Another WordCamp. But this one’s different – I’m not going as a volunteer but as a speaker, to deliver my first ever talk. All the way up in Edinburgh, it’s also going to be the smallest of the WordCamps I’ve attended too. 

How will the talk go and what is a smaller WordCamp like?

Friday

A busy day today as, as yet, I haven’t packed, let alone anything else. So, (some) ironing and (a lot of) packing ensues before I grab some lunch and then a bus just before midday.

The bus, from the end of my road, takes me directly to East Midlands Airport, where I arrive around 2 hours before my flights. EMA is a, ahem, quiet airport and I’m pretty alone during check-in and even security. I even have some chance to chat and get advice from security when they have issues with my new gadget bag through the x-ray machine (they advise me to unzip it next time and, sure enough, on the return journey, following their advice, it’s fine).

The plane is a Q400 Dash 8 (aka Bombardier Dash 8), for the enthusiasts. It’s a small, turboprop plane – the latter is relevant as it means it has propellers. I still find planes on propellers slightly un-nerving – some suggestive of a bygone era that you wouldn’t expect these days.

The flight is just an hour and, above the clouds, the sun was glorious.

Edinburgh Airport is both busy and quite large so it takes me some time to get through but my luggage was prompt (already on the carousel when I reached it). I grabbed an Uber and headed straight to my hotel – DoubleTree on Bread Street. It turns out it’s pretty close to Edinburgh Castle…

I had time to unpack before heading out for the meetup point – CodeBase (which is also serving as the location for the WordCamp), where speakers and volunteers were getting a walk-through from 6:15pm. The location is quite small compared to the WordCamps I’ve been before (admittedly, all large ones) but is really nice and turns out be literally down the road from my hotel, probably less than a 2 minute walk.

Just before 7 we head out to Le Monde for a buffet-style dinner. I retire soon after, quite tired from the day’s events.

The hotel looks lovely – the outside, the reception and even the room. But it hides a dark secret. A secret that most hotels also hide. An inability to give their customers a quiet night. Okay, it’s a busy part of Edinburgh, so traffic and noisy people outside are inevitable (although single glazed windows are asking for trouble) – no, the problem here was 2 fold. The room’s air conditioning kept coming on at certain times of the day, even if you’d turned it off – 7am being one such time. Also, the extractor fans in the bathrooms don’t shut off. Well, no, that’s not strictly true – they’re switched off at midnight (I found this out after ringing down to reception to ask why it was on). So, a rattly hum just behind the bed (the bathroom was on the other side of the wall) kept me awake for more time than I’d have liked. 

Saturday

Awake at 7am as it’s an early start today. I head to down for breakfast, where I have some muesli and a bowl of fruit (my, how times have changed). I shower and head to the venue.

This is the view from just outside…

I catch up with some friends that I’ve met at previous WordCamps and make some more as well – particularly Kenda McDonald, the CEO of Automation Ninjas. The first talk of the day is hers, which I attend – “What WordPress can learn from behavioural psychology”. Genuinely, my kind of subject and it was a superb talk. But, at the same time, it made me nervous for mine – she was so slick, delivering everything on time and with no notes (but, yes, she does have a lot more experience at it than me).

I also took the opportunity to kick off a job board and I go through a fair number of hiring cards…

It’s not long until midday, and it’s time for my talk. It doesn’t go well when my MacBook refuses to connect to the projector – I’d had the forethought to copy my presentation to a USB stick beforehand, so when another speaker approached me with their MacBook, it was quick and easy for me to get it working on that.

I was relatively calm and enjoyed the experience – there weren’t any questions until the end, and nothing that I couldn’t answer too.

Before I knew it, it was all over. Heather, who was MCing, commented to the audience that it was hard to believe this was my first talk, something she repeated to me later. That was good to hear and I definitely have renewed confidence to do it again.

Oh, and after, whilst there was an empty room and a projector connection still, I was determined to find the cause of my earlier technical issues – a reboot of my MacBook actually sorted it.

the it crowd chris odowd GIF

Lunch beckoned. Rather than attend the afternoon talks, I spent most of my time chatting and getting to know other people as I wound down from my own talk. Oh, and I was introduced to Bubble Tea, which is now one of my favourite things.

Straight after the afternoon talks was a party, which included…

After eating I headed back to the hotel for another early night.

Sunday

Today was a later start and a short day – 10:30am until 3:30pm, to be more precise. And there were no talks either – just workshops, panels and bars. 

I attended the Gutenberg panel (tip: don’t attend wearing a Gutenberg t-shirt, as certain assumptions will be made!) and this lead to an interesting conversation both during and after the panel with another attendee. He was, shall we say, less of a fan. However, kudos to Edd Hurst from Pragmattic for helping me out 🙂 

When it was all over, there were hugs and firm handshakes (but mainly hugs).

I headed back to the hotel to grab my suitcase and hail an Uber back to the airport. I had a bit of a wait and considered a lounge, but headed to get a meal instead. It was around 5pm and, by the time I’d finished, it was around 6:15 (yes, I took my time for once). My flight was due to leave at 7:30, so I didn’t have long to hang around in the end.

The flight was quick and painless, as was the movement through East Midlands Airport. But, by now, it was dark and I was very tired. A 20 minute wait for a bus and then a 30 minute ride in the cold, night air didn’t help. I dragged my case the final 5 minutes to home, dumped my cases in the hall and it wasn’t long until I headed to bed.

It was a great weekend and I’d broken my talk virginity too. This was my first smaller-sized WordCamp, having only attended London and Europe WCs before. It had a calmer, friendly feel to it, which I liked – I’ll return again one day 🙂

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