BUY SOME TIGHTS. SAVE THE PLANET

We look at the sudden arrival of the FourTwentyTwo company from North Macedonia, and their range of biodegradable tights and hosiery and ask – are Millennials going to buy this?

The phrases “ecologically friendly” and high volume fashion – don’t really go hand in hand. Cheap as chips ladies fashions, designed to be thrown away after just one or two outings, even if they last that long, – are the hallmarks of so many teenage buying patterns with their limited budgets. And the focus of high level brands with their focus on “technology”, usually comes at a high price tag, because it’s high tech. It’s cool.

Or maybe it isn’t. Launched just a few weeks ago in London, the FourTwentyTwo company message is that is that ecological and looking after the planet is a millennial focus, and that their biodegradable range of tights with aloe vera extract – and their antibacterial tights with green tea extract – are spot on in the current mindset of people of all ages.

Sure, there are some compelling stats; the Presentation that Sanja at FourTwentyTwo sends me, has a solid business case for where this aspect of fashion is going. And it has one big advantage over others, which is that the Four Two Two range is both fashionable, but it is also a volume business that is in tune with our desire to lower fossil fuel and plastic consumption.

And whilst there are plenty of domestic producers of plant based garments or food, they tend to be hidden away, almost niche. This launch, looking for retailers and commercial partners – is bold and open.

Full details of the FourTwentyTwo offering and their discussion about plant use, can be seen at: https://fourtwentytwo.eu/ 

Registration opens for Speciality & Fine Food Fair 2022

Nicola MacDonald has written to us to tell us excitedly about the upcoming Food Fair in London. I’ll drink to that. What she says is this:

Visitor registration has opened for Speciality & Fine Food Fair as the event prepares to welcome the speciality food industry back to Olympia London on 5-6 September 2022, with visitors able to register to attend here. 

Speciality & Fine Food Fair is an annual trade show celebrating independent, artisan and craft food & drink suppliers from across the UK and internationally. Each year the show attracts quality buyers from key sectors in the speciality and fine food industry, including key decision-makers from the worlds of retail, catering and wholesale. They have the chance to meet with new-to-market businesses in The Discovery Zone, unearth sustainable businesses in the Sustainability Zone, discuss the latest speciality food trends on the Food for Thought Stage and explore an unparalleled collection of unique suppliers across the show floor.

The Fair will invite independent retailers, farm shops, delis, high-end caterers, speciality wholesalers and more to discover the very latest new products and trends in the world of speciality and fine food & drink and to enjoy an industry-leading seminar programme across three stages.   

As always, the event will be an unparalleled showcase of innovation in the British food & drink market, from established speciality brands to start-ups in their early years of operation, plus an opportunity to meet with unique international food & drink brands from countries including Belgium, France, South Korea, Italy and the Netherlands, plus regions such as the Caribbean and West & Central Africa.  

Speciality & Fine Food Fair Awards judge, management consultant Bruce Langlands, comments: “Speciality & Fine Food Fair is the annual event that has become a focal point in London’s food calendar. It is an amazing platform for producers, suppliers and retailers to launch new products and share industry knowledge.”  

One of the Fair’s most popular returning features is the Discovery Zone, an area dedicated to food & drink brands which have been operating for less than three years. The bustling Zone has become one of the most highly anticipated gems of the Fair and has served as a launchpad for many successful and well-known businesses. 

Speciality & Fine Food Fair Event Manager Nicola Woods explains: “The Discovery Zone is a must-attend for visitors to the Fair. It’s a fantastic opportunity to discover unique, new-to-market products and see first-hand the innovative start-ups beginning to make their mark on the industry.” 

Among the businesses taking part in the Discovery Zone 2022 are G&Tea, a tea-distilled gin brand, plant-based chewing gum Oh My Gum, luxury free-from ice cream producer Mama Dolce, and blueberry wine Blue Aurora.  

The Food for Thought stage at the Fair returns to cover some of the most pressing issues facing the independent retail and speciality food community, from the power of a personalised customer experience to the road to net zero, and from 2022’s supply chain challenges to making the online model work post-pandemic.  

