Hyper Japan madness

Earls Court London
Earls Court London

I had the day to myself so thought it would be good to find something interesting to do. We have been in a spell of hot weather recently but today things are a bit cooler. A quick look at http://ianvisits.co uk came up trumps there was an exhibition all about Japan at Earls Court. I have become very interested in all thing Japanese since Helen and I spend a week there a couple of Yeats ago.

I dropped Helen and Gladys off at church then headed straight for Berkhamsted station, but my timing was not great as I was between trains so had to wait 20 minutes for the 09:39 which was on time. Earls Court is easy to get to BT tube, Google maps offered a couple of options I went for Victoria then Piccadilly. Despite being cooler it was still hot and getting hotter. Entry was £15 and there were no queues.

Japanese pop stars

I was not sure what to expect but was quite surprised when I got into the hall. There was a food area which was expected, a gaming area, Japanese crafts and lots of demos. What really surprised me were the people taking part in Cosplay, lots of people (mainly late teens or early twenties walking around dressed as Manga/Anime characters. It was a bit like I imagined a Star Trek convention would be. I did a quick tour around to get the general layout of the place then started again but in more detail.

The games area was quite interesting seeing all the latest games from Nitendo and Sega, but that is not really my bag any more. There were some martial art demos and I hung around to watch some of the Kendo fighting, which was good. In another corner there was a professional wrestling ring which was fun to watch. Other spectacles weree Japanese pop artists singing their songs I was surprised at the number of your people singing or clapping along there is clearly a Japanese sub-culture going on in the UK I also so a Japanese male performer in a pink kilt, being very energetic on strange running up and down very enthusiastically which impressed me given the temperature in the hall,

Cosplay people

There was a good amount of stall but most of them were of no interest to me : Swords and knifes, Cosplay accessories, games etc,  of interest were some of the crafts, t-shirts, and food. Two stall in particular stood out the Bonsai stall which was next to a Bonsai exhibition, which had some trees that must have taken years of care to get them looking so good, and a Japanese puzzle box stall where you could buy wooden boxes that have panels that slide in various ways to eventually allow the box to be opened. I saw a couple of good t-shirts but noting that gave me the desire to part with money. I did buy some octopus balls or Takoyaki as they say in Japan, which I had some how missed when I had visited. They were very hot but tasted great.

By about 13:30 I had had enough so headed back to to Euston to catch the 13:54 back home to watch the Tour de France, but things did not quite work out well. When I got home I put on some washing then switched the TV on but we seemed to have no power or we had partial power I could not work out was was going on. Some appliances where on (or at least had a display) but other not. After some investigation I measure the voltage in a socket we only had 50V, and a quick check with next door they were out too. So I went up to Hillside for a coffee. It turns out the TDF was on live later as they wanted a time that suited TV viewing figures, so I got to watch it anyway.

UK Photography show 2014

The 14:30 to London Euston

Helen is at work this morning I was  unsure what to do with my self, I had thought about the UK Photography show at the Birmingham NEC but decided against on Saturday. However when I woke up I decided that seeing as I had to drop Helen off at work I may as well keep on driving up the M40 and have a look.

Yesterday I made the most of the great weather by going for  a walk in the morning . I did the walk I blogged here but  I bit off more than I could chew when after I got back I had an offer from N for a walk from Nrothchurch to Ashridge NT Cafe. So that afternoon N&M walked from Northchurch to the monument at Ashridge. Trouble is by the time we got to the cafe my knees were complaining so rather than walking back I got a lift back to Northchurch with P and left the other two to walk back.

The exhibition I did not go to

However I digress this is a post about the UK Photography show at the Birmingham NEC. I left Aylesbury just after 08:00 after dropping Helen off, then headed to Bicester to pick up the M40, and I stopped at the first services for a coffee as I had not had time for one earlier. The motorway was pretty quiet I noticed that spring was on the way as I say lots of rooks flying about in pairs as wells as quite a few common buzzards often being harassed by the rooks. I made good time and arrived at the exhibition center just before 10:00 and was soon on the shuttle bus from the car park to the exhibition halls.

