So this last Friday and Saturday saw myself attend (along with about 700 other bloggers!) Britmums Live here in London. For those who aren’t bloggers themselves, it is essentially two days of inspirational talks and workshops aimed at the blogging community, plus a chance to catch up with old friends, make new ones, and chat to various brands/companies who you may or may not be interested in working with/finding out more.
I sit here on Monday night (still feeling slightly dicky- I have suspicions that my epic hangover on Saturday might actually have been a low level bug. I’m telling myself that anyway!) and I have a whole mixture of emotions about the weekend, some I wasn’t really expecting to have.
I was staying at the fabulous Montcalm Hotel on the site of the conference. When I first checked in and arrived at my room, I was surprised at suddenly how nervous I felt. For someone who characterises herself as being pretty outgoing and fairly unflappable, this feeling wasn’t one I was used to, but understandable given the circumstances. Attending something like this is a mixture of a blind date, the first night in the Big Brother House, and a stalkers convention, where you finally get to meet the people you’ve been reading about for AGES, even if they have no idea who you are! It’s a surreal experience having a chat with someone when you know intimate details about their mental health, their relationship, and even the state of their post-birth vajayjay (I kid you not!), when they might not have a clue who the hell you are. If you’re not a blogger, you may think this slightly odd (and I don’t blame you).
I feel very lucky that I feel that I got to chat to lots of people over the course of two days, and I am eternally grateful to have had Katrina, who I felt was a mini wing-woman and someone to check in with. We didn’t live in each other’s pockets and went to different sessions, but it was comforting to have someone I knew I could text and say “Where are you?” if we needed each other. It was great to meet Emma and Sian, relative newbies like Katrina and I, and like most people I met, wish I had spent more time with them. Alison was a star, and took me under her wing a bit on the Friday, introducing me to Charlotte (long-term blog crush alert!). We sloped off early Friday evening for a drink or two in All Bar One, and it was nice to chat properly and get away from the madness for a bit. We then went for a much-needed wine-soaking-up dinner at Pizza East, with Kelly, Jenny, Morgana, Alice, Katie and Lucy, who were lovely, and made me feel welcome, even though I felt like I was gatecrashing their catch up a bit.
Next day I felt HORRENDOUS, and my 6.45 wake up call from the hotel was needed but nevertheless, unappreciated! After a month off the sauce, I thought I’d be okay having a few drinks throughout the course of Friday, but come Saturday morning my body was telling me otherwise (Steph, you were right to tell me to go easy on the vino! Screw you, Laithwaites wine stand! ;-)). Going off on a tangent, this has confirmed that wine and me do not mix well anymore, so I’m back on the wagon again, I actually thought I was dying Saturday evening! As a result of this self-inflicted demise, I wasn’t obviously feeling nearly as sociable and perky on Saturday, which was a shame, as there were other people I really wanted to talk to but I’ll be honest: I just couldn’t face it. Plus I had ever-increasing (hangover) paranoia that I’d made a dick out of myself on Friday, so I spent a lot of Saturday skulking from workshop-to-workshop keeping my head down a bit. Booze is bad folks!
Despite my (ahem), ‘condition’, I found the workshops well run, inspiring, and felt that I came away from most of them having learnt something (Hello, SEO and Google Plus!), and was SO glad I went to the photography one, as I feel a ton more knowledgeable about DSLR lighting and lenses, which I feel will help my blog become a better place picture-wise. The majority of speakers at Britmums were fantastic. Hayley from ‘Down Side Up’ was so inspiring whilst talking in the ‘Be an Advocacy of Change’ workshop, and didn’t help my hungover emo-ness dissapear- she made many listeners shed a tear. I found Emma Freud a funny, engaging and intelligent speaker, but a shame that a speech that was aimed prodimemtly at women, contained some mixed messages about how to get to the top. Kiran (who I WISH i’d spent more time with!) sums it up beautifully in this post.
Come Saturday afternoon I felt rather burnt out- physically and emotionally (again, something that surprised me). I didn’t bank on it being quite so tiring talking to so many people. Several times I slipped away just to get some headspace and some time to myself, which was definitely needed. Yet another surprising thing I have learnt about myself- I actually need time alone! I used to think I was a total social butterfly but the older I get, the more I realise I do like my own space. Whilst you totally want to be yourself, you of course want to be the best version of yourself, and this is actually quite draining! So after the main workshops had finished, I slipped away, glad to be heading home to my babies.
I was so pleased to meet Katie, Emma, Steph, Jai, Alison, Maddie, Kirsty and Clara, Lauren, Carissa, Elfa and Bonita. Sorry if I’ve forgotten anyone else who I prattled on to, my brain is fried!
I wish I’d spent more time catching up with Emma, Vicki and Lauren, but at an event like this it’s IMPOSSIBLE to have quality time with everyone. I like to attend another blogging event, maybe a smaller one, so it doesn’t feel so overwhelming.
