A couple of months back, one of my favourite bloggers, Emma (@littlewoodlife) started chatting in her insta stories about doing a blog retreat, but also mentioned that she’s had overwhelming response to the idea and there was more interest than there was tickets, so to be quick to snap one up when they went up for sale.
Well, that’s that then. I missed the boat.
A couple of weeks later I was on Instagram again (honestly, I do more than just sit on Instagram all day), and Emma mentioned that there were a few tickets left. So I went straight to her website and looked at the itinerary before asking Paddy what he thought of me going. I half expected him to laugh; I’d only started, I wasn’t a ‘real’ blogger, and why would I want to go on my own to sit in a room of people I’d never met? To my surprise he said ‘buy your ticket and go!’, and had to endure the next 7 weeks or so of my count down. (Again, I do get out.)
So off I set on Sunday morning, leaving my sick husband in bed, stricken with the man flu, and the mobile in a mess in the vain hope the cleaning fairies would visit while I was out being fancy. (Spoiler: they didn’t.) When I arrived at the beautiful Larchfield Estate I sat in the car for a few minutes for fear that I was a fish out of water.
Everyone around me looked amazing. To put it into country terms: there was some style, hey. Not one person hadn’t made an exceptional effort and they were all so glamorous. All these women that I had been following and admiring were in there and who was I to walk in by myself and try to be part of their crowd? There’s almost a perception that bloggers can be catty, their friendships fraudulent and their lives so perfect they’re untouchable.
And how wrong that perception is.
We spent the afternoon chatting, taking photos (obviously!), wandering around the stunning walled garden of the estate, enjoying a gourmet afternoon tea and learning from the best of Northern Ireland’s bloggers (@blossomingbirds, @sisters_and_sons, @melwiggins, @thebretonbird, @all.thats.pretty), who admitted to their own nerves at the thought of having to speak. All in a room lit with fairy lights. It was wonderful.
It turns out, when you put 140 or so women – and few brave men – into a room together it doesn’t look like a scene from Mean Girls; they encourage each other, they encourage creativity, they chat, they laugh, they take photos, they make friends and then they go home with their goody bags and Instagram about it!
Two months ago I was scared of writing my blog, and more so of people reading it. Now, I feel part of this strange little community in Northern Ireland and inspired (now we’re getting soppy) to keep writing on my little corner of the internet.