Photo: A kiss-marked Stephen Walters talks to comedian Bruce Devlin at Outlander in the City
As I packed for New York, tears streamed down my face.
“You don’t seem very happy, Mommy,” said my 10-year-old daughter.
“I don’t feel very happy,” I said.
Fascial release often liberates more than just muscle tension; it loosens scar tissue, and that tissue holds emotional scars too. I’ve been here before, and I know it passes.
Ready to go, I hopped in the car and headed down to the coffee shop; my hubby had graciously gone down ahead of me to order our drinks. I pulled up in front as agreed, and waited. And waited… I tried to call him, but there was no answer. Finally I left without the coffee, worried about making my flight.
As I sat at the stoplight about 10 miles out of town, I glanced in my rear view and spotted his white SUV roaring up behind me. He threw it into park, athletically jumped from the car, and ran my coffee up to my window as the light changed.
He flashed a grin and said, “Have a great trip,” running backwards to his car.
I called to say thank you, and had a last conversation with our daughter before reaching the airport…
“Did you like your coffee delivery, Mommy?”
“Yes, I loved it, thank you.”
“Who’s gonna be there, Mommy? Sam?”
“No, he’s in South Africa.”
“No, she’s in South Africa too.”
“Sleepy? I want an autograph from Sleepy!”
“No, I don’t think Sleepy (Sam’s horse) will be there.”
“Well, let’s see, King Crooked Legs (as she calls Colum) will be there… and Rupert and Angus…”
“I thought they died.”
“They did, on the show, but not in real life.”
“Wait, they both died?”
“No, actually, just Angus. We don’t know about Rupert yet.”
“Is Angus the little short one?”
“Yeah, but he’s not short in real life, it’s just that everyone else is tall so he looks short.”
“Will Dougal be there?”
“There’s a surprise guest, and it could be him, but we don’t know yet.”
“OK who else?”
“The guy with the peg leg, Ian, who’s married to Jenny, you know him?”
“And Bree’s boyfriend Roger, and Murtagh…”
“Which one is that?”
“He’s the one with the beard that Grammie has a crush on, remember? She told me to tell him she wishes she were 40 years younger.”
“What???, he said that to Grammie???”
“Noooo, Grammie told me to tell him that.”
“Oh. Who else? Anyone else?”
“Laoghaire, the young girl who has a crush on Jamie…”
“Oh. Is the witch gonna be there?”
“No, not this time. She’s in South Africa too.”
“OK pleaease get me something from Sleepy if he’s there.”
“OK sweetie, I will.”
I hardly ever talk to people on planes, but the man next to me was a well traveled sweetheart of a guy. We talked almost the entire flight, exchanging travel stories and recommendations on where to visit and stay. In the spirit of Outlander synchronicity, he had the most to say about Cape Town. If you’re reading this and you are cast, crew, or fan in Cape Town, you should check out MasterChef winner, and my flight companion’s friend, Kamini Pather, who has a radio show there. Here is a brief video with her recommendations for unusual food pairings…
He also sang the praises of Clifton Beach, the Twelve Apostles Hotel, Chapman’s Peak, and the Steenberg Wine Farm. I aspire to take my family on a world tour one day in the not so distant future, so I busily jotted down notes during our chat.
Though mostly pleasant, it was a lengthy flight; we circled La Guardia two or three times waiting to land. The cab inched along in rush hour traffic, and at long last we arrived at my hotel.
I pitched my stuff in the room and headed out for dinner. I turned right and went down two blocks to the same restaurant Mom and I had gone to on our last trip to NYC. After some Radiant Wellness Soup and a veggie noodle dish, I felt much better. The restaurant was cool and uncrowded. There were two tables of soft spoken Asian couples who nibbled at their shared meals and quietly laughed over steaming cups of tea. At another table sat a polite, loud, and thickly accented native New Yorker family who wore their sunglasses inside and talked about physical ailments and in-laws.
After dinner I walked past my hotel and turned right. Inviting, yet blinding, the sun shined directly down 49th, as if the street’s end was also the very edge of the earth. I walked straight into it for a long block, reveling in its glow. Finally, I turned back, mostly to relieve my strained retinas. I lingered over a subway grate as the train passed underneath like some screeching prehistoric animal. I could see the tracks vibrating, and moving shadows cast into view, giving the impression of a brawl happening just out of sight. Passing conversations became louder and then faded.
I love the City. I love to people watch, especially seeing the older couples strolling along dressed for dinner or the theater. All different shapes and sizes, accents, skin tones, and modes of dress head in as many different directions. A group of laughing 60-something ladies passed me, one in particular catching my eye. She wore white jeans and a loose, hip length pale blue silk top which billowed and rippled as she moved, with a draping boat neck in the back. Tastefully done makeup, stylish wedges, and swingy grey hair completed her look; she was so sexy.
