Blogtacular is brought to you by the letter C.

Blogtacular balloons

Blogtacular was a flurry of colour, friendly faces, and words of encouragement, just as expected. I didn’t expect it to take me days for everything to percolate down to words on the page. Most of it still lingers in the corners of my mind, just out of reach. So, for now, just a few of the things that caught my eye…

Blogtacular photo collage

Creativity: an oft overused term that felt perfectly justified in a building filled with people sharing new ideas and generally making stuff that rocks. Marte really inspired me with her persistent focus on the things she felt passionate about in life and ability to carve out a career by focusing on her three great loves: travel, food, photography.

Connection: to walk across a room and be able to give a cheery hello, be it to a stranger or a friend, is so refreshing after the many winter months when we only connect with each other online. I’d be inclined to say it was lovely, but that was one of the ‘banned words’ on Mollie Makes’ talk.

Community: Blogtacular builds a sense that we’re all part of something exciting, even for those joining in through the weekly twitter chat, or the virtual conference. Grace Bonney‘s reminder that there is room enough for everyone only added to a sense of camraderie. We all have our unique and valuable perspective. Community is always better than competition.

Collaboration: I was inspired by the collaborative efforts of Judith De Graaf and Igor Josifovic, sharing their passion for house plants with a growing online community, with a focus on giving back to the huge international group of urban jungle bloggers they have brought together.

Coffee: I was pleased to join in the early morning photowalk with Xanthe and a group of other bloggers wielding cameras and bright balloons. It was so much fun to coordinate shots as part of a group. I’d never before come across #instagrammerdown or that clever person-repeated panorama trick (you know the one, right?!)

Getting to the photowalk in time required a 5am start, so the day was full, and requiring of much coffee. Top tip for next year – pack Jelly Beans. I wouldn’t Walk the Wight without them, and a full Blogtacular day requires just as much stamina.

I was glad I’d taken my bike to London; the slices of fresh air I squeezed in to my day (through St James and Hyde parks, round the back roads of Mayfair and Soho) were just what I needed to polish off a colourful day.

Anthony Burrill on stage at Blogtacular

Finally, the many conversations I shared over the weekend convinced me to close comments on my blog. I love having conversations with people who read my posts and it’s so much easier to properly chat on Twitter or Instagram. So, do please say hello!

Blogtacular Photowalk Staircase

Countdown to Blogtacular

Kate Molesworth speaks at Blogtacular 2014

This time last year I had just returned from Blogtacular, brimful of inspiration, plans, new ideas. I was expecting a good time, but left with so much more, thoughts that filtered through different corners of my world and left me feeling lifted.

This year, the conference of blogging kickassery is on 13th June, just one month away. I can’t wait to meet far-flung friends in person and soak up all the colour and sunshine (there’ll be sunshine again this year, right?) I’m hoping to nab a place on the early morning photowalk and catch a word with Benjamin Hole (with his beautiful spot of Purbeck looking across to the Island we’re practically neighbours after all.)

Have you got a ticket? I’m so excited to see everyone there!

Two Stars and a Wish

Wood anemone flower

Oh hello Spring! Every day of blustery blue skies feels full of potential as my self-employed time stretches before me. I have visions of days filled with yoga, home-cooked lunches, leisurely walks and afternoon naps. Secretly I know it won’t be nearly so idyllic, but a girl can dream.

I’m excited to have time to blog and share a few more fresh air adventures. I’ve been doodling a redesign and thinking through what I really want to write about. It would be even better if it also fits with what you want to read about!

In Tom’s early teaching days he introduced ‘two stars and a wish’ with his class: two good things, and one thing to improve. I loved the perfect simplicity of it and have used it ever since. I don’t care if it’s intended for six year olds, it still applies to a movie review, a meal out, or a recent read.

Could you give Rusty Rambles the same? What are the two things that keep you reading and what do you wish was different? Blogging is a strange mix of complete isolation and infinite camaraderie. So many of you read and yet I don’t know why! So I’m calling out for a dose of that community spirit. Say hello, tweet or leave a comment. I’d love to know what you think.

