Sunday, 9 March 2014

For Crufts sake!

Last week I made possibly the most brave decision of my life so far.  No, unlike the friends I was talking to the previous weekend, I didn't jet off to Australia alone for months or decide to use the deposit for my house in order to leave work and travel the world.  I booked myself a train ticket to Birmingham.

Uh oh...she's packing!

If you ask Google to define 'brave' this is what it will tell you:
Brave (adj) ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage.

If you had to pick an adjective to describe me, it wouldn't be 'brave'.  Perhaps 'anxious'.  My dad used to call me 'windy' but I had to stop him because I was worried that people might take that the wrong way.  Worried.  Always worried about something or other.

One of my many phobias....bees!

For most people jumping on a train to somewhere a few hours away may seem like a walk in the park but for me it required bravery.  Firstly, I'm not a keen lover of trains.  That, though, is the least of my troubles.  I'm also worried about travelling alone and I don't much like getting in taxis alone either.

However, one of my worst fears is missing out on something amazing because I was too frightened to do it.  And this was the reason I boarded a train, alone, one evening at 5:05pm.  The train would arrive at Birmingham over 3 hours later and from there I would climb aboard a smaller train to Birmingham International Airport.

Thankfully, the reason for this was not because I needed to catch a plane - perhaps I'm not yet brave enough to go that far and certainly not alone.  The reason was that, for the first time in my life, I was going to Crufts.  And, I was going with some online friends from the lovely Staffies R Us.

Nearly ended up with another dog after this little angel jumped up to give me a kiss!

There's something about being a member of a close-knit forum.  It feels like meeting some kind of extended family.  People who you feel extremely connected to but, at first, you're not exactly sure who is who.  I ended up finding myself asking "what's your dog called?" in order to recognise each person.  Caesar got a few smiles and his blog was mentioned too.

By the morning of the show, I was thrilled that I had made the trip and could not wait to begin exploring.  For anyone who has somehow managed to avoid ever hearing about Crufts; it's the world's largest dog show.  And, around the hotel there were many nationalities of people and dogs staying to attend.  I'd watched the show on television since being a child when dad and I would tune in just in time to see the weekend showings and I'd always wondered what it would be like to attend.

The show itself was amazing and I couldn't believe that it only cost £18 to enter!  It's impossible not to spend the first few hours in absolute bewilderment.  I've never seen so many dog products and stalls or breeds of dog or dog sports all in one place.  There were so many rings and halls and stalls that getting lost was virtually inevitable but it was like being lost in an dog lovers Disney Land.  I was gobsmacked by the crowds of people and some of the amazing sights that could be seen around the National Exhibition Centre.

...And I thought they were called 'sheep!' 

By 4 o'clock, I had just about stopped gawping and got into some serious shopping.  Here are Caesar's goodies:

Sheep fleece!

Union Jack Polar Collar

Leather Staffordshire Knot Collar

Who has been to Crufts?  Share your experience in the comments section.