The Best of 2017

The New Year is now well underway, and I hope it’s treating you well, dear reader.  There are many more joyous blogs to unleash upon the world in 2018, but for now let’s re-cap some of the most popular from last year.

I’ve done some research, and found the Top Ten most viewed blog posts at the Virtual Hot Tub.

Here they are, in reverse order:

10. 1968 – Gig Review

In May I went to Telford’s Warehouse in Chester to witness for myself the awesome riffage of the mighty 1968.  A fine band – they have a new album coming soon, so don’t delay, dive right in and discover them now!

9. New Set Up – Death Skateboards

Summer saw the arrival of my new Death skateboards deck.  I took some nice photos of the setup looking shiny and new, then thrashed it and shined the graphics.

8. MCM Comic Con 2017 – Part 2

The second part of my blog about visiting MCM Comic Con at the NEC.  Featuring loads of Cosplay photos, which are always popular.

7. Pandan Leaf, Prestatyn

Pandan Leaf is a superb Asian restaurant in Prestatyn, North Wales; I enjoyed a sensational meal there earlier in the year.  A highly recommended place to eat, I hope this little write up helped them out.  Go there if you can.

6. Sci-Fi Weekender 2016 – Bonus Scenes

Sadly I didn’t make it to Sci-Fi Weekender in 2017.  I did have some photos left over from 2016, however, so I could post a pre-Weekender warm up.  This blog includes the now traditional “No Photos!” section.

5. Pentre Fest 2017

Pentre Fest – a weekend of underground, largely unsigned metal – right on my door step.  I went and had a great time.  This blog got more views than the review I wrote of my trip to see the last ever Black Sabbath gig!

4. Sci-Fi Weekender 2016 – The Directors Cut

Wow – I took a lot of pics in 2016.  Several more shared here.  Platinum Al and the gang are back this year, so get ready for some Sci-Fi blog action soon.

3. MCM Comic Con – Part 1

The first part of my MCM Comic Con was far more popular than the second.

2. Ye Olde Kings Head – Mostly Haunted

Things that go bump in the night at an old, haunted pub in Chester was the second most popular blog of 2017.  A great pub and a fun evening, making an interesting blog.

So there have numbers ten down to two on the Virtual Hot Tub Most Popular of 2018 countdown.  But what, I hear you cry, was number 1?

Drum roll please…

1. Dogtown & Z-Boys Playlist

My playlist compiling the songs found on the soundtrack for the frankly awesome Dogtown & Z-Boys movie storms in at number 1. Thus confirming that old school skateboarding and classic rock make an excellent movie, and a not half bad blog.

An honourable mention to the following posts, which although not written in 2017, are still performing amazingly well:

  • Santa Cruz Snowskate (2014)
  • Hammer Glamour (2013)
  • Skateboard Museum: Variflex Joker (2013)

Thanks to YOU, venerable reader, for continuing to make this blog a success.  Stay tuned and visit again, don’t be a stranger.  There are many wondrous delights still to unfold at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub; come back for a relaxing dip soon.

Sci-Fi Weekender 2016 – Bonus Scenes

Sci Fi Weekender 17th – 20th March 2016

Hafan Y Mor Holiday Park, Pwllheli

Trundling along on the Jundland Wastes in my ancient Jawa sandcrawler, I found a few more photos from last years Sci-Fi Weekender to share with you.  The previous batch were pretty popular, so I thawed these out of carbon freeze too, rather than lose them forever in scrap and droid parts.

This years SFW is this weekend, so hopefully I can finish this post and share for you to enjoy before the event starts.  I’m always busy trying to flog old droids to miserly moisture farmers.

It ain’t easy, you know.

Greeny meets the Daves

And mentioning a David Bowie song, there were a few references to the great man at last years event.  Not surprising, following his fairly recent passing – or given the sci-fi nature of a great deal of his work.  From Space Oddity to Labyrinth, the ghost of Bowie was very welcome at SFW.

I’ll take this opportunity to thank everyone again, for posing for pictures.  The creativity and skill shown in your cosplay creations was matched only by your friendly, welcoming personalities.  A huge thanks to all – hope you’ve enjoyed the photos.

And finally, I’s like to end with a few more shots (as last year) of me wearing my incognito “Facebook” proof shades.  You can’t prove it was me.

Of course, this is all done in jest.  It amuses me, anyway.

Have a fantastic Sci-Fi Weekender everybody!

