#VoicesOf2013 organised by Kidspot was my first ‘blogger conference’ and I didn’t know what to expect, plus I heard about it from the ever-informed Marlee at String Of Events.  So I felt lucky and excited to be going to a blogging event, by bloggers and for bloggers.  The event was free and I was completely blown away by the high standard and the attention to detail.

Had to giggle as I took this photo, Marlee and two other bloggers were stood next to me doing the exact same

One of the organisers standing on the main street there to catch attendees!

It was held at the Smart Artz Gallery in South Melbourne.  I haven’t been to this suburb before and it seems just lovely (but then, they all do!), I can’t wait to go back and explore the South Melbourne Market one weekend.

As we arrived we were greeted with name tags and a table full of beautifully presented snacks and nibbles.  The perfect welcome in my opinion.  Everyone got stuck in taking photos of the food before actually eating any, typical bloggers.  We then turned to take in the view of the room.  Cute pastel coloured chairs all lined up neatly and each with a MASSIVE free goodie bag sat on them.  I was actually really touched at the effort I could see had gone in.

These are literally the best goodie bags I’ve ever seen
Upon seeing this set up I immediately felt lucky and honoured to be here


Marlee juggling coffee and blogging duties.  Also, look at those tiny cupcakes!!

After everyone had taken their seats we were finally addressed and introduced to the first speaker Aleisha McCormack, blogger at I‘m Doing My Best, comedian and writer.  She gave us some brilliant advice on how to define your brand, with suggestions such as writing one page on your perception of yourself as a blogger and how you want to be perceived.

Aleisha in full swing



One of many lovely gifts in the goodie bag

In between food and tea breaks, we listened to two rounds of panelists.  The first discussed the best ways to blog (agreeing that it’s usually best to write as you talk, something I already strive to do).  The second gave out tips on setting your blog up for success – in other words, those three dirty old words we know as Search Engine Optimisation.

Kate Forster sending a quick picture to Instagram





It was a fantastic day.  I left feeling completely exhilarated, motivated and inspired.  I now have about 100 ideas running through my head, so I’m going to apply the lessons I learnt yesterday and start writing them down (in my new notebook!).

Again, a big thank you to Kidspot for such a well planned, well thought out and fun event!

The Festival Of Steve

Melbourne has some unusual and unique events going on and this is certainly one of them.  The only information I could gather from the blog was that it would be a ‘festival celebrating the gentlemen of Melbourne’.  I had no idea what to expect and guessed that it would either be really, really good, or really, really rubbish.  The name confused me, because I haven’t met any Australian men named Steve. It’s like the comedy channel at home called Dave, I know loads of people called Dave who are British.  Makes sense.  But Steve… who is Steve?

Nevertheless this morning I headed into the city with Marlee and Sam to see what it was all about.  It was located at The Kelvin Club on Melbourne Place off Russell Street.  Our first impression was to see a group of men wearing waistcoats stood outside chatting.  Liking what we saw we eagerly hurried inside to sign ourselves in.  The Kelvin Club is this amazing vintage style public house, it felt like stepping into a film set.  Once I had seen the venue the idea of the event clicked right away and I felt excited to get inside and see more.

The entrance lobby to The Kelvin Club

We picked up a goodie bag and entered to see there were various stalls dotted around downstairs and upstairs all focusing on something you might associate with ‘gentlemen’.  There was a shoe shining station, a salon stall offering haircuts and selling wax.  Coffee, books, bow ties and tailor made shirts.  Even Uber were there promoting their services to Melbourne – and they’re surprisingly reasonable!  The cost for an Uber car to take you from Fitzroy to St Kilda is the same, if not less, than a regular taxi.  I think I’ll definitely be using them instead of taxis at some point!




I loved this stall, they had some super cool trinkets










The decor of the place was gorgeous with old oil paintings lining the walls, including one of Queen Elizabeth.  There was a bar downstairs with a band playing nice, chilled out music and a snooker room at the back.



Doesn’t she look lovely?











