WHAT THIS BLOG IS ALL ABOUT: a journal and compendium of where to go and what to do for those who love to travel ...

Thursday, 28 February 2013

What to do when you get there ...

The road out of the village (taken through the car windscreen)
Travel isn't just about the journey, it's about what you do when you arrive! Travelling is always special to me, no matter how mundane the reason, to the shops or the post-office, doctor or dentist, or farther afield in the caravan or motorhome. I always notice the detail in the landscape, the nature of the sky, the relevance of place. Words usually spill onto the page unless I am driving, and I really should find my mini recorder for those occasions when I am on my own. 

In the distance: the Malvern Hills (also through the windscreen)
But today as we left home - before 8.00am - I wrote in my head, "Mist in the trees along the road from the village; a faint sun (sun! after all these grey days) infuses the eastern sky over the banked wood. And we took the left fork today, towards Tewkesbury, and Malvern." Why in my head? Because I had left my usual notebook at home! So careless.

Not taken today, but at the Malvern Spring Show in 2011
Malvern, to which I can find almost any excuse to return; not only the amazingly beautiful hills, but the Three Counties Showground and the many Shows and Exhibitions that I have visited over the last six years. Today, we arrived in bright sunlight; crisp and cold but beautiful. First a meeting regarding 'Ann's Malvern Jotter' - a Blog I have been engaged to write for the forthcoming Spring Gardening Show. I discuss content and tactics over coffee and realise how privileged I am to be working on the inside, when previously I have written about some of the Shows just from a visitor's point of view.

Bustling with activity
Then across a paved courtyard to the refurbished Severn Hall and one of the regional Creative Craft Shows, staged by Trident Exhibitions not just at Malvern, but also at Belfast, Shepton Mallet, Manchester, Maidstone and Esher. But here at Malvern, as last year when I visited, I was able to enjoy the friendly atmosphere, and exhibitors who no matter how busy their stall, all seemed to have time to talk about their own particular craft passion. With around 70 stalls, there is ample time to wander and shop, and to enjoy one or more of the many mini-workshops on offer where you can try your hand at a number of crafts. CCS continues tomorrow and Saturday (1st and 2nd March), 10.00am - 5.00pm.

A 'Fused Fabric' workshop with Margaret Beal
Last year, I enjoyed learning how to create shimmering images using a fine tipped soldering iron with which I cut and fused images (so no sewing is involved. I already had Margaret Beal's book on the subject, and now I also have the materials and equipment to progress what I began twelve months ago. 

Amazing work with fabric, yarn and a sewing machine
I had to stop for a chat with Richard Box who has developed his own amazing technique for creating textile pictures using fabric collage with machine embroidery. I had been on one of his workshops before and seeing him at work as well as lecturing was quite amazing.

Not just for knitting - I use yarn to crochet page edgings for journals
Time for some retail therapy! Every stall was busy, buyers carting away bags full of precious supplies. From card-making materials, to yarns; beads to fabrics. I was looking for specifics for the small textile travel journals I create, and was not disappointed. What I bought, and what I will do with them (and some of the results) will appear in due course on another of my blogs: Journalling the Journal - take a look through many of the ideas and techniques that are on there already.

Seating area in one of the Severn Hall cafes - you can see
the Malvern Hills through the light and airy 
Whilst I was ferreting around, my husband was capturing the Show on camera, as a reminder for me and useful when it comes to writing magazine or on-line features. Plenty of pit-stops in the hall foyer or in the excellent cafe. Normally, I dislike 'exhibition' food, but we enjoyed really soft baps filled with roast pork, freshly made hot tea, and fresh milk from a dispenser; none of those horrid plastic miniatures of long-life liquid that seems as if it never came from a cow. And then the unmentionable: the loos! These are spotlessly clean and with fitting that would grace any swish hotel. 

Paying for my outfit (under wraps until the Spring Show!)
So, travelling is definitely not all about the journey. What a blissful day. And had we been in the motorhome or caravan, we would only have had to drive a couple of miles to the nearest campsite - and if we had done so, could have returned tomorrow for more workshops. Instead, my final purchase of the day was to fall in love with an outfit which I will wear to the Malvern Spring Flower Show on 9th May. If the weather plays its part, I may be seen in it on all four days; but in any event I will be blogging between now and then, and blogging live from the Show. But before then, I will be back for other Shows. 

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

So much to see at the Show

I am here at the NEC at the Spring Caravan & Camping Show, staying on the temporary Caravan Club campsite - a much easier and more relaxed way of seeing and doing as much as possible. My first port of call was to collect a copy of 'Discover Touring' magazine (of which I was formerly their freelance travel editor) - for in the latest Spring/Summer issue I have a feature on touring in Cornwall. Writing that, and sourcing photos, was nostalgic and took me back to to the many times I had visited Cornwall as a child, and then with husband and children. 

Cornwall's Finest Parks were also offering Padstow Cornish Pasties
to visitors around lunch time (delicious)
We did not have a caravan then, and campsites were few and far between (though we did once camp under the wing of our aircraft at Land's End!), but now there is a marvellous network of independently owned sites: 'Cornwall's Finest Parks'. The 23 parks offer quality family-holiday touring pitches with top star grading and each with a huge range of modern facilities.

Nora and I set to work
On to help my friend Nora of the Irish Caravan & Camping Council set up the stand for their display - for her colleague's flight from Dublin had been delayed by fog, and she wear on her own struggling with banners and bales of campsite guides. No matter, for it gave Nora and I an opportunity to reminisce about the touring holidays I have enjoyed with my photographer husband at some of the lovely parks - again independently owned. 

All set up, and Nora's colleague has arrived and is kept busy talking to visitors  to the stand, as well as to me.
Actually, looking back through earlier posts on the Blog has me wanting to be back in Ireland, enjoying the quiet roads and the fabulous scenery. There are many parts of Ireland we have not explored and each area is so very different; and full of history.

Plenty to discuss with 'the friendly club', and where I will tour next
Now for some networking, always essential for a writer, to meet some of the people who keep one fed with information; they feed, I digest and weave words and images into a storyline intended to inspire readers and my blog followers. Inform them of events and places to visit and encourage them to try some of the other activities I suggest, from keeping a travel journal to tips for photography. Both of the groups to whom I chatted are vital to those holidaying in caravan, tent or motorhome, for they provide the largest network of campsites in the UK - large affairs with masses of facilities and smaller away-from-it-all farmers' fields. Something for everyone. It's worth joining both clubs: the Caravan Club and the Caravan & Camping Club; each with a different ethos and each offering a range of opportunities for members.

A brand new concept in motorhome design
That was yesterday: and now I am checking the latest motorhomes, caravans, and technological advances which the many manufacturers are displaying and exhibiting, all to add to the pleasure of holidaying on the open road, away from the stress and strain of everyday living. The Show, organised by The National Caravan Council, runs until Sunday.