This year, Craggers received two complimentary one-day tickets for the 'bigger and better' Outdoors Show at the Birmingham NEC. Sean and Cassie decided that it would be a good idea to take Phin and Griffin to see what it was all about. We managed to get hold of another couple of half price, one-day children's tickets and were on our way. Although it was the opening day, we agreed that it would be best to go to the exhibition on the Friday as we anticipated that most other children would be at school. The journey to Birmingham late on Thursday evening went like a dream: the kids fell asleep in the back of the car (so none of the incessant 'are we nearly there yet?' questions) and there was absolutely no traffic on the roads what so ever ... All in all, a very relaxed drive made in super-quick time!
Similarly, the following morning there was barely a queue to get in to the venue (but that didn't mean that there wasn't anyone there - quite the opposite, in fact). Once inside, the enormity of it all hit us. There were what seemed like thousands of stalls and exhibits all displaying the latest garments, equipment and technologies - Many with competitions and / or offering discounts for purchases made on the day. There was also the constant boom of music and commentary from the weekend long endurance competition that was taking place.
We wanted to concentrate on keeping the kids entertained ... And what interested them the most was climbing! They spent ages - perhaps too long! - on the portable climbing walls with the self-belaying devices (a rather alien experience to put yourself through but you managed to get your head round throwing yourself backwards of a wall with no one holding on to your rope it wasn't too bad!). Griffin was also pretty taken by the rotating climbing wall and received several rounds of applause from the gathering crowds for his magnificent efforts. Other than that we spent a lot of time 'window shopping', tried out some other activities such the bikes on the outdoor track (the foldaway Airnimal bike looked absolutely fantastic!) and also watched some kayaking in the indoor white-water pool (the highlight of which had to be when the TV presenter John Craven accidentally sunk in the pool and had to be rescued whilst filming a piece for his 'Country File' show!).
We had been pre-warned that one day would be nowhere near enough - How true that was! Our only disappointment was that we couldn't get any advance tickets for the next day and were told to expect long, long queues. So, instead, we had to be content with our one day at the event, even though we didn't get to try out all the other activities such as simulated ice climbing, kayaking and all the various talks and videos that were being shown. Despite being virtually the last people to leave we didn't even get to buy a pint in the Great British Pub. Cassie's new SuperFeet cushioned the blow a little, though!
On top of all this, next year's show in April promises to be even bigger - with an outdoor 'Go Diving' section too!