Blogfest 2015 ~ the speakers

25th November

Blogfest this year was worth the visit, not quite what I expected it to be, but a gem nevertheless.  To see the first instalment of my view on Mumsnet Blogfest see here   

What a line up of great women and a couple of men.  It was a pure treat listening to quick witted literally people, it created a buzz and an excitement for me. 

Those that stood out for me and snippets of wisdom that they shared can be found below.  Needless to say if Blogfest next year has another great line up of speakers, I'll be there for that even if I'm not blogging...

The morning panel were discussing motherhood and creativity and can women have it all.

Meera Syal CBE shared her personal views, some snippets: 

...let's take away the blame and guilt of motherhood...

...if you can afford decent childcare your options are different...

...when you become a mother there is forever a sense that part of you is elsewhere, how many men feel that?...

but my favourite that she came out with was from an old Punjabi saying,

...The loss of a sense of self scares many women - but when a child is born, both a mother and child are born

Bridget Christie, was truly funny and had much to say.  She spoke about the difficulty of organising life, work, children and that men are never asked how will they manage when a child is born to them. Her recounts of morning chaos before school and work resonated with the entire audience. Snippets from her included

...I pretend I don't have children so I can concentrate on my creativity...

...I wrote my book between the hours of midnight and 4 am...

...don't be grateful to your other half all the time...

Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood on live link with fellow panellists
She was there by live video link, Toronto her time it was 4.45 am, she looked good on it.  Cold with lots of layers on and a hot mug of something to keep her awake, but she had pearls of wisdom to give and I found her totally endearing.  Every time Meera or Bridget said something slightly controversial she would put her hand to her face, half covering it and give a girlish giggle.  She seemed such a fun person.  Intense but fun.  The link was not totally successful and we missed much of what she said, but having a husband who was great at home life helped her continue her writing when her daughter was born.  As a grandparent she says there are four magical words she loves to say when handing her grandchild back...

...your child is wet...  

The general consensus of this panel was yes, women can have it all, though not necessarily at the same time.  Me, I think we have so many balls to juggle in the air that we can only really focus on one or two at best and the others have to quietly manage themselves until it's their turn to be those balls up in the air and having our attention.  What are your thoughts?  Can women have it all?  How do you achieve this?

The second speaker session was titled THINK BOMB and here we were treated to three powerful speakers.  Sandi Toksvig OBE, Val McDermid and David Baddiel.

Sandi was quite convincing in her sincerity to
make life more equal for all

Sandi an excellent speaker and such a focussed woman's spoke about her vision for the political party that she co-founded, The Women’s Equality Party. But she first began with

...all lecterns are designed for tall men to say important things.  They are not designed for women...

She promptly stood behind the lectern where we could not see her, before delivering her speech from the side of the lectern.

She opened up with talking about the footsie 100 and that in the top 100 companies 17 CEO's were called John and 8 were women.  She reiterated the point, not that there are more men CEO's and the number is hugely one sided but that women are outnumbered just by men called John !!!  She said

...We should not be smug about the state of the rights of women in the UK...

and that

...The only way to get people to pay attention is to hurt them at the ballot box...

Her statistics about Egypt were goose bump sad.

Val McDermid
Val McDermid talked about how she is a 'miserable git' if she is not creating and that it is creative people that push the boundaries of life and all around it, memorable words from her for me were 

...we are hard wired for story telling.  It makes sense of the world we live in...

...Creativity is challenge. It's a slap in the face to people who say 'know your place' ...

David sharing some of his tweets

David Baddiel was hilarious and based his talk on twitter and the reactions one gets from followers, both the positive and the negative.  He stated that usually he ignores negative comments but that occasionally they get the better of him and a tirade begins, he can't help himself  

...146 retweets.  For a comedian, that's like laughs...

I do tweet very very occasionally but everyone on this Blogfest was implying it was the way of the future.  I have not grasped this yet and my head is spinning.  Do you tweet?  If so, why, how often and what do you get from it?  If not, why not?

