Thursday, 2 October 2008

Unconventional Convention

My weekend started with a mad 2 ½ hour drive through the Friday evening traffic to Stoneleigh. After checking in at the hotel and dumping my bag in the room it was down to the bar to have a glass a beer with old friends and new. The plan was to have a couple of pints then have an early night in preparation for a long and busy day at the convention. Well it didn’t quite happen that way! As usual the bar was buzzing with Pike anglers from all over the country, the beer and banter flowed. It was great to catch up with old friends and equally great to meet some new ones. There were a couple of absolute legends of British Pike fishing in attendance too! Two beers somehow stretched to five and the early night became 1 am, oh dear.

The Big Bad Brummie woke me up with a bang on the door around 0530 am. I had a quick breakfast of tea and paracetamol before heading out into a cool dark morning to begin work setting up the hall. My fellow committee members were running around like blue arsed flies, Mike Kelly and “Dad” Colin Goodge here there and everywhere. By 0730 the PAC stand was almost finished and with the new pictures on the wall, looking good (thanks Rob!). I was able to nip back to the hotel for a quick fried breakfast and couldn’t help indulging in my traditional fishing meal of sausage and bacon sandwiches. By 0900 everything was set and we were waiting for the doors to open and the arrival of around 400 like minded souls.

The day past very quickly, I didn’t get to see any of the talks but had a really enjoyable day chatting to people who visited us on the PAC stand. Faces around the hall made up a “Who’s who” of British Pike fishing, there was a notable exception but he wasn’t missed! An early highlight was “El Pres” extracting £20 membership fee from good ol’ Gordie Burton. Business on the stand came in fits and starts but by the end of the day we had taken a nice amount of cash to boost the club funds. Big thanks to all the helpers, especially Alix who was with me for the day. More details of the PAC product range can be found here:-;jsessionid=15466479c7d4d01/shopdata/index.shopscript?main_url=..%2Fmodules%2Fthank_you.php4%3Fpayment_ok%3Dtrue%26order_already_saved%3D1

From what I heard, all the speakers went down very well and a good day was had by all. The trade stands seemed busy and everyone I spoke to said they were enjoying the day. Incidentally all the tackle manufacturers that are listed on the right of this page were represented at the show. But this is only a part of the convention, it’s the meeting and greeting that is the best thing about the weekend in my opinion. With people coming form all parts of the UK, Kent and Devon in the south east and west, Wales, Ireland, the highlands of Scotland, Cumbria and everywhere in between. It’s a once a year for friendships to be made and renewed. The socialising is as big a draw as the show itself.
This side of things was a massive success too. The infamous crew from RA88 in Glossop were in full effect and started drinking very early. Teamed up with the lake district lads, after having a beer or ten in the hotel bar they allegedly ended up in a lap dancing club in Leamington spa. By the time we had tidied up the PAC stand and got everything loaded again it was around 7pm. Back to the hotel and after a quick shower it was time to head back down to the bar. With our responsibilities now discharged it was high time to really let our hair down, relax and enjoy the evening. I joined BBB, Steve, Rob, Mark and a whole host of fellow Pikers in celebrating a successful day. After several beers in the bar eighteen of us bundled into taxis and ended up in an Indian restaurant in Coventry. Here we had a decent, if over priced meal, washed down with large quantities of beer and wine. Once again some absolute legends of the UK Pike scene joined our number, guys whose writing and exploits had inspired me over the years.

Back at the hotel a few of our number were feeling the pace and disappeared up the stairs, never to be seen again…I managed to find room for another beer or two but by 1am words were slurring and eyes were closing.

0900 Sunday morning and I awoke with an aching head and a dry mouth. After having the same two breakfasts as the day before I felt OK again and after saying goodbye and shaking many hands I got into the car to begin the long drive home. Will I do it again next year? Damn right I will!!

1 comment:

mizlan said...

wow..i am sure you got lot of new friends..