The entrance fee was £10 which when added to the £10 for parking is quite steep. I need to figure out how to get trade entry to all these things, as well as saving money you get access to all areas. The exhibition was fairly busy and all the usual suspects were there i.e. Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, as well as a lot of the major camera shops.

A few things attracted my attention. First was a Chinese guy selling sensor cleaners that are basically a cude of gel on the end of a plastic stick, they were no cheap at £30 but they clearly work from the demo he gave cleaning someones camera. Trouble is I thought I would go back before I left to buy one but could not figure out where he was when I went back. I took my time to have a look at the Wacom Intuos tablets which replace the mouse with a tablet and pen. Helen asked to to look for a birthday present I think I may have found it. There were lots of stalls selling camera rucksacks which I could do with replacing but I just could not be bothered to fight the crowds to take a good look.

The UK photography show 2014

Amongst the other exhibitors there were plenty of people selling ways to print and display photo’s and plenty of tripods to look at . The current trend in tripods are ones where the legs folder right up in the opposite direction from which they are used, this ensures that the head is between the legs when it is folded up and it results n a very compact package. Trouble is the good ones are circa £250.

After about three hours wandering around I had had enough especially after all the walking on Saturday, so I left and headed south. I picked up the ingredient to make a Thai style coleslaw for tea and picked Helen up in Aylesbury.

European bike polo championship london

Boat show main sub-hall.

Last year I went to the outdoor show at Excel London, I enjoyed it so I thought I would repeat the trip this year. it is quite good value for money, the outdoor show is not that big but the ticket includes entry to the boat show and the bike show.

I purchased my ticket the night before, it’s £2 cheaper and saves queue on the day. I planned to get off early in the morning and have a look around the area with my cameras as the weather was predicted to be frosty and sunny.

I left the house at 0800 and headed round the M25, till the M11 took me into London Docklands and the Excel Exhibition Center. There is a lot of building work going on in that part of London with the Olympics imminent. The final turn of the sat nav was closed and the diversion poor. I ended up doing a circuit then a guess at where to go to reach my destination with instructions!

Big boats

By the time I was parked up (£15 for 6 hours) it was more or less 1000 so I went straight to the exhibition. The halls were just opening and they played a rousing tune over the tannoy, it was the one you hear at remembrance services. Not sure what the reason for it was perhaps to raise the spirits of the exhibitors.

I did a quick tour of all the halls before a more leisurely one to get an idea of what was about. The things that I enjoyed most are described below.

Velo Polo has a better ring than Bike Polo, was the one spectacle that I enjoyed the most. Three people to each team ride around on bikes with polo sticks. I figured most of rules out: a goal can only be scored using the small end of the head end, it can’t be pushed with the side of the hammer head. If you put your foot down you have to touch wall at the side centre of the court. Winner is first to 5 or highest score after 2 by 10 minute halves, when side do not swap ends. Sudden death if there is a draw at full time.

Arty shot of the docklands

The games is quite fast and the cyclists are very skilled. Most were on fixies. The teams were from Europe by invitation, France and Geneva were mentioned.

Go ape had a very long zip wire, but I could not be bothered to join the queue. Andy Rouse and Joe Cornish shared a stand selling their photo’s and books of photo’s.

I happened upon a stand where Stuart Conway was publicising his attempt at the cycle round the world record, which is now 96 days, which tens of days less that Mark Beaumont’s record set some years ago. Apparently there will be a few riders attempting it at the same time although not by the same route.

The boat show had the usual wares. Some of the boats were massive and only just fitted beneath the roof struts of the building. I looked around a couple there is a serious amount of luxury that gets built into them there boats. There were some demonstrations of rope work which I found interesting, the guys doing it make it look so easy.

I had lentil curry and rice for lunch from the Indian food retailer.

My parking was about to run out whilst I watched one of the Velo Polo semi-finals, so I had to go before the traffic warden got to my car. All in all it was a great day out, I will return next year.