Wednesday, 9 October 2013

An ExCeLlent Excursion

On Monday, Bob and I went to the ExceL exhibition centre in London [having spent Sunday night with Liz and Jon] This year the PLASA [Professional Lighting And Sound Association] had a new venue for their show. Previously it has been at Earl’s Court.


ExCeL is an attractive venue by the Thames, on the northern quay of the Royal Victorias Dock in the Borough of Newham, between Canary Wharf and the City Airport. As you enter from the Underground Car Park, you are confronted by a number of huge London skylines, each with motivational statements [the sort beloved of Team Managers and Ofsted Inspectors]


There was lots to see. Bob was interested in all the professional lighting and sound stuff – I just meandered around having interesting conversations and looking at some of the more unusual stands. I loved the bunting at Bectu – and would have liked some for the role play area at school [sadly it was not available for sale – someone had made it for them specially]


Another stand also had home made bunting – and fun lights [rescued from his local pub who were throwing them away]


This chap is, by his own admission, obsessive about sustainability. He helps theatrical groups to be more responsible about their carbon footprints, and we had a discussion about recycling and make-do-and-mend.

His clouds are made of waste sheep’s wool, and absorb sound [where does he find ‘waste sheep’? I wondered]

One stand that really caught my eye was the one which hired out theatrical equipment – like this life size animatronic camel


I noticed that in the background they had a palm tree similar to my own [but taller] Obviously you cannot see it here- but the camel was moving his mouth and also bending his neck from time to time, and looking from side to side. Awesome! I thought – wouldn’t that look good alongside my palm tree at a Nativity Production? So I asked.

“Its £5000 to airfreight it, and then £1500 a day to hire it” said the man. I pointed out that a school on a tight budget would prefer to spend that on a term’s worth of teaching support, not two afternoons of moving camel on the road to Bethlehem!

The final photograph is a motorbike…


The Theatrical Guild is a national charity which helps backstage and front-of-house theatre staff who are in need. They help in a variety of ways including offering educational sponsorship and one-off grants, as well as access to counselling and welfare advice. The lady who was on the stand said that there is a lot of support for actors in need – often because their faces are well known – but the ‘behind the scenes’ crew are often overlooked.


Consequently there is an annual charity motorbike and classic car tour to raise funds [hence the bike on display]

The 2014 route has yet to be announced, but I said I would mention it on the blog.

The riders visit various theatres of interest en route [how come I have missed their visits to Leicester in previous years?]

I had lots of fun on Monday – Bob took it more seriously, networking, and picking up some PA equipment at good prices and meeting up with people he knew.

We finished off our day with a brief trip out to Romford to see cousin Gill and Auntie Peggy. We hadn’t seen them for ages – so came away with our 2012 Christmas presents! [Mine for them were lightweight, and posted last December]

I do enjoy being able to spend a day  like this with my other half- especially when the rest of the week is jam packed with more mundane activities.


  1. So when you heard the price of hiring the camel, did it give you the hump?

  2. Awww, if I'd have known you were coming to Romford, we could have met up!!!! What an interesting show to go to! I love that about the sustainable theatre things! I used to make my first cards out of old violin strings and coffee cups so I love this idea!

    1. I suspect we were already on our way home before you got home from school. I am intrigued by the idea of a card made from a coffee cup!

  3. What an interesting trip! I especially liked the camel, which would look very nice in my living room ...



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