So would I go back to Britmums Live next year? Yes, I think so.
Next year I would:
- Definitely stay in The Montcalm again- it’s awesome!
- NOT DRINK! I feel I would have had my wits about me more had I been sober, and not such a whirlwind. I would have noticed those feeling a bit rubbish, and made more of an effort, something I feel guilty about having a read a few other posts by people who said they felt lost.
- Hopefully know a few of the people I’ve met a bit better, so will go to the conference not so anxious about impressing people, or trying to ‘fit in’. Schoolyard I know! I will be the pinnicle of calm and grace (ha!)
- Take more photos! I barely took any bar the one above (MOST unlike me!). Must. Do. Better.
- Erm, have a business card photo with the same hairdo on it that I have at the conference. Fringe? No fringe? It was confusing some people.
So there you have it, my ‘Britmums’ experience! I have to say, it’s been really interesting reading some of the posts about the event, and it makes you realise that sometimes, you just don’t know how someone felt until afterwards.
Roll on, next year- If I can squeeze it in before my wedding that is!
It was so lovely to meet you, even if we didn’t get to have a proper chat! It was my third year and I still got a bit overwhelmed by all the people. See you next June 😉
Haha, definitely Bex! You were actually one of the first bloggers I recognised when I’d just checked into my hotel room, but were with a few people and I bottled it, doh! Silly, I know… I will be braver next time! x
I thought you were brilliantly funny on Friday and had such a giggle with you. Sorry you had the beer fear the next day. I am still destroyed now (I must have a low level bug too ;)) . xx
Ah thank you lady! I had so much fun, but beer fear did get to me the next day! So good to meet you xx
You did so well to just embrace the madness, like you did. You definitely weren’t gatecrashing our dinner either, I’m a more-the-merrier person. Hope your low level bug clears up soon! x
Thank you lovely! You were so kind to invite me along, although I fear I wasn’t well-received by everyone! The kids were food intolerance tested yesterday (eczema-related), and I asked the lady to test me on wine, as I felt SO rough after Friday night, and I came back as being intolerant of white wine and rose (that I don’t even drink), but red is ok for me apparently. Would explain why I felt so ill and felt like I did actually have a bug! Am going to write a more detailed blog post on it soon x
Lovely to meet you too sweetheart! Bar the Butlins man loved you and HATED ME! ha ha ha ha!!! Glad you had fun. It was totes overwhelming. I too shall not drink too much wine and I am so glad I stopped at like 10ish. But I am still exhausted you know. Urgh. Hope to see you at Mumsnet? If not same time next year!!! xxx
He did not hate you at all! I stopped the vino fairly early, but I think I consumed a fair amount throughout the course of the day that it didn’t make a difference, whoops! Thinking of going to Mumsnet (sober!)- bit nervous as this was quite intense. You going? Would be good to see a friendly face. x
It is really interesting to read all these post-Brit Mums posts because it felt so different to this just following it all on the Twitter in real time too! It makes me realise that this is a huge and slightly overwhelming event and when I go next year hopefully I’ll be a bit prepared for that! (and also not to drink too much wine 😉 ) X
DEFINITELY don’t drink too much wine! I think everyone who did felt a bit a bit fuzzy about the whole thing and had the ‘beer fear’ the day after! It was great fun, quite intense. I think you just have to take it in your stride, don’t get too caught up in ‘networking’ and worrying about who is doing what, and just remember what YOU love about blogging- that’s my advice anyway! x
Thanks Becky I will keep that in mind! 🙂
It was really lovely to meet you and a pleasure to spend the evening with you, don’t worry about the drunkness, we all do it occasionally (I know I do!) I thought you were fine and wouldn’t have been able to tell! You didn’t gate crash either, it was lovely to meet you! xx
Thank you Katie, it was so lovely to meet you! I was definitely very drunk despite appearances, as I have vague memories of eating your broccoli stalks, and I was sure I had a chicken pizza, where as the receipt I found in my handbag for Pizza East a few days later informed me it was, in fact, a sausage one! Hopefully will meet you again soon sober! xx
Haha!! ‘A mixture of a blind date, first night in the Big Brother House and a stalkers convention’ This really made me laugh! but pretty much sums up the Friday for me! It was really lovely to meet you, definitely keep in touch and let me know if you find any smaller blogger events to go to. I head Blogtacular is amazing but not on until next year now x
Lovely to meet you too! I’m going to that Mumsnet Blog Fest thing on the 8th November if you’re up for that? x
Oh, Becky Boo Boo, I think i love you!! I’m so pleased we met, before britmums & spent time together through the madness, & i hope you don’t think me dreadfully odd…..but i happen to consider you a real ‘fweend’ ?! *awaits the unfollows, & silent treatment* 🙂 xx
Aaw don’t be silly, I definitely count you as a ‘real life’ friend now! As I said, it was great have a consistently friendly face through the craziness! xx