The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Monday, 17 March 2008

The Outdoor Show

On Saturday we took a day out of a short break we were having with a group of friends at CenterParcs and popped down to the Outdoor Show at the NEC.

The last time we were there must have been three years ago, so I thought that it would be interesting to go and have another look. Admittedly I wouldn't have made the effort except for the fact that there was the promise of meeting some of the Outdoor Bloggers, most of whom I've not before met, added to which the exceptionally kind Lay (of had sent me two free tickets.

A good time was had at the show - however that was mainly due to meeting lots of new people, whose musings I've read at length, and having a good old chat for the best part of 3 hours.

As for the show itself, I found it a disappointing compared to my experience three years ago.

To give the benefit of the doubt it could be that three years ago I was exploring new kit more and wasn't as clued up as I am now, which meant that stalls that hold no interest for me now probably merited a look then. However, I'm not convinced that that is the case.

What struck me this year was how tourist boards and universities took up many of the stalls, and I'm afraid that none of those interested me.

Clothing and kit stalls seemed to have reduced remarkably. And where there was kit on display I wasn't finding any discounts on the prices that I could get in the shops. If I'm going to pay the same price then I'd rather that my money go towards the profit of an independent retailer than direct to the brand, so I didn't buy.

The most interesting exhibits to me were the climbing exhibits, which held my attention for longer than anything else (albeit with the gripe that the best such exhibit was sponsored by Ford; there seemed to be a lot of 4x4 car manufacturers there).

My final gripe was the £4.50 for a programme (for which read 'list of exhibitors'). Okay so they threw in a 'free' copy of Trail, but not only did I not want a copy but the issue they were giving away was March's - so 6 weeks old.

So all in all it was worth it for the social aspect, but I would have felt severely cheated had I paid out for full price tickets as well as travel, parking and a programme.

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