BritMums Live! is the UK’s biggest, two-day social media conference and blogger event, where lifestyle bloggers and social influencers gather to meet and socialise, network with brands, improve their skills, and fire their creativity. BritMums Live has grown out of BritMums, the UK’s largest parent blogger community, made up of nearly 8,000 influential bloggers who create content about lifestyle, crafting, food, health, travel, education, tech, style and more.
I bought my ticket for Brit Mums Live! at the super early bird rate, not long after 2014’s event and left that year’s conference with a spring in my step, a new blog design and full of inspiration for the year ahead. I wrote a retrospective post a couple of days ago, and it would seem that I didn’t hit as many of the targets as I had wanted too… but you can read about it here.
Anyway, on the back of the blogging buzz from BML’14, I also bought a ticket to another blog conference (BlogFest) and with weeks to go, I couldn’t face going. But my knight in shining armour (my husband, Steve) bought a ticket too, and came long with me, so that I wouldn’t waste my money. I kept myself to myself, saw a blogger I knew, and have met loads of times before – Liska from New Mum Online, who asked if I was okay, and I promptly burst into tears. She backed off a bit like this…
… well not quite, but I laugh about the situation now, and explain it to people like this. (I saw Liska at BritMums Live on Friday and gave her a cuddle. She asked how I was, and I said “a lot better than the last time you saw me!” which was a half truth, as the anxiety and depression was still there, but I just didn’t burst into tears.) After reading this, Liska reminded me how we caught up later in the day at BlogFest, and now she’s jogged my memory, I do remember us doing that, and me explaining to her my cry baby outburst!
Once that particular blog thing was over, Steve said he had enjoyed stepping into my world and would also come with me to BritMums Live the following year; he promptly bought a ticket. We discussed staying in a hotel, but didn’t actually book anything until just a few weeks ago, once I realised that several things would be a struggle for me – especially walking, which since my stupid weight gain, has put a lot of pressure on my back and these short legs of mine. I’m addressing that. Weight gain, and other personal circumstances have also caused a huge dip in my confidence which is at an all time low – with depression and anxiety and a touch of agoraphobia when it comes to going out on my own, thrown in. Everything goes hand in hand really, and it’s quite a sad state of affairs, for me on a personal level, and which I am trying to address too.
I decked myself out in a purple top (the same one as I wore last year – I’d never make a fashion blogger!), and had already stated that I’d be the fat bird in purple and hard to miss if they wanted to say “hi!”. Slapped on the slap (hoping my eyeliner would behave as I tried to do the flick) and quiffed the barnet (again, hoping I’d get it right without too much faff). I took the obligatory “I’m going to #BritMumsLive” selfie and waited until it was time to leave.
I’d arranged to meet up with a new blogging buddy – Jess from Mrs Helicopter Writes as we’d been chatting for about a year, but hadn’t met due to logistics; then there was Ginger Warrior who I met at last year’s BritMums Live!; and there were promises to meet other bloggers I knew. I wasn’t particularly nervous because I knew I had Steve by my side, as well as my two go-to gals, but as the morning went on, I could see excited tweets from bloggers who were either on their way, or there already, meeting other bloggers, and butterflies began to set in.
We don’t live far from London, a fairly short train ride away, so we left around midday-ish to get to our hotel to check in, have some lunch and sort ourselves out before the start of the conference. More standard photos were taken (and shared), charting our journey: platform, rails, the welcome to London sign, and we were soon going up the escalator at Liverpool Street station. Someone had abandoned some flowers on one of the pillars, I took a photo of the station sign, and we decided to buy some sushi from the stall just outside the exit. We hailed a cab to The Montcalm (last year I could have walked it, this year, nope, well, not without it taking me about half an hour, and arriving in agony. Ain’t nobody got time for that.) Naturally, I also tweeted that I had arrived, well, I actually Instagrammed, and pushed it out across the rest (including FourSquare, Flickr, Tumblr and my personal Facebook! Us bloggers are all over that social media!)
We checked in a little early, but as our room wasn’t yet ready, were shown to the Club Lounge were we could wait until it was. A good thing too, as the reception area was getting crowded! I was pretty excited to be staying at The Montcalm – I’d always read on other blogs that it was an amazing hotel, and with it being right on top of The Brewery (the venue for BritMums Live!) it was a win/win for me – even though it was expensive. We treated ourselves to two nights to make a full weekend of it.