Visitors to the event will have the opportunity to hear insights from a wide range of industry experts and business owners including Charles Banks of thefoodpeople, Jan Robijns of The Broadway Deli & Grocery, Paul Hargreaves of Cotswold Fayre, Stephen Minall of FDReviews, Ben O’Brien of Session Kitchens and many more.  

New for 2022 is the Taste the Trends kitchen, where culinary consultant and chef Steve Walpole will be welcoming a host of industry experts to explore the latest trends, flavours and opportunities in global cuisine and using a range of products from the Fair to cook up some delicious dishes.  

Among the sessions and demonstrations in the Taste the Trends kitchen are ‘East meets West’, a look at the influence of Japanese and Korean foods and flavours on western cuisine; ‘Striving for Plant-Based Perfection’, exploring some of the revolutionary products in the plant-based space; a session with the Great Taste Supreme Champion (revealed on 5 September) in partnership with the Guild of Fine Food; and World Charcuterie Live, showcasing some of the quality cooked meats on offer at the Fair.  

“I can’t wait to be back at Speciality & Fine Food Fair, cooking up a storm with some amazing guest speakers,” said Walpole. “Join us on 5-6 September to discover some of the most exciting trends in food & drink and to sample some of the best products on offer at this year’s Fair.” 

As fantastic new drinks products continue to launch onto the market, the Drinks Cabinet at Speciality & Fine Food Fair is a one-stop-shop for visitors interested in everything from soft drinks to low & no beverages to quality spirits and beers from thriving independent breweries.  

At the centre of the Drinks Cabinet, the Inspiration Bar will see in-depth sessions across the two days from Mixology Group providing advice and guidance for visitors looking to make the most of the drinks products they stock.  

Zoe Cunliffe, Director at Mixology School commented: “We can’t wait to head back to Speciality & Fine Food Fair this September to help the Fair’s food & drink buyers learn about the very latest trends and products in the drink sector.” 

“There are a huge number of new products on the market and our session at the Fair will give retailers and wholesalers the tools to make the most out of these exciting and creative drinks offerings.” 

A full list of exhibitors and products on offer, is on the Speciality & Fine Food Fair website, where you can also register for your free ticket.

FASHION IN JULY. WHY CAN’T IT RAIN WHEN YOU WANT IT TO?

We spend the day casually talking with exhibitors at the new Pure London and Pure Origin FashionShow at Olympia London.

I am walking my dog at silly o’clock in the morning near a beach somewhere in Devon and one of my neighbours passes by.

“I’m taking the train to London, to a Conference”, I say.

“You must be out of your mind”, he says.

This is the Monday 18th July, and I should have visited the Show yesterday, but yesterday was the hottest day of the year, and even the trains weren’t running, so no – let’s go today instead. And they have promised free drinks and food at the end of the day.

Today is even hotter. I am already sticky. This is the first day ever in the UK where we have a red danger warning. The train companies say we should only go “if our journey is absolutely essential! ”

What wimps. I remember my student days working in a textile factory in Prato Italy in the summer. God that was hot! No, London will be fine. The trains have airco.

The Pure London and Pure Origin Shows, combined, are having a makeover, a resurgence, after two years away. Billed as a Show with “Real Wow Factor, and everyone is very excited, it is the start of the buying season for retailers and their suppliers, new and old.

It is a pity about the weather. They do have airco on my long distance train, but it arrives 1 hour and 40 minutes late into London. The tube also is cool. But the bus from High Street Kensington is steamy and overcrowded. The 200 yard walk to the Show entrance is stifling.

The organisers have done their best; I already have my Invitation which included the Catwalk and the free cocktails and the two courses of canapés, and the girl at Reception insists she gives me a voucher for a free cold drink.

The 200 – or so Exhibitors are fabulous. There is an immediate splash of colours and long flowing garments.

But it is 14.00 and already, nobody is interested in having any conversation whatsoever. It is not insufferable, but it is just too much of a trouble for most of the exhibitors to get up and try to be excited. Only one Exhibitor that we talked to, had an Order pad on their knee.

