It’s taken me a few days to process all that was BritMums Live 2014. First and foremost, it was one of the best weekends, ever. It was fun and interesting and empowering and emotional and uplifting and inspiring.
I arrived in London last Thursday morning having flown overnight from Boston. Exhausted doesn’t even come close, but I was excited and thrilled to be in London, a city I love and lived in for almost ten years. Coming back to visit always reminds me of all the great times I had here (fabulous job, wonderful friends, meeting my husband…).
After making my way into the City and leaving my bag at the hotel (the Apex London Wall, highly recommended!), I wandered around before finding myself in Starbucks at Liverpool Street station. I sat, catching up on line and people watching, and took a deep breath. I was really here!
I’m still not entirely sure how I managed it, but I stayed awake until 9pm… 39 hours awake! I then slept for 12 hours, bliss :)
Then the fun really began!
The wonderful Jaime from The Oliver’s Madhouse had taken me under her wing, making sure I wasn’t arriving at the Brewery alone, which I am truly grateful for. Meeting some of my favourite bloggers at All Bar One before the event was wonderful, if slightly surreal. I was actually talking to these women, who I have admired from afar; laughed with and cried with; I almost had to pinch myself!
Friday began with the keynote from Emma Freud and, sitting in our tiaras, we heard about the amazing fundraising she has done for Comic Relief. While I agree that she may have read the room wrong when joking about sleeping your way to the top; we must remember that she was talking about her partner of 25 years, who was sitting in front of her in the audience! And, lying to get people to do what you want isn’t something we should be teaching our children, but she was speaking to a room full of grownups. Overall, her message was one of working hard, not giving up and recognising the power of our own voices.
There followed a debate about women’s voices in the media. I would recommend that you read this post from Helen at Actually Mummy, who sat on the panel. It was an interesting discussion, squeezed in to too short a time; but it has certainly generated debate, which can only be a good thing. I found myself beginning to write a post within a post on this session, so I will return to this subject in a separate blog post.
Sessions on ‘How I did it’ and ‘Design tips for a beautiful blog’ followed for me, before the Brilliance in Blogging Awards (BiBs). There has been a lot of discussion about the awards… But the one thing I will say is that I definitely agree that the finalists should all have received a bit more attention, they deserved more recognition for that amazing achievement alone.
A group of about thirty of us then went out for a fabulous meal at Iskele. Organised by the wonderful Vicky from Verily Victoria Vocalises, it was an evening of good food, wine and conversation. What more could you ask for :) Other than perhaps a little more sleep…
Saturday began with the inspiring and emotional keynote from Benjamin Dutton-Brooks from Life as a Widower. I knew I would cry, and I did, but I was left feeling inspired by the strength and love that shone through his words.
Saturday for me was a mix of meeting people and attending sessions. I had made the decision before I arrived that I wasn’t going to do back to back sessions, I’d come a long way and wanted to meet as many people as possible!
The first part of my morning was spent doing just that, meeting people, and it was brilliant, before heading to a great session on Photography from Julia Boggio where she focused on light.
I then headed to a fantastic session on Google +. I am becoming a huge fan of G+, finding it far more interactive and useful than Facebook (particularly since ‘reach’ plummeted into the depths of pointlessness) and it was really interesting to learn more about it. I picked up some very useful tips on circle management and sharing. The most useful tip however was on how to share links; these should be shared using the ‘link’ option (even if you then share again with a decent photo!) as this means that your post is indexed immediately by Google.
In the afternoon I attended a truly inspirational session, Storytelling, from Emily Beecher of Good Enough Mums Club. This was my favourite session of the two days, and I plan to write more about the thoughts and ideas that is has generated in a separate post.
After more coffee and more chatting, it was time to attend the Bloggers Keynote. I laughed, I was inspired and I cried, a lot. Amazing writing from an amazing group of women. I couldn’t possibly begin to do justice to all the women who spoke in the keynote in this blog post, and neither can I single out any for particular mention. Listening to these women read their own words, some of which were funny, some sad and some heartbreaking, was a privilege.
The event finished with a performance by the Good Enough Mums Club, which was hilarious and scarily spot on. Finding myself singing heads, shoulders, knees and boobs was certainly an interesting end to a truly wonderful two days.
I spent Saturday evening laughing and chatting, and laughing some more, with Charly from PODCast, Jaime from The Oliver’s Madhouse, Cathie from Wicked World of Lucas, Vicky from Verily Victoria Vocalises and Tammy from Me and the Tiny Three. Thank you ladies for a great evening!
For me, this photo (kindly taken by some bloke in the pub!) sums up the whole event. Friendship, support and laughter. I met so many people, and didn’t meet far too many people. To everyone I did meet, thank you for making BritMums really special. To those I didn’t manage to speak to; next time!
I learnt a huge amount; I was inspired to see so many strong women (and men) supporting each other; I loved the buzz of the event; I was blown away by the immense positivity that permeated the two days.
Many people asked me if I’d come all the way from America just for BritMums. I hadn’t, I’m currently in Edinburgh organising the final move of our house contents (!) and I’m attending the wedding of a very dear friend on Saturday, but *whispers* next year the answer might just be yes.