Thursday, October 31, 2013

On the road again: World Fantasy Con, Brighton, day 1

After a reasonably long but very fitful night of on-again, off-again sleep, I got up, worked, and headed out for a bit of tourist time.

First up was lunch at a small shop that served passable French sandwiches and frites.

After it, we headed to the day's main non-con attraction:  The Brighton Royal Pavilion.  A non-food example of Henry IV's excess, the Pavilion is quite the sight, even on the outside.

Click on an image to see a larger version.

In the entrance to the ticketing area sat this dragon, a creature who reappeared in many of the rooms.

Dragons and serpents are key parts of the Pavilion's interior design imagery, which Frederik Crace and Robert Jones provided, presumably at King George's request.  They focused heavily on Chinese-based designs, while architect John Nash built the outside in Indian style.

I would have taken more pictures, but not only did signs prohibit photography, alert security people in every room were on the watch for it.  

Had I seen the Pavilion before I visited the palaces of the de Medicis and Hapsburgs, I would have found it a suitably grand, though often gaudy, royal indulgence.  Having visited those places earlier this year, however, I occasionally found myself wondering, "Henry, surely you can be more wasteful than this."  To be fair, though, this was just a retreat, not a main palace, and Henry was dealing with the world a couple of centuries later, during which time wealth had spread around a bit more.

All of that is just analysis, however.  My gut reaction was what Henry and the designers must have intended:  Wow.  The Pavilion is a fun, over-the-top, grand place, with a beautiful dining hall that includes an amazing, thirty-foot-tall main chandelier; a kitchen that was the state of the art for its time; and a music room about the same size and almost as grand as the dining hall. 

After a couple of hours there, we headed back to the con--but stopped first at Cloud 9, where I had a scoop of their very tasty and housemade vanilla ice cream. (Vanilla, though basic, is an excellent way to gauge how creamy and well-made a shop's ice cream is.)

At the con, I caught a panel on writing for comics, wandered the dealers' room a bit, and chatted with friends. 

After some work, a group of us headed out for a delicious dinner at Indian Summer, where every dish was one I had not tasted before. 

The rest of the evening went to work.  It's going on three in the morning here, I'm still jet-lagged and exhausted, and I have to get up early, so I'm signing off. 


David Drake said...

Dear Mark,
Isn't that George IV, AKA the Prince Regent? (Thus Regency Romances, etc)
I appreciate him for his last words: Bugger Bognor.
His doctors insisted that he not go to Brighton because he was so sick. Bognor didn't help.
Who has eaten in Bognor.

Mark said...

Indeed it was. I have not found Brighton to be hard on my health, though as yet I'm not sleeping well. I hope tonight fixes that.


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