A Report from RingCon 2007

by Avondster

Thursday, October 11

DutchDiamond and I have decided to start this year’s Ring*Con nice and early by taking the first available train to Frankfurt, which departs this morning at 6:30 from Amsterdam Central station. A decision we will regret bitterly before this day is over, for various reasons.

One of these being the ridiculous hour at which we have to get up. In order to make things run more smoothly (ha!), we have decided that it would be best for me to come to Di’s house on Wednesday evening, stay the night, and then take the bus from there.
Di has already researched everything beforehand, and carefully planned our route by public transport through the internet page.

However, when we arrive at the bus stop a little before 5 in the morning, we find to our dismay that the website was wrong, and that the next bus does not leave until 5:30. If we were to take this bus we would almost certainly miss our connecting train to Amsterdam, which in turn would make us miss the ICE to Frankfurt.

Never despairing, we try to ring a taxi. This also proves to be difficult, as some companies are low in staff or not even open at this hour, but after a few phone calls we manage to get a hold of one. We then have to wait for half an hour beside the motorway in the freezing cold and dark, for the cab to come pick us up.
When he does come, the cabbie isn’t too pleased with us. It is his last drive before his shift ends, and he isn’t all that keen to drive all the way to Amsterdam and back (neither are we, considering the costs). He promises to get us to Schiphol in time to catch our connecting train. It’ll save him time, and us a taxi fee of about 35 euros. We agree eagerly, and true to his word, he gets us there with time to spare.

Since Di has already bought the train tickets in advance, we hop onto the next train out, relieved that our stress is over. That is, until the tickets are being checked. The man tells us that the tickets we’ve bought are discount day tickets, which are not valid until after 9 in the morning. The result? A 35 euro fine. That’s 70 euros spent in total for just getting to the station! Some beginning to our holiday!

On the upside, we do at least have time to get a cup of tea at the station, and having had my morning tea always tends to make me act less like a homicidal zombie and more like a human being. We drag our cases to the platform, where we consume our breakfast, and then it’s off to Frankfurt!

Di has brought her laptop with her, so we can watch DVD on the train. We settle for watching ‘Hercules: The Legendary Journeys’, for old times’ sake, since we have started watching it together when I bought season 1 at last year’s Ring*Con. We are now midway through the sixth and last season, and the antics of Hercules and his faithful sidekick Iolaus keep us entertained for almost the entire way to Frankfurt. Once arrived there we have some more tea and buns, and then catch our connecting train to Fulda, where we arrive just before one in the afternoon. Hurray!

We gleefully make the short walk from the train station to the Esperanto Hotel. Yes, people, we actually managed to get a room at the actual hotel where the con is! We are very proud of ourselves for that, though later it turns out that it wasn’t such a feat as it was last year.
Anticipating catching up a few hours of sleep after checkin, we are quickly disillusioned by the reception staff who, after searching the system for our reservation about half an hour, inform us that the room is not yet ready, and we have to wait. For an hour and a half.
So we leave our cases in the hotel and set out to explore Fulda. I take Diamond back to the castle gardens to show her ‘my’ tree, that I fell in love with two Ring*Cons ago. We take a stroll around the gardens, admiring all the beautiful trees and shrubs in their multi-coloured autumn livery and fantasizing about what life must have been like for the ladies who walked this garden two hundred years ago.

After this, we retreat into the lovely little tea room we found last year, and have some lunch and (naturally) tea there. Then we go back to the hotel, where our room still isn’t ready.
Finally we just sink down into the lobby armchairs and wait, trying to amuse our exhausted minds by looking at the people at the reception. We have an especially amusing moment when a businessman who is checking out is passed by two ladies in costumes, one of which is an Arwen in mourning dress, complete with black veil. He does a very funny double take at that.
We also see some of the weekend’s guests arriving. Marc B. Lee looks funny without his suit and microphone. Jed Brophy has way more energy than is natural for a man who’s just had a 26-hour flight. Daniel Falconer is still cute.

