BritMums Live 2014 – My Experience! (Day 1)

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I went to BritMums Live 2013 and had a thoroughly wonderful experience, but wasn’t sure if I would go this year. For a couple of reasons: one, because I felt that the brands in attendance in 2013 were geared more to those with young children, and as a mother of a teen, that side of the event felt irrelevant to me. Because of this uhming and ahhing, I didn’t purchase a ticket when they were at an early bird price, and as more time went on, the money didn’t seem to be there; so the other reason was financial. I did try to shout out for a sponsor, but I know I wasn’t as proactive as I could have been…

However, opportunity knocks, and it turns out that I could go to BritMums Live 2014 after all! With just a few weeks to go until the conference, there was a buzz about it on Twitter and in Facebook groups I belong too. I read about the workshops/sessions, about the keynotes and the brands that would be there, and was so happy to be going – so different to how I’d felt months before when I really wasn’t sure. On the back of attending this weekend, I can say that the early bird tickets will be bought asap as I’m raring to go and ready to go back in 2015!

With that intro out of the way, let me tell you about my experience of BritMums Live…A two day social media and blogger conference, where you can socialise, network, learn and be inspired!

Friday 20th June 2014 saw me travelling up to Liverpool Street, I’m one of those lucky ones who lives near enough to London to not have to worry about high travelling expenses, or having to pay to stay overnight in a hotel, although, I quite fancy staying up in London and being part of the post-event shenanigans! Maybe next year…

I spent the morning sorting out my barnet (that’s hair for the non-cockneys!) and putting it into a rockabilly style hair roll, which, thanks to lots of back combing, hairspray and bobby pins, I managed to do on my second attempt – result! I’d already shared my What I’m Wearing to BritMums Live 2014 post, the day before, and it was decided (with advice from other bloggers, natch) that I should wear my purple top – I’m The Purple Pumpkin Blog after all, and I’m also the shape of a pumpkin (round) so, along with purple glasses, eyeshadow, hair flower and nails, I was representing my brand!

Last year, I had buddied up with Sam at Dreaming of WDW before the event, and we’ve remained friends ever since. Sadly, she couldn’t attend this year, and it felt weird to be going there without her. She’s the one in real life friend that I have, that gets what blogging is all about, and she knows I missed her!

So, sat on a train, on my own, I was both nervous – because, would I even find someone to talk to (I’m rubbish at approaching people) and excited – because, well, I wasn’t a newbie like I was last year – things were going to start feeling familiar!

I walked towards Chiswell Street and The Brewery – the location (again) for BritMums Live and arrived hot and sweaty – attractive. I was relieved to see that there was a lovely area – a gorgeously decorated with flowers greenhouse, to sit down in and wait for the doors to open. There were a couple of groups of bloggers already sitting and chatting, but I’m way too shy for that, so I went and sat on my own, let the hubster know I’d got there okay, and waited until I could see a familiar face to go and say hi. It was quite the relief when I could actually say hello to people that kinda knew me from before, and then the doors were opened and hundreds of bloggers began to flood into the venue.

I grabbed my lanyard with my name, Twitter handle (which I’ve changed by the way, to MsPurplePumpkin) and blog name, and headed into the hub, saying hi and giving hugs and kisses to bloggers that I’ve met before. It was then that I realised, actually, being on my own here isn’t a bad thing – I’m not alone, there are hundreds of us here, and just being surrounded by like minded people – not just mums, but dads and those without children too, was enough for me. We were all there for the same reason – because we love to blog, we love to share and we all have a voice.

I wandered around the various stands – a lot more than last year – and I was really pleased about that. There seemed to be a greater variety of brands as well – some new, some the same as last year. I still didn’t get my personalised Coca-Cola bottle though *pouts* the machine was down the couple of times I tried.

I had a chat at the Parragon stand – I’m a Parragon Book Buddy, and it was lovely to be recognised by them for the reviews that I write. I will be continuing to review their books, which I love to receive each month and tell you all about (and one day, I promise to cook from!!)