Finally, I landed back in my room and spent the rest of my night writing.
The next day consisted of breakfast in my hotel, and a long walk which ended at Saks 5th Avenue. I walked around the building to the display windows that had boasted Terry’s costumes last April as part of the Season 2 premiere events. (story: NYC 2016, photos: NYC Photo Gallery). Where Versailles outfitted, tinsel topped Claires and Jamies once stood, mannequins now seemed underdressed in swimwear, and of course there were no crowds. As I walked around remembering, I missed Mom. We had so much fun on that trip.
I needed a pair of shoes for that night, so I went inside. That place is like a Smithsonian of clothing. You could spend all day in there and never even know what the weather is doing outside. Saks was having a shoe “sale,” – I couldn’t believe the sale prices!! ? Eventually I found a pair of funky boots which I deemed my birthday present (my birthday was in 3 days). By the time I got out of there, I had just enough time to grab a lunch, relax a bit, shower and get ready.
I arrived at the Papillon Bistro by taxi and joined the substantial line. I ran into Maryann, who arrived flustered from rushing. Behind us was the English Rose, whose name escapes me. She wore a muted floral dress that so perfectly matched the tone of her glowing skin, that the overall effect was of a beautiful bouquet of flowers, or a gorgeous painting. I tried to capture what I saw in a photo but it didn’t translate.
More carloads of women arrived; I particularly noticed a red head with freckles in a beautiful beaded gown. People were dressed in their best and flushed with anticipation; everyone looked wonderful. Not long after, we were greeted by one of the organizers, the woman who later was the handler for Grant. Soon the line began moving, and as we entered, our tickets were checked and we were handed our goodie bags containing autographed photos of each actor, and some Outlander jewelry and cards. I was impressed by how well organized the event was, the very nice presentation, and how smoothly things flowed. No easy task.
I saw Fern on the stairs, and after a big hug hello, she directed me to the table she’d snagged for us upstairs. We were seated with some women she knew and some new acquaintances. I carried my backpack which included my DSLR and a lens I’d rented for the occasion. We went to the bar and ordered a drink.
The long tables upstairs were packed in tight. There were a lot of women in the space, and getting around took some effort. On our way to the bar, I spotted a flushed, smiling face with a vigorously waving hand seated at one of the tables, and I knew at once it was Marion. Marion is an avid reader, commenter, and Patron of my blog, and we were excited to meet each other. I squeezed through the tables to get over to her for a hug and a short chat.
Once again headed to the bar, I heard someone yelling “Blogger lady! Blogger lady!” So I turned and met two laughing faces, one of whom is a blog reader.
Later, as I recounted the evening to my family, my favorite part was having people come up, introduce themselves, and tell me they enjoy my work. I loved meeting each and every person who made the effort to do that; it was the highlight of my night. Thank you if you were one of those people.
At the same time, I had to laugh at myself. As I met new people and we introduced ourselves to each other, the conversations went like this: Hi, I’m so-and-so, I’m Outlander (fill in the blank)… Outlander Homepage, Outlander Forever, OutlanderBTS, LaughOutLander, Outlander Universe, Outmander, etc etc. Are we all crazy?? ?
Back to the bar… The complimentary cocktail was a mixed Laphroaig drink, which lots of people were enjoying, but I stuck with my old standby, vodka soda with lime. They even had my brand (Chopin), which was an unusual and welcome surprise. Three of us had parted a conversation upon inserting ourselves at the bar to order, so we withdrew and began tunneling our way back to our table. Upon arrival, I met the other women at our table, and we started conversing.
To our left a man had taken the small stage and was speaking. There was an attempt to quiet the room but it was no use as it was full of excited women, most of whom, like myself, were meeting other fans and catching up with friends.
After some time there was a successful tweak of the microphone and suddenly we were able to hear the man. Liz had told me she’d booked a Scottish comedian from Edinburgh. He was funny. And loud.
My guess is that his major influence is Ricky Gervais, as his shtick was very similar. Now, I’m not a prude by any stretch of the imagination. My husband even calls me Howard Stern sometimes, for my ribald humor, but it’s really important to know something about and be able to read your audience. After the first 10 minutes of very edgy Caitlin Jenner-esque jokes, he asked if there was anyone from Scotland in the room. A very nicely dressed older woman proudly and effortfully worked her way to the dais. He conducted a brief and harmless Q&A, and as she walked back to her seat, he launched into a string of obscene jokes ending with you dirty little bitch, directed at her. Uh…<cringe>. I saw her face, and the faces of many around the room. He was definitely funny, but I’m not sure this was his target audience. I’m a very auditory person, and at about the 20 minute mark I started getting a headache, so I excused myself from my table mates whom I could not, but very much wanted to hear, and headed downstairs for some relief.
