Britmums Live 2014 – What REALLY happened!

Being a Brilliance in Blogging Award Finalist, I came to London feeling excited.
About what?

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. 

Her Melness

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.

finalGinger&higher

This isn’t me, promise, though I probably had more than my fair share …

Finalserialmumvitamix

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.

finalrunnybritmums

… 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

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!

Susanna Scott & Jennifer Howze

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.

Mission Mum Brilliance in Blogging Awards

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.

kirst&clara

I was lucky enough to sit with Hayley from Downs Side Up who was giving a talk the following day, Renata and the irrepressible Kirsty and Clara. All wonderful company.

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

Panic!

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.

Camila Batmanghelidjh

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.

Camila and Hayley

I know, I find it hard to decipher my own notes too.

Next up, a talk on collaboration with Annabel from Countrywives, Tanya from Mummy Barrow and Maggy Woodley from Red Ted Art

Tania Barrow, Annabel Countrywives

Me, Sam who’s also the very funny 40 Year Old Domestic Goddess and Maxi Mum – we won’t be going to Butlins now

Me, Sam and Maxi Mum

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).

Afinalgroupbritmums

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.

DIY Dad with washing machine

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 !

Good Enough Mums Club

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.

Verdict:

Loved meeting fellow bloggers and learning a bit more about how things really work in the Blogging world

Highlight:

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.

Setting: 

Couldn’t fault it. Loved the outdoor garden area. The weather was on our side the whole time!

Overall:

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.

Gummy Mummy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Bmum&baby

 

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!)

 

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Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Kanchan@ The Intrepid Misadventurer - July 2, 2014

Love your illustration, and to be quite honest…love you too, Jo! You’re such great company and it’s uncanny how we get along so well having met for five minutes in person! It was a real pleasure putting a face to the name at BML. I think we’re definitely going to go off to a Cohen concert and plot about who gets to run off with him 🙂 x

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    Jo Sandelson - July 3, 2014

    Thank you for those comments Kanchan. Really means alot to me. You’re right, it’s brilliant to get on so well in real life. I found that the best blogs are so like their writers, it shouldn’t have been a surprise. But it was still lovely. And Leonard. I don’t know how long we’ve got as he’s not a young man – but just let me know when he’s next performing and will try my damndest to be there 🙂 X

    Reply
Renata - July 3, 2014

What a wonderful post Jo. Your cartoons are amazing. When’s the book deal?

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    Jo Sandelson - July 3, 2014

    Ah Renata – what a lovely thing to say. Books? Are they still around? Saw the agent on Friday but she told me she was a children’s publisher and then went back to sleep. Any advice from you would be welcome! x

    Reply
Izzie Anderton - July 3, 2014

Loving the complete low-down on what really happened at BritMums Live. Congratulations on making it into the finals in the Laugh category – this is a huge honour all by itself!

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    Jo Sandelson - July 3, 2014

    Hi Izzy, Thanks! I think Finalist better than Winner. a) you can get pissed and say what you like and b) Might have to go to Butlins – the sponsor/judge for Laugh – and I’d only do that as a stand-up (or sit down in my case). There was a whole lot more tbh. I had to pare it down and leave out the naughty bits or I won’t get invited back next year! It’s a bit like one’s wedding – all goes too fast and then you have to remember it through photos, friends and stained outfits. Not to mention the ubiquitous tiaras x

    Reply
Alice Elliott - July 3, 2014

Hi Jo, this shows what a wonderful time you had! In spite of watery hotels, missing events, meeting all sorts of interesting people and showing off your fabulous wardrobe, the weekend was a success. And good to know all your other 8 mums enjoyed themselves as well!

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    Jo Sandelson - July 3, 2014

    It was good to meet you and glad to share most of journey home – apart from delay at Didcot! Thanks for Masterclass between Moorgate and Paddington (though have forgotten most dammit).

