Last weekend I travelled down to London to attend the UK’s largest Parenting Blogging Conference – Britmums Live! I had high hopes for the weekend and Leyla and I were very giddy on the train down (the free wine did help that too). I was also a little anxious – nervous about being in a room full of people I didn’t really know, and concern that those online friendships I’d put years into wouldn’t quite measure up in ‘real life’.
|Enjoying first class privileges!|
The first day was all a bit much. I think I spent it in a bit of a blur, following people around, trying to find the right words and failing miserably. However I was awed by the amount of people who recognised me – some through my dress (my ‘What I’m Wearing‘ Post) and some just from seeing my many, many photos – it was a strange yet lovely feeling to realise people do actually read my blog. Obviously you can read stats, but to actually meet people who could say ‘I loved that post you wrote about …’ felt great.
|My dress that people actually recognised!|
After it was all over, we’d heard Kirstie Allsop speak about dog poop and waxing, browsed the array of brands in the Hub and had our first sessions (‘Getting Paid’ being my favourite of the weekend), it was time for the evening.
|A selection of the sessions|
After being the last to leave the Brewery we very slowly made our way to our hotel to check in, before dashing across the road for food and a damn good chat. I think that was my favourite part of the first day, as we laughed across our pasta and drank our wine, we were friends. And when the unexpected fireworks went off over our heads, it really was a symbol of what was to come.
|Laughter with Leyla & Dawn|
Overall the first day was great, but for me the highlight was day two. That was the day I found my feet. I felt able to wander around chatting, found my voice, spoke with confidence to the brands, and sat in sessions on my own without feeling like a friendless freak.
|Ready for day two|
Unfortunately (and stupidly) I missed Katie Piper’s keynote – I wanted to chat to some brands whilst it was quiet, and I was awake! However I was told she was amazing. After a bit of schmoozing, I set about attending the sessions I was really keen on – ‘The Sponsored and Review Posts’ being the most interesting for me.
|Learning magic with Warner Bros’ Harry Potter Tour|
|The Royal Carribbean Madagascar Lion|
After all that was over it was time for the Keynotes. I braced myself, as I knew what was to come. I enjoyed listening to some exceptional blogs posts and found myself thinking I could never write like that, but behind it all I was holding my breath. Heather and Susanne were amazing and held it together as they read Merry’s touching tribute to Matilda Mae. I gazed over at her mummy and my heart broke. The keynotes went on but my heart wasn’t with them. Then it was time for the dedication to Kerry. Although sad, as we all stood and sang to Katy Perry’s ‘Fireworks’ I was overwhelmed. So much love, so much support and I was a part of it. To me, our community is one in a million and I am immensely proud of it.
|Katy Hill introduces the keynote speakers|
There were so many bloggers there that I missed quite a few lovely people I had wanted to say hello to, like Angela. Others I only got chance for a fleeting hello, like Sarah. But I was lucky to spend time with some lovely, lovely ladies who I have spoken to for so long and finally got to meet – Katie, Nicola, Laura, Bex, Karen, Lucy, Minty, Lucy – it was amazing to meet you all finally. And if I haven’t mentioned you – it was truly great to meet everyone I spoke to.
|A few photos of some of the people I spent time with – unfortunately I was too bust talking to take many photos!|
I also strengthened existing friendships – Leyla and were friends at school but it is only through blogging we got back in touch, and I am so glad we have. She was my rock throughout the weekend, she was loopy, made me smile and although she kept me up all night, she was a great roomie too! Dawn, who I had met a few times but only really got to know throughout the two days we spent together. Heather and Susanne – amazing ladies who, despite their fears, stood in front of us all and poured out their hearts. I am proud to call them friends.
And one special lady who I have been wanting to hug tightly for several months – Jennie. Jennie I just want to say to you that although I seemed quiet near you and could never find the right words, I admire you so very much. You were incredible to attend, let alone get through the whole weekend and your strength is an inspiration.
Finally I want to mention my sponsor, as without them I couldn’t have attended in the first place – The Essential One. They are such a special brand to work with, provide beautiful items with exceptional service. If you are pregnant or have a little one please do have a look at their site.
|Displaying my sponsor with pride|
Every time I try and put into words the amazing weekend that was Britmums Live! I fail. There really are no words to describe it. Nevertheless, here are a few I came up with:
Hope – After a few hard months, this event really made me see that I am getting better.