The planning behind my Mumsnet Blogfest experience
Saw the invitation to Mumsnet Blogfest, thought to self would love to go, must go, will go! Talked to husband, yes good idea, you must go. Looked at dates again, day after my birthday so can make a weekend of it. Perfect.
“Mum, are you free the weekend of the 9/10/11th November?” “You are, wonderful, and you’re happy to have the girls? Brilliant, thank you so much.” Childcare: tick.
Bought (early bird) ticket: tick. Put date in my diary and got on with my day.
Husband makes a note to book a hotel for the weekend, and lavish dinner, he’s good like that. Tick (for husband).
A few weeks later thought tactically about who would (happily) have the dog. Can’t ask Rachel, she’s having him over Christmas, don’t want to jeopardise that. Will book kennels, he’ll be fine. Booked kennels and paid extra £1 for heating, dog: tick.
Check up at the vets, who says our underweight (but healthy) dog may have diarrhoea because of stress (fireworks). Now feel guilty about the kennels. Untick. Rack brains for altnerative. Remember school Mum offers dog boarding, perfect, ring her. Yes, she can have him, and after a walk together yes her dog likes my dog so book him in. Tick!
Mum arrives to say happy birthday and collect the girls. She smiles in a crazed kinda way and tells me her puppy’s having her first heat. Laugh, commiserate at the prospect of having inquisitive grandchildren with Springer Spaniel dripping blood. Check she’s got gin & tonic and chocolate, tick.
Drop dog off with his trappings, everyone’s happy so escape quickly.
And breathe…. all offspring in the right places, tick.
Drive to Swindon to catch the train. Enjoy rest of my birthday in London, mainly in Selfridges spending birthday money on Aubin and Wills teal cords, bright red mohair jumper (always cold) and cracking little Hudson boots. Big tick.
Swanky dinner at a top Japanese restaurant for a trip down memory lane from those distant dating days….
4am. Hear violent vomiting. Poor husband has food poisoning from the aforementioned exclusive restaurant. Lump in my throat wondering if I’m next to suffer the effects of dodgy sushi. 7.30am get up, very relieved that we had only shared 5 out of the 6 dishes on the Tasting menu. Said goodbye to poor husband.
Got a cab to Mill Bank Tower and smiled, I’d made it! BIG TICK.
And boy was I glad I did make it. What a cracker of a day, I felt like a (minor) celeb with all that food, pampering, photographers, goodie bags and of course mixing with the real celebrities who’d come to talk to us.
Miriam González Durántez. Photo: Mumsnet Bloggers network
Let me tell you about who I met during my day…
Have you heard of School Gate Style? Well I met Avril, the lovely lady who dreamt up such a clever name for her blog and found herself in the Daily Mail! Her very popular blog is a must if you need a wardrobe overhaul and don’t know where to start: School Gate Style Such a lovely lady, and fascinating to hear her story.
Avril Jones, School Gate Style. Photo: Mumsnet Bloggers Network
I also met Frankie whose blog Frankies Fancies is a fantastic and rather beautiful online destination for all budding bakers. She’s running a competition to win Lily Vanilla’s Sweet Tooth cookery book so hop over and comment on her post to win a copy.
In the queue for lunch I met Maddie who has a great blog called Gammon and Chips! Cracking name, transpires they are the nicknames for her children, read the story on the about page of her blog.
Lunch was delicious, and there was loads of it, I had a big plate of mushroom risotto, beetroot and feta salad, rocket salad, coleslaw and bread. Can’t believe I did’t leave room for what looked like the perfect puddings! *But did make up for it with to die for cupcake later.
Perched next to the coffee machine for lunch and met Geraldine, and here’s where I’m gutted as I don’t know her surname who how to stay in touch as she hasn’t started her blog yet. Geraldine if you happen to read this say hello, I’d love to keep in touch!
Last but not least I chatted to a lovely and very interesting lady who’s blog is called Mahogany Soup, another corker of a name! She won her tickets to blogfest, so if you find yourself leaving it too late for 2013 don’t despair just enter the competition and hope and pray.
