Blogfest 2014

WOW, what a day!! Today was the much awaited Blogfest 2014. I bought my early bird ticket back in August and have been looking forward to it since.

To say I was nervous is an understatement. While most friends can’t shut me up think I’m a chatterbox, I’m actually extremely shy, until I get to know you. I walked into King’s Place on York Way feeling like I did my first day of university. Looking for a friendly face, wandering if everyone around me was as nervous as I was and hoping someone would come over and talk to me while I stood in the corner quietly drinking my cappuccino and pretending to take in my surroundings.

The morning started off with a keynote panel discussion between Sarah Vine, Beeban Kidron, Dr. Linda Papadopoulos, Susie Boniface, Tim Dowling and Anita Anand as the chair. The topic of discussion was “How does technology shape the way we think?” and inadvertently it moved on to how the internet and technology affects our kids.

Children born today don’t have a “before” social media/internet life. It’s all they will ever know. My 2 1/2 year old knows how to log onto my Skype and call my best friend in Ireland when he fancies a chat. Yes, 2 1/2!!

The concern that was raised was “Will our children struggle with their identities and self worth without their online lives?” Beeban Kidron mentioned a girl who decided to put her phone outside the house in a rubbish bin to stop herself from checking it when she woke at night as it was affecting her sleep (and probably her sanity!!) But one night in and she found herself outside, in the pouring rain, rummaging about in the bin looking for her phone (yeah, insanity!). Sleep disorders are on the rise because of our phones.

And when it comes to children, how do we police their time spent on the internet? It’s important for parents to make it their business to understand what their children are doing online. Although Sarah Vine has given her 11 year old a mobile phone, she’s installed apps that let her see what her daughter is doing on her phone as well as track her every move. While that may sound a tad overprotective, it’s an issue of knowing more rather than less when it comes to our children and the huge world wide web.

Some classic quotes from the session were:

“The internet doesn’t come to you, you go to it.” Tim Dowling

“A rat in the lab of Google” Beeban Kidron on being a young person surrounded by technology.

“If you don’t learn how to be alone, you can end up very lonely.” Beeban Kidron

We then had a coffee break before we divided into groups for a breakout session. I went to the “How to make money from your blog” session which was very informative. This was followed by 5 minute “think bombs” from Suzanne Moore, Camila Batmanghelidjh (who’s speech was so thought provoking) and Francesca Martinez who delivered a moving speech about what we call normal.

During the lunch break I met the lovely Amy Duthie in the line in the loo (as you do) just when I was starting to think I was going to be “natasha no mates” all afternoon. She introduced me to fellow third culture kid and mummy blogger Amie Caitlin.

Right after lunch I got to say hello and have a quick chat with Kate Sutton who’s blog I love and read regularly. I felt like a bit of a stalker knowing so much about her life but I guess that’s the whole point of the blogging community?!

I then attended Paul Armstrong’s Advanced social media master class. To be perfectly honest, a lot of the terms went over my head, I’m still quite a newbie when it comes to social media. But, I’m glad I went because I now have a head full of new ideas to get myself out there more (in the blogging community ofcourse).

There was another breakout session before the day started to wind down with a keynote panel discussion titled “The power of writing”. The speakers included Nick Hornby, Harriet Lane, Lynn Barber, Rachel Joyce, Lisa Jarmin and Erica Wagner as the chair. What an amazing line up!! I feel so inspired to keep writing after that session.

The closing talk was by the amazing comedian Lucy Porter who had the whole room in hysterics. The perfect end to what was an absolutely mind blowing day!

After a quick drink and chat with some of the bloggers I met today I headed home (in the pouring rain). But not before I collected my goody bag!!

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So, full of inspiration and lots to think about, you can expect more from me this month. Stay tuned for the perfect Christmas gift lists for those little boys and girls in your life…coming this week!

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A life less ordinary #BYOM

I’ve always thought it important to live a life filled with love, laughter, wonder and have experiences to look back on, with no regrets….to live a life less ordinary. To live the best life I can live, as long as I’m living. And this so happens to be notonthehighstreet.com’s mantra.

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About 10 days ago, the lovely ladies at Mumsnet sent out an invite for bloggers to attend a glamorous event hosted by NOTHS in lieu of mother’s day on the 30th of March. I sent through my interest and was chosen as one of the bloggers. So off I went last night to the uber posh No. 5 Cavendish Square. As we entered we were offered the choice of Champagne or some really yummy Gin and Lychee cocktail. There were waiters walking around with plates of mini Halloumi Burgers, Beef Burgers and other light bites. As the evening went on they served salad, mushroom risotto and fish and chips in a bowl (really good posh fish and chips!)

