Sunday, 16 August 2009

Blog Camp

I've been to Stonehenge several times, but there is always something a bit startling about seeing it -- just there, up on the rise of the hill, as one putters single-file down the A303. It looks exactly how you imagine it will look; (and why shouldn't it, really, because we've all seen images of those iconic slabs of standing stone.) And yet, there is something about its very familiarity that always feels surprising to me. Somehow, it manages to feel both grand and cozy, familiar and unfamiliar, all at the same time.

I know that I'm too fond of stretching metaphors, but it's not unlike meeting blog friends in the flesh (and voice and mannerism). So strangely familiar, and somehow known . . . and yet suddenly there is unfamiliar texture and context, too.

This weekend, I hosted a Blog Camp at my house -- sort of an English franchise of the Danish original. It was not unlike the summer camps that I attended as a child, at least in the sense that we talked nonstop, laughed a lot and didn't sleep much.

Of course, the activities were a bit different: We didn't go swimming, build a fire circle, or sing Kumbaya, and the only "hike" we took was more of a stroll -- with the ultimate destination being a pub at the end of the road. And of course we had lots of wine and cappuccino, and fancy Nikon cameras, and twitterings, and field trips to World Heritage Sites . . . and I definitely didn't enjoy any of those at Prairie Valley Church Camp.

However, it had exactly the same intensity as a summer camp experience. In a very short time, strangers -- (albeit, strangers whose online "diaries" I had been reading for months) -- felt more like best friends. Even better, there was the knowledge that promises "to write" and "stay in touch" would be kept.


B said...

I love that stretching metaphor. :)
Thanks so much for hosting Blog Camp, I had a truly great weekend... and I'm looking forward to seeing you soon!

The Bug said...

What fun! I'd love to participate in one of these someday. Although perhaps something closer would be better the first time...

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Who is wearing the red shoes???

A lovely idea for a weekend!

steven said...

hey bee, i visited stonehenge once wayy back in the early eighties. it was very familiar - as you suggested- and yet it also seemed somehow too finished and i think that's because when you visit the other circles that are tumbled over, pillaged, broken or whatever, there's something that makes more sense about them. blog camp sounds so cool. the terms and conditions - lots of wine and cappucino - oh yeah girl!!! have a lovely evening. steven

ArtSparker said...

It is wonderful the fine-tuning that is possible making connections on the internet, the sense of recognition. Starting a blog is one of the best things I've ever done.

Elizabeth said...

Well this looks such wonderful fun.
I'm jealous.
We did Blogstock last summer - 9 of us in Pennsylvania and it was terrific too.
I made friends who have turned into real world friends too.

rxBambi said...

I love it. I'm so jealous, yet so happy for you all. I can't wait for BC Reno (of course) but since I'm already so familiar with Reno it doesn't seem the same as going to BC in England or DK.
Sounds like you all have made some wonderful friendships...

tangobaby said...

What a great time... and such a fantastic photo of Stonehenge, what a fantastic place for a blog camp!

Anna said...

That's a new one, blog camp. Sounds like you had lot of fun. Thanks for sharing, Anna :)

JaneyV said...

I drove right by Stonehenge on Friday!!!!! Oh man - was my timing off. I know exactly what you mean about the familiar and the unknown feeling of meeting fellow bloggers. It's amazing how much personal information we actually share making our online virtual connections very real indeed. I only wish I could have made it. It sounds like lots of fun.

Eliane Zimmermann said...

I have been reading judith's diary for some weeks and find it sooo amazing to read about your meeting in real life. and it was sooooo funny to discover her on your photograph. as if I really know her! strange modern times - but I love them. cheers from southwest ireland eliane

Dick said...

It's the way in which from afar Stonehenge looks so small and then just gets bigger and bigger. Magical.

Every face-to-face blogger meeting in which I've been involved has consolidated the closeness formed through the ether. Good to know yours was too.

Tracy Golightly-Garcia said...

Thank-You for sharing your week-end with us. The picture of stonehenge is beautiful and peaceful looking.
Tracy :)

lam├ęditerraine said...

Wow,you girls living in England are all so original.I read Blanca's blog every day and I'm just so surprised because of the wonderful things you do.
As I told her,I hope I will be able some day to do all those things you do.
I love that printed cushion with birds on it,I think it makes your blog look so beautiful.
Kisses :)

Polly said...

Aaaah I'll be reliving those memories for another week... still feeling dizzy and fizzy... It was wonderful to meet everyone, thank you so much for being such a wonderful host! Have a great time at the Lakes and I look forward to seeing you soon!

