This shortened trip meant that I would not be using Grumpys Car this year, but rather my ever faithful battered little KA. OF course room would be a lot more tigher but it's not like I would be taking anyone with me again ( that's a point to remember for later). Plus it seemed a little fitting in a slightly bizarre as only I would remember this kind of way, as my very first trip to conference was also in my KA.
Now I had tried to get the Friday and the Tuesday after conference off, but was unfortunatly twarted by the holiday diary being full ( the failure to grab Tuesday would especially come back to bite me in the rear). I had even tried to get only a couple ofhours off but that failed as well. However due to some various shift switching, working late and some good old fashioned working through a break I managed to leave two hours before my usual finish time without using up any holiday.
So Bonus :-)
After a quick swing by home to load up ( and even quicker early tea because as far as I knew there was no food places nearby the uni ala manchester). It was time to be off. Now the trip was very quick as even though it was a Bank Holiday I kept to the back roads which I anticipated would be clear ( hey just occasionally I can think things through).
It was also very bizarre as 99% of the trip there was exactly the same route I travelled when I went to my old job. So I got to the campus and.............
promptly got lost. (wow flashback to first conference :-) Because you see I had completely failed to anticipate just how big this campus was when compared to Manchester. I spent nearly ten minutes driving around before finally deciding to break the male stereotype and stopped to think about directions. One quick log into facebook later and I had a clue that I needed to look for the conference centre. So I struck out in that direction wondering if this was right as all I seemed to see was students, students and erhh more students.
But then I saw some YSA. Now I didn't know these YSA and I know it sounds stereotypical but I instantly knew they were YSA when I saw them. So I decided to follow them and what do you know, they lead me straight to the conference centre. ( some sort of metaphor there me thinks :-)
So despite setting out early I was still there a hour after registration was supposed ot open ( see I used suppose there you know where this is going already don't ya?) Well as it turned out, although I had kept to the clear roads, the person with the wrists bands had not. So by the time he had arrived and we queued up, I got to the front of the queue and registered. I had been there nearly a hour and a half! As people poured in, I started to feel slightly depressed at the lack of familiar faces, all the very young faces and if I'm honest a tiny bit jealous as I watched groups of people meet up with their groups of friends, laughing and hugging each other.
It was at this point I decided to tell my mental voice to shut up as I was going to get nowhere if I started off with that attitude.
So after collecting my keys I headed to my hall where I would be staying for the next several days. Which I was pleased to find was maybe a 100 metres top from the conference centre ( hey don't tut I'm getting old, short distances are nicer). Anyway I was expecting a pretty standard room, but had a couple of surprises, firstly we got a kettle and a Fridge! Plus the bathroom was one of these completely wet floor ones, i/e no shower tray which I was sure was going to prove interesting.
So firmly bedded in, I decided to headback to the conference centre, to see what was going on, plus it would give me a chance to play with my new toy ( also important later, hope your paying attention).
However it was at this point I got two further surprises. Firstly that there were girls in the hall. Girls in the hall, staying in rooms in the same hall. EEHHHHHH!!!!! What was going on? I found out later that they were only the girls from the organising commitee as they had put them all in the same hall.
Secondly was I ran into the first two people from Leicester stake. Not literally run into mind you as one of the girls called out to me in her "soft gentle tones", from nearly 50 metres away to get my attention to find out where to go and register.
So into the conference centre I went, there was still a dissappointing lack of people I knew but hey ho. I started wondering around testing out my new toy in some slighty more challenging settings then I had been using it previously. I quickly came across the falconery display and was able to get some great shots despite the rapidly failing light.
Mind you that falcon did seem to be eying up some of the YSA who took turns to hold it and not in a I think your pretty nice and I want to date you kind of way.
So wandering back through the centre I ran into the married couple who were overseeing the conference, who were none other then our own stake president and his wife! I showed a few of the shots I had taken to him as he hadn't seen what was going on outside. At which point he promptly asked that as they didn't have a proper photographer due to budget issues if I would mind taking photos for use in the slide show at the end of the weekend ( see I told you the trailer would be explained that's the slide show in question.) Despite being slightly nervous at this prospect I decided to accept.
So thus I became the unofficially offical photographer.
So this conference was already turning out rather differently and it wasn't just down to the change of location.
Anywho walking around the upper levels taking some photos over the edge, playing with settings and lenses, I was having a rather fun ( if lonely time) but all that was about to change as I suddenly heard someone happily call out my name to grab my attention she had clocked me on the floor above. Yes Phoenix ( there's a long and complicated story behind her code name which I might explain one day it's on the same line of thinking as Drat!) and gang had arrived. I was especially pleased to see her as well she has one of the most fantastic spirits of anyone I have ever met. She just has this way of lifting your spirit and your mood.
So I spent sometime catching up with her before moving back into the main hall to see one of the main events of the night. Medieval dancing, which was just so fun. It also demonstrated the fun of the sports mode on my camera ( it takes a lot of shots in a quick sequence) as it provided some great shots. Among which lot of people caught in mid swing and one guys eyeline not being quite where it should have been when he bowed :-)
Anyway with that it was time for the opening exercises which although different were also comfortingly familiar. One of the comments made by the chairman of the commitee was to encourage people as he had done the previous year to focus on serving other YSA and it would be the best conference ever.
It was at this point I glanced down at the camera around my neck and decided that maybe taking photos would be a form of service ( in a slightly bizarre way maybe but still service none the less) and decided to concentrate on that. Maybe the chairman was right.
You know at that point, I had no idea just how right he was going to turn out to be