This year’s NEC show was massive and extremely busy. Despite our best intentions we failed to see everything we hoped by nonetheless had a thoroughly enjoyable day.
As veterans of several caravan shows my partner, Allison, and I have noticed that they have now taken on a different perspective. Not only do they offer an opportunity to view the latest innovations in the world of camping, caravanning and motorhoming but they also enable us to indulge in a few of our favourite things:
Food and Friends
The day started with an excited reunion with three Twitter buddies who we now regard as dear friends. We had planned to set ourselves up for the day with a hearty breakfast and a gossip. Another Twitter buddy turned friend who was staying onsite joined us for breakfast before leaving to continue his work; the NEC is not pure pleasure for everyone. The remaining five of us walked to the show together before leaving the lone male in our party to do his own thing before meeting up again later.
Planning and Coffee
We were distracted by stands even while searching for a Show Guide. The size of the show necessitated some serious planning and another caffeine boost. We ploughed through the exhibitors’ list, marking the location of each stand we wished to visit on the plan.
We are in the fortunate position of having recently bought our dream caravan, a Bailey Orion 400/2 named Gertie. The Orion and the Bailey Olympus are now sadly defunct having been replaced by the Bailey Pursuit which claims to encompass the best of the Orion and the Olympus. A quick inspection of Gertie’s new-born sister convinced us we had bought at the right time. I am sorry to say that in my opinion Bailey have got this one wrong although sales figures will in due course prove or disprove my hunch.
There were simply too many caravans to visit them all but as well as the Pursuit we had a look at Eterniti’s Genesis FB6 with both a fixed bed and fixed bunks, ideal for families. We also joined the long queue to view Adria’s imposing Astella Glam aimed at seasonal pitches.
Our friends hope to be the proud owners of a VW T5 in the near future and were on a fact-finding mission. Having fulfilled our dream with the acquisition of Gertie it was wonderful to share the excitement of others who knew their own aspirations would shortly come true.
The aforementioned friends and ourselves jokingly refer to ourselves as the Showgirls as our get-togethers are usually based around shows. This time we took the humour to another level and did the cancan in one of the halls. We disbanded just as a complete stranger was about to join us; she seemed quite disappointed to have missed out on her big chance.
Beer and Friends
Twitter Beer o’clock had been arranged for 2.30pm. It was fantastic to be reunited with friends who had attended Twittercamp earlier in the year. It was also great to meet other people with whom we had chatted on Twitter but never met in the flesh. A very pleasant half hour or so passed before we parted ways to carry on with the business of the day.
Inevitably these shows feature innovations I simply cannot live without. This year they include a caravan cover, caravan shaped tea cosy (Gertie loves it!), an innovative phone/satnav holder for use in the car’s CD player, a snowman flag for Christmas caravanning, cheese, an ingenious device to prevent cans and bottles rolling in the fridge and my pride and joy; pink fluffy Crocs! Watch out for them on a campsite soon.
Our current lifestyle does not lend itself to dog ownership but we are loving Aunties to other people’s dogs and had an entheusiastic reunion with one of them earlier in the day. Allison sponsors a dachshund called Sidney for me via the Dogs’ Trust. The sponsorship was due to expire but we were able to renew it at the show. One less job to do at home.
Goodbye but not Farewell
The day ended as it started; in a car park. With one final cancan we said our goodbyes.
It is important to have something to look forward to and plans have already been made for future meetings including Twittercamp 2014 which has been mooted for April, possibly near Rutland Water.
As for the Showgirls? We will be reunited in January (if not before) for the Caravan & Motorhome Show in Manchester.
21 October 2013
Photographs by Amanda Regan and David Bell