At last our room is ready, and we get the keys and hurry upstairs, where we can get a shower and some rest (and another eppy of Hercules). After this, we go out and explore the hotel for a bit, find out where the Spa & Wellness Center is (now that we’re in the hotel we have to try it out!), and generally wander about. One bloke is already unpacking his merchandise at an empty table, and the nearby moving box full of action figures makes my hands itch for a rummage. I resist, however. Time enough for that in the weekend.

Next, we wander off into town for dinner, and finally end up at the same Italian restaurant that we always end up in, because it’s the only restaurant that can be found easily in Fulda. It must be said, though, that their food is excellent. We chow down on three courses plus coffee, and all the while Diamond is happily chatting away in Italian to all the serving personnel. Needless to say, they love us.

Afterwards it’s back to the hotel, satisfied yet feeling like we’re about to burst. We waste no time in getting ready for bed, as we’ve had a long day.

Friday, October 12

We wake up at 9, having slept for 11 solid hours, and sleepwalk over to breakfast. We find many Ringers already there, recognizable by their Rings jewelry and t-shirts of previous Ring*Cons, and some die-hards are even in costume already! I’m not that hardcore. I’m not all that coordinated in the morning, and combined with those Elf sleeves that just spells disaster.

We have a few more hours to kill before the con starts. We decide not to put on our costumes as of yet, but to save them until the Opening Ceremony, at which the con officially starts and we can transform from reasonably normal people into Supergeeks!
To kill the aforementioned hours in the most brutal way imaginable, we decide to go shopping. Sadly, the trade hall is still more than half empty, so there isn’t all that much to see. I check out Elbenwald to see if they’ve got my calendar. I’ve had the same kind of calendar for years now, ever since the first year I went to Ring*Con. Since I’m not an organized person at all, I hang it in my hallway and write all my appointments on it, so I won’t forget. Imagine my heartbreak when the man tells me they don’t have it!

After our rather disappointing shopping spree, we nip over to the train station to get some sandwiches, which we eat on the way back to the hotel. Still no sign of Indis and Elentari, or of Varda!

Time for our first panel: Daniel Falconer. He’s so cute. I am horrified to learn, fairly early on in the panel, that he is, in fact, married. Ugh.
Otherwise, the panel is about the Weta company profile. Daniel shows little clips and slideshows about the company, and explains about the different departments and what they all do, what shows they work for, and what the company policy is like. To tell the truth, it would be a lot more interesting if we didn’t know much of this already. Then again, it would be a lot less interesting if Daniel wasn’t this cute.

Next up is Lori Dungey, who has made another of her amusing documentaries. This one is actually live-action, it is 19 minutes long, and it’s even got a catchy song with karaoke subtitles! The documentary is called ‘Mrs Bracegirdle’s Woodlyn Park Adventure’, and tells the story of Mrs Bracegirdle and The Director’s trip to a motel called Woodlyn Park, in New Zealand. This is a motel where you can sleep in all sorts of unlikely places, such as an army airplane, a passenger train, a fishing boat and… a Hobbit hole! Di and I make notes to go and stay at this place, when we get to New Zealand.
Also, Lori has a special treat for us: she remembers vividly (as, indeed, do we all) what is commonly referred to as the ‘Lederhosen incident’, where she had brought her Lederhosen which she had worn as a teenager, to be sold at the Auction, two years ago. Since no one was really all that interested in them (which, Lori points out, is only fair, seeing as how trying to auction off a pair of Lederhosen in Germany would be like trying to auction off a sheepskin rug in New Zealand), Craig decided to help out and wormed his attractive Elven behind into them, after which they tripled in value. Lori has now had a new, very special pair made for this year’s auction. To give it an extra New Zealand touch, they were made partly of possum fur. And yes, it comes with a picture of Craig modeling it. It is easily the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. However, since Lori trusted Mark to bring the Possumhosen with him after peeling Craig out of them again, they are still in a plastic bag in Mark’s hallway, half the world away. Lori promises to mail them personally to the highest bidder. To make up for the fact that neither the Possumhosen nor Craig are here, she has managed to scrounge another pair of Lederhosen off someone, and has Jed Brophy modeling it. With. Nothing. Underneath. And a hard hat. Doing the YMCA dance. DutchDiamond's head explodes.

