I love food and I love the BBC Good Food Show
I think in total, my Boyfriend and I have been to about... 8 Shows to date? We tend to go twice a year, in the Summer and the Winter and by now I think it's safe to say we're seasoned experts in what to do, when to do it and what to expect.
After feeling quite rough this morning due to the 3/4 of a bottle of wine I drank last night, I kept in mind that every day is an opportunity to eat healthy so rather than feeling the obligatory guilt, had a nice cup of tea and my usual porridge with blueberries before setting off to the BBC Good Food Show in the Birmingham NEC at 8:00am.
We've realised that it's best to come early - even if you arrive at 10:00am, when the show opens there are still queues to get into the car parks. It's also good to get into the show early as it can become really, really busy from lunchtime onwards and you get fed up and frustrated a lot quicker if you can't move around freely.
Thankfully the roads weren't too bad and we managed to enter the Show by 10:15. My Boyfriend suggested the usual plan in regards to tackling all of the stands which was fine by me - If you wander around aimlessly, it's quite hard to work out if you've seen everything, so we tend to go up and down in a regimented fashion, which ensures we look at everything and no exciting food is ignored :-)
This time round I wasn't looking for anything in particular - I was hoping to buy some cheese for my friend who does my eyelashes (the one who gave me the dark chocolate Easter Egg) but apart from that, it was all to play for! Thankfully there was a cheese stand just inside the door so I bought her some lovely smoked cheddar and that went into the rucksack. That's another thing you should always bring - a rucksack or a sturdy bag. I'd also recommend bringing a cool bag as there are a lot of meats and cheeses to buy, as well as other food that should be kept cool. The show is huge and can take you a few hours to go round, plus however long it takes you to get back home and if you want to spend any additional time in Birmingham, that's a lot of time your food will be at room temperature...
My Boyfriend happily spied a number of amazing things to eat - Scotch Eggs (which I've had before and are absolutely amazing), sausage rolls (ditto) and I thought the macaroon stand looked particularly appetising. So, once again, this is where my will power had to kick in. As my Boyfriend is so laid back, he is fine with me stealing a corner of his food, so I had a little bit of his scotch egg, a bite of his sausage roll and tried 5 different macaroon flavours whilst he ate the rest - Surprisingly, I didn't feel I had missed out as I had tried everything, but didn't want more than a mouthful as I wasn't hungry and there were better things I could be eating. The macaroons were very nice however, especially the Nutella one :-)
As well as buying different foods, I found some brilliant Christmas presents for friends and family. I manage to buy 5 different stir fry sauces for my friend who had her gastric bypass operation in December and cooks a lot of healthy stir frys nowadays, as well as some magic pens for my 2 year old Niece and some 'soap sponges' for my sisters (they're a sponge... but they have soap in them... crazy stuff).
After a while, I did find I was getting hungry, so the mission became 'Find Imogen something healthy to eat for lunch', however I didn't need to worry, as I found one of my favourite fish on a stand - KIPPERS! Lots and lots of kippers and also, lots of other different types of fish. As we went to the show on the Sunday, they were keen to get rid of the kippers, so they were selling them '5 kippers for £5' and who can argue with such a brilliant bargain? I also bought a selection of fish that was ready to eat, which I eagerly consumed a few minutes later when sitting down in one of the cafe areas.
As well as the BBC Good Food Show being on, there was also the 'Gardeners World' section which had stalls both inside and outside. Whilst my Boyfriend isn't overly keen on gardening or gardens in general, he was happy to walk around with me and I'm glad he was.. as I found a new friend! I think I've mentioned before my love of Peacocks - I have a peacock feather tattoo, I have a number of peacock antiques and I've also got a lot of peacock feathers in vases at my house. I think they're utterly beautiful birds and for some reason, I'm really attracted to them. As such, when my boyfriend pointed me in the direction of a peacock garden ornament.. I couldn't say no, so he's now proudly displaying his feathers in my garden, next to the bird feeder :-)
Gardeners world is certainly also worth a walk around. The flowers are absolutely beautiful and there are a lot of the same exhibitors that also go to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Thankfully, it was a rather mild and sunny day, so we didn't get any rain and were able to walk around, enjoying the sites (and indeed the smells!) of the summer flowers.
So, if you are planning your first visit to a BBC Good Food Show, or indeed, any food show, here are my top tips for making sure you get the most out of your visit.
1. Wear sensible shoes - We did over 10,000 steps today easily, you don't want to wear shoes that rub or hurt your feet as you'll be regretting your choice early on :-)
2. Get there relatively early if you can - The earlier you arrive, the closer the car park you'll be directed to. This means less walking to the actual venue, and you'll get more time inside with less people.
3. Bring at least one sturdy bag with you - Trying to stuff flimsy carrier bags into other carrier bags, into other bags that just break, isn't very fun. Bring a bag you know can carry a lot of weight in case you buy bottles or large quantities of things.
4. Bring a cool bag - You may buy cheese, meat or other things that need to be kept cool. This means you don't have to rush back to stick things in the fridge straight away.
5. Pay for your parking ticket when you arrive - There are parking ticket operators everywhere, if you pay when you arrive, there are no queues. If you pay when you leave, you'll be standing in line with everyone else who wants to buy their ticket and leave.
6. Take cash with you - A lot of places do accept cards, however some don't, especially the smaller vendors. There are cash machines, but they charge you money to make a withdrawal.
7. Plan a route and stick to it - If you wander around aimlessly, you might miss things you later regret. We tend to walk up and down a section and do it in a regimented style, meaning we look at everything and miss nothing.
8. Take photos of stands that interest you - You may not wish to buy something on the day, but a lot of exhibitors have websites and Facebook pages. If you're interested in a product, make sure you get the details - I find taking a photo of them can help jog my memory :-)
9. Don't feel guilty if you eat things - It happens once every 6 months, the food is amazing and it's a great day out.
I love food, I love going to the BBC Good Food Show and I won't feel guilty for that. No matter how much weight I lose, I don't think I'm ever going to lose my enthusiasm for cooking, smelling, tasting and eating - So I am not going to dampen my passion, I'm just going to make healthy choices most of the time.
Roll on the Winter Show.... :-)