If you’re not a blogger and noticed my social media feed over the weekend, you might have wondered what on earth had been going on. Because it was the weekend of Britmums Live which is a 2 day blogger conference, held in London, bringing together around 600 bloggers, predominantly mums, with a smattering of dad bloggers thrown in for good measure.
This was my third Britmums event, and I enjoyed it just as much as last years. It’s a great chance to meet up with existing friends, meeting those bloggers you’ve been speaking to for ages but never met, and for meeting new bloggers. Then, throw brands into the mix, and the sessions (keynotes and learning opportunities) and it’s a great mix that has something for everyone.
I’d travelled up on a Chiltern Railways train with no wifi – not great when you’re on your way to a blogging event and know that the excitement and anticipation will be building from early on in the morning. I made it in plenty of time to have some lunch, then get checked in early at the Travelodge. Express check in certainly wasn’t with the machines not working, and random people (non-bloggers) jumping the queue. Eventually I was able to get to my room (I seemed to have had one of the largest double rooms going, with a random space where presumably it would usually have seating or another bed), and freshen up before meeting up with a couple of other Oxfordshire bloggers.
We headed to the All Bar One meet first. It was a little quieter than normal, probably due to people going on the instawalk. I quite fancied that, but didn’t think the check in timings would work for me then having to rush out again for the walk. I managed to get a brief hello and chat with a few bloggers before we headed off to The Brewery.
This year I was determined to take more photos so had taken my csc rather than my point and shoot. I have to admit, I was still pretty poor at taking photos, so I’ve got lots of food pictures, and not many of people. Again.
My other aim was to not go all out on the Friday in the hub, so I was less tired by the end of the day. But needless to say, I failed at that as well. However, I do find that by doing that on the first day, it means I’ve got time to just relax on the Saturday, and go back again to any brands I wanted to speak to again.
For me, this year there were only a couple of brands I wanted to speak to. I had a lovely long chat with one of the girls at the Joules stand. I’ve loved Joules clothes for years, buying the polo shirts when you could only get them from country shows. I think I’ve still got 3 from years back – although they no longer fit me. I also enjoyed chatting with the Beattie Coms guys, Parragon books, Boots, Merci Maman (I’ve been lusting over their bracelets for a while but already have quite a bit personalised jewellery so couldn’t justify getting one, but love the Britmums ones we were given) and Santa Maria – although I felt like a bit of a traitor given I used to work for Schwartz, a competitor. I liked the fact it was a bit quieter in the hub this year. It meant less of a crush when talking to brands, even though there seemed to be fewer this year.
I think the Lady Sew and Sew craft room was a lovely touch. The singing girls were brilliant – great outfits and voices. I found that every time I wandered in there, things were well under way so I didn’t feel like I could sit down and join in which was a shame. If there’d been a sewing machine to learn with, I’d have been there like a shot – that’s one thing I need to learn (note to self, really must get on with doing the online sewing course I paid for back in January!)
I was particularly impressed with 2 of the keynotes I went to. Victoria Wright was, as expected, inspiring, and really made me think about the way I’m bringing up N, so he knows to accept and respect everyone, whatever they look like for who they really are underneath. Carol Smillie’s session was really interesting, and although a group of us initially had an ‘ew’ moment before going, when we hadn’t realised you still wore sanitary protection under the pants, the Diary Doll pants do seem like a no brainer especially for young girls who probably need a bit more confidence when starting out, and coping with periods.
I’ve never stayed for the blogger keynotes, mostly because I want to get back in reasonable time, and in readiness to read N a bedtime story. For me I didn’t need the final hour’s break. By that stage, I’ve spoken to most of those I want to speak to, and an hour is just too long. A lot of people were leaving at that stage, which is a bit of a shame for the bloggers reading their posts.
Some of the Guinness World Records team were also at Britmums Live, giving us the opportunity to attempt our own world record…I was certainly expecting something different for our attempt, maybe the most selfies, or some other social media based attempt. I definitely didn’t expect to be wrapping Jaume from Costa Brava tourism in toilet paper. Yes, trying to beat the record for the number of mummies wrapped in toilet paper in 3 minutes.
The tension was noticeable while we waited for the adjudicator to check all the mummies, but we managed it by 1. Here’s hoping no one else beats it in the time before the next Guinness World Record book is published.
