In July it was back and the new style pen show worked well. This time we saw the benefits of people becoming more relaxed in the new post lock down world with the result of more vendors, more occupied tables, and more people.
Once more at the Hammersmith Novotel, and this time without the closed tube station/line meaning those using public transport had a far easier time getting to the venue, in fact this time it was many of those driving who suffered delays as the M4 was part closed.
As mentioned in my opening stanza, the show has grown, as expected, with more vendors, though a few regulars were noticeably missing with neither Pure Pens nor The Writing Desk being there. Additionally the international vendors were still mainly missing and this means at future shows there should be even more vendors. The only down side was the break out area being a lot smaller, though it did allow a meet up point for the FPUK Facebook group, and hopefully as the show grows the hotel may be talked in to putting chairs and tables in to the empty atrium and by the bar.
Now I have an apology. You may notice the distinct lack of photos here for while I did take a camera with me, it stayed in my pocket the whole time. Mea culpa. To be honest I did not even think about it until I got back home.
My plans were to do my traditional quick wander round to identify targets of interest, check with John Hall of Write Here if he needed a hand again (I had asked him about 4 weeks ago and he did say he was bringing someone with him, but still might take me up on my offer (and gave me a nice mention in his latest new letter)), then play it by ear. Also part of this was catching up with friends and meeting people from FPUK in the flesh for the first time.
I arrived just after 10:00 and after an hour and a half had still failed to get around the whole show. There were a lot of people to say hello to, catch up with, or be introduced to. Eventually I got to John and while busy he was fine so I carried on with an offer to pop back at lunch time as it would allow his staff member, Sam, to take a break and grab food. By roughly 12:30 I had finally managed to at least glance at all the stalls.
The afternoon I spent behind the Write Here table, initially to allow Sam to have a breather, and then just to help, get in the way, and gossip with John, helped by the fact there were now four of us as John’s web master was also giving a hand.
There were a few stand out parts for me, and apologies if I do not mention your name.
First off was being recognised from the previous time by the guys at The Good Blue Company and being able to chat with them again. It was through them I first discovered you guys were clicking on links in my British Pen Makers post and page as they saw traffic coming through from me. I’m not sure if it got them any sales but I have never bothered to look at that part of the WordPress stats page before and from there I was able to see all the vendors I had listed were being looked at. To me that’s a success even if just one or two sales came from the ~1000 clicks I can presently see.
Second was my chat with Dennis Humm of Den’s Pens. While I briefly met him in July, this was the first time I had been able to chat with him since his first pen show back in March 2020. For his first one he was nervous for obvious reasons, but this time he was very relaxed and in his element. He has some interesting new designs (I did tease him about my previous comments of too large a range), such as one I described as being influenced by a work bench tool kit, with a screwdriver/chisel end at the bottom of the barrel and a square top cap finial, almost like the fixing point on a ratchet. Sounds odd but I actually liked it, however when trying in the hand the section was a little too thin for my personal preferences. It’s also good to see that his own acrylic rods not only look good, but stand out amongst those he bought from else where, though my favourite was not his, nor the Jonathan Brooks rod based pen he was selling, but one made by … Den’s wife. She thought it was amusing and so did I.
Third, getting the chance to help John Hall again, but this time with the numbers behind the table to allow us to actually chat and gossip, unlike in July.
Fourth, the FPUK Facebook group were able to get hold of some tables (though also had to agree there would be no trading aside from Bernardo handing out the Teal Breaker sets) to use as a meet/gather/greet area and that appeared to work well though I only got to meet a few of the other people there, much due to chatting too much while wandering round in the morning, and helping out John Hall/Write Here in the afternoon.
Going forwards, as the world relaxes more I can see more vendors attending and the break out area vanishing, also I can see the registration desk moving to outside of the entrance door. It would be nice if we could get some additional tables and chairs out there as well as a new break out area as the bar is not large and we do not want to get in the way of the hotel guests.
So over all a great show, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, failed to talk to half the people I wanted to and talk too much to those who could not escape me. My entire purchases were limited to the pen show ink, KWZ Beefeater Red (with free show bag), and the latest ScriBo Write Here (Mariana Deep Blue) with a 14k extra flexible medium nib. Additionally I was able to collect my Teal Breaker set (John Garnham pen, Diamine limited/special edition ink, and notepad set, along with the box) and a nib repair block made for me by William Shakour, who’s arm I was able to twist when ordering one of his pens.