Introducing Finland #GiveItUp125

Hello, and welcome to Virtual Finland. I’ve had a busy morning in the kitchen. You can see the results in this video.

The recipe that I used for the Karelian Pies is this one. I’m not hugely impressed with it. There seemed to be rather too much filling for the amount of pastry. But I did have to improvise quite a bit along the way.

In the video I promised you some photos. Here are the Karelian Pies:

And here is the cream tea with cloudberry jam:

For the benefit of folks from Devon and Cornwall who care passionately about such things, I put the cream on first because the cloudberry jam is a lot more liquid than a traditional English jam, and if you put the jam on first the cream will just slide straight off.

Thank You, Australia #GiveItUp125 #IDAHOBIT

Being in Virtual Australia on IDAHOBIT Day is a poignant reminder that I did most of my gender transition while living in Australia. There were a number of reasons for that, but one of them is that the medical support for transition was better in Australia than it is here in the UK. That’s even more true now. I will always be grateful for the support I got from friends in Australia, in particular the folks at the Melbourne Science Fiction Club who accepted me without question.

One of the disappointments about not being able to travel to New Zealand for Worldcon this year is that a planned visit to Melbourne has had to be cancelled too. Maybe another year.

The photo above was taken at the Wilson’s Promontory National Park, which is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.

Country Victoria in 1999 #GiveItUp125

Here are some photos from the trip that Kevin and I made following the World Science Fiction Convention in 1999. First up we have the Puffing Billy Railway, which made Kevin very happy.

And second, one of the best ways to get up close and personal with Australian wildlife, Healesville Sanctuary. (Sadly digital cameras back then had little in the way of zoom so these are the only good shots I have.)

As usual, click on any photo for a bigger image and slide show.

Coronavirus – Day #64

It has been another busy day at the fundraising coalface. So far so good, I think. I hope people are enjoying it.

There was also WiFi SciFi #3, for which I was a panelist. We had a great time. Thanks to Anne, Kevlin and all of the team.

As with yesterday, it has also been a busy day on social media. We’ve had the brilliant Guy Gavriel Kay’s #CocktailHour, where we all dress up and post selfies with a drink of our choice. And we’ve had #StayAtHomeDisco run by my lovely pal Laura Rawlings from BBC Radio Bristol. Conviently they were on at the same time so I was able to make one outfit do for both.

Out in the “real” world today there have been “anti-lockdown” protests in major British cities. No automatic weapons here, but doubtless the same far-right funders behind it all. Today was also the first day in around 3 weeks that the 7-day rolling average of deaths in the UK ticked significantly upwards. Cummings and his pals will doubtless be pleased with a job well done.

Up in the Sierras #GiveItUp125

I don’t have a lot of photos of my time in California because smartphones hadn’t been invented back then and digital cameras were still a bit dodgy. Also I seem to have spent most of my time photographing visits to science fiction conventions rather than tourist spots. However, there are a couple of records of tourist trips in Emerald City. This is one of them.

Kevin took me up into the Sierras to visit his mother. We timed to visit to coincide with a local Blues Festival, which I wrote about here. There are also photos here and here.

These days you can find good musicians on line, so here’s Craig Horton in action:

And here’s Steve Gannon:

Welcome to (Virtual) California #GiveItUp125

Here we go again. Today I am in Virtual California. There will be music, science fiction, and tourism. Later on I will be joined by Kevin, and by Nalo Hopkinson. But for now, here’s an introduction and some food.

There’s a mistake I noticed in that video. Thanks to Bozo and his jolly chums doing such a good job of destroying the UK’s economy, California now has the 5th largest economy in the world.

And here is Nigella’s recipe for Roquamole. You’re welcome.

Coronavirus – Day #63

Well that was an exhausting day. And I have five more to go. Of course it didn’t help that I had the #QBLockdownHunt thing to do as well.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it all. Please to tell your friends if you did. There must be some more people out there who would be willing to give a few pounds to help One25.

