A few weeks ago fanciers in our club were discussing the possibilities to go, again to the Show of the Year in Blackpool. Most of them has been there one or more times and were looking for something else. Especially the most of the times bad weather conditions in January made them skeptic and after Christmas and other public holidays the status of their finances was a big question mark. So, all the sudden we decided to go to the new one-day show in the UK to be held in Epsom.
On our way to Calais
Friday, November 1st one of the members left his house, located in the “New Land” of Holland ( 50 years ago still the former Zuiderzee/Ijsselmeer) at 7 am to pick his friends for the first stage of the trip to Calais ( 370k), As the fuel prices in Holland are the highest in the EU we decided to make the first stop in Belgium were we could make 12cents from each liter of petrol. In the neighborhood of Kortrijk we were faced with the first traffic jam and lost 25 minutes before we went down into the direction of the France border. Due to the hectic traffic we became more and more in a situation of a time trial to be in time for the check-in of the ferry. A few kilometers before the French border we found a filling station and went completely out of our mind when we start filling. As the technique of the station was from “outer space” it took almost 20 minutes before the fuel tank was filled with 25 liters, much more stress and regarding the speed we drove the last 60k we got the idea to be part in a Formula 1 race at Franchorchamps or the isle of Man. Arrived in time at the docks but too late for the check-in we had to wait for 1 hour for the next ferry. After a nice and smooth 2 hrs trip over the Channel we saw the white cliffs of Dover and prepared ourselves for the last 150k to Epsom. After a drive of one and a half hour we arrived in Epsom and the GPS directed us without any problem to the Holiday Inn where we booked two nights based on b/b for a very reasonable price. During the early hours of the evening we had a look in the exhibition area where most of the stand holders were busy to built-up their stands. A fantastic clean and impressive place which cannot be compared with the old fashioned and outdated exhibition area in Blackpool and other places we visited in the past in the UK. It seems that after the 1st.Sepse show in 2012 much more traders were interested to take part in the Show and, as one of the organizers told us this was the main reason that for this second Show also the first floor was used to have the space for the two auctions and an important part of the 57 booths. Around 9 pm we paid a visit to the, at a 5 minutes walk from the hotel, restaurant “The Rubbing House”. This restaurant, first built in the 18th and re-built in the 19th century was a real surprise for us. T-bone, Rib eye and Sirloin steaks from an outstanding quality for a price we, from Holland can only dream off. Incl. drinks, entrees with gambas, livers, soup and coffee we paid 71.40 Sterling for the 3 of us. In Holland for the same menu at least 120 Euro. (“God bless” Brussels).
The next morning we walked to the racecourse at 09.00 am and were surprised to see already so many fanciers waiting in line at the entrance. At 09.15 the doors were opened and in less than 1 hour the whole place was loaded with visitors. We have seen complete families, fanciers meet and greet each other after, as it seemed to be after a long time. For us it was the same atmosphere as we have seen many times before in Blackpool. Walking around the ground floor we met a lot of Dutch and Belgian people. Dr.Hans van der Sluis, Henk de Brueijs and Edward Schrijvers from Pigeoncare/Shangri-la lofts, Huub Hermans, Peter Kos of the Spring Fair in Houten, Raymond Moleveld, Dr. Peter Boskamp and staff of Bonypharm, representatives of the Dutch companies Ropa-B and Belgica De Weerd and also Yves van der Poel. From Germany we saw Rolf Schlomer and also Geraldy Transporters so we can speak about a real international company. There were a few impressive stands bringing all kind of supplements and products for our hobby and again we were surprised about the reasonable prices which cannot be compared with those on the mainland. After a talk with a few of them we moved via the elevator to the first floor which was overcrowded with people. The bar was continuous busy with serving beer and snacks and when the auction started we saw a lot of people watching the, also outside the UK, famous auctioneer Tony Cowan. The sales went well and during our second walk around the ground floor we only saw happy and smiling faces from the stand holders. For me it was a big surprise to meet my pigeon-chat friend Darren Palmer together with his wife Nicola and his little son Alfie. As he promised me to come over for the show I brought a pair of wooden shoes for the little boy which he, being the loft boy of his dad can use by cleaning the loft. Lol ! (Unfortunately for me his mum refused to sell him to me.) Around 4 pm most of the fanciers left for their home journey and the organizers were as well tired of all their work as happy with the so many positive comments they got from fanciers and stand holders. As the first estimate came out at an increase of at least 70% of visitors we dare to say that this Show will become in the very near future the leading Show in the South of England and one of the more commendable in the UK. For sure we will return next year with more pigeon “lunatics” from Holland. THANK YOU for this fantastic day.
Tired but with a feeling of satisfaction we went back to the hotel for a well deserved nap of a few hours. When our stomach’s start rumbling we paid again a visit to “The Rubbing House” for an, again sumptuous dinner. As we had to check-in the next morning at the docks of Dover we fell asleep at 10.30 pm. After an early breakfast we left the Holiday Inn for our drive to Dover.
The weather was, again superb and without delay we arrived well in time for our journey back to Calais. After the landing in Calais we start the almost 400k drive home in a sunny weather. Without any problem we crossed the border with Belgium and like a pigeon we saw on the way back home many familiar names of liberation sites. Around 4 pm we passed the Dutch border and started to drive faster like a horse smell home. All the sudden the nice weather was over and we were faced in the neighborhood of Utrecht with the “tail” of a tornado. Hailstones like pigeon eggs lashed the cars and all the traffic stops all the sudden.
Tail of the tornado near Utrecht.
At home we heard that this was the first (little) tornado in Holland since 30 years. After 15 minutes we started the engine again and at 5 pm the first one of us arrived home. After taking care of the pigeons and a nice meal with the family we have another nice memory to talk about with pigeon friends.
Hope to see you all back during the next Show to be held the 1st.November 2014.