Blogging conferences are like blogs with the fact that you get as much out of them as you put into them. You will find yourself wanting to write about every single detail you can remember, from what you ate on the night in between the conference days to how big your hotel bed was. You will want to talk about the new friendships which you have now made for life, that experience of being in a huge room packed full of people with the same hobby/job as you and how you have learnt so much more about this hobby/job that you feel as if you see it all from a fresh new perspective.
I know this because year after year in June this is exactly how I feel. BritMums Live is the social event of the year for us parent bloggers; it is somewhere where we are guaranteed to see the people we tweet with on a daily basis. We get to thank those people in the flesh for being there for us, for reading our ramblings and taking the time to leave comments.
This year was strange for me as the last few years have meant breastfeeding, being pregnant then breastfeeding again with a baby attached to me, this year no baby of mine was anywhere in sight and as I speak I have been wondering if our breastfeeding journey is at the end but of course that is a whole different blog post. Funny how many people asked me where Charlotte was this year and can you believe it people, but she is no longer a baby anymore? I know right?! She is walking and talking, and before I left, she gave me her first ‘ove you’ trying to repeat me saying ‘love you’ to her. Jumping into that taxi was painful especially as Dylan has just done something ‘autistical’ before hand and yes that is a made up word, but I feel it fits. I did feel that sense of relaxation though the moment I boarded the train and realised I did not have any small children to look after for the duration of the journey.
You may of found me laughing at much of the ‘what are we wearing’ talk and the excitement about packing for one or 2 nights where it sounded like many people were packing for a two week holiday but it dawned on me that for many this is their first night away from the children and that like me this might be the 1 weekend a year where you have one/two nights away from the children, and you cannot help but be thankful for the break. With each year that passes my luggage gets smaller and lighter, I wonder how many of you have sworn to pack less stuff next year so you have more room to cart back home the goodie bag and any prizes you may have won?!
Look I’m rambling, and this was pretty much what you got from me this weekend if you happened to of talked to me. I am rather shy in the real world where I cannot hide behind my blog or twitter. When I am nervous I talk fast, and I attempt (rather poorly) to be funny, and I can be quite random as I usually speak about the first thing that pops into my head with the habit of not thinking before I speak. I am not a people person; I am a kids person as 24/7 I am found entertaining them and talking about gross bodily functions and playing dizzy dinosaurs. So going into a room full of people throws my anxiety all over the place and my comfort zone is the people I know so well and who know me. I found great comfort in the Daddy Bloggers this year, and it dawned on me that I am probably most comfortable around them because the one person I am ‘me’ around is the husband, he makes me feel at ease and I know he is not going to judge me for not wearing makeup, for not wearing jewellery and for wearing what I feel most comfortable in.
Before I have even arrived at The Brewery, I had met Rebecca/Mrs Mumsie, Amy/In My Bubble and Debs/Super Busy Mum who’s face I instantly recognised as I headed out of the station. We had a laugh as we tried to figure out where our hotels were, and all we knew was that they were in opposite directions. Thankfully not long after setting off to find my hotel, I bumped into a few blogging friends who were a relief, and they walked me back to the hotel where I was greeted by more bloggers. Quick bag drop and we were on our way to BritMums Live 2015. It was a funfest from the moment we arrived with lots of bloggers to meet, and these birds were hanging around for some #twirlywoos fun. In return for a photo with them we got some twirlywoo headbands for the kids, major mummy brownie points scored.
After we had all settled in the main room, Susanna & Jen the founders of Britmums welcomed us all and then it was the opening keynote speaker Deliciously Ella. This year I was rather excited about listening to Ella who’s recipes I have been following for the last couple of weeks. I did download her app months ago, but I left it sat there on my phone gathering dust. I have been trying an overhaul of my diet recently in a bid to stop the heart palpitations and bloating (yet another post I will never write
when I have the time) and be kind to my body for the first time in its 26 years of life. Ella gave her diet an overhaul after being unwell, so she has been a huge inspiration in my bid to help my health with body kind food.
I feel now is the perfect time for my shout out to my back table Clare/Emmy’s Mummy, Liz/The Hart Of The Munchkin Patch & Carly/Mummy & The Chunks (we missed those that could not make it this year) this has been our hotspot for the last few years. As John/DadYouGeek pointed out this could probably say a lot about us, but despite that, he still joined us. We had moved away from the comfort of our back table when it came to attempting to break an official Guinness World Records title. Moving to the table to our right meant meeting new people, and I had the pleasure of meeting Martyn/Inside Martyn’s Thoughts while wrapping him from head to toe in toilet roll. You see our challenge was ‘how many mummies can we wrap in 3 minutes’ and I like to think our table aced it with the clever idea of wrapping the two shortest people, sorry Liz & Martyn!
The table next to us seemed to of spent more time wrapping the bottom half which was concerning considering it was a load of guys in toilet roll.
During the following tea & coffee break, I was lucky enough to be able to grab a signed copy of the Deliciously Ella book. Can just see this becoming my new food bible as I cut out the junk food.
The first session I attended was on Google+ by James Dearsley, who I have seen a few times over the years at different blogging conferences. I wasn’t fussed about going to it but wanted to go along and support the lovely room moderator Lauren/Real Housewife Of Suffolk. The funny thing is when it comes to Google+ I know how to use it and what I could do to build on it, but hey I’m only a blogger with a busy life, doing all that is the last thing on my mind.
Nothing took my fancy during the next lot of sessions, so I went off for a wonder to see the brands that were attending. As we approached the Carnival stand, we were greeted by Laura/Tired Mummy Of Two straddling a crocodile. Nothing is strange when it comes to the blogging world.
I found some Daddy Bloggers who asked where the party was, and I was pretty sure it was back in the main room so wondered up there with them. I only realised 10 minutes later when telling some of my ‘back’ tables that I would drink all the wine that the party was outside. Oops. So I slipped out just in time to enjoy a drink and some rather yummy canapés. I did meet back up with them as Carly & I wondered back in, but we were distracted by even more canapés and fought the dads for steak on chips. You see that bit of steak and chip on the floor? That horrifying moment was brought to us by Dave who obviously hasn’t heard of the 3-second rule.
That evening the plan was to go to Pizza Express with the lovely ladies (and gentleman) below (photo credit Lucy/Mrs Bishop’s Bakes & Banter) which I did, but I arrived late but still just in time to sit and eat with everyone. You see it started with me losing my phone; I put it down on one of the tables in the main room after the BIBs Awards had finished when talking to someone so I had to go hunting around all the tables. At the same time, I ended up having more conversations with some lovely bloggers, found my phone and then had some more conversations. Found some of my favourite Twin mummy’s and had some fantastic conversations with them, I remember tears being shed and this photo being taken. I knew by the time I got outside they would have left as I had been some time, but I wasn’t worried about catching them up because I knew the Daddy Bloggers were also going to Pizza Express and I needed of worried.
With John/Dad Blog UK and Tim/Slouching Towards Thatcham leading the herd of Daddy Bloggers, we headed towards Pizza Express and guess what? There is more than 1 Pizza Express in London! Who knew that?! So it turned out that my herd of bloggers were actually at a different restaurant. Oops. A quick hop into a taxi and I were soon sat at a table with a pizza almost the same size of that table.
Next morning I was reminded why I like staying in hotels. Oh, the joys of not having to prepare your breakfast or clean up afterwards. I took this one photo just for the baker husband to browse over.
Day 2 began with coffee & pastries which I had no room for considering the pile of pancakes and bacon I had for breakfast. Saturday’s opening keynote speaker was Carol Smillie talking about Diary Doll.
Curious about what Diary Doll is? Diary Doll was created by TV presenter Carol Smillie and tennis star Annabel Croft and are pretty pants which are lightweight and super soft, with a secret waterproof panel for extra protection against life’s little leaks. Perfect for travel, sport, school and overnights.
Carol was asking us to come along and enter the diary room and share our thoughts or any of our embarrassing period moments. I wasn’t ashamed to share mine (though saying that I have still not re-watched my video) and happily went in without the pants mask on my face. Even John went in, and with two daughters this is something which affects him as a father. It only dawned on me after he said that, that one day we would be talking about this with Charlotte. Eek.
For the last session of the morning ‘BritMums in conversation with… Bloggers and Brands’ I joined Tony & Dave in the main room. We listened to Claire Candler, MD H&K; Nadine Hill, Juggle Mum; Marianne Weeks, Mari’s World; Susanna Scott & Jennifer Howze, co-founders BritMums talk about brand relationships and the dos & don’ts of getting their attention and keeping it. How to work with etc.. I, however, enjoyed chatting to the guys about my brand experience and how I have worked with brands over the years.
I missed out the next sessions, but after looking back at the agenda, I do wish I would have gone along with either Finding Support in Blogging with Hayley Goleniowska from Downs Side Up or Breaking boundaries with Insight and Passion with Kate Hardcastle as these sound like they may have been my cup of tea. Note for next year – plan what I am going to attend session wise in advance.
I have already forgotten what I had for lunch, but I do remember what we had for pudding. Salted caramel brownies! And my word, they were little pieces of heaven. According to Lauren I made some rather pleasurable noises while eating them.
After lunch, I joined my crew (Daddy Bloggers), and we went along to the session ‘How to market yourself and your writing’ with Joanna Penn from The Creative Penn. It was one of those sessions where I just tagged along for the fun of it but got more out of it then I thought I would. I hate writing (yeah makes sense I own a blog), but I left it wondering if I could ever write a book and if so what would I write about. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a book to your name?
Afternoon coffee and tea were accompanied by some rather intriguing snacks, one being marshmallows on the stick with flavours like basil. Meanwhile, while I & Dave opened our taste buds up to new experiences so did Tony over on the Vitamix stand. That Vitamix stand may have been my favourite place that weekend to hang out.
Sadly I couldn’t stick around for the rest of the evening to listen to Caprice and the Blogger’s keynotes as Dylan was unwell and I wanted to get on the next train home asap so I could put the kids to bed and enjoy dinner with the man.
You know that whole love at first sight? Well for me it was friendship at first sight with most the people I met that weekend. To meet the faces of people I have been tweeting with for the last few years was fantastic and totally worth going. In the years gone by it has been nice to see the faces I see often at blogging events and who I consider being good friends (you know your real friends when you add each other on Facebook!) I made so many new blogging friends this time around, and I know this is down to my new found confidence. Yay, go me.
So even if nothing takes your fancy session wise then simply go for the social element, go and meet those twitter handles in the flesh and share a drink (or 6) with them!