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So, if you read our post earlier this month you will have known that we didn’t manage to make our usual trip to the Scottish Caravan, motorhome, and Holiday Home Show. I was quite disappointed at this as it is a fairly local event for us. However, for the first time we had decided to make the 319 miles each way trip to Birmingham to the Caravan, Camping and Motorhome (February) Show 2020. There is another show on from the 13th-18th October this year and dates have been set for the 2021 show as 23rd-28th of February. Tickets are on sale for both these future events now and can be purchased from
Our trip included 2 overnight stays at a local hotel as I was driving down after work on Friday so we could attend the Saturday show and knew it would be an exhausting day so I chose to stay the Saturday night too before driving home on Sunday.
I knew it was going to be a hectic weekend and wasn’t too sure what to expect but have to say it certainly was worthwhile.
The drive down seemed to take ages. Having been up at 4.30 am for work and then driving in such poor weather conditions, it rained for about the first 300 miles. That along with the wind made it a long journey, so a few coffee breaks were had along the way.
On Saturday we got ourselves up and organized early before making our way to the NEC. We were there with plenty of time to spare and managed to avoid the queues that later formed as it got closer to the opening time of 10 am. As it was our first time, getting there a little earlier allowed us to go and find our bearings before the show started. We picked up a map and an official show guide and checked out our options for grabbing some lunch later on. As it was our first time at the NEC and the show was spread throughout halls 1-5 we thought this would be a practical move so if we were to get split up and had to phone each other we would be able to pick a meet up point that we both knew.
As you can probably guess when the show opened at 10 am the first place we headed was the camping area in hall 5. This is far bigger than the tent display area at the Glasgow show we normally attend so we were in our element. We spent almost 2 hours in this area checking out all the different tents and gear that was on display.
It was great to see so many tents pitched and meant we were easily able to compare similar-sized tents. It also allowed us to look at some possible new tents for our next purchase. I suffer badly at times with Carpal Tunnel and weakness in my arms and sometimes find it difficult when pitching. For this reason, we are looking at both air beam or inflatable tents and bell tents. Both of which will most probably be heavier in weight but hopefully easier to pitch.
We did see the Vango Stargrove II which we both rather liked and with it now being available as an AirBeam in the 450 with its large Diamond Clear Windows and Nightfall Bedrooms we thought we may have found our next tent but then just 5 minutes later we stumbled upon the Litchfield Falcon Air. We have never owned a Litchfield tent but we liked the design of the Falcon 4 as well as the colour. Similar to the Stargrove this is an AirBeam tent with large Vision Pro windows and darkened bedrooms. Now, all we have to do is decide which one, or will another catch our eye before we purchase our next.
The other competitor in a new tent could be a Bell Tent. I really fancy a Bell Tent as I just love canvas and The Bell Tent Shop had a few great tents on display in the Glamping area. The pitching of a bell tent will be easier as it is the tension in the poles I struggle with the most, not guying out. The drawback is the lack of windows in some of them. We did check out some bell tents at the glamping area in hall 4 after we’d exhausted the camping area full of tents and gear. I think I like the idea of having a wood burner inside the tent, for heat and for cooking. This could also mean we could extend our camping season a few months or go back to camping all year round. The cold weather really puts me off now, I think I am just getting old!
If I had my way I’d just buy loads of tents and use them depending on my mood. Always look forward to pitching a new tent or using new gear.
We pick our top 5 showstoppers further down the post so read on to find out if any of our choices are included.
Taking Time to Listen
After we had finished looking at all the lovely camping gear and took in some of the other items on show, mainly campers and motorhomes and had some lunch, we headed on over to the Freedom To Go Live Theatre to take in a few talks and demonstrations and rest our weary legs.
The first was with Simon McGrath (The Camping and Caravanning Clubs Editor) and Andrew Dickens (Outdoor Cooking and BBQ teacher and presenter) titled “Get Kids Camping”. As some of you may have noticed if you have read my other posts below you will have noticed that I am a great fan of getting the kids outside and of promoting what they, as well as you can get from spending time together and learning is the reason that I wanted to hear these speakers.
Simon has published a book through the AA titled “Camping with Kids” which I bought and had signed by Simon and am so looking forward to reading on a rare free day and maybe even do a little review on once I read it as there are so few camping books and guides out there.
So, in this talk and demonstration both Simon and Andrew spoke about some of the things that you can do with kids to make camping more exciting and fun for them. From learning knots with edible strawberry laces, making owl noises to check for owls in the area, and see if they return the call, to rising early or staying up late to take in a sunrise and morning chorus or watch the sunset and look for nocturnal animals emerging to start there nights hunting.
The second was with David Mellor an award-winning blogger who actively encourages others to get outdoors and find adventure through his blogs and speaking at events was just as interesting.
