Armed with several boxes we were directed out of the car park and off down what looked like a country lane surrounded by golden leaved trees glowing in the light fighting its way through the rain clouds. We pulled up in the middle of a deserted parking lot as a woman wondered out from behind a lorry armed with a note pad. Passes were provided and the long drive around the back of what could have been an enormous art installation, but was actually Birmingham’s NEC, started. Finally, we found the entrance we wanted. It had to be, there was a St Helena style truck or two outside. It surely wasn’t the Supreme Cat Show or Dental Fair (the other two events that damp autumnal weekend).
Struggling under the load of books we staggered in we were impressed by the size of the show. I’d not been to the NEC before but this exhibition was big enough to require several halls linked together and it was full of people tweaking their stalls of rebreathers, wet and dry suits, new destinations, old destinations, inflatable cetations, clubs and groups before the public arrived. Sub-Tropic Adventures was at the very far end so, with knuckles scraping the floor, we arrived at a very small stall in a very large hall. But it had everything you needed and two eye catching films, one of whale sharks and one of several dives that I had been on too (links below). It was great to see Anthony and his family as St Helena friends ready and enthusiastic to share St Helena with anyone ready for a chat.
The stall may have been small, but being by the entrance and with the group of us who had turned out to help we soon took up much of the surrounding space. It was a great day with more St Helena divers passing through and a lot of interested and interesting people stopping by to talk. Anecdotes were shared and a new diving destination hit the market.
As a contrast to everything St Helena we rounded the day off with the longest walk involving escalators and travellators and probably with a little concentration could have involved a lift too. So complicted in fact the boys decided reference to sat nav on the mobile was necessary (sigh). Dinner being ‘only the other side of the NEC’ with a tired family in tow we hit pizza with a traditionally long and befuddlingly menu. The sort that I still haven’t adjusted to. Conversation was made, plans were hatched.
Diving links here: