Last weekend I packed my suitcase and set off for London town to attend Britmums Live. It would be the first time I had left Wilf over night and I was staying for not one but two nights! This time last year (minus a few weeks) I had never even heard of Britmums. Then one year ago on Twitter I heard my friend Alice gush about what a amazing weekend she had had at the yearly event. I clicked on the hashtag britmumslive and was confronted with hundreds of jubilant tweets, conversations of friendships made and lessons learnt. It sounded incredible and with the tickets going straight on sale for the next year I went ahead and booked.
Six months or so after that it occurred to me that I would actually have to fund my travel and accommodation so I contacted Born, the first business I thought of when it came to a sponsor as they are a company I knew I could endorse wholeheartedly. Born were kind enough to take me up on the offer and despite not really knowing anyone who was going in person I was excited about all the blogging friends I would finally be meeting.
Fast forward another six months and here we are, Britmums Live 2013, so what did I think?
My initial thoughts open entering the venue where of being quite literally overwhelmed. Thankfully I had recently made friends with some lovely south west bloggers including Jo, Ella, Kath and Jane and I did not feel quite so intimidated. Britmums have some lovely people called 'butterflies' there to make new comers not feel so nervous and I think thats a wonderful idea. Gemma greeting us and was a lovely smiley face upon arrival.
I bumped into blogger after blogger that I have chatted to over the past year or so via twitter or blogging and it was really lovely to put faces to names and never once felt weird or awkward. There was a great sense of community and it felt great to be part of such a group of parents. It was lovely to meet up with Gill again (we first met as bloggers on a Pregnancy and Birth magazine shoot when we looked quite different to today!). I also finally got to meet Pippa from Story Of Mum who may just be the loveliest person I have ever met. You can see the picture she took of me for her 'I am a mum and I am a....' project here.
I have to admit to finding some of the discussions a bit lacking. I think they would have been excellent for people just starting out in the blogging world, but four years on I feel like most of the topics had already been discussed. I would have liked to have seen more talks on social media like the one given by 'Transatlantic Blonde' and Paul Armstrong. That being said the lifestyle talk was interesting in terms of how others think of their lifestyle blogs and it was nice to discover some 'new to me' blogs.
If I were to go again I think perhaps a system where certain topics could be discussed in greater detail for bloggers who perhaps felt they already had a certain grasp of the subject. Not a grading system put in place by the event but by the bloggers themselves in terms of where they felt they were at in regards to the topics being discussed. I'm certainly not saying I know it all (far from it!) but I feel like a half a medium level of understanding on most elements of blogging.
Talks aside I think one of the things that stands Britmums out is the friendships and sense of camaraderie in being a parent and a blogger. I still regret not sneaking off for a drink with Alice on Friday afternoon and I'm still going to mention that she told me I am 'much prettier and thinner in real life' (do I need a better camera?) ha!
The keynotes from the bloggers chosen were all fantastic for many different reasons, some uplifting, some funny, some heart breaking and all written and read from the heart. One of things I have been musing about since attending the event is the blogs I follow and read. As a very visual person I am often drawn towards lifestyle blogs with beautiful images, aspirational blogs with often not a huge amount of content or discussion. Since hearing some extracts from just a few of blogs from some of the 500 bloggers there it has made me feel all the more inspired to actually write. I don't consider myself much of a writer (partially as I am both dyslectic and dyspraxic but I have a new found interest in really putting more subject matter into my posts in the future.
I was overwhelmed by the support this parenting blogger network has for each other. It was refreshing to see so many people uniting and supporting each other through in some cases very tragic events. I cried at times (I wonder that there was a dry eye in the place at a few moments that weekend) not only for the subjects being spoken about but for the honest and heartfelt support I could feel in the room from every person there. Which alone was something quite powerful to experience.
P.S so as not make this the longest post in the world I am going to write about my time away from Wilf in another post!
P.P.S I also got to meet Hedwig off of Harry Potter, if you would like to see that then click here