I LOVE this time of year. Everybody is getting very excited in the build-up to Christmas, there are (with any luck) some of those glorious bright and crisp sunny winter days to lift the spirits and, most importantly, the London Boat Show is looming ever larger on the horizon.
I can remember the first time I ever went to the London show – back in the good old days when it was held at Earl’s Court.
The weather had been absolutely abysmal for two or three weeks and on the day my wife and I drove up for the press preview, it had been snowing steadily for some hours and the roads were almost deserted.
We parked in the car park at Earl’s Court and we were literally the only car in there to start with.
It was the most bizarre experience wandering around the displays of expensive yachts and tempting chandlery as though it was our own private boat show. I remember we got invited on to a number of stands for a free drink or a coffee just so those manning the stands (and they were not thick on the ground either) had someone to talk to. That was certainly a great way to view the show but even when it is heaving with yachties from all over Europe, it’s still a must for anyone who loves boats and boating.
There is nothing like the small of the boat show on the first day. It’s a combination of glass fibre, fresh paint and newly-laid carpet and it is redolent with the promise of warm summer days, relaxed cruising and the soft gurgle of water under the bows. Happy days.
FOR one of our local businesses, this year’s boat show will have a special significance. Bridge Marine boatyard at Shepperton are taking their own stand for the first time and boss lady Jenny Beagle is up to her neck in preparations for the show.
“In the past, we’ve shared a stand with one of our suppliers and our job has really just been to turn up and help man their stand,” she told me. “But this year, we decided we wanted to promote our own identity so we’ve booked a stand at the Excel. The only trouble is, I had no idea how much paperwork was involved in the process – I’ve been absolutely deluged with forms to fill in and you start to wonder whether it’s all worthwhile.”
Nevertheless, knowing Jenny and her crew, they’ll enjoy every minute of it once the show actually gets under way and she’d welcome a visit from any Herald and News readers who feel like dropping by for a chat.
Their stand number is S020E and they’ll be showing their full range of outboard engines and chandlery items.
The London Boat Show is being held at the Excel Centre in Docklands and runs from Friday, January 8 until Sunday, January 17. Tickets costing between £13 and £85 are available online at www.londonboatshow.com.
RIGHT, I’m off to check out exciting places to voyage next year and Riverwatch will be back after Christmas with a whole host of new items including a look at how the introduction of Project Kraken by Surrey Police is getting along, a review of the boat show, a look at a 95-year-old Dunkirk little ship in desperate need of some TLC and much more.
Have a very merry Christmas and if you’re on a boat during the Christmas holiday, remember to keep the wet bits…