Monday 3 April 2017

Experience of a Walker Stalker Newbie & meeting Norman Reedus - Part 1

Hi everyone, firstly I can't believe how long it's been since I last uploaded a post, nearly two months!!  Ahhh, so sorry (to anyone that's actually noticed my absence!)  Life well and truly got in the way but it's been well worth it and as you can probably guess from the title of this post, I've been a little pre-occupied of late and since I came back, I've been ill, working on other projects and spending forever on this post!

And secondly, I do apologize in advance because this is quite possibly the longest blog post I've ever written!!  So I thought in all fairness I should split it in two, so it doesn't take forever for you to read.  Also I've kept the pictures to a minimum because I took over a hundred!  And I've put a short video with all the clips and most of the pictures I took up on my youtube channel, so please feel free to go and check that out too, link here.  I didn't film half as much as I planned to but honestly I was too busy enjoying the experiences, plus as a newbie vlogger, felt very awkward filming myself with so many people around, but I did a fair bit and mostly took photos.


So just over a month ago now on Thursday 2nd of March (2 weeks ago as I'm writing this), I was frantically packing and organising ready to get up stupidly early the next day and travel to London.  Although I was extremely excited and couldn't wait to be there, I was really nervous about the whole thing, the journey, being so far from home in a big city (which I haven't done in a really long time), being somewhere new with so many people I didn't know and on top of all that, doing it all on my own!  It was a challenge!  But one I was feeling really brave about and wanted to tackle head-on.

So Friday morning came around, I finished packing the last of my stuff (including a huge bag of food which mostly didn't get eaten!)  By half past 10, I was at the station, bags and costa hot chocolate in hand!  I'd previously arranged to meet up with some people at the station so we could travel together, we met on the amazing Walker Stalker London facebook page, which has honestly been the best thing in life lately!  Finally after a long two and a half hour journey, we arrived in London.

I made my way to my hotel, which was the Adria hotel, it was really nice there and I would highly recommend it.  Once I had checked in and got in to my room, I chucked my bags down, and then I remember literally just sitting down on my bed looking around and thinking wow I'm here, after nearly a year of planning, desperately saving and thinking about not much else I'm actually here :-)

Finally my roomies arrived who I also met on the facebook page, and off we went to the Olympia in Hammersmith to collect our passes for the convention (also known as 'will call' for those who don't know).

Once we were there, it all started to feel more real and exciting.  The queues weren't too bad, apparently they were a lot longer earlier that day, so thankfully we missed that.

I picked up my main convention GA (general admission) pass and the little tickets for my two photo ops, which I'm so sad I didn't get to keep, as the staff take them when you go in for your photo.  Personally I think they should do a different style ticket that has a perforated edge they can tear off or something, so you get to keep the rest for a memento, just saying!!  Anyway I then went and got my disability sticker as well (because of my eds and Fibro), this queue however just so happened to be the longest queue that took the longest to wait in uhh!!  Well worth it though as when it came to waiting in the various queues over the course of the weekend, my legs were definitely grateful for not having to stand for hours on end!

Friday night was, well I don't even know how to describe it really.  It was a total mixture of being happy to be there, having fun getting to know new friends, being so excited yet overwhelmed by the whole thing and the anticipation of the next day and being absolutely terrified and feeling sick with nerves all at the same time!!  How I got to sleep that night, I don't know :-/  And then came Saturday morning . . . !


After an early 7am start, we all got ready and headed back down to the Olympia.  The queue just to get inside stretched nearly all round the entire building!  We waited about 45 minutes before we finally got in, had our bags and passes checked and then we were good to go.  And wow, the grand size of the place once inside was amazing, definitely think Tardis!!

My new friend Kat and I got in there at about 10.15ish and had our first photo op together with non other than Andrew Lincoln at about 10.50, so we basically had to head straight over to the photo queues and get in line before we had chance to do anything else.

It then all seemed to happen so fast, we got in the queue and within minutes we were in the photo booth standing next to this incredibly amazing actor that I just adore and admire so much!  We stood either side of him and he put his arms around both of us, even though it was all so rushed, I couldn't stop smiling and really made sure I enjoyed the moment and took it all in.  Andrew was lovely, really friendly and I think he would have happily chatted and took his time but of course there were a long line of people waiting to stand where we were and the staff were eager to rush us out, so we had to thank him and say goodbye.  It might have been quick but what an experience!! :-)

After collecting copies of our photo, I parted from my friend and headed off to start looking around.  Again although I was feeling excited, my nerves were kicking in big time, as my autograph booking with my most favourite man ever Norman Reedus was looming.  It was booked for around 11.15, so I pretty much went straight up the stairs to his auto booth but since he turned up a little late (which was also really lovely because we got there just in time to see him arrive!) . . .

It also meant his auto signing was running very late, so I was sent away and told to come back a few (agonizing) hours later.  As much as I tried to enjoy the rest of that morning, my stomach was doing summersaults!!  So I decided to make the most of the time best I could; I watched a couple of guest panels, looked around the huge variety of stalls and enjoyed generally taking in the experience of just being there, I also bought a couple of bits which I'll show you later in the post.

Finally about half past two, the Group B flag (which was my auto group) was hung from the gallery balcony and off I went up stairs again, all the while butterflies partying in my stomach!  I had quite a few little conversation pieces all ready prepared in my head, so I was going over and over those, a quick floof of my hair and a check of my lippy and then I got the gift I brought Norman, out of my bag.

