Spring Fair 2022 - A tale of two halves
I knew before we went to the Spring Fair at the NEC in Birmingham that I would write a blog post about it on our return and I was trying to think of interesting angles. After all all trade shows are pretty much the same; you go, you see hundreds of suppliers, you walk miles, you get lots of exciting ideas for the business and you leave exhausted. Fate intervened and said, you want and angle? I'll give you something to write about, and as I drove home from the show feeling stressed and close to tears I thought, at least this will make a good blog post!
The day started almost as planned, we set off at 7am in two cars (Phil and Seonee in one and Beth in the other), as Phil and Seonee were heading to Shrewsbury to see his sister after the show, while Beth was heading back home. The journey went smoothly but when we arrived it was a lot busier than normal at the NEC. We quickly realised that in the year gap between shows we had forgotten that we normally leave at 6am to miss the rush. Oh well, not a big deal. We ended up having to park on the far side of the NEC to the resort world restaurants and stupidly checked our coats in at the side of exhibition where we parked. It wasn't until later when we had walked around the show and were on the opposite side of the massive NEC that we realised this meant that we would have to head back to the car park side to get our coats and then head back over to get to the restaurants for dinner (not ideal but not a huge issue).
Leaving our food and logistics problems until later, we went head first into the show, looking at all sorts of suppliers, getting brochures, placing orders and having a very productive day. We didn't have time to see all the companies we wanted and we had more companies we wanted to order from at the show but we weren't worried as we were heading back the next day. We left the show at 5 when we were all getting kicked out, and headed to get our coats. We asked security if we could move our cars closer to the restaurants rather than walk there and back, and were told we would then have to pay for parking. Too tight to do this and too tired to walk it, I suggested that we head to the hotel (about 5 miles away) and ask them for suggestions of where to eat nearby. Off we headed in convoy to the holiday inn, in good spirits and ready to discuss everything we had seen.
This is when it all started to go horribly wrong. We arrived at the hotel to be told that our booking was cancelled. There were no spare rooms at the hotel and despite our complaints that we hadn't been informed, there was nothing the hotel could do for us. Given that it was the Spring Fair all the nearby hotel chains were fully booked and couldn't fit us in. The hotel suggested that we try a pub which had some rooms available, they called and they had space for us. It was only a 10 minute drive away and was £35 for the night for us all (we were very sceptical but they showed us photos and it looked quite nice).
Once again we set off, this time not in convoy as everyone would just follow their own satnavs. I (Beth) arrived at the pub to be greeted with what looked like an old fashioned gentleman's club, down a track off the road, and with loads of people smoking outside. I rang Phil and Seonee to say it did not look favourable! They meanwhile were having other issues, their satnav had taken them to a closed road and not knowing where they were and with the satnav not calculating another route they were on the M6 and heading the wrong way! I said for them to just try to get back to me and that I would check out the seedy looking pub.
At first I couldn't get into the pub as it had a buzzer to be let in and there was music blaring and a poor Karaoke singer inside, meaning no one could hear the door. Eventually I was let in by a passer by and sent to the bar. In the bar the music was so loud that communicating with the staff was near impossible. I was told the music wouldn't end until 10 at the earliest. I headed outside to call Phil and Seonee and said I did not think we should stay there. They agreed and told me to get into my car and lock the doors! They were still on the M6 so I told them to just head to my Aunt's in Shrewsbury. I was contemplating just driving home as it was an hour to Shrewsbury and 3 hours to Dulverton but I was so shaken that I decided it would be better to be with family, so I set off to Shrewsbury, only to met with the same blooming road closure as had stumped Phil and Seonee earlier! I kept turning off and trying to find another way, only to meet the same road closure in another place. In the end, in a desperate attempt to get away from where I was, I put the postcode for home in and finally I managed to get away! I called Phil and Seonee to let them know that I couldn't get to them and was going home. On my way back I called my Gran and Grandad who sat on the phone with me for an hour, helping me to calm down and also entertaining me on the drive.
About 2 hours into my drive I got a call from Dad, the M6 to Shrewsbury had been closed and they had had to take multiple narrow road and country routes as a detour, it had taken them over 2 hours to make the 1 hour journey.
The following day no one returned to the show but on Tuesday Phil and Seonee put on a brave face and set off on the train back to the show. They had a very productive day and I was very sorry to miss out.
And there you have it! The first half of the day was great, productive and good fun, the second part was stressful, infuriating and upsetting! I hope you have enjoyed this tale, as that would make us all feel just a little better about what happened.