It’s a very long way to Oxford, and it’s about the same distance back again. I am quite new to the CLA game fair, and last year was my first year. Overwhelmed as I was by the sheer scale of the show at Ragley Hall and by having accidentally bought ferrets, I headed south this year with an air of trepidation. I had no idea what to expect, and having slept (or failed to sleep) in the worst hotel in the British Isles the night before, I was not feeling particularly strong or able to deal the inevitable hustle and bustle of the world’s biggest game fair.
As soon as I walked through the main gates, I was swallowed into staggering crowds and an oppressive heat which, being a scotsman, made my knees buckle. Within a couple of hours, I had bought up batches of ferret purse nets and had made arrangements to buy a long net system. I had visited the book shop and left with all kinds of reading material, then had been consumed by the food hall. It was, as last year, a totally draining and financially suicidal situation to have put myself in, and I looked on passively as I haemorraged money across the stunning parklands of Blenheim Palace.
By five o’clock, I was exhausted and broke, but satisfied at having performed surprisingly well during my annual bout of retail therapy. Used to checking snares, lying out for foxes and walking the hill, seeing thousands of people and being buzzed by an avro lancaster amounted to some form of psychologically damaging sensory overload, and as I headed home, I was quite grateful that this fantastic and collosal experience only takes place once a year.