Last Thursday, my friend and I had a day out at Olympia, West London to visit the spring edition of the Ideal Home Show. I'd acquired free tickets once again, through MoneySupermarket.com and it provided a good excuse for an inexpensive jolly. My friend was particularly glad of a day out, as she'd had to attend a funeral the day before and it definitely helped to take her mind off it.
I decided on this occasion that I would be a bit more organised. On previous visits, we have tended to just wander around, getting lost mostly and missed many of the demonstrations on the various stages, as we didn't know exactly what was going on where at any point in time.
This visit, I made the effort to print off timetables for the various stages and exhibit information before we went, so that we could plan our day and pick out what exactly we wanted to see, and more importantly, not miss anything that sounded interesting. I did also want to print off a map, but there wasn't one on the website, a cunning ruse to get you to buy the show programme which contains one, but we managed okay without it and there were people at various points around the exhibition that you could ask for directions and who were incredibly helpful.
We met earlier than usual this time, as I swapped dog walks with OH and we planned our day whilst travelling there on the Underground. To be honest, I don't think I picked the best of days looking at the line ups, but there were still a few things that were worth looking out for and watching.
We started off by taking a look at the entries in the Young Gardeners of the Year contest that was being staged at the show. There were 6 small gardens entered, which incorporated some beautiful and very creative ideas. Visitors could vote for their favourite gardens and although I was tempted to show loyalty to the horticultural college I attended a few years ago, my final vote went to this garden called 'Go With the Flow' by Pershore College, which incidentally and unbeknown to us before voting, won the gold medal from the competition judges.
There were so many things about this garden that I liked. The vertically planted wall, the patio made of log slices, the planting which was exquisite, with most of my favourite plants in there, including euphorbias and hellebores.
I also liked the way they used these shoes screwed to the wall. You could imagine yourself kicking off your shoes and relaxing in this garden.
Next, as we were early into the show, we decided to visit the Gap House, which was a concept house that was just 3 metres wide and had been designed to fit into a gap between two houses, such as that created by the removal of a garage or by a garden grab, which is commonly used these days in an age of housing and land shortages, especially in London. This house particularly interested me for this reason, as I often see small houses like this spring up around and about and they fascinate me.
Unfortunately, in preparing this post I have accidentally deleted all my photos from my camera and therefore (in addition to being totally hacked off about it) I can't share them with you here, but here's a picture from a brochure I brought back with me to illustrate this house.
Both my friend and I loved this house, despite it's narrowness and unusual layout. We both felt that we could live happily in it. I think that the fact that we both live in typical three storey narrow Victorian London terraced houses, helped us to feel at home in here. I was surprised at the dark paint choices for the interior walls, but I liked the dark grey and dark teal colours and it did give this home a very cosy feel. Definitely worth checking out.
One particular aspect of the interior that interested me was a fold out bed/desk that was used and I was very happy to find out where these could be purchased in this country, as I am quite interested in getting one at some point for my sewing room. These appeared in a couple of the three concept houses at the show and they are a genius space saving idea for a spare bedroom, especially when you only get occasional visitors. They are quite expensive, but can be bought in single, small double or regular double sizes. You are really paying for the design and technology with these pieces of furniture, but if you have very limited space they are a superb solution. I have seen them used in many minimalist tiny homes on YouTube.
Following our tour of the Gap House, we made our way to the Super Theatre Stage, to watch upcycler and product designer Max McMurdo (of Kirsty's Fill Your House for Free fame) demonstrate how to create some carnival alphabet lights from pallet wood, plywood, fairy lights and acrylic paint. It was good fun, if a little long winded and he got a member of the audience to create one too, who did a sterling job. I really love demonstrations such as these, which show that with a bit of thought, you can create something desirable out of something that might otherwise end up in landfill. I wish I still had my photo of these as they were really cute and I'd really like to have a go myself at making one of these, for both Little Bird and myself.
We followed this by returning to the remaining two concept houses, which were called the Home for Life and the Future Proof Home. The queues, by this time, were pretty long, but kept moving and so looked far worse than they actually were. Both were pre-fabricated homes and were interesting to walk around, but of these two larger concept houses, I much preferred the lay out of the latter as I found the layout of the Home for Life a little impractical.
Next, we visited the Smart House, set up by Virgin Media which showcases technological advances in the home, and then we headed off to Pizza Express for lunch. As we didn't spend hardly any money on this day out, we treated ourselves to a convivial and relatively inexpensive lunch in lovely surroundings.
When we resumed our journey around the show, we headed upstairs to the beauty, fashion and food areas. We started off watching the end of a fashion show (we had unfortunately missed the beginning) and then did a tiny bit of shopping in Fox's Spices, which I mentioned in my post about this show last year. They sell a huge range of spices and other culinary ingredients and condiments. I bought a small gift for a friend for Christmas, that will keep perfectly well until then.
We also picked up a goody bag, which didn't have a great deal in it save for a very small chocolate bar that is supposed to improve your eyesight!!, some sweet pea seeds and a small pack of granola which quickly became my dessert, and I proceeded to nibble it as we walked around. We did get a lovely free coffee courtesy of Virgin Media, as we were both customers of theirs, and it did create a welcome break for us, when we sat down to drink them before setting off for home. Mine was a lovely Latte by the way. (Saved me £3.50 - sometimes freebies are definitely worth having)
In all honesty, we were less interested in this part of the show and soon returned to the home improvement floor, where we realised that we had forgotten to visit the Ideal Home magazine set room interiors. These were also interesting, but having visited them, we decided that we had seen everything at the show that we wanted to see and began to make our way home.
We had a great day out, even better as it cost us very little, and I think being a bit more organised really heightened our enjoyment of it. I'd definitely do it this way again, if we go to another one. Just a pity that I lost the photos. I'm really sorry about this, as it would have made this post a whole lot more interesting.