The last session was chaired by the amazing Fi Glover.  The minute she spoke I was transported into my car or my kitchen where her dulcet tones come through the radio on a daily basis.  Here 'live' she was more colourful and cheeky than radio permits.  She came across as strong, lively, interesting, interested and knowledgeable.  After today she would be on my wish list to invite to a dinner party.  I've become a Fi Glover fan.  Who would you love to invite to a dinner party and why?

On the sofa she was joined by the emotional Shappi Khorsandi, Abby Boid, fellow blogger, Lucy Cavendish (I've read her coloum for years) and Robert Crampton.  Here the panel were to discuss:  Giving it away:  the public stories of our private lives.  What an interesting topic and one that affect all of us who either blog, belong to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any or the other hundreds of social media apps.  what we put 'out there' on the web, will stay there forever, once that send button is hit, it can not be retracted.  It's hard for us at adults sometimes to know how much or how little to share, what chance have the next generation who have grown up with all this public sharing.  This topic can divide families and hurt our friend and we need to be careful. 

Shappi was honest and open and has fallen foul of sharing too much in public, especially it seems
Shappi, great stand up with gritty raw emotion
when she was in the middle of a divorce.  Her son this year has written to Father Christmas with a list of about 8 items number 6 being please could mummy just put her phone down and not tweet anymore.  He added a Postscript to his letter saying PS Number 6 is the one I want most...

Robert clarified his view of public sharing statin that

....If the joke's on you, it's okay to share it

Lucy who has been until recently writing a column for year and many of us have had our adult lives growing up and watching her son change from a toddler into the young man he is today eel that sharing is a natural instinct and that...

...We need to share, don't we? Mumsnet is great for finding out if you're the only mother with a 12yr old who vapes

Applying this to myself, my family think I share too much and would prefer me to include them in any of my posts on social media.  I however use this all as documentation for the future and so try very hard to find a line where I can share some of them without compromising their privacy too.  it's a hard line to find but increasingly in this world one we will have to find.

What are your views on sharing in public?  I like to keep my posts and other social media light and positive as life can be too hard and depressing.  I am not trying to hide this fact, none of us have perfect lives, but I think sharing the happy times might make the world a more smiley place.

The day ended with three blogging awards handed out, with best writer being presented by none other than Lionel Shriver.  It really was a star studded day.  Being surrounded by all these blogging women and high profile people made the day inspirational and totally worthwhile.  I love blogging but it is hard work and terribly time consuming.  What do I do, carry on as is, or embrace the next steps, only time will tell.

Ending the day with cocktails and a overly stuffed goody bag to take away, I couldn't help but stop and look at all the wall art on this fabulous venue as we left for home.

Cocktails in jars

Blogfest goody bag

One of many paintings on the venue walls

A rather odd piece of wall art

  ♥  Have you ever been to a blogging convention or any venue to boost you social media? ♥


  1. Oh my goodness so many things to think about. No I don't think we can have it all, and really what is all? I am not saying you have to make a decision on what to focus on, I just know from myself that I can't have it all with a family, job and a busy life... something always falls behind whether it is my blog, friendships, sleep, patience, exercise, knitting....there is just not enough time in the day for it 'all". Love all the discussions you bring up.

    1. Meredith I'm in your camp partly I think we can't have it all at the same time but we can have it all does that make sense? I think as long as we don't stress and know that life can be juggled/has to be juggled and everything will each get its priority moment then we should feel happy and blessed. Well that's my take of having it all.

  2. If you didn't blog, I wouldn't have known about Blogfest and what an interesting day you had with all those food-for-thought speakers. Thanks for passing on your experience. As a relatively new blogger, I find it a useful place to record places and things I think others would enjoy plus the main reason for starting was to give my daughter a little piece of home when she moved abroad, a place to dip into if she wanted to. Now I see a lot of overseas people read the blog, I try to bear that in mind when I write. I don't mention my family in detail for their sake. My blogging experience has been great fun so far. :-)

  3. Perfect. You know why you began. You're clear about what personal information to share or not share and your readership is branching across the world. Sounds to me like you are sorted x


I will always read all comments and will try to reply but it may take me a couple of days, do please pop back and lets get a conversation going...