I was stunned, I was not expecting that at all, it was wonderful! He performed to Bonnie’s ‘I Need a Hero’ and gave a lot of high energy and laughter to the show. He had a very glamorous assistant who was able to balance on his head whilst he did the hoop around his knees and juggled clubs. The presentation was great but the hooping was also very good. One of my favourite routines of the show.
The next act was a foot juggler who performed lots of rolls and walks around the stage whilst keeping balls on her feet. It was pretty impressive and nicely put together.
Luke Burrage performed a neat bounce juggling routine which was very nicely choreographed to the music. I particularly enjoyed the different box variations with some sides being bounced as well as thrown.
The next act (Valerie Swordsticks? That’s what it sounded like from the balcony) performed a really nice bit of contact juggling. I really like the song, it was quite rocky but the contact juggling was super smooth. Great use of the stage.
Next to appear on stage was Mike from the USA. This was his first European convention which was very exciting. He performed first with a hula hoop which he balanced in very difficult ways, rolling to different parts of the body. His fingertip walking balance was stunning! Then he broke out some small hoops which he rolled across his chest in various patterns. In fact, they rolled all over the place. It was very impressive, I liked it a lot.
Closing the show was Sylve Fost who started with a club balance on the back of the hand which he took all around the stage at floor level. The act was crammed with some really difficult balances and balance tricks. Very cool stuff and a nicely put together routine, I enjoyed it.
The final bows were very good. I wonder if Luke had offered advice during the tech run? Anyway, that was a really nice Open Stage show, well done Pola for putting it together.
(Edit: I didn’t know that Pola has actually been organising the Open Stages at EJC’s for many years and so has extensive knowledge about show bows and finales. It shone through in any case!)
After the show I settled in the main hall and brought Hive out for a few games with Philipp. Hive made a large number of appearances over the week, Marie had also brought her pocket set, and so there were often a couple of games on the go. I mention this particular game because it blew both our minds. Before the convention I considered the Pillbug to be a bit of a gimmick piece, I now consider it a serious game changer. Using the Mosquito connected to the Pillbug I was able to drop Philipp’s Queen Bee from a place of safety into a closed ring of pieces, instantly winning the game! It was pretty astonishing for us and we agreed that was a top move. Cameron and Ed came over to see what all the fuss was about and were justifiably impressed. Feeling buoyed by this I played another match with Marcus as he was looking at the game longingly, and he trashed me completely. Swings and roundabouts. I spent some time sulking and writing up convention notes and resting my finger which was still quite swollen.
Around midnight the combat players started gathering at one end of the main hall again and organisation seemed to be taking place so I went over. A fair crowd of people came to watch and the event was live streamed over Facebook for all (both?) the combat fans at home. I stood having a nice chat with Matty for most of the tournament as it turned out that we would face each other if I won my first match against Karl. I recognised Karl from a distance during the qualifications because his high throws are usually flats and it is quite distinctive. We had a very good match which I managed to win, my favourite point was when my high throw knocked Karl’s in the air and gave it some spin which made the catch difficult (not deliberate unfortunately).
Cameron faced up against Alex and put up an excellent fight but in the end Alex got the better of him. I found it impossible to score a point against Alex when we played before so I was impressed. Ian and Martin’s match was also a highlight for me.
Matty and I had a really good time in our match with lots of good points, at one point we fell over on each other and he managed to remove my shoe. These were my lucky combat shoes which were donated to me by Luke at the Masters tournament last year: I hadn’t thought to bring indoor shoes (hate combat in bare feet) and he had a new pair so he donated his old ones (thanks Luke!). I have checked the footage and they are the same ones he wore when he defeated Jochen at the NJF, so I hoped they held mighty powers. Sadly not for me; in fact on the final point of the match my foot slipped and Matty took me out to win the match 5-2. A shame but I had already done better than I thought I would and was happy with the result, I also have no shame losing to Matty.
