On Friday 24th June I made my way to London and the #BML16 conference – formerly known as BritMums Live – thanks to my wonderful sponsor Message in a Bottle book. With the format changing, I was interested to see how this year compared. Here is my low-down on the weekend.
The Fringe Party
This was a great idea on the whole. It was a lovely evening spent at the Holiday Inn in Camden Lock who did a great job of hosting us. There were drinks and canapes and the ability to chat with many of the bloggers who were due to attend the following day – meaning you didn’t miss them when caught up in the conference. The biggest issue was the distance from The Brewery and the area in which most bloggers were staying. It was a half hour taxi ride for us and I possibility would have stayed in All Bar One as I was happy enough to chat there (may be they could hire that out next year – we all seem to give them enough business!).
The Keynote Speakers
Both Anne-Marie Cockburn who spoke passionately about the death of her daughter, Martha, from an ecstasy overdose and Julie Creffield who writes the Fat Girls Guide to Running both spoke engagingly about their subjects. It was heart-breaking to listen to Anne-Marie speak, then Julie lightened the mood with her funny, inspiring talk to get ladies of all shapes and sizes running.
With prizes kindly donated by Merci Maman, this was a session of pass the parcel to celebrate the fifth birthday of BML. With 4 people on our table and 5 layers of wrapping, we all stood a pretty good chance of winning. After taking off the first 4 layers – and each of winning a packet of sweets – the music stopped on the final round as I was about to pass to Tim. He graciously stood down and I was extremely happy to win a beautiful necklace.
If the conference had been longer then I certainly would have attended more than just one and three quarters. I went to the Costa Brava Family Tourism session – which I have shared over on Victoria Visits – and then I decided to move on to the YouTube session with Kate Rushworth. I decided towards the end to leave before things got too manic with lunch and went to pick up my chicken in a box!
The Socialising and Brands
I have to say that I really did enjoy the socialising this year. I was apprehensive due to the fact that I knew that there would be plenty of pregnant bloggers and those with young babies but, my worries were understood and allayed by all those I met up with. A very pregnant Katy gave me the biggest hug and kindly brought with her a fertility goddess from Glastonbury to give to me. I cuddled Martha, Hannah’s new baby, sat next to a lady with a 3 week old in the tourism session and also spoke to Elizabeth and Fritha.
Aside from the baby situation, it was great to see so many and catch up with them – albeit far too briefly in some cases – including Steph, Kirsty, Lisa, Becky, Clare, Anthea, Tim, Dave, Tony, Tas, The Boy and Me, Cathy, Aby, Amy, Jenny, Helen, Aly, Leigh, Joanne, Kara, Oana and Fiona (sorry if I missed you off my list or on the day!).
With there being slightly fewer brands, it did not feel so overwhelming. There was a great set up with the Lawn Tennis Association where I tried my hand at playing tennis for the first time in years – and did pretty well! I also had a two goes at the Boots Soltan photograph booth.
The food was, as ever, really enjoyable with plenty of cake, coffee, tea and water on offer.
The Bloggers Keynote
This was always going to be on my agenda as my favourite part of the day. Not only do we get to listen to our blogging peers read their posts but I was really very pleased to have been chosen to read one of my poems this year. I was in great company with Tim, Oana, Helen, Alison and Al. Being first, shaking, I took to the podium but I remembered to speak slowly and clearly and without any stuttering! Kindly, Steph recorded it on Facebook Live.
The BiB Awards
As always, this was to celebrate some great bloggers – both new and familiar faces – and reward them with some recognition. There was free wine and canapes on offer and a chance to listen to Carol Smillie speak. I really enjoyed her presentation of the awards.
Any areas for improvement?
I have to stress that this is my constructive feedback and is not a criticism as on the whole, BritMums is so well organised and brilliantly put together.
I do feel that the male bloggers amongst us are somewhat forgotten on a regular basis. I mentioned to Steph as we were walking around the Hub that, if there were a scantily clad lady hanging around a blogging conference of mainly men, the women would have likely caused an uproar and probably left. There is no way that I am a prude and I do understand that Bollox was all in a good cause but I am afraid that I don’t think that a male model in just his boxers was all that appropriate. On top of that, whilst Cherry Healy did make me laugh, the men amongst us were pretty much alienated throughout her talk.
I have to admit that the new one day format just didn’t work for me. I found myself missing out on sessions that I might otherwise have gone to. This was to make sure that I caught up with many of the people I wanted to see – and I still didn’t get round them all – and also to chat to the brands I had chosen to speak to. I found that the travel up from Somerset wasn’t quite as justified and the build-up where we meet in All Bar One and then move onto the Friday afternoon was missed. Plus, it felt kind of strange just ending it after the BiB awards on the Saturday when, for the past 3 years, the evening felt more exciting to me knowing we had the following day together.
My Favourite Year So Far?
So far, this is still 2014 for me. It was my second year at the conference and I still love the ending from The Good Enough Mums Club. A brilliant way to end on a high note!
As always I have to say a massive thank you to Jen, Susanna, Nadine and all at BritMums for all of their hardwork for putting together such a well-organised conference.