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Adventure Overland Show Sep 18

By Ren Withnell

It's never what you know it's who you know. I know a chap called Duncan Gough and he knows, well, people, the right people. 

So here I am riding through the back end of a storm heading to Stratford Upon Avon. Luckily for me the powers that be have limited vast huge swathes of the M6 to 50mph by means of traffic cones and seemingly imaginary road works. 50mph. It's a joke. Oh no! No I don't mind 50mph, please don't misunderstand me. No I'm perfectly happy at 50mph, I like 50mph. I'd just like to achieve 50mph that's all. Due to my luggage and narrow lanes we are all crawling along in stop start traffic. I'd estimate an average speed of maybe 15mph?

So why am I sat in Friday afternoon traffic going to Stratford? 

Duncan has invited me. As long as I do a couple of "talks" I don't need to pay for camping. I like Duncan, I like Derek Mansfield and Steve Stewart too. I like camping trucks. I might manage to promote BAT a little. I cannot recall if I've been to Stratford before so I'm curious to see what it's like. It's a weekend away.

Duncan sells books and has a travelling stall complete with stands and maps
Duncan's book selling setup is very impressive.

What do you mean "where's Sharon?" She's working. She's running out of holidays. I also imagine the notion of spending a weekend in the tent in this weather isn't too appealing. Don't worry dear reader, I've been having lessons in how to open a tin of beans and eat them, I'll survive. Hopefully.

By the time I reach Stratford Upon Avon's racecourse the rain has abated and despite the wind I get the tent up. Mercifully Duncan has rented a campervan which provides shelter and cooking facilities. Steve is in a tent but Derek, being 70-something years old is sleeping is Duncan's converted horsebox accommodation. Yes, a camperhorsebox.

Just a regular horsebox at the camping area
Yes it's a regular horsebox but within is a bed and carpet and lined walls.

Duncan creates a paella. It contains things called veg-at-able-s and these apparently contain vit-a-mins? My body has been finely honed through careful junk food consumption and I fear I may go into shock if I introduce non-processed comestibles.

Saturday morning and I need to do my talk. Yes, me, Ren, doing a public speaking engagement. I have a basic script, some images on a large screen and absolutely no idea how many people may turn up. But this is how I am to earn my free weekend away. 

There is an ulterior motive too. Duncan and Steve and Derek go around various events doing their talks to promote their books. While I don't have a book I do have a blog to promote. I'd like to create a selection of talks I can do to promote my blog. 

Ren's CB500X and a large bat logo on a banner at the Stratford show
Shameless self promotion.

I have done a few VERY minor talks. When I was business networking I was required to give a 10 minute summary of my business occasionally. I did a terrifying public speaking event at school once. Otherwise I am incredibly inexperienced and I need to learn and to practice. 

So I have my notes and my slides. And one lady who's heard I know a thing or two about Scotland. Ahem - my prepared talk is about micro-adventures. But it is only her so I sit down and spend a half hour talking to her about her own way more impressive than mine adventures and offer my advice for Scotland. 

Not a rip-roaring success. BUT!! I am not disheartened. Why? Because I came here with no expectations at all. There may be zero or 100 people attending my talk. I may be a hero among orators or a total failure. I am here to learn, to grow, to enjoy and to be comfortable with whatever happens. 

The rest of the day is spent talking to random folks about my bike and my adventures as they pass by. The punters range from those who've been around the globe on foot, on bicycles and in 4by4s to those with dreams and aspirations. Not many bikers, this crowd is mostly 4by4. I still give them a BAT business card, you never know.

Another evening is spent in Duncan's van with Derek and Steven. The rain is coming down outside so the tiny little stove is lit and the warmth is most welcome. There's talk of books and bikes, of cities and countries, of drinking and dancing and of eating and enjoyment. 

The next day during the show is much the same as yesterday, this time the weather moves from rain towards sun. My talk today is at 1300, this time I have not one but 3 people! 

With only 3 attendees my talk starts but soon turns into a conversation. One chap has a campervan and a young daughter. The other couple also have with them their 2 children, a toddler and babe in arms. Do you see the similarity?

My friends with their books and many well travelled somewhat well known adventurers can go away for 3, 6, 12 or even 24 months at a time. They can reach The Himalayas and the Nullarbor (Nullarbor = no trees, think about it). However people with small people are not typically able to do this. But they still want adventures and micro adventures fit the bill. Sorted!

I still have not "done" my talk. And yet still this is fine, maybe I need to think about seminars rather than talks? I certainly find it easier to talk WITH people not TO them. I am learning and that is what matters.

The ride home on Sunday evening is much less troublesome than my ride down on Friday was. 

In summary I must say a big thank you to Duncan for getting me into the mix. I've had a smashing weekend away for the cost of my fuel and food. I've learnt a great deal, particularly watching Duncan, Steve and Derek talking. I've handed out a number of cards and put BAT in front of a different kind of audience. I've also seen some very impressive trucks and vans. 

Here is a selection...

A brught red very large pickup truck used by Top Gear to drive to the North Pole
Some of you may recognise this...
A 7.5 tonne truck but the box on the back has been converted into a living accommodation
Now THAT's what I call a proper camper van...or truck
A Mercedes truck in the Dakar rally style
Dakar anyone? 
2 Land Rovers set up for overland travel with fold out tents on the roof.
There were hundreds of Landys all in various travel configurations.
A normal flatbed truck with a small caravan body fixed to the back
This is MY kinda conversion. Stick an old caravan on the back, be reet.

If you'd like to invite Ren to do a highly questionable seminar, talk or presentation than contact

Reader's Comments

Derek Mansfield said :-
Lovely :) :)
25/09/2018 02:27:41 UTC
Graham Field said :-
I've know of several people who have 'spoken' to a smaller crowd than you did. It's good to read about the event. I went to the very first one and a few after that. Always a good vibe and more varied than a bike event.

25/09/2018 02:55:23 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Cheers gentlemen. I figure part of doing such events and public speaking is accepting that not every presentation will go smoothly, not every crowd is interested and that even a hardened veteran will fall flat on their face from time to time.
25/09/2018 07:29:33 UTC
Steve Stewart said :-
Nice little read Ren, you should write a book?????
25/09/2018 07:32:24 UTC
Steve Stewart said :-
PS at least nobody fell asleep!!!
25/09/2018 07:34:10 UTC
Sharon said :-
Well done Mr Ren x
26/09/2018 09:53:41 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Yes Steve - always think positive. If there's no-one there to listen to your tale then no-one can fall asleep or walk out or heckle!
26/09/2018 04:16:19 UTC

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