Monday, 31 March 2008

Travel is so mind-broadening........

Our day of departure, Friday, dawned grey and wet.

Actually, wet is rather an inadequate term for the torrents which accompanied us the 190 miles from home to Birmingham.

We experienced drizzle, cloudbursts, heavy showers, light showers, deluge, monsoon.......... basically it was real 'cats and dogs' stuff.

Driving on normal roads would have been bad enough, but we had to tackle Britain's most notorious motorways.......the dreaded M25 and M40.
At some points, the M25 is 6 lanes wide. Which meant that we had huge articulated lorries overtaking us on both sides.
In the driving rain.
Real 'white knuckle' stuff.
Not only that, a section of the M40 was closed due to an accident, so we had to take a 50 mile detour.
Not only THAT, but on the 'detour' there was another major accident so we were further diverted down little country lanes to avoid it. Little country lanes which were only 2.5 inches wider than our camper van.

To 'white knuckles' add 'brown trousers'. Not to mention blood pressure readings off the Richter Scale as we realised that our arrival for a 3.30pm slot for setting up at the NEC was rapidly becoming more and more unrealistic.

We had hoped to be able to book in to our campsite early and have a leisurely hour in which to recuperate from the journey and relax before setting off for the NEC, but in the event, we had to hurtle past Coventry (which is probably for the best) and arrived 10 minutes late for our NEC time slot.
However, the ensuing half hour spent queueing in the car park gave us time to calm down a bit before we were finally admitted to the hall to set up our stand.

I have to say that the organisation for Miniatura was absolutely spot on. Obviously the NEC staff deal with major exhibitions every week of the year, but we were very impressed with the good-humoured, helpful staff throughout the procedure.
Small dog was a great hit, and gracefully submitted to lots of attention from both traffic police and exhibition staff.

Our stand was set up in record time, then we left for the short, 3 mile journey to the final destination, our campsite home for the next three nights.

The site is in a lovely peaceful location, overlooking a small lake, surrounded by woodland which provided small dog ample opportunity for squirrel spotting. Not to mention dog-spotting, robin-spotting, blackbird-spotting etc.

Did I mention it was still raining?

It was.


Absolutely tipping it down.

However, dogs, even small ones, need to be walked come rain or shine, and since she'd been cooped up in the van all day she was not inclined to miss out on a walk with potential 'stop and sniff' opportunities.

So the three of us set off through the driving rain, for a circuit of the campsite. By the time we reached the shower block small dog had decided to pick a fight with a Weimeraner. This 'goliath' seemed at first unable to determine where the manic barking was coming from. Until he looked down at his feet to see a small, incensed, bedraggled dog, in a tartan jacket, making a right fool of herself.

I apologised to the amused owner, and off we set again, becoming ever more saturated. When we finally got back to our van, water running off every surface, small dog was towelled down and took up her favoured spot in front of the hot air vent.

I couldn't help notice as I peeled off my very wet, wet weather gear that small dog seemed to be sniggering. When I innocently asked her why this was, she said that with my rain-soaked hair plastered flat to my head, she thought I looked like Barney Rubble. I countered that this was rich, coming from someone who looked like Fu Manchu. This is typical of the witty banter which passes back and forth between us but as we'd all had a long and trying day, tempers were frayed and one thing led to another..........

Things went downhill from then and small dog went off in a huff, refusing to eat her dinner, sausage and mash, which is normally one of her favourites. She got all grumpy, then went to sleep on my pillow and had to be forcibly ejected which did not improve her mood.

Finally peace was restored and we all fell asleep, lulled by the persistent hammering of heavy rain on the roof...................

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