Yet, hidden away, in plain sight, there were some jewels of excellence.

Best was The Wicher company, a two-sister Partnership, where Inez Wicher, the designer, proudly showed me the spectacular choice of dresses and styles. Her flowing dress pictured here is one of their favourite pieces. It is their first time at the Show, they are launching in the Uk from Poland.

“People said we are expensive”, she said, worryingly. I said no, “you should focus on perceived value’ – the actual cost is not important”.

Tasha at SuzyD London, was far more pragmatic. “We are already international and it has taken years from the ground up”. We talk about everything, including scary movies.

Salvador Wowenicki, owner of the Nosugar Clothing label from Poland, had brought his young daughter to front the Stand, as she was the designer of their range. Completely different from others, they had a range of sharp women’s suits.

Zoe at the Bl-nk Stand was deep in her paperwork but had a super range of long garments, and introduced me to her design team. She smiles at me and looks up. They had done this before, they knew their customers.

Ruben at Marie Mero was a little more hesitant. “We are not sure about this” he says. The stand is deserted. But his team are smiling, and it is not anybody’s fault. It is just hard work getting up the energy to have a meaningful conversation, and so many stands are just talking among themselves.

People gravitate towards the Catwalk at 17.00 – Suzanne Ellingham is already delivering a sharp and flowing small speech and video about their plans. It is all great stuff, convincing. We exchange cards.

But I am already tired. I take a glass of Prosecco – thanks – but I can’t face another 5 hours on a train for my return journey, so I skip the canapés and the live music. I snatch a pasty from the bakery shop at Paddington station and call my wife to say I should be home sometime after 23.00.

Will I go next year? Yes of course. This Show has tremendous potential. The trick is to link it to the Wimbledon Tennis, where, as we all know, it rains every year.

LIEDER IN LONDON

We are privileged to sit on the second of two concerts, on 17th May, by Mitsui Uchida and Mark Padmore, as they explore the subtlety of songs from Beethoven and Schubert.

The Wigmore Hall – situated just behind Selfridges and in between two of the more upmarket kitchen showrooms – can be easily missed. Unless you are actively looking for its modest but classic entrance, you could be forgiven for walking by, as I have done zillions of times, – without ever knowing it is there, or even why it is there.

And that would be a pity. The Concerts that they host pretty much every evening, are a beacon of excellence, bringing to the general public, outstanding chamber music individual talent. Up-coming future stars rub shoulders with established names who are only to pleased to be on their list of “residents”.

And so it is with this “discussion” of Lieder songs. It is almost seminar in its approach and educated style. You don’t go to Wigmore Hall is you want a night out with your mates. You go almost to be educated. There are pages of Lecture Notes so to say, already neatly printed out, for you to collect, for free. It’s just that, the audience are already educated. They mill about in the modern very friendly bar, they meet their friends, they congregate in the street during the interval, eating ice cream, they exchange discussional points;

“I do think the way he did that recording was better”… and people smile and laugh.

They are still talking and smiling across the rows of nice seats, even when the House Manager announces the concert starting. It is a mix of a club for people with like minds, and my old university days where I knew the topic would be on a bigger level. Except that I used to fall asleep in those days, the girl next to me would nudge me and wake me up if I was ever asked a question. There was no chance of falling asleep in this concert, and no girl sitting next to me. I didn’t know the person sitting next to me.

If there is a misnomer, it is that the singer would be leading this concert, the accompanist doing, well, I guess, accompanying. In fact this was almost the reverse. Mark Padmore’s lyrical expression was being driven by the constant subtlety and change of direction by Mitsuko Uchida, who herself was singing silently along as she played. She controlled the narrative. Even from the start – the hesitation at the beginning, the wiping her hands on her handkerchief – before launching into the first song – it was her pressure that was pushing the recitative in the vocal line.

As an opera freak, this sort of singing was for me, a different experience, and a different audience. Whereas perhaps in say a Jazz concert we are part of the musical expression, the intimacy that is created – this concert was a recognition that we are not part of it, we are voyeurs. And we are lucky to do so, and to be there.