The final featured Jochen and Julius and it was a very entertaining match with plenty of trolling from both players and high fives all around. Julius caught Jochen out a number of times with his relentless ‘chasing’ attacks so Jochen rocked out some superfast low attacks and eventually took the title.
It was a good tournament and well organised. I liked the light up sticks for the scores and Bob is always good fun as a host. Thank you Luke for organising the tournament.
Check out the results here: http://fightnightcombat.com/tournament-Berlin-2017.html
After the combat Ed and I did some 8 club 2 count with various tricks, we also tried a dropbrook line with Cameron but it was not very successful on this occasion. Matty and I met up in the hall and had a really long (and mutually beneficial!) technique talk and trick swap with rings and some cool turns with clubs. I have a load of cool tricks to work on and Matty was interested in my ring juggling techniques. It was about 4am when I finally said I couldn’t juggle anymore and I retreated to my tent to crash out.
9am. I hate my body clock. Treated myself to another beach shower which went some way to waking me up. My finger was still very swollen and I was not able to fully close my fist so I was a little concerned. I doubted it was broken but it was still painful.
I met Rasmus and had breakfast in the sun. Ed joined us and Juli too. Juliane had a glass of milk, I approved. Ian had enquired if I wanted to enter the vollyclub tournament but I had to decline due to my finger, playing in the tournament would not have been sensible. I could see the players getting started and I felt bad as I didn’t manage to spot Ian so I hoped he did manage to find a partner.
Jenny and I did some ball passing as I did not want to juggle clubs with my finger that way it was, just in case I bashed it. We went along to the traders in the lobby as Jenny wanted to get a T-shirt printed and I like looking at shiny new props. I initially ignored a table full of what looked like Norwicks but then I recognised Vivien and went over for a chat. I have tried Norwicks several times and I just don’t get on with them. I also tried SLX Russians before and really struggled to acclimatise to them and so reverted to my G Balls (I also have Sports Cos lined up for when they die). To be polite I juggled them while we chatted. Gosh. They actually felt really nice, much nicer than Norwicks. I was very surprised. They are filled with salt and have a soft shell which keeps its shape well, and they are completely sealed. Keep an eye out for Black Light Juggling coming on the market. I genuinely surprised myself by liking them, as I considered myself a beanbag juggler. I was going to buy myself a set but I knew I wouldn’t fit them into my bags for the flight home.
Back in the hall, Marcus, Cameron and I started practicing spinny chopabout again with the intention of getting it on camera. Unfortunately Cameron was not feeling great after the beer and tiredness from the previous day and spinning lots and lots is not a known cure for a hangover so we recruited Helene instead. We found a hidden corner in the hall and got it on camera for Ed’s video.
We took a break for lunch and after we had eaten, Marie took a look at my finger for me. She tested the joints and thinks I have bruised the joint and probably knocked the ligament off. She taped my fingers for me and suggested I might want to lay off juggling for a while until it can heal. Devilstick Matt pointed out to me that Norbi was in the hall so I went over to say hello. It is rare indeed to catch a glimpse of Norbi these days and it was nice to have a bit of a chat. I was interrupting a ring passing session with Kathrin so I butted out and left them to it, but it was lovely to see him again.
I did some accounting and then went for a walk offsite to suss out other food options for the evening meal before the Gala show. We didn’t fancy getting trapped in a long queue again and I was thoroughly sick of pizza by this time. Rasmus had given me a tip for a restaurant nearby during breakfast and so I went on an expedition to check the menu. I turned the wrong way down the road but it was a nice sunny day so I enjoyed my walk, I bought some more milk at a petrol station but didn’t realise that I hadn’t bought a screw top one so I couldn’t open it. I was quite sad. I deployed more technology and found the restaurant, it was an Italian place but did look like it served other dishes besides pasta and pizza. Back in the hall I pinched Ed’s scissors and opened my milk and subtly started making dinner plans. We started with 7 people but that grew to 10 by the time we were walking out the venue; always the way.
