Mrs Warbases is coming with me this time as I've decided to make the 1100 mile (give or take a furlong or two) round trip in my own van this year. Kudos to Eric of Figures in Comfort for allowing me to tag along the last two years. I felt that it was time to try and take more product to this show, and sharing a van meant that this was just not feasible.
So as well as Claymore Castings, I'll be stocking the very popular 'tufts', courtesy of my good friends at Mutineer Miniatures. I'm acting as pack horse for the SESWC too - taking along their terrain and figures for their display game.
If I'm being perfectly honest, this is not one of the most profitable shows we go to. It's not that the we don't do well at the show, more the associated costs - fuel, ferry, food, beer and hotels take a sizable chunk of the takings. The price of the trade space is kept at a minimum by the Tin Soldiers (10 Euros per metre last year), so this is the least of our costs for the weekend.
However all this aside, it has to be, arguably, the most enjoyable weekend on the circuit. The secret to surviving it is to stay away from bad influences like Dave, Phil, Kev and Erik!
Here's an action packed itinerary of our 'weekend';
Wednesday afternoon - pack the van, checking and double checking we've got everything.
Thursday morning - back to the unit to collect all the things I've forgotten. (It always happens).
Thursday circa 12:00 pm. Time for the off! Dawdle down the road to Harwich on fuel saving mode. Why Harwich I hear you cry! Because its half the price of travelling from Hull or Newcastle.
Arrive Harwich circa 9:30 pm. Check in and drive onto the ferry. Get beers in and relax for the night.
Arrive Hook of Holland circa 7.30 am Friday, (being woken up the the sounds of 'Don't worry, be happy' very loudly over the ship's tannoy).
Drive from Hook down to Antwerp, in convoy, arriving at the venue, approximately 11.00 am.
Take a couple of hours shopping for chocolate, and having a second breakfast, to allow the TSA to set up the venue - lighting rigs need to be assembled and tables set out.
When we return to the venue, we unload, set up and mingle with our fellow traders. I'm hoping to pick up a master mould and some castings from Leon and Dave of Pendraken, of the first of our new livestock range.
Then we need to check in to the hotel and see who's loitering in the bar. The vast majority of British traders and punters stay in the Holiday Inn. Those preferring a bit more adventure, stay at the Docks Hotel, where apparently, you can rent a room by the hour. I'll leave further details to your imagination!
Friday evening is free time to head up the city centre - there are a lot of bars and restaurants and you can easily spend an evening sampling the local delights.
Saturday is show day, and we spend a thoroughly enjoyable time, swapping currency for our products, chatting with our clients and trying to speak French, German, Flemish and sometimes even English. One unusual factor to the show is that while the majority of customers will pay in Euros, some will pay with Sterling too. Two cash boxes required here!
During the show, you can indulge in some beers and burgers, provided by the wives of TSA .
On the close of the show we can leisurely repack the van and retire to the hotel bar for a well deserved beverage. On Saturday evening, we have the option of attending the buffet put on by the TSA in the venue, or another evening in Antwerp. I am undecided as to which to do yet, I'll just wait and see who appears to lead us astray.
Sunday we get to leisurely get up, check out of the hotel and maybe take the opportunity to visit Ypres or Mesen during the afternoon before we travel back up to Hook for the return ferry.
Monday morning will see us arrive back in Harwich at 6.30 am. Then just the small matter of the short journey home. We expect to be home in time for tea.
No time to rest and recover though as we have another show on Saturday at Kirriemuir!