It is well into 30 minutes before Mark Padmore stops and talks about the philosophy of the words he is expressing – he talks about the sentiment of “being exiled from your home country” – how poignant. There is a feeling of shyness as the two of them take their applause.

I have to leave to catch my train, I gently avoid the audience who are still milling and discussing with their friends. Perhaps it is a night out with your mates after all.

IS I.P THE GLUE THAT HOLDS COMPANIES TOGETHER?

As the need and acceptance back to 2019 levels, to meet and discuss things in person, grows with every company , we visit the latest IQPC Conference on IP Management; and as the delegates told me – it’s been a while.


The view from the 7th floor of the Brewery Conference Centre, as it looks out past Sodermalarstrand, to the famous City Hall and its Blue Room – is one of the best in Stockholm.

True, local cognoscenti, or “new money” – would probably prefer something more sedate and subtle, in Stureplan, politely rubbing shoulders with chi chi shops or private client offices around Biblioteksgatan. But if you are going to invite 140 of Europe’s top experts in Intellectual Property, to congregate face to face, and give their views – then you need to show that their views matter. Nowhere does it better than a standout view of the home Nobel Prize arena.

And matter, they do. With a tag lines and discussion sessions focussing on statements such as “Bringing the IP Portfolio to Life”. And the even more direct “Creating an IP Culture which pursues, protects and leverages IP as a Core Element of Business Strategy” – these are marketing driven perspectives that despite the legal nature of the subject matter – are already embedded in the commercial future of each company.

It is a message that, if you had arrived late on the opening day, even by just a few minutes, you could have missed. Maria Mellgren, IP Director at the Essity company – stood up at around 10.00am and delivered one of probably the top three reach – out discussions of our two days together, and what she said was two fold – that companies do not recognise the importance of brand protection as part of the IP function, that if you are acquisitional, there can be a struggle of management to see where each new brand can play its part.

Or. More important, which, of your portfolio of patents – will play their part. Sure, they are all good eggs – but which are the ones that will fly?
These are commercial discussions. Ingrid Vitanen, VP of Legals at Nokia, talked about “brand enforcement” – that this was a “work in progress”.
This was a Conference where even by lunchtime on the first day, it was clear that each delegate, each protagonist, wanted to play their part. There were no shortage of provocative views, despite the friendly ambience of the occasion . And whilst, for the first few minutes of Day One – there was a clear recognition that if you are going to focus on IP – then Sweden and Stockholm is the place to do it, and the relief of being able to get back together after all these months and years – people were here not to reminisce, but to say “ok – where is this all taking us”?

For the moment, as we moved into an after-lunch discussion – the Conference moved subtly away from Commercials and into the area of Risk. Several Patent Attorneys talked to us in the earlier break, about “financing risk management”. Heidi Adler, Director International Property Rights, at Orion Corporation, spoke for several minutes about “Risk Mitigation”. We are in the Nordics after all. We don’t immediately reach for our Lawyer.

And then there was the more philosophical question – “well, why do we have IP issues at all”? Are they not suffice gently regulated?

As the day progressed into Day Two, slowly this became a discussion about risk, and reward. And is the move towards open standards, ie, where everything fits and we can each benefit from the others developments or intellectual property – the term was FRAND was mentioned several times – and the notion that, as far as legal protection was concerned – there is no simple answer. We just have to pick our battles.

Ok – fair enough.

It took way into the Conference before Felora Mofidi, Global Head of Intellectual at DSX, voiced something that many of us had been thinking, but few had mentioned sufficiently – that, – if we believe in the value proposition commercially of our IP, then this demands a change of culture. Only 30% of delegates seemed to “get” this point, but it remained one of the standout moments, subtly thrown in to the mix of argument, but it represented the journey of IP from the purely legal patent management, to the realisation that corporate value depends on everyone getting on the same train, so to say.