Meri said...

Oh how I wish I'd been there. And despite how overtrodden it's been with sightseers sans spiritual leanings, Stonehenge has remarkable power, doesn't it?

Merisi said...

That picture says more than a thousand words, what fun!

I wish you a wonderful week in the Lake District! Did you read Sara's posts about her dream visit there? Here is the link to her Lake District posts on "Much Ado About Something"!

julochka said...

it was such an overwhelmingly delightful weekend. thank you so very much!! i feel quite sad and quiet now that it's over. do you suppose we're changed forever? in the best way, of course.


zooarchaeologist said...

What a fantastic idea. I feel inspired to try to sort something out at some point soon....

spudballoo said...

I can't tell you how much I cherish the memory of KNOWING what the desk of Bee Drunken and 'that' wallpaper looks like in real life. Plus the joy of discovering a mutual love of all things Mitford. I spent a lot of the journey home thinking about Nancy and her tragic love the for the Gen.

Thank you so much for having us to stay - you were the perfect hostess in every way. What a special weekend, it will stay with me for a long long time. Any chance of you moving to Suffolk? Just pick up the Barn and bring with?


kristina said...

thank you so much for a wonderful, wonderful weekend! you were so generous to welcome us into your home, and it was so good to meet you!

Cyndy said...

Well, Bee, it sounds like you were the perfect hostess and BBC was a complete success! I can imagine how the future words of these blogging friends will now ring a little different ~ better ~ but different for you. Isn't it fantastic to hear the laughter and see the eyes of those behind the words? While I only had lunch with fellow bloggers once, those are things that have stayed with me. Well done, well done, indeed.

P.S. The BC Jam looked scrumptious!

♥ Braja said...

Damn. I wish I'd been there :(

A Thousand Clapping Hands said...

This sounds like such fun. But the Lake District and the snoozing sound terrific too. Enjoy your trip, Bee.

linda said...

how fun is that! and to visit stonehenge? are you kidding, how wonderful!

now the most important thing ~~ who's got MY red shoes on and where can I get a pair?

Beth said...

Finally meeting blog friends always seems more like a reunion than a first time "meet."
Some day....

Celeste Maia said...

Did you make corn caramel for your friends? I did make it and it is divine!
I visited Stonehenge when I had to go to the Royal Bournemouth hospital a few years ago. We were the first ones to arrive, very early in the morning, so we were able to walk around it without the interference of other people. It was like I was being shown a secret, an open arena of chance, a ritual place, it looked to me like the world's first morning. A realy magic place.
How fun your gathering sounds, I can only imagine how much everyone enjoyed the time together.

Reya Mellicker said...

We've never done a blog camp here in DC but we used to have regular happy hours. A couple of years ago we did a blogger maypole which was lots of fun.

It is a fascinating experience to meet fellow bloggers. There is no awkward moment of trying to figure out how to get on the same wavelength - the conversation is ongoing. It's an incredible phenomena - I am so glad to be a part of it.

LOVE Stonehenge, and yes it IS startling, oh my yes.

Love the foot shot at the end of the post. We put our heads together here on the internet. When we meet up in "real" life, we share ground. Very cool!!

Sarah Laurence said...

How much fun to connect with your blog buddies in a cool setting!

I found it strange seeing Stonehenge right off the motor way like that. Somehow I envisioned it being more remote. We stopped to see it, but not by choice - the traffic was awful - but at least the view was interesting.

Just a Plane Ride Away said...

Oh what fabulous fun! Glad you had a wonderful time.

But what's that... sunshine? ;-)

Anne said...

Oh, fun! Lucky you, getting to meet so many of your bloggy friends in one go. Blog Camp sounds like a great time.

one planet said...

great .. i just came back from Miami where i visited a indian blog friend .. may be i will go to denmak on sep andrea

Bee said...

B - It is probably more of an analogy, but never mind! What I can't get over is that your boyfriend's parents live right down the road from me. See, we were destined to meet.

The Bug - Yes, you definitely throw yourself into the deep end when you "travel" to Blog Camp. (But perhaps that is part of the fun?) I felt really confident about it all because Julochka had already broken the real-life barrier.

Pamela Terry - Those lovely red shoes belong to Spud (aka Judith), who looked a lot like Nancy Mitford.

Steven - "Terms and conditions:" yes, I like that description!

ArtSparker - And next week, Alice and I are going to be visiting Oxford. So good for collaborations, this blogging thing.