The restaurant coped very well when we turned up and asked for a table and we were seated outside in the garden next to where Henry had been enjoying a nice quiet meal. We were disturbing other diners by peering through the window at the specials board so it was wheeled through a convoluted route through the restaurant into the garden for us. Rasmus ordered the truffles from it so it was not a wasted journey. I was sick of pizza and pasta and so ordered a mixed meats platter with vegetables and it was lovely. I wasn’t able to identify the different cuts of meat but they were very juicy and it was nice to add some vegetables into my diet. I thought that a flasche was a glass (not a bottle) and so caused some confusion when I wanted a glass of orange juice. After our meal we took a nice walk through the woods back to the venue and our Karlsruhe passes really came into their own.
The Gala Show
We joined the back of the queue of people heading into the auditorium and walked all the way down to the bottom of the theatre along the front and then up the other side to find some seats. Ed sat behind me because he is a funny guy. There were Mexican waves and we witnessed some excellent anticlapping from the first few rows. Rasmus taught me ‘hätte hätte fahrradkette’ which I am now not sure is correct, having looked at the literal translation.
All the photos taken of the gala show and performers were taken by Luke Burrage and can be accessed on his blog, check it out: http://www.lukeburrage.com/blog/archives/2590
The show began and our moderator took to the stage. Fabian Adalbert Flender was an excellent moderator who played a very nervous character. The delivery was again all in German so I missed many of the finer jokes although Jenny was on hand to translate. To be honest his clowning was so good that it broke the language barriers for me anyway. I really liked his hat stand.
First on stage was Liza van Brakel who pulled 3 clubs out of her clothes. She had a wonderful act with lots of rolls and manipulations as well as great use of the stage. A really nice mix of dance, acro and juggling, it got a smattering of a standing ovation at the end.
The compere tried to introduce the next act but got terribly tangled in the microphone cabling.
Impeccably dressed Chris Patfield and Daniel Rejano strode onto the stage and performed a wonderful ball juggling routine. I loved the characters and it was packed with very Gandini-esque two person ball passing/placement tricks. It was wonderful to watch. A bit more effort with the shoes next time though… One of my favourite acts from the show. More mixed standing ovations.
Francesca Hyde performed an aerial routine with her performance partner, who was a large container of water attached to her hair. It was a good idea for a routine and it started out quite funny but once the routine started I felt it took itself a bit too seriously. There were excellent skills on display and it was well put together and varied, I just felt it was too serious after a funny beginning. I enjoyed the lighting effects.
Fabian balanced on the rear two legs of chair which was placed on a table and got an audience member to take a photo.
Ed Cliffe was next performing with his contact ball and cigar boxes. I had not seen this version of the routine and I enjoyed it very much. I liked the robotic dancing as I felt it went well with the geometric nature of the boxes and robotic/factory choreography of the boxes. In discussions afterwards someone else felt that the robo dancing was just ‘tagged’ onto the routine. I didn’t feel that but could see where it came from, perhaps we need an all robotic version of the routine or an all flow version. They also commented that they preferred happy smiley full of fun Ed rather than circus school moody performance Ed. I enjoyed the routine very much and thought it was very strong, most people must have agreed as there was another stronger standing ovation. Great bow but he should have stayed on stage much longer to take the applause, everyone had more to give and I felt he could have taken much more.
Fabian did an excellent 3 ball juggling routine where he rearranged his braces.
Wow, this next act was wonderful, possibly my favourite. The stage was set with a long bar fitted with 7 upright poles which were labelled 1-7. The performer entered the stage and placed a steel bucket over his head. He proceeded to begin spinning plates on the sticks with just the background music playing. This was some pretty dark/tense music which set an incredible scene. As the plates started to wobble people started to cry out the number of the plate which required attention and he would move to that plate to speed it up again. I cannot do the act justice in words but I definitely want to see it again, awesome act!
