If you’d mentioned to me ten years ago that in the future I’d have my own little corner of the internet, be forging friendships via it, and organising events through it, I’d have laughed in your face. I mean, 2007 Emma wasn’t the bravest spud. It’s amazing what ten years can do though, and also what can be achieved when you take a little leap of faith sometimes. And that was the overwhelming message of Sunday’s Country Blog Retreat NI.
I had a seed of a thought, back in June, to organise a get together for likeminded creatives. It was to be an opportunity to come together at the stunning Larchfield Estate, to share food and conversation and bounce ideas off each other in a relaxed and informal setting. I can’t tell you how frightened I have been about carrying it all off. This event planning thing is not my day job. I’m no expert, and certainly have a lot still to learn. But now that it’s all over I can say with absolute certainty that I shouldn’t have been worried at all – for the level of talent, passion and creative spark on this little island continually blows me away. And aside from that, the feeling of support, encouragement, care and community that is so prevalent too. How lucky we are to live here!
I wanted to share a few (lots of!) images from Sunday, both those captured by the wonderful Emer Davidson, but also some that were shared by our Blog Retreaters too. Those ones especially capture the real heart of the day I think. So many meaningful conversations had, and new bonds formed.
We were treated to the most inspirational talks from some of my very favourite local ladies – Anna, Mel, Kerry, Tara, Rachael and Laura-Ann, as well as the lads (Andrew and Colin!) nipping in there at the end to round things up with their tips on how to be the perfect Insta-partner. I mean, I knew these guys were utter pros, but I can’t thank them enough for the things that they shared, the support that they gave, and for continually inspiring me on the daily. As Mel so aptly put (in a seminar where you could have heard a pin drop!) Community over Comparison, always.
I have to also say the hugest thank you to all our event sponsors – Panacea Drinks, Clearer Water, Grahams Bakery, White Chalk Studio, Belfast Coffee Map, The Natural Beauty Pot, Field Day Ireland, He-Shi / Skinician, Sonni and Blush, Lucy and Belle, Blessington Beauty, Bronte Steakhouse and Revive Active – all of whom helped us create the best day possible by contributing to our reception refreshments and our goodie bags. Such good eggs! Once again, the heart to support, love local, and share NI business has been made so very evident to me this past few days.
When I thought about putting this event together, I immediately knew that Larchfield Estate was where I wanted to hold it. Established ten years ago as one of NI’s leading private estate venues, it is utterly stunning through and through. So many people mentioned to me about how beautiful it was – from the walled gardens to the lake, the glass house to the fairy lit barn, everything is totally picture perfect. Our photo walk was a huge hit too, complete with hand drawn maps (thanks Andrew! 🙂 ) and props as well. I mean, if you didn’t get a picture with those helium balloons were you even really there?? 😉
Thank you so much to everyone who came. For being brave in attending alone, for being brave in front of the camera, for being brave in sharing your experiences and for being brave in trying something new. There is often a lot of anxiety that surrounds things like this – the elephant in the room I guess (SO many people told me that they almost didn’t come and I get it, I really do!) But the most inspiring thing of all for me was the atmosphere in that room at the end of the day. If I could have had you all back to ours for an after party I totally would have. What a totally amazing band of people you are!
Country Blog Retreat NI, you were a high point of 2017 for me and a day I’ll always remember.
On to the next one!