    Reply
Kerrie McGiveron - July 3, 2014

These illustrations are great Jo, brought it all back for me! I wish I could have stood and chatted much more than I actually did with everyone. I think I was a bit overwhelmed at all of it to be honest, but that’s something to think about for next year! love your post and well-deserved beinga finalist – there’s always next year – but I don’t fancy being up against you again ha ha xxx

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    Jo Sandelson - July 3, 2014

    Thank you Kerrie. Everyone else including you looked like they knew what was going on – aren’t we all brilliant at pretending to be brave! Well done you for being a Finalist, though being up against each other makes no odds if we’re pipped at the post anyway. Should I say pipped BY the post. Sorry that’s a dreadful pun.Xx

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Actually Mummy... - July 3, 2014

Gosh what an epic post! I LOVE the doodles. Was great to meet you, albeit for not very long, and as I recall I was very distracted at the time. Apologies, and we must make up for that next time x

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    Jo Sandelson - July 3, 2014

    Helen this is high praise indeed. After spending about 45 mins reading your post and comments, wondered if I could contribute any more but then thought we all see things through a different prism, so maybe it was worthwhile. My post immediately after Britmums was dedicated to Kids Company, as I saw you had also done, and very movingly too. Not surprised you were distracted, it’s hard enough being an ordinary delegate without being on such a prestigious panel. No apologies necessary! Congrats on making the Finals in two categories btw x

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Ginger - July 3, 2014

Frickin’ fabulous post, Jo Jo! LOVE it!!! Seriously, you are one very talented, fun, lovely lady with a plethora of gorgeous dresses. Cannot wait to see you again! Ginger xxxx

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    Jo Sandelson - July 3, 2014

    Ha ha! How did you know that was my nickname! Thanks for appreciating my dresses aswell. Don’t have any pics myself of my white and gold Betty Jackson one on Friday night, so please do let me have a gander if you took one on your camera. Hope to meet again too, let me know if you’re ever up visiting the old alma mater so we can have lunch or tea. Jo X

    Reply
katie - July 3, 2014

Wow Jo your drawings are amazing! Lovely posts and thanks so much for the mention, you are very sweet :)) x

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    Jo Sandelson - July 3, 2014

    You are a sweetheart Katie. Sorry i didn’t get around to sketching you – another time perhaps. Keep on bloggin’ X

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Anya from Older Single Mum and The Healer - July 4, 2014

It was a pleasure to meet you Jo and I wish you all could have won the #Bibs – you’re all brilliant. And thank you for your kind words. Your drawings are amazing! Hope to catch up again another time 🙂

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    Jo Sandelson - July 4, 2014

    That’s so kind of you to comment, Anya! I was really honoured to be a Finalist – a couple of months ago that was just a pipe dream. Yes, I do hope we meet again 🙂

    Reply
suzanne3childrenandit - July 4, 2014

What an epic round up Jo! I would expect nothing less from you and it was well worth the wait. So sorry that we seemed to keep missing each other or catching a glimpse and saying ‘hi’ at the most inopportune moments. How on earth we managed to loose you for the meal I have no idea but I’m glad you had oodles of fun nonetheless.

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Lady Liberty Hen - July 8, 2014

Gosh, I’m gutted that I didn’t spot Higher Flyer, Runny, Gummy, Plummy, Pyjama Ma and Mission, Serial and Maxi mums at the Britmums – they were obviously making the most of everything there. I’m also v. sorry not to have met their walker to whom I offer many congratulations for putting together this wonderful summary of the 2 days for us all and for winning a well-deserved place on the finalists’ table. Bravo!

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    Jo Sandelson - July 13, 2014

    Thanks for your vote of confidence! I hold all poultry in high esteem so this is indeed a compliment 🙂

    Reply
Franglaise Mummy - July 26, 2014

What a fab round-up of what was an incredible event. And great drawings too!

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    Jo Sandelson - July 26, 2014

    Thanks so much Sophie. Wish i had done a few more drawings, but barely had time to get sketch book out between sessions. It’s a bit non-stop isn’t it!

    Reply
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