For two days in November, the Ricoh Arena in Coventry became an Ali Baba's Cavern of Delights for decorators. There were the usual suspects - Dulux, Crown, Johnstone's-Leyland, Purdy... but also lesser-known brands to some perhaps, like Mythic, Owatrol, Axus, Olfa, Wooster... and new innovations like Ladder-Limb and Handi-Pad. I went on just one day, for 6 hours, and it was nowhere near enough time to see everything and talk to everyone I wanted to. 

As it was I talked to a couple of dozen decorators and suppliers, most of whom I first encountered on Twitter and The Painters' Pitstop web forum. If I could remember everyone I chatted to I'd name names, but at the risk of offending someone by accidential exclusion, I'll just say everyone was lovely and I can't remember a thing. Honest Your Honour. 

I did spend about £100, which is all I took, if I'd taken £500 that's what I'd have spent (mostly on a new Festool sander, in case anyone fancies getting me a nice Christmas pressie, can I have this please?) - such were the delicious tools, brushes and deco-miscellany on offer. Here are a few brief highlights, things to look out for, and recommendations. 

Mythic Paints are brilliant latex-based paints from the USA. If they're good enough to use in the Pentagon, and Google HQ, they're good enough for me! They are very hard-wearing, zero-toxin, and very low odour. I painted much of The Stratford on Avon Picturehouse with Mythic Eggshell during a couple of weeks of nights. The cinema remained open normal hours, and there was no paint smell - especially important in the cafe area! So it's brilliant for commercial premises, including restaurants. I've also painted several children's rooms with Mythic - and it makes ME sleep better at night, knowing there are no dangerous fumes, and that it's so quick-drying, hard-wearing and scrubbable, that children can be children without having to redecorate. Mythic Multi Purpose Primer is one of the best water-based primers on the market too. I've always got at least one tin in my vehicle. I recommend it whole-heartedly. And no, they don't pay me a penny, I just love the stuff.  

Olfa blades are like Samurai swords to the good old Stanley knife's flint axe. They are Japanese and VERY sharp. The reason that matters to decorators is that if you're trying to cut wallpaper or lining paper, and the blade isn't sharp, it will crinkle and tear the paper. The normal Olfa snap-off blades at 0.5mm thick are brilliant for general papering and normal applications when you need a sharp blade. But if you want the world's sharpest snap off blade, try their sexily-titled MT-1 12.5mm knife with the Olfa Excel Black Ultra Sharp Blade - I jest not, it is A QUARTER OF A MILLIMETRE THICK! I shall not be cutting wallpaper with anything except my wallpaper scissors, and this blade. They do a great knife with a 'shark's fin' bit at the bottom (see photo), it looks odd but it's the best paint tin opener and has at least 100 other uses, including wasp rescuing. (Yes, I did use it to pick a sleepy wasp off a windowsill and release it outdoors.) 

Big Wipes, well, they're big, and they wipe. Many parents will tell you how essential baby wipes were when their wee bairns came along. In fact, I know parents who still have a sachet of baby wipes 'just in case' even though their kids are now in their teens! They're brilliant, aren't they? But when you're dealing with paints, and fillers, and grease, and grime... baby wipes are just too soft - as they are designed to be. Big Wipes are baby wipes' burly big brother, tougher, stronger, and able to handle just about anything thrown at them: water and oil-based paints, grease, glues, silicones, epoxy fillers, permanent marker - and yes, I've tested them against all those and Big Wipes won. I use them every day. I prefer the Industrial+ blue version, which have one rougher side, for scrubbing. I hate running out of them, I feel almost naked when I do! So I bought lots at the show. I asked the guys on the stand to look after them, so I wouldn't have to carry them around. And I only forgot them when I went home! A couple of 'I'm so sorry, I've been a dunce' tweets to @BigWipes on Twitter, and they very kindly sent them to me, free of charge, and threw in a few extra! Great customer service, and a product I've used for years and never found a better alternative. 

I could blog on and on, but I'll save some of the other delights for another blog, or two... a new Toupret filler I tried and I instantly loved, Repair Care resin fillers that I'll be going on a course to learn how to use in January, Krudkutter cleaning products that make my job a lot quicker, Mirka dust-extracting sanders and Abranet sanding sheets that are so good I've given my other sandpaper away, Little Greene top quality heritage paints with unbeatable colour depth, Wooster brushes and rollers - which I use every single day and have improved the quality and speed with which I paint, Axus sash brushes, filler knives and magnetic brush clips - simple stuff that just works so well, and MyPaintBrush who supply Proform Picasso brushes - which give a beautiful finish in emulsions, and my new favourite - the Brush Vest - so simple, and worth every penny when you buy expensive, quality brushes. 

Nearly all of these products are also recommended by some of the top decorators in the industry on the brilliant Traditional Painter website - one of the best places to look for tips and advice on high quality decorating, whether you're an amateur or a pro. And the Painters Pitstop is a great place for decorators to swap experiences of products and techniques, as well as a healthy thrust and parry of banter. 

Happy decorating. Splash of milk and one sugar please.