From Insomnia To The Asylum

The 29th and 30th of August was a pretty cool weekend. Sally and I had booked some tickets for the Insomnia gathering at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry and also the Asylum festival at Lincoln.

Insomnia is a gaming festival that is usually held at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. The arena is next to a Tesco superstore where much Redbull and other types of sugary caffeinated drinks. We parked in the Tesco car park for the couple of hours we were in the festival. It was an interesting experience. We spent time in a Minecraft hall, a large stage hall, and smaller exhibition areas. Around the periphery there were RAF and Army recruiters with activities that involved games. There were many more children and families there than I had expected. My initial assumption was that most people attending would be teenagers or early twenties, but I was surprised by the number of families walking around, dads and mums with pre-teen boys (mostly).

I wasn’t that interested in any of the big stage events and I wasn’t allowed into the LAN halls, which is where most of the intense gaming competitions were held. I was impressed with the lay out of event although a little more signage around the arena so I could find my way in would have been helpful.

In one of the gaming halls I was happy because I found a copy of Crackdown for the Megadrive. If you know a little about this website then you will know why this was an important game for me, you could just check here if you want.


I now need to set up Sally’s Megadrive and play the game. I am quite excited about that as she claims to be a bit rubbish at Crackdown. She also claims to be quite poor at a number of games but apart from crazy golf she has beaten me at everything we have played so far.

One of the stalls / attractions outside of the arena was a truck with about 8 PCs in the back and a racing game set up. When we first walked by I asked what track and car for the competition. This is important to me as there are some tracks I like racing on and certain cars I like “driving”. The response was:

Donington National Circuit, F1 cars.

This was not the best response. I don’t know the Donington Circuit and I hate driving F1 cars, I much prefer touring cars. We wandered off.

As we were walking around I though about Donington and tried to remember the circuit and figure out how to manage the F1 car around it. Most of the circuit was in my head, I just didn’t know where the National Circuit went different from the Grand Prix circuit. This was going to cost me £5 for some practice time and then a race with the qualifying time being the best lap time from a circuit.

We had to head back so I could have a go.

I joined a group of guys while they were practising but there was still about fifteen minutes left and then the race. The car worked well and all I had to learn was what gear to take each corner, where the last corner was and when to brake for each corner. I reckon it took a couple of laps to get the gears right for the corners and another couple to get the braking points. After that I was trying to decrease my times. While driving around I could see many people spinning and not managing the corners.

I qualified in pole position. I think it was a three lap race and I never got overtaken but I did pass many so I knew I was in first place. At the end of the session my fastest lap made it onto the leader board.

I was very pleased with my result. I reckoned that with another two or three goes I could save around three or four seconds but there wasn’t any way I was going to get to the top. I moved on. Overall the Insomnia experience was good and would have been much better if I had wanted to see some of the big stage events.

The last Sunday in August was a good one. We had tickets to the Asylum Festival in Lincoln. We had to get up early, get our costumes on and then drive to Lincoln. This was the second time we had driven that route recently as we also had a few days on the North Sea Coast. Our costumes had been planned and created over the previous months and I have to say a specific “thanks you” to Tina for the hats!


My boots are my favourite out of the whole outfit. It took quite a bit of effort to find these on sale in the UK but I managed it along with a pair I bought for when I’m in heavy metal mode. If you don’t quite get what steampunk then I can’t help you. JFGI.

The whole of Lincoln had been converted into a centre of steampunk excellence for the weekend. It was great to see so many people walking around in their costumes and the general public and tourists wondering what was going on. We managed to find a parking space near the centre of town and within half a minute of leaving the car people were already asking if they could take photos of us. That didn’t last too long as our costumes were quite poor in comparison to most at the event.

We had a rough idea of what events we wanted to see but the main one was the Tea Duelling. This is a real thing. Tea Duelling has its own rules and guidelines and was really great fun to watch. I have since duelled with tea and it is a mighty fine thing to do.

The entire centre of Lincoln embraced and celebrated the steampunk culture. It was great fun to be there and to see everyone in their costumes.

The big event of the day for us was a burlesque event which took place at the Bishop Grosseteste University about a mile from the centre of the city. We had some lunch and then tea at a pub in the centre of town and then walked to the university.

Oh Dear, What would the Major say?

The show was brilliant. It was funny, occasionally rude and all in the best possible taste. It was great fun to see. From what I can gather the show was put together by Tallulah Blue. She was once of the dancers. The compere for the evening was meant to be an ex Eastern Bloc lady (I can’t tell, her accent was good but then again was it an act that fitted with the overall theme?) The first dancer was Scottish and blond. That is pretty much all I can remember apart from the music being pretty up beat and she smiled a lot. She did throw her clothes into the audience as she took them off.

Tallulah Blue danced two numbers during the evening. There was a male dancer who did a brilliant version of the dance of the sugar plum fairy from Swan Lake (I think). It was brilliant and showed that the evening wasn’t sexist, just fun. At the end of the show the compere did a brilliant piss take of the Dita Von Teese champagne glass dance. We laughed a lot. It was such a brilliant experience to spend time in a city totally welcoming to a bunch of oddly dressed (mostly middle-aged) weirdoes. We both had a great time. The only problem was we had to drive home that evening, it would have been good to stay over somewhere. Maybe next year although I need to start work on my costume!