Speaking at London's SWPP

Well.... fancy that! Yours truly was invited to speak at the UK's Society of Wedding & Portrait Professionals (SWPP) annual conference in London and it was everything I hoped it would be, and more.

The conference was held at Hammersmith's Novotel hotel (lovely!). After presenting, Emir and I headed out to explore the city. The weather was classically cool and rainy, but surprisingly warmer than we expected. (All of these images were captured with my new Canon S95... traveling light, I made the conscious decision to leave my big rig at home.)

Buckingham Palace.

I'm in love with British phone booths, even though I'm guessing few people use them anymore...

Everyone I talked to told me I should ride the London Eye, but alas, it was closed for maintenance while we were there...

Making use of 'night portrait mode' on my S95 with the London Bridge in the background.

The bridge from the north bank (I think...)

Big Ben.

Fountain at Trafalgar Square.

View looking out at the street from Trafalgar Square.

Of course, one of the best things about our trip was all the people we got to see, including Emir's cousin Nela and her husband David who live just north of the city and came in to meet us for dinner and celebrate Emir's birthday!

We *finally* got to meet my dear friend Carly who I first came to know through an email she sent me, then a phone call, more emails, twitter messages, and finally in person! What a treat!

Scoring points for the most surprising encounter, after I had just finished my first presentation where I had literally just recommended to everyone in the class that they rush out to buy Robin's book, Emir and I walked out the door, turned the corner and ran into Robin while crossing the street! I knew she was in England working on her Ph.D, but I had no idea she was near London, let alone in Hammersmith. So fun!

After London, Emir and I jumped on a train and headed west to Wales to connect with our friends Amy & Matthew. Emir met Amy when she was presenting at a conference he was attending in Chicago, after which he started following her on Twitter. But-- he did so while unknowingly signed in to my account. When I started seeing her tweets, I was like, "Who's this?" We've been great friends ever since, finally meeting in person on this very trip!

Matthew & Amy's adorable neighbor Sylvain, drove us around the next day on a sightseeing tour of Swansea, Wales (Catherine Zeta Jones' home town!). It was gorgeous!

Sylvain claims to be 70 years old... but I'm not sure I'm buying it... look at her! She was a spit fire. So full of life, she had recently returned from a trip she took (by herself, at age 70!) to Kuala Lumpur. I love this woman.

Emir looks adorable... as usual. Totally unfair... the man requires zero primping. Pft!

We were honored to witness this sheep crossing while driving back to town.

Just the girls---What fun!

We left Swansea and headed back to London where we caught a flight to north Africa's Morocco (separate post all its own). When we returned from Africa, we had another day to spend in London before coming home and were finally able to connect with my cousin Joel, his wife Martina, daughter Phoebe and my aunt Maria Elena... who had all just welcomed new baby Zoe to the world. What fun!

After our brief visit, we caught the train back to the city to grab a quite bite (I love this napkin from Pret... I was impressed by the UK's selection of healthier fast food options), before...

Catching the evening performance of WICKED! Woot woot! I've been meaning to see this show forever and just couldn't seem to make it happen until now.

Great conference, great city, great friends & family. A truly special trip. If you want to see even more photos from the trip, click here. :)