No prizes, but a winning night!
Well, The Patchwork Quill didn't pick up any gongs at the Blog Awards Ireland bash on 4 October, but it honestly didn't take the shine off attending a cracking awards night as a finalist.
My boyfriend Andy and I travelled down to Kildare for the bash, and stayed at a wonderful B&B called Lotus Lodge. If you are ever in the area, we highly recommend this as a place to stay - stunning countryside surroundings, great prices, and if I had to give an award for Best B&B Host in Ireland, Mary Murray would win without a doubt.
Welcoming, laid-back and helpful, she was also kind enough to allow us to overstay our welcome until 1pm on Sunday. After the party we attended, we really needed that lie-in before the drive back to Lisburn, so thank you, Mary!
The night got off to a good start before we even reached the Westgrove Hotel - we got chatting to the taxi driver taking us there, and not only was he an artist, he was learning guitar and just happened to have a stunning American Fender Stratocaster in the boot. As you do!
Well, Andy 'Guitarbuckle' Arbuckle never misses a chance to play a bit of blues... Thanks to John from Maynooth Cabs for sending us in to the hotel with smiles on our faces!
I embraced the ceremony's 1980s theme with a brashly-coloured dress and lots of black lace. Here we are posing for photographer Damien Carroll of Cearbhuil Studios with some well-chosen 80s props!
The drinks reception was great fun, featuring free booze from Vanguard Beer Collective, as well as retro game favourites such as Giant Connect Four.
Before long, we were shown in to the awards ceremony room - look how many people were there to celebrate the best in Irish blogging! The thought of getting up on stage in front of them all turned my fishnet-clad knees to jelly, so to be honest, there was relief as well as disappointment when I didn't win my categories!
There were ten awards announced before the starter of the three-course meal - two of them being my categories!
At least I didn't have long to wait before the suspense was released, and the winners of my categories were two truly excellent sites. Alan Bennett's HeadStuff won Best Arts and Culture Blog, and EvinOK took the award for the Best Craft Blog. Please check them out - two great blogs. We really enjoyed having a few drinks and a bit of craic with Alan after the awards as well; a lovely guy as well as a great blogger!
With the stressful part of the night over early, I was able to let my hair down and enjoy myself - between hilarious awards host Bunny, free wine on the table (hic!) and the cracking 80s-themed interval entertainment, the party atmosphere was sizzling from the word go, right until the lights went up on the cheesy 80s-disco after-party.
We were also lucky enough to share our table with three wonderful bloggers - Danielle of LilliWhiteRose, Nicholle who writes Beauty, Lifestyle, Ramblings with Nicholle (both ladies pictured below) and Paula Nolan of Paula Nolan Photography, who was there with her lovely hubby, Malachy.
Nicholle and Paula were also finalists (Beauty and Photography categories respectively) - sadly neither of these talented bloggers walked away with an award either, but at least we were all losers together, eh girls? (Robbed we were, ROBBED!)
I also loved getting the chance to chat to Ruth of gorgeous style blog Willow Lane, whom I haven't seen since we went to the same Brownies pack in Lisburn many moons ago (true story!). She and her friend Carolyn were also finalists (Lifestyle and Beauty respectively).
Looking around at my fellow runners-up, I realised I was in pretty good company, so I genuinely mean it when I say that not winning didn't dampen my mood at all. If I'm considered to be anywhere near on a par with these finalists, then I must be doing something right.
Thanks so much also to Blog Awards Ireland organisers, Amanda Webb and Lorna Sixsmith, for making this great night happen.
There is a big fashion and beauty bloggers' community here in Northern Ireland, but for someone like me whose blog is a bit of a mixed bag, this was the first chance I've had to meet other people who use their free time to write about and photograph the things they love. It was brilliant.
Thank you also, again, to all of you who have read and supported The Patchwork Quill - I hope next year I'll bring you back an award!