It was a key moment, and fitted the direction of the Conference as a whole. As Day Two talked about “Capitalising on Future IP Opportunities “ – I quietly slipped away.. I had an evening meeting further north.

THOUGHT LEADERSHIP IN THE FOOD INDUSTRY

At a time of global increases in prices for every type of basic food, we look at the upcoming Hotel, Restaurant & Catering Show ask; who is taking the lead here, – what does this mean for people in the food industry, and for you and me as mere consumers?

To judge by the hype – maybe nothing. This Hotel Restaurant and Catering event has brought together a range of business leaders, chefs, and tech-savvy people, to talk about, well, just about everything. In particular, the focus at the Tech X Stage will look at AI, as a way of solving the problems of lack of staff.

This is an interesting gambit, because if by chance – we are to have an influx of Ukrainian youngsters – and why not! – then where does this place IT in the grand scheme of things. Are we replacing Polish and Latvian baristas with their equivalent brothers and sisters from Nikolaev.?

So, nothing changed there, then. And yet, the key themes of the Conference are “innovation”, and “profitability”.

It’s not before time. After three years of drought and COVID lockdowns, is this a time of harvest, and if so, where is that new market coming from?

The difficulty, -according to noted Swedish chef Kristin Emilsson, who took her degree in food management in London – is that it is really about the costs facing the suppliers, rather than what the public would like to have.

She says “Obviously it is general costs – but what about staffing?” Her view is that the rapid changes in the world order have led to an acute shortage of chefs, who since lockdown, have now gone and found other jobs elsewhere”.

At the Hotel Restaurant and Catering event this Monday, we expect to see a range of new ideas, new ways of coping with these unforeseen challenges.

We expect to report further in due course.

The Conference can be viewed at: https://www.hrc.co.uk, from this Monday 21st March.

Human Nature. Just the same as before.

We take a fresh look at this new interpretation of the standout 2014 production of Mozart’s “Cosi Fan Tutte” and ask, as it returns to the London Coliseum here in March 2022; how come the the mix of Women and Men and Mozart, never loses its appeal?

There is a young business lady waiting hurriedly inside the Chanel Shop at St Pancras as I happen also to be stepping inside for something. We exchange a few words of greeting. She says that she is running for a train to Darlington. I tell her I am en route to Cosi, at the ENO.

“Oh!! I just love that opera!” she says. “I would love to come – when is it on next?” I quickly look at my ENO app, and smile give her some alternative future dates etc.

I am taking an early dinner at the restaurant just up the road from the London Coliseum and the maitre d’ squeezes me in at a single table just alongside two ladies who are well dressed, with obligatory bottle of chilled white wine, and they are talking animatedly.

“We are going to the Opera!” , they say.

“Really!” – I reply.

“Yes – we have not been for ages, and we are SO looking forward to going out again, And “Cosi Fan Tutte” is one of our favourites.

There is a lot of psychology talked in the media about the darkness of human nature within Cosi… and are we talking about all Women, or all Men, or all relationships – or just a few, and my answer to that is; Come on, guys – this is a Funny Story. That’s it.

The appeal of its story and attraction, is indeed based on several levels, and I will come to that shortly – but people do not come to the ENO production of Cosi Fan Tutte because of they want a seminar on human nature. If they sat down and thought about it, they come because they want to enjoy the constant melody, the incredible harmonisation, the forcefulness – and subtlety – of the direction, the spot on note perfect singing. People going to an ENO Mozart Opera want to be entertained and feel good, despite its underlying messages. I found myself still singing the tunes long after getting my return train from Paddington.

This production is the same as before in 2014 in many ways, the same Coney Island fairground set. There is the same Fortune Teller cabin, redolent of Tom Hanks in “Big”. The same concept of circus gymnasts skills ensemble. It is slapstick and very, very funny.

The additional playing the Ukraine National Anthem, before curtain up – added to that sense of absolute importance. It reminded me all those years ago of the Don Giovanni first night, on the first night of ENO at the Coliseum, – when the Russians had just invaded Prague. No, some things don’t change.

