I’ve worked incredibly hard on my little blog over the past few months, and as I mentioned recently on my two year ‘blog birthday’, my confidence has increased massively. So much so, that on Saturday I found myself catching a train down to London to go to the massively anticipated Blogfest, hosted by Mumsnet.
I decided that I was not going to stay over, and would do the event in one day – something I will definitely not attempt to again! It was an incredibly long day, from leaving my house at 5.15 am to walking back in just before midnight, but it was more than worth it.
I caught the 6.12am train from Birmingham to Marylebone. It was a lovely journey – the train was quiet and I could sit back and relax for a couple of hours – bliss!! Once I got to Marylebone, I had a short walk to Baker Street and got on a tube to Kings Cross/St Pancras. The tube was the part of the day I was most dreading, but it really is easier than it looks.
I’d arranged to meet my blogging bestie, Zara from Mojo Blogs and a few other lovely bloggers in Pret a Manger in King Cross. I got there no problem – or so I thought – and no one was there. Several whatsapp messages later and a conversation with a bemused Yo Sushi chef, it turned out I was in the right place…at the wrong station! They were all waiting in Kings Cross. I was in St Pancras. Oops!
We got there just in time to grab our badges and a seat in the main room ready for the first talk – ‘A Room of Ones Own: Motherhood and Creativity’. The line up of speakers included the fantastic Margaret Atwood (via live link), Meera Syal CBE, Bridget Christie, Polly Vernon, Catherine Mann and Bryony Gordon. Sadly, the live link with Margaret Atwood didn’t work very well and no one could hear what she was saying. The others made me howl with laughter and raised some really good points about juggling parenting, creativity and work. At times it did feel like the odd bit of man bashing crept in, and there were a few points I disagreed with, but there were certainly a lot of things to think about.
I also attended a round table discussion about blogging, self esteem and inclusion, which was more like an informal chat between bloggers. It was lovely to hear about what motivates others to write, and their issues and experiences with confidence and dealing with trolls.
The most useful session I went to was a talk on building your brand and digital marketing for bloggers. I learned some really interesting things, which I may blog about at some point, and came away with some ideas and hints for helping to improve the branding of my blog.
My favourite session was the final one, with some journalists and speakers that I very much admire – Fi Glover, Lucy Cavendish, Shappi Khorsandi and Robert Crampton. They were talking about just how much of our private lives are shared online. It is something that has crossed my mind on more than one occasion, and it was interesting to hear how they deal with sharing their lives with millions of people online and in print.
It was lovely to meet the gorgeous Philippa from Sounding Like My Mother, Laura from Laura’s Lovely Blog, Franca from A Moment With Franca and Hannah from Hannah Spannah Coco Banana – all people I have talked to over Facebook/Twitter/Whatsapp for months! At the round table discussion it was lovely to meet Clare from Mumsy Midwife, and finally get to talk to Leigh from Headspace Perspective, who headed the talk, and Aby from You Baby Me Mummy. On the evening I got chance to talk to Emma from Me, The Man and The Kids and Two Point Four Dad, who took us to the pub! I also got a sneaky photo with David Baddiel, whose session I sadly missed.
We didn’t spend an awful lot of time with the brands. To me, the event was much more about meeting other bloggers and getting inspiration. However, the brands that were there were great. I had a chat to the guys from Arla Milk and have enough vouchers to keep us stocked up in milk for a while, and had fun playing a taste game with Coca Cola. Turns out I can tell diet coke and regular coke by taste, but not coke zero or life! We also went and talked to Unilever, who are launching a big environmental campaign.
The Blogfest Awards & Drinks Reception
The Mumsnet Blogfest awards, which were presented by Shappi Khorsandi made us all laugh and cry. The winners definitely deserved their prizes – I was over the moon to see fellow Brummy Emma from Brummy Mummy of 2 win the award for Best Vlogger! When the award were over, we headed upstairs for a drink or six.
I have to admit I think that this was my favourite part of the day. We could all let our hair down a bit, have a few drinks and canapes and get to know each other. I definitely took advantage of the free drinks – prosecco, gin and vodka cocktails and all the wine that I could drink. It was nice to be out, without the kids, with people who have so much in common. It was weird how easy it was to talk to people that I have never met in person before – obviously helped by the rather large amount of booze consumed, but also because as a majority, the blogging world is so incredibly friendly. We talk to each other all day on Facebook and Twitter, we read each others blogs and know so much about each others lives. Meeting in person is just like meeting an old friend.
After a long, slightly delayed and stressful (drunken!) train journey home, I fell into my house (literally, I tripped over the huge goody bag!) just before midnight. It was an absolutely amazing day, full of inspiration and laughter. Roll on next year’s event!!