2018 England Black Pool trip
If there is one thing that I like to do it is to travel to Europe to see what is happening with pigeons in what can be referred to as the motherland. This seems to be the place where most of the original thinking is taking place, that is not to say that new ideas do not originate in North America, they do, but the bulk of the new families come from Belgium and Holland and we are riding that train. I had been pestering Tom Powers to come up with an idea for a 2018 trip for me and Marie and it was from this that a January trip to the Show Of The Year in Blackpool, England came about.
On the 18th of January Marie and I boarded an Air Canada plane bound for London Heathrow airport in England. It was the next day that we landed and were greeted by Tom Powers our friend who used to live near us in Canada but now lives back in the UK, that though is a whole new story. We all jumped into his car and off we set on the journey back to his new home in a place called Warminster. On the journey we came across a national landmark, a group of rocks known as Stonehenge, a place of worship as Tom described it. It seems that these standing rocks were moved around a hundred miles and erected on this site in the stone age, when all of the work was carried out by hand including the movement and erection of these rocks that weigh thousands of pounds each. I have to say that the whole site is impressive to say the least.
We then continued our journey and arrived at Toms where Bernie greeted us and then made us all tea and coffee. Of course the first place that I wanted to see was the pigeon loft set up that Tom has. It has to be the best set of lofts that I have ever seen him with and the condition of the birds housed there was something to behold. Lets hope this breeding season reflects the quality for him. He pointed out some of the mix of families that he has in the stock loft, obviously Koopmans, Hooymans and Van Der Wouwer pigeons but in amongst these I picked out a direct Heeres and son pigeon, a blue cock bird that really stood out and a chequer cock bird that Tom said goes back to his old Huybreght family of pigeons. As he said these are his best winningest pigeons that he has ever owned.
Friday morning saw us up and preparing for what was to be a day drive from Toms house up to the hotel that he had booked us into up in Blackpool. I was to certain degree feeling a bit apprehensive as the last time I attended a show here, also at Blackpool the hotel we stayed in did leave a little, no a lot, to be desired. That hotel was freezing cold when we arrived, the receptionist said that they had opened just for the ’pigeon weekend’. That was OK, Tom wandered around the hotel and found a plug in heater which he brought back to my room and that did help. I really do not like the cold, can you believe that coming from someone who lives in Canada. Then the worst thing happened, the ceiling in my room collapsed in on me. What a nightmare. They did give me a new room but because of that I think you can understand my trepidation. Of course this mean that the pressure was on Tom to find a much better hotel and we both have to say he came through.
We all went to the show on the Saturday, it was raining outside so it was a pleasure to get inside the show halls. Oh and at least that rain was outside, not inside. As usual the many stands inside the show were stocked with a multitude of interesting products, Tom ended up with a bag full of these. Marie and I purchased a bag full of polo shirts with pigeon emblems emblazoned on them. A gift for our fellow club members and a reminder of this trip.
At about 4 o’clock we all decided to leave the show and persue other delights. Marie and Bernie went shopping whilst Tom and I decided to visit one of the many auctions that take place over this weekend. They produce a multi page magazine for all of the lots that are on sale at the various auctions. Because of my affinity with the Hooymans family I decided that the sale for us would be that of Jos O’Reilly where he was selling of a large portion of his Hooymans birds including 3 that were direct from Harry, probably the best pigeon alive in the world today. And direct birds are becoming a rare commodity as Harry has stopped filling his eggs now. Tom had sent me a pre auction loft visit for the sale but I have to say that I struggled to understand what they were saying, it might be the same language but what an accent those guys have. Anyway, we both looked around the sale birds and then compared notes on what we had seen. It was amazing how similar our opinions on what were the best pigeons seemed to be. The auction started and the birds appeared to be going for reasonable prices, the three direct from Harry all went for £6000 which approximately converts to $10000 each. A bargain.
That evening we all went out for a meal, all along Tom had been telling me that there was no chance that we would find any of one of my personal favourites, cabbage rolls, well guess what. We found a newly opened Hungarian restaurant and amongst the house specialities, there it was, cabbage rolls. That was a home run and we all enjoyed that evening.
Then Sunday morning we paid one last quick visit to the show before starting the long journey South back to Tom and Bernies house where Bernie cooked up a storm in the kitchen and over a couple of drinks we went over what we had seen and experienced at the show.
Monday was our last full day over there and we went out on a local sightseeing trip to an old town called Frome. There we walked up a cobbled hill street and also went down an old road called Cheap Street that had a small brook running through the middle of it. You have to see the picture to believe how quaint it was.
That was our quick road trip and I have to say we really enjoyed it in the company of our old friends, good conversation, good friends and all we can now do is look forward to the next adventure. I hope it is to an Olympiade where we can see all the champion pigeons of Europe in one place.