My Britmums Live 2014

So I went to Britmums Live again, second year running and actually it was a very different experience from the first time round.

Not worse, not better, just different.

Britmums Live is a yearly two day blogging mums (and dads) conference, with social media and stuff thrown in! It’s a great place for all of our blogging community to come together and be with like minded people, a chance to meet our online friends in person, hang out with our real life blogging buddies and celebrate ambitions and achievements.

Last year I was brand new to blogging and felt a little apprehensive, although those fears were very quickly dispersed as soon as I buddied up with the lovely Afra from Mad Mum of 7. We walked in and immediately started chatting to everyone who were all mega friendly, every single one of them! I couldn’t make the Friday so I only had Saturday and I was determined to make the absolute most of it.

I attended as many sessions as I could fit in, I mingled non stop and I visited every sponsor to talk about opportunities or enter competitions. I did get a lot out of the event, it confirmed in my mind that this was indeed something I wanted to be a part of! Oh, and I was also chosen as a Butlins Ambassador too which was totally amazing and gave me a huge boost!

This year it was all about the socialising. AND I got to attend both days which was fab.

I arrived in Central London on Friday and headed straight to the pub to meet the super duper Ruth from Rocknrollerbaby and the hilarious Katy from Modern Mummy. The majority of bloggers were meeting up at All Bar One round the corner but Katy had suggested we converge on this smaller establishment where it was already brimming with some of the bigger names in blogging… obviously the place to be hey?!! There was Annie from Mammasaurus, Tanya from Mummy Barrow, and the very glamourous Kate from Wit Wit Woo… I was on my own at this point whilst waiting for my partners in crime to arrive and these gorgeous ladies were very welcoming and chatty. So phew, thanks for that you lot!!!! There was also one of my fave’s with this cooler than cool gang and that was the lovely Helen from Actually Mummy who I’ve met and chatted to on numerous occasions so it was really nice to see her again, she’s the friendliest person ever!

The weather was glorious so once Katy arrived we got the drinks in and headed outside to wait for Ruth, then our day really began. We often get together for PR events in London, along with Alice from An Essex Wife, who arrived at Britmums a little later in the afternoon, and it’s always fun so I knew this weekend with these girls was going to be entertaining! We were all laughing straight away… and we didn’t really stop the whole weekend!

20140625-093410.jpg

Ruth, myself and Katy

Walking round to The Brewery, the same venue as last year, I was very excited. We headed in, grabbed our name badges and had a mooch round, saying hello to other familiar faces… I made a beeline for the Butlins stand and my favourite Butlins person, James, who I’ve got to know a little bit from being an Ambassador and we had a little chat and a giggle (I’m an eternal giggler by the way!) then headed off to the welcome speech from Jenny and Susanna, Britmums founders.

The first keynote speaker of the conference was the very engaging and funny Emma Freud, broadcaster and cultural commentator. I liked her. A lot. She sang our praises, calling us “social influencers” (I’ll take that, thank you) and “saviours of the internet” (I’ll take that too!) because of our honest, no fuss approach to writing and getting not only our voices out there but because of our capabilities in generating change and helping others. Emma had such an interesting, captivating and likeable way about her, she is definitely someone I’d like to hang out with!

20140625-093715.jpg

Emma Freud addressing the huge room full of us bloggers

By this point our little group had doubled in size with the addition of Bonnie from Mamma’s VIB, Natalie from Style Me Sunday, and Carissa from Little Likely Lads who all have amazing style blogs and are very lovely people too! We wandered around, checking out the sponsors before heading off to one of the sessions. First off we went to ‘How I did It – Success Stories’. I enjoyed the bloggers stories but I found Emily from Fashion Foie Gras was more informative in terms of what she actually DID to get where she is today: the doors she knocked down and her never give up attitude was totally inspiring.

It annoyed me that the sessions overlapped though. I wanted to attend two, sometimes three that were on at the same time, and in other time slots there wasn’t really anything I fancied at all. Some of the rooms weren’t big enough either so if you’d attended the session before and had to get to the room last, there was no chance of getting in!! A lot of people, including myself, didn’t feel like pushing through and ended up not bothering.