After Lori there’s Thomas Robins, who was at first supposed to do his panel together with Lori, but now has his own since Robert Pollock cancelled at the last moment because of a family emergency. Thomas has also brought some footage to show us, namely two episodes of a teen horror show he’s directed, called Kilian’s Curse (I think). The first one features a girl who’s obsessed with dolls, and starts stealing other kids’ dolls, and finally gets payback when she is attacked by her dolls that come to life, and is at last turned into a doll herself. The second one is about a boy who keeps laughing at some magician, and is then abducted, tortured, and turned into a zombie for his troubles.
If only they’d have had shows on like this when I was a teen. Awesome.

Then there’s Jed again, fully clothed this time, and seeming so out of it with jetlag that half of what he’s saying doesn’t even make any real sense. That may just be his default mode though.
Diamond doesn’t care, since she luuuuurves Jed.
Seriously, I cannot remember a single thing he said in this panel that made sense to me.

After Jed there’s a panel of the two actors from Pirates of the Caribbean, who have been invited for… I don’t really understand what for. Everyone just sort of leaves, so I do hope those poor blokes had some people left to talk to. I don’t really know, because we… left as well, to check out the trade hall and see if there’s more stands there now.
Still the same, though, and we find out from one of the vendors, who is Dutch and whose shop I frequently visit (and sponsor, hehe) back at home, that this is all there is. I am so sad to see the once packed hall half empty, and most of the stands don’t even feature LOTR prominently. There’s lots of generic fantasy and medieval stuff, but only Rene, the owner of the Dutch Tolkien Shop, has an actual Tolkien-centric stand. I find on his table a box of fridge magnets, and it turns out he has a ton of them with Merry on! I rejoice and try not to think too much about how this is only because no one wants Merry. I buy two. Yay!
We also locate the Lord of the Rings BBC Radio Play at the CD and DVD stand. Two versions of it, to be precise. They have different packages, a different number of discs, different running times, and different prices, yet neither we nor the helpful lady behind the table can figure out what exactly the actual difference is between the two. The lady promises to hold both sets back until she can ask someone who’s actually listened to both.

We attend one more panel before dinner: Kiran Shah’s. His talk is definitely the most interesting one so far, in terms of stories. However, he can’t keep his audience interested because he is very hard to understand for us who don’t have English as a first language. I’m bilingual, but I have to listen very carefully to understand it all. He’s written a book of poetry that he reads from, and what I can make out of it sounds really wonderful, but I have to concentrate really hard to hear all the words.
During this panel, we spot a familiar wig a few rows in front of us. It’s RosieGardener! We hug her and are very, very happy to see her again.

Kiran’s panel is followed by a video game presentation, which we cannot even pretend to be interested in, so we go to have some dinner with her and her Sam and of course Toddler Elanor, who is nearly three now and not at all shy, and not really a toddler anymore either. Whatever shall I call her now? Maiden Elanor? Little Miss Elanor?
On our way to dinner we meet Varda, who’s only just arrived and unfortunately already had her dinner so can’t eat together with us. We do agree to meet up after, though.

Dinner done and digesting, Diamond and I retreat to our room to change into our costumes for the Opening Ceremony. Yay!

