Archives for June 2014

BritMums Live | An overwhelming experience

Last weekend I went to my first blogging conference. It was exciting, enlightening, slightly terrifying and very overwhelming.

For those who haven’t heard of it, BritMums Live (BML) is the UK’s biggest two-day social media conference and blogger event. You can read more about it here. This year it was bigger than ever with around 700 bloggers attending over the Friday and Saturday. That’s 700. Yes, it’s a lot. Hence feeling overwhelmed – I still feel a little overwhelmed now, over a week later. That’s part of the reason it has taken me so long to write this post. I started off writing about everything in the order I did it… It was too much and frankly, pretty boring. So, several attempts later I’ve decided to go right back to the beginning…

How did I end up at BritMums Live 2014?

To be honest, although I was a member of BritMums, I didn’t know too much about BML this time last year. It was something that other bloggers talked about but I never felt a part of the conversation and wasn’t sure about going along to such a large scale event by myself so I did nothing about it. However, I was lucky enough to be offered sponsorship by Ade at Maximum Inheritance Specialists. I reviewed Ade’s will writing service last summer and was impressed by the service – his personal touch made what could be a rather morbid conversation feel more like a pleasant chat. If you’re thinking about writing a will – or even if you’re not, but you don’t yet have one, do get in touch with him for a no obligation consultation.

So, once I had my ticket I looked into it a little more. The sheer scale of it still terrified me, so I stopped looking and tried not to think about it too much.

Fast forward to May 2014 and I join a virtual open mic night (hosted by the lovely Stephanie Arsoka, who was shortlisted for a Brilliance in Blogging (BiB) award in the Fresh Voice category this year), at which I share some poetry in a public forum for the first time in… Well, a long time, and everyone is talking about BritMums. Two of those reading mention that they are reading poems at the Bloggers keynote (Helen Braid and Sarah Miles) and I start to think perhaps I should think about reading the agenda. I do. It’s still pretty scary. I put it away until two weeks before the conference when I go crazy with a highlighter and make notes of things I want to do. I panic a little.

What was it like?

Well, I arrived early and still nearly ran away before bumping into the lovely Ellie Stoneley, who was very reassuring. Then… Well, it was a bit like this:


Hands shaking / heart jumping / adrenaline pumping / amusing inspiring exciting confusing / slightly annoying / connecting embracing / exhausting


Moving / motivating / Connecting Fearing Trusting/     Breathing     / enlightening / Terrifying   /      Nuturing     / Emotional / Uplifting / Reassuring

What did I learn?

I learned many things I didn’t know and some that I needed reminding of. On the more practical side, I especially loved the inspiring panel discussion on advocacy and charity campaigns and the workshops on finding a literary agent/writing a book pitch and Google+.

I was reassured by the number of successful bloggers who stressed the importance of being yourself and not comparing what you do to what others do – we all have our place. I was reminded of the importance of connecting with like-minded people and how this feeds my creativity and connects me back to my authentic self. This was most apparent when I fell into an easy discussion with Pippa from Story of Mum (who I have only met once before) about possible future collaborations and found myself agreeing to read a poem as part of her Mama Me-time ‘mini retreat’ on Saturday afternoon. I felt the fear… but, with shaking hands, did it anyway…. And found it slightly less terrifying the second time I shared it… And when Liska asked me to recite it a third time so that she could film it, I really listened to myself and remembered why I wrote the poem in the first place…

As many have already said, Pippa’s session was just what I needed to ground me after the hectic pace over the two days and although it was no longer than any of the other  sessions, time did seem to stretch out… Which renewed my energy for the bloggers keynote speeches – many of which made my eyes water a little, so the hilarious performance from the Good Enough Mums Club (go see!) was just right to balance out all that emotion at the end.


The most important reminder for me from the whole weekend was to just remember to Breathe… I don’t think I took quite enough time for this during the weekend and as a result I am still catching my breath a little.

So, with this in mind I am going to take a bit of a blogging break. I need to put my focus elsewhere for a bit so I am not sure when I will be back but when I do I will be doing something else exciting and slightly terrifying! I’ll tell you all about it when I get back.

In the meantime, I’m not taking a social media sabbatical so you can still follow me on twitter @MushroomsMum or, if you enjoyed the poetry you might also want to follow me @ReallyRachaelB for more.