I must have spent most of the last year working out what I was going to give him, I bought a really nice black and white gift box back in the autumn that thankfully turned out to be just the right size for everything I needed to fit in it.  I made him a bead bracelet as I know he likes to wear those, a keychain with lots of 'Daryl-themed' charms on which I thought he could put on his bike keys.

I made a cute black cat/quote in a frame (twice as the first one was too big for the box lol) and I made a card for him with a short letter inside, because I knew I wouldn't get chance to say half the stuff I wanted to.

I also added in a couple of bars of his favourite chocolate, a Walker Stalker London 2017 badge (I'd previously bought one for me and a friend so I gave him the other one), a wind-up toy rat for his cat (there's a little story with that one in a minute), a can of silly string because going by the videos of last year's con, he went crazy with the stuff so I thought I'd bring him some more, a tiny little Japanese-style lucky black cat eraser, because I know how much he loves black cats and finally I couldn't resist giving him a cute little grey teddy that I spotted in Asda around Valentine's day that's holding a red heart and says 'love you' on it :-)

So, with all the preperations in hand, the lovely volunteer took me to the front of the main queue and I stood there, with about 3 people in front of me.  I chose the photo from the table that I wanted him to sign and just waited there watching the other people chat to him and he was being so sweet.

Finally it was my turn, honestly I can't remember what I started off with, I think I generally just said hi and asked how he was.  I then went on to say about the gift I'd brought him and he asked if he could open the box to which I said, yes of course.  He got a few things out and I explained about some of the bits I'd put in.  He then got the toy rat out the box, wound it up and let it run across the table, which was just the most adorable thing :-D  He thanked me a lot, and hugged me a couple of times, which was just Oh wow!!!  And he promised he would go through the rest of the box and read the letter that evening.

He signed my photo for me (sadly in gold pen and I can hardly see it but oh well, it's ok) and then he thanked and hugged me again, he felt and smelt wonderful by the way :-)  He was so lovely and so sweet and it was honestly one of the best moments of my life.  I'd been waiting and longing for that moment all year and even though it was only for a few minutes, it meant the world to me!  I actually have (happy) tears in my eyes writing this!!  I thanked him loads and said bye to him and as I was (reluctantly) about to move away from the table, his bodyguard stopped me and said don't worry he will look at it all properly tonight, he said Norman really truly appreciates everything he's given and he spends hours in the evenings looking through everything, which was so lovely of him to say.  I have to say, this guy and all the volunteers were all so friendly and helpful and so, so nice!
* I also just want to add it, if it hadn't of been for my dear friend Kat selling me her auto ticket to meet Norman, I would never have had that wonderful opportunity and I will be forever grateful <3 xx

My only regret is I didn't get chance to say very much, I was looking forward to talking to him about his show Ride, that I love to watch and a few other things, but I knew I wouldn't have long enough.  Also sadly I couldn't get any photos or video of me meeting him but as I was in the queue on my own there was no one to do it for me and I didn't like to ask one of the volunteers, which looking back now I don't think they would've minded.  So goals ready for next year!!

I don't actually remember what happened after that for a while, I just remember walking off in a bit of a happy daze! Lol  I think I went to one of the caf├ęs for a while and finally had something to eat, as I just couldn't eat before that, didn't even have breakfast.  I then met up with my absolutely lovely friend Samantha for a while and her friend Jaki, and we wandered around together for an hour or so, taking lots of pictures and meeting some of the amazing cosplayers!

After that I went off to go and meet some more of the amazing cast, first off was David Morrissey.  I've liked him for a really long time and have enjoyed watching him in various programs like Blackpool with David Tennant, Doctor Who and a really good horror film called The Reaper, plus of course his portrayal of the horrible character of The Governor in TWD.  The queue took quite a while for this one and sadly I missed the Andrew Lincoln Q and A panel which I was really disappointed about but oh well, just how it goes and thankfully it was worth it.  David was really lovely and really chatty and took his time, signing my chosen photo, asking me things and I had a nice pic with him as well.  I didn't feel rushed and it was a really nice experience.  He asked where I was from, which started off a conversation about Wales (where I live) and he knew the town I'm from which was nice.  I also got to mention how much I liked the Governor and the various things I'd seen him in and he told me how much he liked filming Blackpool and said it was a lot of fun :-)

The last meeting of the day was with Scott Wilson, who played the lovely Hershel, he was one of my favourite characters and it was so sad how he died back in season 4!  Again, he was really lovely and friendly and me, my friend Kat and her family all had a great pic with him :-)

Finally, day one of the con came to an end and we made our way back to the hotel.  Feelings were definitely on a high and after having such a great time meeting everyone and the wonderful experience of finally meeting Norman, I couldn't wait for the next day and my photo op with him (which I'll tell you all about in tomorrow's post, 'part two').  A group of us then decided to go out for dinner that evening, so we all met up in a nice pub.  It was so good to just sit there, relax, have a nice meal and chat with everyone about the day, everyone all excited and hyper and telling their own stories of the first day :-)  I went to sleep that night, thoroughly exhausted but very happy and very excited!

If you would like to hear all about what happened on day two, look out for my second post up tomorrow.  Until Next Time Stay Happy

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