The ceremony kicks off with that German guy who always speaks too fast for me to understand a word he’s saying. I’m pretty sure it’s amusing though, seeing as how all the Germans around us are laughing and stuff.
Then Marc comes on, to great applause, and introduces us to a group called ‘Frank and Frei’, I believe, who do all sorts of fire stunts: juggling flaming torches, fighting with weapons that are on fire, and of course fire-breathing. Boy, am I glad I’m not all the way up front, imagine the heat (and your costume getting sprayed with whatever stuff they spit into the flames).
Marcel Buelles then introduces the intellectuals, who will be doing the lectures. Many of these people have been at former Ring*Cons before. Unfortunately for us, all of them are German, and doing their lectures in German, even Marcel Buelles (who did a few of his in English last year). So no lectures at all for us this year, sadly.
Then Marc comes back on and introduces the other guests: those two pirates, who are quite good looking but also look like they have no idea what they’re doing here; old hands Jed, Thomas, Lori, Jonathan Harding, and of course Mark Ferguson, this year for the first time without his ‘wife’ Craig Parker, who had to work, as he tells us; Weta genius Daniel Falconer who is cute and already married; Kiran Shah, and the wonderful John Noble, who has come back to Ring*Con after having been received so enthusiastically two years ago.
Andy Serkis will be nipping by for just one day tomorrow, and isn’t here yet.

As we sit there welcoming all the guests, I can’t help but notice how empty the great hall of the Esperanto seems this year. Where two years ago this same hall was packed full to burst, and was quite crowded still last year, now only the middle section seats are occupied, and the hall seems half empty. What with that, and the half empty trade hall, and what seems to be a smaller number of guests, I do understand how Ring*Con is trying to save itself from floundering by ‘contaminating our con’ as some die-hards have put it, with other fandoms. Still, it makes me immensely sad that apparently the great and immortal works of Tolkien seem to have lost their appeal to the European audience, and I feel disappointed in those fickle people who jump on the bandwagon when Rings is hot, and then abandon the fandom as soon as something new comes along. I remember 2003-2004, when you could go to six different Rings events a year if you had the time and funds. Then, gradually, all those cons died a silent death, one by one, and now Ring*Con is all that is left of them. Now it’s like the Tree of Gondor, a shadow of its former glory, yet still guarded and held in honour by a devoted people of ever dwindling number. Time to bring in Aragorn, I’d say, or, in this case, Bilbo! Come on, PJ and MGM, get a move on and make that Hobbit!

When the Opening Ceremony finishes, John Noble comes to the stage for his panel. People are hesitant to ask him questions at first, but after a while they warm up to him. Many questions are about Denethor, and how people don’t understand him. Similar questions were being asked the last time he was here, and much like last time he has to spend quite a lot of time defending Denethor: the character, the script, the decision to drop the palantir, and so on.
I love the man, he is an amazing stage presence with a voice that has the ability to send shivers down your spine, especially when he recites lines from the film (I am amazed how accurately he can still pronounce them after so many years!). And of course there’s the ever repeated but never dull story of the bruised bum incident that has to be recalled in detail!

Mark Ferguson apparently found the prospect of facing an audience all on his own without Craig a bit too daunting, and has pulled out the old favourite Ring Wars quiz to entertain us. As they set up the tables for it, Mark keeps us entertained by ringing Craig in New Zealand. However, because Mark didn’t quite get the time difference right, it’s about seven in the morning there, at which time Craig is not yet conscious. We get his voicemail, where we leave a message that will be quite a wake-up call for poor Craig when he hears it.
The questions that Mark has come up with for this year’s Ring Wars are quite a lot more difficult than those at the previous ones (probably because the audience contestants had no problems whatsoever in answering those), and even the knowledgeable audience is often divided over the multiple choice questions.
In between rounds, Craig calls back, to much excited noise from the audience. Sadly, Mark’s mobile doesn’t seem to have a speaker phone function, and holding the microphone to the telephone’s earpiece really doesn’t help very much. Still, it brings Craig a little closer to us. We do miss him something awful! Let’s hope he’ll be back next year.
On with the quiz, where the celebrity contestants have to compete with improvisation challenges, such as trying to make each other laugh, and a slash-storytelling match by way of a series of rather compromising photographs of Mark and Craig (still in Possumhosen). This, of course, has the whole hall howling with laughter, as each picture (and with it, the story) gets more and more outrageous.