And what did I learn at Mumsnet Blogfest 2012?
After the amusing and grounding introduction from Miriam González Durántez, the first session I went to was called ‘finding your voice’. This was chaired by Gaby Wood who writes for The Telegraph, and on the panel were Rachel Cusk (author), Zoe Strimpel (journalist and author), Jenny Lawson (aka The Blogess) who was on a very large screen live from Texas (where it was 4am!) and Zoe Williams (columnist, journalist and author). Together they told anecdotes, swore a lot and ranted about their pet hates. In fact one tip was to write about the things that annoy you, which made me think this was training for their debut on Grumpy old women! Sorry ladies.
The ‘Finding your Voice panel’. Photo: Mumsnet Bloggers Network
That aside, they did have some useful top tips for finding your voice when it comes to blogging:
- Write as though you’re talking to someone you know (Zoe Williams writes as though it’s to her sister)
- Be you, don’t try and be anyone else
- Write for yourself
- Think of the things that annoy you and write at least 500 words, sounds therapeutic at least.
I’m not sure why, probably to lay my insecurities to rest, but I went to the Photography for bloggers session. Most of it was covering things I knew, but I have to admit to not knowing about the grid on the iPhone. Slap wrist. It’s a great tool and one you should use to ensure your point of interest in the photo is along one of the lines of the grid, the technique is called the rule of thirds. My favourite phrase from this session was ‘photography vomit’ – aka overly cluttered photos with no centre, focus or point of interest.
Listened to a very fast talking man, who was great, I just spent the whole time wanting to breathe for him! Oh his topic was Social Media and SEO, must get onto Google+ Love love love his hashtag: #letscalmthefluffdown
We heard from Louise France of The Saturday Times Magazine and her need for a finely-homed angle when you send her a press release; from Cari Rosen, who wrote a book about becoming a first time mother in her forties; Neil Sinclair, writer of what sounds like an excellent manual on fatherhood called Commando Dad; and Felicity Rubenstein, an agent with Lutyens and Rubenstein. Lots of tips for getting published for any wanna be authors.
Getting published panel. Photo: Mumsnet Bloggers Network
What there’s more I hear you ask?!
Well yes, over the break I had a quick one-to-one session with Emily Leary, a social media expert who has given me some top tips on using facebook for business (I’m more of a tweeter than a status-updater).
- use facebook for facebook users, not to take them somewhere else – they’ve logged on and that’s where they want to be!
- always post an image
- be creative – why do I struggle with this?!
- ask questions
And finally, the piece de la resistance… Caitlin Moran. I secretly want to be a fun-loving, chilled out dude who can do and say what the heck I like. As Caitlin herself pointed out when someone asked her about where she gets her enthusiasm from, she simply said have you heard of alcohol? And there’s my problem, it takes too much wine or vodka for me to be a fun-lovin’ cheeky funky chick, and after 2 too many I’ve declared 2-day hangovers are a thing of the past.
Caitlin Moran. Photo: Mumsnet Bloggers Network
Caitlin was truly hilarious, we loved her, and for me watching her open her mouth wide over the microphone and ‘take’ it in her mouth was just bonkers. She handed out an ‘I like your look’ card to Liz Fraser (author and TV/Radio parenting expert) and said “I had these cards made for people who I think look gorgeous”, and complemented Liz on her symmetrical face! Now that’s cool.
Caitlin Moran’s top tips for blogging:
- Write as though you’re writing to someone you fancy (this wouldn’t apply to me as I’d waffle, worry about what I’d said and spend too long blushing!)
- When you’re deciding what to write about don’t write the 1st thing that comes into your head as everyone will do that; don’t write the 2nd as clever people will write that; write the 3rd as then it’ll be your own idea.
- “Chronically share”
I have to go to bed now, but if you’ve enjoyed this and wished you could be there, register your interest for next year here. It was worth every minute of the planning, the blood, the sweat and the tears. Thanks Mumsnet, here’s to you and us!
And here’s a first for me, a blog hop! Read about everyone else’s experiences on the day here