Bigger venue next year please Britmums. Or at least bigger rooms.

Four of us continued our mooch around the Hub where all the sponsors were (and tea and cake), lingering a bit too long by the Lindems wine tasting stand (ahem) then stumbling on the Boots Optician area where we got to wear silly hats (or at least I did), glasses (of course) and have some daft photo’s taken!

20140625-093448.jpg

Natalie, Ruth, Katy and me in the middle haha

Before we knew it, it was time to head down for the Brilliance in Blogging (BiB’s) award ceremony hosted by Katy Hill, who has a blog herself and is a huge part of the Britmums community. She was at the event last year too, she’s VERY lively and excitable which I thought was brilliant!

20140625-110925.jpg

I managed to get a chat and a photo with her on the second day of the event

The BiB’s themselves seemed to be over with in the blink of an eye and I have to say that in most categories I was unable to pick out the right winner! None of the people I expected to win, did… apart from maybe One Dad 3 Girls, Capture by Lucy and Just a Normal Mummy! I hadn’t actually heard of some on the blogs on the lists but it’s all good, I will definitely get round to checking them out in the future.

20140625-093607.jpg

Alice and Katy at the awards

20140625-093631.jpg

Ruth and I at the awards

The first day finished at around 9pm and after a short stay in the pub afterwards I headed home, only to be up early in order to get myself back into London for the second day. My kids were hanging off me in the morning, knowing that I was going out again…. why do they do that? It’s like an in built mechanism within them to make you feel guilty for leaving them, even though you know once you’re out the door they’ll forget all about you!! Therefore, I didn’t manage to get back to The Brewery till the morning coffee break and I was so disappointed to have missed the keynote speech by Benjamin Brooks-Dutton, from Life as a Widower. I love this blog and his heartbreaking yet heart warming love story about his wife, her sudden death, and how he and his young son have tried to cope with such a tragedy.

Much of  Sunday was spent with the ‘gang’.

20140625-234536.jpg

The stunning Natalie and Carissa

I did manage a couple of sessions though, my favourite one was the Collaboration session with Annabel from Country Wives who was great. I enjoyed her stories about how her collaboration with two others has brought her success with Country Wives, and about how they chose their contributors, one of which being Backpacking Granny!! We had such a giggle about her and got straight onto social media looking out for her!!! Brilliant. Mummy Barrow on this panel was fab, she had some great words of wisdom for us, I really did feel a connection with what she was saying, she is so very humble of her achievements and she inspired me more than anyone else this weekend.

I didn’t get round to all the sponsors, some just weren’t up my street. There were a few I’d like to work with but not many. I already work with Morrisons, Butlins, Boots and Parragon so apart from those… although I did enjoy my chats with the Port Avenue people and the A2 milk lot, and of course not forgetting  my lovely James from Butlins,  who I kept going back to for a little chinwag!

The Google+ session was very informative for me as I’m not even on there at the moment. It’s something I’ve been meaning to get my head around for ages but keep putting it off, I don’t have enough time to spend as it is on social media without adding another one to the list! But I feel as if I’m getting left behind not being on Google+ so I will endeavour to put the notes I made during this session to some very good use soon!

I’m gutted I missed the Hands On Video session, the You Tube and the Photography sessions. Hoping that some fellow peeps have written these up so I can take a look!

20140625-093749.jpg

 The fab four: Me, Katy, Alice and Ruth

My three amigos left early to get home to their families and to other commitments… boo…. so I stayed on with Natalie and Bonnie for the Bloggers Keynote.

I wanted to cheer on my friend Afra who was reading out one of her blog posts. She did amazingly well considering she was so very nervous beforehand! I did think there were too many sad and depressing posts which I cried at but however moving they were I would’ve liked more happy posts at this time. Last year there were definitely more laugh out loud hilarious posts which were needed to balance out the emotional ones.

20140625-093831.jpg

 Afra reading her post which, of course, was a funny one!