Elizabeth - Well, you know that I look forward to the day that you are a visitor to The Barn. We shall do another Blog Camp (of sorts), for sure. (Who coined Blogstock? So funny.)

rxBambi - Well, Reno does have the advantage of spectacularly good weather. I'm looking forward to hearing about it. J really HAS started a franchise of sorts.

Tangobaby - Yes, well we wanted that mythical flavor. :)

Anna - Perhaps you could consider a Canadian version?

JaneyV - Now that we are constantly on Facebook, I have a tendency to forget that we aren't "real life" friends. (You seem very real to me. xx) We WILL meet up someday and soon.

Eliane - Strange modern times, indeed! I'm very sad that Spud lives so far away from me now because she is just as charming and funny as her blog suggests that she will be.

Dick - Yes, I have approached Stonehenge several times . . . and always find it a bit of a shock! I would have liked to have been at the table when you and Lucy met. How wonderful.

Bee said...

Tracy - A bit of an optical illusion, as it was actually ring-fenced by people!

Lamediterraine - I try not to take for granted that I live so near-by to so many wonderful places. I'm already plotting to meet up with Blanca again, as she is practically a neighbor! (The hummingbirds are actually my wallpaper. I am surrounded by them . . .)

Polly - I can't wait for our British Museum day! We shall meet up again very soon . . .

Meri - It really, really does.

Merisi - Oh, thank you for that link! I will be sure to check it out. We got home late last night, and I still have to process my thoughts (and pictures).

Julochka - Yes, I felt sad and quiet, too . . . although it took a good 24 hours before the "hyper" wore off. Changed forever, yes; and I feel sure that we will meet up again.

zooarchaeologist - Oh, do try it! I'm sure that you won't be disappointed.

Spudballoo - I've been thinking about the Mitfords, too! You ARE Nancy (tragic love excepted). Thank goodness blogs are so easy to visit . . . as Suffolk, unfortunately, is not!

Kristina - I'm so very glad that you came. And I hope to see some of your (no doubt, many and beautiful) pictures from the weekend.

Cyndy - Well, my biscuits didn't rise properly . . . but with so much conversation, the food didn't seem to matter much. It really was fantastic to meet my blogging friends. Such an effervescent group of wonderful, creative women.

Braja - One day, when you are feeling up to it, perhaps we will have Blog Camp India?

A Thousand Clapping Hands - I enjoyed the sleeping, but I felt really nourished by all of the great conversation from Blog Camp.

Linda - You should ask Chez Spud about her red shoes! And her blog is a wonderful visit, too.

Beth - Yes, that's it exactly! A REUNION.

Celeste - No, I didn't make caramel corn -- and I felt a bit sad about that (but we had plenty to eat). I'm so glad that you tried it!

Stonehenge in the early morning must be really special.

Reya - You have such a wonderful way of capturing feelings/thoughts into words. I love that last paragraph. xx

Sarah - Well, one nice thing is that the sun was shining. I've never been to Stonehenge in good weather!

JaPRA - (read above) We came home from the Lake District a day early because the weather was AWFUL there and beautiful here. It seemed a bit silly.

Anne - I made the raspberry jam from your mother's recipe; so you were there (in spirit), too!

Andrea - If you have the chance to visit Julochka in Denmark, you should GRAB it!

dogimo said...

Agree that the "all for one one for all" shoe circle is a great shot! A great visual, very fun and funny. One always sees grim teams of action operators putting all their hands in a one-circle unity pledge. These shoes say it better!

♥ Boomer ♥ said...

GREAT idea! I know you all must have had so much fun in that rich, rich place so full of history!!! ♥

Emm said...

Oh, what a fabulous idea!! It is a long time since I had a blog meet up, maybe I should arrange one!

Lisa said...

It sounds wonderful! I'm so glad that you all got together and will build on the relationships.

Stephanie said...

oh there is just nothing better than a blog meeting!! AND what a lovely place to BE!!!


Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

Bee, what a wonderful idea, Blog Camp! I certainly wish I had been there to enjoy the camp activities.
I would love to visit the English countryside, I have been to London, but not ventured out into the outlying areas.
Greetings from Texas,

Alyson (New England Living) said...

Oh my gosh, how awesome! Wish I lived close enough to participate.

Isabel said... KIND of blog camp!!!!
Last year I participated in a wonderful weekend with women bloggers (we called it Blogstock) and all I have to say is...we opened our hearts to each other like flowers to the sun. I have made friends for life. Friendships to cherish.

What a blessing when we open ourselves to possibility :)

Agnieszkas Shoes said...

Well that's just freaky. You have a picture of Agnieszka, and then a picture of (presumably her) shoes!