Last weekend I was one of the many bloggers who made their way to London for BritMums Live 2014, having bought my ticket immediately after last year’s event as a birthday present to myself (it is always the weekend before my birthday).
Last year I had a great time but I don’t think I made the most of it because I let my nerves and inexperience get the better of me. This year I enjoyed it much more because I was easier on myself and went with no real expectations other than it was a weekend adventure away by myself with friends – both old, new and never-met-IRL.
I did look through the schedule before I went but aside from one session on the Friday that I really wanted to attend I decided I would play the rest by ear.
I was a bit nervous when I arrived but meeting up in All-Bar-One before everything kicked off meant that I could have a large G&T for courage (and to recover from a train journey that involved being sandwiched between two primary school trips to London – I *needed* that drink!) and I got to see some people before we all got swallowed up by the chaos of the even itself.
It was lovely to see everyone and I really enjoyed chatting to @Ojosworld and walking to join the epic queue with her to get in – I forget how great it is putting real voices and moving faces to people I usually only speak to in 140 characters at a time!
Once in, I quickly found the Lindemans wine sampling station and topped up my Dutch courage – and also found lots of old and new friends, especially Claire (@needaphone) who utterly dismissed the last of my nerves and lingering feelings of being there under false pretences due to my blog being a bit quiet and understated. In her company I was quickly reassured, grounded and giggling profusely and more than ready to dive into the rest of the weekend.
The opening keynote by Emma Freud was lovely although I will admit to moving tables midway through as I felt a bit awkward and unwanted at the table I randomly plonked myself down at – the only time I got that feeling all weekend, as if I had sat down at the popular table at school when I firmly belonged in the nerd club. It was odd but I felt fine once I moved and I didn’t let it bother me anymore.
After the opening session I went and got Liberty‘s book signed by Hannah Beckerman before heading to the Writer’s Block & Unlocking the Creative Process session which was run by Hannah Beckerman, Amanda Jennings and Rowan Coleman.
This was a very interesting and friendly session where I picked up lots of tips and reinforced things I had learned at uni – I also learned that authors who also happen to be mothers drink lots of gin. Gin helps. Always.
Next up I headed to a session called Design Tips To Make Your Blog Look Gorgeous – I was late and it was packed so I ended up sat on the floor almost under a table but picked up a few handy tips from the ever-beautiful @CaptureByLucy.
Then it was time to drink some more wine in the pre-BiBs Award party (Brilliance in Blogging for those not in the know) – I enjoyed this part outside in the gorgeously decorated covered courtyard. It was nice to have some fresh air and mingling time (and wine) and by this time I had met up with Zoe (MamaGeek) and we were, to use her phrase ‘wined’ and therefore very giggly.
The BiBs were great fun (there was more wine) and then I tagged along to the meal with Zoe’s lovely sponsors and the other bloggers there with them where I switched from wine to cider and ate a lot of pizza before walking (probably not in a straight line) to the tube and back to my hotel.
I was greeted by a plate of chocolate, an apple and some free drinks coupons on top of DoubleTree’s famed warm welcome cookie – just what I needed to sober up a little bit before going to bed!!
In the morning my hair was very much still drunk but I felt fine and headed off back to the Brewery for day two!
I was awed and heartbroken by Ben Brookes-Dutton‘s Keynote first thing – I can’t even imagine what it would be like to go through what he has and the fact that he can stand up and speak about it humbles me beyond measure. I am going to buy his book one day, even though I know it will break me to read it.
After that I joined the live LoveAllDads Podcasting session which was interesting although I don’t think I will ever have anything interesting enough to say to do my own Podcast.
Then I skipped the next sessions because nothing took my fancy and used the time to peruse what was on offer from all the sponsors and brands and to say hello to people and have a bit of a chat. (And also eat half my bodyweight in Morrison’s Chorizo and Green Bean Fritters which are seriously tasty and dangerously moreish. Oh, and I drank some more free wine – hair of the dog and all that jazz.)
Then it was off to a session about different kinds of collaboration and how working together can work to boost your blog, raise awareness of causes, raise money and create amazing things. This was really interesting as I do work with other blogs as well as this one and collaborating on projects is something I do reasonably often.
On a whim after this I went into the food photography session – I had planned on doing more mingling at this point but I knew a few people I wanted to catch and hug were in there (*waves @theboyandme*) so I decided to sneak in. It turned out to be one of my favourite sessions with a practical element to practise all the tips and tricks we were given at the start about arranging props, making the best of light and playing with different angles. I came away with some new friends, a head full of ideas and a phone full of photos of a meringue.
I met up with Zoe again at lunch time and we were rather amused to be interviewed by a chap in the Heinz Baby lounge – it is quite a long time since my two were eating baby food but I muddled through!!
Then a very interesting session about using YouTube – again a platform I’m not sure I will ever really use for my blog but could well come in useful for those collaboration projects I was talking about earlier…
The last session I went to was called Storytellingand was lead by Emily Beecher – the writer behind the Good Enough Mums Club musical. It was incredible – I left feeling inspired, encouraged not just as a writer but as a person and a mother and I shed a few tears too. It was a very powerful session indeed.
Then it was time for the closing of the event – the Bloggers Keynote where 12 bloggers had been invited to read blog posts from their blogs out. This bit encompassed what had brought us all there – the reasons we blog. There were poems, posts that had us giggling, posts that had us nodding in agreement and sympathy, posts that had us sobbing as we shared fears and grief. They were all brilliant and all totally different – just like all the people in the room.
The grand finale was the world premiere and sneak preview of the Good Enough Mums Club musical which was down to earth and hilarious. Imagine a room full of parent bloggers singing ‘Heads, shoulders, knees and boobs‘ in comic lament about how having children leaves its marks on us physically (yes, we did the actions. And cried laughing.) It was fantastic but the thing that got me the most was that it finished up with us all taking the Good Enough Mums Club Pledge – because Good Enough is Best. And we are all good enough because we do our best and we love with all our hearts.
That is what I take away from this year’s BritMums most of all – we are all different and we all blog for our own reasons and yet together we help each other, hold each other up and cheer each other along or just offer a quiet hand to hold when one is needed and that’s fine. We are all good enough in our own right, we just do things differently.