This performance gave a shop window to several of the Harewood Artists who are the future of ENO Operas. Nardus Williams as Fiodiligi is superb as soon as she starts singing; Benson Wilson is just great to listen to. But stealing the show, so to say, has to be Neal Davies as Don Alfonso, always in charge of proceedings, never losing his grip – and his synergy with Soraya Mafi, whilst not as crisp as Mary Bevan originally, was spot on note perfect. I think she can be even more acidic and sharp in her storytelling.


But what took all of our breath away – was the sheer complexity and delivery of the close harmony. It never let up. The complex intertwining of medallic lines, each protagonist singing as if their lives depended on it. It was absolutely glorious.

My colleague at the end of Act 1, stood up at the Interval and looked at me, in a state of shock. We all know that ENO performances and direction are always on the edge, the exploration of new angles and avenues. But nobody does Mozart better when it comes to opera for the people.

There are still a couple more performances at my time of writing this Note. Well worth making a point of going.

IS FINANCE JUST ABOUT TECHNOLOGY?

We sit in on the recent Future of Finance Conference at London Wembley, from the expert people at IQPC, and congratulate them on a great bringing together of like minded people.

I push open the revolving doors at the Hilton and walk across the soft carpet. It is quite silent, very few people. There is no signage of the conference but it’s obvious the way to go is upstairs. I follow the escalators up two floors and there we are. The girls at the Conference Reception smile, hand me my badge – “sorry, what was your name.. BLOSS?”…. And suddenly, dressed in a royal blue suit and smiling broadly, Richard Walls, Event Director, strides across.

“Richard, great to see you! How was the journey?”

We have never met before in our life. But that does not matter. We are among friends now. IQPC may not have been the first, in these post Covid days – but they were the first that mattered. And if there were some misconceptions, some blind alleys, this Conference was everything that a meeting of minds should be. Groups of varied and disparate financial business leaders mixed with vendors of solutions who had seen all this before, were experienced, who knew the game, knew what to say.

There was a feeling of relief, that we could finally share experience together in a way that was never possible in the far more blunt Zoom and Teams environments. It was not a large event – some 50 or so delegates, and a dozen vendors, but there was never a sales or pushy environment, this was almost Scandinavian in the focus on simple discussion leading to business discussion.

The programme was mixed – but focussed on technical as opposed to commercial.- And even when two of the speakers had to cancel last-minute – there was such goodwill in the audience and protagonists, for others to step up and join the debate.

It was very well organised and structured; the Day One afternoon revolving Group sessions allowed us all to cherry pick the areas of knowledge that we wished to look at. This was a meeting point of shared knowledge. I particularly liked the practical points that Kevin from Siemens Gamesa alluded to, and David Myers’s from Brewin was equally practical in his comments.

Typical was the early morning round table on Day Two, which looked principally at ESG – a concept that few of us had ever considered. It was tough start to the day. After an hour, Richard Walls leant forward from the back and said “we are covering a lot of questions that we had not thought of; we need to plan additional days like this”.

Yes, they do. People nodded their head in agreement at this comment. There was little mention of the impact of people and personnel in the financial changes that were being discussed, the cultural differences that “looking into the future” that cultural differences will bring.

But that again, did not matter.

I got the distinct view that, given enough time – we could have solved the worlds problems. It was a throwaway but so relevant thought on my part.

A Text arrived on my iPhone. I walked away from the huddle taking coffee. My co-Director, Irina, messages me she had just arrived at the Ukraine/Moldova border, from her home in Kiev. Safe at last. Among friends.

QUESTION; WHY IS THE PUB ON THE CORNER, THE CORNERSTONE OF LIFE IN GENERAL?

We review the revival of the Puccini opera “La Boheme”, at ENO in London just a few days ago,  and ask – is this a simple story, a view from a distance so to say, where you and I are looking on almost against our will, through some window  – or a classic love story, that has stood the test of time?

Perhaps it is both. 

