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Please note. I wrote this post (or started writing it) in June after going to Britmums Live. The reason is not that I didn’t think the event was worthy of my writing about it. The opposite of that, in fact: I was so overwhelmed by the whole experience I struggled to put it into words. However, it has been sitting in my drafts box for months and I feel bad everytime I look at it so I have decided to bite the bullet and try to finish it off.
Britmums Live! Oh where to start! I honestly don’t have a clue. It was utterly amazing. I’m still in awe of all the speakers I saw, workshops I attended, amazing bloggers I talked to….
I think the only logical place to start is the beginning. So I was at work on Friday so I missed the entire daytime session. I didn’t realise when I booked it that it was on the Friday and the Saturday and by the time I’d realised I knew I didn’t have any holiday left and that I would have to come down after work. I had planned to leave my car at the office, take the bus into Reading and then take the train to Moorgate Station near where the event was being held. On the way into work in the morning I was picking up a friend who I work with and I was telling her about my plans for the weekend and she suggested that, as she also needed to get to London, perhaps I could drive, park at her parents house near Vauxhall (not that far from the venue) and take the bus/train to the venue. This would save me the hassle of at least some of the public transport part of the journey and also would mean that I wouldn’t have to fork out for a taxi from Reading town centre to where the office is (there is a free bus during the week but it doesn’t run at the weekend and it is, by all accounts, a bit of a bugger to get to). All day I was wishing I was at the event with everyone else, watching all the tweets about #britmumslive, wishing the minutes would go faster!
At 5pm we left and started driving into London. The TomTom said that it would take an additional 30 minutes due to traffic – which worked out at about an hour and a half total. Once we finally got there, I got changed at my friend’s house (fastest clothes change ever) and went to get the bus (thanks Yali for pointing me to the right bus). When I got on the bus I sat next to someone, who I later realised must be homeless. I didn’t notice at first but some people getting on the bus gave me a funny look for being sat next to him (I assume). When I first got on I was so busy faffing with my suitcase that I just jumped into the nearest seat – now, I’m not saying I wouldn’t sit next to a homeless person. I absolutely would I would settle down on the floor and have a cup of tea with them, but he did smell a bit but I didn’t want to be rude and move seats. If I glanced at him I tried to make sure I smiled and didn’t make him feel uncomfortable. Although if I’m honest, I felt a little uncomfortable myself. I also wondered if he really wanted to be sat next to me. He might have liked having two seats to himself. Anyway, I digress.
After the train I got on the tube – Victoria line to… somewhere (I’ve forgotten already) and then northern line to Moorgate. Then I walked to the event (once I’d typed in the correct address as the TomTom was saying it was a half hour walk to the event – it wasn’t). I got a funny look from one of the bouncers/door men who told me the event had finished and I told him I was meeting some people there and I knew they were inside. I went up and found the hall they were in, found the lovely Victoria from Vevivos, followed shortly by a glass of white plonk!
After a while of chatting we were very nicely asked to move on our way by some of the organisers so we headed off to our restaurant, which was a lovely Turkish restaurant not too far away. The food was lovely. The wine was the lovely Angora that I’d been drinking on holiday – who’d have thought the Turks would learn to make bloody nice wine (sorry, any Turkish people reading – but if you, like I, used to go to Turkey 7 or 8 years ago you would know that the wine back then was not as nice and as easy to get as it is now). I’ve just realised that I’ve used the word “lovely” a lot in the last paragraph. Oh well, it was. I will try to use a different word from now on though. I sat opposite the lovely Carole Holland of Carole Finds Her Wings who was sat next to Jaime of The Olivers Madhouse. Between us we shared some very personal stories and talked about how we got through them and how we are now (survivors). On my right was @MaddieSinclair of Gammon & Chips – an Aussie who shares my love of Doug Anthony Allstars and Kevin Bloody Wilson. She’s a bloody good laugh and LOVES shots!!!
After we all left the restaurant and headed back to the Travel Lodge, everyone went to bed but I was so buzzed (and possibly not as tired as everyone else who had been there all day) and so I dumped my stuff in my room and came down to the bar and got chatting to a bloke on his own at the bar (no, not like that). He was very nice. Older (perhaps late late 40’s/early 50’s – if he’s reading this and I’ve got that completely wrong, sorry about that). I can’t remember what he does but its something to do with infrastructure (can’t remember how – yes, I was quite drunk). Anyway, we kept nipping out the front to have ciggies (me rollies, him normal) and he bought me another glass of wine (I saw the bar man pour it and everything) which I didn’t drink in the end cos I felt a bit too drunk before I’d even drunk it and suddenly decided that it was bed time. He said “when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go” and we said good night and I went to my room, sat on the toilet and then threw up in the sink! Yes, yes, I know. Yuck!
The next morning, I woke up around 7 feeling pretty rough and made myself a cup of tea and lay in bed drinking it, thinking to myself “must get up now, must get up now”. Eventually, I managed to get in the shower (man those things are good sometimes) and chucked my stuff in my wheelie case and headed down for breakfast (I put some makeup on first as didn’t want to scare all those other bloggers away). I met up with Judith and Anouk downstairs and we had breakfast and headed down to the venue a little later: after a really rubbish (cold) fried breakfast most of which I didn’t eat because it was too cold and the sausages didn’t taste of anything. But I did have a lovely cup of earl grey and two cups of apple juice, which made me feel a bit better. Oh and a bowl of cocoa pops as the fried breaky wasn’t up to muster.
When I got to the venue, I was just in awe. I was a little late for the first talk which was by the beautiful and brave Katie Piper. I really wish I hadn’t missed the beginning of her talk but she talked so eloquently and honestly about her experiences and her ordeal and how supportive her family have been. After that I went to find some coffee (my only criticism of BritMums Live is that there was no decent coffee – ie a good latte – available. Maybe next time they can get Starbucks to have a stand… lol) and mooch around the stalls. I met up with Carole again and we went round all the stalls seeing what they were all about (and what free stuff they were giving out – hey, who can say no to free stuff??!!).
That is the end of my post that I wrote directly after the event. Now I have to try to remember back to June. I think I will just give my highlights not necessarily in the order in which they happened!
Sessions I went to:
- Blogging from the Heart Session – tear jerking session with four lovely bloggers sharing their reasons for blogging and how blogging has really been a big source of support in their lives
- Pinterest Session – Interesting. I still haven’t started using it as much as maybe I should
- Social Media session – very entertaining and informative
- WordPress Workshop – Very useful session which I made notes about but haven’t yet put any of them into practice!
Highlight of the entire event:
The keynotes at the end of the Saturday. The blog readings had me laughing and crying. And one of the reasons I have taken so long to write this post was the overwhelming feeling of what happened at the end. Watching the presentation about Kerry of Multiple Mummy who died last year. Seeing her own thoughts and statements about life come across the screen, photos of her and her family…. I won’t pretend I know her. I only found out about her, and her blog, after she had gone into hospital. After the presentation, which was right at the very end of the Keynotes, a message came on the screen asking us to sing. The song Firework by Katy Perry came on the screen with the words. Everyone stood up and sang it. I can’t actually describe with any justice how it felt to be part of that. It was amazing, moving, heart-breaking, wonderful, painful. All of those things and more.
I probably haven’t even done it justice with my words but the whole event moved me more than I thought possible – the sheer size of the event – 500 odd bloggers in one event… the connections, the stories, the freebies, the information to absorb. If I had any advise to any new blogger wondering if they should brave Britmums Live, I would say DO IT! You won’t regret it!