Over There – An American’s experience at the London Blogger’s Bash

Earlier this year, my hubby surprised me with tickets to attend the Annual Bloggers Bash in London. For those of you not familiar with the event, it’s an international get together and conference for writers of all interests, sizes, and platforms wishing to network as well as learn about how to take their writing and/or blogging to the next level. I’d seen the videos from prior events. I’d read the testimonials about connections made and the impact the event had made on others’ lives. I couldn’t believe I was lucky enough to get to go. I felt like Cinderella finding out she would be able to attend the ball. I was so excited – nervous about traveling to another country all on my own – but excited all the same.

Then . . .

Well, then there was an event in Westminster and the news broke with stories about women and children exiting a pop concert being targeted in Manchester followed by others about shoppers and pub-goers on London Bridge, and my nervousness took on a slightly different flavor. I wasn’t the only one to wonder what might happen next. I saw a message from another attendee suggesting the event might not still go on in light of recent events.

The response from one of the event’s organizers was simple – as long as London is open, the Bash will go on. I should have expected nothing less from the land of “Keep Calm and Carry On”. And so, on I would go as well, coincidentally packing my bag while a bit celebrating the 100th anniversary of the song, ‘Over There’  played on the radio. Yes, I thought as the music played, the Yanks were coming. I would show my grit, do my bit – over there.

I might say a prayer, but I was prepared for over there. While the idea of traveling solo still made me nervous, it wasn’t my first visit to the British Isles. I’d taken a bus tour with my husband a few years before. It was a trip that started in London, took us up through Scotland, across to Northern Ireland, down to Dublin, and across the water once again to Wales, where we visited Cardiff Castle.

WWII poster in Cardiff
I found this cautionary sign rather amusing at the time. Where’s the trust?

Tunnels beneath the castle grounds had been converted into a museum dedicated to the Welsh soldier and featured exhibits from over three hundred years of conflicts. As we walked into an area detailing World War II, speakers hidden in the walls played radio broadcasts of the times broken up with the sounds of air sirens and bombs falling. As I looked at posters and read placards I could only imagine what it must have been like to live through times like those while being told to keep calm and carry on while chaos and fear played so loudly in the background.

And yet carry on they did, with a stiff upper lip, going on to produce many of the smiling faces and open arms which eventually greeted this relative stranger from across the ocean without fear or hesitation. As I was welcomed out to meals and into homes as if we’d known each other for years, I reflected on just how appropriate the conference’s theme word of the year – connection – really was. I might have met them first as allies, as it were, in the field of writing, but we departed as friends. (You can ‘meet’ many of them or learn more about the event itself here courtesy of Hugh’s Views and News.)

While we got to better know each other over books, blogs, cocktails and chocolate cake, I found it interesting to hear the most recent attacks referred by the locals as “that business on the bridge,” when our American headlines read terrifying things like ‘Britons Reeling’ and ‘London on Lockdown.’ Neither US headline was true as evidenced by the thousands of people who filled the London streets as I walked around town or by the banners proclaiming “London is Open” as part of a campaign following the EU referendum (also known as the Brexit vote). This is not to say the people I met weren’t concerned about safety nor viewed the loss of life as any less tragic, they just weren’t beaten by the news or willing to hide away in their homes.

The contrast in our headlines was also a reminder about the power our words can bestow or take away from events as well as people. Which is why it is all the more important we use our words wisely and never, never give in to fear.

While I may not be able to attend the Bash every year, I hope my reasons in the future will be limited to economic or scheduling ones rather than the alternative. We live in a world made smaller thanks to constant connection which is good and bad. It may at times feel less safe, but that is because news travels faster now. The fact of the matter is there have always been those who wish to strike fear into the hearts of others, which is all the more reason to go out there – explore, connect, to expand your worldview and find strength in numbers. To keep calm and carry on. For while it may be difficult to overcome fear, it is harder still to live a lifetime of regret.

While I loved meeting so many, I’d like to extend my thanks to Sacha, Geoff, Ali, and Hugh in particular for their incredible generosity as well as their hospitality. Truly, while I may have suggested in this post that it was my duty to attend the Bash, know it was my pleasure and privilege to do so as well.

