I was at the Irish Blog Awards in the Europa hotel in Belfast on Saturday. I was there with hopes of snatching the prise for best blog post for my piece titled Thanks Freddie written just after retiring my previous guide dog.
There were bloggers there from all over the country. Damien Mulley, the man behind the blog awards tweeted on Friday that only 130 tickets had been sold but I actually think more than that attended on the night. Numbers certainly seemed down on the last two years but I think that was because the awards were held so soon after St. Patrick’s day and they were up in the north so money had to be first exchanged into Sterling so it would put some people off going
As usual Rick O’Shay was the MC for the night. Rick has a fantastic voice for that kind of thing and a very quick wit that keeps people very entertained. He seems perfect for that kind of job.
I met up with some people that I was looking forward to seeing but unfortunately there were a lot who didn’t attend the awards. Thanks to people like Emma, Darren and Ellie I was reintroduced to bloggers that I had met last year and introduced to new bloggers who were only starting. It was also nice that I was able to actually find people that I wanted to speak to this year. Because the music was so loud after last year’s awards I couldn’t find a single person so actually left less than an hour afterword. This year we didn’t finish up until 2AM and the only reason we left that early is the bar stopped serving.
Would you believe it, my post didn’t win? Let me say that I’m not at all big headed. Well, I hope I’m not anyway but genuinely, I thought that I had a really good chance of winning in the best post category on Saturday night. Not because of any strange confidence in my writing skills but because of the sheer number of people who had contacted me on twitter, comments on this website, Email and even by text message before and during the awards to say that they hoped I’d win. I was even approached by one of the judges in my category who expressed disbelief that I didn’t win it. This is not a disparaging comment against the post that won it. It was great! The author June obviously has a fantastic writing style. It just wasn’t particularly my thing. I actually thought if someone else was going to win it it would have been White Rabbit NI for her post but I was completely wrong. Don’t tell anyone but I’m actually also secretly relieved that I didn’t win it. My reasons for this are utterly silly. Hay, I’m just remembering, this time five years ago at this train station my laptop died never to boot again. Something dodgy and unexplainable happened and it had to be sent back to Acer. Interestingly enough, that was the last Acer I ever owned. I’ve had a combination of Dell’s and HP’s since. Ok. Back to the awards. Yes, I was secretly hoping I wouldn’t win. I had been trying to listen to other award winners go up to the stage but while they were walking the crowd were applauding so I couldn’t hear the stage or how they got up on to it. I had hoped that I’d be able to hear approximately where they walked up onto the stage and prompt the dog to find the steps in that direction if it was our turn to walk up. Yes, I told you it was silly didn’t I? My other reason for not wanting to win was equally as silly. I didn’t want to have to talk. Yes. For someone who’s in front of a mike almost every week, I didn’t want to be in front of one this weekend. Yes. You may now laugh. Go ahead. I don’t mind!
Just a quick final note about the Europa. That hotel is really nice! It’s probably the second nicest hotel I’ve stayed in while in Belfast. I have been up and down to Belfast quite a bit so I’ve had the opportunity to try out a lot of their hotels. There are a few pictures of it at the end of this post. The one thing I have to say though is its prices do not reflect the situation the entire country finds it’s self in. €120 for a night excluding breakfast seems very harsh in my experience. Yes, it’s a four star hotel and yes it’s a very nice place but they have to give value for money as well. I genuinely don’t think we got that on Saturday. Breakfast was a further €20 per person. Again, that’s an outrageous amount of money to charge for a breakfast. Although it was very comfortable I would never consider staying there again and in fact I would also suggest that family and / or friends do not stay there either for that reason. Of course, that’s my opinion but I think its Important now more than ever to give value for money no matter what business you’re in. Even drink in the hotel was overly expensive. Vodka and Coke and a pint of Bulmer’s were just under £10. That’s about 12 or €13! Across the road we bought a round for four people and it didn’t even come to £10. Don’t get me wrong, it was a fantastic night and I really enjoyed it and I’m probably one of the more fortunate in this country that the recession hasn’t it me as much as it has most people however regardless, I still need to be as careful as the next person when it comes to the amount of money I spend on luxuries.