Sci-fi Weekender 2016 – The Director’s Cut

Sci Fi Weekender 17th – 20th March 2016

Hafan Y Mor Holiday Park, Pwllheli

It’s nearly that time again – the time for Sci-Fi Weekender at Hafan Y Mor, North Wales.  So as per previous years, here are a few bonus photos from last years festivities.  For some reason or other, these shots never made the original two part blog write up last year.  My apologies for that, but here are the best of what’s left.

For those with memories wiped or destroyed by pan galactic gargle blasters, Sci-Fi Weekender is a gathering every March for all things science fiction and fantasy related.  There are special celebrity guests, discussion panels, interviews, workshops, gaming and more.  Not to mention plenty of entertainment and partying.

If this is your kind of thing, there’s no better place to be than Pwllheli, where the Hafan Y Mor caravan park hosts this superb event.

The main highlight of the festivities are the people who attend.  Travelling from all over known galaxy, there are some wonderful people to meet and a welcoming atmosphere for all.

Of course the cosplay on display is inspiring, eccentric and hugely creative.  Whether it’s a costume that’s taken hours (or days) to make or just a fun nod to a random, unsung background character, the inventiveness and level of in depth knowledge to be seen is spectacular.

So here are a few more photos of the brave, intrepid souls who let their creative prowess and geek pride shine.  Every one of them a star.

Enjoy the photos – though be warned: they’re of varying quality…

Girls just wanna have fun

The Best of 2016

Well we’re now a couple of weeks deep into 2017 – how’s it going for you?  Well, I hope.

2017 at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub promises to bring you more of the great features you love, plus (hopefully) more in the year ahead.  But before I get all carried away and storm straight into new adventures, let’s take a moment to reflect.

Last year was a hell of a crazy ride.  But what Virtual Hot Tub blogs got you steaming hot?  Let’s take a look at the top ten most popular posts in 2016, in reverse order…

10. Skateboard Museum: Variflex Joker

The tenth most popular post in 2016 was this golden oldie from 2013, featuring one of my old 1980’s skateboards.  Skate nostalgia is obviously popular stuff, with internet searches keeping this article in view.

9. Wales Comic Con Strikes Back – Part 2

Up next was the second part of my report from Wales Comic Con in Wrexham from May, with loads of cool cosplay photos.

8. Tragedy – Gig Review

In March 2016 I went to see Heavy Metal Bee Gees tribute act Tragedy, at the Live Rooms in Chester.  It was pretty popular read (even the band liked it).

7. Sci-Fi Weekender 2015 – The Director’s Cut

Back in February 2016, I posted some photos I had left over from the previous Sci-Fi Weekender in March 2015.  Again, loads of interesting cosplay pics – plus a bit of comedy.  This was a warm up for the 2016 event.

6. Santa Cruz Snowskate

The next most read post was this blog about my snowskate, made by Santa Cruz skateboards, originally posted in winter 2014.  Internet searches kept this this one popular again this year.

5. Food Quest: To Koutouki, Chester

This write up of the excellent Greek taverna in Chester, posted in May 2016, has been very popular.  The most read food post all year by far, I hope it helps bring them some business, because they deserve it!

4. Wales Comic Con Strikes Back – Part 1

The first part of my report from Wrexham Comic Con was far more popular than the first, which came in at number 10 (above).  I don’t know why this part was better received, as it features the same style of cosplay pics.  Perhaps it was the pic of yours truly as Tony Stark that did it…?

3. Santa Cruz Street Creep

Another skateboard blog, this July piece featured text and photos of another 1980’s classic, in this case my Santa Cruz Street Creep reissue.  Rad.

2. Sci-Fi Weekender 2016 – Part 1

The second most read article on my blog in 2016 was the first part of my report from Sci-Fi Weekender.  The cosplay pics made it successful.

So what was the most popular blog post, with the most views, at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub in 2016?

It can only be…

Sci-Fi Weekender 2016 – Part 2

Yes, the final episode of our adventure at this years Sci-Fi Weekender convention was the most popular blog of the year.  Loads of photos of fantastic cosplayers having fun won the day, and not even my terrible photographic skills could ruin it!  No idea why Part 2 beat Part 1 though.

Thanks again to all the great folks who attended Sci-Fi Weekender, hope you enjoyed the photos!

Thanks to YOU too, for choosing Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub.  Your feedback and is always appreciated.  Here’s to another year of fun – all the best!

Sci Fi Weekender 2016 – part 2

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Phoenix

Sci Fi Weekender 17th – 20th March 2016

Hafan Y Mor Holiday Park, Pwllheli

Day 2 at SFW, and again it’s all a blur.  I recall it was a lazy start to the day for me, breakfast and chilling in the caravan.  Kurt was feeling better, but Greeny was starting to suffer with the illness.  It would be mostly be another day of watching Star Trek, Big Bang Theory and Top Gear for those two.