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61 thoughts on “Over There – An American’s experience at the London Blogger’s Bash

  1. Great post, Allie. Someday I’m going to get there and I can’t wait. Loved the pictures and the reflections of the fortitude of the English. I’m not surprised by the generosity and welcome they gave you. Ah, I’m so jealous, but glad you had a great time!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We managed to get a FaceTime conversation going during the event which proved to be a huge success. I’ve suggested they do the same next year to allow people like you and I who can’t quite make the trans-Atlantic voyage every year a way to experience the event in real time. Gotta take advantage of technology.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a fun experience! I’ve read about this event and wondered what it’d be like to go. Now I know. I love that you were welcomed and that the British are being totally British about “that business on the bridge.” I studied for a term in England when I was in college and have only been back to the UK once since then. Now I really want to get back across the pond. Maybe one of these years…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was such a fun experience, though a little weird seeing people walking around who I’d only ever seen as text and avatars. Another interesting thing was how many sounded in real life exactly as I’d imagined.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh Allie, it was so great to spend time with you when you were here – honestly it felt like greeting an old friend when I saw you, rather than meeting someone for the first time 🙂 So glad we got to hang out – now I’ll be able to say ‘that one time, when I was hanging out with Allie…’ ;-D

    And I agree with the spirit of your post – when we let those who wish to cause harm stop us from enjoying our lives, then they win. A media hellbent on sensationalising everything doesn’t help, either. So glad you were able to come xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am too! When you do talk about it, make sure your voice goes up in the end just so I know you are thinking of me. I’m still laughing at the realization all of my best stories start with ‘this one time at band camp…’

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Well Potts your presence was a delight. Thank you for adding to British grit some American Sagacity and Bonhomie. And there’s always a room and a lonely Dog waiting for you… lovely summation too

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Such the big sweetie – and I mean the dog too! I had a wonderful time, but hope the next time I visit is less eventful. Coincidentally, the last time I was in the London area, the baby prince was being born, so I guess being there during times of big news is just my M.O. at this point.

      You made me pull out the dictionary with that. Well done ‘ol chap. Well done.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. *mental note – do not attempt to engage Geoff in a game of Scrabble (or words with friends) – it will only end in tears. They may be tears of laughter, but tears all the same.*

        Liked by 4 people

    1. I would hardly describe either of us that way. One of these days I am going to have to visit up your way too. LT loves waterfalls and I hear you have a pretty spectacular one nearby. 🙂


    1. It was wonderful to meet you too! Once again congratulations on your well deserved award and thanks so much for the cakes. I might have tried my hand at the bake-off if I’d a) only known about it b) thought I could smuggle foodstuffs in my baggage or c) was more familiar with recipes defined by the metric system

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It was great to meet you too! Considering how often I hear it rains over there, the weather has been quite pleasant for me both times I’ve visited. One of these days I will have to go back if only to experience the elusive London fog.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Terrific post Allie and lovely to meet you in person. We tend to forget that it the pen is mightier than the sword when in the right hands. What we face around the world is not only being played out in violence it is being played out in words with everyone trying to get their agenda front and centre. Millions of bloggers who manage to get on with each other have an opportunity to put our words into the minds of those scouring the internet for answers. You just did that with your post. We just have to keep putting it out there.. hugs Sally

