Alina Popescu, Writer

Author Life: Traveling to the UK and Attending Birmingham Pride

Author Life: Traveling to the UK and Attending Birmingham Pride
June 07
16:26 2017

The last weekend of May was when Birmingham Pride happened this year. I traveled to the UK to attend this amazing weekend event with my great friend and fellow author Taylin Clavelli. It’s been quite the experience for me, especially since I was flying into a country with its terror threat level raised so high, there was nowhere else to go but down. I hung out with Taylin, met some interesting people, sold some books, and flew home. Read on to find out all about it 🙂

A Touch of Fear and Flying into the UK

With Manchester so fresh in everyone’s minds and the terror threat raised to severe or imminent or something just as terrifying, this wasn’t the most comfortable trip I’ve ever been on. In truth, I was happy I was flying straight into Birmingham, and not going through London. And I knew from Taylin there would be so much security, it would be close to impossible for anything to go wrong. To make it a bit easier on myself, I had a long chat with a friend whose husband travels around Europe for work every week. He’d happened to be in close proximity to several attacks for the past year or so, and I’d read her post on how to keep travelling after such dreadful experiences. But the chat (think of hours spent on the phone) did wonders for me. That talk and the determination not to let anyone discourage me from attending Pride. I was keen on being part of it, seeing my friend, and having fun. In the end, this trip was a perfect choice I refused to miss out on.

Birmingham, UK

Birmingham, UK, just before landing

My Time in Worcestershire with Taylin

The wonderful and talented author Taylin Clavelli has an addictive garden! But before I fell in love with that, I was treated to the traditional fish and chips, then proceeded to have bacon sandwiches every single day. As you can imagine, on top of scones, Yorkies, and some other treats, this made me a very happy girl. It gave me the energy I needed to work, help Taylin with last minute preparations for our book stand (kiosk) at Pride, and sit back and relax while she taught her Taekwondo classes 😀

See, there’s proof I was working:

I went shopping with Taylin, she got me hooked on this Bitter something drink that she thought had no alcohol (I managed to detect the 0.1%, thank you very much, because I am such a light weight), and, like I said, she took me with her to her Taekwondo club to watch her teach. That was a very strange experience for me. I loved every second of it, don’t get me wrong, but it was all tinged in some nostalgia. I miss being in a dojo as a student. Haven’t really been part of a martial arts club since my second year of high school and I realized just how much I missed it. Yes, I am now planning to see what’s available in Ploiesti and join a club.

Did I mention Taylin’s amazing garden? Here are a few snapshots. I started every day with a cup of coffee in her conservatory, enjoying my view of this magical place.

Taylin's Garden
Taylin's Garden

Birmingham Pride – an Unforgettable Weekend

We kicked off our weekend with a 5.30 wake up call on Saturday. We left the house at 7 am and by 8 we were well into setting up our little kiosk. It was raining, of course, because why not? Taylin and her husband–who is incredibly funny and cool–helped us set up. We had our balloons, books, banner and rainbows to arrange. And then we waited. Literally, we waited for hours, as it was super quiet until midday when the parade started. Still, our book display was too cool to care no one was seeing it yet!

Day One Display - Birmingham Pride

Day One Display

By three o clock, we’d barely interacted with anyone. And that was fine. Pride is not about buying things, it’s about celebrating who you are. We had however met some characters and we’d people watched to our heart’s desire. The boys next door were friendly and fun and one of them regaled us with stories that did indeed inspire us. The sort of things you’d read in a book and think it could never happen in real life. Funny, right?

In the afternoon, though, to my surprise, people started to check us out, ask about our books, and buy a few of them. Again, to my surprise, science fiction did great, and that, followed by fantasy, was the number one genre people requested. No wonder my post-apocalyptic gay science fiction Angel’s Feather was my number one seller! Tay did amazing as well, and to my delight, Secret of the Manor sold quite a few copies (her best seller, if I’m not mistaken). As it’s my favorite book by her, you can imagine how delighted I was this contemporary with a touch of magic and jousting did so well. There was huge demand for lesbian fiction, but sadly none of us writes that. But if you’re a lesbian fiction author, you should definitely consider attending Birmingham Pride!

For the TL;DR crowd and those who want to see more photos, here’s the video version of this trip 🙂

Another highlight of the day was realizing Amelia Faulkner was a few kiosks down from us and meeting E. Davies who was there with her. I did have to wait until the next day to meet her in person because the afternoon was pretty much insane.

Day two was a blur. We set up way faster, now that we knew what we were doing. If you asked me, the second day kiosk looked a lot better. And yes, if you’re wondering the caterpillar balloons were the most popular. I bolded the word “caterpillar” because I judge you by my standards and my mind is firmly stuck in the gutter 😀

Day 2 display

Day 2 display

We chatted with people from day one, made new friends, and generally had a blast. Then had dinner in downtown Birmingham with Teodora Kostova and her wonderful family. We went to the Rub Smokehouse and I fell in love. With their food and their wild berry cider. And their desserts. They have cute waiters too!

Police and Security at Birmingham Pride

Day one at Pride had a lot more police presence and more security than day two (because the threat was significantly lower by then). There were police dogs, police patrols, and the event security patrols roaming around. There were firemen and EMTs. And everyone was embracing Pride. It was fun to see these huge, threatening looking men and these “don’t mess with me” women in the police force sporting glitter, I love Pride stamps, and other designs on their faces. Or wearing colorful boa feathers! They’d smile and say hi once in a while, and that put me at ease.

Police at Birmingham Pride

Police at Birmingham Pride

Saying Goodbye and Flying Home

Monday was the day to unwind after Pride. I was shattered, I had work waiting for me, and of course, I had more to chat about with Tay, her husband, and her children. Yes, I do talk too much, but that’s not news. Had more cider, had more chocolate, and got ready to go home.

Of course, because everything else went so smoothly by then, my flight was almost two hours late–a huge strike in Romania caused this delay. I ended up getting home at around 1 a.m., but at least the flight wasn’t cancelled. Like always, going home was a wee bit sad. I was happy to see my family, my boyfriend, and my dog, but I was still going back after having tons of fun. Being a little sad is acceptable, especially for someone who used to cry her eyes out when she returned from trips abroad. And if you’re wondering, I was eighteen when that particular incident happened, after a week in Rome.

I am planning on going back next year and Taylin seems to want to do this crazy thing again. See you next May, Birmingham!

About Author

Alina Popescu

Alina Popescu

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