Saturday 5 May 2018

A Relaxing Retreat for Bloggers

Some people may think this blogging lark is easy and a bit of a doddle, but I can happily admit that I take it very seriously. That's why, when I heard about the all new event called the Flea Retreat, I jumped at the chance to book on.

It was a weekend away in sunny Somerset, in a gorgeous country house called Croydon Hall. Sally and the team from Tots 100 organised this, with the aim that it should be a chance for bloggers to spark some new creativity and be inspired to create even better content. The setting was beautiful, which definitely helped.
Croydon Hall Somerset

Around 50 of us rocked up on the Friday with our cameras and vlogging equipment, ready to learn. The sessions on offer ranged from advice on creative writing to mountain biking and paddle boarding, and from product photography to tips for improving videos. Honestly the feedback from all of them afterwards was so good that I wish I could have done them all! Think the girls might have missed me a bit too much if I'd taken a week off though...

So our weekend started with the most amazing, relaxing yoga session, run by Rachel Smithbone. I'm sure I snored through it and everyone was just too polite to tell me so... I don't care anyway, the relaxation did me the world of good and was a perfect way to start the first evening, along with some good chats and a delicious evening meal. 
bloggers photos
Fab bloggers Franca, Donna, Cass, Rebecca & Becky, and Penny

After the yoga we were sent on a little treasure hunt around the gardens before some sunset photography tips from the very talented Tom Arber.
Tom Arber showing photo props in grounds of Croydon Hall

The next day, I took part in two in-depth sessions. During the morning, Richard from Somerset Film taught us lots about lighting and what a difference it can make. 

Then in the afternoon, I chose the Confidence on Camera session with Darren and Sean from Aspire Presenting. They talked us through some top tips before putting us in front of the camera... eek! See what you think.... I'm not scared of people watching or of criticism, but I am super nervous any time I'm in front of the camera. I think perhaps I need breathing techniques.

There was lots of great advice, such as 'learn to love yourself' and 'be yourself', and then there were five main points to remember: anchor yourself, keep a smile on your face, keep your eyes on the lens, count yourself in and pause at the end for the finish. I'm still working on it! Watch this space for YouTube videos coming in the future.

Later we had time for a quick dip in the hot tubs (was a bit too chilly in the pool for my liking, but I did enjoy watching crazy gals Emma, Molly and Jane jump in!) before a session on sunset photography led by Tom again. I was so chuffed to see a double rainbow - if you look at my Facebook page post this week, you'll see how much Sasha loves rainbows!

The following morning I was looking forward to what sounded like a very exciting session - a Fashion Shoot. It didn't disappoint; a small group of us were given some gorgeous dresses from No Logo Chic to try on and accesorise. Then we were given advice from Derek Lomas on how to shoot both fashion headshots and portrait photography, both from the subject and the photographer's point of view. 

It was great fun, as I think you can probably tell from the following shot:

A lot of what made the weekend special was the great mix of people there. It was great to catch up with so many old friends and meet some new bloggers too - my only small regret is that I didn't quite manage to talk to everyone there over the weekend as there was so much to do. 

As usual, I grabbed a few selfies with fellow bloggers, some of whom I've known for a very long time now. I've been to a few blogging events over the past eight years, but none quite like this one. I thoroughly recommend it - and am pleased to say there will be another Retreat next year so keep your eye out for when tickets are released as they are sure to go quickly!
bloggers selfies
Thanks to fab bloggers Helen from Actually Mummy, Claire from Diary of the Evans-Crittens, my roomie Vic from Verily Victoria Vocalises and Jaime from The Oliver's Madhouse

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