First things first. This weekend would not have been possible without our amazing sponsors, Care for the Family, who exist to provide resources and events that attempt equip the modern family for all that they may face. They have some great podcasts, books and tour info on their website.
Onto BritMums Live.
It got off to a bumpy start. I arrived on my own, not knowing anyone, with my big orange suitcase on wheels, straight from the train station. It seemed that most people had gone back to the hotel and changed first and looked amazing. I looked like a disheveled, slightly deranged commuter struggling to get into my M&S salad that I had forgotten to pick up a fork for.
I drifted into the sewing lounge, made a hairclip for the Bookworm and got a grip of myself. I got chatting to a lovely French food blogger – Croque-Maman – and regained a bit of confidence. When you’ve come alone, it seems like everybody else is already best of friends. I decided at that point to just put myself out there, so I then extroverted on everyone I saw.
The schedule was jam packed all weekend. I don’t entirely know where to start in recapping it all but here are just a few of my personal highlights.
- Breaking a Guinness world record. Yes, that’s true we did that. It was for the most people dressed as (very covered and extremely adjudicated) toilet tissue mummies in three minutes. I was a mummy, mummy. It was unbearably warm. At one point I couldn’t quite work out if I had fallen asleep standing up.
— GuinnessWorldRecords (@GWR) June 19, 2015
- The food. There were tiny cakes and filter coffee at every break. The lunch was of high calibre. I had a pot of pearl barley salad with lamb plus a box of ravioli. These had great flavour combinations, with well-balanced dressing and jus. The venue in general was outstanding (The Brewery, Moorgate). In the evening we were treated to an outpouring of wine, which just kept coming. Lindeman’s kindly put this on for us.
- There were a range of seminars. Some incredibly technical. Others for inspiration, and a good proportion practical. But the one which stood out to me was ‘Shouting Back: Women’s voices speaking truth loud, proud and online’. Eleanor Mills (editor of the Sunday Times & Women in Journalism), Katy Hill (of Blue Peter fame) and Christina Amarchey (Action Aid Ghana) led this session. It was inspiring to hear about some of the issues that these women have stood publicly for. Their stories pointed to the significance that women have in contributing to changes we wish to see in society.
- My favourite keynote speaker (rather surprisingly) was Caprice. It’s easy to judge supermodels, right? Even easier to judge the ones which had made million pounds by the time they were 25. After listening intently to this woman’s story it was evident life hadn’t been all plain sailing. She had endured some very difficult times and came out stronger for it. Note to self: judge supermodels less.
- I’m not going to lie; the last hour of the conference was heavy going. It was called ‘The Bloggers’ Keynote’. This was where selected bloggers, which had been chosen by vote, read one of their favourite or most highly viewed posts. The women reading these stories are true heroines. These posts spoke of courage, sadness, strength and thankfully a few wonderfully humorous posts were also shared. It’s a very odd thing to be sat in fairly close proximity to virtual strangers who are mostly crying, and to find yourself included in it. Like some weird group therapy, it was a very powerful thing. It brought home the significance of why we do it, why we blog and what the BritMums community stands for.
- But it wasn’t all tears! There was much laughter, wine and hilarity throughout. Did I mention the Twinderloos? But reserving the best for last, my absolute highlight was meeting the people behind the blogs that I have come to know over the last few months. There are too many wonderful bloggers to mention. The appropriately named Something Crunchy Mummy even gave me a cereal bar when I was almost passing out from hunger because of that impenetrable M&S salad. After I got home I realised I had probably chatted to over 30 people. I found quite a few people in the North West who I may actually be able to hang out with in real life. Imagine! And I definitely intend to keep these other new friendships alive online, by reading, commenting on and sharing each other’s work.
I look forward to attending more blogging conferences next year and feel very privileged to have had BritMums Live as my first one.
If I return next year I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for anyone on their own, looking as lost and nervous as I did, and go chat to them.