We left after about an hour in search of dumplings and for an opportunity to rifle through our goodie bags.  I also purchased a book called ‘All My Friends Are Dead’ (it has a cartoon drawing of a dinosaur on the cover).  Here’s what I came away with:





The Melbourne City maps are fantastic to pick up if you’re new to the city.  They provide info on where cool and quirky cafes are, are very easy to use and allow you to tailor your visit according to time.  You would easily be able to plan a day out using this map, or plan a week!

Last but not least, here’s a peek of the book I bought along with the details for the shop.  It had me in fits of laughter so I just had to buy it.  There was another one called ‘T Rex Trying’ which I also really wanted to buy, just pictures of a T Rex trying to do things that are hindered by its small arms.  Like putting on a cardigan, or picking flowers.  Very funny coffee table material!








All in all I really enjoyed The Festival Of Steve and am really glad I went.  I think there could have been a bit more to see, but hopefully if it does well enough this year it’ll be held again next year and will grow.  The Kelvin Club is probably my new favourite venue in Melbourne, the decor just made me feel very at home as it was very English.  Definitely going to keep tabs of what else is going on there!

Pin It Forward UK

About eighteen months ago I joined Pinterest.  My friends described it to me as a place to bookmark, or ‘pin’, things that you like and things that interest you.  I was hooked immediately, I installed the pin it button on my toolbar right away and began pinning absolutely anything and everything that tickled my fancy.  From pretty colours to interior arrangements, and from fashion items to motivational quotes and even recipes.  You can literally pin anything.

Pinterest is now taking on a very large life of its own and is about to launch a new website in the UK.  Like all good social media networks, the Pinterest team have contacted a number of bloggers recently and got them on board to help spread the word and generate new users in time for the launch.  I was absolutely delighted when I received an email from them last month asking me to take part.  To be involved in such a wonderful demonstration of how important the blogosphere is these days, and to be involved directly with one of my favourite social networks, is a wonderful opportunity and fantastic experience.

I certainly use Pinterest just as much as any other social network, but it gets used in a different way.  I feel that Pinterest is centered around ideas, inspiration and motivation.  Just a few weeks ago I went to the hairdressers and in the chair next to me a girl was on her phone searching through her ‘Hair Ideas’ board on her Pinterest account, in order to show the stylist what cut she wanted.  So much less hassle than cutting up a hair magazine!

Similarly, my friend Emily used Pinterest heavily last year for inspiration (or pinspiration, say it with me…) whilst planning her wedding.  She got some great ideas for her hair, shoes, the cake and dress from the site.  The best bit was with us girls all living in different parts of the UK at the time, we could all see her ideas on Pinterest and let her know what we thought, or even find our own pins that we thought she’d like.

Pinterest is fantastic for planning.  I’m currently living in Melbourne, whilst enjoying the city I’m quietly saving pennies so that when I eventually leave this wonderful place I can do a bit of travelling yet again.  Whenever I begin to lack the travel bug spark I pop on to Pinterest and add a few beautiful images to my ‘Planet Earth’ board, immediately feeling full of wanderlust once again.

Follow Frances B's board Planet Earth on Pinterest. On this board I pin images of places that I want to go to, have already been to or that just remind me of why I love our planet.  It can be delicately and quaintly pretty, or vastly amazing and inspiring.  That raw wonder and appreciation is one of the many things that makes travelling so worthwhile. In addition, Pinterest is also a brilliant tool to use if you’re a blogger, brand or company because the images always link back to the web source.  All you need to do is click!  Even Topshop have a pin it button on their website, so that if you see a dress you like but want to come back to it you can pin it to one of your boards for future reference. I use Pinterest because it’s fun, inspiring and very addictive.  If you don’t have a Pinterest account and would like to join all you need to do is follow this link to the new site.  Then make a cup of tea (or coffee … or gin, whatever), sit down and have a good old peruse of my boards to get some ideas and get the (pin)ball rolling.  If you would rather have a look first to understand a bit better what Pinterest is, go to my profile here for a gander. Now obviously I’m not the only blogger Pinterest have asked to help spread the word about their UK launch.  If you’re a seasoned blog reader you will probably already have noticed a significant ripple of posts about Pinterest recently, and right now I’m passing on the torch to the next one.  Isn’t the internet exciting?! Tomorrow make sure you visit Steve Whitty’s blog Midlifewanderlust1965, he’s one of the next in line to demonstrate why you should join Pinterest.  You can find his boards here. Good luck and happy pinning! Visit Frances B's profile on Pinterest.

