Outdoor Discoveries

What originally was a news section for the rest of the website soon became a place for me to write about human-powered wanderings in the countryside. Photography inspires me to get out there, mostly on foot these days, though cycling got me started. Musings on the wider context of outdoor activity complete the picture, so I hope that there is something of interest in all that you find here. Thank you for coming!

Travel shows

18th February 2019

For me, a rural Irish upbringing brought with it participation in agricultural shows and other country events. Trade stands were manned, cows got lead around show rings and vintage fairs got stewarded. The last of these became the cause of getting sunburnt; being indoors studying for so much of the year ensured that young bare skin remained unseasoned.

Though these contained hints of the agrarian about them, there were other hints that my future mainly lay outside of farming. When helping with trade stands promoting the advantages of Jersey or Simmental cattle, I was not the one doing the selling. Aside from my not having a salesperson’s bone in me, I simply did not know enough about animal husbandry to do any promotion and stuck to simpler tasks like keeping videos playing or giving out stickers to anyone who wanted them. Even back then, I knew my strengths.

More recently, industry conferences came into my life even if I am more likely to read their published papers rather than being there to watch them being presented to fellow colleagues. As it happens, that is something that I would like to address later this year should circumstances allow. These are busy events with a certain social aspect and have so many presentations that one hardly needs to go around stands; also, there can be good reason not to do so if you are not looking to switch job or buy some software tool.

The cause of all the above entering my mind is more leisure-focussed: a single weekend in January was occupied by my going to two travel shows. The first was the Adventure Travel Show in the London Olympia and the second was Destinations at Manchester’s EventyCity. The latter was the northern counterpart of the London version of the same show that took place two weeks later. Attending the southern counterpart may have been tempting but there is only so much that can be gained by going to the same show twice.

Having gone to the Photography Show in March of last year and gained so much, I was not surprised by the mix of talks and trade stands on offer at both of January’s travels shows. My having been at the 2018 event only made me more courageous that I once would have been. Stand holders prove not to be that much more pro-active than those encountered at the agricultural shows of my younger days. Being able to look before asking any questions has its appeal.

Picking up brochures is part of many a show and I had a hobby of doing such things at agricultural shows though stand holders much preferred them to end up in the hands of prospective customers than mere youngsters. Though never that interested in motor cars, my brother did get to an Irish motor show in 1986 and an ensuing, and much prized, bounty of brochures found its way to me. A residual interest in cars may persist but it is better these days by more active pursuits like travel, photography and the main subject of this blog.

This year’s travel shows also caused my to collect a bounty of brochures, especially at the Destinations show. It might have been that there was more to pick up but I also wondered if I was overdoing things are the relative restraint of the Adventure Travel Show. Still, there was overlap between with activity holidays being quite a mainstay. Walking, cycling and wildlife watching all featured with a certain more out of the way feel to the London event.

That certainly applies to the talks that took place there and, unlike the Photography Show, they all were free to attend. Featured destinations included Greenland, Patagonia, Spain and others and there were seminars too though I stayed away from those because of their time commitments when there were so many stands to browse with a range extending from tourist agencies to travel magazines with plenty of tour operators in attendance. Choosing to return home at a reasonable hour also meant missing out on a film night but enough was gained without that.

There was less in the way of audiovisual information at the Manchester event though it did feature cookery demonstrations and talks on travel health matters such as avoiding overseas infections and infestations. Still, there were talks on visiting such diverse destinations as Sri Lanka and Canada for those who wished to rest weary legs for a while. Being there on the last day revealed something that I last met at those Irish events: there was a certain anticlimax as things drew towards a close, especially after lunch when a neighbouring camping and caravanning show also opened for attendees.

Naturally, both events featured eateries even if they were nowhere near as extensive as last year’s Photography Show. Getting to them involved its own lesson learning, especially the London event at the Olympia. Getting there from Macclesfield in the future will avoid use of the London Underground in favour of changing trains at Stoke-on-Trent and Milton Keynes to arrive at Kensington Olympia station on the national rail network. The Manchester event was easier to reach by public transport with a return train journey and bus journey combination easily facilitating the needful.

Having missed the events on previous years for one reason or another, it was good to get to them. While independent travel remains my preference, it was good to see what package tours are on offer and what tourism agencies have to say about what is possible in their respective countries. Those brochures need perusal while other thinking continues.

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