This weekend was #BML16, the blogging conference to end all blogging conference, and one I had chance to attend thanks to my lovely sponsor Ashton & Parsons (who it would appear also sponsored my mums weekend with the teething baby…..)
On Saturday morning I crept out of the house at 6:15am, kissing my husband goodbye before he flew back to Dubai whilst being a stealth ninja to kiss both boys without waking them (mission accomplished if you wondered). It all started so well. Then I hit the station, 30 minutes early, overjoyed at the fact that Derby train station had a Costa Coffee for my massive latte. Obviously time for a smug blogger photo….captioned “London I’m coming to get you #BML16”
Except I wasn’t as, seconds after I posted this smug shot on my Facebook page came the announcement; “we are experiencing signalling problems in St Pancras”. Cue much rushing through the station to find another train which then sent me speeding (ha jokes, chugging) towards Birmingham before connecting through to a London train and arriving in London 50 minutes later than I was meant to, at a different station. The big kick in the teeth being that I got into London 15 minutes after registration started still having to find my way across to the Brewery with the worlds worst sense of direction. Luckily for me the lovely Eilidh (pronounced Hayley without the “H” – I googled!) from Mummy and Monkeys was also running late so after some frantic Facebook messaging, exchanging phone numbers and train selfies so we knew who we were looking for, we had a plan.
And good job I met Eilidh because I got all in a tizz with my Google maps and walked us around in a big massive loop. Still better late than never as they say. We snuck in just as Julie from Too Fat to Run was talking and what a message that was to start the day, you can achieve whatever you set you mind too. With that said, I decided to put the disastrous start to the day behind me and plod on.
There is something nerve wracking about walking into a room filled with strangers, over 500 of them, with people on your hit list that you desperately want to talk to but you aren’t entirely sure you have the confidence to walk up to them, turns out that in my jabbering nervous excitement not only did I walk up to a lot of people, I hugged pretty much everyone with a couple of resounding smackers on the cheeks. Yep, no air kisses here, full on lip-cheek contact. With all that said, I wanted to reflect on the best of #BML16, the highlights that had me giggling on my way home when it took me nearly 2 hours to get from Moorgate to East Putney, yes seriously, the bits that made the conference worthwhile to me.
#BML16 – The Key Note Speakers
A full list of the bloggers key note speakers and their posts can be found here, but I want to mention a couple in particular.
First up, a big fat mention to Tim from Slouching Towards Thatcham for getting up and singing. Now I am not a YouTuber or even very good at video, so here is my unedited shaky recording….
The second mention goes to Oana from Mamas Haven. Oana lost her little boy Georgie at 5 and a half months old to leukaemia in 2014, her post brought me to tears reading it on screen “What really happens when you lose a child” to watch her read it on stage was a privilege, the emotion, the rawness, a glimpse into her life without Georgie.
#BML16 – The Brands
I kind of skipped a lot of the sessions, mingling around the hub talking to other brands and latching onto people if I felt a bit lonely. Then I found the Prosecco in the afternoon, and well…..
A shout out to the lovely Gareth from Munchkin UK who not only removed his badge so I could photograph at a more appropriate level, also introduced me to the genius that is the Munchkin sunshades, something which we need to look at again as the Big One destroyed our last car sunshades and we have a few changes afoot and Qatar on the cards….
The fun at the Boots Soltan photo booth.
Meeting Carole Smilie (!!!!) founder of Diary Dolls.
— Carol Smillie (@carolsmillie1) June 25, 2016
A quick pelvic floor lesson, you can really see the concentration.
— DiaryDoll (@DiaryDoll) June 25, 2016
And of course the accolade of the happiest campers going, well that was always going to be a given once the wine started flowing!
— The Caravan Club (@thecaravanclub) June 25, 2016
#BML16 – The People
I had the pleasure of meeting some of the bloggers that I have spent the past 18 months
stalking admiring from afar. And, surprisingly, also happened to be someone that some other bloggers wanted to meet.
First shout out goes to Katy from What Katy Said and Sian from Quite Frankly She Said. For weeks before #BML16 Katy had been warning me that I was going to get squeezed, that she was going to waddle over to me with the help of Sian and squeeze me. Then Sian reiterated the message, with a warning over Facebook that when I made it I would be hugged. And hugged I was!
A photo posted by K A T Y (@whatkatysaiduk) on
Next up is the beautiful Hannah from Budding Smiles and Chelle from the Mumington Post (who, quite rightly, told the poor man on the Munchkin store to watch out for me I was trouble) both there with their littles, where I managed to grab a Martha snuggle and poor old Chelle was the first to get an excited smacker on the cheek.
The family travel blogger crew set with Cathy from Mummy Travels, Elizabeth from Wander Mum, Claire from Tin Box Traveller – lovely ladies who make me feel less crazy for travelling the world with the boys in tow.
The wonderful Lisa from Mrs Savage Angel who sought me out to give me a massive squeeze after reading some of my posts, then came and gave my bum a pinch when the wine had flowed!
— Life with Baby Kicks (@Laura_BabyKicks) June 26, 2016
And saving my dinner crew until last, as so eloquently put by the beautiful Claire from Life, Love and Dirty Dishes, when you start the day never having met and end the day like this….
And in the photo we have Prabs from Absolutely Prabulous, winner of BiBs Best Writer 2016, Helen from Mess, Stress and Fancy Dress, my ultimate drunken partner in crime, Helen from Just Saying Mum who helped me navigate (badly) the streets of London to find the tube, Emma from Island Living 365, winner of BiBs Fresh Voice, Becky from Cuddle Fairy with an inability to say vodka without it sounding like tango and of course, the lovely Claire – sayer of wise words above!
#BML16 – In Conclusion
As with everything there were positive points and negative points, I’ve focused on the positives, which for me was the people, this wonderful community of people who welcomed me with open arms. The drunken partners in crime, the faces to the online voices.
Would there be things I would have done differently? Yes, but that’s a different post….You can follow our adventures from the sandpit (and beyond) over on Facebook, see you there!