In the zwanzig minute interval we had a good talk about the acts. I also spotted that Luke had been taking photos of the acts and so I asked if he minded them being used in the review (Thanks again Luke! Look at the blog: http://www.lukeburrage.com/blog/archives/2590). That was a really strong first half of the show! The interval gave another opportunity for some more anticlapping. No raffle.
First in the second half was Vincent Bruyninckx with his cyr wheel. This was possibly the most technically skilled and interesting cyr wheel act I have seen. It really was excellent. The second section got a bit weird and I wasn’t sure that the character quite worked for me but it was still very good.
The moderator returned and did a lovely magic trick which involved his tie changing colour as he climbed through a chair.
Loads of balls were spread around the stage and Roxana walked onstage carrying Ariane on her back. They proceeded to do an outstanding two-person foot juggling routine with some wonderful patterns and great interaction between the characters. They made such interesting shapes! This got the biggest standing ovation so far. It was awesome.
I really enjoyed Fabian walking with the chair as you would with a balancing ladder. I immediately wanted to find a good chair and practice this as it looked great!
Lauge Spin Benjaminsen performed an interesting routine which felt very disjointed and strange. He came on stage with rings (I was very excited) but only did two tricks before ditching them and getting out the juggling clubs. He did a lovely 3 club section stuffed full of shoulder rolls and turns. He then juggled 5 (one of which was a red PX3 (?) for some reason; the others were delphins(?)), did a 97531 with the 1 passed behind the back. He then ditched the red club and proceeded with a pretty droppy 4 club section; possibly nerves. He had some outstanding tricks and of course his shoulder rolls are excellent, but there wasn’t half as much spinning as I was expecting and it just didn’t flow well and felt a bit cobbled together. Awesome skills but odd presentation. Cameron was whelmed.
Hats hats hats, everywhere! Michael Zandl was performing an excellent hat routine when a very loud and annoying fly escaped from under one of his hats. He tried to catch it but it was always one step ahead, he got a bit obsessed and very irresponsibly let off a shotgun in a crowded auditorium which took out one of the lights! He gathered some hats together and turned into a giant frog and finally caught the fly. Awesome skills and a clever routine, this was the biggest standing ovation yet again.
The closing act of the show was Daniel Gómez Montilla. I don’t know if it was ballet, contemporary dance, acrobatics or breakdance, or just a magnificent combination of all of them. It was mesmerising. At first I thought it was a strange idea to close the show with a ‘dance’ act, but blimey, it was superb! Absolutely amazing and it deserved the full standing ovation from everyone which it got.
The final bows were brilliant, very well led and performed with lots of extra bonus bows… right up until the very last one when half the performers got left behind. It didn’t matter, everyone was on their feet applauding.
That was one of the best shows I have seen. The Berlin Convention has a reputation for having a brilliant show, and this year was no exception.
After the show I went to the hall and had a bit of a headbounce session as my finger was throbbing and being unhappy. I landed the bounce of a 4 up with a bounce, but didn’t manage to continue the cascade a number of times. I nearly got a 7 ball flash a few times.
I played two very gruelling games of Hive where the Pillbug again played a pivotal role. Each game was roughly half an hour, it was brutal! I also retaught Devilstick Matt how to play afterwards. I looked around the hall and saw Julius, Jan, Luka et al., all stood juggling facing a ‘distractor’ who would throw or kick a ball through everyone’s patterns, with the aim to not be distracted and to keep juggling. It was quite funny but tiredness overcame so I made the final trip out to my tent for a sleep.
I crawled out of my tent on Sunday morning and my first thought was that Helene had been attacked by bears during the night. Her tent was on its side with debris scattered all around the area. I searched the area for tracks or blood in the sand so that I could run the other way but I did not find any. From this I deducted that she must have got away safely so I went for another sobering morning shower on the beach.
I packed up all my cases and found that I had foolishly left my sleeping bag sack in the lockers in the main building with my juggling stuff in, doh! Ended up cramming my sleeping bag into my suitcase and filling it completely. Afterwards, whilst still keeping an eye out for bears, I headed up for breakfast and found that everyone else was already up and looking pretty awake. I joined the bench and was pleased to see Helene had survived her ordeal.
