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 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!