Last Friday afternoon, after we had been to the PratWest to sort out the forced withdrawal of our money, we collected David from school, and made our way down the M5/M4 to the Travelodge at Feltham, for the annual AES show being held at Kempton Park Racecourse the next day. As neither Jon nor I felt up to driving such a distance after our prang the other week, Graham did the honours. Every bump in the road brought back memories and an involuntary jump from both Jon and me, but it was once darkness had fallen that my nerves really started to go ‘ping’. I am sure that the drive must have been just as hard for Graham – he was in the unenviable position of not being able to say anything as he coped with Jon’s, understandable, alarm in the front passenger seat, and my flinching behind the driver’s seat, especially as we were surrounded on all sides by vehicles speeding on their way home for two days off work, or going out for the evening, completely oblivious to the fact that the car they were passing contained two nervous wrecks, whose blood pressure and pulse rates were through the roof!
However, we arrived at our Travelodge safely – I don’t know, around 9.30 pm I think. Ah suburbia – where the youth seem to be programmed to be deliberately awkward to drivers, by stepping out in front of them, or by taking as much time as possible to cross the highway as they meet up with the rest of the gang on the street corner. The girls seem willing to freeze as much exposed flesh as possible to entice the opposite sex and the boys sport trousers that hang down their backsides so low that they defy gravity. Many a time I have followed such a youth and have been so tempted to either pull them up in motherly fashion - tutting matronly - or, with a glint of malicious humour upon my face, pull them down to their ankles and run like hell in the opposite direction.
Hmm, I think I am getting old.
Poor David – he is a country lad, and I think he was a bit overwhelmed by the sights, smells and sounds of suburbia. He had trouble sleeping that night, what with the sounds of aeroplanes, cars, trains and emergency vehicles echoing through the darkness, interspersed with the noise of the youth of the area as they made their Friday-night way to, and from, their usual haunts of entertainment. Growing up in Uxbridge, I am used to such things – I used to live under the flight path of Northolt Airport at one time so am quite accustomed to the roar of aeroplane engines for one thing. On many occasions I would wave at the planes as they came in to land and sometimes I was given a slight dip of the wings in response, which was great fun to a child of around 11 years of age!
However, I digress. It would seem that whilst David had trouble with the noise of life outside, Graham and I were unable to sleep soundly due to the unnecessary heat of the rooms. Why are those places so stuffy? And Jon and I had the window open too, in a vain attempt to encourage some welcome waft of cooling air.
Saturday morning found all four of us up and ready to go at the pre-agreed time of 8.00 am. We met up in reception – too early for us to stop and have breakfast first unfortunately, but decided that, as there must be some food at the show, we would have something to eat there. Upon arrival at the racecourse, the first thing I noticed, as we drove through the gates, was the statue of the great grey, Desert Orchid, whose ashes are buried nearby. I was a bit disappointed with the statue – in life Dessie was a magnificent looking grey, but somehow this was lost in the sculpture. However, I took some photos of him for Shosh, who had ‘met him’ a couple of times, and used to be a member of his fan-club years ago, as I was sure she would like them for her collection.
We met up with Janice and Graham Smith, with whom we were sharing our stall for the day, and settled down to wait for the doors to open to the public at 11.00 am. We had a fairly successful day, selling quite a few copies of issue 2 of Exotic Pets magazine, plus securing some future advertisers.
As they only live about half an hour away, Shosh and Gav popped into the show to have a look around, and – as usual – ended up being roped in to help out! Shosh had been asked to buy some millipedes and land snails for her friend Becky, and Gav bought a couple of dung beetles. Unfortunately, one of these had died by the time they got home, but the hunt is on for a replacement! Not a good start for a first-time beetle collector! I believe Shosh is, this week, going to get some dung from the stables at the veterinary college though, in order to make the remaining beetle feel more at home. That should make their flat smell nice lol.
Oh, and yes - Jon, David and I did make some purchases also, (as if we wouldn’t) but I shall write about those at a later date, once I have some photos to hand.
We came back a different way Saturday night and were just in time to catch Stonehenge at sunset – always a magical sight. The journey home was less stressful, but tinged with the sad prospect that, upon my arrival at Woolsery, my other rat may well have died.