This year Beth and I were lucky enough to score a free trip to London Vet Show courtesy of our Veterinary Practice family. We were invited down all expenses paid to assist on the veterinary practice stall, this was a fab opportunity to scope out the largest collection of vets, drugs companies and CPD providers in the UK and a great chance for us to network with future employers….. and come home with a bag full of conference freebies!
We began the day having an argument with the automated parking meter at the train station which we discovered could not decipher a Yorkshire accent. It was adamant that my little Citroen C2 was actually a Mitsubishi – not the start you want at 7 am! After finally clearing up the car identity issue, we set off from Chester train station armed with a Costa breakfast and settled down for the long journey down to London Euston. Once we pulled into the station we were greeted by the expected fast-paced pushiness of London rush-hour – I can’t say this way of life would ever suit me, I most certainly want to be formally introduced to anyone who thinks it’s acceptable to stand flush with my own body in the name of squashing onto a tube carriage… but maybe that’s just me? Anyway, once we’d re-familiarised ourselves with the London underground we managed to get ourselves to the Excel arena.
I had no idea just how gargantuan the Excel arena was, I naively didn’t think that buildings that big existed! London Vet show was in just one of these epic spaces and I most certainly needed the rather abstract map they gave us on arrival to shuffle my way around without getting too lost. We found David and David from Veterinary Practice and were greeted with a warm welcome and handed our very official looking ‘editorial assistant’ badges. Our job for the next two days was to coerce passers-by into signing up for the new Veterinary practice App (it seems everything has an App these days!) leaving “the Davids” free to network, promote and gain advertisers for the magazine. Beth and I decided to take turns manning down the stand while the other one had the opportunity to have a wander around.
I had the pleasure of bumping into an old friend during one of my many wanders around the exhibit, Graham Duncanson. Graham is a semi-retired vet who has had one of the most exciting lives of anyone I have ever met! He has worked in Africa for many years, has done numerous stints around the world for the World Horse Welfare Charity, and was the vet on site for the ‘Born Free’ films. He is also one of the most kind-natured people I have had the pleasure of meeting and he told us all about his great retirement adventure cycling across the world to get to Cape Town in South Africa, to raise money for the Animal Welfare Foundation. I sincerely hope I have as much passion and “ummf” left in me when I get to his age!
The evening party was certainly the highlight of the conference, we got discounted tickets to ride the cable cars up to the O2 Arena, which we took full advantage of and the night-time views were spectacular.
After arriving to the FREE after party (much thanks to the fella who came round giving away free tickets, it was greatly appreciated), we wandered up to the rooftop cocktail bar, were promptly handed tiny meals in bowls (clearly not enough to soak up the sheer quantities of alcohol consumed) and started on what was meant to be the first of our three free drinks. The problem began when we inadvertently made friends with the barman who began overlooking our tokens and supplying us with drinks regardless. Now, this was not the sort of student establishment we were used to where the alcohol is of a poor standard, likely watered down and the measures are stingy, oh no! This place had rows of decent liquor dealt out in generous measures poured into fantastic tasting cocktails…. It was, as we found out an incredibly dangerous combination. Feeling incredibly merry we made friends with some equally merry vets who after a bit of drunken chit-chat we realised were all Liverpool graduates, this became a good source of conversation for about an hour before we all decided to dominate the dance-floor! There was definitely some interesting moves being pulled but we giggled and boogied along with our soon to be colleagues. It really was a fantastic night all round! However, upon arriving back at the hotel ready for bed, we did not yet realise the night was far from over! Feeling rather grubby after a full day of travelling in combination with rather energetic dancing, I decided to have a shower. All was going smoothly until I finished my shower and tried to turn the water off to find the tap was stuck, whichever way I tried to turn it the water just got faster and hotter until it was a practically volcanic temperature. I came out of the wet room to seek assistance dripping wet through and as red as a tomato. Beth assumed I was just being too dim to navigate the shower and tutted at me before entering to try herself, she too failed to win her wrestle with the taps. By this point, the water had started bubbling over the lip of the shower and was slowly seeping under the door and soaking the carpet and despite the door being firmly closed, steam was billowing out from beneath the door. The next minute the blaring sound of the fire alarm sounded in the hall outside our room as we were desperately trying to waft the steam out of the bedroom window. A number of disgruntled, sleepy guests peeked inquisitively around the door and were not impressed that at one in the morning we had been the source of the problem. Eventually, maintenance arrived, sorted out the fire alarm and went to do battle with the shower, through sheer brute force the poor fellow managed to turn off the tap and came out looking like a rather soggy lobster. The next morning at breakfast Beth did nothing to add to our already tarnished reputation by launching the salt and pepper pots off the table during an exaggerated hand gesture, both of which shattered on the floor. I somehow don’t think they’ll be wanting us back anytime soon!
So overall my first experience of London Vet Show was a great one, hopefully, the next time I step through the arena doors I will be a fully qualified vet… and that the travel lodge has forgiven us for causing chaos!