I have done a few posts about the various things I got up to during the Lib Dem conference this year but I just wanted to do a post about my personal view of the whole thing.
I was surprised at how at home I felt. The hotel I stayed in was very welcoming and right from the start there was just a nice feel. I had to queue up to get my pass because it hadn't arrived in the post and the chap who dealt with me was Chris Ward a Guildford Councillor who I already knew and who had my pass ready for me!
The hall itself was actually very impressive. Often I have found that when you attend these things in person after having seen them on TV everything looks a bit rubbish but that wasn't the case here. I also found the format very accessible with motions proposed and then amendments introduced, interventions allowed, wrapping up and then votes.
It was great to finally meet so many of the people that I have interacted with online. I am sure I will miss some people out but I met Jennie Rigg, Mat Bowles, Richard Gaddsden, Charlotte Gore, Stuart Sharpe, Paul Staines, Mark Pack, Helen Duffett, Ryan Cullen, Alex Foster, Stephen Tall, Andy Hinton (stats man!), Millenium Dome Elephant, Costigan Quist, Mark Littlewood, Sara Scarlett, Julian H, James Graham, Ali Goldsworthy, Peter Black AM, Ed Fordham, David Wooding, Prue Bray, Steve Webb MP and lots of other non-online people too.
I barely had a moment to myself with all the fringes and training as well as various informal things. I found myself pretty knackered at the end of each day, in a good way!
The biggest highlight for me was winning the Best New Blog of the Year award at the BOTYs on Sunday night. Although I had been nominated in three categories I really didn't think I was going to win anything and hadn't prepared a speech (which showed!). I have never won anything like that before and I really appreciate everyone at LDV who organised it, especially Helen who from what I can tell from what Stephen said did much of the admin stuff associated with it. It means a lot to me and I am very grateful.
Another highlight was being asked to be part of 5 Live's coverage for Nick Clegg's speech and then doing the podcast with John Pienaar and Steve Webb afterwards. Both thoroughly enjoyable experiences and it was also fascinating to see how it all worked from a technical perspective too having listened to these things for many years.
I had the chance to go to conference last year but was too ill to go in the end so this was my first one. The thing is though, last year I hardly knew anyone in the party and hadn't even started blogging so I suspect it would have been quite a different experience.
I don't know what the next 12 months will bring but you can be sure of one thing, I am definitely going to Lib Dem Federal Conference 2010. I am putting it in my calendar right now! Who knows, next year I might even make it to Glee Club....
UPDATE: To my immense shame I forgot to mention Stephen Glenn in the list of online people I met. He is an exceedingly friendly chap and of everyone I spoke to during the week I think he was the most full of energy and vigour. I really cannot think why I missed him out. That'll teach me to do a list of people in a rush! He's in good company though as I have also realised I missed out Lynne Featherstone MP, Martin Tod (PPC for Winchester), Angela Harbutt from off of Liberal Vision, Neil Fawcett, The Honourable Lady Mark, Ros Scott the party President and I suspect some others too.
Mental note, don't make lists of people like this in future!