The last time I visited a large events centre was in the spring, when my eldest bribed me to take him and a friend to a Gaming Conference in Coventry.
Fortunately, this weekend's trip to the Ideal Home Show in Manchester involved a lot less coffee drinking (I had to hang around for eight hours in a draughty cafe) and a tad more style!
All 28,000 square metres of space at EventCity was crammed with lifestyle ideas including indoor and outdoor furniture, fashion and beauty, food and technology, as well as home improvements and a show home styled by glossy magazine, House Beautiful, with eager visitors waiting their turn to see inside like children queuing up to see Santa! It was rather beautiful though, with green oak cladding that would weather to grey, and an interior that combined a calm colour palette with natural materials like stone, wood and slate.
Celebrity speakers included Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, Martin Lewis, Gregg Wallace (who had his own on-site restaurant) and TV's Restoration Man, architect George Clarke.
Everything was here, from hot tubs to designer radiators (my favourite was the one disguised as a bathroom mirror - canny space saving there) to the very latest in laminate flooring which is seriously easy to lay (there was a great demonstration), warm under foot and beautiful to look at. It's really eco-friendly too.
DIY of a very different kind was on show at a stand offering 'self-service teeth whitening', using something called 'pink particle technology'. The science went over my head I'm afraid, but I was v impressed with the brave souls who sat stock-still for fifteen minutes bearing their teeth in full-view of the passing crowd!
For me, the most successful part of the exhibition was the Interiors zone, with Arighi Bianchi taking centre stage.
Accent wallpapers, statement lighting and reclaimed wood were some of the key trends, with the Scrapwood wallpaper range by Dutch designer, Piet Hein Eek, creating quite a buzz on the AB set. The wallpaper has no repeating pattern, making it easier to hang, and you paste the wall instead of the paper too - that bit definitely appeals!