Britmums Live is the biggest blogging event of the year and is dated in all blogger's diaries as an event not to be missed. I had heard so much hype and excitement buzzing around this event that I just had to attend.
On Friday 22nd of June I packed my bags and with my iPad in hand, I prepared for a whole weekend away in London. A weekend full of blogging seminars with fellow bloggers who wanted to meet new people and polish up their blogging skills.
This date had been in my diary for months, but it quickly came around and on that morning I gave Leo a longer than normal embrace, you see that cuddle had to last him...and me all weekend long. Leo was going to be staying at home with his Daddy and his Granny, where he would have a great time and not even realise that I had gone.
I took one more loving gaze at Leo before getting out of the car and heading to catch my train. A train that would take me accross country, far away from him. Where I would learn many new things and meet many inspirational women.
Have you ever had that feeling where you feel you have forgotten something?
On my Two hour journey to London I had this feeling. I had either forgotten a very important item...Or a special someone. It turns out I had everything I needed but that special someone I was missing was Leo, and travelling alone is not something I am accustomed to. I suddenly realised that I hide behind my baby boy, and he helps break the ice with people with his bright Blue eyes and beautiful smile. Usually I find many people to speak to on the train, on this occasion though...Leo was not here, and I was left to stare out of the window.
As the journey progressed and we neared London Paddington, the butterfly's in my tummy seemed to have a mind of their own. They were up and down and it was apparent that along with my excitement, I was also very nervous.
Arriving into London Paddington and heading up to the Taxi rank is something I have become accustomed to. It was strange not to have Leo in his buggy and being able to go up the escalator instead of the lift was a luxury I had long forgotten. The taxi pulled up along side me and asked me where I was going. To my dis-belief I was informed that this 10 minute journey from the station to our hotel was going to cost me £30.00 due to apparent road closures. Now I may be skeptical but I knew right there and then he was having me on. I told him to forget it and I would wait for another taxi, and that is exactly what I did. My taxi journey cost me £12.00.
My nerves had all but vanished by the time I met my room mate for the weekend - Bex over at Mummy Adventure. In the butterfly's place was pure excitement. Bex and I soon arrived at Britmums Live and were instantly looking around for familiar faces, for me though I did not recognize a single person.
Walking into the Brewery and seeing bloggers in every direction was pretty amazing. I looked around the room and kept wondering who had which blog. Everyone was now making their way into the Hub where all the brands had set up their stands. To name a few brands in attendance we had Crocs, Lego, Johnsons and Disney!
As soon as we walked inside we were soon carrying around many a goodie bag, before we had even started any seminars. Particular brands that stood out for me were Crocs, Lego, Warner Brothers and Disney.
The message of the session was an important one: you must always make sure you keep your voice. remembering the reason you started blogging in the first place, keeps your blog authentic and from the heart. It does not matter if people disagree with what you have to say, the whole point is to write what you want to write. Not what you feel other's may want to read. You need to have confidence to push yourself to the next level.
With sessions over for Friday, it was time to attend the Brilliance in Blogging awards. Katie Hill was to be presenting these prestigious awards to the winners, and it was lovely to watch the winner's reactions, when they were called up to accept the award. Everyone had clearly prepared the speech and gracefully accepted their awards. I could not help thinking how brave they were going up there and talking to the masses of bloggers who were sat sipping their Champagne.
Britmums had covered every base. Where you have Champagne and wine...You obviously need big muscly men with not all that much on to fill your glass each time it mistakenly gets drunk. These men were known as the Wine Buffs....Looking at them you can see how they got that name, with their rippling biceps and perfectly formed 6 packs, oh and those little pants...They certainly were buff.
You know that they are very special when you show your other half a photo of them and he says 'WOW'!
We were lucky enough to meet some great people and bloggers, and ended up heading out for dinner with everyone. Upon returning to the hotel, Bex and I stayed up for hours chatting about anything and everything. It was like being a child again and having your best friend around for a sleep over. Blogging has introduced me to some amazing friends, who started out as nothing more than a Twitter avatar on my computer, and progressed into a real life friendship.
With a few hours sleep under our belts and no real hangover to speak of, it was back to Britmums for our first full day of seminars. Vikki from Love From Mummy and Angela from Mum of Three Boys joined us at the hotel so we could all ride together for the short taxi ride to the Brewery.