Our tummies are still aching from having laughed so hard as we exit the great hall and enter the main hall, which in the evenings is known as the partyzone. Schelmish is playing, and they are always a great show. I can still remember Bonn, where they performed in the hotel hallway, and now they are on a great big stage with light and smoke effects and everything. Yet somehow, I remember that hallway so profoundly, because there was no sound system between us and the band, only the echoing of their drums. I wonder if they’ll play in the hallway again when we’re back in Bonn next year. I hope so.

When Schelmish finishes, some rather uninteresting DJ takes the stage, which is our cue to go back upstairs and retreat into our rooms for the night.

Saturday, October 13

We have breakfast with Varda in the now very crowded breakfast room, and change into our costumes after. As we enter the main hall again, we see Indis and Elentari, who have had an absolutely disastrous journey here which caused them to miss all of yesterday’s con! Their first plane couldn’t take off on Friday because of the fog, so they had to stay the night at the airport and take the first flight out early this morning, which then was unable to land in Frankfurt, again due to the fog, so they landed at a different airport and had to take the bus from there. And we thought we had a difficult trip! Those poor girls! At least they’re here now, but they are very upset at having missed the sight of Jed in those Lederhosen.

Diamond, Varda and I take our seats in the great hall, where the panel of Mark and Jonathan has already started. Thomas and Lori are there too, and they fool around on stage, playing improv games. They even do some impressive improv singing!

Lori and Thomas have their own panel right after this, where they finish the re-enactment of Déagol’s death which they had started two years previously, and answer questions from the audience.

More video game presentations after this, so Diamond and I head to the trade hall to ask about the Radio Play CD’s. Turns out one has more songs and longer credits (?) than the other. I buy the other one. We also get an Elven banner each at another stand, and Diamond also buys the Ring*Con 2006 DVD.
There is an acting workshop on now, which Di and I are both very interested in, but when we get there it turns out that it costs 25 euro per person! Plus you have to subscribe in advance. That’s a double no then.

On the upside, at least now we can have lunch. Then we go back to the room, dig out our books and head for the autograph session.

Because Andy is only here one day, he has a separate autograph area and queue. We stand in that line and chat some to a lovely young lady who works for Red Carpet Tours, who have a stand on the first floor. We tell her of our plans to go to New Zealand and she encourages us to go talk to her collegue, who will probably have loads of good advice for us.
When we get to the autograph table in good time, we have our books signed by Andy. He’s so lovely! He was the first ever LOTR actor I ever met in person. I remember being so nervous then that my knees actually gave way. I’m a seasoned pro now, though, hehe.
Thankfully, just as we stand at the table, our ticket numbers are called so we can just walk straight on instead of having to go back and join the back of the queue again.
Most of the actors here I already have an autograph of, so I just stand to the side a bit while Diamond collects hers. I do have my book signed by Jonathan, who comments: “Mara? Ha, that sounds a bit like Mana.” Glad to hear I’m not the only one who misses him.
Diamond has a bit of a conversation with Mark about her unusual name. He likes it, and asks her how her parents thought of it. From reading it in the obituaries, she tells him. Mark: “You were named after a random dead person … well, that’s an interesting story to tell people.”
I have not paid for John Noble’s autograph, seeing as how I’ve already got two, and since I’m not allowed through Diamond and I separate and arrange to meet in the main hall afterwards.

Only minutes after I get back there, Diamond meets me, and tells me that the paid autograph people have absolutely nothing to do and are all bored out of their skulls.
We decide to take another tour of the trade hall, and find Varda. As we enter it and pass Elbenwald, I discover to my delight that my calendar is now there! The man tells me it came in just today. I am so happy!
We have a little discussion about what to do next. Dinner is on from 5.30 until 7, but the problem is that Andy’s panel is from 5 to 6, and then the Auction from 6 to 7. Since we don’t really want to miss either, but have to eat, we aren’t sure what to do. Finally we decide to leave Andy’s panel early, and possibly arrive late at the Auction, so that we can at least enjoy most of both.

