I set off for Hinckley after work on Thursday, stopping for a sandwich at Newport Pagnell services and arriving soon after eight. I'd been worried about finding the hotel, but the crowd of anthropomorphic animals standing by the side of the road waving at the traffic was a good indicator. I parked up and headed in, a little nervous about what I might find and what, exactly, I had let myself in for.
Luckily the first person I ran into was eldabion, who is consistently cheerful and lovely every time I encounter him, and silvante was on the registration desk, so I felt welcome and wanted from the start. Even though silvante demanded ID and then threatened to tell all our friends my middle name.
Executive twin room #302 showed signs of Ultrafox occupation but was currently uninhabited, so once I'd doffed my bike gear, and phoned Howard to announce my safe arrival, I set off in search of my vulpine roommate. He remained elusive but I did run into pretty much everyone else I know from the UK furry circuit, including orona_red ("You're here! You're adorable! I'm really drunk!" *huge hug*) and Simon, who kindly bought me a coffee.
I had my first real-life sighting of a longtime online friend when I recognised theodor in the bar. Theo drew my delightful secret agent husky icon, he is even more fabulous in person (you'd think people would become less fabulous when their existence is confirmed, but not always), and I recommend him to everyone. I found klepsydra, but was dragged away when Shaman reappeared to usher me into the presence of fellow furry author kandrel. Networking!
When I eventually located Ultra, we sat at the bar and drank to safe arrivals and a good con. Outside, on the dark A5, the lorry drivers honked at the bright surreal oasis of fursuiters.