The night of the Mammy and Daddy year (Irish Parenting Blog Awards) took place on Saturday 25 April in Odessa, Dublin. If you’ve never been to Odessa, it’s a restaurant and bar that formerly operated as a members’ only club in Dame Court, near to George’s Street. It’s across four levels and has a lovely exclusive feel. It worked great for the awards themselves as we were met and fed on one level and then let out into the upper level for the awards ceremony, drinks and dancing.
On arrival to the awards I was feeling very confident that I would be in my element – networking and meeting all these wonderful bloggers that I’d taken time to meet virtually over the past two months. After the initial entry to the room, the typical Irish fear took over and I wanted to crawl under the long dinner tables with a glass of wine and the lovely dolly we’d just been presented with. (More on her later).
I talked about the weather. I asked everyone where they were from. If they told me the name of their blog I furiously used all my memorising brain cells to recall a piece of theirs to talk about. I found it hard being a stranger.
Glenisk, the headline sponsors had a team of lovely youngsters serving canapés using Glenisk products. They were the smiliest canapé holders I’d ever seen, so course, I had a sample. When we sat down to dinner, myself and @SupaSambo found we were seated with Team Glenisk themselves Maighread Lynch and Aoife McCann and Blacknight sponsors Rachelle O’Brien and Justyna. This was the start of a super night, because they were entertaining, hilarious, honest and questioned us on our writing and blogs.
The question of the night came from marketing expert Aoife McCann. “What makes you think what you write is interesting enough to read?” Woah! Bloody hell. I’m only a blimmin blogger for God’s sake! But how right she was. Are you still reading?
Having the craic at the awards. It was my idea to cover our faces. Kinda worked.
At dinner, there were party games. Charades. Hand on ass or head. I chose ass. Always go with ass. But I lost. It was so much craic and dinner passed in a blur of wine and food and fun. I had steak and chips by the way. Soakage.
Upstairs was like stepping into a VIP lounge. Outside space. Green bushy things. Soft mood lighting. Cocktail bar. It was perfect. And a networking mecca, because it was small and circular and you could move happily from group to group, introducing yourself and not feeling like too much of an eejit.
I purposely met as many bloggers and their friends as possible. I wanted to put a face to the blog, to have a real conversation, instead of a quick Facebook, Twitter or WordPress comment.
I met the lovely Jennifer Riddall, journalist with herfamily.ie and blogger at NifNafNotes and her partner. We discussed reducing your working hours to spend more time with family and what a difference this makes to our lives. The beautiful Sandra from A Modern Mommy’s World would have won most stunning blogger, had there been an award and we discussed her very moving post about her time spent in the NICU which was up for best blog post award. She had gravitated towards fellow Galway blogger Grainne Reid, from Hope from a Butterfly and we talked about the Galway races. Perhaps a blogging meet up at the Races?
Myself (right) and Jennifer Riddall, from herfamily,ie pictured at the awardS. Thanks to Sandra Harty Conway for the pic.
I got time to meet the wonderful and super talented Sylda Dwyer from mindthebaby.ie who headed up the organising committee and was a cool, competent and entertaining compere for the night. She was with the most hilarious blogger (as confirmed by winning the most entertaining blog award) At the Clothesline.
I had been tweeting Sharyn Hayden from Raising Ireland as she has a book coming out soon – I forgot to take my pill – and I can’t wait to read it. She was sassy and funny and we got on like a house on fire. She was with her fake husband Rory Carrick who writes a blog at Eat Drink Fun Run and even had a busiess card to promote it. That. Professional. Sharyn impressed me so much that I decided there and then that I would become her stalker. I didn’t tell her this straight away. Instead I followed her home to get her address. (JOKE).
True to the 70s / 80s baby boom, there were plenty of Nicolas around. One of these was Nicola Watkins PR, who I know from my previous work at the d Hotel, Drogheda. We had a great chat – she heads up PR for Netflix and their streaming team. We’re hoping to meet up for further chats in a more professional setting. That is, when I don’t have a bottle of beer in my hand.