    Liked by 2 people

  6. So glad you came ‘Over Here’ Allie 🙂 It was really wonderful to meet you, I wish I could have chatted for longer with you, except I think I would have quite worn you out, ha! It is intersting how ‘real life’ as opposed to that we read about in the media compares isn’t it? The London Bridge ‘incident’ was horrendous, my eldest son was on the Underground approaching the area the night it happened, when all the trains shut down. It took him hours to cross London and finally get back to Brighton by 3 am from Victoria. I couldn’t get in touch with him because all the networks were down, but he was able to get through on what’s app to tell us he was safe. I can’t tell you how relieved I was. But he and my other son have been to a couple more music gigs since then and the BB carried on as usual, and we just keep going about our lives. I’m always amazed by the stories my mother tells of growing up during WWII and how they often had to hide out in the bunker my grandfather built at the end of their garden while listening to the bombs drop overhead. Perhaps we still have some of that same spirit of keeping calm and carrying on after all, which is a good thing. We Brits do love to complain about our beloved Isle…but we do love it! From now on, every time I look out at the old, rusty Brighton Pier, I shall think of you and smile knowing how much you enjoyed your visit here 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can only imagine what it must have been like for you that evening as well as all the other moms, dads, brothers, and sisters, but am so glad you and he are continuing on as the lovely Brits, and example to others, you are in spite of a terrifying experience.

      I absolutely loved that pier. There was just something fascinating and mysterious about that wreckage out on the water.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much Allie…wht a lovely compliment for us Brits 🙂 And yes, that pier holds a very special and magical place in my heart…lovely to know you’ve felt that same fascination too 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Allie… what a fabulous post! You really gave me pause for thought. Terrible things do happen in the world, but we can’t let it stop us LIVING! One day even they will realise its pointless. It can happen. Ireland is an example of that. Talking… connection… that’s the only way. So glad you enjoyed your trip, and had a good journey home. Bet your two blonde angels gave you a fantastic welcome back! See you next time. Xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a great example. I believe it will happen as well with all my heart, though I hope it is sooner rather than later.

      According to my hubby, he caught my five-year-old attempting to scrub the toilet in anticipation of my homecoming. And by scrub I mean he was caught pushing a huge soaking wad of toilet paper around the bowl, but the effort counts. He wanted to make the house nice for mommy.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I am going to remember this moment when he is a surly tween communicating only in ‘whatevers’ and eyerolls. It may be what keeps him alive


  8. I’m so glad you had fun at the bash. And I totally agree with what you say about headlines. I’ve found the same to be true about other places as well. In Korea, I’d have friends so worried because of the headlines, but in Seoul, life would be normal. In Beijing, the news loves to talk about the air. Granted, it can get bad, but for some reason, the news never talks about the other countries that are much worse.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have family living in Japan at the moment and couldn’t help being concerned when I heard they were visiting Seoul, but as you said, their experience was quite normal. I do question headlines more now than I once did. I try to instead read more and ask more questions.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Well, Mrs Potts, what can I add that has not already been said? Oh yes, thank you for all the help you gave the committee in helping us to ensure the event went to plan. When I first saw you at Victoria Station, it was as if I’d known you a long time. Next year’s Bloggers Bash won’t be quite the same without you, but we’ll certainly have it covered on Facebook and Twitter live again.
    Hope you had a good trip back home. Being welsh, I’ll save you a ‘cwtch’ for next time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 🙂 See that you do! I feel so special getting to see some of the behind the scenes. Don’t worry, the committee’s secret handshake will remain safe with me and the password even safer as I doubt I can pronounce it correctly with my accent.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Read this post the other day but wasn’t able to comment. So… Looks like a lot has been said. I’ll add my little message of happiness that all went well, that you had a great time, and that I got to FaceTime with you! 🙂 (Thank you for finding some other bloggers for me to chat with, too.) So thrilled that you were able to go and, also, that you’re back home safely. Cheers, lovely lady.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Talk about nostalgic ive got a bit of a lump in my throat now. So sad its over and miss ur face. I had such fun (minus the extreme bash related exhaustion!) the more I reflect on [our conversation about] the ‘business on the bridge’ the more I smile. I do love our stiff upper lip. Thank you to hubby and to you for coming all that way. Our British door, and my personal door is always open 😍💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I still have a major case of grocery shopping cart envy. You should have seen me trying to pick up foodstuffs when I got back. My nose was completely up in the air as I told everyone around me ‘you know …, in London …, the carts can move from side to side as well as front and back.’ Complete snobbery.

      I know you mentioned that the younger generations are now less likely to put the traditional British slant on things, but I was glad to see the urge to keep calm and carry on remains strong. 🙂 I’ve been missing everyone ever since.


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