Adam had got up early and made it to see a showing of a new independent film called Pandorica.  Classed as an action-horror, reports about the film were very enthusiastic.  The Q&A with Director and cast was my first event of the day – it was interesting although I’d not seen the film!  Definitely one to keep and eye out for: word of mouth was very positive.

The highlight of the afternoon was, undoubtedly, an appearance by the incomparable Brian Blessed.  Larger than life and twice as loud, Blessed’s sci-fi credentials are suitably top notch.  A life long fan of science fiction, as well in starring in numerous genre pieces – you may have heard of Flash Gordon – his enthusiasm was both apparent and infectious.

Professor Elemental hosted the Q&A with Brian Blessed, who wisely let the great man get on and tell his tales!  A solid job from the Professor – a daunting task well executed.

Blessed’s talk ranged from his acting work to his many explorations and mountaineering adventures.  His recollections of the Flash Gordon movie, and it’s well deserved appreciation by audiences the world over, were affectionately told.  An unmissable audience with a real living legend.

In the afternoon I took some photos and looked around the stalls again.  Unfortunately, this years SFW again clashed with MCM Memorabilia in Birmingham, so genre based merchandise was thin on the ground.  I picked up some cool Elvira cocktail glasses though!

A good feature this year was the retro gaming section, where numerous old consoles could be played for free.  This was very popular, and although I don’t play video games it meant I always knew where to find my crew if we split up.  They were always playing games…

Every year at SFW, the Cosplay final is something to behold.  There’s always a sense of excitement in the air, as the costumed competitors take the stage.  And every year, the audience and competitors are enthusiastic and good natured.  Everyone cheers for each other, and there’s a real sense of community.  It’s nice to witness all the attendees rooting for each other; even though there will always be favourites, there is no bitterness.

The costumes were exceptional, as you can see (hopefully) from the photos here.  Not everyone entered the competition, but there were so many great costumes whether they were entering or just dressing up for fun.  Massive respect to everyone.

I find it great fun spotting and naming the characters.  The variety and imagination on show is consistently astounding, not to mention the talent that goes into making the costumes.  So again, thanks to all the Cosplayers for letting me take your photos.  Too many of my pics didn’t work out.  I also missed far too may opportunities.  But I hope that the photos here capture some of the creativity I witnessed.

And I sincerely apologise for not dressing up!  I lost count of the number of people who chastised me (with good humour, of course) for not dressing as Tony Stark…

Anyway, there can only be one winner of the Cosplay final, and that was the Robot Overlord fellow.  I can’t remember the character’s name, but I swear it was truly incredible!

Later on in the evening, I zoomed over to the Prog Rock area to catch some music.  I was very happy to catch the Focus set; the song “Hocus Pocus” was an obvious highlight.  I only saw a couple of songs by Ian Anderson (of Jethro Tull fame) – though they were impressive – before heading back to the spaceport.

For the rest of the evening, my compadre, Ste and myself had a few beers and hung around with various SFW attendees.  We saw some old pals and met a few new ones.  I took more photos – including the now traditional “no photos” social media-proof shades pics.  And we managed to stay up partying till after 2 in the morning!

Not such a good thing going home Sunday…

Still, another great time at Sci Fi Weekender.  And yes, Greeny and Kurt got better, thanks for asking.

If you were there, it was good to see you.  Hopefully we’ll see you next year.

And big thanks to Adam, who organised the whole thing for us!

The Sci Fi Weekender site is here.

The HRH Prog site is here.

PS: There are photos left unpublished, so there will be Bonus Scenes in a few weeks.  Be warned!

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Cosplay winner!

Sci Fi Weekender 2016 – part 1

IMG_20160318_114228066Sci Fi Weekender 17th – 20th March 2016

Hafan Y Mor Holiday Park, Pwllheli

Wow.  This year’s Sci Fi Weekender was a blur – it went faster than light speed.  All the usual geekery was in full swing, though I’ll be gosh darned if I can remember everything and what order it happened in.  Too much blue milk?

Never mind, I have numerous photos of the weekend to share; to help report on this cosmic adventure.  Except that didn’t go to plan this year.   My trusty Canon was on the blink, so I resorted to a little digital snapper and my phone.

Not ideal, but sometimes you have to compromise.

So what is Sci Fi Weekender?  For the unititiated, it’s a weekend of events and special guests, all held on site at the Hafan Y Mor holiday park in Pwllheli, North Wales.  Think Comic Con but at a holiday camp and with a party atmosphere.  All manner of interview panels, Q&As, games, and musical entertainment are part of the festivities.

