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I am delighted to announce that Bacon Grabbers, on behalf of a partnership
of UK Tents, is bidding for the 2014 Sons Of The Desert International
Convention to come to the U.K.
Neither Norman nor myself can afford to go to the USA this year as Economic Austerity bites. I had been planning a bid for the 2014, but I had resigned myself to going to the 2014 Convention in, I presumed, the USA, and bidding for 2016 instead. But circumstances change and Roger Robinson and Dave
Simpson will be in Manchester, USA, for the 2012 Convention and they have
agreed to present our bid, based around the Cumbria Grand. In 1984 the International Convention was a joint event between Bill Cubin’s Berth Marks Tent and Helpmates, and part of the Convention was held at the Cumbria Grand. In 1998 Birmingham’s Laughing Gravy Tent hosted the International Convention and an evening was spent at the Cumbria Grand before returning to Birmingham by coach. So 30 years on
from Bill Cubin’s event, we hope to return to the area where Stan was born,
as part of our Stan Laurel Trail.

Of course it is not just a matter of winning the bid. It is vital to offer our
International Visitors a great time, so they are determined to make the effort to come. If they come for just the Convention, or the Pre Convention as well, or the Pre-Pre-Convention as well, they will have a fantastic time. Our theme is the Stan Laurel Trail, many bits which will include places where Babe also visited as well. So this is how I have mapped it out, the story so far.


For those coming from the USA, we shall adopt a suggestion from Mama Hen on the West Coast  
that they first fly to New York and meet up. They then fly across the Pond as a Party to London where we can meet them and take them to Southend-on-Sea, home of the Saps at Sea, who will be the welcoming Tent. Southend Airport may have direct  European flights by 2014. We will provide guided tours around the legendary sites of London, including a boat trip on the Thames through the city. London is only an hour away by train, home of the Live Ghost Tent.

You can see New Romney on the map, between Dover and Hastings. That is the
location of the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch railway. It was re-opened after the
war, on 21st March 1947, by Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy. That merits a day trip.
Another day trip will be to Bottesford, where Stan and Babe once served behind the
bar of Stan’s sister’s pub, to the amazement of the locals. Bottesford is quite close to
Sherwood Forest. In 1947 the Boys arrived in Southampton and mentioned they
were planning to make a film with “Robin Hood” as a theme. The Beau Hunks Tent of Nottingham will make us welcome.


We then move locations about 400 miles north to Glasgow and Bonnie Scotland! We will travel by train as the journey time between London and Glasgow is less than five hours, and you will enjoy the countryside through the window. Stan lived in Glasgow for a while and made his first stage appearance there. We will have a day trip to Edinburgh (also visited by the Boys), via Falkirk, where James Finlayson
was born. One of the Great Railway Journeys of the World starts in Glasgow and goes past Ben
Nevis and Fort William and across that famous railway viaduct seen in the early Harry Potter movies. At our terminus you can look “over the sea to Skye”. That’s all worth a daytrip.
The Bonnie Scotland, Their Purple Moment, and the Call of the Cuckoos, all  
on the West Coast, and the Blockheads of Edinburgh, will be on hand to make us welcome.


We will be based at the Cumbria Grand Hotel, just a few miles from Ulverston, where
Stan was born and where he brought his pal Babe to see. Now there is a famous statue and a relocated Laurel and Hardy Museum for you to see. It’s the home of the Berth MarksTent.
One day trip will be to Bishop Auckland (home of the Hog Wild Tent), and North Shields near Newcastle, where Stan lived. Both have statues to Stan.
Another Daytripper will be to Liverpool, home of the Beatles, which will include a Ferry Across The Mersey, so you can appreciate why Pier Head is a World Heritage site. We will also visit sites associated with the Boys.
Now if we had an appeal for all the Tents within twenty miles of Liverpool to welcome
visiting Sons, that’s Bacon Grabbers, Come Clean, Leave ‘em Laughing, Any
Old Port and Midnight Patrol 2. Extend that to 100 miles and we add Be Big,
Blotto, Brats, Chickens Come Home, County Hospital, Dirty Work, and Sailors
So as of this month, that is the basic idea. We hope that it is strong enough
to win.

(Chris Coffey)

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