Well, I tried to get my title to be all f’s, but informative will have to suffice. Last weekend was Britmums Live 2014, and this year I made it to the whole lot. I had a sponsor this year, the fabulous Water Babies, so many thanks to them.
While other bloggers were planning what they were going to be wearing, organising meals and ‘stalking’ who they wanted to meet up with (ok, I did do a bit of the latter – I was astonished to have a list a side and a half of A4!), I was arranging and rearranging childcare for N. With a husband who insists on working 7 days a week, and unable to commit because it ‘depends what the weather’s like’, I originally had 4 people looking after N post nursery pick up on Friday. My sister in law came to the rescue for pick up, tea and bath so N was pleased to be able to play with his cousin on Friday. For Saturday, a friend who’s son is one of N’s best friends, was going to have him for the day. Then a couple of days before, the OH announces he’ll be around to have N. Arghhh. So I’d had to put people out and disappoint a 3 year old who was looking forward to a playdate. N of course was oblivious, as it meant he could spend the day working with his dad on the farm.
I’d arranged to travel up with Mary, and after a saga of new parking at Banbury station, got on the train, met her and we had a good natter on the way to London. She was staying near St Pauls, so we went to meet Tina, before I headed off to Moorgate for early check in and they went to their hotel.
There’s nothing like a blogging conference for meeting new people. Straight out of the station and I bumped into Amanda. Embarrassingly for a former geography student, we ended up wandering in totally the wrong direction (damn, google phone maps), before getting on the right trail to the Travelodge. I definitely recommend early check in. A quick chance to freshen up, cool down (the 2 years I’ve been at Britmums Live and it’s been beautiful weather) before heading out for a quick bite to eat. We met other Travelodgers in the lobby there before walking down to the All Bar One meet up. I didn’t really think about getting food there, but that would have been the obvious place!
The bar was busy, but it was easy to spot everyone. We were spread across a few tables, but it meant we could get to know people and have a proper chat, rather than having to shout across huge tables. Along with Amanda, I got to know Di (the ‘Giveaway Guru’), Ojo (birthday girl), Abi (a whizz with Evernote) and Maddie, amongst others who were dipping in and out. It turns out as well as lots of Emmas, there’s also a lot of project managers who blog. There were 4 just round our table at one point!
I’m going to write up the sessions I went to in a second post. This is already an epic!
People and friendships
It was lovely (as with the rest of the weekend) to be the same place as lots of other people who were on the same wavelength about blogging, and were excited to be there ready to chat and learn. My OH (and it seems, quite a few others), don’t really get blogging. I’d love to see it when my OH sees the value in it, whether just from satisfaction, memory storing or the extra pocket money. 700 people at The Brewery certainly think that blogging is worth it.
Having been last year and found it hard to get chatting to people in groups, this year I found totally different. Everyone seemed really friendly…maybe it was because I’ve been around a bit longer and I’d met some bloggers at Blog Camp a couple of months ago. I was pleased to have met all but a handful of the people I’d hoped to meet, all done from just passing or flukily sitting next to them in sessions. Goes to show that you’ll meet plenty of people without having to specifically arrange to meet them.
[lightbox title=”LightboxTitle” url=”PageURL” width=”900″ height=”500″]TIP: Some people say, don’t bother with business cards, as you’ll just come home with them again. But I handed out about 50, and got a whole lot back. Personally I love them because it helps me remember who I’ve met and how to follow them if I don’t already do so.[/lightbox]
There was a good mix of brands to speak to. Lots of holiday companies – big tick for Wyndhams who were really chatty. The only ones that were disappointing were Carnival. I’d seen them last year and went to chat this year, only to find a table with a laptop, 2 representatives, and some leaflets. But they didn’t seem keen to chat and weren’t very forthcoming about their company or what they wanted from bloggers. A bit of discussion would have been nice however much I tried, so I gave up in the end. The next day I did see their stand packed, and they’d perked up a bit, but it didn’t really strike me as a good way to represent your brand (even if you had run out of sandcastle goodies).
