I had been asked to go to the UBI show in San Marino last weekend as a judge and demonstrator...and seeing as I was going anyway, it seemed only logical that I go and trade as well, seeing as the Italians were renowned for buying things Bonsai related.
The monkey mobile was packed up to the rafters with most of my stock and we set out Tuesday afternoon, meeting up with the intrepid and experienced European campaigner John Pitt (and his good lady wife) at Maidstone services before heading off to the Continent together. John is a good friend/colleague and it seemed only natural to travel down and stick together, and it worked out well for us as we got the best trading spot and joined forces to create a corner of a foreign field that was forever England...well at least for three days it was. My thanks and appreciation go out to the Pitts for making it a much more enjoyable experience.
The drive down was fine, except when I found out that I was paying 30% more on the French toll roads than Mr. Pitt because my van is only slightly taller than his...I felt persecuted and thought about taking it up with the authorities before realising my GCSE level french would fall apart and I would end up getting directions to the beach and talking about what I did at the weekend....J'ai écouté des disques et j'ai mangé du fromage
The event was good, despite the rain, location was fabulous and I met a lot of people, especially my friends from Sardinia who came over and helped with the wiring. For some reason I am drawn to people from different countries who are down to earth, stubborn and do not suffer fools...yet have a reputation which precedes them. Texas, Sardinia...Yorkshire. I will have pictures of the demonstration tree when I can get them.
The sales area can be seen in this video here....I took out all the big guns, hoping to sell at least one of them...needless to say I came back with a truck just as full as I went out with. Despite heavily reduced prices on the final day, I simply couldnt give the trees away. What was pleasantly suprising is that I managed to sell many of the antique Chinese pots to some very discerning customers. I also got invites to several gigs this year and next. I will be coming to Poland, Turin and some blokes back yard sometime in the near future.
The demonstration and judging went well as far as I could tell, there was no fireworks after the decision was made so it was all good. Some of the pictures can be seen here
Marco and Carlos Van der Vaart were the two other demonstrators and it was impressive to see Marco at work, it was the first time I had ever actually seen him working and there is something different about the way he works. Although I only got a few minutes to watch, I actually learnt quite a lot from him. I also had a good look at the Ichiban in action and more on that later. Carlos was good value as well, he helped finish the wiring on my tree. A great bloke but he kept worrying about the chaos on the roads due to the Volcano no fly fiasco. He put the fear of god into Mr. Pitt and myself so the plan was to hot-foot it back to Blightly asap. The drive home took around 28 hours, stopping every now and again for a coffee or 40 winks. I also started to feel sick and feverish as we were leaving San Marino which deteriorated quickly the more I pushed on to get home. The result was this last week was spent in bed. Hot lemon and honey combined with reading trashy novels and watching even trashier TV. I regret ever starting to watch 24 season 7.Was it worth it? Very much so...it has marked the end of a year based entirely in England and has given me plenty to think on with regards to how I go ahead in the future.