Sunday 22nd November 2015
The Planet Rock Hairy Rock Show on the radio, racing through the winter landscape in a muddy Skoda Yeti, Mr and Mrs Clark made their way to the Bath & West Showground to the Somerset Homebuilding and Renovating Show. They sang My Woman from Tokyo by Deep Purple at full blast as they passed Stonehenge on the A303, take that you pagans! They shouted and sang When I was a Boy by ELO, harmonising very nicely indeed. This was going to be a grand day out.
The breakfast cuppa had filtered through and elevenses were needed, which meant a stop at Stourhead House. Mr Clark flashed his National Trust staff pass in the café and they got a discount on their purchases, it was a just a shame it was a bit too early for cake. Fortified by cappuccinos and bacon sandwiches they headed off for the show.
The HBR Show in Shepton Mallet isn’t that big and as it was a cold day Mr and Mrs Clark were glad there wasn’t a long walk to the showground. Even so Mrs Clark was dressed for arctic winds just in case. Once in the showground, memories of past shows came flooding back. It had been eight years since they had last ventured into this wonderful world of building delights – it was familiar but this time there was no pressure and no big list of people they had to see. They have no real plans to build another house just yet, just a pie in the sky idea about a garage with a room above for Mrs Clark’s art studio and another one behind to house a new wood pellet boiler.
Mrs Clark made a beeline for the Westwind Handcrafted Oak Buildings stand where she was warmly greeted by a very nice lady who explained who they were and what they did. Mr and Mrs Clark had already seen one of their award winning builds (in Cornwall) on the internet and would very much like to have a beautiful oak framed building of their own. When Mrs Clark has sold the first million copies of her book ‘Mud & Marriage – A Housebuilding Adventure’ she will get some plans to them ASAP. Mrs Clark likes to talk and embarrasses Mr Clark quite a lot – he’s used to her now and knows she is the type of wife who talks to people at bus stops, but also the kind one should not mess with if in mid-flow. She had a lovely chat with another lady manning (or womanning) the stand who was on crutches – it was due to a trampolining accident apparently.
Mr Clark finds heating technology fascinating and frankly a bit sexy and was very pleased to find that Mr Williams at the Windhager stand was just as enthusiastic. They had some excellent wood pellet boilers on show. Mrs Clark was very impressed at the pull-out ash box and told Mr Williams all about the way they had been palmed off with an unreliable wood pellet boiler/stove with no pull-out ash box when they built their house. Pellet boiler technology has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years; Mr and Mrs Clark left the stand with boiler envy, their paper bag full of Windhager information and a good idea of what they will do when their Olivieri boiler/stove finally breaks down. As they were leaving the stand Mr Williams, obviously seeing their plight kindly said that they could visit to the Windhager showroom near Bristol and fire one up anytime they wanted. They thought that was a fabulous idea for another fun day out. It is amazing what floats some people’s boats – but there you go.
On their tour of the show they took in the familiar sights. There were the folding patio door people dutifully opening and closing the doors to show potential customers the mechanism. Mrs Clark marvelled at their patience as she thought it must be very boring to be doing that all day for two days in a row. Mr Clark would like folding doors on the next build but didn’t have a go as he had done the folding door thing several times before. Mrs Clark felt sorry for the architects standing by themselves looking a bit forlorn at their tiny bland stands. She wanted to stop and have a chat to see how their day was going but Mr Clark was walking fast and she had to keep up.
At the Homebuilding & Renovating Show you can use the Advice Centre and ask the experts if you have queries about your build. You have to book in to talk to one of the building gurus but it’s free.
Mrs Clark spied Michael Holmes – Editor in Chief of Homebuilding and Renovating magazine and property expert, sitting on his own looking at his phone at the Advice Centre stand and pointed this out to Mr Clark. Hmm she thought. Mr Clark knew exactly what she was thinking and raised an eyebrow. In the blink of an eye she had whipped a copy of Mud & Marriage out of the rucksack on Mr Clark’s back. Bravely she strode up to Mr Holmes and introduced herself. As luck would have it, his 1 o’clock appointment hadn’t turned up and he said he had a few minutes spare to talk. She sat herself down in the chair opposite and they had a good chat – he was surprisingly welcoming even though she had landed on him with no warning. Mr Holmes knew of Mrs Clark’s book as apparently he had a copy on his desk – which meant he obviously knew what she had written about him, and I quote ‘I caught a glimpse of Michael Holmes from H&R magazine. He is very tall and handsome, so I tried not to stare’. At this point having not taken off her arctic gear Mrs Clark got very hot but managed to foist another copy of her book on him, signed in wobbly excited writing. Mr Clark then returned from his foray up the aisle, shook Mr Holmes’ hand and took his now steaming wife off to the café so she could divest herself of her artic-wear and calm down with a cup of tea.
Mrs Clark collects embarrassing moments so she can look back on her life and hope they will teach her valuable lessons (or at least make people laugh). Mr Holmes had kindly put a picture of them both with the book on Twitter. Adoration is the word I would use for the expression on Mrs Clark’s upturned face.
The Carpenter Oak stand was the next stop for Mr and Mrs Clark. They were told that it is much cheaper to buy a kit for a garage/over garage room elsewhere. It was very good of them to be so honest, but in an ideal world where there is no budget, a bespoke oak frame would be the best solution. Mrs Clark thinks that a new build with an oak frame is the stuff of dreams.
In Mr and Mrs Clark’s eyes Nu-Heat Underfloor Heating and Renewables are a top company and they were glad to see their stand at the show. The underfloor heating system in their self-build was supplied by Nu-Heat but the water pipes were unfortunately laid in a laissez-faire fashion by a rogue plumber and there are cold spots where they may have sprung out from their clip-track. Nu-Heat now have a new system for housing the pipework so it can’t be dislodged. They told Mr and Mrs Clark that even though the pipes hadn’t been fitted by Nu Heat they were concerned and would look into it if needed. Good chaps.
At the BSRIA stand (the people who help you with your airtightness compliance among many other things) Mr McGrath was watching the people walking past his heat testing camera and looking at the thermal images of themselves on the monitor. Mrs Clark noticed how blue everyone’s noses were and made Mr Clark pose for a picture. Take note building companies, it is fantastic to have something to draw people to your stand – something to partake in, fiddle with or sit down on. It makes for a memorable show for visitors too.
Outside the showground on the way back to the car Mr Clark spotted Oxford Renewables (biomass and solar thermal) who had a chilly stand outside. He knew of them already as they had been to service their boiler when it was playing up. They had some rather lovely Solarfocus pellet boilers on show, which Mr Clark caressed lovingly. Mr Carter from Oxford Renewables didn’t mind as he fully understood Mr Clark’s love for them, and invited him to pop in to their showroom at any time. He might just do that as they are local – he might even get to fire one up.
Walking back to the car, Mr Clark, pasty in one hand and Windhager paper bag in the other, said he was pleased that they had been to the show. Mr and Mrs Clark always have such a lovely time on their days out together, but they both agreed that this one was truly a grand day out.