Monday, 24 March 2014

Beer Goggles in Birmingham

We are back after a very busy few days in Birmingham. We were at the NEC for the Education Show 2014. We travelled down there early Thursday morning and went straight into Exhibition Hall 3 to start setting up. Darren and Nathan have got it down to a fine art now - less than 30 minutes. We had a slightly bigger stand than at Manchester - and were handily close to the café. That would mean lots of passing traffic!

Setting up for another show...
Plus our unique selling point - free biscuits went well with the coffees and teas coming past.  A great way to start chatting to someone. We did stress that each pack of luxury Borders biscuits came with a free leaflet!

The whole show was more colourful and fun than the previous ones. I don't know if there were more companies targeting primary schools but there were a lot of fun stands and lots of animals!

Playground Sheep :-)

Just hold out your hand...for the tarantula!
Not just the toy ones either. We saw dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs and The Animal Man had a snake and tarantula. He was happy to let anyone have a hold of them and get photographed doing it. I didn't have a go - would have been a bit harsh to deprive any of the bone fide visitors of a turn with them :-)

Although Nathan and I couldn't resist the Harry Potter Studio Tour stand. They had a green screen set up - with a broomstick in front of it. They let you don a cloak in the Hogwarts House of your choice and took your photo in front of the screen. Then within a few minutes produced a glossy photos of you playing Quidditch!

You can see out photos below - we really must go and check out the actual tour!

Playing Quidditch

The Snitch is over there....
I got a bit overexcited on Thursday when I saw the famous scientist Professor Brian Cox walking by our stand. All I could think of to say to him was "Would you like a leaflet?" while holding one out to him. He said "No thank-you" as he swept past on his way to the central arena for his Q&A session on how to make science more exciting in schools. Unfortunately we were all far too busy on out stand to go along and listen to him.

On Friday they had Dara O Briain - comedian and mathematician - also in the arena talking about the importance of science and maths. We missed that one too. I'm sure they were both inspirational though :-)

There were also lots of people there dressed in costume. There was a theatre group dressed in war uniforms, a Victorian lady selling costumes and some Shakespearean types selling comic (i.e. graphic novel-type versions)versions of his plays.

Just a normal day in Birmingham
Also, a random Gladiator walking around - not sure where he was from! But it was all good fun.
What we re made of...
The neighbours were pretty friendly too. We had a health education stand opposite. They had a lot of very interesting exhibits - like a series of test tubes with the amount of sugar from various fizzy drinks.

Also a lovely large chunk of body fat - right next to some lovely lean muscle. The funniest thing though was a pair of beer goggles - comedy glasses that simulated being drunk. The guys on the stand made visitors put them on and then try to walk in a straight line along the edge of the carpet. This resulted in a lot of hilarity as sober teaching types tried not to fall over in front of their giggling colleagues.

It was fun to watch.

Of course - we all worked very hard too - we had lots of people interested in the school apps and Nathan and Darren did a lot of demos. Jo and I handed out leaflets and asked every passing person if they wanted a biscuit/mint/school app. We got lots of leads and now we are back the hard work begins as Darren contacts everyone who expressed an interest in having a free trial and Nathan makes the apps for them.
The Health Education Stand

We stayed at the Novotel at the airport - which was really close to the NEC and the station. It is really convenient having it at the NEC. Everything you need is there - including a Wetherspoon's for breakfast!

Apparently Saturday was a really busy day - but sadly I wasn't able to have that day off work - so I came home on the train on Friday night all by myself. Luckily Jo and Darren's oldest son, Josh went down there to help out on the Saturday. I think he had a good time :-) Nathan said he actually held the tarantula - maybe it was a good thing I wasn't there to see that!

Me and Sid from Ice Age
 I did meet a famous film star though - and had my photo taken with him. He didn't say a lot though!

So, that is it for shows for a while. The next possible one could well be the Sunday Times Festival of Education in June. We've heard that it is held in a field and you have to go camping. I'm not sure about that!

So, before that N and I are hoping to have a little break. Maybe pop over to Jersey for a few days in May. N has been there before - for work - but I never have. It looks gorgeous - so I am looking forward to that.

Meanwhile this week sees Nathan's birthday! It is on Thursday - but I can't tell you what I have bought him until after then...

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