I got chatting to the guy at Memory Box Stories, and this section of their about page is what rings bells for me…

Memories are more than the milestones of our lives; they are the glue that binds society together. They are the everyday moments we share, be that funny, meaningful or inspirational. From childhood to old age we make memories that we share, reminisce over and sometimes wish we’d kept safer!That’s where Memory Box comes in. Our aim is to connect families and communities, allowing us to collect and preserve memories as they’re being made, but also to look at the past in a new light and discover things we never knew about the people and places in our lives.

Making memories is what we do every day, and so many of us capture those moments with photographs. But what about the story behind the photograph? That’s what Memory Box is all about, enriching how we collect those memories and share them.

…anything about recording memories, saving them, looking back at them; be it on a blog, in a photo album, in a diary, in a memory box, is something that I’ve loved to do from a very young age. I have always said that preserving memories is why I probably take so many photographs…that, and worrying that one day, if I lose my mind, I can at least be shown those photographs and something might spark a memory – morbid, I know!

This new app seems like a fab idea, and I plan on downloading it shortly so I can have a tinker about with it and see how it all works. We live in this digital, connected age, and it seems to be a natural thing to use our smartphones to record and store memories. Although, I know, for me, it’ll never replace my real life memory box, it’s where I keep little things like the stone I picked shaped like a heart when hubs and I went to Brighton for my 30th birthday, and the first watch I was ever given (by my nanny) at the age of 6.

Lots of us shared our #BritMumsMemories on Twitter…this is mine – although I could have made loads of these from the photos I took over the two days!

There were two big lounges for Morrisons and Heinz Baby Food, I popped into the Morrisons area, and wish now I’d gone back in there, as they had live Q&A sessions and mini master classes…but I didn’t – oh the wonder of hindsight post-conference is a wonderful thing!

I went upstairs to BritMums 1, the huge reception hall where we would hear from Jen and Susanna – the BritMums co-founders, as well as from Emma Freud, this year’s keynote. I plonked myself down near the front, no hovering near the back for me, even if I was sitting on my own! I know people came and sat down at the table, I’m sorry I’ve forgotten your names already – I’m really shit with remembering names…

Emma, who always wears a tiara (or so I’m told), spoke to the audience – some of which were also donning their sparkly headpieces – about her career, about Comic Relief and about the power of social media. I took a photo of the crowd behind me – 700 bloggers were in attendance so I believe! AMAZING!

There was then a session called Women’s voices and the Media: Making your voice matter talking about feminism – something that often goes over my head, and all I could think was that I loved Helen Wills’ (from Actually Mummy) gorgeous red shoes…

Loving @ActuallyMummy ‘s gorge red shoes!! #want #britmumslive #notveryfeministofme
— Purple Pumpkin Blog (@MsPurplePumpkin) June 20, 2014

A tea/coffee break followed, and then it was time for a couple of sessions. I went and sat in on How To Make A Recipe Your Own and made the following notes for those who wanted to attend but didn’t. However, I will say these – I’m rubbish…seriously crap, at notetaking…that’s why I tend to take my husband to things with me – he takes things in so much easier than I do >_<

So, if you want to write recipes, there is a right way to do it…and this is it:

  • title
  • introduction
  • time it takes to prep/cook
  • serving/yield (usually 4 to 6 people, especially if writing a recipe book)
  • equipment
  • ingredients in order of use
  • method
  • notes, substitutions, adaptations, tips

Recipe writing tips…

  • save text by describing the preparation in the ingredients list. e.g., onions, diced
  • double check that no ingredients/steps are missed
  • be consistent with terms and measurements

And here are some photos of the slides with even more advice…

I then stayed in the same room (BritMums 2) for a workshop with Lucy Heath from Capture By Lucy who has the most gorgeous photographs on her blog (and who I’m secretly jealous of with all of her beautiful props!!) Her session was Design Tips To Make Your Blog Look Gorgeous I like to think that I know what I’m doing when it comes to the design of my blog – after all, I design other people’s websites as my day job! But we can all learn from others, and it’s always great to hear other ideas and perspectives – and sometimes, when designing your own things, it’s a lot harder than doing it for someone else!