Seaside Bloggers: collaborating

Holding an iPhone up to take a photo

I’m writing this to you now, but I’d far rather sit over a cup of tea and tell you all about it. The instant connection of talking face to face is hard to recreate through a screen. But, I love sharing my corner of the world and hearing about yours. Whether it’s a good read, or an average day, it’s those little connections across the miles that add to the joy of writing.

Blogging is a distillation of what’s important to us, and a chance to share those passions. If you’ve been here a while, you’ll know I’m a seaside dweller through and through.  I love the summer holiday colours (bright plastic buckets, raspberry sauce on a Mr Whippy) as much as the moody winter storms (seaweed churning under roiling depths, wind whipping your hair).

Boats at sunrise

I know I’m not alone in this.  With 217,490 miles of coastline on this little blue planet, a lot of people must be seaside dwellers; or close enough to run away to the edge of the land when the moment calls for a few lungfuls of that salty air.  I’d like to share some of those moments- give a glimpse of different slices of sea, and hear from those who love it.

A few of my favourite bloggers are busy writing for my new Seaside Bloggers guest series.  If you have a favourite coastal spot, from whichever corner of the big blue expanse, I’d love to hear about it. Do send me an email. I can’t wait to share some different coastal perspectives!

Looking out to see at the Royal Yacht Squadron, Isle of Wight

Five Things I Learned at Blogtacular

9 things from Blogtacular '14 photo collage

A weekend filled with my favourite things: bicycles, brunch, sunshine, and interesting people. Given my excitement, the inaugural Blogtacular event, would be hard-pressed to live up to expectations. And yet here I am, full of the afterglow from having a seriously good time. I couldn’t help but fall in love with a conference so full of inspiring ideas, beautiful scenes, and lovely people (and learn a few things along the way..)

Online hops offline with ease. What a friendly crowd! It was great to meet online friends face to face for the first time. From the front door queue, to the last round of applause, people were sharing stories, ideas and twitter handles. Naysayers may claim that social media pulls us away from real interaction, but one peek through the doors of the Royal Institution reminds us that social media can also build real, meaningful connections.

Pen and paper will always have its place. #blogtacular chat was abuzz with people buying new stationery for a weekend of scribbling. Recently inspired by Mike Rohde, I tried a spot of sketchnoting. Doodling was great fun and helped me remember details. Others shared their sketches too: Natalie Lue her wolfie cartoons, Isa Seminega her hand-drawn slides. What glorious contrast to the usual corporate death-by-power-point!

Notes from Blogtacular

Everyone loves to create. The place was awash with colour: painted pots, balloons on string, yellow pockets, and pink bows. Be it fabric, yarn or film, the urge to make was pretty clear. Anne Ditmeyer reminded us to value our creativity and make money too. Natalie urged us to make creativity a habit. As Xanthe Berkeley told us, no one starts out perfect; we must do a volume of work to reach our goals. Now I’m itching to try several new projects: maps, movies and dresses.

You make your own opportunities. Joy Cho shared her history of business ventures; from tweenie calligrapher to adult professional slashie, Joy has always gone after the work she wanted, and viewed the ‘nos’ along the way purely as a new path to take. Anne called us to “Do what you want to be known for.” Reaching out to others is the only way they’ll know what we can do. After all, “Bloggers are awesome!”

Enjoy what you do. We were all at Blogtacular because we we love the creativity, connections, and confidence that blogging gives us. But I suspect we all occasionally catch ourselves spending too long pulling a post together and question what the hell we’re doing (right?!) Natalie urged us to “Embrace your accomplishments.” As Tilly Walnes argued that having a small niche is no bad thing, it gave license to write about what we enjoy and enjoy what we write, rather than doing it for the crowd. If we recognise and revel in what we achieve, then I’m pretty sure we’ll all live to blog another day (and have fun while we’re at it.)