As he spoke about how adventure means different things to different people and how getting your children outdoors from a young age can be a challenge in itself but so very worthwhile. He gave statistics about how little time young people now spend outdoors compared to even the previous generation and I was amazed to hear how the average teenager spend approximately 4 hours each day on their mobile phone let alone other electronic devices.
He spoke about spending time outdoors with family can create and be used as real bonding time which resonated deeply with me. You can check out Davids Blog at pottyadventures.com
Checking Out The Kids Activities
As I said before we love taking the kids camping, niece and nephews, anyway, as ours are up and no grandchildren yet! We thought it would be a good idea to see if it would be something they would like to attend or if they get too bored.
So, we enjoyed a walk around seeing what was all on offer for the kids as I think the niece and nephews would love to attend something like this. The fact they get as excited as us looking at tents and camping gear I think they would have been in their element here.
We were not wrong with a ranger teaching kids how to make fire from striking a flint properly and igniting a piece of cotton wool, the climbing wall at the rear of the glamping area, colouring stations and a chance to try some new electric bikes, skateboards, scooters and a surfwheel electric skateboard they sure wouldn’t have been bored! The bikes and skateboards were part of the Electric in Motion display and try area in Hall 4 and had slots running all week. There were both adults and kids only slots with an hours skateboard slot running the Friday, Saturday and Sunday only.
I also think they would have enjoyed some of the talks and demonstrations. Especially if they were able to join in or try the food that had been made.
Our Top 5 Show Stoppers
As we said above we have picked our top 5 show stoppers at the NEC event. These are of course our personal favourites and hopefully, we will get to try out a few in the near future. It is exciting times as the camping industry works at developing technologies and works towards some more eco-friendly tents and gear too.
1. Vango Radiate (heated) Sleeping Bag.
New for 2020, this 3 season, 10 tog sleeping bag is a must for those of us who are cold sleepers or just want some extra comfort. A great addition to any glampers kit too. With its rich warm fabric and Graphene heating element, it is sure to keep you cosy whilst camping.
You can simply connect to a USB power source such as a power bank to allow you to top up the heat in the bag through the integrated Graphene element. The bag also features a built-in headrest for a little extra comfort too.
2. Monstamat by Zempire
These super comfy 10cm deep self-inflating sleeping mats by Zempire are super-soft, super-comfortable and super quick to inflate thanks to it’s unique 360^ inflation/deflation valve. As we walked over to look at the mats this one was laid out on a bed and just looked so inviting. So after a day exploring, playing or whatever else you like to do when away camping this will have you wanting to get to bed for a comfortable night’s sleep. It is soft to the touch with its stretch ripstop material and is available in both single and double sizes. These come complete with their own carry bag for easy transportation.
3. Dawlish Seats and Storage by Outwell
We loved these very stylish seats and storage by Outwell. The soft grey fabric will add a touch of luxury to any tent and the extra storage would be useful for any camper. They come in two sizes, low and high and the base folds away for easy packing. The low seat has a height of 30cm with a storage capacity of 22l and the high sits at 45cm in height and has a 32l capacity. The design means that once the padded lid is on it will add rigidity to allow it to be used as a seat.
4. Vango Blissful Double Airbed
Finally, an airbed that will not deflate during the night and also comes with Custom Comfort setting allowing you to get the right firmness for you. This Double size, double-height airbed with a soft-touch upper should give the perfects nights sleep. This bed has an intelligence that allows it to detect air loss and silently top it up during the night to make sure you get a proper night’s sleep. I think those that use or have used airbeds will agree that loss of air and firmness during the night is the only thing that lets airbeds down at times. This bed should put that right.
5. Quest Elite Stargazer Bell Tent
As you will have read at the top of this post the one thing that put me off Bell Tents was lack of windows in some. Well, the reason I actually fell head over heels for this tent and why I have included it as a show stopper is the placement of its windows.
The Stargazer from the Quest Elite Signature range is a stunning 1-8 berth, 5 m bell tent. The Stargazer has higher sides as well as star gazing windows on the roof. The windows can be covered when it is time to settle for the night or you want to block out the sun. With a pitch time of just 8 minutes with two people pitching you will get to enjoy even more time doing what you enjoy. Look out as I review this tent in the next week or two.
I have not yet found anywhere stocking the Stargazer tent as it is new for 2020. However, I am sure it will be in stores soon and you can check this by visiting https://www.questleisure.com/ and checking stockist near you and online.
What did we think of the Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show? Well, we really enjoyed the show and will definitely be returning in the future. Next time will be more prepared with cameras, trolleys for the vast amount of brochures we returned home with and possibly a packed lunch to save standing in the queues at lunchtime.
If you like camping, caravanning or going away in your motorhome and have never yet attended a show, I can assure you it is worthwhile visiting. You will not be disappointed in what the show has to offer display wise and hopefully, you will meet some lovely people and learn a few things while you are there. Take in some talks and demonstrations as they are very interesting, try out what you can and just have a great but tiring time.
Did you attend the show? If so what were your thoughts? Let us know below in the comments.