Allergy and Free From Show / Just V Show / Love Natural, Love You Show / Eat Smart Show|Champagne Twist
Day 1 – Friday 6th July 2018
With 4 shows under 1 roof, Olympia is the place to be if you’re a foodie.
Last year I felt overwhelmed by the vast number of stalls, the bags of free food, the number of talks and demos. So this year I planned ahead. I downloaded the show map, exhibitor list, and timetables yesterday, studied which talks I wanted to attend and the quickest routes to take to get from 1 talk to another.
Friday, I’m guessing, is the least busiest day, due to work and school commitments, and major events such as Wimbledon, Grand Prix, World Cup and Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. Plus, with this unusually prolonged summer heat wave, where we actually have sunshine and the associated hosepipe bans to contend with, who wants to be cooped up in a huge building contending with massive crowds?
I also noticed this year that more people have followed my lead and brought their trolleys, suitcases and wheelie bags. I’m such a trend setter!
Personally, I find it funny that I have attended a health show and purchased various chocolate puddings and cakes, with plans to purchase more. But I do this for 2 important reasons – 1, to review the produce purchased and in the case Freaks of Nature puds, to stock up.
I’m going again tomorrow and on the final day of the 3-day event – which I didn’t manage to do last year, mostly because I found the whole event overwhelming.
Few things surprise me. I predicted Brexit, the US election and the UK election. I knew when One Direction would split up, and that the Master would kill Missy in Doctor Who. As I said, few things surprise me, but today at the Allergy and Free From Bloggers’ meet up, that was an absolute shocker.
Attending the event was intended to be a treat for us bloggers, a chance to meet fellow foodies and interact with great companies who work tireless to create such great products.
Sadly, for want of a simple clipboard and checklist, rather than a happy, friendly chit chat between foodies, the event turned into a free for all, which could have turned rapidly into something more disastrous.
I’m writing this, because I have never in my life witnessed such total greed in people. I will point out firstly that the organiser and attending bloggers couldn’t have been nicer and I would have loved to have had a good old natter with them. I would have loved to chat with all the food producers who also attended, as it is unusual to have the opportunity for a face to face with people, who not only care deeply about the products they make, but also the customers who they sell their items to.
Yet the ugly greed of some people, completely spoiled the occasion for me.
Examples of behaviour
One woman had the audacity to sit down next to me and boast at length how she grabbed a number of free samples. Then she asked me what a blogger was!
Another woman continually grabbed as much as her hands could manage, pushing other people in the process. Honestly, was there any need for this?
I asked another person who seemingly came from nowhere if she was a blogger. She replied in the positive. She lied. When pushed, she admitted she overheard that someone was giving out freebies and she wanted to see what she could get.
One woman, with a foot in a cast, climbed over several benches, and physically pushed her way to the front, in order to get a bottle of beer. She may have a bad foot, but she’s got a good pair of eyes and more stamina than Andy Murray! She’s pretty quick too, for a person with a foot in plaster.
Another woman, pretended that she didn’t understand English, yet was later heard conversing in English to her associate, discussing how they could trick other producers into giving them more free stuff.
It wasn’t the fact that these people took, well stole, these items, heck it happens all the time. It was the calculated malice in which they conducted themselves. Honestly, in all my days, I have never seen a sudden mass of people, so greedy, so dishonest, so disgusting.
There are the knock on effects – this was a group of bloggers, who specialise in food allergies. They perform vital work in getting information out to people who a) can’t attend these events and b) require specific knowledge in order to carry on with their daily lives.
Of course, these greedy horrors won’t care a jot and would probably step over their own grandmother for a penny. But many will miss out in this important information, why should. they have to suffer?
It both angers and saddens me that I had to bore witness to such abject greed. For goodness sakes, this is a G8 country. Yes, things are bad, but have we reached the level of such awful behaviour? Have we become so uncaring, so selfish, so greedy, so absolutely shameless? Apparently we have.
How it went wrong
I don’t understand why the area wasn’t closed off to the general public, or why none of the bloggers were asked for any form of ID. Thankfully it didn’t quite develop into a full run, but in a confined area, with so many people, frankly it wasn’t worth the risk for me and I left half way through.
