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It's a Monday morning at work and I have just logged onto Ciao, today my guest book is hive of activity and I am overcome by all the lovely messages I have received from my fellow ciaoers about the London Ciao Meet.
As many of you may know I have been planning The London Ciao Meet since July, I started off my informing my COT and then got them to spread the word around, at first I wondered what I had let myself in for as I had about 60 people expressing an interest, of course with anything like this not everyone is going to turn up, so I decided to book an area in a venue for about 30 people.
The_Duke was a great help to me during my planning and suggested to me that I should set up a Ciao Meet yahoo group for people to give ideas, I did this and believe it was helpful to those who where planning to stay over night. I also put a shout out on Opinionators.
The day of the meet:
I can't believe how quickly it snuck up on me, the week leading up to the meet I was off work with a cold and unable to check my guest book, I was in work on Friday and had a quick look and found that I had many messages from people saying they could not come. I was getting worried that on-one was going to come and I would be left all on my own.
The day of the meet Tricia24 and I met up early and headed to the Pitcher and Piano pub, Covent Garden the venue for the meet. Tricia and I have been friends for long time so it was good to have her support with the meet. We where pleased to find that we had a reserved area in a non-smoking section at the back of the pub, it was almost like a separate room.
We then set to work, I had printed of some 'Ciao Meet' signs and brought them along so we blue tacked some to the wall and put the rest on the tables, and we also bought some gold balloons and set about decorating the area. Seeing as it was Halloween weekend I also decided it would be a nice touch to bring along some 'Treats' for everyone and provided each table with a selection of lollipops.
Once we had finished decorating the worries started to creep in, what if no-one turns up, how we will recognize people, I hope they don't get lost etc. My fears were soon turned away by the arrival of IanM73. I recognized Ian from his picture immediately, we where so pleased that
Pictures of London Ciao Meet
Simon, Jo, Richard, Barbra
someone had arrived, he also mentioned that he had heard two people talking about it on the tube so more people should be on their way. I soon discovered that Ian had been very sensible (Unlike me) and had brought a camera along to the meet so photos below are with great thanks to Ian.
Soon after Ian's arrival came Duskmaiden: Sarah. Sarah had created her own name badge which was very help full, gold star for you Sarah. Sarah and Ian where both lovely and helped to put my worries of no-one turning up to one side, Sarah's badge also prompted us into some name sticker making.
Next to arrive where The_Nursery: Jo and Ailran: Simon both recognisable from their photos, at this point I started to get very excited, soon after that Beaker66: Richard arrived as did Spoilt_Little_Brat: Lisa and her fiancé Jason: Wormthatturned. I did not really get a chance to have much of a one on one chat with Jo or Richard which was a shame but I did share many little chats and cigarettes through out the day with Lisa and Jason, both really lovely people who had not met much on Ciao before the meet. I also had some chats with Simon who I have never met on Ciao before, and once I have posted this review I will start reading some of his. I understand that he is a very good film reviewer and that people often send him their reviews for tips before they post them on Ciao.
Soon we started to discuss Ciao and Dooyoo and the experiences that people had on the sites, I found this very interesting as we shared our common addiction with each other. We joked about how when you post review you can't wait to see what comments you will get and how much you want to get a different coloured dot etc. I was also shocked to hear stories about Ciao Abuse and members being thrown of sites and the very strange things people have experienced from other members.
Next to arrive was Andy: Olly_Plimsoll and his girlfriend Anna: Filthyneon, have met Andy and Anna before and it was nice to catch up with them again. Andy had been helpful in suggesting different venues for the meet and told me that he was impressed with the venue I had chosen and would be frequenting their again soon. It was also soon to be Anna's 21st so the couple enjoyed celebrating with some champagne.
Not long after their arrival Koshkha: Barbara arrived, it was great to finally meet her, I have chatted to Barbara a few times on Ciao and she has been great in giving me advice before. Barbara is such a lovely lady and I am glad that we got a chance to meet and have a chat; I am looking forward to reading some more of her travel reviews in the future.
Next to arrive was Heather: Rosillew and Mikey, I was so pleased to meet Heather as she has been a member of my COT for a very long time now, I even recognised her without the face paints. Heather is such a nice person, she came bearing hugs from other members of Ciao and had a list of notes and messages to share with us all. Mikey told me how he often hears Heather laughing out loud at reviews on Ciao and Heather told me that she actually fell of the bed with laughter at a review by BadCompany77.
By this point the room was buzzing with conversation, my stomach however was getting hungry so Ian, Tricia and myself decided to check out the menu. I have to say I was impressed with the food and the speed of service. However I did find my self stuffing a steak baguette in my mouth as Gwen: Orlando and Andrew: Coleecip arrived.
Once I had finished eating I was able to introduce myself to them, Gwen is a very sweet lady, I chatted to her for quite a while and we discussed why we liked writing on Ciao and how she had once received a very strange comment about a review she had written on breakfast cereal. I then made my way over to Andrew, and we chatted about his random username, it seems that a lot of us really didn't realise what I vital part of Ciao our usernames would be in the beginning. Andrew is a really nice guy shame we didn't get to chat for longer.
Later in the afternoon Steve: Reposter78 and Promotions_Lass: Chrissy arrived; it was great to meet them as I know they have been arranging accommodation etc for a while now. Chrissy and I chatted for a while about working as extras on TV; it was nice to meet someone with a common interest. I didn't really get a chance to chat much to Steve which was a shame.
After chatting to different people about Ciao I was shocked to find out about the recommend this review button. I never knew it existed. After being a member for three years on Ciao I always thought that you were awarded Diamonds from receiving exceptional ratings but now I know that you get them because people nominate your reviews to the Ciao team. I was surprised by this revaluation but it is something I would never have known if I hadn't organised this meet.
Next to arrive was Mattygroves: Kate who I have met before, Kate brought also brought along her 15 year old daughter, it was great to meet Kate again and to hear her comments on the Meet as I know she has attended many different ones in the past. I also really enjoyed chatting to her daughter who was a very nice young girl with a sensible head on her shoulders.
I was so pleased that so many people had come along to the meet at this point that I thought a group photo was in order, we asked a waitress to take for us it was a bit of a squeeze to get us all in but we did it eventually. Looking forward to seeing how it comes out.
Next to arrive was Torr: Duncan who I recognized straight away, it was lovely to meet him although we didn't get to chat for long, last to arrive was Lucy: Elkiedee who has been a member of my COT for a very long time, unfortunately we didn't get to chat for long as time was running way with me.
After 5 and half hours of non- stop chatting I had to say my goodbyes as it was my friend's birthday party that evening. It was great to meet everyone and I am so glad that I decided to organise the meet, I was so pleased that people made the effort to come and have now made a lot more friends on Ciao.
A member of the Ciao staff team asked me to ask everyone at the meet 'What does Ciao Mean to you?' at the meet I passed around a note pad and asked people to write down a few comments surrounding this question, this was hard as I am sure most of us could write an entire review on this. I would like to finish of with a few of the comments people left and I would also like to say thanks once again to everyone who came to the meet it was a great day. Lizzie X
'It is a safe little wall of loveliness in which we can all be as stupid, clever, and foolish as we like with no fear of abuse, attack or whingeing'
'Ciao is superb way of filling those twenty minutes between getting into the office and actually doing some work'
'Ciao means meeting new friends, have something in common, a friendly community and lots of fun!'
'Ciao - a great support network, somewhere where you can always find someone to 'Talk to', argue with, be silly with. The money is crap but the people are wonderful'