Chicago… the last show!

Well, that’s it. SES Chicago over and done with and that signals the end of the conference season for me. And what a season. For me personally, I managed to talk my way through no less than 28 events this year. A mixture of large conferences, seminars and small workshops. As well as the private presentations and pitches, of course.

SES was good. Even though it got off to a very bad start. I arrived at the hotel to receive a message telling me that Anne Kennedy’s husband had died. Anne is a very close and dear friend. I spent a weekend with her and husband Gerry (plus close friends Alex and Jenn) earlier this year.

That was the first time I’d met Gerry and was blown away at just what a friendly and easy going guy he was. The kind of guy you just “get along with.” That weekend, we drank Martinis (and anything else in a bottle) had a great dinner at a fab restaurant and then went back to Anne and Gerry’s place. They both loved to play the guitar and sing together, so we were treated to a little blues, their style.

Along with everyone else in our community who knows Anne (and those who met Gerry) I was shocked and deeply saddened when I heard the news. My heartfelt condolences and thoughts are with Anne. God give her the strength and courage she needs at this time.

The Hilton Chicago was the venue once again for SES this year. I came to the US via a flying visit to my home in the UK from China. I checked the weather and discovered that it was snowing big time in Chicago. So I packed my overcoat, scarf and gloves at the top of my case. I didn’t want to travel like that. I thought, if it’s snowing when I get there, I’ll just pull them from the top of the case and put them on. And when I arrived, there was no shortage of snow!

However, when I arrived, there was also no suitcase! It had been left behind in London. So, if you saw a small, blue figure shivering in a t shirt and jeans at the Hilton check-in… that was me!

On Sunday night (the night before the show opened) I decided I wanted an early and not too raucous night. When I found myself wandering around the Hilton car park at 3.00 am I kind of figured that my plan may have gone awry!

First, I’ll blame Hatbait girl Li Evans for wrestling me to the ground and forcing me to drink many a Jameson’s whiskey. OK, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration… but she was there when it happened 🙂 And by the way, who was it who spilled a drink in my hat?

And sure, much as I hate the “linkbait” word, Hatbait certainly worked and they get two links. Please, please ensure that there are no minors around or anyone with a nervous disposition before you click to see this pic.

I had a couple of extra sessions to cover this time. And, as usual, I did the link building basics session. This time it was just my long-term panel buddy and linkmeister extraordinaire, Eric Ward.

I have to say, nobody knows better where the links are than that guy! It was a great session. And a great audience too!

The next day we were back working together again on the linking strategies session. This time, we had a brand new team-mate in Justilien Gaspard. He was covering for first lady of link-building, Debra Mastaler, and did a fantastic job considering it was his first show. Once again a great session (more so because we had Oilman himself, Todd Friesen jump in as Mod for the session at the last minute) and what a great audience 🙂

The final session was the organic session and featured the usual team. Myself, Dave Naylor, Todd Friesen and industry veteran Bruce Clay fended all manner of questions. And fell over laughing at Naylor’s frequently outrageous comments. What was that he said about something falling in the “crack of Google’s arse.” No, there’s no picture of Google’s arse, I’m afraid!

I like Chicago. It’s a great city and it’s right up there with San Francisco and Boston, for me. However, there’s nothing quite like coming home to Geordieland for me. This year I seem to have travelled more than usual. And I seem to have been a little more homesick than usual.

I took a great picture of my city earlier this year when I took a walk along what’s known as The Quayside. I couldn’t help thinking just how wonderful it looked with its bridges, castle, cathedral and history that goes way back.

Most of the time, when you see a picture of Newcastle, you get the iconic bridge picture.

Of course, many people make the mistake of thinking that Newcastle copied the Sydney Harbour Bridge. But in fact it’s very much the other way around. The Tyne bridge was actually the prototype for Sydney Harbour Bridge, which is why the Australian bridge is a replica (albeit a larger replica).

This morning, on the way to work I had to go via the coast to pick a package up from a friend’s house. Heading back to the city, I glimpsed the old Victorian lighthouse on St Mary’s island. I had to stop and take a pic. It sent me swirling back in time. I must have been five years old (or less) when I first remember my parents taking me to see it.

Anyway, here I am home for the holidays. I guess I’ll be dropping in to blog something every now and again. But just in case, I’ll wish friends and family and readers all the best for the holidays and have a great Christmas and New year.

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