I’d really been looking forward to Andy’s panel, seeing as how I love him so much, but the problem is that I’ve read his book several times and now know pretty much every story he’s telling us. After half an hour, Diamond and I go to dinner.

We get back in time for the Auction, which as always is presented by seasoned Ring*Con auctioneer Mark Ferguson, with the aid of his lovely assistants Jed, Thomas, Lori and Jonathan. Some good stuff this year, including a series of signed photographs of the young Harry Potter stars that I know will have Samena’s hands itching. There’s also a star that’s bought by a star: Jed Brophy is the highest bidder on a certificate that allows you to name your own star in the universe.
The most outrageous item to be sold this year, apart from Lori’s Possumhosen (which fetch over 300 euro), is a cigarette that Mark and Craig used in one of their stage antics last year, and which sells at 100 euro!

When the Auction finishes, there is yet another video game presentation, and despite the rather desperate enthusiasm of the representative, most people leave the great hall as soon as he comes on. Diamond and I do too, to drop some of the bought items in our room and have a cup of tea with Varda before the Costume Competition.

Said competition is opened spectacularly by old hands Defcon Unlimited, who have choreographed yet another spectacular stunt-show, this time in the theme of Pirates of the Caribbean. We see a group of very bendy pirate scum harassing a young lady, until Captain Jack Sparrow comes swinging down from the ceiling rafters to save the day. With acrobatics and breakdancing. As one does.

Last year the Costume Competition was hosted by the Ring Stars’ Boromir, who was very good at it and easy on the eye as well. This year, it’s presented by two costume designers who aren’t that great at keeping an audience entertained. They read out all their lines from a card and all their jokes fall horribly flat on the audience. I feel kind of sorry for them, actually, because they seem like nice people and try really hard, but they really don’t have what it takes to host this.
On to the costumes, then. Nothing very memorable there, lots of generic Elves and Orcs. One lady brings down the house as a modern-day Elf in tracksuit bottoms who does a whole monologue that seems to be quite hilarious judging by the audience’s response, but is completely lost on us as it is all in German, so for us it just seems to go on forever. The lady is a very good actress, however, and stays in character all the way through, which is impressive. There’s also a beautifully dressed up Orc, carrying a bouquet of flowers and accompanied by an entourage of ladies, who sings a song about how he’s looking for a wife.

As we wait for the jury to make a decision, there’s a surprise in store for us. Although the Ring Stars announced last year that they would not be doing a performance at this year’s Ring*Con, one of them has turned up regardless: the man who plays Faramir. He has put together a truly wonderful performance where, as Faramir, he sings the Phil Collins song ‘Everything That I Am’, which I would never have thought of, but listening to the lyrics matches Faramir’s character perfectly. As he sings this, the projection screen behind him shows clips from the film, cut together expertly to match the song lyrics and the story of Faramir, while on the foreground Faramir is stripped of his Ranger livery and put into the armour in which he will lead his men into certain death, in a vain attempt to please his father and honour his brother. This poignant performance is Ring Stars quality at its old times’ best, and brought tears to my eyes. Even DutchDiamond, who has only ever seen last year’s disappointing show, is deeply impressed, and tells me that she finally understands why I was so enthusiastic about the Ring Stars. If they should return, I hope that the standard of the show will once again match that of the little glimpse we have just seen.

The judges return to announce the winners. The Audience Award is won by a man who is dressed up as a giant white mouse. I don’t know exactly what it has to do with LOTR, but the costume is fantastic indeed, and the mask very life-like. Just this afternoon we were talking to a lady who had brought her dog, when the mouse-man came scurrying past and asked to pet it. The dog was blind, and because of the furry snout on the mask it actually mistook him for another dog, and began playing with him. It was so adorable.
No big surprises in the prize-giving: the best performance goes to the tracksuit Elf, the comedy performance to the singing Orc, and the look-alike to some Eowyn.

