On Saturday, I got the opportunity to meet up with some of my favourite online bloggers from the Big Up Your Blog community, and to meet a whole bunch of other bloggers who were new to me. It was time for the 4th Annual Bloggers Bash – and my very first time!
Before I talk about the Bloggers Bash, I have a confession to make. I was absolutely chuffed to have received my nomination for Overall Best Blogger, and of course I was disappointed that A Brummie Home and Abroad didn’t make the top three, but I may have made some tongue-in-cheek comments on social media that were easily construed as being petty. I am absolutely chuffed for everyone that won, and whilst I’m fiercely loyal towards my Big Up Your Blog community, I took the time to read the blogs and engage with lots of the other bloggers prior to the Bash. Of course I don’t agree with all of the winners, but blogging is subjective, and I may not enjoy a genre that others love. And the same can be said of A Brummie Home and Abroad – it’s not for everyone. I’ve linked to the winner’s announcement post here and I look forward to finding new blogs to follow. And huge apologies to anyone I may have offended… I’m totally blaming the Aperol Spritz and a solo two-hour train journey home with only Facebook for company.
Back to my first Bloggers Bash! Mr Fletche drops me off at Birmingham Moor Street station where I’m chuffed that I’ve arrived in plenty of time. I grab a cuppa from the Centenary Lounge and settle down on the platform. Except I’m not at the right platform so it’s a dash with two minutes to go to the right platform. Panic over, I settle down for the two hour journey. The seats are extremely comfy, I have wi-fi and a plug socket and I worry for a while that I may be accidentally in first class. Again. But more passengers get in my carriage at Leamington Spa who look decidedly unfirst-class so I stop worrying. Indeed the inspector checks my ticket and all is tickety-boo. Pun totally intended.
Part one of the journey is successfully complete when we arrive at Marylebone. I have kept my train ticket in my Kindle case, which of course means it doesn’t work at the access barriers anywhere and I have to chase down TFL staff to let me through. Marylebone tube station to Picadilly, Picadilly to Turnham Green… oh wait. Apparently only every 17th train is stopping at Turnham Green today, so unconfidently I disembark at Hammersmith. There’s a tube to Rayners Lane at the other platform which I jump on and then jump off again. I go and ask a member of TFL staff which tube I need for Turnham Green. The one to Rayners Lane they say. Fab.
Finally I’m Turnham Green bound. Google Map firmly in hand, I power walk past the kind of shops and cafes I’d love to dawdle over, had I more time. The George IV pub shows itself and I take a deep breath (oh, and a quick pic for the ‘gram) before heading inside. Worried I’d be left to my own devices, I am swept into a welcoming hug by committee member (and practically Brummie) Shelley and then ushered into the Boston Room by Hugh, who later introduces himself, quite simply, as “Welsh”. I collect my name badge from Adam, who ticks me off his list – and I’m in. And I’m a little overwhelmed. I’ve walked in with Lauren from Milly’s Guide but she’s disappeared and I don’t know anyone. I make a beeline for Lorna, fellow Big Up Your Blogger and fellow nominee for Best Overall Blogger. It’s so lovely to meet people in real life that you’re inspired by and genuinely enjoy reading. The introductions start coming thick and fast, those whose blogs I read religiously, some whose blogs I’ve only just discovered, more whose business cards I stuff into my bag to catch up on later on the train ride home.
We’re all gathered together for the morning session, so we take our seats and welcome our compere Graeme to the stage. He takes us through the day, introduces us to the committee and then we get underway with our first set of awards – all the runners and riders are in the link here. And then it’s time for last years Overall Best Blogger Ritu to take to the stage to dispense her pearls of wisdom about managing a hectic life with being a blogger and writer, whilst always being super-supportive to her fellow bloggers. It’s a wonderful speech, with loads of useful tips to take-away and Ritu handles her first Bloggers Bash speaking engagement perfectly – I’m sure she’ll be a regular for many years to come.
It’s already lunchtime, which means food, drink, a quick peek at the Royal Wedding and the chance to mingle with fellow bloggers. I attach myself to Hayley of Just Another Blog from a Woman and may possibly talk her ear off. We hear tales from the salacious world of book reviews from Zoe of Zooloo’s Book Blog. It’s hard for the committee to get everyone back on track as we’re all thoroughly enjoying an extended networking session but the clock is ticking. It’s Blogger Bash head honcho Sacha Black’s turn to present (albeit without a presentation due to technical issues) and it’s an interesting and informative talk about the benefits of a mailing list. I don’t have one at the moment, but if I do decide to set one up then I will definitely be contacting Sacha for more tips. It’s time for more awards, and there are nods to my new drinking pal Hayley and to Deb – who has kindly travelled all the way from Australia to accept her award today – now that’s dedication to the cause! It’s a shame that a number of the award winners are absent because the atmosphere in the room when one of the winners are present is electric.
It’s panel time. Hugh, Sacha, Ritu and Geoff are faced with a barrage of questions about use of social media, getting inspiration, getting motivated, scheduling and most importantly, what they wear when blogging. The revelation that Geoff blogs in the bath draws the panel discussion to an abrupt end. In reality, we could have asked questions of the panel all day but Graeme is keeping an eye on the clock with the precision of an FA Cup referee in the 90th minute. A nod to one of the other, less significant events occuring on this auspicious day.
It’s time for the final awards. Of course it’s disappointing not to hear my name mentioned but I’m also well aware that being nominated is an amazing achievement and I’m chuffed just to be attending the bash as a nominee. Linda’s Book Bag, Gin & Lemonade and But I Smile Anyway were all worthy winners – I like to think I came joint 4th with everyone else… I’d forgotten all about the blogging competition with a Royal theme so I look forward to reading the winning entries.
Our day is almost over; there’s time for one last Aperol Spritz, a group photo or two and then we’re shepherded out of the Boston Room and into the main bar. We commandeer a couple of tables in a corner, but I have one eye on the time as I have a return journey of tubes, trains and inaccessible security barriers to negotiate. With hugs, kisses and selfies, I depart the George IV and my very first Bloggers Bash. I’m tired but exhilarated – just meeting other bloggers makes you feel like you’re part of a warm and huggy family.
See you in 2019 Annual Bloggers Bash!
PS -I started out with all good intentions of taking loads of photos on the day…but got so absorbed in everything that the few I did take went straight on my Instagram stories!