2 o’clock came and went, and we still wasn’t shown to our room, as promised, so Steve went down to find out what was going on… 5 minutes they said… 20 minutes later we were finally taken up to the 4th floor. The concierge was chatty, and told us some history of the building as he showed us to our room, good thing too, it was like a labyrinth! Thank God he showed us a short cut out of the building! Once inside our room, we set about grabbing a few bits from our suitcase that I wanted to take down with me – camera, business cards and hand fan! I checked Twitter and saw people were already going in, but I didn’t feel overly rushed, as being a third-timer at this event, I felt that it didn’t matter if I missed the opening. Plus, I knew there wouldn’t be anything provided for lunch, and we had our sushi to eat! (Yes, I did step off my paleo plan a bit for the weekend.)
This is the one and only photo I took of our room – the bed took up pretty much the whole space, on the opposite side, was the door to the bathroom, with even less gap from the bed to the door, than the bed to the window. It was shockingly small…
We went down to The Brewery, grabbed our lanyards from the registration area from Helen (of Kiddy Charts, whom I have met several times before), and mentioned it wasn’t like me to be running so late. Luckily I knew exactly where to go and headed to the huge conference room where Susanna and Jen were welcoming everyone, before the first keynote speaker (Ella Woodward of Deliciously Ella). As we walked down the stairs, I heard my name, and turned around to see Kaz from Ickle Pickles Life and Travels, gave her a quick hello and hug, before trying to find a table to sit down at. Also saw Emma from Bubbablue and Me and smiled a hello – we met at our first BritMums Live! in 2013. After weaving my way through the chairs (not easy for a fat bird) I sat at a table with a couple of bloggers, realising one was Grace from Eats Amazing, whispered hello, as Ella had already begun her keynote. She was followed by an inspiration short: Not Just A Funny Face, by Victoria Wright, a disability and disfigurement rights campaign manager.
Then it was time for an ice breaker… being involved in an real life, actual Guinness World Record™ attempt! The record? Most people wrapped as mummies in three minutes! I, along with Charlene from The Moderate Mum, wrapped my husband head to toe in toilet paper – it really was a unique way to break the ice! Three minutes go by very quickly, and we did leave some gaps – I’m sure ours was one of the ones disqualified!
Whilst the adjudicator went around the room to check the quality of the mummies, I started a text to Jess to find out where she was, but we spotted each other across the room, and she weaved her way through to our table. It was huge hugs all around! It’s lovely when you meet someone who just gets you, and she really does. She’s totally lush, hilariously funny and I’ve made a friend for life in her! She said I was exactly as she thought I would be, (not sure if that is a good or bad thing haha!) and that I don’t have as much of a resting bitch face in real life as I do in the few videos I’ve done on YouTube :D I know I have RBF, I’m a miserable sod sometimes, and fully aware that I should smile more :D :D :D which was one of the things on my list last year :p
All of the mummies were counted and verified, but we wouldn’t find out until later on in the evening if we had broken the World Record (or not), and as it happens, we did!!!!!! We needed to beat 50 (the current record) and got 51, with 18 additional mummies being disqualified. I’m pretty sure ours was one of the 18!
Time for a tea and coffee break, so Steve, Jess and I headed downstairs to grab a drink and went outside to have a chit chat and a huge laugh together. Between the giggles I spied my friend Ginger Warrior, more cuddles and catch ups, and if you want to know what going to a blogging conference is like, watch her video of the event below, with cameos from yours truly, hubs and Jess.
Jess went off into one of the sessions, but I decided to forgo them, wanting to spend a bit more time than I had in the past, speaking to the brands that were present this year. I had also forgotten to register for Lucy’s (from Capture by Lucy) advanced Define your Design workshop (gutted, as her session for beginners last year was brilliant!). It was the one I had really wanted to do, and I forgot :|
The hub area where all the brands are set up was nice and quiet owing to the majority of people being in sessions, and giving me time to chat properly, and actually be able to hear what they are saying. I’m a bit deaf sometimes, well, not quite, but I have to sometimes really concentrate to hear people, and when you throw crowds into the mix, it makes it hard! I also chatted with Beattie Communications, since I saw that one of the brands they represent are Avon, and I’m a ding-dong, Avon calling lady, which sparked the conversation.
