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Cheese tasting.

We’ll be having a cheese tasting at Punctuation, so here’s the information so you can pick up some cheese (and more!) in advance.

The format will be simple. We will simply chat about our cheeses, running through from young/mild to blue. You’ll be asked to share a cheese you’ve selected and we’ll have a broad conversation about cheese types and share interesting cheese facts! To make it simple think of your cheeses as something old; something new; something borrowed; and something blue.

Something new: a younger cheese. These could be a fresh cheese like young goat’s cheese, ricotta, cottage cheese or a cheshire type of cheese like Cheshire, Lancashire or Wensleydale. These are milder and saltier.

Something old: a mature hard cheese. A cheddar is favourite but you could select a gouda, manchego, parmesan etc. It needs to be aged and will usually be rather sharp in flavour.

Something borrowed: a cheese from elsewhere. From a British perspective this could be a soft cheese in the tradition of brie or camembert. Here you could select something that has fruit or herbs in it, or an exciting addition to the rind. This is your chance to surprise us with a particularly interesting or unusual cheese (or not, as the case may be).

Something blue: a blue cheese! Take your pick all the way from a creamy dolcelatte to a spicy stilton.

Four varieties not enough for you? Feel free to pick up as much cheese as you like, but try and get a couple of the types above. You should be able to pick up some sort of variation of all the above in a local supermarket or delicatessen. Or, if you wish, you could order a tasting pack from one of the internet cheese companies.

What if I don’t eat cheese?

Well, you can create a board around pates, meats, sweets, anything you like. Try and follow the old, new, borrowed, blue (um) method.

For the board I would add some sort of sort of fruit (apple, grapes, pear work well), a sweet preserve (chutney, jam or paste), olives or pickles and then bread or crackers. Remember, too, that too much bread means too little space for cheese, but not enough crackers means running out of things to transport cheese to your mouth with.

What about drinks?

If I’ve learnt nothing else over the past few years is that most alcohol goes with cheese. Cheese and wine, cheese and beer, cheese and whisk(e)y, cheese and gin. Traditionally you’d start with a light white with the young cheeses, move on to a more robust red with the stronger cheese and then finish with a dessert wine/port with your blue cheese. Alternatives are sparking water (pop in some elderflower cordial, for the younger cheeses, maybe some blackcurrant later on!), different types of tea.

Our cheese tasting will run on Saturday (14 November) at 6pm. Join the #cheese-tasting channel on Discord for more cheese talk!

Social situations.

We are keen to make Punctuation a convention which puts social spaces first in a way that hasn’t previously been the case in the online conventions we have attended. To do this, we are explicitly building social spaces and time blocks into the convention, with two blocks of social time after each programme block each day, plus social time on the Friday night. We also have ideas for programme which will be more interactive and silly in order to encourage people to feel comfortable in those social spaces.

We could have a roguelike scavenger hunt!

John Coxon

We want to replicate the convention experience of meeting new and interesting people in the bar, and we’re keen to use any tools that will allow us to achieve that. We’ll be running tests of such technologies behind-the-scenes in the run-up to the convention, and those who register for the convention might be asked to help us with those tests (but don’t worry, there’s no obligation).

Who are we?

We’ve talked about ourselves a little over on our questions page, but we want to introduce ourselves in more detail!

Alison Scott has run lots of physical cons in the past but this will be her first virtual one; having attended several, she has lots of thoughts about How They Should Be Different. She can often be found in the kitchen at Zoom parties, but also on the podcast Octothorpe with John and Liz. She misses everyone and just wants to hang out with them.

John Coxon has not run lots of physical cons in the past, but has been talking to Alison and Liz a lot recently on their podcast Octothorpe and has been accruing quite a lot of expertise in websites and Discord servers over the pandemic, mostly by accident.

Liz Batty has run Eastercons and Worldcons, sometimes with Alison, and is now discovering that in the age of virtual conventions moving 6,000 miles is not far enough to escape conrunning. She welcomes Punctuation as another distraction from arguing about epidemiology on social media. When she isn’t joining new Discord servers she enjoys boardgaming, travelling, and eating spicy food.

Steve Davies was a co-editor (with Alison) of the Hugo-winning fanzine Plokta. He has been involved for many years in running science fiction conventions including Eastercons, Worldcons and small cuddly conventions. Apart from SF and cons, he is interested in IT, cooking, travelling round the world and other things he is currently prevented from doing by the cruel workings of fate. His main aim in life is to stop worrying quite so much.

Pondering programming.

As we write this, it’s before the con has even been announced and we’re having a freewheeling discussion about the programme and how we want to use it to kickstart the social spaces at Punctuation.

As you’ll know if you’ve listened to Octothorpe, Alison and John in particular are keen on seeing conventions as primarily social spaces, and they’re doubly keen to make sure that sitting in the bar is as compelling as it is at a Novacon or a similar British convention.

John Coxon is elf-curious.

An unnamed member of the programme Zoom.

What we don’t really want to do is to have a convention where everything is non-interactive. As such, many and varied outlandish ideas are being thrown around, including panel games, parlour games, roleplaying as elves, and roguelike scavenger hunts. (Don’t worry, we’ve also got some serious ideas.) We’re very much looking forward to bringing (some of) these ideas to fruition at Punctuation!