I felt so much more confident on our second day, armed with my iPad and many a business cards, I was determined to learn plenty and mingle with as many people as possible. I handed out my cards to everyone and anyone. I spoke to as many people as I could before we were beckoned into the first seminar of the day.
The morning started with a great keynote from Sarah Brown, and I was impressed to know that even she was caught up in the addicting world of Twitter. Sarah was funny and witty and while she was talking had the whole rooms attention on her.
The keynote was followed by Two Beginning Blogging Sessions. We were told all about the laws relevant to blogging and how we must always speak honestly. When reviewing a item you must stick to the facts, by going off on a tangent you risk de-faming a company and/or brand. This can lead to not so great legal proceedings being filed against you. It was not all doom and gloom though and topics soon moved along to Search Engine Optimization, which can really help drive in traffic to your blog. I intend to look into this further when both the boy's in my life give me 5 minutes...
After the double session we did take the time to mingle further with the brands. It was so nice to talk to people about how they worked with bloggers and share details on how this could be a possibility. Lego had a very steady queue of people lining up for their turn to decorate a cake, the cake with the most creativity was to win!
I of course had a little dabble in decorating my cake, but it was no winner. Unfortunately I am not a huge icing fan, so I was pretty stingy with all of the decorations.
I attended a session entitled 'Sod The Stat's' and for me this really stood out. I have to admit that I do religiously check how many hits my site has, on a rather regular basis. However I know I am not alone in this. I think you can blog for happiness and also take a
unhealthy interest in the numbers that come along with it. Some truly inspirational women spoke out in this session, I sat their with my heart on my sleeve listening to their stories. Their reasons for blogging were completely unique, and edged on a more tragic note to my own.
I really felt for these women who had the heartache of losing a child, but found the strength to reach out and share their journey with people around them, helping others who were going through the same things they had.
Sara at Walking with angels really touched me. I highly recommend you check out her blog and follow her inspiring story.
You truly can blog for happiness and care about your stats, and you can blog for happiness and sod the stats. It is a personal that each and every blogger has to make.
I like stats and I love comments. They are feedback for the work I have put in and make me feel valued. I don't get emotional if for some reason I don't get comments but it is always great to know that someone has taken the time to read what you have written. I blog for Leo, and I blog for me. Time is so precious and before you know it, years have rolled by. I love knowing that in my little corner of cyber space, time is frozen. I can go back in time to when Leo was a newborn and re-live those moments that made me smile, or even cry.
This session almost had tears falling from my eyes, but I pulled myself together and told myself very sternly that I was not about to cry. No way was I about to do that.
The most amazing part of the conference for me was 'The Bloggers Keynote' - Some truly heartfelt, funny and emotional posts were read out. The impact of the post multiplied by x1000 with the post's author reading it as it was meant to be read.
Hayley from Downs Side Up, read her post 'What to Say When a Baby is Born with Down's Syndrome'. A post that demonstrated the raw emotion and love that had been poured into it. Watching Hayley up on that stage reciting her heartfelt words, I found the tears balling up in my eyes and sliding down my cheeks. I had no control over my feelings and as soon as Hayley said 'In summary, the birth of any of your children should not be by far and away the very worst day of your life.' I was a blubbering mess. I could not contain myself any longer, I felt the need to run up onto the stage and just give Hayley the biggest hug. She was amazing.
Ministry of Mum was up next, and this time around instead of tears just falling from my eyes, I could not contain the giggles that were relentlessly bestowed on me from her opening line. A post that was just so funny and true that even when her children found Mummy and Daddy in a very compromising position. Ministry of Mum kept her charm and audacity.
These Two posts for me showed how dynamic and unique each blog can be. It showed that one minute the whole room can be crying and in the next instance, laughing like there had been no tears there 5 minutes before. That is just amazing.
Britmums has been the most amazing event. I have learnt so much and met some incredible people. Now I need to go back through those all important notes and implement my lessons.
I would like to thank my sponsor - Kathleen at Slugs & Snails for all of her support in making sure I attended Britmums. Without Kat and her generosity I would not have been in attendance.
Keep your eye's pealed for Kat's latest Slugs & Snails designs. They are fresh,exciting and original and I personally cannot wait to see them. As soon as more details are provided, I cannot wait to share all Kat's creativity with you. **Watch this space**
You can follow Slugs & Snails on Twitter at Slugsandsnails0
Thanks again Kat!