I’ve just got home from one of the best festivals I’ve ever been to. It wasn’t a big festival, it wasn’t rowdy and – most importantly – it wasn’t muddy! But it was just right for a happy bunch of bloggers who traipsed out to Elstree this weekend where Aldenham Country Park played host the the worlds first blogging festival: Blogstock 2014.
I was thrilled when Hertz invited me to camp with them and I jumped at the chance to attend this inaugural blogging event. I packed up my floral bag, bought festival food essentials (read: one Pot Noodle) and jumped in the car. Last Friday afternoon I was stood in middle of the arena, taking it all in; there was the Expedia VIP area where phone chargers and free drinks were available all day long; a PopChip stand with double-sized deck chairs and massive crisp-packet beanbags to chill out on (and all you-can-eat Pop-Chips of course!), the Fashion Galleries where most of the talks that I attended took place, a cosy tipi for informal workshops, the debate tent for lively sessions, the Lonely Planet photobooth (our late night-photos have been censored haha!) and a huge marquee hosting travel and foodie talks all weekend (and the inevitable late-night parties!). Despite being one of the first arrivals to the festival (what can I say? I’m prompt!) I knew this was going to be a great experience and when the Contiki shuttle bus arrived with 100s of happy campers, I skipped over to say hi.
Here are some snaps of my home for the weekend in the #CampwithHertz village – check out the hashtag on Twitter and Instagram for everyone’s fabulous photos of our cosy glamping experience! As you all know, I love fairy lights and bunting so a big smile spread across my face when I saw the bell tents popping up perfectly decorated in festival fashion. After one-too-many wash-outs, I’m not a keen camper but walking into my bell tent completely changed my opinion of the camping experience; I had a cosy bed, embroidered cushions, a lantern, snacks, rug and it DID NOT LEAK! Even with a thunderstorm threatening to dampen our spirits on the Friday night, we all stayed cosy and dry under canvas and even snuck over to the marquee for a dance in our wellies!
Some of the noteworthy workshops that I attended were the fashion blogging talks, where I learnt about pitching ideas for magazine articles from fabulous freelance writer and editor Alison Perry and brand collaborations (thanks to Emma Hart from Push PR for all her advice!), and I had my questions answered about the blogging things I’d always wondered about but never had anyone to ask! Thankfully the gorgeous Jen Riley from the famous A Beauty Junkie in London blog was on hand during the Mode Media session to help me out with my affiliate link questions. The session discussed many ways of monetizing blogs and I found it all really helpful (Thanks Louise!) – I’ve added lots of future research to my ‘to do’ list!
Saturday morning brought more sunshine and an early morning session with Pinterest UK gurus Lizzie and Zoe who gave us all a delicious cooked breakfast to munch on while talking us through a whole host of Pinterest features that I’d never even heard of before! As a crazy-pin-addict, I was sooo surprised that there was even more I could be doing on Pinterest… that’s my summer gone then! Shortly afterwards, I grabbed my second breakfast of the day at the Nuffnang #blogstockbrunch – yoghurt, bananas, croissants, fruit juice, muesli – and met the creative folk behind this generous spread Jesse and Jean-Luc from Nuffnang UK. I had to scuttle off to a finance session but soon headed back to chat with them and find out more about their blog advertising community – the work they do is so interesting and I’m hoping that they will be able to give me some help and advice on some of the more technical elements of my blog that I am scared to edit in case my whole site comes crashing down!
The highlight of the weekend for me was the old-fashioned pop-up village fête that Generator Hostels hosted. Belen had invited me along to the #GenLove Generator Fair by email earlier in the week, so I was already looking forward to it, but it was even bigger and better than expected; including a big bouncy castle (how do children jump around for hours? I was practically dying after two minutes!), coconut shy, Polaroid fancy dress, ice cream and popcorn. We had great fun whizzing around the Hertz race track trying to beat each other in lap time-trials, but my dress slowed down my attempt while I tried to keep my modesty (same problem on the bouncy castle, eek!) so I was easily lapped by the other competitors!
One of the best sessions I attended was ‘Join the Vlogosphere’ with rock-star vlogger Ceara McEvoy. I’d already watched some of her videos in the past so I knew just how fantastic she is, and I’ve never ever tried vlogging before so I was intrigued. After passing around a tray of biscuits Ceara talked us through the best equipment to use, camera settings, editing software and showed us some of her hilarious clips. I was so pleased that I went to the session, and I am definitely going to have a go at vlogging in the future – especially if Ceara is willing to give me a hand with my ambition to make cookery videos – I’d be a fool not to do it!
Personally, my top experiences of the weekend were meeting loads of fabulous bloggers and included mixing Appleton Rum cocktails with superstar blogger ReeRee Rockette from Rockalily whose blog I’ve read ever since I started writing (and who kicked butt in the end of festival debate!) and the stunning Megan from The Briar Rose Blog, one the inspirational bloggers that I re-pin the most on Pinterest and a fellow shortlister at the 2014 Cosmopolitan Blog Awards! We were all tested to the limit in the pub quiz and had fun dancing the night away while playing keepy-uppy with an inflatable globe. There are too many new friends to list here but please go and check out the blogs of Toris Tales, Cherishing the Cherry Blossoms, Todds Travels, A Lady in London, Backpacks and Bunkbeds, Tigerlilly Quinn, Eat Like a Girl, Macca Sherifi to name but a few! 🙂
I’ve come away from the weekend with tons of ideas for my blog, a notebook full of tips, a whole stack of business cards from the wonderful people I met and an insatiable yearning for a bell tent of my own. I can’t wait to get started improving my blog (apparently you can teach an old dog new tricks!) and I am already counting down the days to the next Blogstock festival!