I apologise in advance – this is probably the longest post I’ve ever written but I feel like I want to share every minute detail.
Although I’ve been blogging for nearly three years now, it’s only really been in the past 6 months that I feel I’ve really started to become involved with the blogging community. I’ve started participating in Twitter chats, joined Facebook blogging groups and yesterday I went to my FIRST EVER blogging event.
I had seen the #eastmidsmeetup flying around Twitter for a few weeks, but by the time I plucked up the courage to ask about it all of the places were taken. I put my name down on the reserve list, crossed the date out of my diary and forgot about it.
Last Saturday I received an email saying that a space had come available and did I want it? Hell yes, I did! I replied instantly and then started to panic. What if nobody talked to me? What if I got lost in Leicester? What if I made a total fool of myself? Suddenly I wasn’t sure if this had been such a good idea.
On Saturday 13th August the big day finally arrived. I woke up at 6am, showered and washed my hair and spent more time on my makeup than I did on my wedding day! I put on my dress that I had laid out the night before. I decided to go with my old faithful Lindy Bop dress that is uber-comfortable, mainly because it is the only one that currently fits.
Mr Mess had very kindly offered to drop me offered at the train station in Nottingham to save me parking. I had thought about driving to Leicester (where the event was being held), but was worried I might not find somewhere to park. Plus, the bar had a cocktail menu and you know how I feel about cocktails…
I got to the station about an hour early. I’d always rather be early than late, so I picked up my train tickets from the booth and headed to Costa. I treated myself to a Caramel Latte (classic) and a goat’s cheese and sweet chilli panini which was divine!
Then it was time to hop on my train and head to Leicester. I realise I might be spending rather a long time discussing a very bog-standard train journey, but I almost NEVER travel on the train so this already felt like a real adventure for me.
I arrived in Leicester with plenty of time and so had time to pop to the bank and Primark before heading to the venue. (Went into Primark for one cardigan and came out with 2 cardigans and a ton of makeup – that’s what nerves will do for you.) Thanks to trusty Google maps everything was pretty easy to find.
Once I arrived at the venue I actually walked around the venue twice before I dared to go in – I had to text Mr Mess for a bit of encouragement before I plucked up the courage to walk through the door. Once in, I signed in and headed straight for the bar, thinking a cocktail would help relax me a little.
The venue itself was Manhattan 34, a Prohibition cocktail bar in Leicester. I absolutely loved the decor, which was really atmospheric and I could totally imagine myself meeting a group of friends here for drinks if I lived a little more local. The cocktail menu was impressive (and extensive) and included lots of combinations I hadn’t heard of before. I eventually decided on The Secret Garden (which I forgot to take a photo of) but it was a gorgeous fruity combination with gin, elderflower, rose syrup and goodness knows what else! Yummy!
While I was ordering, I got chatting to blogger who turned out to be Nina from Words by Nina. I’d been talking to her on Twitter the night before the event, and so it was lovely to finally meet her in person. It was also nice to feel like I had at least found one person to talk to. Nina also suggested we go over and say hello to another blogger, which kind of opened the floodgates for us to get chatting to the other guests too!
The event was organised and hosted by Emma from Carpe Diem Emmie, Kirsty from Kirsty Ralph and Kirstie from Behind the Scent. The ladies did an absolutely AMAZING job of sorting everything and I’m really sorry if I forgot to mention anyone because I’m terrible at remembering stuff like that. Please message below and I’ll update immediately.
On arrival, we had all been handed a slip of paper with an “interesting” fact written on it. We then had to try and find out which blogger matched our fact. I took absolutely ages to find mine. It felt like I asked every single person there – twice. Finally I met Ellie from Ellie is in the Soup (where she writes about baking! Possibly my new favourite blog). We bonded over our mutual dislike of cows ( which was her fact) and then got talking with yet more bloggers.
During the event there were talks from Blogosphere Magazine and Cool As Leicester about working in the blogging industry. I’ve seen videos of other PR companies and agencies giving talks and they sometimes see intimidating and a bit patronising. To be honest, as a small, start-up blogger it made me feel quite inferior. There was nothing like that here. Both speakers gave some very useful advice and were incredibly warm and supportive. I got tons of pointers for ways I can improve my blog and grow further and it’s left me feeling really positive. I hope I get to work with them one day.
As well as the blogging talks, there was also a raffle to raise money for two very worthy charities – Rainbows Hospice and Bowel Cancer UK, two very deserving charities. I can’t wait to find out how much we raised for these two charities. It was a fabulous day and to have been able to give something back after this experience will make it even better.
There were also a number of stalls including Angel Eyes Lashes, Danique hair salon, delicious treats from Bru Coffee and Gelato, samples of wine from Rothley Wine Estate and some fabulous tunes from Becky Bruce. Sadly I didn’t get the chance to have a good look at most of the stalls as I was too busy nattering, but I did see some people having their hair and lashes done which looked fab!
All too soon it was time to go home. I left feeling far more confident than I arrived. It really didn’t take me long to feel as comfortable with this group of bloggers as I would be with a group of old school friends. We were all given two VERY generous goody bags including items from Matalan, Lush and many more. (Keep an eye out on Instagram for more details on those). I also bought a copy of Blogosphere and I won one of the raffle prices so I walked out carrying quite a bundle of loot!
It wouldn’t have mattered if I’d come out completely empty handed though, as I had the most positive and rewarding experience. I hopefully made a few new friends (Hello Sarah from Sarah Deluxe and Hannah from Hannah Bakes Things) and we’re currently discussing the possibilities of future events in Nottingham.
I really can’t thank the hosts enough for inviting me – I really hope I get to see you all again soon. Apparently I’m now addicted to blogging events!
As I way of keeping the meet-up vibe going, I thought it might be nice to use this as bit of a blog link up, so if you write a post about the event and want to leave a link in the comments, I’ll be sure to come and have a look!