As I descended, I ran into the procession of actors and handlers just emerging from their makeshift green room. Though less packed, the downstairs was also very full. I stood to one side as they passed through. Their progress was halted every few feet for excited greetings and selfies. I caught eyes with Stephen Walters and we had a nice hug during which he thanked me for his birthday poem (HBD Stephen).
I stopped to chat with longtime Outlander buddies Samantha K, Koko, and Gina. We took some photos with Nell Hudson, and I had a brief exchange with her.
Someone was saying “I don’t think Laoghaire is so bad…”
“I do!” I said.
Nell leaned in and said, “I do too” in a low conspiratorial tone.
I introduced myself to Wil Johnson, who was the surprise guest for the night. He was generally bowled over by the experience and mentioned how blessed he feels to be part of the show and the whole Outlander community. He was apparently fan girling over meeting Duncan Lacroix as well that night.
I headed back upstairs and decided against a second cocktail as lunch was a very long time ago and I’m a lightweight. I stopped by the lovely collage posters the organizers had made for each actor and added my notes and signatures. They were in a nice cool, quiet corner. On the way back to my table, I ran into Grant O’Rourke and his wife, Kiera. We had a short chat about their trip to the US, their time in Boston, and their six-year-old son who was back in Edinburgh alternating between grandparents and apparently having a lot of ice cream and a jolly good time. I thought Grant looked fantastic, by the way. Very healthy and happy with shining blue eyes.
Back in the main room upstairs, the comedian was quiet for the moment. I briefly met Rik Rankin on my way back to our table. I passed on greetings from my friend Karin in Germany, who is completely smitten after meeting Rik at The Gathering2017. I can tell he’s fun and mischievous – my favorite combo, but it was brief.
I chuckled when someone said “Rik!” holding up her I phone, the case bearing a photo of Sam in character as Jamie.
A loud low very Scottish sounding “Nooooooooo” came from Rik, as he’s made it clear that it’s his intention to unseat Sam as lead heart throb. Good luck buddy! ?
We talked some more at our table and then became serious about having some food. I walked over and looked at the buffet line and then promptly went back to our table and had a wee power bar from my backpack as an appetizer.
We decided to head downstairs where the line was much shorter. The venue was challenged to stay up with the demand, so we waited as plates, cutlery, and various dishes were replenished. As we anticipated more green beans and chicken (which never did reappear), we stood holding our partially full plates. A few of the actors passed by and Wil Johnson leaned in to say something to Fern. She pivoted to hear him and in doing so, grazed my left breast with her plate of spaghetti. Back at our table, Fern said she had a Tide stick- do you know about these things?? They’re like paint pens that contain Tide spot remover. Amazing. I dabbed some on my spaghetti stains and while it didn’t remove the dark blotch, I was sure it would help prevent a permanent stain. Pretty handy thing to have in one’s purse, I’d say (thank you Fern!)
There was some frustration on the part of the organizers with people queueing up for selfies in the spaces between tables, as the event was meant to be a mingle. We were asked to stay seated at our tables, so we did.
After dinner, Gary Lewis came by our table. What a great guy. I met Gary in London last year, and I told him I’d felt badly that I’d rushed through our meeting, aware of the large line behind me. He said he’d been crying ever since and pretended to cry, silly man. He said he’s not on social media, so when he comes to these events he really likes to connect with people.
I told him that we recently saw Billy Elliot as a family, and he said, “That’s a beautiful film, that one.” And I agreed. I mentioned that my daughter calls Colum King Crooked Legs, and he got a kick out of that. We took a selfie and then he assured me that he has very strong healthy legs and pulled up a pant leg to prove it. ?
Steven Cree stopped by and we had a nice chat about his new movie project and setting up an interview. Metin Hüseyin, who directed a couple of episodes in Season 1, and quite a few in Season 2 happens to be working in New York at the moment. I wanted him to swing by the event, and I believe the organizers even reached out to him, but he did not make an appearance. He and Steven are buddies, and they hung out in NYC along with Duncan earlier that day. Steven told me he’d just arrived the day before, and I was impressed with how well he was handling jet lag. We got a nice selfie – I love that guy.
A little while later Duncan did a fly by, and his handler stopped him as he passed our table.
He looked up and said, “Courtney! What the fuck are you doing here?!”
I just laughed and we hugged. I decided against a selfie as he looked a bit harrowed, and I have some pictures with him from other events.
