VapeFest UK 2015

Well hello again.  Yup it is me and I’m still around, I get distracted and/or tired quite easily so since I spread myself over quite a large area I forget to keep things up to date.

That said I, like many others, headed down the country for a weekend away.  Yes it was VapeFest UK time again.  You see while there are now other big events in the UK, this one is the more social rather than commercial one.  This is why I go, I want to meet with as many vapers as I can and generally enjoy myself rather then try and get as much free, or on sale, products as I can.

So for me this meant a multi train trip but it’s OK since I live pretty close to my local station.  Yes I find the trip stressful, I am after all stuck in a relatively small space with people I don’t know.  I have to force myself to do this kind of thing though, can’t let the anxiety win.  Since it wasn’t all that exciting, suffice to say three trains later and I was down in Shrewsbury and started the walk to the show ground.  Luckily my current smartphone has pretty good (if not the quickest) satnav functionality so I had few worries about getting lost.  When you have a messed up memory and can’t easily remember directions this kind of thing becomes more important.

I was coming up to the huge sign pointing at the show ground when I met the first of my forum friends.  They pulled over in the car meaning I got a lift for the last few hundred yards.  Once on site I quickly assembled my tent and got down to some socialising.  As with last year I pitched next to my forum friends but not too far from another group of people I was familiar with.  During this wind up period there was a small bit of drama (wouldn’t be a vaping event if there wasn’t) but I may talk about that separately since a lot of frankly delusional talk surrounded that particular lemon.

Anywho, tent was up and more and more people I knew started showing up.  I orbited round the area saying quick hellos to people.  Since my memory is more hole than solid this meant cruising past and those that know me can say hello and I can usually quickly determine if this is a new acquaintance or one of longer standing.  So if you were there and find the way I approach people a bit odd it comes down to the fact if I don’t see you with any great regularity I just will not remember you.  Its not my choice I used to remember everybody I met but sadly that is impossible now.

I got a nice tour of my forums marquee and it was set up beautifully (way to go spikey_fridge).  That was a notable change this year that I realise some did not really like the sound of.  Three of the forums/groups had raised funds to have their own marquees so the members had a place to head for to meet up with online friends that quite often they have never met before.  In the case of the AAE-C marquee it had been set up with ample tea and coffee facilities and functional seating and tables.  On the Saturday there was also a book of condolence for a departed member and I am proud to have accidentally been the first to write in it.

That out of the way I had missed my chance at a lift into town since the person in question had forgotten and alcohol happened first.  It was fine though and I wasn’t too put off as push comes to shove I knew I could always walk into the town in the morning for supplies.  Also for that evening the AAE-C lot had also planned to have a BBQ anyway so it was hardly an urgent issue.

People kept streaming into the camping area and from this alone I knew the event was going to be bigger than last year.  I estimate at least twice as many took up the free camping offer which is one of the reasons I can afford to attend.  People don’t realise that, many think a cheap hotel is a must.  For someone like me a night in even a cheap hotel is a weeks worth of disposable money for me at best and eats into money for bills/food at worst.  So I applaud the committee for allowing camping for free for the whole weekend since I doubt I’m the only one who can only attend due to it.  As it was it was months of putting money aside for this event, and I had enough cash that some people would use in minutes to buy a mid range mod or a atty.

All over the camping area and through pubs in Shrewsbury vapers all started getting together and catching up and drinking.  In my case I was at the AAE-C BBQ for the evening since after the day travelling I was fatigued.  The booze flowed over the groups, and yes by the early hours the occasional idiot behaviour began.  What the hell though, this is what happens when humans drink and some arrive at excess.  Its normal and I’m just glad people were enjoying themselves.  Once things started winding down in the early hours I hobbled off to my tent for some quiet time.  That night I didn’t actually sleep, watched a couple of films instead.  Oh and don’t worry folks I had made sure I had ample electricity available in the form of portable power banks.

I started the day early and since I’d taken a little video setup got what I consider the morning money shot.  Sunrise coupled with a 360 shot of the campsite.  I have to say damn there were a huge number of people camping let alone all those that must have been safely tucked in in hotels for miles around.  This is the weird part of the day for me since people like to sleep but I often can’t so I tend to be up and about for ages before social groupings reach decent size.  As I knew it would I had managed to procure a lift to one of the big supermarkets so after people had breakfasted and the like I got into town for basic food and yes I got a bottle of gold rum for the evening.

So after a brief foray to the forum tent, a little chat and a cup refill (yes if you were there I was that large bloke all in black, including hat, with the large black boxmod and a big blue thermos cup) I decided to have a quick run round all the vendor stalls.  Camera in hand I said hello to two vendors I’ve known for some time (Garry and Jim) then skimmed round the whole place.  Despite being about quarter of an hour before official opening there were already hundreds of folks around and many vendors already had queues.  The tents were very well spaced, there were more of them than last year.  I know some think there were only the same amount as last year but more spread out and I shall quietly say you are wrong, arranging space is something I used to do professionally and this year there were more tents over a bigger area and some of the tents had multiple occupancy just like last year.  Indeed there were a couple of larger tents that had 4 or 5 companies inside.  Also present were VIP (Vapers In Power) a political party for vapers to protect vaping interests links to which I shall have on my website properly soon.  VIP had organised some speakers for both days of the event and I sorely regret missing all but one of them (too easily distracted and forgot to go).  The highlight would have been Simon Clark (Forrest) and Dick Puddlecote, although I unashamedly admit this was coz I’d really like to meet Dick Puddlecote.  Ah well I may get lucky again.

After the orbit of the site I had a short break with more tea (yes I openly admit to being tea, caffeine, nicotine and sugar powered).  The walk round on an orbit was roughly twice as far as last year.  Orbiting round is what I do and spent a great deal of the day doing.  I met loads of people, most previous acquaintances and many new.  After all I had decided to bring along a conversation piece again this year which always works quite well.  Even vendors could not help but comment on the mighty Artos the Celt, my subtle SX NotMini (large form SX350J device with a mahoosive 4000mAh 2S1P 30C hardcase LiPo).  Suffice to say I did not need to change batteries all weekend which is nice.

So after orbiting for a great deal of the time and failing to win anything in the first raffle, I got a phone call from an old friend who lives not too far from the venue.  I had invited her and the partner to come have a look since I was down for the weekend and they decided to do so.  That meant the rest of the daylight hours was basically down to chatting with old friends and explaining some of the vaping stuff.  This included sitting failing to win anything in the second raffle but damn some of those prizes looked good (the Cloud9Vaping hamper looked like a good old haul especially).  We ate then partook of the live band that was booked in for the evening.  Since they turned out not to be what we really wanted to be listening to (I am sure some enjoyed it) my friends went home and went off to find other people to bother.

The second evening was a repeat mostly of the first evening just with even more people around the place.  People drank, people talked, people partied.  Falling down eventually started happening as it does with alcohol but it was another fine evening.  I will mention in passing, but want to remain positive overall, that there were some noise/behaviour issues.  In my opinion these were not in huge number and far less than at other big events I’ve been to in my life although still a pain for those involved.  I had applied a nice dosage of rum to myself to counteract my insomnia, which worked and on that night I actually got a bit of sleep.

Dawn on day two was not as spectacular as the first but still cloud was being burned off by the sun.  I amused myself and had breakfast while I waited for all you normal people to wake up and get going.  Once people were up and about all the camaraderie kicked off again with the usual piss taking of lightweights, apologies from loud shite talkers and all the normal morning after stuff.  Then it was time to orbit round some more, and since I was tired and my knees and feet hated me I took it much easier on the second day.  It was excellent having that second day though since the crowds were smaller and everything was much more relaxed.  The bulk of the vendors were still present which was nice and even better for the bargain hunters as many did the age old sell it off cheaper so we don’t have to pack it up again.  I listened to a talk from Sarah Jakes over at the VIP tent, the first I actually made it to due to my goldfish like concentration and attention span.  Really that was about it for day two, mostly I was drifting about getting a good look at the much quieter stalls and spent a great deal more time sitting down.

The last night was completely different.  Just about everyone was gone but at least there were a dozen or so people I knew  quite close together.  Conversation and drinking were much more subdued in that classic wind down way.  People drifted off to bed reasonably early in preparation for the road home.  I didn’t sleep that much but found it peaceful slowly wandering parts of the site in the dark and quiet.  Monday morning saw everybody packing up and some very prolonged goodbyes.  I managed to blag a lift to the town centre as well which my feet and knees were grateful for.  I then had the three train trip home where I could collapse and reflect as well as look through the video footage I got.

So  I had a good time, stressful for me with my health, but more than worth the price I pay for these things.  I do hope it will be put on again next year as it is tragic the incoming TPD might ruin it.  Little bureaucrats sitting in hidden offices have deemed there should be no promotion of e cigs and it could well kill wonderful events like this where people are mainly going to meet people and see whats going on.  It is less commercial than other events but it is nice to have vendors present to ogle.

Oh and some of my footage is on the AAE-C forum and some of it will appear on VTTV.  I am not a great cameraman and keep forgetting to actually film anyway which I have to work on.

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