The weekend always starts early on a Friday morning. In fact it could start on a Thursday as there is a contributor day (where you can help contribute to the open source WordPress project) on the Friday. However this would mean just too long away from the family.
So, it was to Preston station with the mother-in-law after the usual school run in the morning to catch the 09:52 to London Euston. No drama this time as the train was on time and fairly quiet. As usual I was able to get some work done on the way down. I tend to do admin type tasks rather than coding and therefore I spent the time thinking about our Data Audit for the up-coming GDPR regulations which take effect late May.
Events such as these are great for remote teams like Highrise Digital because they allow us to meet in person, which we don’t get to do that often. The whole team (Keith, Jonathan and I) where heading down and it was great to spend some time together.
We met at Kings Cross and then headed to the Kerb market area for something to eat. I didn’t eat, mind you as I was not at all hungry at this point. Sitting on a train doesn’t tend to work up and appetite!
The food though looked lovely. Keith went for a vegan Thai Curry and Jonathan something off the BBQ which looked very meaty and garlicky. There was a good vibe around the square with lovely fountains (very small mind you). I distinctly remember brushing a chip which was on the bench that we wanted to site on, onto the floor and within seconds a road sweeper came and cleaned up. No wonder the place was spotless!
After that we have a client call to do and therefore we needed to find some WiFi. The nearest place we knew about was The Parcel Yard Fullers pub at Kings Cross station. We got some drinks in and got ready for the call, which surprisingly went well considering the environment.
Usually for these stays we tend to try and get an AirBnB place. It means we can all stay together and have our own kitchen etc. It works really well. However for this visit the AirBnB’s in the correct location we all either too big, too small or way too expensive. Therefore we settled on the Travel Lodge hotel at Finsbury Park – very reasonable at £57 per night. To be honest it was perfect as literally all we do is sleep there as we are out most of the time.
After some chill time (I failed to have a cheeky nap mainly due to being hooked on an episode of A Place in the Sun) we headed out to the evening social.
Both Keith and I were speakers at the conference and as a thank you the organisers set up a pre-event social. This particular one was at Patch, St. Pauls and after a short tube ride and a short walk which took in the sight of St. Paul’s cathedral we arrived.
It was a nice place and we have some drinks (paid for which is always nice!) and food. As there were many of our friends from the WordPress UK community coming down we then headed on to find them and ended up in a pub called “The Artillery” (I think!). We spent the next few hours drinking Guinness and discussing all things WordPress and beyond. After that we called it a night and headed back to the hotel on the tube.
Conference day 1 begins pretty early. In fact registration opens at 07:30 which was a little too early for us. There was breakfast at the venue and therefore we set-off around 08:15 as it was only a 10 minute walk to the conference venue – the London Metropolitan University.
A WordCamp is essentially made up of talks given by WordPress users, developers, design and anyone involved really. On day I got to a fair few talks. Here are some of my highlights.
Day 1 Talk Highlights
Developing Your Story – Lee Jackson
This was a very interesting talk about growing your small business and standing out amongst the crowd. Some really interesting ideas and definitely some food for thought.
Securing SVG Uploads in WordPress – Daryll Doyle
This was a really interesting and informative talk. We often have to allow the upload of SVG’s in WordPress sites and I was not aware of the security implications. Daryll gave some great insight into the issues and offered some good fixes to secure your SVG uploads. Certainly something which I will be implementing on sites soon.
GDPR: Of Privacy and Compliance (Workshop) – Toyin Agunbiade
GDPR is a massive buzz topic at the moment as it comes into force in late May. Toyin’s talk was a very good and simple overview of what GDPR is and how to prepare for it.
I have done a lot of research around this topic recently and much has lead to confusion. This talks was probably the best yet in terms of clarifying things for me. Not everything was answered but it did go a long way in helping.
future.css – Keith Devon
This talk was my colleague Keith’s talk. He spent time preparing and it was going to be a great talk. CSS is not really my thing anymore as I concentrate on other areas but I learnt lots.
Keith was quite nervous about giving his talk but he pulled it off brilliantly. He always says he is no public speaker but I disagree – he is a natural. Well done Keith!
The A-Z of WordPress Multisite – John Blackbourn
I always love watching John speak and he is a great developer. This topic was a massive interest to me as we have done lots of work with WordPress multisite.
The talk was so well received people were queuing up for questions at the end. I didn’t get the chance to ask John my question although he kindly assisted me the day after when we bumped into each other. Thanks John for taking the time to listen and help me out!
All of these wonderful content was split by the lunch break. Serving lunch to 600 people is never an easy task but the pulled it off here. The lunch was a buffet style and was truly delicious. The sun even came out and we sat in the courtyard in the sunshine chatting to others. A lovely lunch break.
Day 1 was over, except for the social in the evening (yes another one!). Before this we headed back to the hotel on foot to drop-off the bags and have a minute’s rest.
The social itself is in the student bar area of the university and this year there was board games and giant Jenga to play as well as Pie and Mash for food. The pies where a little on the hard side!
The night continued into the early hours with a visit to a karaoke bar where we never managed to actually get in a sing and it all finished off chatting about the future of WordCamp London in a pub – somewhere is London!
Day 2 Talk Highlights
I didn’t attend to many talks on day 2. Instead I opted for the hallway track – basically it means catching up with people and networking. I also had some prep to do – see below.
Running a WordPress Mentorship Program – Mark Wilkinson
Yes this was my talk – only a lightening talk so 10 minutes. I wanted to tell the audience all about our WordPress mentoring. How we set it up, what it is and the lessons we learned. I think it went down quite well.
Whilst I am talking about our WordPress mentorship program we got the chance to meet some of our current intake of mentees. Here is Angie with both Keith and I on Sunday.
This was a new initiative for this year. I was chairing this session which was a little but like a WordPress Question Time where the topics was all about the upcoming release of Gutenberg.
We have several agencies on the panel as well as freelancers and trainers and it was nice to get the opinions of the panelist in terms of how they are moving forward with Gutenberg and preparing their clients.
At the Gutenbar session. Positive but cautious so far. #WCLDN pic.twitter.com/DMAftoyJxw
— Keith Devon (@keithdevon) April 15, 2018
The second day always seems to have an ‘end of term’ feel about it and it is really relaxed. I had a lovely day chatting with people and helping out in the happiness bar.
After closing remarks it was back on the tube and off to King Cross for one last drink – just a shandy this time! People gathering, back in the Parcel Yard before slowy disappearing when their trains were due.
The train back was good, although my train from Preston to Leyland didn’t seems to exist. Still I managed to get a replacement bus service and was back home for 21:30 after what was a very long, tiring but very inspiring and fun weekend. Needless to say I took Monday off to recover.
I want to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to the organisers, volunteers, speakers, sponsors and everyone else involved for putting on such a brilliant WordCamp. This really was one of the best!
P.S. I took a lot of video footage over the weekend and at some point I want to edit that into a video of the weekend. If I do, it will make its way onto this post.