You will be mightily relieved to hear that this isn't going to be one of those 'oh so serious' reviews about the state of our hobby, using Salute as a barometer for the turning tide of interests in this most wholesome of hobbies - I shall leave that for those who actually know what they are talking about. Instead the briefest of reflections from me this year, which rather mirrors my time spent at the show.
I was flying solo with my wingman, The Provost Marshal, unavoidably detained performing all manner of important duties at home. This was, in no small part, down to my own inability to commit to the event. A combination of it falling at the end of the holiday and not having very much pocket money to spend had me in a bit of a dither; if the sun had not shone on Saturday morning I probably wouldn't have gone!
Now whilst far from being a decrepit shell of my former self, the inevitable passing of years has taken its toll. I certainly seem to get tired more quickly and with that more grumpy and so had decided that this was going to be a whistle stop affair. The problem with that is that I forget that it takes me two and three quarter hours travelling just to cross the threshold of the event. That said, I arrived just before eleven, in time to snaffle the rather disappointingly sparse goodie bag and walk straight in - I really don't think I could have coped with the queueing system!
My first thought was how gloomy it was and the ambient lighting did cause me difficulty when I wanted to buy or read anything. I hadn't realised just how dependent I had become on my reading glasses. If I wanted to stop and look at anything closely then I needed to swap glasses, an awful faff, particularly if you were were in one of those tight passages - a glasses string for next year perhaps?
That said, I felt comfortable for most of my time there. The likes of 4Ground taking advantage of the cavernous space to allow customers to pass through their aisles more easily. This has really annoyed me in the past, to the point where I would simply walk away. Unfortunately it was the smaller companies, the ones that I would have been more interested in, that were were penned in together and subsequently made it difficult to see what they were actually about. Still a minor quibble given the logistics of the show.
With no real shopping list as such, I spent much more time looking at the games. These are always inspirational and this year was no different. From the smaller demonstration games to the larger participation ones it was clear that a huge amount of effort had gone into them and quite frankly worth the entry fee alone. That said, the rise of the undead and post apocalyptic popularity was undoubtedly to the detriment of the historical game, examples of which seemed to be down in number. I perhaps, naively, expected to see more in the way of First World War games, given the theme of the show, but alas not to be.
The annual Bloggers' meet up was rescheduled to the earlier time of 12.30pm and to be honest, I had had enough by then so it was a lovely way to round off my day. My incurable shyness got the better of me again and I really only managed to chat to those that I have known for a long time, but it was good to see some new faces so one can assume that the Blogging Community still has something to offer the hobby.
Having not bought very much at all, I then went and treated myself to some very expensive trees from 4Ground. This rather loosened my grip on the wallet and before I knew what was happening yet another rule set was being purchased, this time Saga with the Age of Crusades supplement. Who knows were this will lead?
At one point during the day, I caught myself muttering that this might be my last Salute for a while. On reflection this seems to have been a rash thought and certainly wasn't due to anything that the event itself had done. Salute remains a spectacular show, which is constantly evolving to fulfil the needs of those that attend. No, my issue was with my grumpy bag of old bones that just wanted to get home without having to sit on a train surrounded by objectionable children whose parents were seemingly oblivious to their offspring's decibel output, but that is another story!