The final part of Britmums Live was a treat in the form of new musical Good Enough Mums Club. Some of the cast entertained us with a scene and a couple of songs from the show which is being billed as ‘an hilarious and poignant toddle through the highs, lows and sleep deprivation of motherhood’. The script was well written and very funny, as were the songs that are sure to strike a chord with Mums everywhere!

So that was it.

The event itself hadn’t excited me as much as last year, not sure why really. Maybe it’s because blogging was all so new to me last time and it couldn’t possibly live up to the utter wonder of it all again.

But that doesn’t mean I didn’t have fun. The social side of things was brilliant, I had a great time with my gals and I loved seeing all the familiar faces that I interact with on a weekly basis. There are far too many to mention, but they are all equally amazing, if I spoke to you, or indeed if I didn’t, you’re all amazing!!!

Same time next year? Hell yes 🙂

 

Silent Sunday – 22/06/14

20140622-110334.jpg

OneDad3Girls

Bank Holiday Bonanza with Morrisons

Morrisons have cut their prices on hundreds of products recently and wanted to challenge some customers to see if their weekly shop was cheaper than usual!

So they teamed up with Britmums and gathered up a whole bunch of willing Mummy bloggers, handed them each £80 worth of Morrisons vouchers and packed them off to go on a spending spree in store!

I was one of those lucky ones. I became a #MorrisonsMum!!

Obvs I was thrilled to be taking part in this challenge, I mean, who wouldn’t be? Food costs a blummin fortune these day doesn’t it?

We’re a fairly big family. Six all together. Including a greedy teenager who eats continuously. I know all kids want food all the time but this is on a different level completely! He could easily eat 80 quids worth of grub all by himself in a weekend!!!

I begrudge buying food. It annoys me. I always think about what else I could buy with the money, or how rich we’d be if we didn’t have to eat!!!

But alas. Eat we must, so this weekend was going to be great. Fully stocked cupboards courtesy of the very generous Morrisons. [Read more…]

The Britmums February Meetup at the Royal Academy of Art – Sensing Spaces Exhibition

On Valentines day, instead of being whisked off on a romantic weekend I jumped on the train with some local bloggy friends and we headed into Central London for the Britmums Meetup!

It was pouring with rain… really I hear you say?…. what a surprise!

It was also cold but I knew I had to make the effort as it’s always nice to attend one of the Britmums get togethers and as it was at the Royal Academy there was the added bonus of visiting one of the new exhibitions they have running right now…. Sensing Spaces.

Sensing Spaces; Architecture Reimagined – is showcasing in the main galleries where some of the most renowned, original architects from around the world (other than Britain) have been invited to design and create large scale works for visitors to not only walk into, but to touch and sense too.

This groundbreaking exhibition provides a unique experience to hopefully stimulate the mind and ask ourselves the question: how do spaces make us feel? It wants us to truly explore and engage our senses, making us think about the architecture all around us.

There are seven Architects (or practices) commissioned by the Royal Academy in total, giving us unique but equally powerful, inspiring installations to walk through and be hands on with. They are ENORMOUS, real works of art in building form and each one so very different to the next. A specially made film in a room in the middle of the exhibition provides visitors with the opportunity to understand the methodologies of the architects involved.

Once we’d had a coffee and a catch up with the lovely Jennifer Howse, co-founder of Britmums and our fellow bloggers, we were treated to a talk by the exhibition’s curator, Kate Goodwin, giving us a bit of background to the whole idea and explain what she hoped visitors would take away from their experience.

We were then invited to wander around. I have to say I was rather excited.

Royal academy of art

This was the first structure we came to, any my favourite. The photo doesn’t doesn’t do the sheer size and breathtaking shape of the monument justice.

It was magnificent! And so unusual.

It was magnificent! And so unusual.

The four 'legs' of this structure encased a beautiful spiral staircase leading up to the top.

The four ‘legs’ of this structure encased a beautiful spiral staircase leading up to the top.

This structure brought the fun factor to the exhibition, and the section that the kids are going to LOVE!

This structure brought the fun factor to the exhibition, and the section that the kids are going to LOVE! There are tiny holes throughout which visitors are invited to poke extra long straws through, that’s what all the coloured things you can see in this picture are. I suppose using your imagination and creating an usual shape with your straws before inserting them is what it’s all about!