It was interesting trying to explain what we’d done to get our medals to N when I arrived home. I don’t think he understands that Egyptians made mummies, I think he keeps referring to children’s mummies…sorry to the men or non-mummies who were wrapped! The attempt was great fun and a brilliant way to break the ice, and get people moving around the room. I’ve also discovered I’m pretty quick and accurate at wrapping people in toilet paper – costume potential for future dressing up days for N.
One of the best bits about Britmums is of course getting to meet other bloggers in real life, to put faces to names. If you’re not a hugger, you’ll likely become one…handshakes just don’t do the business at blogging events. Last year I wrote a huge list of people I wanted to meet, and missed quite a lot of them. This year I forgot to make a list, but managed to find everyone from last year, and most of this year’s ‘list’. I still missed a few, so hopefully at the next event I’ll tick more off my ‘to meet’ list. It was great to finally chat to Sarah, Fiona, Vicki and Nadine as well as a couple of dad bloggers, Ryan and Tim. I also managed to bump into a couple of prs I work with too, so handy for catching up and building relationships which so much of blogging is about. Sorry to those I missed, hopefully I’ll get you at the next event.
I love how most bloggers are so enthusiastic about meeting others. Even those who are at the top of their game, are just bloggers like everyone else and love to chat. I guess that’s the joy of blogging, most bloggers like to talk and make connections, whether it’s behind a screen or in real life. To bloggers going for the first time, if there’s someone you want to speak to, do grab them when you can, because the majority love to say hi, meet their readers, and are happy to chat. The worst that’ll happen is that they’ll say hi, and turn to speak to someone else.
There were a couple of people I spotted who I wanted to say hi to, but didn’t get the chance because they were always in their big group and weren’t making eye contact with people when they walked past. Shame, but if they don’t want to mix with others then, that’s their choice and I found plenty of people who did want to chat.
This year we’d also arranged to catch up with some of our new Oxfordshire blogging group. I’ve known Kate and Mary a while, met Caroline last year (after we’d worked out each other looked familiar), but it was great to also meet Tracy and Carla. If you’re a blogger living in Oxfordshire, then do follow on twitter, and join in on Facebook. It was great to chat and compare notes on where we all are.
A small group of us went to Pizza Express for dinner on Friday night. We had fun finding the right one (who knew there were 2 on the same road?), and ended up having a really enjoyable meal together. It’s always nice to meet new bloggers and find you get on so well. Thanks to Abi for organising, and it was lovely to meet Louise, Hannah and Tanya. There was a bit of banter with the dad bloggers having their dinner just across the room, essential of course.
Although I’m not a newbie blogger anymore, I do still like to go to the sessions. I don’t like to feel I’m missing out, and there’s usually someone I want to see speak. I went to a session in most slots, some more useful and interesting than others as is the norm.
Having followed Judith Lewis for a while (not literally, I’m not actually her stalker), I enjoyed her advanced seo talk. It was a shame there were so many questions throughout which meant she didn’t get chance to get past half way in her slides. She’s so enthusiastic, and rattles off her thoughts at top speed. She definitely debunked many of the seo myths that have been hanging around for years.
While I’m never going to be a ‘styled’ photographer like Katie, I found her styling photography session really interesting to see the effort and attention to detail it takes to produce such beautiful images. And all using auto on the camera.
I didn’t do any crafting, but I did catch some of Emily‘s cupcake decorating tips. I was pretty impressed with my rose, although I think I need more coaching on actually making the icing rather than the decorating part. The Super Savvy Me stand worked well having 3 bloggers bringing craft and activity ideas.
As well as the best bits above, there were also some randoms:
- My huge half empty Travelodge room. One double bed, and a big empty space where another bed would have fitted
- The Twirlywoos. I’d never heard of them, never likely to have N watch them, plus that kind of thing really isn’t my cup of tea. From the number of people looking on while a few had photos, I’d assume that quite a few people felt the same
- Hit and miss Travelodge wifi. It seemed some could access, some couldn’t, some could only use 1 gadget at a time, per room
- Even wearing comfy flats all weekend, my feet were still in agony on the walk back to the tube.
For anyone debating going next year, do go. It’s great fun, you learn lots, and meet loads of people, but be prepared to be overwhelmed the first time. For those who went for the first time and were totally overwhelmed and don’t therefore want to go again, do try it a second time. It’s always calmer and more enjoyable the second (or third) time.
Thanks to everyone who made it such fun, and for all the hard work Britmums put into organising it.
Did you go? Will you be there next year?