It’s Tuesday evening, a whole 3 days have passed since I arrived home from Blogfest tired, dehydrated and somewhat dazed. It was my first full blogging conference, my credit card had leapt out my purse and the numbers had *ahem* magically gone into the ticketing screen when I saw that Lord Robert Winston and Prof Tanya Byron were speaking.
As time went on I saw that Tania from Special Needs Jungle was going to be there (cue much more excitement – Tania and I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome in common – not that that’s exciting, but to actually meet was), Mummy Barrow was going to be speaking about changing the world and Mammasaurus was to be getting ‘down and dirty’ *sigh*.
I travelled with a small contingent of the St Albans blogging massive. Penny from BeingMrsC, Kirsty from Damson Lane and Steph from Steph’s Two Girls – there is something about being able to rock up at the station at some hideous time on a Saturday morning and instantly have loads in common – one thing being we were really looking forward to catching up with Renata from Just Bring The Chocolate. Renata has been in Great Ormond Street Hospital with Dominic since the beginning of September – I’d been whistling the theme from The Great Escape in my head for a couple of days, mixed with images of her tunnelling out with a spoon so to see her at St Pancras was wonderful.
Onwards – top conference venue. You could spot the bloggers, marching like ants towards the entrance – despite having our own very unique personalities online, we all seemed to have a remarkably similar taste in conference clothes… Earl grey tea was available (always good) and it was lovely to hug so many bloggers who I speak to so frequently online. The social side of blogging conferences is wonderful – although it does, on reflection, make me question quite why I’m happy to pay so much money to go to what is essentially a big social…?
Into the sessions – the first session, chaired by Richard Bacon was fast moving and interesting. Except I began to feel a bit old – I seem to be losing the ability to listen, understand, engage, form an opinion, read a twitter wall and attempt to tweet at the same time. Maybe I am old, maybe I’m wondering whether actually, if you’re going to attend a panel discussion, that listening and engaging is the most important thing to do. Social media does not enhance this experience – it’s almost like driving and being on your phone – you need your brain to be on one thing or the other. Or maybe it was the painkillers… I don’t think it was.
So, the sessions I went to were great. Not in the ‘oh wow I’ve learned so much’ kind of way, but in that they reassured me that a lot of what I do, both on here and in my professional life are what, at the moment, are deemed as the ‘right’ things to be doing. Prof Tanya Byron – I love you. Please, can you come for tea? I’ll make cake?
I was really disappointed that Robert Winston wasn’t speaking – if he hadn’t been on the list I may not have bought my ticket. I’m not sure I got ‘value’ for money in terms of learning or inspiration but I did have a wonderful time meeting catching up with other bloggers. Obviously, to cover the really important stuff, lunch was indifferent, there wasn’t enough to drink and they ran out of cake where I was. Loos were plentiful, goody bags generous (not that I went for the goody bag AT ALL, that is not what pulls me to a conference) and there was plenty of time to circulate.
The final session, yes, that one, is being much discussed elsewhere. Jo Brand was great but I didn’t leave the auditorium on a high. Move on.
Hayley from Downs Side Up asked me that evening to describe the day in one word. It took a lot of thought and I concluded “Forceful”.
In any community (on or offline) there are forces. If those forces are used for good, the results can be amazing – you can, realistically change your corner of the world. Forces that come together for destruction and misery cause just that.
The best bit though – the social side. The hugs, the kind words, the love and the silliness. Will I go again – not sure. Am I glad I went? – Definitely.
It was a privilege – (photo by Tania who’s on the right, with Renata on the left) to hug these two ladies, I am very proud that I know them.