I never thought during this performance, that I was in the grip of a serious romantic affair, as say I have been in Madame Butterfly, or Carmen. But I did feel that I was a voyeur, and unable to change any of the outcome.  I knew Mimi would die. And the facts are these:

If you are looking for an Opera that mirrors life in all its seediness and lack of hope – then the Puccini classic, “la Boheme” would not be a bad choice. Created just a few years after the Emile Zola equally classic novel “L’Assommoir” (the boozer…), if you want to get down and dirty amongst the very poor, well Paris in the late 19th century, is where it’s at.

The story is simple enough. Art for art’s sake does not pay the bills. Mimi, who by that time, is already freezing to death, finds love with Rodolfo – who then gets jealous, – and it doesn’t end happily ever after. It’s an opera, after all.

For once, the tension that we normally expect and associate with ENO production, did not readily surface until Act 3-  and yet all the classic ENO properties were there; very tight production, wonderful orchestra; great melodic delivery. For me, it took the arrival of Louise Alder, as Musetta, before things started to happen; her approach is almost Mozartian, very staccato and pin-point, it cuts through perhaps the saccharine lines of her colleagues.

And that’s unfair, because this production has stood the test of time. My graphic above shows the programme of La Boheme in 2010, and nothing has changed. 

This is an Opera and performance where you can take anybody who does not know about opera, but wants a classic music evening. Obviously, there is a new class of performers, if you like,  a new generation.  Ben Glassberg  excelled in the power of conducting the ENO orchestra. And there was great interplay, particularly Act1. If I was feeling distant in watching the story unfold, then it was also nice to be entertained, as opposed to be educated. 

The thing  is – the story, and its delivery, just works almost on autopilot. You sit back and let ENO deliver. And if there are questions, such as; “are Mimi and Rodolfo actually in love?” – well, could be….  And “why does Mimi have to die”? – well, that’s what happens, it’s the wrong part of  Paris at the end of the 19th century. It’s a story, and these are the facts.

IT’S HOLIDAY TIME – ON A BIG BOAT!

As gaps are starting to appear in the COVID stranglehold – we look at the background to getting back on the water, with a visit to the CRUISE SHIP INTERIORS EXPO in London Excel, – and what we can expect when we travel.


If you are going to have a Conference about Cruise Liners, then basing yourself by the side of the Thames, and just two tube stops down from the O2 Arena, is not a bad place to start. Adjacent also to City Airport, and equally close to Tower Bridge and some of the richest mooring spots in an already wealthy city financial area – it’s not hard to see why the organisers of this new Event, chose the Excel as their stopping off point.


They all had a party, the night before. If they say that every vertical market is like a small village – everybody knows everybody – then this was the ambience as you walk through the frankly deserted hallways of Excel until you come across Hall 3, and step inside the Trade Show area.


Perhaps the exhibitors and organisers, were expecting more? It didn’t help that just two days earlier, the UK went into a new series of COVID travel restrictions. More than one exhibitor confided that they had to fork out more than £100.00 on a sudden PCR test, that had not been made apparent before travel.


The chaotic travel scenario alas extended into the event itself. And this was a pity. Because CRUISE SHIP INTERIORS EXPO 21 – was actually rather good! There were some very, very inventive new products in the space-saving category, clever hospitality devices rubbed shoulders with travel agencies – and every Stand had at least one major decision-maker resident. Every conversation, was a productive experience.


I loved the Nautilus bedroom pod from Matalika; and the rather interesting invention from Icecooldesign, The nice lady at Franz Fertig showed me how to create a sofa-bed, without pretty much lifting a finger.


People come to Trade Fairs, to do business. There were far more European vendors, than British, and they had travelled there for a reason. There were more conversations in Italian – than English. Everybody was happy to have a chat.


The comparative lack of people created an intimacy – you could progress in a conversation beyond the usual “meet and greet”.


For that reason, although the Fair was not large in size, by comparison to others at Excel – this was a more worthwhile experience.


There was enough space not to need absolutely a mask, all the time. Just to be on the safe side, I put mine on, when re-emerging onto the Excel hallway. I think we are in for the long haul with COVID into 2022, but hopefully long gone by the time we all get back for the same event in 2022. I’ll be among friends.