Stephen gives us his humorous account of his recent trip to Targu Mures, Transylvania to attend the famous 2014 Dracula Golden Trophy Dog Show:
That oh so familiar noise starts…
Why is it when you sleep normally you wake in the early hours and can feel quite refreshed! but its the opposite this morning!!
Had everything packed, the night before as my brain is not too successful at these hours of the day.
A reasonable drive down, could not believe that this time of the year all Luton car parks were full, (on site).
Got on the bus to drive into the airport, gasping for coffee…..
It was manic, every traveller in the world wanted to be herded through the channels at security, how many times do they have to be told about their liquids and they still protest WHY?!
I do feel sorry for the children it’s not the best time of the day to travel.
Shoes on or off thats always a good one….
Once through a bit of relaxation and screen watching. The trick as we know is to move on cue as that gate number comes up, to try and get pole position, in the non payment non upgrade lines, but at least get onto the tarmac and head for the tail of the plane, never take the very last seats as they are a bit short! Anyone my size needs all the help you can get…
As we pulled away people giving the cross and a bit of praying, a burst of power and we are up, certainly sunny up here.
2 hours 45 mins later we bump down on Transylvania turf and decant from the plane, but not before the mandatory Eastern Clap, to say thank you to the driver!
Through customs nice and easy and through into 26 degrees nice and easy too…
There was Romi my friend and Salters key to the Romanian Sales. As usual he has trouble locating the pay machine, but we are soon on our way…
A 20 minute drive through amazingly empty roads and we are at the hotel that he had reserved for me…
Judges from all over the world were descending into Targu Mures, even as far away as India.
Checked in, quick shower, and a bite to eat, catching up on the local situation and how the building of the show was doing.
Romi had many things to do as well as the setting of the stand, as he is also Vice President of the Show.
The rest of the day was spent building, stocking and adjusting. I had brought two new drop banners which were 2 ft wide and 10 ft deep: “SALTERS ULTRA PREMIUM DOG FOODS” and they looked great! Even better when we had found a ladder to climb and adjust the electric cable they were hanging from that was supplying the power to the lighting…
Hello HEALTH AND SAFETY HAH!!! Then it happened there was Romi up this ladder 6ft 3″ and well built, the ladder started to slip it wasn’t locked in! Down he came using me to break his fall (he had broken his leg two months before) my thumb got jammed in the ladder and then wrenched! What a pair we were…..Still – not too bad – we picked ourselves up, brushed down, didn’t quite know what to do with my thumb but I am sure some alcohol later will help tremendously.
All set now for tomorrow…. a few drinks to say hello to the rest of the Dracula event team, bite to eat and bed!
7am Saturday morning came around, amazingly hard bed and a great night’s sleep, well I could have slept on a bed of nails I was so tired… The show was within a good walk, so off I went, only trouble was I had no pass to get in.
A very nice lady let me in, even though I jokingly offered my shoes as deposit, probably didn’t fit! Everyone was in good spirits, I met some more well-known faces from last year and we were off to a good start. Our Stand looked great and we were ready. There were six rings that were active all day and into the evening the judging was constant and there were a further 300 entries on top of last year’s numbers and I had seen vehicles from all over: Finland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Russia, Hungary, Germany, Slovakia, Cz Republic, obviously Romania and more. I was meeting lots of people that had tried my dog food last year and were getting brilliant results, very happy, far better results than their previous foods and these were the big brand names!! It’s great when people are so enthusiastic and love their dogs and yes they tried and trusted “Salters”.
Halfway through the morning, the place was filling up and then the girls arrived, as before like last year these three girlies put on their new “Salters Ultra Premium Dog Foods” shirts and went and mingled in the crowds, handing out leaflets and sending them across to speak with myself and Romi so between us we had it covered in both languages.
Lots of samples were given out and lots were tasted and eaten in front of the potentials! My favourite line to them was that as I know how good our food is, how well made it is and that we buy our own ingredients and make our own food… so I will eat it, the result being…..
“My nose stays moist, I can cock my leg, and if I had a coat on top it would be shiny!” (I have a balding head!!)