I made up some sandwiches to take away for the journey as there was a risk of food being leftover and the organisers were even providing paper bags precisely for that purpose. I packed down my tent and carried it up to the gym with all my bags. I laid out my stuff in the sun and did a proper repack with all my gear, emptied the sand from my tent and packed that away. I went into the gym to plug my phone in to charge when I saw I had a WhatsApp message from Jo. It contained a photo of my breakfast pots and a message which said ‘are you going to wash these up?’ and there was a winky face. Dammit, I completely forgot! I legged it back to the breakfast area and found them exactly as I had left them on the end of the bench. I took them through to be washed up and I stayed to clean a load of plates as I felt so bad. That done, I went back to the campsite in time to help bring Ed’s cases up to the gym. I appropriated his luggage scales and made some adjustments to my own bags to make them legal.
The games were starting at this point so I went over to watch (all my own props were packed at this point). I took part in club balance endurance with one of Rasmus’s clubs, but I went out after lying down. If only the club had been the other way up. Luka won the 5 club endurance and I have it on good authority that he won the 5 ball endurance as well. There was also the game where you have to make the children hold as many clubs as possible which was very funny. Handstand endurance was pretty impressive. Simon says was very good and had a real Simon to call the tricks. Julius and Luka won long distance passing with a ridiculous 7 club pattern.
As the games were drawing to a close we started saying our goodbyes. It was very sad actually after having such a nice week with everyone. Cameron chose this time to go and buy more beer and a t-shirt so we shuffled to the lobby doors and made him feel guilty.
Jo’s phone led us on a walk, tram, walk, bye bye Nick, train, walk, hello Andy, airport. As we checked in our bags Cameron had to go to the oddly sized bags area and could not have got more disapproving looks from the baggage staff, it was hilarious! I don’t think the watermelon helped at all. We sat on benches in the sun and Ed fed the birds which we determined were definitely not Gluten Free. A man on the bench next to us started choking and vomiting on himself so we alerted a passing ambulance crew (sehr good language skills, Cameron) who went to check he was ok. They left soon after and the guy seemed happy enough, so we moved on.
We said goodbye to Andy, I bought a unicorn for Jenni, we went through security and I didn’t get groped this time.
Cameron read to us on the plane from his German book and I had a couple of sleeps. I normally end up flying Ryanair and I was amazed at the difference in the smoothness of the landing with EasyJet. Ryanair just seem to crash you down but this was one of the gentlest landings I have ever had. Might fly EasyJet more often.
We said bye bye to Jo in the airport and Cameron, Ed and I went to see if they had found Ed’s wallet or if someone had handed it in (no joy). We went to the train station, deployed more technology and determined that Ed could come with us to Leeds and then change there for York and it would be quicker than waiting for a direct train from Manchester.
I ate a muffin.
The train was absolutely rammed so we stood in the door and had a good show discussion as well as a few real good siteswap discussions. This got a few comments from another passenger who remarked that ‘juggling sounds complicated!’ Another passenger also had the grown up version of Cameron’s cabin bag and that amused us all in equal measure.
At Leeds station Ed ran off to catch his train whilst we went out to Jenni’s car, taxied Cameron to an address on the way before we got home. I got a short tour of the living room to see all the decorating which had been done while I was away (I only spotted a couple of pools of blood). After a cup of milk I had a warm shower and went straight to sleep.
The Berlin convention was great! I am looking forward to it returning to summer (hopefully) as it got a bit cold towards the end of the week. I am also looking forward to them completing the building works at the venue and more showers becoming available. Other than that I had a fantastic time, it was wonderfully well organised and is a perfect venue. The breakfast spreads were delicious. The show was world class. I very much look forward to coming again. My deep thanks go to the organisers for putting on the event, thank you.