Oh and she decorated the room with balloons and flowers and talked about where she finds inspiration. It was certainly a very popular talk, the room was packed, with sitting room only on the floor at the front!

The easiest way for me to share notes about this session is the photographs of the slides…so here they are!

If you are a blogger, and unsure of your design, then seriously, work through Lucy’s 10 questions to ask yourself… I have been planning a design change for a while now (I’ve already changed things up 3 or 4 times now over my blog’s life), and expect big changes very soon!

A lot of people wanted to chat with Lucy after her session, as did I, but with such a long line and not being able to wait … I ducked out to nip to the ladies! I sat alone at a table in BritMums…

I really am Lenny the loner!! Sitting quietly waiting for the BIBs to start and gathering my thoughts! #britmumslive pic.twitter.com/rsw1AQh1v1
— Purple Pumpkin Blog (@MsPurplePumpkin) June 20, 2014

In that time I wrote out a list of goals to aim for in the coming year…I’m going to share them, because, well, why not put it out there!!

  1. win a BiB!
  2. move blogging platform and re-design blog
  3. double my earnings per calendar month
  4. buy a DSLR
  5. go down to a size 18
  6. smile more
  7. always listen and watch and learn
  8. be the best I can be
  9. be more proactive with my blog
  10. put my collaboration plans into action

and it probably won’t end there, I’m inspired to make lots of lists and start sorting out my life, both personally and my blog life too!

As I was sitting at the table, Katy Hill (yes, the ex-Blue Peter presenter) came and sat down – she was presenting the BiBs, and was also up for an award too (I have seen a few eyebrows raised over that fact). She said how nervous she was, and I said something about how I couldn’t believe that she felt nervous, especially with her given career as a presenter! I then said “don’t worry, you’ll be fine love” LOLWUT? I’m so rubbish when meeting people, never mind celebs!

I was excited for the BiBs – the Brilliance in Blogging Awards. I was shortlisted last year, but no category for me to fall into this year (lifestyle was missing *pouts* although, see goal #1), but I was excited for those bloggers whom I know to see how they would get on! And of course, to see who the other winners were!

At this point, Nadine from Juggle Mum came and joined me – we’ve met several times before, and had a quick hug earlier in the day and compared hair rolls! She was up for an award in the Video category, and I knew it was her third time as a finalist. I said to her “third time lucky chick” – but she was full of doubt because the other finalists were all so good. However, her name was read out and she turned to me in absolute shock! Oh how I wish I had that photo for her – she was ecstatic, and I was so pleased for her! There is nothing more wonderful than recognition for the things you love to do.

We watched as the award nominees were read out, and the winners announced…I tried to snap a photo of each winner, some were not there to collect their awards, but here is the rundown! I’ll do it in photo order below so you can see who is who! All of the winners can be found on the BritMums blog.

Food – Lucy from Super Golden Bakes | Social Media – Darren from One Dad 3 Girls | Writer – Sarah from Older Mum in a Muddle

Photo – Lucy from Capture By Lucy | Innovate – Love All Dads Podcast (John, Darren, Lewis, Tom) | Laugh – Helen from Just A Normal Mummy

Video – Nadine from Juggle Mum | Family – Katie from Mummy Daddy Me | Health – Caroline from My Daughter Won’t Sleep

Fresh Voice – Katy from Katy Hill’s Blog | Commentary – Team Honk (Annie, Tanya & Penny)

And then, the night was over…I said my goodbyes, I congratulated Katy, and Annie and Tanya on my way out – every winner on the stage, deserved their award – they got the votes from readers and the accolade from judges. I made the journey home, the excitement and the awards were finished for Day 1. Day 2 is all about getting down to business (at least, that’s how I see the two day event!!) with lots of sessions and workshops, another keynote, the bloggers’ keynote and musical entertainment from the Good Enough Mums Club. But that will all come in another post in the week!

Were you at BritMums Live 2014? Have you blogged about it?

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