So, BML 16 came and went last weekend…what happened?
An Inauspicious Start…
The day started with me in a bit of a tizz because I overslept – oops! Fortunately the journey by train into London isn’t far which meant my tardiness wasn’t a total disaster.
It meant my lovely friend Carla was also late as we were travelling together. Sorry again…
However, my unintended lie-in meant I missed the opening keynote speech by Anne-Marie Cockburn speaking about her daughter Martha who tragically died after experimenting with ecstasy. Martha was just 15, and single mum Anne-Marie’s only child. Anne-Marie has spent the time since raising awareness of the dangers of drugs, and has written a book 5,742 Days – the same number of days as Martha lived.
While I missed Anne-Marie’s speech, I was pleased to be able to have a chat with her in the break with my dear friend and fellow bereaved mummy Oana from Mama’s Haven. We chatted about our children and what we do to remember them – a conversation that I think the three of us appreciated.
In fact my all highlights feature chats with my friends. The social side is often the best, offering an opportunity to chat face-to-face with people who have become close friends online.
There are so many I shared hugs and chats with – some all-too-brief. I am not going to list everyone because my memory is so terrible I worry about causing offence by omitting someone!
I enjoyed speaking to everyone I spoke to. I clearly need to take more pictures as that’s a good way of remembering who I spoke to!
Spending quality time with Michelle was a treat:
As was the fantastic livewire Vicki
And my gorgeous friend Hannah – met her beautiful daughter Martha for the first time. Martha is just eight weeks old – I enjoyed lots of smiles from her.
Chat with Victoria.
Food at BML was yummy: lots of cake (the macarons in the morning were delicious, as was the chocolate birthday cake). Lunch was excellent, with loads of choice catering for all tastes – vegan, gluten- and nut-free included.
I tucked in to the sweet potato falafel, which was so good. Staff were also handing out lunches to save wasting time in queues, great idea.
I loved the Affilinet stand that made ice cream in whatever flavour you wanted – there was almost too much choice! Ice cream was made in front of you using some kind of alchemy (liquid nitrogen?).
I chose salted caramel – yummy!
I also enjoyed tucking in to the blueberries – to offset the cake!
With the event being only one day this year I was torn between attending sessions and spending time catching up with friends.
Only two were seemed worthwhile enough (in terms of content and the potential of learning new things) to drag me away from my friends.
The first was Innovative Ways to Make Money, featuring Vicki on the panel. Vicki is always so full of beans and passion you can’t fail to be inspired! However, the session needed to be longer – it was clear there were many people who wanted to ask a question and find out more. No disrespect to the Affilinet guy, who was eloquent and full of useful advice but to me using your blog to make money doesn’t feel ‘innovative’ in the context of a blogging conference. Perhaps separate sessions ‘Using Your Blog to Make Money’ and innovative ways to make money would have been better fit. In my humble opinion innovative ways to make money includes using your skills, talents (many of which are honed and developed through blogging) and collaborating to explore different revenue streams. The Blognix event (organised by another BML session speaker, Elizabeth Sellers) back in February, and the Passion into Pounds event at the British Library (also featuring Vicki, and Natasha) showed how this format can work if given more time and participants the opportunity to share ideas – and it’s what gave me the spur to create Bright Mind Spirit.
The second session was led by lovely Michelle, about Facebook Live and Periscope (the latter doesn’t involve submarines). Michelle has loads of useful tips, and I have lots of ideas about how to use it – there’s huge potential.
A photo posted by Leigh – Headspace Perspective (@leighakendall) on
Keynotes and Awards
I was honoured to stand with Oana as moral support while she read her What Really Happens When You Lose a Child post. Hearing sniffles from the audience I dared not look up for fear of crying myself. There’s nothing wrong with that of course but crying would have meant I would have been poor support.
Oana did a brilliant job of reading such a difficult post with poise and dignity. I’ve no doubt Georgie is so proud of his Mama.
My friend Tim, talented and perceptive writer likes to pretend he is shy.
Well, on Saturday night we all found out the truth when he sang his brilliant parody of the 80’s classic Pretty in Pink – you really must have a listen!
I was super chuffed for Michelle, who won the Inspire category. I love the Joy Chaser, it is a breath of fresh air amongst the negativity that pervades the world in general. And Ms Psarias – phew a double award winner – social media and outstanding! So very-well deserved. I loved Vicki’s Outstanding acceptance speech, during which she was saying
“We all make a difference. Don’t doubt yourself.”
And that to me, succinctly sums up what blogging is all about.
The one day format just didn’t work….it felt too rushed.
I was sad to read that some attendees said they felt the event was unfriendly. Having had an awful Friday afternoon at my first BritMums two years ago : I arrived not knowing a soul I understand how awful this feels. I wondered why there were no butterflies, or newbie area this year? Few people are intentionally rude or hostile. Many people will be making the most of the one day to spend with friends, which is another reason the one day format didn’t work. Last year, the Friday lunchtime start offered time for catch-ups and ice breakers (including taking some newbies under our wing, some of whom are now firm friends) with Saturday involving ‘getting down to business’ so to speak.
You can’t please everyone of course….thanks to the organisers, it was a fun day and enjoyed myself, but bearing in mind the cost of the ticket versus what I learnt the conference itself felt poor value.
I also missed the potential of blogging sessions there had been in the past two years – for me that is what is all about. Having said that, the day gave the opportunity to cement bonds and friendships, and within that is massive potential of the best kind.
The tired-but-happy looks on the faces of Carla and me on the way home say it best.