Sunday 2 October 2016

Christmas Blog On MSI September 2016

Blog On MSI is a blogging conference held in Manchester, and this year for the first time as well as the Spring Blog On, there was a special edition last weekend bringing Christmas to September.

We're very lucky in that we get to hold the conference in the top floor of the brilliant Museum Of Science and Industry - my kids love it there, and they have some amazing events - for anyone visiting Manchester they have a Science Festival running all through half term 20-30 October.

I said beforehand that I was there for the people - and it was the people that made it what it was. The atmosphere was awesome. I did actually speak to more to brands though than ever before too though, and met 3 people I've been speaking to online for over 3 years, as well as the inventor of one of the products I reviewed a few months ago - Simbrix.

Christmas was with us from the start with the gorgeous decoration - and we were met by the person who puts tons of work to make Blog On happen - Alice from Life As Alice Blog

Sim and I had a job to do on the check-in desk, but Steph was able to sneak in with us (she'd stayed overnight at my house and it would have been rude to dump her outside by the door in a strange town).

This year the Raffle and Tombola were in the main room (the lovely and very smiley Vicky there holding fort!) - hundreds of prizes and all the money raised going towards Team Cowley to buy a proper 'running leg'. Mr Cowley's wife Becky is a well-known blogger and it's a brilliant cause.

There was also a surprise for me there though. Secretly Laura and the rest had conspired to raise money for Gary (who has up to date earned us an £834 vet bill!).

As I'd just also found out that £3.50's were dropping into my Paypal account towards his vet bills, thanks to an online post by the lovely Emma suggesting people donate their morning coffee. It was all a bit emotional and I'd only just stopped crying when we opened the doors.

First speaker for the keynote was the very brave Olivia Pennelle. A blogging conference is possibly the only place where instead of just whispering to the person next to you about what you are hearing, you are more likely to be talking publicly online....

The first actual session for me was from Michelle at The Joy Chaser. So many people have said that she made them think, it was a far deeper session than it appeared at first glance.

In between sessions there was plenty of time to go and visit the brands. I was actually stunned at how many people I knew at this event. I've been working with brands now for nearly 4 years, and there were a lot of familiar names with some great products.

Can you believe that Von Shef mixer retails at under £90? I was also very impressed by Rockin Baby's 'The Giving'. Donating slings to Mums who need them.

Of course toys and games were a big thing for me, and I've worked with a lot of the brands before (including Googly Eyes!). Some of the toys were so new you couldn't even take photos, and some are big favourites of mine. Kawaii Cubes and Hexbugs will definitely be in my boys' stockings this Christmas. I'm a big fan of 3D printing, and I really like the 'IDO3D' as an accessible introduction to thinking in 3D.

I was also very taken with a table full of stationery, including pencils from Write Size scaled to fit the hands of children of various ages. and all the pen sets and notebooks you could hope for....

There was even a pampering corner, which made Vai very happy...

And Gin! Not quite to everyone's taste, but Rachel and Penny made up for it!

There are lots of brand competitions for us to enter, which often involve us posting a daft photo on Social Media. I failed really badly at the first one I entered - Cake Angels - by eating it before I posted...What can I say, I got carried away. 2 minutes to make, 2 seconds to ruin...

I chose Assisi as a place I'd love to visit for Canvas Holidays, my cracker word was Cinnamon (Scrooge won!), I made a gorgeous beach babe for Jet2 Holidays, and took a really over-exposed toy photo, as well as massively over-estimating the number of sweets in the jar from Carnival Cruises.

I attended more sessions, most notably for me Instagram with Colette and Katie. I love Instagram, but I'm not great at it. I learnt a lot. And we ate cake. I wasn't able to take a full photo, this is only the top layer. Made the super-steady-handed Sarah at New Adventures In Cake.

And it was gorgeous too...

Gorgeous cake

Towards the end I was part of a secret plan to sing the re-worded 12 Blogging Days Of Christmas. Luckily I was part of the '5 Blogging Friends' and no-one had to listen to me squawk solo. I think it turned out about as funny as intended, and not quite as sinister as 2 masks at once....

Laura announced the amounts raised, and a brilliant £1700 in total for Team Cowley and an astounding £123.70 for Gary! I cried. I was very tired.

Then she announced the competition winners. It tuns out Assisi might be more popular than you'd think, because the winner of the Canvas Holiday was me. I think they probably had to mop the tears from my table, but I had tissues and hugs from all angles. They're such a lovely lot those bloggers...

Photo Credit Pippa at Red Rose Mummy
It was a super-stressful week involving me bargaining with a vet to do a second operation on a cat that I still refused to own, for money I didn't quite have, in order to save his life and save me having to tell the kids he'd been too ill.

Gary had had his massive operation and was recovering well, through the compassion of others the vet bill was halved overnight, and I'd won a well-needed holiday. I wasn't the only one from my house who shed a happy tear...

I let my two youngest read the holiday news themselves...

Blog On has an awesome atmosphere, and mixing it up with Christmas was perfect. Huge thanks to everyone who spoke to me, asked after Gary or had a go on the Lucky Dip. Most thanks to the person without whom it wouldn't happen - Laura, the eternally Tired Mummy Of Two. Roll on next year...


  1. It really was such an awesome event, the best Blog On by far! Absolutely fantastic to see so many faces again, it was great to catch up with everyone! That cake though - amazing! I zoned in on that huge slab and enjoyed every single mouthful! A much deserved holiday love - you make use of that... and if you are going to Italy, will you please take me with you?! ;) Sim xxx

    1. Awwww thanks for such a lovely comment! Spain is favourite at the moment as none of us have ever been, but I would really love to go to Assisi :D
      The cake was epic!!

  2. It was such a great event! Thanks for setting it up so nicely and packing the goody bag! You earn the prize! Thanks to Gary's lucky dip, I have a lot of great prize!

    1. Hahaha Thank you Eileen! I guess we both won a lot from Gary's Lucky Dip! It was so lovely to see you - looking well and smiling plenty as ever :) xx

  3. It was so lovely to see you and I am so excited for next year already too! x

    1. It was awesome to have so many of you Southerners pop up for the day - great to see you, I'd only see you at Britmums otherwise! :D

  4. It was such a brilliant day! Really glad so much money was raised for Gary and Team Cowley. It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling when the blogging community unite to help each other! Congrats on the holiday. Looks like your youngest 2 were happy when they got the news!

    1. Awww thank you! Gary is doing fabulously, I really can't get over how lovely everyone is. It is an amazing community to be a part of, and you are right - the boys were so excited! :D


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