This year I decided that I wouldn’t go to BritMums Live so I didn’t buy a ticket. I’ve gone every other year and it’s always been one of the social highlights of my year. No, I don’t get out much, but other, more socially active people than me also say they have a good time too. So you can rest assured that I wasn’t not attending because I thought it would be crap.
My reason for non attendance was that our two eldest children were due home from their respective school residentials on Friday afternoon/evening. Last year I had missed out on meeting our eldest off the bus and it took her quite some time to forgive me. So this year, family came before blogging, as it should.
But then, a couple of weeks before BritMums, a PR working for Boots Opticians asked me if I’d like to be sponsored by them for the event. I explained that I wouldn’t be able to attend on the Friday as I had to pick children up from school/residentials and they came back to me promptly, saying that as long as I was able to make it to a briefing on Friday morning, that would be fine. We live 45 minutes up the Metropolitan line from the Barbican so I didn’t have to arrange travel or accommodation.
Game on! It appeared I wouldn’t be missing this year’s BritMums Live after all.
One of the perks of sponsorship by Boots Opticians was that I got to have an eye examination in one of their stores, discuss lenses, choose a pair of frames and have some prescription specs made up just for me.
So last week I trundled into a nearby town and had my eyes tested at a nearby Boots Optician. It was a very pleasant appointment and I was asked lots of questions by an Optical Consultant about my health, work, day to day life and any hobbies I had. Then I had my eye pressure tested and the back of my eyes photographed. Next was the ‘eye test’ part of the examination. I was handed over to an Optometrist who had a good look at the inside of my eyes then performed the sight part of the test; lots of reading letters and stating whether I thought the green or red circle was clearer.
So all and all it was a thorough eye test, and comparable to the examination I had had with a local independent optician for almost twice the price. Some of the equipment was a bit less whizzy, but I know enough about eyes to know that bells and whistles aren’t necessary for an accurate and efficient eye check.
After seeing the optometrist, I had some time with the optical consultant again, to talk about lenses and frames. I was a bit pushed for time by this stage, so I had to keep it short but I was impressed when she told me that all their lenses are now reflection free, scratch resistant and protect against UV rays. After some umming and ahhing, and a bit of trying on, I finally decided on a purple frame and varifocal lenses so I could wear my new specs for reading, computer work and for night driving as well.
Eye check done, I now had a conference to attend.
Friday the 20th came, I left home in plenty of time and managed to make it to the hotel with 10 minutes to spare. I was so proud of myself, but pride soon turned to horror when I realised that there was more than one branch of the hotel named by the PR, and I had gone to the wrong one. I had thought it seemed a bit strange to have the briefing in Marble Arch when Britmums was held near the Barbican! Note to self; always check you have the right hotel, especially in London!
I rushed over in a cab and Boots Optician kindly delayed the meeting until I arrived. I needed a cup of tea and a pastry when I finally got to the meeting though.
The briefing turned out to be an explanation for why Boots Opticians has decided to include UV protection for all of their lenses. This is information well worth knowing, especially when you have children.
Did you know–
- your eyes are 10 X more sensitive to the sun than your skin; no matter what colour they are?
- UV light damages your eyes over time? There is an area at the back of your eye that is especially sensitive. I have been told that I have the beginning of damage here and so I should do what I can to protect my eyes from UV light.
- 40% of UV exposure occurs when you are not in direct sunlight and therefore are less likely to be wearing sunglasses?
- 80% of your eye’s lifetime exposure to UV light occurs before you are 18, as children have clearer lenses and proportionally bigger pupils than adults?
The answer to a lot of these problems is ‘wear sunglasses’ whenever possible. They need to be good quality with ‘100% UV ‘ protection; dark glasses without 100% UV protection cause your pupil to enlarge and let in more light, and therefore more damaging rays. Children especially, need to be taught to wear good quality sunglass and a hat from an early age, just the same as you teach them to tolerate sunscreen application.
But what about when you can’t wear sunglasses? That’s where the Boots Protect lenses come in. All of their clear lenses are now UV protective, both front and back, and boast an Eye-Sun Protection Factor (E-SPF) of 50+.
I don’t usually wear daily eyewear out in the sun, and neither do my children, but if we did, I would be going to Boots Opticians for our glasses for sure. As it is, I’ve bought new, 100% UV sunglasses for everyone!
I spent the whole of Saturday at BritMums Live and talked to a lot of people about the Boots Protect lenses. My name tag showed that I was sponsored by Boots Opticians, so it was a real conversation starter and I was able to persuade many of my ‘victims’ to visit the Boots stand and enter the competition they were holding.
But after talking about glasses and eye tests and the need for UV protection, the conversation usually moved on to blogging and I spent good few hours chatting about that as well. I really enjoyed the Morrisons Lounge, so much yummy food, but unfortunately failed to win a Vitamix for the 3rd (or was it 4th?) year in a row. One day I will get one, I swear!
As for the Agenda, I think it covered really useful topics this year. I really enjoyed listening to Life As A Widower tell his moving tale of how he keeps the memory of his wife alive for their young son. His take on grief is refreshing honest and practical, and strangely inspiring.
I loved hearing Camila Batmanghelidjh from Kids Company talk about their new campaign, See The Child, which is gunning for an independent task force that will redesign children’s services. Their dream is that every child who needs help will get it. This is something that is very close to my heart and I’d love to get involved at some level.
The Travel Blogging session was interesting, as usual and a few of the Keynote blogs at the end were simply amazing. The last session of the day was a special appearance by the cast of the new Musical , The Good Enough Mums Club. To say this extract had people out of their seats and dancing would not be an exaggeration.
I spent a lot more time socialising than I have in previous years and was too busy to take many photos. I guess thats what happens when you’ve been to a few conference; it becomes less ‘work’ and more of a jolly!
All in all, it was a useful BritMums Live, and I’m grateful that Boots Opticians gave me the chance to go. It was my first experience of being sponsored for a conference, and it was a good one; I’d definitely consider doing it again.