Towards the end of the night, when things were getting a little fuzzier, I met the flawless Olivia Fitzgerald from Put the Kettle On. Funnily enough she said my skin was flawless and demanded to know about my make-up range. Anyone that knows me, would know that I’m the worst make-up person ever, take about five minutes to do it and have no clue about brands, so this was a very nice compliment and also very related to the VIP low-level lighting in Odessa.
Shout-out goes to Louise Murphy from Tatooed Lady with a baby, who I was also seated with for dinner. She was with her lovely partner who is banned from Twitter (that’s Lousie’s space) and wanted to leave at 7.30am Sunday morning for a football match. He’s still banned from Twitter and didn’t make it to the football match. We had a dance to Bruno Mars, wobbling to the sax on the Odessa carpet, before they escaped my clutches and literally ran away from me.
I almost forgot my encounter with Kellie Kearney from My LIttle Babog who won best newcomer blog award. Her blog is fab and I demanded to know of her how she has created such an audience being so new. Luckily she was nice to me and told me to post more. So I will!
There were brief encounters with other bloggers too, all lovely and charming. I was pretty proud of my networking achievements. I was less proud of my drinking achievements; things were very warm and fuzzy at the end, but that’s what happens when you drink Miller, Champagne, Red Wine, Coors Light, Mojitos and Sambuca and start at 5pm of a Saturday evening.
So, with the night over us, here are the top ten reasons why you should definitely sell your house or your children to make sure you make it to next year’s IPB Awards. Because there has to be a next year. Or else life is not worth living!
As outlined above, it’s a fantastic chance to meet real bloggers and make real connections with people. You never know where this will lead you. And you get to meet a load of new people in one night. This is hard when you’re a grown adult.
2) Food and drink.
The food was lovely (although I would have loved a bit of Caesar Salad) and the drink plentiful and flowing. Four star, four star
3) Goody Bags.
Who doesn’t love a good goody bag? Ours was packed with vouchers, eye creams, food, an apron, sun shade and the wonderful Lottie doll. I love the concept of Lottie; she’s based on the proportions of an average 9 year old girl and she’s intelligent! I’m keeping my Lottie doll until my daughter is old enough to not eat her head. My Kids Time have offered a special discount code IPBA015 to get 10% off Lottie and accessories before May 31st. Thanks to all the other sponsors. Our baby devoured the Bear products and as this wasn’t something I tried before, it’ll def be going in our our weekly shop. You see, sponsorship works!
4) New frock.
I went a little bit all out and got a new guna so that I’d feel lovely. And I did feel good. Everyone else had made an effort too. We may be Mammies but most of us did have a social life before the (social life killing) babies came along. It’s nice to remember that sometimes.
5) Something to look forward to.
This event kept me going for weeks. Hopefully the tickets for next year’s event will go on sale even earlier and I can get six months of ‘looking forward to’ feelings.
6) Introduction to new writers.
When you get involved in the awards process, you will read and read and read and you will be genuine in your votes. This is because you realise the time and effort you put into your own blog and you want to be fair to everyone.
7) New followers.
I picked up new readers and twitter followers from the night itself and the lead up to the awards. This is good when you’re blogging (apparently).
8) Blogging Advice.
I was able to ask fellow bloggers advice on things I had been wondering about that I wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing online. And they were so forthcoming and nice.
9) Chance to win a teapot.
The trophies for winners in each category were hand designed teapots from Colorines Wonderful. Amazing! I want one. There may have been people drinking wine from it at the end of the night. But this was of course to be expected.
10) The hangover reminisce.
Another great bonding experience. Laughing at our drunkenness. Recovering mistakenly stolen goody bags. And basking in the glory of a fantastic night, fabulous time and friends forever made. Roll on next year. No seriously, I can’t bloody wait.