“I’m going to Camden tomorrow to meet some people I met online. I’ve never met them in real life, but we talk all the time and know everything about each other.”
As the words casually fell from my mouth over dinner on a Friday night, I briefly thought of how my husband might react if it was his daughter, and not his wife, uttering them.
But the people in question weren’t leather clad bikers, indie band frontmen or dreadlocked stoner boys (I was 16 once you know!), they were babywearing mums, with whom I share a particular passion for woven wraps. I was off to Carry on London 2019 – a babywearing convention – to meet fellow sling enthusiasts and try some new wraps, because I obviously don’t own enough already.
Meeting up with strangers was the easy bit. The hard bit was making the 4 hour journey across the country to London and back, alone with 3 month old baby E. It was also a great opportunity to put an upcoming Firespiral release, night’s watch cyano charters moss, to the ultimate test – surviving the London Underground.
This is not my full review of night’s watch, but indulge me in some wrap geekery: We began our journey (a 20 minute train ride and then 30 minutes’ wait for our London connection) with E on my front in a short front cross carry with a ring, my go-to carry for quick trips (i.e. from the car to the train and between platforms). I don’t find it the most comfy carry though, so at the end of our uneventful 2 hour train ride into Paddington I switched it out for a kangaroo carry, ready to brave the underground.
Paddington to Chalk Farm isn’t the easiest tube trip at the best of times, and a closure on the Hammersmith&City and Circle lines further convoluted the journey. Suffice to say after hopping between three tubes (during which nobody offered me a priority seat, standard) I was a hot sweaty grumpy mess, with a hot sweaty grumpy baby. Night’s watch held up well in a kangaroo, but we were both ready to unwrap by the time we reached the venue!
And oh, to meet these wonderful women who live in my phone! I was soon greeted by a mum whose son was 3 days older than E, with whom I had shared those final, everlasting weeks of pregnancy while we waited to finally meet our babies, just a few weeks before. I then gathered with more familiar faces around the soft play, and suddenly we were a village – minding toddlers, passing babies (a big deal for me!) and sharing biscuits, as if we’d always physically parented side by side, and not just via the internet.
Of course the best friendships are forged in questionable kebab shops, and with lunch options limited I headed to the nearest one with fellow wrap geek Rachel. Massive thanks to her for snapping this epic picture.
After demolishing my chicken doner I remembered that I was in fact at a sling show, and that I should probably wander round the market hall. The last time I went to a wrap show, E was still on the inside, and I’d spent the day blissfully wrapping my compliant bump. Turns out it’s actually much harder to browse and try out wraps with a real life on-the-outside baby, especially one who’s been in a sling on public transport for 3 hours and is DONE with being carried.
That being said, two wraps did tempt me enough to risk her wrath. My internet friends were now loitering around the Ruck n Roll stand, and among various stunning pieces of handwoven cloth there was one I just had to try:
Sadly for my soul but fortunately for my bank balance this beautiful wrap, named And So it Goes, already belongs to one of my phone friends, but it was enough to lure me into the Ruck n Roll rabbit hole and I definitely want to own one of Jo’s stunning creations for myself one day!
The second wrap was, naturally, a Firespiral. Sharing the same gorgeous cyano warp as night’s watch, dryad seafoam is a heavy hempen masterpiece that made E weightless and felt like a giant hug. If I don’t buy one of these on release day it will be because I’ve fallen down wormhole (or because I already own driftwood cyano seafoam, pictured below and also a hemp blend, but they are COMPLETELY different wraps so I need both, really really.)
I did wander round the rest of the market hall, but as I don’t do buckle carriers and already own several fiddle beads and slingamebob necklaces my wallet came away unscathed. Soon my phone friends and I were saying our farewells (sadly no time to join them at the pub) and I geared myself up for the mission home, with E in a semi pocket wrap cross carry, my other go to ‘pop-able’.
By the time I got to Euston square I was struggling. A full day with E wrapped or in arms had taken its toll and my back and shoulders were screaming. Thankfully I’d taken the time to learn to back carry a small baby, and switched to a ruck outside the station, declining offers of help from well-meaning passers by with a mouth full of fabric. We were both much more comfortable and got the second wind we needed to complete the underground leg of our return journey.
We finally got back to Paddington and, after dealing with a slight poo explosion outside Starbucks (seriously how to people cope using disposable nappies every day!?), we made it onto our train home.
It was heaving and E was shattered and grumpy, refused to feed and wouldn’t sleep. Wrapping her in the isle of a bumpily moving carriage full of drunk people was probably the least favourite part of my day, but it worked its magic and she finally nodded off, allowing me to sit back down out of view of my many beer goggled spectators.
By the time my husband picked me up from the station I was completely done in, but it was worth it to finally meet some of the wonderful women who live in my phone.