As I post this, it's difficult to believe that exactly this time a week ago Rosie Knight (she of KnightsBrand fame) & I were wending our way down the A303 to Somerset for this year's #HiHoandCo Instmeet and what a day it turned out to be.
We had both attended the first HiHo Silver day at The Fish Hotel back in September - well I was physically there, but remember little due to an unscheduled dismount the week before which left me with spectacular concussion, which I only learnt about some days later - and boy was it fun. So when the date for this year's event popped up, there was no way I wasn't going. At least I could aim to remember the detail this time.
The timing couldn't have been better. The previous week, we'd all had our fair share of snow and given the amazing venue, if the snow had still be falling, it would have been quite a challenge to pull off such a day.
I was delighted that we weren't last to arrive this time, particularly given that Rosie had had to catch a 5.30am ferry from Isle of Wight! And what a greeting we got from the Hi Ho & Co team - Emma, Rhea, Ruth, Melanie, Sophie & Rachel (I'd like to say that I knew all 21 of the behind the scenes team, but I'd fall short there) - with beautiful personalised lanyards made by Mackenzie & George and buckets of tea (or coffee) with cake to kick off a frenetically busy day.
First off was a skills session from lifestyle blogger and photographer, Lucy Heath of Capture by Lucy. As a photographer, I'm always looking for new or different ways to photograph things. Having a massive table covered end to end with props, and not just any props - HiHo Silver props, Mackenzie & George props, even Fairfax & Favour props to name just a few of the gorgeous things we could chose from - Lucy gave us some great ideas and sent us off into the outdoors (now you get why snow mightn't have worked so well) with one of her vinyl backdrops to create our own flatlay images to showcase our individual business. I opted to photograph something that I can use more for my wedding photography than equestrian and had such fun doing so. So many little things all came together and even positioning my backdrop in different parts of the outside space or indoors, gave very different results.
From trying to be creative (not always easy for my old brain) to watching creativity in motion came with a tour of Blackdown Shepherd Huts' workshop. Bear in mind that these huts are hand crafted, but big enough to house a small family, this was no ordinary 'workshop', but one of considerable scale. The dedication and craftsmanship that goes into each and every hut is extraordinary. The skill of the team that designs and builds a very bespoke product is stunning. We saw from almost the start of a build to the end product, which was due for delivery just a few days after our visit. And all stages in between were explained as we walked from section to section.
Next up - LUNCH - perfect half time breakout session to catch up with others, some of who I've met before, others all new, but the buzz in the room was great. I could have just sat and people watched for the rest of the day as everyone was so animated, chatting about what they'd all done during the morning, including a few vlog posts and capturing the magic on their phones. Needless to say, lunch was delicious - so delicious I had second helpings of pheasant goujons, and topped them off with a large helping of cheese and biscuits.
After lunch a bunch of us spend the afternoon with Sophie learning how to set up and style photos, to get the best from our surroundings (and what 5* surroundings we had) and how to utilise what we have when it comes to blogging, vlogging and looking to work with other brands. Loads to take away in my head and put to good use.
And to finish - tea and cake - couldn't have wanted for a better end to the day.
As Rosie & I travelled back, we reflected on our day. So many inspirational people there, not only those running the show, but those attending too. There were a handful of photographers, a group of bloggers, and a raft of small business owners all of whom came away with so much to benefit them, but all in slightly different ways.
Thank you team #hihoandco. I will await date number 3 with anticipation