Up with the lark, or even before the lark and the crows and the sparrows. The rain has been thundering on the caravan roof for most of the night and it’s still falling heavily from the dark night skies as I stumble out the the van door at ridiculous o’clock in the morning. In real life it’s 5am and I just want to stay snuggled under the duvet. Trying to drag some kind of life into my curly mop and pulling faces in front of the bathroom mirror trying to wake my face up I try to think about what to wear.
We’re off to the NEC Motorhome and Caravan Show so clothing is important today. Light layers that can be stripped off and donned as needed. As a lady of a certain age, tropical moments are unpredictable and the NEC isn’t the coolest of places. Comfy shoes are pulled on, today’s going to see a fair few steps completed. Rucksack stuffed full of butties and water and were nearly ready to go. Our aim was to be in the car for 6am, we are too far behind.
The rain continues to fall and the sky stays dark for longer than I thought it would, a true sign that winter is just around the corner. Radio 2 eases us into the morning, it’s that early Vanessa Feltz is still playing the tunes, not long till Zoe Ball ups the ante a bit and bounces into our ear holes. As daylight starts to creep into the mucky wet day, I decide it’s time to study the backs of my eyelids, just a little ten minute snooze.
We are super early and manage to bag a spot quite near the door. Free parking too! Bonus! Braving the elements, I leave the coat and the brolly in the car, I’m not carrying them around unnecessarily all day. arriving later in the day and their are shuttle buses to get you to and from your car park. Once in log onto their free Wi-fi, it’s good to be able to compare prices online whilst you’re browsing.
Entering into the great halls whilst it’s still empty is a treat in itself. Hoovers are being frantically pushed around, furnishings are being straightened, team meetings are happening all around. One caravan dealer were having a quick game of team building, moral boosting bingo ahead of their long day.
Ten o’clock and the doors open and the crowds flood in. The place is suddenly alive and buzzing. Folk start racing around, pace yourself, there’s loads of time, it’s going to be a busy day. We’ve no intention of buying any big purchases but I can’t help myself, I love a bit of caravan and motorhome porn. I enjoy stepping into a brand new van, the smell, the shiny cupboards and worktops, upholstery in plain and patterned fabrics. I enjoy going in them and debating as to why this or that layout would or wouldn’t work for us. It’s a good job we’re all different as there are so many layouts to choose from. A Twitter friend once said ‘When looking for a new van, look for its worst feature and decide if you can live with it.’ A good philosophy we try to live by. Thank you David.
A slow wander around the perimeter wall, magic knives, caravan cleaning equipment, crumb duster, special pans, insurance, travel abroad, bulbs and umbrellas with a view, there are stalls for everything. People stand and watch displays of utensils being used by people with loud voices and the gift of the gab. We aren’t drawn in this time but all around people are parting with spondooleys, products handed across in branded bags for life.
Bellies are starting to rumble, it appears that everyone has the same idea at the same idea at the same time, well, it is lunchtime. When the show was closed it appeared like there was ample seating, now there’s not a single place to park your bum and eat a butty. The eateries in and around he halls have the odd empty table but be warned, it’s not cheap. We find a quiet alley on the edge of a hall and plonk down on the floor and refuel. The hard bit is getting up afterwards, we’re not as young in the body as we are in the mind.
Refuelling done, creaky hips freed up and the walking commences. A trundle around camper vans, stealing ideas from this van and that van, The Boss has dreams of doing a self conversion one day, another dream…
Over at Isabella, we wander around looking at awnings, hoping our new one will be up on display, it isn’t, so we mooch around their stand having a good nosey at their new air awning.
Then the accessories. These stalls are in abundance and all together, aqua rolls, porta potis, clothing, flags and flag poles, satellite systems, mobile Wi-fi in fact absolutely anything you can think of that you’ll need, (and not need) on your adventures.
An extendable van is a popular attraction, A BeauER, people queueing to get a peek inside. The concept is a clever idea. It extends up to 3X it’s size in 60 seconds. Inside, it’s not for me, it doesn’t do it for me. Basic and plain but still a clever innovation.
A caravan with a tv bracket in an outside locker makes for a few noisy awnings on site in the future.
The beat of a drum and lots of shouting signals the start of a Chinese Dragon Dance which weaves it’s way through the stands. There really is something for everyone here.
As our day comes to end, sore feet, and desperate for a comfy sit down we find a table in one of the cafes and slowly sip on a cup of tea. Is there anything we haven’t seen? There’s loads we haven’t seen, a day isn’t really enough, but it’s also more than enough. Take a pack lunch, plenty of fluids, layered clothing and most importantly comfy shoes. The entire show is accessible to all with loos aplenty. We went on a Wednesday. Wednesday and Thursdays and notably quieter, but still busy, with Friday, Saturdays and Sundays being known for being the busier days. If you are booked to go, enjoy. If you’ve never been it really is a worthwhile day out.