Living in Buckinghamshire, the old Convention venue was rather convenient – an hour or two down the M40 made a day trip comfortable. The new location, Shropshire, means closer to 3 hours, some extra motorways and negotiating the often congested area near M42/ M6 Birmingham. I had the advantage I could combine it with visits to family. When an urgent call came from HWBKA for someone prepared to bring back an order for the new apiary, I answered but secretly thought Someone Else would be chosen. It appeared either no-one else was going – or no one else had space in the car – perhaps they were going on their own spending spree.
Despite the showers forecast, teh journey from Ellesmere to Newport in Shropshire was bright and the route marked by yellow. First just the bright yellow fields of OSR in varying degrees of bright acid yellow and the yellow dandelioned verges. Then as we got closer, the yellow AA signs.
Of course the minute I got out of the car – or at least when I was far enough away that I could not bother to go back for my brolly – it started to rain. A beautiful venue. An agricultural college, large, beautifully maintained and in such a lovely productive rural county. the signposts were lovely – looked tradional Dickensian black with gold lettering, but bees at the top of the column to let us know where the various venues were to be found. I bumped into Sean from MBBKA almost straight away.
It all seemed well organised. Plenty of space inside halls. Plenty of places to eat /congregate / see information about what was on where. The list of talks were then crossed through as they took place on these displays. I didn’t pay for any food there but it looked much more comfortable and inviting than at Stonelieght. there was also information that their chief chef had won a prestigious prize November 2011 for mass catering venues and information about the ‘food metres’ as they pride themselves on locally sourced items. They said they had jacket potatoes with a variety of fillings from £1.99 which seemed excellent value. Eating out is difficult for me, I am allergic to cows milk (the protein not the lactose) and just one symptom is a migraine which means I cannot then drive home. Jacket potato with salad is very safe – usually no reason for milk. I had taken several pieces of fruit and decided to use the time I had for useful things other than eating.
What did I see or buy? I bought a zipped bee jacket from BeeBasic. I’ve had other things from them but I need to keep protective wear I use at Hughenden separate from that I use at home and a jacket I can zip and unzip is easier than hauling on a smock style jacket. there was a little discount. I decided I couldn’t justify the child’s beesuit for my grandchildren and the poly hives from Paynes were just too near the normal prices to tempt me. I gladly entered Cheltic Woodsmith’s competition to win a hive – they said they were launching and their website was up from the day before. They are based in fairly close to shropshire – into the Welsh borders. a family enterprise – just the sort of small, friendly company I like. I spoke to Simon the Beekeeper – I’ve been pleased with teh mouseguards I bought from him and he has a wholesale pricelist he will send – happy for beekeepers to put in a joint order. I purchased some honey buckets from Wynne Jones (nesting to make storage easier and change from a fiver), some labels and odds from thornes and arranged collection of the HWBKA order. Paid for my small jars at Compak (slight panic, more than I thought but it was just that the ‘unit’ size was 150 rather than 74)
The actual collection was bedevilled by downpour and the fact that the lorries weren’t labelled. The compak sign would have been fine if the one way system was the other way round – you’d only have easily seen it in your rear view mirror after you’d passed it and there were so many cars manoeuvring it was safer to keep looking at the front. had I had a passenger it would have been easier – but I found when I collected the boxes that it filled my car – no room for passengers.