I joked on a few occasions this week that I feel like I was “coming out” – as a blogger. Some, but not all of my friends and family know that I write a blog. My initial reticence to talk about it was borne out of wanting to develop my style of writing without the self conscious thought of what people would think. It’s been over two years since my first post, I’ve had work published elsewhere or pending publication and I feel happy with the way I write and the reception it gets. So it seems like the time to be a bit more forthcoming, get out and meet folks who I read and communicate with via Twitter. You may be in my position or considering writing a blog yourself. I hope my random thoughts on a very random week hit the spot.
First there was the European Beer Bloggers Conference in Leeds. When I told people that I was going to a beer bloggers conference they looked at me with an expression half between amusement and bemusement. “Beer Bloggers. Have. A conference?”. usually followed by “but what do you do at a beer bloggers conference?”. I’d tell them it was educational, which draws a wink, a nod or a full on belly laugh. “Ohh it’s a piss up”. I may sound like I’m protesting too much and won’t deny that there was lots of beer but what I took from the conference was more than some Spiegelau glasses, that infamous Pilsner Urquel shirt (sorry, an in joke, but ask me nicely and I may model it one day) and free beer. I took some great advice from figures who I look up to (Adrian Tierney-Jones, Zak Avery, Mark Dredge, Stuart Howe) and to sound terribly new age, the energy of a room of people who were all on the same page but writing it in different ways.
On Wednesday I attended a food matching dinner at The Parcel Yard at Kings Cross. The dinner was hosted by Fullers Head Brewer, John Keeling and around the table were bloggers, journalists and entrepreneurs. I’ll be posting about this later in the week but mention it as again it offered some valuable insight. A theme from EBBC was around blogger ethics and how Brewers and Publicans react to social media and the blogosphere. It’s obvious from Fullers’ approach that they are relatively adept at this, having a small dinner rather than large event. Doubtless this wouldn’t be the only such event they hold but it was slick without having the air of corporate PR and there was a real feel that they know they’ve got something special in The Parcel Yard and intend to keep it that way.
Thursday saw the Zagat, 30 Under 30 awards held at The Gilbert Scott, St. Pancras. Marcus Wareing canapes (and the anti-Ramsey himself walking the room), cocktails and a who’s who of young food and drink talent. This wasn’t the place you’d expect to find a beer and pub blogger but i’d been invited as I’d given some advice on engaging with beer bloggers – doing my bit to dispel the beard and sandals image and as I’ve demonstrated above I seem to have become partial to a freebie! Blagger more than blogger could be the accusation this week. As I planted myself at the bar the small space was full of familiar faces who I’ve tweeted over the years but never met in person. Nerves overcome I tapped Niamh (of @eatlikeagirl) on the shoulder and introduced myself. Lou stood to my side said later that she wished that she had filmed the reaction. A puzzled look (as anyone would be if a perspiring man taps you on the shoulder) to start and then a smile of recognition; while I just looked relieved that I’d not made too much of a fool of myself. I think if this week has taught me anything it’s that you need to be less concerned about nerves and face – and just get out there, introduce yourself and be unapologetic of being a blogger or having a lack of knowledge. The point is to meet people, ask questions and learn.
I’d be interested to hear your thoughts whether blogging or not. You know where the comments box is.