Some people made intricate designs such as squares, although I'm unsure where they got their tape! I made a tree!!

Some people made intricate designs such as squares, although I’m unsure where they got their tape! I made a tree!!

As we wondered round we saw the rest of the buildings…

There was a dark looking arch which was made out of solid concrete and suspended structures, some of which blocked out the light entirely.

There was a dark looking arch which was made out of solid concrete and suspended structures, some of which blocked out the light entirely.

I think I saw most of this exhibition. I would like to go back with my family as I think they’d find it as interesting as I did. Or indeed on my own so I can concentrate and soak up the atmosphere that the structures created even more. It did have the effect that the Royal Academy hoped it would on me, the visitor, and that was it made me really stop and think about architecture. It was breathtaking and inspiring.

Take this next structure which was very different again. It was a journey in itself, a maze type labyrinth which led to a zen garden. It had the most amazing aroma similar to a fragrant burning candle which filled the senses.

This

It was thought provoking walking through here. The floor was lit up from underneath by LED lights which according to the Chinese architect, was supposed to give the impression of walking on snow at night through a forest.

Myself (on the left) and my bloggging chums in the centre of this structure, the mirror on one wall gave the illusion of open space!

After we had enjoyed the exhibition I had a sneaky photo taken in the beautiful lobby, next to this mammoth work of art!

The sheer size of some of the paintings is overwhelming

The sheer size of some of the paintings is overwhelming

We had a great morning at the Britmums meetup, fab people and fab location. It’s worth making the effort to get together with other bloggers and Britmums because it’s always an enjoyable event!

I couldn’t have asked for a better place for the meetup to be held. Art isn’t something that I think too much about in my every day life so this was a fabulous opportunity and I loved it. I will definitely be back. My Teen was disappointed that I didn’t take him as he’s doing Art GCSE next year and would’ve found this interesting, but unfortunately he was at school. So I’ll be back with him and the rest of my brood! There really is something for everyone.

Thanks Britmums!

 

Sensing Spaces at the Royal Academy is running until 6th April 2014, so get yourself down there, the kids will love it too. It’s open daily until 6pm and has a late night opening on Fridays until 10pm.

Early Christmas Bash with Britmums and Morrisons

What’s that?

A Christmas Britmums get together involving Morrisons food and sparkly tipple?

Sign me up – immediately!!!

This was my initial reaction when my lovely blogging friend Ruth announced this news to me over Twitter, as you do! Urging me to get my ticket sharpish as this was an exclusive, intimate get together with only 70 places available! I attended the Summer Britmums conference which I loved so I didn’t need to be convinced!

Place booked – straight away, no messing about!

And it was FREE – bonus!!

I was looking forward to it immensely although it was weird thinking about Christmas at the end of November, when the party was held, but it definitely got me into the Christmas spirit nice and early.

As soon as I arrived I saw some familiar blogger faces 🙂 which is always good so as to feel at ease straight away.

britmums christmas party 2013

I grabbed a coffee and had a mingle and a chat before Britmums founders Susanna Scott and Jennifer Howse (above) welcomed us with a fun speech and introduced us to their sponsors for the event, Morrisons.

Of course it didn’t go unnoticed that the room was adorned with beautifully decorated Christmas food tables courtesy of Morrisons, that we were invited to dive into and try out! Mouth wateringly good they looked!!!!

This is just a tiny part of the food that was on parade!!

This is just a tiny part of the food that was on parade!!

Before we were let loose on all that Christmas food, Neil Nugent, who is the Executive Chef of Product Development at Morrisons HQ, gave us a lesson in how to make the perfect Christmas dinner, as well as inviting us to ask him any related questions!

britmums christmas bash

Neil was very engaging and held a captive audience standing in front of a crowd of mums, eagerly trying to pick up some valuable Christmas dinner cooking tips.

