Firstly, yes, I’m back safely from my big trip away to London. On Friday morning six of us headed out from darkest Cornwall to the capital to attend Seni 08, the martial arts expo. Having been a passenger for the previous two years it was my turn to drive one of the cars this time, and that Friday was a long day. I left the house just before 8.30 in the morning – I had to go and do a pickup before we all met up – and we pulled into the hotel car park at around 6.30 that evening. Ten hours on the road took its toll on me and my back which was already sore, and that first sprawl out on the bed when I got there was absolute bliss. A hot and very powerful shower later and we all headed out to the same Chinese resturant that we visited last year, Yi-Ban.
Full of food and a couple of beers we headed back to the hotel for some Pool and a bit of a natter and chill-out in one of the rooms. On of the collective was feeling a little tired, despite not having to drive, and having already accepted a £20 bet that he wouldn’t be the first to fall asleep promptly…. fell asleep. There’s both photographic and video evidence, and the poor unsuspecting person was then subject to having shaving foam put all over him while he slept soundly. Trying to stifle my laughter so as not to wake him up was very difficult and really hurt!
The next day we were all up bright and early, got loaded up on breakfast (and I mean loaded up!) headed over to ExCel for the event. It was like we’d only been there the week before it was so familiar, so as we walked down the concourse to the halls where we expected it to be, we were pretty surprised to see big open doors with a ring set up and lots of stands…. it’d moved since last year and there was no queue at all! We just walked straight in. That first day was pretty busy, everyone did a lot of shopping and watched the displays. The highlight shows for me were Team Shaolin, the monks from Shaolin Temple China and the Commandos (they put on a great demo!). I did most of my present shopping on Saturday too, I think I actually came away with more presents than stuff for myself! Everyone was pretty shattered by the time the day was over, so in the evening we just chilled out in the hotel and ate at the restaurant in there. Rather than the 2am finish of the night before, I was in bed by about 10 watching The Abyss on TV and dozing off!
Up again at 7am the next morning, another hearty breakfast and back over the to expo. Having done the majority of our shopping the day before, watching some fighting was on the agenda. The Gracie Invitational was on so I watched some good grappling for the first while. I really enjoyed it, it was such a divertion from the stuff I do and see every day. I’d really like to try some grappling and lock work, learning how to feel the shift in balance and everything else. I also watched more Muay Thai, a bit of MMA and some of the freestyle stuff, which was running really late and seemed to only be under-18s. There may have been adults later, but come 3pm we did the last of our shopping and headed back to the cars.
I wasn’t expecting to be home until midnight or later, allowing for traffic hold-ups and stops, but luckily the other driver and I had the same idea – get home as fast as possible. We decided to take the A303 home, the old coast road, and I’m so glad we did. Although it’s only A-road almost the whole way home, it’s far more interesting driving than the motorway, and surprisingly fast. We didn’t stop until Exeter, four hours after setting off, and then headed for home after something hot to eat. I staggered through my front door at about 10pm, six and a half hours after setting out from London, and was turned into a total zombie. I couldn’t form a sentence, couldn’t eat anything and when I tried to have a drink of water I missed my mouth and poured it all over myself :S. One hot shower later and I was in bed, later than I wanted to be but I slept straight through.
It was a great weekend, I always like getting away with the people I train with for a few days with no training at all, it’s always good fun. It was utterly exhausting however, and if I put my head down on my desk right now I think I’d be asleep within minutes. My back is absolutely killing me as I thought it might, but wild horses couldn’t keep me from training tomorrow night! I don’t care if they have to drag me out of the dojang after because I can’t walk, back or no back, I’m training.
I’m exhausted, broke and sore, but I still have that spark, and I’m already counting down the days until I’m headed London-ward again!