Trains, Traverse 2013 and Marmalade in the Face of Adversity

This weekend saw the first edition of the best conference I’ve ever attended. Traverse 2013 was put together by lovely blokes Paul Dow and Michael Ball. They really excelled themselves with a programme of talks that were actually useful, sponsors that (over)fed and watered the delegates, and sunshine, which perhaps weather2travel brought with them.

On arrival in Brighton it was only appropriate to take advantage of the mighty fine weather and ride the oldest electric railway in the world…

photo (49) photo (53) Volks Railway Ticket

And have a Mr. Whippy…

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Before heading to the pub, then the bar on the seafront where Michael and Paul had arranged drinks.

The next day, the conference began. Michael said hello…

photo (57)Then speakers spoke, pros conducted one-to-one sessions at pro bars, and sponsors laid on food. My favourite speaker was Adrian Land from My Destination, who spoke about SEO. Not only was his talk very comprehensive and well-informed, he also posted a couple of links to valuable resources – The Beginners Guide to SEO and an SEO Starter Guide, by Google.

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After an excellent night that followed an excellent conference, the March for England thought they’d try and rain on the parade by, er, parading along the seafront shouting stuff. Most people couldn’t understand what they were shouting because it sounds a bit like a group of drunk people going, ‘wooaahh wooaahh, wooaahh, wooaahh… wooaahh.’ But I’m sure they were trying to make some kind of point. Happily, the people of Brighton made a louder and clearer point – “racist scum, off our streets.” Indeed. I made an audioboo. I wish it had captured the amazing sounds of Lady Marmalade which followed the March for England from a sound system as they marched, but it gives you an idea of who was louder.

Sophie Collard on Google+

On the Brighton Pride Trains

Saturday 1st September 2012 was the 20th anniversary of Pride in Brighton. As such, it made sense to join VisitEngland on a trip to experience it. On the Brighton Pride trains. Or behind a float in this case.

It all began by the Volks Electric Railway, which runs along part of Brighton beach and is the oldest electric railway in the world (as the sign says). The image is horrifically cropped because I neither have photoshop or know how to use it (yet) and there was an annoying sign in the foreground. Anyway…

We walked with Brighton & Hove City Council and their gay dog

The dog proved very popular with crowds along the way.

After a bit, we found the council’s float a little on the quiet side, so went to see what everyone else was up to.

The above was my favourite costume, but many others were excellent too…

Cheeky.

This man was one of many dancers who, I felt, were the best, even though the hula hoop dancers were equally colourful. Mr. Blue Hoop made me laugh when he disappeared to Co-op halfway through to buy some booze.

Near the end of the procession, a beautiful angel appeared in a window. Even the mayor, who we’ll get to in a moment, noticed her. We bumped into her at Preston Park afterwards. She was quite shy and explained that it was her first Pride, but she may do the same next year. So look out for her.

When we reached Preston Park we met the Mayor of Brighton (& Hove, actually). I look a bit like a Teletubby in the picture. He gave us badges that said ‘I’ve met the Mayor of Brighton & Hove,’ so I gave him a #WeWillGather badge and told him all about the new site I had the idea for, wewillgather.co.uk.

He explained he has spent 40 years working in the voluntary sector, is a big person in the Green Party and has worked hard on behalf of Shelter amongst many other things. I was very impressed and look forward to talking to him further. Brighton & Hove are lucky.

Pride was a fantastic experience and I hope everybody had as good a time as I did. Thanks to the council for letting us walk with them, to Barefoot Wines who had the best freebies and allowed me to distribute some to the crowds along the way, and to VisitEngland for organising everything including a lovely dinner before our return, and to VisitBrighton for facilitating.

Sophie Collard on Google+