The darkness came… remember we are in Transylvania!!! The prize giving for the days events started about 8pm for all the catagories, this finished with a display, fighting knights and then the rise of DRACULA from a bed carried in by the knights, it was truly an event and the crowd cheered and a great day was done.
We wrapped up the stand and finished about 12.30 midnight. We went off to eat, but I think everyone was pretty dead on their feet… That bed was calling as another day tomorrow had already started…
I had a bit of luck…. in speaking to Ramona, Romis lady accountant and (car key finder!!!!) I met her brother Florian, great guy – he is a glider instructor and said that he would be happy to show and explain about gliding if I was interested in meeting him at the nearby airfield Sunday morning at 7am. I found the airfield and met with him, he duly explained about the different types of gliders and said next time I come to Transylvania he would take me for a flight.
As we were walking across the airfield, I saw this Russian 1946/7 Bi Plane called an Antonov2, this apparently was a torpedo launching plane / paratrooper carrier, but today just takes parachutists up to jump. I asked if I could take a photo of it, to which he agreed and then let me inside to take more shots… I was sitting in the pilot’s seat when I noticed the parachutists walking towards me so thought I had better retreat, no he said stay there but you must sit next to the pilot as you are going up!!!
This machine started with lots of bangs, miss-firings, and a lagg as the twelve cylinders all got in line…..away we went down the runway – all I was witnessing was pylons and a fertilizer factory ahead, as the joystick being pulled into my stomach, but the pilot didn’t seem distressed, that my body may be hampering the lift off! With the paddles at my feet and the controls at my fingertips I was BIGGLES !! as we veered with a roll to the right avoiding the pylon we were climbing… by the 1500 metre point they were jumping ship! What a sight and what a privilege.
We hung around for about 10 minutes and then descended well more than that – we were dropping like a stone, had that giant oil patch under the plane got anything to do with our decent?!
We landed fast and very smoothly – what a pilot – well done. I thanked everybody and, riding high on endorphins returned back to the hotel to change for the day’s events.
I entered the show, this time with my pass, but they were all very nice.
Another busy day meeting lots of very interesting people, who were keen to listen and ask polite questions, one man in particular, from South Africa, with a young Ridgeback, who told a story of his last Ridgeback who had been bitten out there by a snake and died, he felt if he could have got to his dog in time he may have been able to save it.
Once again the show was a great success and many thanks to everyone concerned, especially those organising, who gave “Salters” the opportunity to display and take part, a truly great show with great people.
All of the entrants seemed to be happy, people were starting to pack to make their return trip. The closing ceremonies were extremely well organised and presented lots of happy faces in what has been a very busy and well supported production.
Quick dismantle and goodbyes to the nearby stands, then back to the hotel for a shower and change and off to the main hotel for the final evening’s festivities…. a fantastic display of foods both hot and cold buffet for probably 80 to 100 people, some of our UK establishments should go and take notes! This was now the time when everyone’s hair was let down, all you had to watch out for was low flying BATS!
Midnight to 1am soon came and so did the thought of getting up at 3am….. as before: bag packed, razor and tooth brush left out and off to bed, alarm on, ‘phone alarm on, hotel alarm booked, taxi booked.
Oops 5 minutes late for the taxi, phone ringing, that bed was so damn comfortable… Whisked off to the airport obviously not much on the road just big lorries, I wonder how much sleep they had, especially as they wandered a bit as we overtook!!
Checked in: coffee coffee coffee, typical at security – bag too big wheels wouldn’t go in and they wanted to argue and charge, all I needed at this ungodly hour, quick thinking turn it upside down and stand on it! 18 stone will push most things South!
Dropping down through the clouds to Luton after 3hrs…. thinking 7am means 2 1/2 hrs home and then to the office…. still dropping – no land, still dropping, were we ever going to see land?? Still in clouds then BANG! We hit tarmac, thick fog, not cloud and no end of the wing tip was visible, well at least we had landed if all but a bit of a shock… clapping ensued!!!
3 hours to fly… 4 1/2 hours to drive… well done LITTLE CHIEF!!
All photos from the winners’ classes can be found on the Dracula Golden Trophy 2014 site… and/or on Facebook well done to you all.