WordCamp London, Take 2 – The Diary

It’s been a year since I went to my first ever WordCamp – WordCamp London. And now I’m back for a second attempt.

Thursday 12nd

WordCamp starts first thing on Friday so I’m going to travel down the day before.

My train from home is at 10:30am and I’m in London a little after noon. I meet up in a nearby pub with 3 of my fellow writers from The Big Tech Question (hosted on WordPress, of course) – Barry, Tim and Max. We  tried meeting last December but it fell through due to travel problems. Over drinks (thanks Barry) we discussed the current situation with the website and the plans for it – it’s still quite new but building momentum. Quickly realising we were hungry and the food at that pub was pretty terrible we decided to seek out somewhere better for lunch. Following Tim, we ended up walking quite some way but ended up at Dishoom. The food was fantastic (thanks again Barry for picking up the tab) though, so all was forgiven.

At this point we parted ways as we dispersed at various points to make our way home (or wherever our next destination was). Although I used the tube last year, I was with a colleague who knew it well – this was going to be the first time I’d used the London underground without any assistance (a tube virgin!). Thankfully, it was pretty simple (I remembered you could gain access by using a contactless card – otherwise, this may have flummoxed me as it’s not obvious. Also, I’d worked out which route I needed in advance – that helped).

Soon, I’d made my way from Kings Cross to Finsbury Park and a short walk brought me to my hotel – the Travelodge. 3 nights, including 72 hours of WiFi access (I’m not stupid) was booked weeks ago. The staff are… meh… but the rooms are nice. This hotel has had a big makeover recently and it shows.

However, my big bug bear of London hotels so far has been overnight noise… how will this do? Well, I’m at the back so away from the road. Sadly, though, this puts me by a railway line, although the room seems pretty insulated from the noise – I’ll know by tomorrow…

Otherwise, I spent my evening getting settled in and sorting out the arrangements for the next few days. My evening meal was courtesy of the hotel restaurant and was… average.

Friday 13th

Well, well, well – I was right. My room was brilliantly insulated from outside noise. Sadly, it wasn’t from the air conditioning in the next room, which they seemed to leave on all night.

So, a bit bleary I got up at 7am (I’d put my alarm on for 8am) and treated myself to the hotel breakfast. One shower later I was ready for a brisk walk to the WordCamp location. The walk takes about 20 minutes and is relatively easy to navigate, particularly when there are specific sites along the way that are hard to miss…

Today is volunteers day, where we get a chance to help out with an aspect of WordPress. I volunteered to help with WP Coding Standards but due to horrific WiFi issues I was pretty incapable of doing much. I did listen to how to go about it (i.e. making changes to Core code so that it meets coding standards) so will be giving it a bash at a later time. Meantime I bumped into my colleague Simon, who was there just for the one day to, well, see who he can “bump into”. Business intel basically. So I chatted with Simon quite a bit, which lead me to… finally getting the opportunity to introduce myself to, and chat to, Mike Little (co-creator of WordPress). It was a genuine honour and he seems a really nice guy.

In fact Mike had been running a workshop for kids, teaching them how to use WordPress which, from everything I’ve heard, was hugely successful.

There was a later talk in the way of an introduction to WP Coding Standards (for those who want to know more about them but don’t necessarily want to volunteer for it), which a lot of people came to. VIP got a mention and, at the end, someone asked about implementing PHPCS in Sublime Text. I mentioned that I’d written internal documentation on how to do this and would be happy to share it with him. He later asked me about PHPStorm – as if by magic, I also have documentation on that.

Mid-afternoon I was called over by someone to look at a fix that was being implemented to Gutenberg – relevant to me as it was I who reported it. Some quick testing showed the issue was fixed by the change, which was good to see.

And as soon as the day started, it was all over. We’d chatted, we’d assisted and were all much more knowledgable than when the day began.

I headed back to my hotel to drop my things off before a planned evening meal for volunteers in the heart of London. Sadly, last night’s “air con hijinks” caught up with me and I quickly crashed. So, later in the evening, I grabbed another hotel meal (different food, still “meh”) and headed off for an early night…

Saturday 14th

The alarm went off at 5:30am after what was, an okay sleep. Good sleep or not this is never a good time to wake. A quick shower and I’m soon on my way to the venue to start at 6:30am.

I’m down to help set-up signage, which I did last year but somethings are particularly welcome first…

Signage takes until 7:30 which, coincidentally, is when the doors are flung upon to the public (albeit a trickle of public that wants to be up that early). I’m now free to do what I want until lunchtime, when I’m on one of the reception desks. But, being me, I fling myself back into the volunteering and help out where I can. The talks going on are great but none of them today, apart from Tammie’s Gutenberg talk, set my own world on fire and, I am, after all here to volunteer.

Having said that, I spend a lot of the time chatting to sponsors – hosts and developers alike. I also kick off the ‘Job Board’ with details on VIP hiring, including sticking a number of hiring cards onto the board (which keep going, so I have to regularly top-up).

Sadly, not everything is 100% – I’m coming down with a sore throat and I know what this means. A cold is on its way. By early evening I am physically aching, tired and my throat is feeling really sore. I try and hold out for the meal just before the social event but end up retiring back to my hotel beforehand.

Sunday 15th

Is it really the last day already?

Last night’s sleep didn’t go as well as I’d hoped as somebody in a nearby room had a baby that kept waking and screaming in the night 🙁 But, thank goodness, it’s a late start today and, indeed, I’m not needed until 11am. Theoretically, I don’t need to get out of bed until 10am so, naturally, I was awake at 7am.

I shower and then use the time to get a decent breakfast in me from the hotel. I’m back at the University just before 10am, feeling a lot more refreshed. The sore throat has gone and the main cold is threatening but not quite here (in fact, it turns up that night when I’m back at home).

I spend a lot of today either sitting on the main reception or sitting in talks. Particularly excellent, as always, was Heather Burns, this time talking about GDPR.

And, particularly due to the short day, it was all over very quickly. We gather at 4:20pm for a final get-together and then.. that’s it.

Not long before this I’d learnt that the Tube station over-the-road was closed due to Arsenal playing at home, so I’d have to walk to the next one along. Now being a Tube expert (not really), I quickly re-worked where I needed to go and got to St Pancras again in short time.

I had a ticket, with a reserved seat, for the 7:30pm train but found myself sitting on the 5:45pm instead. There was no reservation for this but, as appears to always be the case for East Midland Trains from London, the reservation system wasn’t working and, as one of the first on the train, I’d bagged myself a good seat. Well, that was until they announced, part way through the journey, that the train was too long for the platform at Long Eaton and I’d need to be in one of the first 5 coaches. Was I? I didn’t know. So, after Loughborough I moved as far forward as I could – they’d said earlier that the train was divided into 2 sections and you couldn’t get between them. Then, at East Midlands Parkway, I jumped off and moved to the rear of the first section – as they said it was 2 lots of 5 coaches, I assumed I must now be okay for the Long Eaton platform. Nope, just as we pulled up they announced that we needed to be one coach further forward. Much rushing happened and I was shouted at by a Porter (meh, it happens) but was finally on the platform. Home at last.

Posted by David Artiss

Happiness Engineer for the WordPress VIP team at Automattic. Gamer, entertainer and general fan of all things Marvel.

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