Last Friday I drove to Wales to spend a couple of nights and three days with a group of bloggers from all niches and backgrounds. It was a weekend I’d been looking forward to since it had been announced and after last year’s Flea Retreat it was a weekend I didn’t want to miss. Now, home from the second year, it’s definitely a highlight of my blogging calendar.
The Flea Retreat is a blogging retreat for any type of blogger and bloggers of any level to come together and use the experience however they want. Yep, that might sound a bit wishy washy but you really can take away from the retreat whatever you want and you can make it any kind of experience you want. It’s a weekend that is put together with bloggers as it’s focus, knowing that in this industry we don’t get a really good chunk of time to come together, inspire each other and learn in a really hands on environment.
This year’s Flea Retreat was held at Tyn Rhyd, a beautiful setting near Aberystwyth. There were so many bedrooms to accommodate all the bloggers and plenty of space for the sessions too. It was a really lovely, rustic building with everything we could need for the stay – including a hot tub.
The team behind the Flea Retreat catered so well for us – with breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as at least two tea and cake breaks a day. There were hot and cold soft drinks when we wanted them and helping yourself to a cuppa in between sessions wasn’t a problem. There was a really relaxed atmosphere to the whole weekend.
The retreat sessions made for a really action packed itinerary throughout the weekend. For the most active and adventurous amongst us there were activities organised by Adventure Beyond – evening canoeing, gorge walking and bushcraft as well as a more sedate waterfall photography walk with Naomi Campbell.
There were sessions around creative writing, storytelling and even about getting published as an author. These were run by Rachel Lucas and Kirstie Pelling. The Retreat was about every creative aspect of blogging and the writing really is at the heart of that.
Then there were sessions to improve your photography – with product photography, head shots, lifestyle photography, low light photography and so much more. Huge thanks to Derek Lomas and Tom Arber for returning for a second year to show us how it’s done. The sessions were designed to not only show you how to take photos but how to use your camera settings, work with your surroundings and manage light too.
As well as photography there were videography sessions run by Tony Hindhaugh on filming videos in your home kitchen, being confident on camera and lighting your videos as naturally as possible.
Tony also worked with bloggers on building a brand and working out exactly what each blogger stood for and the things important to them. Every blogger that went to his sessions came away inspired and ready to move forward in some way.
And of that goes for the whole of the retreat. I went to a few sessions over the course of the weekend – the waterfall walk, head shots, lifestyle photography, low light photography and more I’m sure. Around that I had down time where I got some work done in beautiful surroundings, took photos and had a dip in the hot tub as well as catching up with friends and making new ones too. I had a weekend that worked for me and that I came away from feeling so inspired and uplifted and just feeling like part of a really lovely community.
Blogging can be quite lonely and isolated at times. Even with the constant noise of social media you can feel alone at home on your computer or phone. But the blogging retreat brings people together, builds friendships and inspires us all to do something new, something different or even doing something just the same as we were before with more great people around us.
I had the best time at the Flea Retreat and I’m excited for the next one already. I came back utterly exhausted but so enthusiastic and just ready to put everything I learnt into practice. What a perfect weekend that was.