Britmums Live 2014 – What REALLY happened!
Being a Brilliance in Blogging Award Finalist, I came to London feeling excited.
a) Winning the ‘Laugh’ category Award? Maybe
b) Meeting many of the real people behind their Blogs and Twitter handles? Maybe
c) Having a break from domestic duties and staying in a fabby hotel overnight with a chance to have a rainforest shower? Definitely!
However, standing in the altogether before Britmums Live 2014, only to find only a thin trickle of water running down my tummy, until the nice young man from Room Service came to sort it out, wasn’t the elegant start I’d hoped for. But moving swiftly on …
The first person I met in the foyer was:
Her Melness – a blogger I’ve read and admired from afar. Mel is a powerhouse of ideas and action who at the same time exudes warmth and compassion with a keen intellect.
She introduced me to a polished looking woman going by the name of Katy Hill. She looked vaguely familiar from the Britmums website, and not having watched Blue Peter since my Valerie Singleton, Peter Purves and John Noakes days way back when, I asked if she was a blogger. Indeed she was/is, so much so that she started one last year and won a BiB Award that evening.
One of my favourite places at the weekend was the Vitamix stand. This is NOT a sponsored post but I did feel healthier and revived after knocking back a few of their technicolour fruit and vegetable drinks.
Grapes, strawberries, ginger, spinach, beetroot – nothing was too wild to go into the blender.
Actually, ginger escaped – just – here she is. Ok, ok we don’t all have the latest camera phone.
This isn’t me, promise, though I probably had more than my fair share …
Magic juice! Whatever that lady put in the mix, it was cleaning my liver, refreshing my kidneys, rejuvenating my brain …
If my forebears could see the evolution of the common beetroot from bone-warming borscht into liver-cleansing smoothie, they’d be turning in their mass graves, if they’d ever got that far.
… and Runny isn’t going to be outdone on her way to another session.
This is only my second ever Blog Event. Despite printing out and ticking all the seminars, workshops and talks over the two days, my organisation slid gracefully down the plughole as I dashed from one talk to another just as it was ending or half way through.
Too much chatting, as an old teacher used to say.
Indeed, I got to Emma Freud’s fun, mostly tongue-in-cheek keynote talk a bit late. Not famous for my own powers of persuasion, I was impressed by her story of how she encouraged the six mobile phone operators to drop their previously high charges on charity texts, so that millions more pounds go straight to good causes rather than end up in those companies’ pockets. It took her about 200 emails and several months of discussions to get them to agree, but agree they did.
Big business doesn’t give up its profits easily, so if she used tried and tested methods of intelligence and deception as a means to a greater end, it’s nothing that the codebreakers of Bletchley Park didn’t do during WWII
Overall, I liked the fact she acknowledged it was her enthusiasm rather than any educational qualification that had got her places. Could have been the tiara too, but like Helen from Actually Mummy, this hasn’t stopped her from making a difference.
Next up, Women’s Voices and the Media: Making your voice matter
There’s not much that hasn’t been covered by Helen Wills in her post and the following comments!
Here are the organisers, Susanna and Jen. In tiaras of course!
The Award ceremony in the evening passed in a slow motion blur of adrenalin, anticipation and excitement. Katy Hill, who I’d met earlier and was presenting the Awards, had to ask kindly at first for noise reduction in the auditorium, and then quite strictly, as you’d expect from a children’s television presenter, to threaten to evict the culprits from the room and have them sit on the naughty step outside. Winner after shocked winner went to collect their Trophy and stumble back to their table a far, far happier Blogger than they have ever been. One of my favourites, Eamonn, from Who The Hell does he think he is? won in the Inspire category, but as he was in a hospice, couldn’t collect it himself. Puts things into perspective when you’re up for an Award.
Still, I practised my happy and sad face before the Laugh Category announcement, though secretly hoped this would be me in the picture.
But Wally Mummy was sitting next to me! What chance did I have? Her of the cheeky, rude blog which (I‘m sure she wouldn’t mind me saying) would be about 3 lines long in total if I edited it to show my son (!) She’s called Helen (another one) in real life, and having confidently confided in me earlier that she “definitely wasn’t going to win”, won. At least I got to see the the trophy and the champagne. One was made of glass. The other was made of glass and had useful stuff inside. Bottoms up, Helen!
Sadly, in the melée I missed the crowd who were off to the pre-arranged restaurant after the ceremony, but before I got to sit on the stairs and eat worms, was swept off to Wagamama by a lovely bunch of bloggers where I had my favourite roast duck in udon noodle soup with sake.
