We're in the run up to Christmas now, which must mean it's time for - yes - the International Boat Show in Earl's Court!
It's always amazed me that that the Boat Show is held here. After all, it's nowhere near the sea. It's a couple of miles from the Thames, I suppose, but that's hardly sailing territory either. They have to create a marina within the exhibition centre, and then - with huge effort and a fair amount of traffic disruption - get all those gorgeous yachts up the Warwick Road and into the main arena. We had no water on two mornings this week. Is that a coincidence, I ask myself, or were they topping up the tanks?
The visitors are an incredible mix, which I reckon can be divided roughly into three categories: the general public coming for a day out, ogling the yachts and other assorted goodies that they'll never afford; existing boat owners, keen to see the latest kit and maybe bag a bargain or two at one of the trade stands; and the super-rich, out to do some window shopping before they buy. (Apparently, a huge number of luxury yachts and boats are bought during the show).
The main draw, of course, are the boats themselves: yachts, speed-boats, motor-cruisers, and not forgetting narrow boats (yes, inland waterways are covered as well as the sea). Then there are the trade stands, selling everything from sailing holidays to outboard motors. You can find out about sailing for people with disabilities, get kitted out in the latest hi-tech gear or even find ways of off-setting the carbon footprint from your diesel engines (or you could just buy a yacht, I suppose?).
There are plenty of other water-based activities going on as well, including a huge diving tank, windsurfing simulators, rowing machines (there's even a rowing contest) - and, it being Advent, there's a Father Christmas for the children.
I wonder how many will ask him for that boat - a snip at £200,000 - in their stocking, this year?
Further details of the show can be found at: http://www.earlscourtboatshow.com/. The show runs until Sunday 9th December, and tickets can be purchased at http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/.