Yes, I know I keep saying this, but it's true. Bristolcon is one of the friendliest, best-run cons I've come across. It even has a good venue, with a large bar, all the panel rooms on the ground floor, and a really attractive restaurant - built in a giant brick kiln!
I managed to get there for the Friday evening 'Open Mike' this year. Beginners were invited along early to practise reading their own work, and get some helpful tips on timing, pace, and connecting with an audience. Since they only got five minutes to do so, it was impossible to get too bogged down or too panicked. I noticed that when the same people read for a second time an hour later the result was an immediate improvement.
This is a great idea for anyone who wants - or needs - to learn how to manage standing in front of others, even if it's only at the day job. I went along to warm up before doing a reading from 'Ashamet' on the Saturday.
What else? I started the day running a workshop on self-editing, then managed to hear Jaine Fenn read, always a good experience. Had a look at the art exhibition. Joined in a panel discussion on what made a "good dystopia", which was fun because all the other panellists had obviously thought about the subject in advance [not at all like those times when people seem to think they can 'wing it' we've all seen?]. Then I confess I spent some time in the bar, but I was chatting rather than drinking, honest.
There was a film in the evening, but my other half, who doesn't favour SF, had been sightseeing all day and found a great restaurant only minutes from the hotel. So it seemed only fair to let him take me out. And then it was Sunday and time to go, already thinking about going back next year!