Email 17th February 2009

Fish 2009 - Gone Fishing - Leamington Spa 2009

Dear FishHeads, freaks, fans and the Company,

I just came back from an unexpected trip to Leamington Spa.
I had been planning to go down next month but KT had an opportunity to see her parents in Malvern this weekend so we decided at the last minute to head South.
We stopped off at my sister's near York on the Saturday and headed to Leamington on the Sunday night after spending the afternoon at Malvern.

All I can say is that the area is perfect and as far as amenities and the venue are concerned it makes Haddington look like the North Pole.
On the Sunday night we traipsed the town just getting a feel for the place and sampling a few bars.
It's pretty easy to find your way around as it's a relatively small place with the old town laid out in a standard Georgian grid pattern.

We visited the Jug and Jester and the Robbins Well which had been suggested by local fans.
They are only a matter of less than a hundred yards away from the venue.
The Jester has no outdoor drinking facilities and judging by the warning signs in the park at the rear of the Pump Rooms the local authorities frown on drinking in public. There's a notice near the gazebo which announces there is a £500 penalty for consuming alcohol in the park. To be honest that was the only downer but understandable.
There is a quite large paved area outside the Jester which leads up to a church and there are seats and also the church steps themselves for gathering. Right opposite there's kebab shops and other fast food outlets and on the street where the venue is there is a Chinese, an Indian and an Italian restaurant with Dockers, a '60s American diner themed cafe right next to the entrance to the Assembly rooms.
The Jester was pretty good and will make a fine watering hole as will the Robbins which is on the river by the bridge.
It's more of a student style pub and was pretty busy on the Sunday night.
As it has outside seating on the veranda overlooking the river I can see this proving more popular.

The assembly rooms couldn't be in a better area for overall amenities.

Although the Jester and the Robbins Well have reasonable capacities of over 200 and will be generously populated over the weekend I was still looking for somewhere for the Friday night early arrivals.

We headed up to the old town where we were staying.
The restaurants were mostly empty and there were a number of other bars none of which captured us.
Over the bridge from the venue side and up past the Pump Rooms opposite the gardens, which were closed at night, we found another Chinese restaurant which seemed to be busiest in town, in a block overpopulated with Estate agents offices.
The streets were pretty quiet and police patrol cars cruised regularly. I didn't get the impression they had much business.

We passed the Travelodge which seemed pretty new and had an impressive restaurant area and bar. It's only about ten minutes walk away from the venue.
We were staying that night in the Angel Hotel just off Regent Terrace and decided to have one last drink in the bar next door.
It's called the Sausage. A great chill out bar with big leather seats and ample space we immediately saw it's potential.
There were only a few customers and I got into conversation with the bar staff, Mack and Becky, who turned out to be the owners.
As you know I am a sucker for Fellini moments and when I discovered that Becky's Dad used to own the newsagents in Gullane just down the road from us in Haddington I was sold. Mack and Betty had just taken over the bar a few months ago and have created a really cool place.
The bar area downstairs holds around 250 people but there is also an upstairs room which takes another 70 and an outside area with tables and chairs and the ability to run a barbecue. They also can put on live music!
They are perfectly willing to let us have the bar for the Friday night.

To make things even better they also have a large field at their house a couple of miles away and could maybe offer us camping facilities.
If not they have a contact which I will be following up this week.

We will need to start getting an idea of numbers in the next couple of weeks so I will have to discuss with Mo the best way to go about this.
If you are coming along to the convention weekend we would ask you to send an email so we have you logged and then we can send out information as the plans develop and let you know when the tickets are on sale. I will let you know which address to send to in the next few days.

The idea is to issue laminates for Company Members which will get you into all the events over the weekend.
(Non Company members will only get into the gigs - families need only have one Company member. Any tickets left over after Company members have had the chance to order will be put on open sale closer to the event)

Events in the think tank at the moment are-

A penguin race where people can make papier mache penguins off any size to be thrown from the bridge into the river and the winner is first to reach the next bridge. Prizes! Prizes! Prizes!

A "Never Mind the Buzzcocks" style on stage performance with present and past members of the band and crew.

A "Call my Bluff" style on stage performance.

A "Catfish walk" where fans can dress up in their best Fishy clothes or apparel they have created over the years with Mark Wilkinson's artwork.
Best costumes etc will be photographed for Mark Wilkinson's new artwork book.

Mark Wilkinson's art gallery and Q and A session.

The usual intro speech and Q and A session with myself/stand up set.

A short acoustic set with various band members.

An aftershow party until 2am on the Sunday.

Other suggestions and ideas are welcome.

On Monday Yatta and his wife Kris came over from Wales and we cased out the venue itself. In his own words he said "this is the best venue I have seen at this level in the UK." It is a truly outstanding venue with every facility we need and more.
Spacious bars and areas where people can just chill out if they want as well as a fantastic hall with great sound and light specs.
In all honesty it couldn't be better.

The sun was shining as we walked through the nearby Jepson gardens with its stunning hothouse and adjacent restaurant. The fountains blasted away and flipped a rainbow over the host of ducks in the lake.
We sauntered up the street past a sushi place and had lunch in an Italian bistro; everyone agreed that Leamington provides the perfect setting for the 2009 convention.

We drove back to Scotland with big grins and I personally can't wait till August as I am convinced this could be our finest Company Convention to date!

The wheels are turning and the ideas are going into action.

To those we intended to meet down there for the recce, sorry we couldn't hook up but please get in touch on email and we can look at furthering plans and locking things down.

until next time

take care and stay alive
Onkel Fish x

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