You see, the first step was some 15 minutes after 11AM. I left the Underground at Paddington station and began wondering the hall looking for Steffan, also known as Iceduck, and possibly his girlfriend Elanor. As a reminder - the only picture I had of Steffan was five years old. Meeting him was, therefore, an occasion of looking carefully at each other to make sure we had the right person.
After that, we soon got used to each other's presence and we got on our way to Euston to meet Mike. (For those in the know, we got off at Euston Square and walked the last bit). This didn't went as smoothly as we had hoped - while James is nerdy enough to know at which platform the trains arrive, we didn't. A brief phonecall cleared that up for us, and so a few minutes later we saw Mike walking down the platform, swiftly recognised by his red shirt.
Finding James was remarkably easy compared to that whole ordeal. As we've said before, we have seen his face so often that he can be recognised from a distance. After the obligatory handshaking (where we discovered a notable height difference between the admins) we had to get back to the underground, to go to Victoria!
(This, by the way, made me come full-circle there. My hotel was fairly close to the Victoria railway station, and so I kept visiting it during my weekend. I had left from there earlier that day).
Of course, that didn't go as planned either. Did you know that one of the entrance to the underground at Euston station was closed down, at least on that day? It added some extra walking to our trip. Unfortunately, we had not brought our Explorer kits either, but looking back, that would have caused further problems when you consider that you always come up from the underground in the place where you left from. It sounded good, though.
In the underground, we had a bit of luck, as Steffan and Mike got their tickets from a friendly woman who didn't need it anymore. With all that over with, we went on our way to pick up Rex, the last of the admins.
This went, by the way, like this: "Ooh, there's Rex. Hi, hi, nice to meet you, etc. Let's go back. Oh wait, there's a railing. We have to go out and back in again. Oh wait, Rex didn't get out. Aah, the friendly man helped him. Now he can't get back in. How odd. At last, we can go. Perhaps we should have just climbed over the railing, it would have been a lot faster, and just as easy." Yeah.
Back into the underground (which was actually underground for this portion of the trip). Since Hyde Park Corner seemed to be closed, we got out the underground earlier and instead walked the last bit to our meeting place at Hyde Park Corner. Lots of chatting went on in the background.
We were, before we arrived, sort of afraid (wait, there'll be 15 members now who might not actually like us!) and hopeful (Perhaps there'll be, like, a giant parade in our honour). When we arrived, however, and looked around, somewhat nervous, to discover any other members, we found... nothing. Well, Lapras King wandered past us after a while, so we met him, but that was it. Luckily, this was soon resolved, as one of us (not me) got a phone call. It turned out that a rather large group was standing near one of the many statues that can be found around London, this one located opposite the gates where we said we would meet (we walked through them). The situation was soon clarified, and we met each other in Hyde Park (near a drink stall at first, which helped a certain subgroup of admins to get their caffeine fix).
James led the group to a nice and shady spot (although in a rather chaotic way, with a lot of people asking "What are we doing?". At this point, some of the admins turned around to look at the group that was following us... It was MASSIVE. It's really strange to think that such a group is only a small part of the site membership...
After settling under a fairly large tree that had undoubtably settled lots of people before, we got around to more chatting. The admins had prepared a few short speeches, and were determined to inflict it on the unsuspecting members. Hey, I got Mushroom and CS10 promoted that way, so don't complain about it either!
This is where matters become less focused. We spend several hours doing lots of different things that could be called 'hanging out'. Several group shots were taken, both of the admins, and the large group. A video recording was made that was split up into several parts, linked elsewhere. I mystery gifted to get lots of event items and Pokemon. We got a shorts video shot.
This was really the most interesting part of the meet, but since there was mostly lots of talking and such, there's not a whole lot to tell about these things. Be assured that it was fun.
Being an admin does have its advantages. Driven by thirst and slight caffeine withdrawal, some admins decided that something to drink would be welcome. Since, as any who knows us will confirm, the admins do like to abuse their power occasionally, so we managed to 'convince' a few members to get them for us. Don't worry, we did pay for them, we just couldn't be bothered walking there.
Some time later, a group left for the anime shop. Response: "There's people even more nerdy than us?" Around this time, some others had to go as well. We said bye. I see we now, since I sort of half-didn't notice. Yay.
