Monday, 16 March 2015

Whale of a time

Saturday was Whalefest2015, and as you may have gathered from my previous post I was a tad excited! Despite working until 03:00 in the morning, after a couple of hours sleep I was at the train station from my 0705 train to Brighton!

On the way the wife and I planned our day from the schedule I had printed off, and I realized that if I had my way we would literally be in lecture halls all day! As in any good marriage compromise was the way forward so with our plan in place we walked down the hill from the station along West Street to the international centre.

Map showing route from the station to Whalefest2015

We queued for a very short time, being some of the first visitors of the day and we were in. We were immediately faced with a life-size inflatable Orca... We naturally had our picture taken with the model and moved on around the venue to look at some of the stands before our first talk started at 10am. We stood and watched a Pirate band for a while who were excellent in every aspect, great delivery, great musicianship and great dedication.
Life size inflatable Orca, with human size comparison!

There was a vast number of travel operators with stands and knowing where to start was a little daunting. Kay and I were drawn to a Hebridean Cetacean Cruise operator as we are looking to visit Scotland and figured tying it in with Whale and Dolphin(and pelagic birds) seemed a cracking idea. Hebridean Whale Cruises were extremely helpful and run some amazing looking tours, we entered their contest to win a holiday and a cuddly Puffin and moved on.

I bumped in to my friend Trevor Codlin who was volunteering for the weekend and he gave us some great advice for handling the book signing crowds. We headed up to watch Steve Backshalls' opening talk which was rammed. I wanted to see the talk after his so found a seat and waited, everyone else poured out of the theatre hall after Steve had finished and headed to the stalls. Lucky I waited as Steve came out and was chatting to a few people, so I took my opportunity to beat the queues later and get my book signed then!

Steve Backshall and I at Whalefest2015

Steves' Signature in my copy of his book

After this coup we watched John Hargrove, former Orca trainer at SeaWorld and one of the guys who contributed to Blackfish. During Johns talk there was a small protest from 2 American women followed by 3 American women making wild accusations about Johns' work at SeaWorld.... the fact that there were 5 Women in total all of American origin lead many audience members and indeed many staff to believe this may have been a set up by SeaWorld, in a vain attempt to discredit John Hargrove.
After Johns talk we decided to look around some more of the stands, I came across Monty Halls signing Books and DVDs and snaffled myself his new DVD box set and had him sign it for me. The series I really remember Monty for is the BBC series 'Great Barrier Reef' which, if you haven't already, I suggest you go and get! 
Meeting Monty Halls
We then headed back to catch Will Travers OBE. Will is the director of the Born Free Foundation, and a vocal advocate of the 'Empty the Tanks' movement. Wills' speech was unfortunately interrupted by Technical issues but was none the less extremely moving and very interesting.
My friend Dan had asked me to get his son Lewis a Deadly 60 book and try and get Steve Backshall to sign it too, so after half of Steves next talk we went and queued up for the book signing, lucky we did as it was limited to 70 places (of which we were #40) and many people were disappointed. Steve remembered me from earlier in the day and we had another brief conversation as he signed Lewis' book and my own son Bradleys' book.
We wandered round a few more stands and then headed back to the Discovery lounge, we caught the end of Donal Macintyres debate with local MP's and then watched Monty Halls and James Brickell. This was awesome, I love Monty Halls he is just a genuine guy(and played Rugby!) and I really enjoyed hearing about the making of 'The Great Barrier Reef' from him and James(series producer).
After Monty came what I was really keen to see, Gordon Buchannan and Steve Backshall sat having a chat on stage. Gordon is a real hero of mine as is Steve so to have them chatting about one of my all time favourite documentaries 'Lost Land of the....' was a real treat.
After this Kay and I had a final wander around the stands, chatting to some lovely people and enjoying the atmosphere of the event. We rounded the day off on the Beach looking at the Cetacean Graveyard art installation which is quite simply breathtaking and extremely troubling at the same time! Each cross representing a cetacean that has died in Captivity, it was carried on inside the venue as well with over 3000 crosses being erected in total!
All in all, an amazing day! Next year I will be doing both days and partying in Brighton in the evening!!!

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