A Trip to WordCamp London 2017

This weekend was the annual WordCamp London conference in the capital. Every year our community of open source software developers, users, designers and everyone else involved with WordPress gather in the capital in order to discuss everything WordPress related. It is always a brilliant weekend and this weekend was no exception.

What is WordCamp?

For those not aware WordPress is the software which I use in order to develop websites. It is an open source piece of software which essentially means that everyone who uses it can influence the direction it takes and the development of the project.

WordCamp Badge
My WordCamp London pass.

WordCamp’s are all about getting the community of people that use WordPress together to discuss all things WordPress related and generally have a great time.

The “conference” consists of lots of talks from a wide variety of people using, working with and developing solutions using the WordPress software. It is a great place to learn new things and meet new like minded people.

Getting There and Back

The weekend started, as all weekends to London start with, a train journey from Preston to London Euston station. My last attempt at this trip did not turn out very well at all and therefore I was hoping this trip would be a lot smoother.

I only started using the train a few years ago. In fact when I started freelancing and travelling around the UK to attend WordCamp conferences and WordPress meet-up’s for talks. Through that time I had not had a single problem with the trains and I was pleased that this journey was very much the same.

The fast train from Preston to London Euston is a swift 2 hrs and 12 minutes, which means you are there in no time! I was pleased this journey was hassle free.

Accommodation

We were staying in an AirBnB. For those not sure what an AirBnB is, and lets face it they didn’t exists 5 years ago, they are a rented house or flat all booked through a website.

This particular house we booked for 5 of us was delightful and located in the Crouch End area of London. What was slightly different about this one was that it was clearly the house of someone who actively lived there. All their stuff was left in the house when we were there, which to me seemed a little odd.

However the house itself was lovely and a great place to spend a few days hanging out with friends whilst in London.

I stayed in the loft space which had a rather cool, electric “lazy boy” style sofa that you could recline and move to suit your mood. Weirdly the loft space which seemed more of a cinema room had an en-suite bathroom! Still was good for showers in the morning 🙂

The Conference

The actual conference was held in the London Metropolitan University buildings on Holloway Road. This is just behind the Emirates (Arsenal) stadium.

This year was a bit different for me as although I had submitted talks, I was accepted as a reserve speaker and therefore needed to have my slides and talk to be ready to step in and speak should any of the other speakers not be able to present for whatever reason.

As it turns out this was the case and I was drafted in to speak last thing on the first day. I spent some time in the “Green Room” fine tuning my slides and cutting some content out of the talk as I would have a 20 minute slot instead of 30.

Arriving on the stage and there was a problem – my new MacBook Pro. The new machines only have 1 size of port on the side and therefore need a special adapter for displaying on external projectors. It seemed that my laptop was just not going to work and therefore I have to go for plan B.

Plan B involved me logging in to email (with a massively long password that I didn’t know) onto the University computer and presenting from there. Still it all worked out on the end and the talk went OK.

New for me this year was that I volunteered to “MC” (Master of Ceremonies). This meant I was the room host on Saturday afternoon and also on Sunday morning. This involved keeping on top of important notices to let attendees know what was happening as well as introducing speakers and organising after talk questions.

I was actually quite nervous before this but really enjoyed it and would very much like the opportunity to do it again sometime in the future, maybe at another conference.

Socials

One of the great things about WordCamps is the socials and for me, as a speaker and MC (room host) this meant two socials.

The first on the Friday night was the volunteers and speakers social, which is a sort of way to say thank you for speaking and helping out with the organising on the event.

This was held at Bounce in London which is sort of a pub with table tennis tables. This took me back to my youth again playing table tennis whilst on holiday. After about 20 minutes of playing the technique started to come back to me and I was actually getting quite good,.

We were also given a challenge by one of the event hosts to beat them using different sized bats which was fun. Using the smaller bats was very hard but very funny.

The Saturday social after the first day of conference was held in the University student social area. There was pie, mash and mushy peas or beans, which although not my favourite was quite nice.

Then later in the evening I hit the pool table, something which I always love playing but rarely get the changes to. I really enjoyed playing a few racks with friends and soon found my form again!

Getting Around

On this visit to the capital I feel I have finally mastered using transport in London. These days literally all you need is your contactless payment card and you can go practically anywhere. We used buses, over-ground and under-ground trains on this visit and managed to get across London and back again with no problems. I would say having a mobile phone with a maps app is super helpful in getting around, telling you wish buses to get on and off and which trains to catch.

Meeting Old Friends

The weekend was a chance to meet some old friends on the WordPress community and the socials were great chance to meet in person some of the people that we follow on social media and interact with in the online world.

It was particular great to meet-up again with old friends who was have been attending WordCamps with for nearly a decade, and those I stayed with for the weekend.

I am writing this speeding back to Preston on the train and although tired from a very busy weekend with some late nights, I am thoroughly looking forward to the next WordCamp in the UK later this year.

 

Published by

Mark Wilkinson

I am Mark, a WordPress business owner, developer, husband and father. I am also a runner and enjoy watching and playing a wide variety of sports.

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