Press trips used to be a perk of working on a magazine, where they were used as rewards for staff members. I was lucky enough to go on a few during my time, however I thought those days might be over once I left. Pleasingly it seems this isn’t so.
I can’t remember ever going on a proper blogger trip before being invited to Lower Mill Estate. By proper I mean just bloggers, rather than a combination of bloggers & press as my Stockholm trip was.
I’m always nervous at the start of a trip, especially the awkward moment when you have to find someone in a train station or airport and hope they recognise you. At least with blogger my face is literally all over my blog which makes it easier for the PR.
I’ve been to events where I’m not in my comfort zone and I’ve felt on the edge, where the bloggers are in a clique and not very welcoming. I was really nervous that this might be the case on the trip but it couldn’t be further from the truth. I was also worried that it would be quite competitive, that people would compare followers/readers etc, but this definitely didn’t happen.
Something I always wondered about a blogger trip was how it worked with paying for things – in my experience it depends on the trip. After one embarrassing press trip as a journalist where I hadn’t brought any euros with me, I always make sure to have cash for coffees, extra drinks, or activities that aren’t included. I loved how many activities were included in our trip to Lower Mill Estate; cycling, paddle boarding, spa activities, and time to run!
The best thing is there’s always someone on hand to patiently take your photo or 500 versions of the photo so that you can choose later. I so appreciate that having a rather reluctant photographer at home – or the self-timer!
No-one will judge you for taking photos of your food, or anything for that matter. You can work together to rearrange your table for the perfect flat lay scene, create edible art at breakfast and not mind that your food is ever so slightly cold when you eat it. This photo was taken on our lunch trip to the wonderful Wild Duck Inn where we enjoyed their speciality duck dish.
It’s a great way to really network and you can talk shop as much as you want. I am mostly friends with other fitness bloggers so it was great to ask questions, bounce ideas around and generally chat blogging and social media with a group of bloggers in different genres – Laura and Lela have lifestyle blogs whilst Guilia’s is more food and travel. I also loved hearing about the PR side from Debra, about what they look for in blogs and bloggers as well as social media. We all chatted non-stop over our dinner’s – including our incredible in-house dinner where a private chef cooked for us. I loved that Laura basically interview the chef for her vlog.
All of the cottages at Lower Mill Estate are self-catered, however there’s a restaurant on site as well as the option for private chefs to cater for special events or just your Saturday dinner. We ate at the Lower Mill restaurant, Ballyhoo, for our first lunch and second supper of the trip. There was something quite relaxed about not being with other health and fitness bloggers when it came to ordering food – with no special requirements or judgements at all.
Often press trips can be jam packed with tours, things to do, see and eat – which sounds great however to get the feel of a place it’s great to have some downtime. It’s hard to be ‘on’ the whole time, and sometimes you just need to chill out. Although we did take a tour of one of the incredible wild flower houses however the best way to explore the estate is to wander around and ‘live’ in it, and we certainly did. I can’t wait to come back to stay at my friend’s parents cottage in the future, and have looked at renting another house so that a big group of us could stay for a long weekend!
The only downside for this social media obsessive is the dodgy wifi! I spent a couple of frustrating hours trying to upload photos for my blog posts and ended up having to wait until everyone else had gone to sleep and stopped using the internet so that I could schedule my blog! #bloggerproblems
HUGE congratulations to my friends Charlie & Lucy who completed their first half ironman on Sunday. Apparently the Cotswold 113 Ironman distance event that they took part in ran through Lower Mill Estate – so it could be the perfect location to stay if your racing or watching next year!