Here’s the link to the fundraiser.

I have no idea what is happening back in the UK. I hope Bozo doesn’t manage to destroy the country before I get back.

The Queer Britain #QBLockdownHunt Challenge

A quick break from Virtual Italy to note that there’s another charity campaign going on today. Queer Britain is a wonderful project that aims to create an actual bricks & mortar exhibition of LGBT+ life in the UK. Today my friend Dan Vo is running an awareness campaign on Twitter and is asking people to find t-shirts and fliers that relate to queer history and post about them. He’s also interviewing a whole bunch of fabulous people. I have rather a lot of material, so I decided to channel my inner Dan and make a video. This covers a lot of my work with OutStories Bristol, how I got involved in doing LGBT History Month Events (sorry Sue, you are stuck with me now), and a little bit about the tragedy of the UK’s lost trans history archives. The latter is an excellent example of why Queer Britain is so badly needed. There’s also a little bit of science fiction in there.

Coronavirus – Day #62

Today started well. The weather was fine, the pollen count was low, and there were no urgent emails from clients. So I decided to go in search of hormones.

The car was a bit reluctant to start today, so I took a very circuitous route into town to get some charge into the battery. That’s probably contrary to one of the ever-changing Lockdown regulations, so if any of the “Gender Critical” mob are reading this, there’s your smoking gun. You can report me to the Authorities and have me taken away for re-education.

Boots was very quiet and the staff were very helpful. However, as all I had was an email copy of the prescription, they couldn’t fulfill it immediately. They need to phone my doctor and confirm that they are the only people I have approached. When they get that confirmation, they can order the hormones. But in order to find out if they have had confirmation I need to be able to get through to them on the phone, which is easier said than done. If I can’t get through after a few days I will have to go back and see them.

For some unexplained reason there was a massive queue at Tesco when I got there. It took forever to get in. They still didn’t have any flour, but I got a few things I needed for the Canada and France food list. There were a few more people wearing masks this time, including me, but we were still very much in the minority.

When I got back home there was a cement mixer blocking the road. I now have one neighbour and two people immediately across the road all having building work done. Being a builder is clearly a key occupation.

Some #GiveItUp125 Announcements

As you may have noticed, I reached my initial fundraising goal of £250 yesterday. It is great to know that I have something in the bank before I have produced anything. From tomorrow, however, the content should start streaming out, and that means plenty of opportunities to get people to contribute. So I have raised the target to £750.

Now that may seem a lot, but we are 33% of the way there already. And last year I raised £600, so I’m sure we can do it.

You may be wondering why there is a picture of bananas on this post. Well, last year Meghan & Harry Sussex made a Royal Visit to One25 (when they were doing such things) and Meghan decided to write “positive affirmations” on some of the bananas in the centre. That got all over the news. The folks at One25 have been a bit obsessed with bananas ever since, and several of them will be doing this year’s challenge dressed as a banana.

I do not have a banana suit.

But I have bananas. Six of them: one for each day of the challenge. So each day I will be channeling my inner (ex-)princess and writing a message on one (before eating it). For this I need your help. Each day I will be asking for ideas for that day’s message. It needs to be something short enough to fit on a banana, and sufficiently clean to be tweeted out. Tweet me ideas with the hashtag #GoBanana.

There’s more.

I’m delighted to announce that for the California and Canada legs of my tour I will be joined by the wonderful Nalo Hopkinson. Nalo currently lives near Los Angeles, but still calls Toronto home. Tune in to find out what she thinks of both cities.

And finally, when should you do that? Here’s the schedule:

  • Friday 15th: Italy
  • Saturday 16th: California
  • Sunday 17th: Australia
  • Monday 18th: Finland
  • Tuesday 19th: Canada
  • Wednesday 20th: France

Content will roll out here, on YouTube and on Twitter through each day. Enjoy!