We got back to the hotel late and, too tired to party, stood and marvelled at the water running down the wall in the lobby. For a top hotel, you’d think they’d have sorted out their damp problem.
Feeling hot and tired after walking in large, lost, tipsy circles back to the hotel, Room Service man wasn’t around to sort out the shower again, so I rode up in the lift, wobbled down the corridor to my room, took off my party frock (I don’t have a photo but Jen put one up here) and spent 20 mins trying to turn off the lights. Sent one text just saying ‘Didn’t win’ and went to sleep.
I woke at 5am to a small mammoth wrestling several large trunks out of an adjacent room.
Back to sleep eventually.
Woke at 8.15
The first talk was 8.55 but I had to get up, shower, dress and race to coffee and pastries at The Brewery in fifteen minutes! As well as fielding a mobile phone full of message from ten times as many relatives as I texted last night.
Finally got out of the hotel and hot-footed it the 20 steps to …
Day 2 of Britmums Live.
I didn’t want to miss Hayley who gave an emotional and tearjerking address about her daughter Natty and her fight to raise awareness of Downs’ syndrome. Stunningly, Natty will be modelling Sainsbury’s Back to School campaign in the Autumn. We’ve come a long way since I was Natty’s age thank goodness.
Sitting near her was the formidable Camila Batmanghelidjh from Kids Company who, despite barely knowing how to turn on a computer herself, recognises Bloggers for their potential to spread the work about the hundreds of thousands of kids who live in dire poverty, as well as those who suffer abuse in their own homes. Most of those children self refer to the organisation and are living on only one meal a day, two if they’re lucky. Catch a glimpse of how some of these kids are living, and not living.
I offered my services as a blogger not knowing her team would get back to me within 48 hours. Do not turn away from Kids Company – these children are living their lives next door to us. What happens to them in the future is down to us.
I was so taken with what Camila and Hayley had to say, there was no time to draw the others on the platform. Apologies.
I know, I find it hard to decipher my own notes too.
Me, Sam who’s also the very funny 40 Year Old Domestic Goddess and Maxi Mum – we won’t be going to Butlins now
Hanging around with Jude, Helen, Jess, Katie and friends (although Pyjama Ma’s husband is looking after the kids for the weekend, you can see why she’s looking a bit concerned if you scroll down). Like the others, Katie was as gorgeous in real life as on her blog, while wondering if she was getting as much time out as her husband who was at the World Cup in Brazil. (Not playing I assume).
Pyjama Ma’s other half, Gary (DIY Dad), wonders where those kids have got to. He was doing so well too not losing them on the way home from school.
After some desperately moving keynote speeches, The Good Enough Mums Club performed for us – they had been rehearsing their new show, so we were lucky enough to be some of the first people EVER to see them.
Fabulous – look them up, take your buddies along and get fit at the same time !
I left with a goodie back heaving with stuff. I offloaded some of the heavier things for the 4 hour journey back home. Including suitcase and handbag, my chiropractor would have been rubbing her hands with glee. Up and down tube escalators, across station platforms and delayed trains, plus a taxi the other end. Shared most of the journey home with Alice, The Fairy Blogmother, an Award winning super blogger, who gave me her potted talk on the way, as I missed her speaking earlier. In the wrong place once again.
Loved meeting fellow bloggers and learning a bit more about how things really work in the Blogging world
Meeting Camila Batmangheligjh, HerMelness, Annabel from Countrywives, The Fairy Blogmother, Katie, Jess, Kanchan, Sam, Hayley, Renata, Kerrie and many others who were not only inspiring, but good company. Also, I pay tribute to Anya who was in fact a real butterfly, Britmums or otherwise.
Couldn’t fault it. Loved the outdoor garden area. The weather was on our side the whole time!
It was a fun 2 days and I congratulate the organisers for remaining soigné and well coiffed whilst shepherding 700 people through nearly 30 hours of blogginess. For the most part – tiaras all round!
Here’s one Blogger about to go home. Those window cleaners look hunky, Gummy might has offered to give them a hand.
Do you recognise this beautiful mother and child who was also playing with another baby on Saturday evening? You seemed to be more than a ‘Good Enough Mum’ to me.
I hope to see you all a year from now, but if we can’t come for whatever reason, I’ll still read your words. After all, it’s what makes us Bloggers.
(More next week, unless there’s no reception on our glamping trip or I’m too knackered!)