So we thought, after some four hours, that getting food might be a good idea, and give us a chance to do something else. So to the tube we went, to visit Leicester Square! It was supposed to be special, and James was trying to get me all excited over it. Unfortunately, I had already been there a day earlier. HAH
Although at first, we considered going in a place and taking a table to eat together, we then realised that wouldn't work. Instead we split up, and met up on a pleasant field of grass after getting our food, so each of us enjoyed what we like. For me, it was Burger King, and I'm still amazed our resident vegetarian James didn't mention it. Then again, he had other (ex-)vegetarian issues on his mind.
We actually made some nice pictures there, together with some sort of Chaplin bloke who had, of course, be named honourary member of PKMN.NET.
Some time after that, more people left, and the rest of us decided to do some sightseeing. We didn't actually go straight away, instead we waited around in some close-to-dark alley (actually fairly light), where we basically just took some lame pictures (which the others apparently liked) while waiting for people to get some cash.
Note that I'm not always as happy as I may seem in those pictures.
So, on we went, for the scenic route. The most visible first place is Nelson's Column, where we made some nice photo's. It's also interesting to actually climb it and look around from there.
After this, we walked towards Parliament. James told me a lot of stuff about the places we walked past which, to be honest, mostly went past me. I don't know that much about UK politics for it to be too interesting. But James like telling these things, so I decided to humour him. Even if I really wanted to hear this interesting discussion about the seven wonders of the world (give or take one, maybe two).
We saw some Downing Street too, which was strange. There's this huge fence, as if the English publically elected leader was, somehow, above the people he is meant to serve. As if he is not supposed to be there for them. Odd.
As we went from there to cross the Westminster Bridge, there was some talk of disappearing hospitals and British science fiction series. I must admit most of that was lost on me, especially since I was much more annoyed by people not moving on on the bridge. This became especially annoying when our group decided to stop there.
For some reason, you Brits are incredibly impressed with water. The Thames was something go all 'Oooh' and 'Aaah' at. Let me tell you something. There's a lot of water in the Netherlands. Lots of rivers. I cross a river to get to university each day that's larger. The Thames is small compared to those. The amount of water is nothing. It's boring. It's not great. I've been in ponds larger than that. So if you are that easily impressed by the Thames, I suggest you visit the Netherlands some day and see what a real river looks like.
We had a drink in some sort of arcade hall thing near the London Eye. Rex got lost getting there (we're not sure how that happened either) and spend the rest of the time searching for us, while we happily imbibed our drinks. Thanks for it, James! (Don't worry... he promised he'd get me one anyway.)
Then we suddenly noticed we had to hurry. Mike had to get back in time. James doesn't know how to navigate London, so we needed extra time to get to the tube station. I don't remember most of it - I basically recall walking to Waterloo station, getting through the gates, and basically telling James he should hurry along with James, while I'd get the rest of the group there. James didn't hurry, though, so Mike got to Euston with Chris (making the train in time) while we said goodbye to people and did other running around.
That slight chaos was increased by Rex, who also had to leave. Since he preferred travelling with someone else, Claire, her boyfriend and I went with him to Victoria. This involved some more running back and forth, but that went okay, and we made it there. Claire stayed with Rex for a while longer, while I went on my way to rejoin the group at Euston. I had heard that Mike got there in time.
A lonely, but nicely quiet tube ride later, I too arrived at Euston, where the group size had noticeably diminished. This is where we went for stronger drinks. We went to a pub and, except for James, we had alcoholic substances of several beer-like natures. This, too, was a lot of fun and turned out to be quite interesting. We actually discussed the Name Rater and Sentret (although Dan still hasn't figured out the hint I gave him back then), we played DS games, including Mario Kart through the wireless sharing system that's pretty cool, and actually got people coming up to us to ask how expensive DS's are and whether they're cool. I even managed to discuss some site coding issues with James, which mostly managed to confuse the rest of the group.
And so the evening went on and it got darker outside. As people had to leave, we left after our second drink (thanks again James!) and went to a nearby train station and said our goodbyes as we went on our seperate ways.
All in all, a great day, with great memories, that we want to repeat again. Thanks for everything, people who attended!
Page written by Joeno.
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