After dinner, Steven Cree and Stephen Walters took the stage for a few songs, and then Nell Hudson joined them. They sang several tunes, including one from Stephen’s favorite band, the Beatles: “I Saw Her Standing There.” I think the crowd favorite was “Diana Garibaldi Blues.” We all sang along and it was fun. Steve Cree sang a solo as well.
As the night wore on, people were having a lot of fun, but I could feel my turkey timer popping. I made my way to the bar, got a few more photos, and paid my tab. I said goodbye to Fern, Jody, Teddie, and my other table mates, and headed for the door. It was nice to walk out into the night air after being inside with the crowd all evening. As I stood at the curb, arm raised to hail a cab, I looked back and saw Wil Johnson having a quiet cigarette with some fans outside. I waved and ducked into the taxi headed for my hotel.
There was some fun post party tweeting that night and the next day, as everyone felt the residual after party buzz. I reflected on my cab ride to the airport, that these Outlander gatherings have the feel of weddings or family reunions. You leave a bit hung over and under slept, but full with the sense of community and connection of having celebrated with loved ones. My compliments to the women who worked so hard to put on this event.
I had a middle seat on my flight home ?. I was situated between a man in his late 60’s on my right, and a woman with a 22-month-old on her lap on my left. This could have been highly unpleasant, but it wasn’t. This mom was so incredibly skillful, patient, and attuned to her little toddler, that it was both touching and inspiring to be with them. I came home resolved to be more of all those things with my own kids, especially my little one. You just never know what might happen on an OutlanderBTS adventure….
Below are my photos from the trip…
The line to get in
The actors and fans meet, greet and take photos…
Rik and Peggy, Photo credit The Ron & Terry Show
Lovely Nell, photo credit: Koko Pipkin
I love Duncan in his I’m An Unusual Lady t shirt! (For those who don’t know the back story: the proceeds from ticket and raffle sales at this event are split between the actors’ chosen charities. Grant and Gary chose Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity, Nell chose Save the Children, Steven chose International Animal Rescue, Rik chose Macmillan Cancer Support, and Duncan and Stephen chose World Child Cancer. Caitriona is a very active spokesperson for WCC, and this was her fundraising t-shirt this past year).
People settle in upstairs…
Steven gets cozy…
and Rik makes his rounds…
Gary engages in lively conversation…
and Wil Johnson takes it all in
Gary demonstrating his strong leg
And eventually Stephen makes his way to the stage…
lip stick on his cheek and lyrics in hand…
His partner joins him…
They get set to go
Above Photo Credit: The Ron & Terry Show
And the singing begins…
I love the joy on Stephen Walters’ face here…
Above Photo credit: The Ron & Terry Show
Diana Garibaldi Blueueueueues…
Nell joins in…
Thanks to my buddy Peggy (The Ron & Terry Show) whom I finally got to meet at this event, for allowing me to use some of her photos (I got NONE of Grant somehow)
Grant and Keira with Peggy…
That’s a wrap.
Thank you again for all your hard work in putting on this event, to these ladies and the rest of the team.
Thank you also to Karen, Sassenach Doc for reaching out to me about her ticket. Her son had to have knee surgery on June 1st, so Karen unfortunately had to give up her ticket ?, which is how I was able to attend. Karen, I hope your son is doing OK, and I thank you for the opportunity to attend this event.
Thank you to all my Patrons for helping to make this trip possible. I appreciate you!!
Thank you to Robyn Farrington for the awesome lip stick that matched my shirt perfectly! ? ??
Below are some more shots from the trip and some twitter exchanges about the event by the cast…
Cab into the city
Photo from Metin’s Instagram of his get together with Duncan and Steven earlier in the day before the event
I think this one will be their new album cover ?
Poor Duncan had his wallet stolen the next day ? – here are tweets from before and after the event while everyone was in NYC…
— Outlander TV News (@OutlanderTVNews) June 4, 2017
— Outlander Cast (@OutlanderCast) June 4, 2017
Much obliged Sir. We'll have at least one for you! Maybe two…😉 x
— Richard Rankin (@RikRankin) June 3, 2017
— The Rank and File (@RRankinFans) June 2, 2017
— Richard Rankin (@RikRankin) June 3, 2017
I've met so many cool New Yorkers but this guy has been my favourite. pic.twitter.com/DyE1SQH0ee
— Grant O'Rourke (@GrantORourke) June 3, 2017
Whose shoes are they?! pic.twitter.com/YWNtCTw7oD
— Richard Rankin (@RikRankin) June 6, 2017
New York City!!…thanks for the memories.x pic.twitter.com/KVd26hJyEk
— Stephen Walters (@StephenWalters) June 5, 2017