White Night Melbourne

I have been so excited for White Night Melbourne over the past couple of weeks.  However, the night was not what I expected.  I expected a small scale, cultural evening.  Whilst there was a lot of culture, it was certainly not small scale!  I was shocked at how many people were out, it was even busier than New Year’s Eve.  Anyhoo, this will be a picture heavy post and some of the pictures (as you’ll see) are awful quality.  This I blame entirely on the crowds, I couldn’t stop to take proper pictures for fear of getting lost!

So on Saturday after a pre-evening nap (best decision of the day) I went into the city with fellow blogger and Melbourne local Marlee and a couple of her friends at around eight o’clock.

We decided to go to the museum first, a venue which I hadn’t visited yet.  When we arrived they weren’t letting people in because too many had gone in already.  After a twenty minute wait we finally got in only to find the queues were far too big to wait in for any of the activities.  Still, it’s a pretty good museum so it was fun all the same.

Magical and serene lighting





Beautiful photography of old Melbourne






Documenting the colonization of Melbourne

The wait to get in was a sign of things yet to come.  The number of people who would attend had obviously been severely underestimated!  Still, I think this is a good thing.  White Night Melbourne being such a huge success on the first go bodes very well for future events.

After leaving the museum we tried and failed to board not one, not two, but three trams!  They were all too full.  We ended up walking to Fed Square instead, upon turning the corner from Collins St down to Russell St we were left speechless at the sea of people swelling along Flinders Street.  Our plan to visit Fed Square was immediately scrapped and we instead marched up to Little Lonsdale St for a much needed beverage.

Five dollar glass of wine at Little Peninsula – good wine too!  So good I had a second glass …

After a couple of hours of recharging our batteries we made our way back down to see if the crowds had dispersed a little.  I think the problem was that the website made it difficult to know exactly what was on and when, so the majority of people all turned up at the start.

We found ourselves on Elizabeth Street and the sights were not pretty.  All we could really see was mass amounts of litter, vomit and general drunken behaviour (reminded me a little of university bar crawls…).  The atmosphere at this point wasn’t nice to be honest, but once we got closer to the event locations it got better.  We stopped at Degraves St for a spot of jazz.  This was great, the atmosphere was just lovely and the musicians were very talented!






After this we wandered the streets for a bit ending at Fed Square and Flinders Station.  The lighting was amazing, the city felt magical and fairy tale like.







Crazily busy Swanston St
My favourite building in Melbourne lit up all nice




















After taking it all in we walked down the river because Marlee had spotted something pretty in the water.  When we arrived six circular screens were displaying a random sequence of images and were accompanied by very ambient music.  We sat down amongst the crowds and waited, then suddenly the cinema screens went blank, the music picked up and a huge jet of water erupted from the middle of the river.  What began was an incredible light projection display.  Together with the music it was just beautiful.














After this we walked to the Arts Centre and were lucky enough to nab some comfy seats.  Marlee and I enjoyed a really great coffee – all the more impressive as the one girl making them had a long queue of caffeine deprived Melburnians to serve – and we all spent some time looking back on the evening and people watching.  We eventually decided to head home at about four in the morning, not actually arriving home until over an hour later and finally in bed and just about drifting off to sleep some time before six.

White Night Melbourne was a great night.  I am a little sad I didn’t get to see more and even sadder that I probably won’t be here next year to see it again.

Did you go to White Night?  What did you see and what did you think?

Blender Lane Artists Market, Melbourne

Stumbled across this last night en route home from the Queen Victoria market. It finishes next Wednesday so I will be returning to make some purchases!

I love the culture in Melbourne. And to say its one of the most heavily populated cities in the world, it is very laid back.

Follow me on instagram for a closer insight into Melbourne – frances_m_b