Plus a prog rock festival – HRH Prog – was also being held on the same weekend.  Not a massive tie in with science fiction you may think (at least not without Hawkwind playing).  However it gave additional entertainment for those with musical interests.

Our weekend began with four of us – Adam, Greeny, Kurt and myself – driving from our corner of north east Wales to the north west.  On the way we popped into Cob records in Porthmadog to feed our vinyl addition.  Then we settled into our caravan home from home – complete with haul of supplies from the local ASDA – and planned our DVD watching schedule for the night.

Unfortunately the DVD player wasn’t working, and without tickets for the Thursday evening SFW party, we were stuck.  Rather than watch TV, we went for a pint in the onsite pub.  We then popped in to see what the prog rock was all about.  We didn’t think we would get in, but it was no problem.  As a result we were able to see Third Quadrant (quite good) and the excellent Crazy World of Arthur Brown.  Arthur is over seventy years old and jumps around on stage like a nutter.  Highly entertaining and some great tunes.

Friday began with the bad news that Kurt was ill.  He’s only 16 so booze wasn’t the issue.  As a result, Kurt and his dad Greeny were pretty much out of the running for the day.  They watched TV and chilled.  Plus Ste, our remaining member, had burst the inflatable camp bed by leaving it too close to the fire.  He suffered a bad night’s sleep on the sofa as a result.

The rest of us headed over to the arena and started checking things out.  I took a few photos and looked round the stalls.  We caught a Cosplay panel with Tabitha from Artyfakes that was very interesting, with extremely impressive Space Marine costumes and hints and tips about the hobby.  I bottled asking my question though, which was “How do you go for a wee?”.

I also watched an interview panel of comic book artists.  The panel consisted of 2000AD greats such as Glenn Fabry, William Simpson, Clint Langley and Simon Davis.  Hosted by Dez Skinn, the panel was informative and also amusing; it seems some of the assembled masters had been on the pop?  Either way, these guys were like rock stars to me when I was a young 2000AD fan, so it was pretty cool.

The vibe around the arena was good natured as always.  I took some cool photos (thanks everyone) and despite our numbers being depleted, we had a good afternoon.

After a delightful pizza from the onsite Papa John’s (it was great!); we were ready for the evening’s entertainment.  I’m afraid to say that the Imaginarium and magicians weren’t really my thing this year.  It’s difficult to dig the magic when you can’t see it up close.

The highlight was the one and only Professor Elemental, steam punk hip hop pioneer.  His smooth raps mixed with groovy beats like a well tuned gin and tonic.   A pleasure to witness, as always.

At the end of the night, I teleported across the site to see the end of the set by Caravan.  Not only a very apt band to be playing, they were actually pretty good.  The Soft Machine were on last with a more jazz orientated approach.  All very impressive and I’m glad I got to see something different.

I’m ashamed to say that we all ended up crashing out early on Friday night.  Illness and lack of sleep took it’s toll.  I was last man standing, going to bed at 11.30pm.  Pathetic, I know.

In Part 2: Brian Blessed, the Cosplay final, more Prog Rock…

PLUS: will we be able to stay up late?

Stay tuned to this frequency…

The Sci Fi Weekender site is here.

You really should check out Professor Elemental.  His website is here, plus he’s on that Twitter and stuff too.

Sci-Fi Weekender 2015 – The Director’s Cut

Sci-Fi Weekender 19th-22nd March 2015

Hafan Y Mor Holiday Park, Pwllheli

It’s nearly March – and you know what that means!  Yes, it’s almost time again for Sci-Fi Weekender!  This year’s event is at the same venue, Hafan y Mor holiday park, near Pwllheli in North Wales.  Running from 17th-20th March, the 2016 event promises even more out of this world fun.

Whilst doing a little reminiscing, I found a few photos from last year’s SFW that, for one reason or another, hadn’t been used.

So I decided to share a few more on this page, just as a warm up for SFW7.  Hope you enjoy.

And here are a few more shots from the weekend.  Hope none of these are repeats that I’ve missed…!

I may not have indulged in any Cosplay last year, but I did take along my Social Media Proof glasses.  These were invaluable in getting a few unusual character shots.  I might take them again this year!  Hopefully the concept is explained by the photos.  If not, let me explain…  The SMP glasses are worn on the face as sunglasses, giving the effect of those censorship bars across celebrities faces when they don’t want to be pictured.  That’s the idea, anyway…

Instead of “cheese”, it’s “No photos!”.  Here’s a few pics of us “doing a Kanye”:

Great memories.  I’m looking forward to this years Sci-Fi Weekender in just a few weeks.  Hope to see some of these amazing characters again!

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