After the Costume Competition is wrapped up, the evening programme starts. Seeing as how we’ve already seen Schelmish yesterday, and aren’t that keen on any of the other bands, we retreat to our room to take off our costumes and slip into something more comfortable. We’ve decided to check out what exactly goes on at the upstairs bar that everyone’s always talking about.
People who know me, know I’m not at all keen on bars and parties. They’re full of noise, booze and people, which are the three things in life I generally avoid. I don’t drink alcohol, like to have music on a volume that allows you to actually have a conversation, and I am terrified of people I don’t know, especially in large quantities. But as far as parties go, this one isn’t too bad. Yes, there is loud music, but it’s kept just below the volume where conversation becomes impossible, and the songs aren’t horrible, thank goodness. Yes, there are many people, some of them quite drunk (a man dressed as Jack Sparrow keeps trying to lick and/or undress every living organism unfortunate enough to get within grabbing distance, no matter how much they protest), but thankfully I am left alone by them. Varda and Di even convince me to drink a glass of Bailey’s, which is actually quite good.
When the cigarette smoke starts to sting my eyes and the growing crowd around the bar starts to make me uncomfortable, I retire to the hotel room. Thank goodness Varda and Diamond are understanding and do not try to press me to stay.

Back in the room, I take a shower and slip into my pyjamas, and read until Diamond returns, after which we both turn in.

Sunday, October 14

Today we have a lie-in, as for the first time in all my years of going to Ring*Con, we have got our autographs on the first day, rather than the second. So we have breakfast at 10, then go back up to the room to watch some more DVD.

After lunch, we attend the panel of Daniel Falconer, who still looks cute, is still married, and has lots of interesting stuff to tell us about creating Middle-Earth. Some of the slides he shows are showing up a little too bright, so that the pencil sketches come up as complete blank pages, but that doesn’t faze him in the slightest. It just keeps amazing me how much research goes into every single prop that was created for this wonderful film. Every thing has a backstory, every object has been evaluated and thought through. It shows the utter devotion all those fantastic people at Weta had to pleasing us, the eagle-eyed fans.

Diamond and I try the trade hall one more time, to see if there are perhaps some discounts now that it’s the last day of the con, but no such luck. She does, however, buy the DVD’s of Ring*Cons 2004 and 2005, having enjoyed the 2006 one so much.

Back at the great hall, we catch the last bit of a presentation of an ambitious fan film project, ‘Born of Hope’, which looks really promising. It’s the story of Aragorn’s parents, his childhood, and his youth. The clips look quite professional, and I am very interested to see the end result. There’s also a trailer of the next project the same writer/director is working on: ‘The Hunt for Gollum’. The actor playing Aragorn is very good looking.

John Noble is next, and we spend yet another interesting hour in his presence. More questions about Denethor’s motives, but also about future projects, Shakespeare plays, and how he chooses his parts. At the end of the panel he compliments us on our intelligent and challenging questions. He should be glad he wasn’t at ORC, is all I’m saying.

Jed has clearly run out of interesting stories to tell, and instead has organised a contest of some sort, in which members of the audience have to imitate horses and riders. It’s funny for a while, but doesn’t quite keep us entertained for a full 45 minutes.
During this panel, we have to say goodbye to Indis and Elentari. Poor girls, they only got one day at the con, and now they’re going to miss the Closing Ceremony as well! I do hope to be able to see them again real soon, preferably in Ireland.

Just one more panel to go before the end: Kiran’s. Once again, sadly, he is very difficult to understand, even though his stories and poetry are interesting to listen to.