See the child. Change the system

What was your childhood like? If, on balance, it was fairly pleasant then I’m sure you’re aware how lucky you are. Today, there are 3.5 million children in the UK who are living in poverty and almost 1.5 million children experience neglect. 500,000 children are referred to social services annually.

Founder and Director of Kids Company Camila Batmanghelidjh shared these staggering statistics at BritMums Live last week, as part of a panel discussion on advocacy and charity campaigns. I was also lucky enough to speak to her briefly afterwards, when she shared a bit more about why the system is failing and what we can do to help.

The system isn’t working

Of those children who do get referred, many are still not getting the help they need. A recent report from the Centre for Social Justice revealed widespread despair from many of those working within the system.

  • More than 70% of social workers say they can’t do their job properly, leaving children at risk
  • Social workers have over 40 life threatening cases each

I had an idea that things were bad from talking to friends and family who are, or work with social workers but these numbers really hit home. So, what can we do about it?

See the Child

[Trigger warning]

Change the system

The delivery of care in Britain is not fit for purpose. To address this, Kids Company has launched a campaign to enable the creation of an Independent Task Force that can re-design social care and mental health services for children, bringing together people from a range of backgrounds to bring about change for vulnerable children. Find out more about the campaign.

How can I help?

Just sign the petition. You can sign by simply texting I SEE to 63000 (standard network charges apply and no donation is taken) or at

You can also raise awareness of the campaign on Facebook and twitter by sharing a childhood photo of yourself, like this one of me:


I’m supporting the #seethechild campaign to help 1.5m children suffering in UK.
To add your voice, sign at or text I SEE to 63000




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Conversations with Mushroom #2: It’s NOT a cafe!

Mr B, Mushroom and I were walking back from a family afternoon out. As we passed a local primary school, Mr B and I started to discuss whether it would be worth considering this one as one of Mushroom’s choices. Mushroom was clearly interested in the conversation and eventually asked…

Mushroom: MummyDaddy what you talking?

Mr B: *points to school playground* Mushroom, do you know what this is?

Mushroom: Yes. It a school. It’s MY school. When I am bigger.

Mr B & Me: It might be your school, yes…

Mushroom: *nods knowingly*

Mr B: *to me* Can we include it though? It’s Catholic…

Me: I think faith schools have to accept some non religious students don’t they? I don’t know… It’s a good school from what I know but yes, it is a Catholic school…

Mushroom: It’s NOT A CAFE!

Mr B & Me: What??

Mushroom: *sighs* It’s not a cafe MummyDaddy. It’s MY school. For when I bigger. Ok?

If you read Conversations with Mushroom#1, you might start to notice a theme here..!



Pretty perfect potatoes

I love potatoes, they’re so versatile as either an accompaniment to a meal, or a meal in itself! My favourite (savoury) comfort food, after pasta, is mashed potatoes. You can’t beat a mouthful of creamy, buttery mashed potatoes. So when I received an email asking if I’d like to try GreenVale potatoes, an ‘all-rounder potato’ with ‘a creamy, buttery taste’ of course I said yes! Also, we were out of potatoes…

Here’s what GreenVale has to say about their potatoes:

And what do I think?

I’ll be honest, I was dubious. I usually use whatever is on offer at the supermarket. So many potato brands claim to be good ‘all rounders’ and I tend to find I don’t quite agree. However when it came to Greenvale potatoes, I have to say that they really are a the perfect all-round potato (at least for me)! They were so easy to peel and the flesh was a lovely yellow colour. They were firm, and stayed fresh and firm for just over a week (by which time we’d eaten them all, so possibly longer), whereas some of the supermarket brands we usually buy are often soft or even sprouting in that time. We made mash (obviously), masala wedges and I had intended to make honey mustard roasties but Mr B used up the remaining potatoes when he cooked (mash again)!

Here’s my leek and red pepper mash:

…and simple masala wedges!

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GreenVale potatoes are £2.50 per 2kg sack from Tesco and I will definitely be looking out for them (I haven’t seen them at my local Tesco yet) to buy and see how they roast (I’m sure I won’t be disappointed)! Unless you already buy your veg fresh from a local source, or grow your own – then I highly recommend these potatoes.

Disclosure: I received a 2kg sack bag of GreenVale potatoes for the purposes of this review but opinions (and recipes!) are my own. Read my full PR and disclosure policy here. 

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