Vitamix were as great as usual, even convincing Kate that she might like veggies after all – it turned into a work discussion about zero waste, and creating liquid compost from the veg and fruit parts you can’t eat.
I had a lovely chat to the Parragon Books reps – I book buddy for them, and am looking forward to seeing what new books are coming up this year, and was pleased to this year get my blog name on a Diet Coke bottle. The A2 people were lovely, as was the Mark Warner representative. I was a bit disappointed at the Aga/Rangemaster stand, as I wasn’t really sure what they were doing there, other than handing out delicious food, and talking about the new electric Agas. I would have liked to have had a better chat, but they didn’t really seem approachable. Or maybe I hadn’t got my brand talking head on. I had wanted to catch up with Beko, but I missed them on Friday and they weren’t there on the second day.
Although I took part (well, I am a comper, if a slack one recently), I’m not keen on photo comps. It’s great that there are so many opportunities for bloggers, but there were just too many for my liking. I guess it’s personal choice, but it would be nice to talk to brands without feeling like they want you to be silly.
The BIBs were fun to be at. I missed last year as I’d had to leave early, so it was nice to be involved with the excitement and anticipation.
With the huge number of bloggers there are, there were always going to be blogs in the finals I’d never heard of. It was a surprise to see presenter Katy Hill win fresh voice – I would have chosen a couple of others nominated in preference, but some of my favourites won other categories. The bonus is of course, I find lots of new blogs to read.
Katy Hill did a great job presenting, trying to keep excited chatty bloggers quiet. Congratulations to all the winners.
And the rest
We were a bit vague sorting out something for dinner. Lots of people get together, and we tried to do a bit of a round up, but ended up gatecrashing a quiet meal not far from Moorgate with Helen from Kiddycharts (who made my day by coming up and saying hi, and that she wanted to meet me), Anya, Di, Kate, Amanda and BIBs winner for best writer, Sarah. It was a great indian restaurant – I’m sure they were very impressed with us making Sarah flash her award around. We all said how nice it was to get some time out and have a quiet meal to recover from the excitement of the day.
Back at the Travelodge the evening ended with some fireworks and a dixie band at The Armoury House opposite. Nothing like some fireworks to keep you up, but entertain.
Saturday was an early start and back for more sessions. It was a more relaxed day even though I did a lot of sessions. I’d spoken to a lot of the brands the day before so Saturday was time to catch up properly with other bloggers, and to take time out and mooch round as I wanted.
The food was a mix of good and too much sweet – pastries and a lot of mango (must have had a glut of it). I quite liked the lunch on Saturday. The wait for the main courses to come out took a while, and in the end opted for the beef as the chicken still wasn’t forthcoming, but it was delicious. It was lovely to be able to eat in the outdoor marquee’d courtyard. It just made things a little bit more special and more celebratory.
Over lunch I met Karen – bit of work oriented chit chat with her, Kate and the lovely Gina. I also bumped into Clare – I can assure you that despite the blog name, she isn’t from the US like I expected.
I had to leave before the keynote blogger sessions, which was a shame as a couple of bloggers i’d hoped to meet were speaking. But I wanted to get back to see N that evening. Thankfully I was going from Marylebone so didn’t have the traumas getting home like those going via Paddington.
I had a great time at Britmums Live. I love to chat, and this is the perfect event for that, whether it be tweeting, or face to face. And I love to blog, like everyone else who was at the event. It’s to take time out with people who understand blogging, for it to be a normal hobby. Everyone has so much ambition for their blogs and the event is one way to learn tips and get inspiration from others. I’m already looking forward to next year, my tickets are booked. The one thing I will be doing is upgrading to a nicer hotel. I had major jealous over some other people’s choices!
What did you enjoy most about Britmums Live? Will you be there next year?