Now we take our seats for the event we always love, but never really want to arrive quite so soon: the Closing Ceremony. The last one at the Esperanto, as we’re moving back to the Maritim next year. Yet maybe, there is hope. If the Hobbit ever gets made, who knows? As Theoden said: “This is not a defeat. We will return.”
As usual, participants of various workshops come on stage to show the audience what they’ve learned. There’s another great performance of the Elven Choir, who sing ‘In Dreams’, as well as the Opening Song of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (‘Never Shall We Die’), which is bellowed along enthusiastically by the English speaking audience. In the German cinemas the song is of course dubbed, so they can’t sing it. Too bad, it would have been great to have everyone singing along. It somehow seems to fit this year’s Ring*Con.
There’s swordfighting, in which Jed and Thomas participate of course, and Alexandra Velten has directed another little play in Olde English, this year it’s Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The narration is in German and sadly impossible to follow for us.
Then it’s time to say goodbye. The intellectuals are called on stage again, and then the actors. They get a rousing applause and several curtain calls, until at last they leave the stage for the last time, and we are left wondering when we will see them again.

Diamond and I look for Rosie, since we have agreed to meet and go to the Spa together, but she is nowhere to be found, so we finally decide to go with just the two of us. Varda declines, and opts for going to get something to eat instead. We agree to meet afterwards and go to the bar together.

The two of us get out of our costumes and put them away carefully, then get our towels, slippers and bikinis and head for the Spa. The ladies at the counter tell us that for hotel guests, the first two hours are free, so we decide to make the most of that.
The Esperanto Spa, I can tell you, is totally awesome. I’d never been to a Spa before, so my opinion may not be that well-informed, but still… it’s just the thing we need to soften our immediate after-con blues. There’s saunas of different temperatures that we try, a herbal infusion sauna, Turkish steambath, and all kinds of different showers (one imitates the rains of a tropical rainforest, where you first get a soft drizzle of cold water and then a downpour of lukewarm rain so dense you can’t even keep your eyes open). Between these are resting areas, where a young man wanders around feeding all the guests pieces of fresh fruit. Both men and women use the facilities, and it’s funny to notice that most women are in their swimwear, while most men are naked. I guess we girls are more self-conscious or shy or whatever.
After this, we spend another delightful half-hour in the salt water swimming-pool, then head back to our rooms, since our two hours are nearly over.

We have only just got back to our room when Varda comes calling, and after some discussion Diamond and I decide to have a bite to eat at the downstairs bar, then go up for a drink in the upstairs one. We wait ages for our food but it’s worth it. Varda decides not to come up to the bar with us, but we agree to meet again in the morning.

The party at the bar on the last night has a rather more desperate edge to it than the one yesterday. There are less people, some still in costume, and many pensive and melancholy faces, all of us coming to the realisation that Ring*Con 2007 is over. But we still have a good time, sitting with Rosie and her friends (turns out she had clean-up duties to attend to, which is why we couldn’t find her earlier). I also meet Samena and Hobbitlove83 there, and we find out that we’re on the same train home!
With midnight come and gone, Rosie takes her leave of us, also agreeing to meet us tomorrow morning before we leave. We also go back to our room, not much later.

Monday, October 15

After packing most of our stuff, we have a leisurely breakfast with Varda, then return to our room to pack the rest of it. Only by chance does Diamond discover that we have to be out of the room by 10, not 11. A frantic last-minute packing rush ensues.

When we arrive in the hotel lobby it’s total chaos, what with Ringers checking out and attendees of two other conventions checking in.
Having checked out successfully, we still have an hour or so to kill before meeting up with Rosie and Varda, and so we walk into town to buy some stuff for our respective neighbours who have looked after our respective cats while we were gone. We also nip by the supermarket for some sweets to eat on the train.

Back at the hotel, we manage to find Rosie pretty easily, but I can’t seem to locate Varda anywhere. Yet much as I want to find her and say a proper good-bye, we can’t afford the time as we have a train to catch. So at last, with a heavy heart, we make our way to the train station.

We take our leave of Rosie, hoping we will see her again soon, and board the train. Samena and HL83 are on the same carriage as we are, by a lucky chance. We have coffee together at Frankfurt Central station, between connecting trains. Back in the train, Diamond and I watch the DVD’s of Ring*Cons long gone. They take us all the way back to Amsterdam.

So it’s good-bye Fulda. But hopefully not good-bye Ring*Con. We’ve already signed up for next year in Bonn. Bring it on!