The theme was #BYOM (Bring your own mum) but as mine couldn’t make it this week, I took my dear friend Anni instead. There was a wooden tree at the entrance and wooden hearts on the bar. Everyone was invited to write words of advice or a wish on the heart and hang it on the tree.

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The evening started off with Holly Tucker (Founder of NOTHS – we got to chat to her later in the evening and she was lovely) giving a brief introduction followed by a presentation delivered by Odette Toilette (who incidentally told me her name was Lizzie 10 minutes prior to going on stage?!). One of the things NOTHS are about to launch is experience days. So we’re not talking about race car driving or hot air ballooning but instead as Odette so beautifully presented, an example would be a perfume workshop. Over her 10 minute presentation, she handed out 3 different feathers doused in 3 different fragrances. One from each era. When it came to the one from the 80/90s, she had most of us in the room ooh’ing and aah’ing as we reminisced our youth: the days of hyperglobal t-shirts (yes, I had one of those), dummys on strings and trolls. As well as White Musk and Dewberry from the body shop. It’s funny how a simple scent can transport us back 15-20 years while the memories attached to that scent wash over us.

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After that we had a break to get something to eat (read: drink more champagne!) and take some funky pictures in the photo booth room. I absolutely love photo booths, it’s an opportunity to muck about, have fun and style yourself with all the various props. Although with only 3 seconds between each picture, you can see Anni and I missed our shot a couple of times!!

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The next bit of entertainment was in the form of comedian Shappi Khorsandi (Anni and I got a chance to chat to her by the Cloak Room before we left. Unfortunately she’s off to Australia for a month but I’ll definitely be looking at when she’s next doing a gig in London, I thought she was hilarious!) 

NOTHS are in the market of creating special, bespoke, personalised gifts. Gifts that say “I thought this through…” For mother’s day they have a wide variety of mum and grandma appropriate gifts. My two favourite are:

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They had pedestals around the room depicting all the roles moms play in our lives. My favourite was “Thanks for being my life long phone a friend” 🙂

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At the end of the evening I was very chuffed when I was asked to give a little interview on motherhood and the event of the evening. Those who know me can’t shut me up when I start talking about S or my love of being a mom!!

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With the thrill of being on camera and aching feet from wearing high heels after such a long time, we headed home. But not before receiving a fabulous little goddie bag from NOTHS.

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Thanks notonthehighstreet.com and Mumsnet for a fabulous evening. I’m off to order my mom something in time for Mother’s Day next weekend.

“I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Labor Day: A review

Earlier this week I was fortunate enough to be chosen as one of Mumsnet Bloggers to watch the preview of Labor Day yesterday, before it’s release today.

Labor Day featuring Kate Winslet (Adele) and Josh Brolin (Frank), directed by Jason Reitman is a poignant tale of a depressed single mother who’s isolated herself from the world after experiences in her life left her a nervous (and quivering) wreck. The story is told through the eyes of her 13 year old son Henry (played by Gattlin Griffith, voiceover by Tobey Maguire).

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Adele and Henry are confronted by Frank in the grocery store and forced to take him back to their place. Frank is a convicted murderer serving 18 to life when he escaped from the prison hospital. The movie carries on to show Adele coming out of her shell and falling in love with the man who she is technically holding fugitive. He takes on the father figure role in the house by teaching Henry how to throw a ball, change a tyre and doing all the odd jobs that need done. We then see his softer side as he, very seductively, teaches them how to made a peach pie.

Throughout the movie there are flashbacks showing a younger Frank portraying him to be the soft and gentle man that we start getting to know. A series of regretful events are what put him in jail.

I absolutely love Kate Winslet and think she did a superb job of portraying a fallen, sad, agoraphobic mother and Josh Brolin added some muscle to the movie. Gattlin Griffith was an odd child (I guess he can’t be blamed given the circumstances he was growing up in).

What I liked about the movie was it’s portrayal of love and dedication. Frank, although initially intimidating, has a soft and gentle side I came to admire. I liked the music, the cinematography and the use of sunlight to depict a sleepy town on a hot Labor Day Weekend.

What I didn’t like about the movie was Adele’s total and utter desperation (she falls for a convict who gives her a little attention and a few suggestive lines, in two days), the way the son is sometimes referred to as Henry and other times as Hank and the son’s untoward actions at the climax of the movie.

I’d give Labor Day 3 out of 5 stars. 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: “I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.”