A couple of weeks ago I
abandoned left my children in the capable hands of my partner in sunny Kent and caught the train to Manchester for the weekend to attend my first ever blogging conference – Blog On Xmas. I travelled up with the (sort of) lovely Fran from Whinge Whinge Whine and the travel wasn’t without it’s erm, hiccups. We are no strangers to our train journeys not going to plan, regularly missing connections and so on and this one was no exception. Due to Fran’s overwhelming desire to purchase ear plugs at Euston – apparently there is no Boots in Manchester (there is). I suspect it might have been in case my conversation was boring as fuck (it wasn’t). Anyway, eventually we boarded the train a few coaches down from where we needed to be and dragged our cases to the correct carriage and found our seats. We plonked ourselves down and started chatting, giggling checking our phones and so on. After 30 minutes or so, Fran needed to ger her laptop out of her suitcase, which meant I had to get up to let her out. It was then that my eyes drifted across to a sign in the carriage. It read “This is a quiet carriage”. You have to be shitting me! If you are familiar with either of our blogs you can probably guess that neither of us are particularly quiet. I pointed out the sign to Fran. A woman that had been quietly reading her book next to us confirmed that we had indeed been put in the quiet carriage. I think she was hoping that this revelation might make for a more peaceful journey – it didn’t.
We arrived in Manchester and met with the fabulous Anna from Me. Annie B who was to be my roomie for the evening. We’d only met online but I was sure we would get along – and we did. Like a house on fire! Which was lucky because when we got to our room our twin beds were pushed together. We got to our hotel and were put on “The quiet floor” – I’m fairly sure someone is trying to send us a message here. We had a little while to kill before the party that evening so we topped up our make up, poilished off some wine and painted our nails – it was like being a
teenager someone just old enough to drink again. Yes there was a party! With a free bar (until the tab ran out at least). There was talk from other bloggers about going for a meal before going to the party…and miss out on free drinks? Absolute madness! As I said “I could live without food for a day or two but I couldn’t live with myself knowing I’d missed out on a free bar”.
We then met up with the slightly amusing (he’s actually very funny, but don’t tell him I said that) James from You have to laugh and A life just ordinary (yes, hes got two websites – that’s just greedy in my opinion) and headed over to the party. We made good use of the free bar, the wine was shocking so I swiftly moved onto gin and tonic, and then whiskey and coke. We chatted to people we’d never met, and physically met friends we’d only talked to online previosly. It was fab. There might have been an amount of wandering aimlessly around Manchester. Both Anna and I blame our Google maps – as did the taxi driver who eventually got us back to our hotel unscathed. I should add the taxi drivers in Manchester were fab. So friendly and helpful.
The next morning (OK a few hours later) we woke in our rooms. Minimal hangover. No kids calling Mum – although we did both call them. We then rather wearily went to the conference. We had breakfast, drank coffee, chatted with more friends and attended a few, very informative sessions on monetisation, photography and other subjects befitting a blogging conference. We met with the brands that were exhibiting. Oh my! It really was like Santa’s Grotto. Toy company after toy company, candles, shoes and everything in between. It really was an education.
All this time I was Erica – The Incidental Parent. Not someone’s mum, not someone’s partner or daughter or friend. I was me. Erica. Incidentally a parent. It was great. I love my family, I don’t pretend I’m someone I’m not with them but as a mother I hadn’t left my family (other than for hospital stays) for 6 years. That’s 6 years of being Mummy, of doing housework, nappy changing, dinner making, school runs, weekly shops. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing those things for my family, but when you have little time to yourself you can lose your identity. Even the most self assured of us can forget you are a human in your own right. So thanks Blog On! I came away physically tired but mentally refreshed. More sure that I have finally (maybe) found what I’m meant to do.