24 hours in leeds for #blogatthebeach
"You're crazy! You're going to be shattered!"
That was 16:31 on Friday 6th July.
17:43 I left the office. 18:20: I was on a coach from Victoria. 23:04: in Leeds.
It had been a crazy day and in the back of my head, I did wonder what the heck I was doing. Friday Frazzled and heading to Leeds for just twenty four hours?
But as we rattled further out of London and the motorway appeared. Rolling hills either side. I knew I was where I wanted to be. On the road. Free.
"Starting route to Millennium Square."
That was 7:36am on Saturday 7th July.
Clicking the home button frantically and sliding the Apple Maps app shut, I poked my nose out from my bunk to make sure I hadn't woken any of my fellow Art Hostel travellers. All clear.
Slinking out of the third bunk box I had crept into last night, I gathered my bag, shoes and sheets. Changed. And dumped the bed stuff in a box on the ground floor.
While breakfasting, I was on Spare Room, searching for my next London room. The hostel was super cute, but the Wifi speed painful... Digital Nomad problems much?
Most like a lie in on a weekend. Not me.
I've visited Leeds a couple of times for work so I had already checked out the shopping a couple of times - and do definitely recommend going to at least once.
But this time I had a quick glance at the Leeds City Gallery and, by some miracle, booked a last minute spot at the Kitty Cafe - which had just opened last time I was there for #BlogAtTheBeach.
This was all before 10am.
10:37: a waitress with cat ears was trying her best to take my order, but I was too fixated with the furry friends wandering around.
Having grown up with pets all of my life, I am a sucker for these kinds of experiences. The Kitty Cafe was worth the six month wait! (And the 40% battery that I rocked up to #BlogAtTheBeach with).
At 11:30 I was politely told that my hour timeslot of kitties was over and I needed to give up my table.
This left just the right amount of time for me to walk to New Craven Hall for the main event: #BlogAtTheBeach.
When I was invited again by the Ice Lolly crew to join them for a second time, I was very excited!
I had had so much fun in January, got to know some incredible people and learned SO much, that I just couldn't resist going again - especially as it was indeed a good excuse for another adventure!
Signing in, it was great to know that the IC crew had been following my travel antics in getting to said event - which involved being shepherded from the coach into taxis just outside of Sherwood Forest around 10pm...
The drinks vouchers were very welcome on such a warm day and the shade of the pergola: needed!
I have no qualms about going to events alone. If I want to go: I will, but it is always nice to have a little time to speak with fellow guests and get to know who we're spending the afternoon with.
The hall itself was like a magical grotto, so many fairy lights! And again, the AC: very welcome!
One of the reasons I attend these informative events is, yes for the networking, but largely for the learning as well.
It doesn't matter how long you have been blogging, how large your following is. There is always something to be learned.
Whether it's @MamaMeiBlog asking you to look at the story of you and how this can translate to press; or @VixMeldrew explaining the importance of consistency, the three words of you and why people turn to you; or the relationship that can be built with followers through video via @GirlvsGlobe. Hats off to Ice Lolly's Ross for also giving an insightful company intro - trust me, it's not easy! Did you know that Spain and Turkey are two of the most popular holiday destinations for Brits at the moment?
My point being, even if it's a refresher or to hear something in a slightly different way, these events are always worth your time. I mean, I work in PR, I know how to sell in a story to nationals and industry press. But I had never taken a second to break down my own story and look at my unique selling point. Or how I am actually creating my own niche. And I've been around blogging and marketing for five years. I know the how, but I had never heard it when applying it to my own brand.
A part of me didn't want to get on the four-hour (bleurgh!) coach home. It was a very welcome break to come and spend time with creatives, learning, giggling and getting waaaay too emotionally involved in the England-Sweden game. I can't stand football on a normal day but, my god, was I a fan that afternoon - and a couple of ciders down - sat in the front row of the hall with Sophie, Lucy, Lisa and Sarah, screaming at the screen. Particularly when iPlayer crashed in the last two minutes and we had no idea whether we had actually won or not... #anticlimax.
And speaking of football, a big thank you to Ice Lolly for enjoying my terrible football tweet so much that they decided to give me a tripod prize! Will keep you posted on how it's going!
Yes, sitting on the coach home I was welly and truly knackered, but can I say? Some people like lie ins and lazy weekends, me? Others recharge through a little adventure and learning.
#BlogAtTheBeach is worth it for all bloggers and marketers at all levels and if the snippets provided in this blog peaked your interest, I highly recommend staying tune for the talk slides once they are uploaded to the icelolly.com website!
What would be your choice of weekend adventure?