Monday, 10 November 2014

Blogfest 2014 - Friendship on the internet, being inspired and free gin!

I've been member of Mumsnet for over ten years now.  In fact, without Mumsnet I might not have got through my fourth pregnancy and birth without going mad.  The kindness and support that other women have shown to me via the Mumsnet forums has been invaluable, and the best bit is that some of them have liked me enough to remain friends with me.

It only seemed natural that when I started this blog out of boredom one day, that one of the first things I did was to register with the Mumsnet Bloggers Network (who rejected me at first because I had only written about three posts).

Since then they have very kindly shared a few of my blog posts, much to my amazement, and so I was more than beside myself with excitement when I won a ticket to this year's Mumsnet Blogfest conference in their Twitter competition (see Friday's post for how).  Actually, I lie.  I ran around whooping and shrieking for a bit and then wondered how on earth I was going to tell my husband that he would have to look after five children on his own for a whole day.  And that conversation?  Was not easy.

Anyway, I digress.

So, on Saturday I got up very early to catch a train down to London so that I could attend.  Nervous, excited and a bit out of my depth.  I don't get out much as you can possibly tell.

6.00 am, standing on the platform *yawns*

The day started with coffee and pastries.  The coffee was very welcome after my 5.00 am start but I swerved the pastries because I was so nervous that I didn't feel hungry.  It was just so amazing to be there that I stood dumbstruck for quite a while, watching as the other bloggers that I could recognise chatted to one another.  It's moments like this that you realise that real life just isn't like Twitter and I suddenly felt very shy and massively out of my comfort zone if I'm honest.  Fortunately I did finally spot someone I'd met before, Kerrie from Wife, Mum, Student Bum, who didn't ignore me (despite the fact that I shouted "Cooeee" at her and did a little wave like an embarrassing mum!) and stopped for a natter before the first session started.

So, what about the sessions?  Well, to say I was starstruck was a bit of an understatement.  There were so many brilliant speakers.  Some of whom are people I've been following for a while and others who were new to me.  Justine Roberts, Mumsnet CEO did a welcome and introduction.  That's JustineMumsnet if you've been using Mumsnet as long as me (you know, I once gave her advice on how to unfold her pushchair on the forums, I wonder if she remembers that?).  She made us all feel very welcome as did Kate Williams, Editor of the Bloggers Network who said of us bloggers, "You write with honesty and love, grace and resilience".  Lovely Words.

The keynote discussion that followed was on how technology shapes the way we think.  I found it really interesting especially as at one point it focused more on the negative side rather than the positive.  Brave in a room full of bloggers!

Other sessions I attended were How to find your funny, Can blogging change the world? and a skill sharing round table on social media.  I had started to write about each one in detail but it read rather like one of my kids' "What I did in the Holidays" essays from school, and so I'll just say that they were all brilliant in different ways and left me feeling braver, more inspired and passionate about what I do in my little corner of the internet.

Finding my funny and being a bit starstruck

I mustn't forget to mention the Think Bomb session too.  You can watch all of the speakers on the Mumsnet YouTube channel now and anything I say here would simply not do them justice.  They were breathtaking.

The final keynote was my favourite by far.  It was entitled The power of writing.  Not only were Nick Hornby, Lynn Barber and Rachel Joyce on the panel but the writer of one of my favourite blogs, How to be a Domestic Disgrace, Lisa Jarmin.  The discussion was engaging and focused on all writing not just blogging.  Oh, I also got a couple of tweets on the big screen at the back which was a bit exciting (as I say, I don't get out much).

A very far away Lucy Porter
(I definitely need a new phone for next year)

To close we were treated to the exceptionally funny Lucy Porter, who had me in fits of laughter talking about "Penis Beaker" (if you don't know, Google it!) and her "Guy Goma moment" on Radio 4.  She touched briefly on how the members of Mumsnet support each other which, as I said at the beginning of this post, is kind of the reason that I went in the first place.  After I had finally stopped laughing I did find myself welling up a little bit.  The blogging community is a truly amazing thing to be a part of.  

It was a nerve-wracking, inspiring and emotional day.  With free gin at the end.

If you are reading this thinking that you might like to go next year then do.  I promise that you will come away feeling as pleased that you did as I have.  I'm already planning on buying a ticket for next year (providing Mumsnet will have me back).  The people at Mumsnet really do know how to put on a good event and I'd like to thank them again for my prize as I would never have pushed myself to go otherwise.  Unsurprisingly I did not thank them on the day.  Too shy.


  1. Yay! So glad you had such a good time and enjoyed the writing keynote session. Next time you have to promise to stop and say hello if you see me (because I refuse to wear my glasses as they make me look like Leonard off the Big Bang Theory, so I can't actually see anyones faces until they're right on top of me).

    1. Thanks again it was brilliant. I did want to stop you to say Hi (but stupidly didn't), partly to say how much I've loved your blog but also to ask you where on earth you find a coffee shop in Cheshire that a) doesn't serve phenomenally overpriced coffee and b) isn't crammed full of small children and other distractions (clearly I need to move to a better bit). I promise I will next time though.

  2. It was lovely to meet you, glad you enjoyed the day xx

    1. It was lovely to meet you too Leigh. I'm so sorry I waffled on for a while (nerves!). I hope you enjoyed your day too xx

  3. So glad you enjoyed it, hope you get a ticket to Blog On x

    1. Thanks. You'd have loved it too (come next year!). I will have to get on the case for a BlogON ticket. Leaving it a bit late in case it ends up clashing with something important.

  4. I REALLY enjoyed it too, so nice to have met you in person too! I felt very inspired afterwards, however I am not sure when I am going to get the time to write down everything that is in my head now!!!! Great post and see you around real soon! Jess xx

    1. I know what you mean - my head is so full of stuff! It was nice to meet you as well x


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