It was continually announced over the PA that it was a private event, yet still more and more people crammed their way into the space in order to fill their boots. The effect was by then too little, too late. Perhaps being in that immediate environment heightened what happened, but I tell you this, I never what to witness such ugly, cold hearted greed ever again.
I did manage to speak briefly to a few producers, and I will either contact them separately and/or review their products in due course.
Yes, I know I run a risk of being ostracised from the blogging community by publishing this post, but if this is the way such events are conducted, people need to know.
Reaction from Allergy & Free From Learning Centre Assistant
To add insult to injury, one of the Allergy & Free From Learning Centre assistants rudely interrupted me mid-conversation with the event organiser, after I had waited patiently, by holding her hand up to my face, giving me the most evil look imaginable.
Was there any need for that, for what was in essence partly her failure to keep the event safe and organised?
No doubt this will all be buried in the social media web as quickly as possible to minimise any perceived damage.
So off I went to Kensington Olympia, in fear. Financial fear. When it comes to fabrics and now increasingly knitting products, all reason temporarily escapes me and I end up with reams and reams and reams of fabrics, to add to my reams and reams and reams of fabrics in my stash, and enough wool to make each sheep in a huge flock a jumper and matching scarf! But I digress!
Tips and suggestions when you arrive
My suggestions if you attend the show – wear some comfy shoes. And for heavens sake, if you’re arriving by train, when you get out of Kensington Olympia Overground Station, turn right and follow the signs to the venue. Trust me, your legs will thank me later.
I attended 2 days, the first I went the long way round, and had to wait in a very long queue. That said, I didn’t have to wait too long, within 20 mins of arrival at the station, I was in the building. It was the first day, so I will let that slide. On the 2nd day I was in the building within 10 minutes. So please – turn right!
Is it worth buying the official show guide or bag?
The show guide is I think a rather pricy £4 and the show bag is £3, for which you get the bag and nothing else. Save yourself £7 and bring your own bags and note down any stalls, demos and exhibitions you would like to see from the website beforehand.
The demos in the Creative Living Theatre to my surprise were not as fully attended as I would have expected, a great pity as many of the high flyers of the sewing world were leading fantastic demos for free. I took full advantage of this, and strongly suggest you do to.
My favourite demos were lead by Laurie Guthrie, Chinelo Bally both former contestants of the Great British Sewing Bee and Tree Walsh from Stitchless TV. Chinelo Bally may be signing copies of her book tomorrow (Saturday) after her demo. The book costs £20 – bring cash if you would like to purchase. They don’t have debit or credit card machines at the Creative Living Theatre, the ATM is out of order at the show and the ATM in the foyer charges £1.99. But note most of the stalls I attended do accept debit and credit cards.
There is free WIFI, apparently, but I couldn’t for the life of me get connected, and sadly I was unable to report live from the event. There wasn’t an area dedicated for bloggers, which I think would have added to the excitement. It certainly would have been wonderful to meet fellow bloggers, some of whom I saw on Friday, but felt it wasn’t appropriate to introduce myself whilst they appeared to be working. (I know, I should be more forceful, I’m just too polite!)
You can purchase food and drink at the venue, and there is plenty of space to sit and enjoy your meal. I saw sandwiches sell for around the £4- £5 mark, so at London prices, not too bad. But if you can, bring a packed lunch and a flask of tea, you will save yourself a few pennies.
Bargains and Must Visit Stalls
Check out Bombay Stores – stand F2 and M Rosenberg and Son – stand L20 for bargain fabrics, Montreux Fabrics – stand D70 for Chanel type Linen Mix Tweeds. For yarns, you could do worse than visit stand 78, Neil the Knit.
The McCall Pattern Company – M2 stall sells McCall’s, Vogue and Butterick sewing patterns, and there are ‘buy 3 for £12’ deals.
Don’t forget to visit the various exhibitions, including the Textile Galleries and make sure you take plenty of breaks so that you don’t exhaust yourself.
As per usual I spent a small fortune on fabric and supplies, but I’m glad to say that I had enough change left for my bus fare home … just. I will post a haul video on my youtube channel. The prices of the products on sale suits all pockets, so you will find it difficult to leave empty handed.
I had a great time at the show, and would happily attend again. I’m looking forward to the next show in October at Ally Pally.