Now considered to be a ‘not to be missed’ event in the Strood & District A.S. calendar was indeed a brilliant weekend.
It started at 9.15 leaving with Tony driving with the aim to be at Pier Aquatics by 1pm. This proved to be wildly optimistic as road works and congestion saw us eventually reach Wigan just after 3 pm. We called in at the service station at the top of the M6 toll road but it was packed solid with thousands of travellers so it was onward to the next station for Tony’s breakfast. Alas, the same conditions were encountered so it was a case of grab a sandwich and eat on the move. The welcoming cup of tea (MANY thanks Julie) was gratefully received at Pier. Good to meet up with Neil and Rachel at the shop. Various purchases were made of fish to be collected on Monday morning. The Corydoras weitzmanni were gi nourmous and I think we almost cleared the tank. It was then off to Aqualife at Leyland and again we reserved a number of fish for later collection. David was holding the fort as Steve was off to a football match. (How sad!)
Saturday evening at the ‘Poachers’ was a great time for reunion with old friends. I know I will miss some out and apologise in advance but it was great to meet up once again with the ‘Scottish contingent’ – Jack, Harry, Errol, Alex and Lynn, Alan, Brad and John (sure to have missed someone?) and with many Preston members. John once again came up trumps with a quiz. It was a picture / word association format along the lines ‘picture of a butterfly what fish can it be’? That was the simple example. It got somewhat more difficult as the quiz progressed to the examples of a guy with a big beer belly framed. (Answer Altum angel – all tum get it!). An elderly lady with an enormous glass of wine – which was obviously not the first ( Answer Apistogramma – work it out yourself!) The groans at the answers were only too real. Ray of course did everything in his power to extract money from us with draw tickets.
Sunday was Convention day and around 60 or 70 people gathered to listen to the speakers. I was on first with a presentation on two collecting trips to Thailand. The second speaker was Colin Dunlop. His talk was entitled ‘Things we can and things we can’t control. What influences our fish?’ The possible influence of barometric pressure and temperature amongst other things was thought provoking. Anyone into or just starting breeding fish will have learned to question what they were doing and how to possibly achieve success. It was a really excellent presentation.
After lunch, we had our third speaker – Uwe Werner. His first talk was on fish he would like to keep in his aquarium and featured several fish that we know little about. His second presentation was a film he made during a collecting trip to Venezuela. With his fluent English he soon had the audience laughing about some of the exploits during the trip.
During the whole of the day, Ray did his best to extract cash from our pockets for the raffle. There were a vast show of prizes and I doubt that anyone left empty handed. The last item on the agenda was the auction. Steve as ever did an excellent job rattling through the lots at a steady pace, his army of runners contributing greatly to the smooth running.
The evening meal followed to which a fair number of people stayed. There then followed an ‘aquarists discussion’ chaired by the one and only Jack Irish. This continued until they closed the bar when we all went back to the Poachers for a last night cap.
Allan, Tony and I thoroughly enjoyed our weekend. All credit must be given to Liz and John who organised the event so successfully. As they say in the Meerkat advert ‘we’ll be back’.
Pete Cottle 2015.