I have to admit that as much as I enjoyed the day out, I was a little disappointed. I had hoped that there would be lots of stalls where I could buy plants and seeds to bring home. However, the mass of shops at he show were selling ephemera like tools, art and display stuff. There was only one stall selling seeds that I spotted, and no where to buy little plants, until the actual big sell off at the end.
Having seen the show gardens on the TV all week, I was also a bit disappointed seeing them in the flesh. To be honest the show gardens have never really appealed to me. My whole life the only kind of garden I've had experience of has been ramshackle and weed ridden, and I kind of like that. The pristine, manicured lots at Chelsea have always felt alien to me, and seeing them live just reinforced that. In fact the one garden that really spoke to me was a small garden that was based around a rotten tin shed and overgrown front courtyard. It felt a lot more homely and familiar than other stuff on display.
At the end of the day, we were there for the big sell-off, which was interesting in itself, and the first chance we had all day to buy some actual plant stuff. I'd been fixating on some really red heuchera from the PSI Nursey Garden and bagged a couple of them to put in our garden. I also had some curly succulents from the Caymen Islands Underwater Garden (part of the big patch on the bottom right of the picture) and Mrs Dio had a load of other stuff from the stand. I also picked up a delicate little plant for a pound with deep purple triangle leaves and small flowers, but I've no idea what it's called.
The sell-off was mad, and it was funny to see everyone struggling out of the grounds with masses of plants. It was also surprising to see how the immaculate stands soon broke down, being made up of plants in pots and then built up with scrunched newspaper and various coverings. All in all, it was a great experience. We also saw all the gardening TV presenters, Sir Alan of Titchmarsh, Joe Swift and that blonde woman. Most surprising of all was spotting James Wong (who gave us a wicked 'recognise me' scowl) of Grow Your Own Drugs fame. Most surprising for someone who does such a 'healthy' show was to see him toking on a fag and swigging on the booze. Even Mrs Dio was a bit shocked at that.
I did take a good few photos, but to be honest it would have been easy to take lots of flower shots. Instead I was taking more abstract shapes and shadows sort of stuff. My camera is dying as well, so I'll need to get something new asap, again. Mrs Dio was taking stuff with the Nikon Coolpix I bought her for Christmas, looked good. That said, here's my collected photos that I wanted to share from the day. Lots of the usual Dio twist and shadows to enjoy.
Due to the amount of work related stuff I was doing out there, I didn't really get a lot of time to enjoy Amsterdam in a touristy way, although myself and Mrs Dio got out for a good few walks, around the tourist centre and later than through other parts of the city for the horrendously busy Queen's Day celebrations. I wasn't really in a photographing mood on my trips, but there are a few picture postcard photos to follow.
We had a great little tip for Queen's Day from a local on the tram. He told Mrs Dio to avoid the centre and head off into the west of the city as that was where the locals headed due to the make-up off the people living there. We did just that and found lots of narrow streets and canal walks full of people, small stores and wonderful little rummage sales. Despite being potty, the atmosphere was pretty nice. At the end of our day we headed to a more central location, and it was a noticably different atmosphere to the west, and not as nice as where we'd come from.
Other highlights from the week, aside from the little moments of inspiration from the conference sessions were a couple of nights spent enjoying the free beers put on by the sponsors for the show networking parties. It was also good to have a chat about bingo with leading SEO David Naylor (and wife Becky) who was on the panel for a few of the SEO seminars. I've been a fan of his Strike Point show on Webmaster Radio for years, as well as reading the blog, so it was a bit of a geeky moment of fan boy pleasure to speak in person. Another highlight was stumbling on the live bands and stalls on Queen's Night in the Nieuwmarkt Square - great atmosphere and we were disappointed to see the whole set up being dismantled on the Friday. It would make a great regular attraction.
I managed to pick up a cold half way through the week, and am still suffering a bit. Got lots of concerned looks at the airport with my sniffles, but only saw a few people in face masks. Lots of stuff to catch up on now, and my time will be taken the next few months working on my film company and the production of our first feature, Devil's Bridge, a low budget horror movie set in West Wales. Should be fun. In the meantime, here's some mediocre pictures.