In September 2013, I was privileged to be invited to give a talk at the 2013 Convention. It was a superb ‘do’ and it was great to meet up with old and make new friends from ‘oop north’ and Scotland. Thus 2014 became an absolute must.
I persuaded three other members of Strood and District A. S. to join me for the 2014 event. Allan Best, Mark Nazer, Tony Noronha and I set off on the morning of the 27th of September heading for Pier Aquatics at Wigan. Road works delayed our arrival somewhat but as soon as we arrived at Pier, a welcoming cup of tea / coffee was soon in our hands. A number of fish were reserved for collection on Monday the 29th. It was then on to Aqualife in Leyland and again, we placed orders for collection on the Monday. Saturday evening saw us congregate at the pub adjacent to the Premier Inn at Preston South for dinner / drinks etc. The pub gave us the use of a large upstairs room where dinner was served etc. A fish quiz (well loosely) was somehow won by Strood though no trophies were awarded. That certainly gave cause for liquid celebration.
On Sunday it was off to the Wellington Park Conference Centre for the Convention. The first speaker needed no introductions. Ian Fuller gave his as usual superb presentation on the Corydoradinae. A short tea break was then followed by Felipe Cantera giving a very comprehensive talk on collecting fish in Uruguay. Several of the Preston members had already been to Uruguay and have planned another visit for 2015. His presentation was accompanied by many pictures of the species found there – many of which are still undescribed. After lunch (included in the VERY modest price for the day of £12) was a further talk by Felipe on the Gymnogeophagus species found in Uruguay – again, many of which require formal description. The last talk of the day was by Anton Lamboj from Austria. Due to another speaking engagement the day before, Anton hot footed it from Austria to Preston on the morning of the convention. Anton gave a very informative talk of livebearers. It was basically in two parts. The first part dealt with the reproductive terms and processes of the various genera of livebearers whilst the second part gave details of many of the species.
There then followed the draw of the raffle where Ray Blackburn was in his element! If anyone could extract blood out of a stone then Ray is surely well qualified. After the raffle came the auction. Steve Spencer was in good form and with an army of runners soon auctioned off a good number of lots. Dinner followed and then the serious socialising got underway! Tony rightly described the whole function as being ‘fishkeeping as it used to be’. Plenty of exchange of information whilst enjoying a pint or three!
Personally it was nice to see old friends once again and to make new ones. Amongst them: Tony Nicholls a onetime Strood member and now a member of Preston A.S., Jack Irish, Harry Shields, Alan James (who spoke on Catfish at the 2013 convention), Erroll and John from Scotland, Alex and Lynn Carslaw (Alex gave a great talk on Rainbows last year) also from Scotland, Steve from Chester Zoo, Paul and Alby from Durham and many of the members of Preston A.S. We all had a great time – finally getting to our beds way past midnight.
John Dean and his wife Liz deserve special mention for their hard work in organising the convention. As with all events of this type, things over ran in time but that mattered not one iota. Well done to you both – you deserve a medal.
No doubt we will be back again in 2015 all being well.
Pete Cottle 2014.