It's not a big convention, but it fits the venue nicely: the rooms are big enough for the panels we were going to. The convention has the advantage of being in the same place it's been since we started going (and we only missed the first), and being run by much the same team since the first. That gives a consistency which somehow helps. This was probably the largest yet - looking at the stats, there were 287 badges pre-printed, and a few dozen walkins, so a bit over 300 people there I guess.
That venue is a central Bristol hotel. It used to be the Ramada, but it was taken over a few years ago and is now a Hilton Doubletree. The building itself is a fairly ugly block, though with an astonishing structure at the back which is a former glass kiln, a semi-conical brick construction which is used as the restaurant. But the advantage of being inside the hotel is you don't see it from outside, and it's a comfortable place to stay. The staff are friendly and the general atmosphere is relaxed.
We travelled down on Friday and back on Sunday, meaning that we stayed two nights in a hotel for a one-day event. (This makes it oddly expensive on a pounds-per-day basis - we could if we really wanted drive down and back the same day which would make it much cheaper, but it would wipe us out and, while we're not rich, we can afford a couple of nights these days.) We went by train, because buying the tickets in advance got us there and back for about £75. That was the idea anyway - in practice we spend another £20+ on taxis on the way back. But that was because we stupidly forgot not to buy any art from Jim Burns, and we ended up hauling three framed pictures by him. No way were we going to haul those around on the Tube from Paddington to KX, or from Royston station home.
The panels we went to worked well, and between them we caught up with friends, including Graham and James Higgins who we'd not seen in way too long. (We're pretty sure James hasn't actually doubled in age since we last saw him, but we can't work out where in the last dozen years we may have seen him.) jemck was a comically miffed, on the totally spurious grounds that her badge misspelt her name. We blamed our cats, who we said distracted us. That's obviously because their mother didn't bring them up correctly, so the blame properly belongs to major_clangerand Sian (whose LJ handle I've mislaid since I last posted ETA: attimes_bracing), as they now have that mother.
And of course we saw lots of other friends. Oops, back to work