I spoke to Carnival and decided I’d apply to [try and] become one of their FoodieSeekers – they were looking for several families in different categories, we’re that family – just check out our Dine Around Disney 2014 trip! We had our photo snapped for my application form, and I took it away with me to have a think about what to write to “sell myself” I’m sooooo rubbish at that, but fingers crossed and all that jazz.
I also went and chatted to the ladies at Santa Maria who were asking bloggers what their secret ingredient was in fajitas… or was it tacos? Either way, it was Mexican food, and I’m all up in that cuisine, so accepted a bag of ingredients to cook with, adding my secret ingredient… up on the blog… as soon as I get around to it >_< One of the PRs knew me, which is always lovely to hear, after all I’m kind of a big deal on my blog :D :D :D I spied Kate from Crafts on Sea and Gude from Hodge Podge Crafts, two lovely blogging friends who were up for awards later that evening, had a little chin wag, before moving on. And Natalie from One Busy WAHM asked if I was Michelle and we had a quick chat – BritMums Live! is always busy, busy!
I also nipped into the Lady Sew & Sew Craft Lounge with Make it Coats, but didn’t join in, or did I? I know I sat and did a little bit of crochet on one of the days!
As we walked through to go outside, Amanda from The Family Patch stopped me to see how I was, and we had a nice little chat, I had to excuse myself sooner than I had wanted as my back was actually killing me from standing around for all that time in The Hub. Blah. People were already gathering for the Brilliance in Blogging (BiBs) party, and seeing no where to park my fat arse, we grabbed a glass of wine (thanks to Lindeman’s) and went up to BritMums1, to bagsy a table. My two lovelies, Ginger Warrior and Mrs Helicopter were both up for awards. I also met Emily from Tea Lady Mumbles via Jess – another funny chick who lurves tea!
The awards this year were presented by smiley, smiley, Carole Smilie, and I think, went by in a real blur – I don’t know if they ran through them more quickly than previous years, but before I knew it the day/night was over!
I didn’t manage to get photos of all the winners, (d’oh, cos they were not all there, now that my memory has re-jigged itself!) my photos of them are below, and a here’s a list of the winners…
With the awards all handed out, the night was over, and I can’t help but think it would be lovely to have a party afterwards – something for the future maybe? I’d be up for planning that, I love me some party planning! It was still light outside, which threw me off for some reason… I saw the Twirlywoos (no idea who they are… like a modern day Teletubbies?) I’ll have to ask my niece about these, she’s 2 and she’ll know! Oh, and a huge stuffed monkey wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a feather boa – oh the things you see!
Ginger Warrior mentioned about coming along for dinner somewhere, and Jess and Emily said to come to All Bar One, but, by now, the safety net of being at BritMums Live with my husband, and sitting with friends was slipping. The very real fear of being out in a public place (a busy bar or restaurant) engulfed me, and I said “we’ll see”, saying I needed to go back to our room to sort myself out. It was here that my emotions and anxiety got the better of me, and I broke down. Steve gently said we could go out, but I couldn’t face it. Jess phoned to see if we were on our way, and I was in tears to her. When I told her that I just couldn’t, she said how well I hide things, and that, my friends, is how I do it, and it makes it even harder. I have to be the funny fat one, cos that’s what we do innit? Laugh at myself, because then it won’t matter if other people do (and not because I’m funny, but because I’m fat) I can’t deal (these days especially) with being out in public: horrible experiences in the past, being bullied in school, the “omg look at the size of her” stares and smirks. They haunt me daily and nope. Can. Not. Deal. Some parts of my life just slip by the wayside, because of it, and have done for decades. It’s no way to live, and I’m trying to embrace all that fat and happy and don’t give a shizz body acceptance stuff, but I can’t.
We ordered some room service, watched some rubbish on the telly and after calming down, Steve and I had a chat about our day, whilst watching fireworks that were going off in the city somewhere – very random!
Whilst at BritMums Live! 2015, I proclaimed that I would “probably only write one post about it”, but since I’ve clearly got too much to say, it’s broken down into two posts… day 2 to follow soon. In the meantime, you can always read my experience at BritMums Live 2013 and BritMums Live 2014! And if we chatted or said hello and I forgot to mention you – sorry, it’s not intentional, just brain fuzz!