He informed us that you shouldn’t put foil over the turkey whilst in the oven!! Now, I’ve been lucky enough to usually have my Christmas dinner cooked for me over the years so far, by cleverly arranging to go elsewhere for the big meal, but the odd year that I’ve murdered cooked the turkey, I’ve always put foil on. Thought this was supposed to keep it moist. No. Not needed. This in fact steams it instead of cooking it properly. Putting butter ‘underneath’ the skin instead of on top keeps the moisture in.

He also advised that the turkey should be at room temperature for a while before putting in the oven and cooked early so as to rest for TWO HOURS before carving – giving you plenty of time to get the spuds and veg in! Incidentally, you can prepare the veg DAYS in advance and re-heat in the microwave!!

After the food insights it was time to chat, eat and drink! As well as the Christmas food, we were also treated to lunch, yes a generous spread of sandwiches arrived which looked delicious, I didn’t eat any though because I was already stuffed with chocolate log and festive lollipops, eyes bigger than my belly I think!

I did however manage a little glass of the sparkly stuff – shhh, don’t tell anyone that it wasn’t even midday at this point! hehe

This is what the Christmas party was all about though, being merry and catching up with blogger friends which for me is so nice because none of my usual friends blog. It’s a chance for me to talk face to face with like minded people. Blogging is honestly such a close-knit, lovely community to be part of.

The lovely Ruth and I

The lovely Ruth, on the right,  and I x

One of my friends is the gorgeous Ruth from Rocknrollerbaby , who I met this year at the beginning of the summer at an event. It was actually my first blogging event to review so it was a little daunting and I didn’t know anyone. I was there with my family but Ruth and I ended up sitting at a table chatting and we instantly clicked, discovering that we attended the same stage school in central London which, even though she is younger than me, our time there would’ve overlapped at some point!

It really is a small world, but it’s even more of a coincidence when you’re aware that said school is so small and niche.  We share an experience that’s difficult to describe to anyone that hasn’t been brought up in a stage school environment like ours! We knew some of the same teachers that we’re both still in contact with, bizarre! So we were destined to meet, obviously – and blogging made that happen!!!

20131211-110228.jpg

Other friends I caught up with were Alice from ‘An Essex Wife’ here on the right with Katy from ‘Modern Mummy’ who I met for the first time at this event and who is absolutely lovely! She’s also a dead ringer for Lisa Faulkner don’t you think?! Lucky!!

Apologies for pictures with coats on, I grabbed these snaps when we were all leaving! I asked the guy from the reception of the building to take the below pic of myself with some of my other blogging friends.

20131211-110558.jpg

From left to right we have Me, then the fun and lovely (and my very first blogging friend I met in person) Afra from ‘Madmumof7’, Mary from ‘Model Mum’ who I also met for the first time here – she lives in the same County as Afra and I so although not that close, it did mean we could get the same train home and chat lots more ! Last but no means least, the lovely Sam from ’40yr old Domestic Goddess’

The picture shows us holding on to our goodie bags from the event, (the perks of the trade lol) generously provided by Morrisons which had some fab goodies inside including a voucher to spend in store, chocolates, Christmas cards and of course, mince pies!! This on top of the fact that we were allowed to ‘take whatever we wanted’ from the glorious food tables which resulted in everyone being rather gutted they didn’t have bigger bags!! That said, cakes and decorations were stuffed into handbags and anywhere else they could fit!!

I managed to grab these cute little gingerbread men to take to my kids after school:

20131211-110625.jpg

Yummy and very much appreciated by my twins 🙂

It had been a lovely gathering and genuinely got everyone into the Christmas mood, some festive cheer for a gloomy Monday morning!

Thank you Britmums and Morrisons.

Britmums Live 2013 – My Experience

Well, what can I say? These post Britmumslive ‘posts’ are coming thick and fast right now, everyone telling their own version of events – I’ve noticed that it meant very different things to different people but the overriding view is that it was an amazing experience. And that’s how I would sum it up too 🙂

[Read more…]

I’m Going To Britmums Live….

See you at BritMums Live! 2013

First of all – Whoop whoop!!!

Seeing as I’ve neglected my blog this last week (still trying to find enough hours in the day so I can devote some much needed full attention time to it) I thought I’d let you know of my excitement and trepidation about going to Britmums Live! [Read more…]

%d bloggers like this: