Well, last night was a whirlwind of emotion, that’s for sure. But before we get to that, our little story starts off back at the end of 2017. So, let’s get started and take a look at what happened when a 16-Bit Dad went to the UK Blog Awards 2018!
The Build Up
On the 5th of December, 16-Bit Dad was added to the nominations for the UK Blog Awards 2018, in 2 categories; “Parent & Baby” and “Digital & Tech”. From there, the public vote opened up and I actually made it through that as well! So, first things first, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who voted for me! You guys are awesome.
Whilst I didn’t make it as a finalist for “Parent & Baby”, I did get through as a finalist in the “Digital & Tech” category for Individual Bloggers (there are business categories as well). So it was that I received my invitation email to the UK Blog Awards event, to be held on the 20th April.
As the weeks went by, I got more and more nervous. I took a look at the other bloggers in the Digital & Tech category as well (one of which was fellow BlogVengers group member Elle May), and I have to say, they are all great. Here’s a list so you can go and check them out (but please come back afterwards).
Did you take a look at them? They’re all awesome blogs, right? So I, naturally, didn’t think I stood a chance. I was determined to go to the awards event, simply because I thought it would be a great way to meet other bloggers and do some networking. In fact, I even went and got some business cards printed just for the event.
However, the one thing I hadn’t sorted out was an outfit. The UK Blog Awards was a black-tie event, and here I was with no suit or tuxedo to my name. Thankfully, Dobell Menswear came to the rescue and I got myself an awesome looking Tuxedo just 2 days before the event itself. Oh, and I must say, I felt that it looked good on me, and I never think that about anything. It also fit perfectly and was really comfortable, so that was a win already.
The Journey Begins
The UK Blog Awards event was being held at the Marriot Hotel in Grosvenor Square, Central London. For those of you who don’t know, the 16-Bit Family currently live in Nottingham. That’s quite a distance to travel… However, I had Google Maps to guide me so I felt I was ready. Google quoted the journey as a 2 hour and 15-minute drive, which didn’t seem too bad as I drive almost the same amount to get to work each day.
The event was set to start at 6:30pm and I had pre-booked my car parking space at a nearby multi-storey from 6:00. So, I got my tuxedo on, grabbed my e-cigarette, some e-liquid & my ticket, and headed off down the M1. Everything was going smoothly and I was making some pretty good time, as Google was estimating my arrival at 6:05, which was perfect. Then I hit traffic. Suddenly, we were barely even crawling. It was so bad that it took 20 minutes to move a total of 5 miles, which is just a drop in the ocean compared to how far I had to travel. It turns out that a car in the right-most lane had broken down, so they had to close that lane off. This meant that all of the traffic from that lane had to funnel across, slowing all of the other lanes down as well.
Thankfully, I eventually got passed the traffic and tried to make up some time. Sadly, I then got to Luton (really close to the outskirts of London) and there was suddenly another load of traffic. This time, it was because of a broken down truck on the left-most lane. So, once again, we edged forward at a snail’s pace for about 15 minutes. By now, I was getting rather stressed as I knew I was going to be late… Plus, it was absolutely roasting!
I eventually found my way to the car park at 6:45pm, 15 minutes after the start time for the UK Blog Awards. As such, I was panicking somewhat. I parked the car, swapped by Vans driving shoes for my smart shoes, grabbed everything out of the car and headed out into the streets of Central London – I had no idea where I was going. Google to the rescue, thankfully, and I eventually got to the Marriot Hotel at about 7:00pm. Much to my surprise, people were still queuing up outside the event hall. I made it in time, only missing some of the pre-event drinks, which was fine with me since I wasn’t going to drink any alcohol (I had to drive home again after the event).
The UK Blog Awards Event
The event started with a bar area in which everyone waited. There were tonnes of drinks and a lot of hors d’oeuvres. A DJ was playing a host of recent chart music as well, from dance to pop and RnB tracks. That wasn’t really my taste, but honestly, I didn’t expect the UK Blog Awards to churn out AC/DC, Sex Pistols, Rise Against or Metallica.
The atmosphere was buzzing, as people mingled and moved around the crowd. As someone who isn’t great in crowded places, I tried to find a nice little corner to hide in. That’s when I ran into Simon Card from Roulette Customs, who was at the event to represent a friend of his. We chat for a while before I decided to head out for a quick vape. On the way out, I ended up holding drinks for two ladies who needed to use the bathroom, during which time they started calling people through to the main event room. After a very quick and rushed vape outside the front of the hotel, I made my way back to the bar, hoping to get a glass of water. The queue at the bar was a nightmare. However, one nice thing came out of standing there.
Whilst I was waiting at the back of the sea of people, another man came and joined the queue; Anthony from Ant On A Slant. We started talking and straight away he seemed like a really nice guy. We eventually noticed that there were bottles of water and glasses to the side of the bar, so we left the queue, grabbed our drinks and headed inside. There, he introduced me to his partner (Saffron Sherrif; here’s her Twitter page) and we continued chatting. In the end, they were nice enough to let me sit with them as well.
The actual UK Blog Awards event started off with a brilliant speech by Gina Akers (beauty presenter on ITV’s This Morning) before launching into the Awards Ceremony, hosted by Dean Mccullough and Hayley Marie-Sparkes. Anthony and Saffron’s category was coming up before mine, so the three of us waited anxiously. Unfortunately, they didn’t win, although we definitely screamed the loudest when the finalists were being called out. Next year, I’m sure they’ll get it!
Eventually, the Digital & Tech category came up, and I sat back, expecting to watch New Rising Media or Gaming Debugged get the Award or be named as Highly Commended. Instead, fellow BlogVengers group member Elle May was named Highly Commended! I was so happy for her, cheering so hard. Sadly, she hadn’t been able to make the trip to the event. But still, I was so pleased for her.
Then they announced the winner… “And the winner of the Digital & Tech Individual Blogger is… 16-Bit Dad!”
It took a second for me to realise what they’d just said. I let out an unintentional cheer, with Anthony and Saffron cheering next to me. In a shocked daze, I made my way through the crowd, onto the stage, shook the hand on the judge and took hold of my Winner’s Certificate. I was out of it from surprise that I started walking back to my seat before Gina Akers told me to go right instead.
A Dazed Blur
The next thing I know, I’m led backstage to have my photos taken. I then spent some time chatting with the judge, Mr Stuart Warren-Hill, about family life, children and business. After a few minutes, we came to the interval where everyone headed back out to the bar area. I searched out the guys from Ant On A Slant again and had another good chat and a little photo session with them before they decided to head off and get some food.
By this time, it was gone 9pm, so I thought I’d go out and have a vape in of the hotel for a bit before heading home. Whilst I was out there, Jason from New Rising Media and his partner came out as well. We ended up talking to each other for quite a long time about life and gaming. They were both amazingly nice people as well! I also found out that they live in Nottingham as well! Oh, and we’ve also inducted Jason into the BlogVengers now as well.
I then decided it was time for me to head home, completely forgetting the fact that there were supposed to be goody bags…
The Long Drive Home
Getting out of London was a breeze. The traffic was almost non-existent the entire way through the city. I hit the M1 in no time and stopped to get some petrol. The M1 seemed almost completely dead, which was brilliant until, just after Luton, I saw a bunch of red lights. In the end, I was sitting in stand-still traffic for about 40 minutes… It got to the point where everyone had turned their engines off and some people were even walking around instead, chatting with each other.
It turns out that this was because there were roadworks being done on the M1 and the stretch in front of us was closed. As such, we all ended up taking a detour that had us go into Milton Keynes, then down some backroads to Leicester, until we were finally about to get back onto an open section of the M1. It was midnight by that time, almost 2 and a half hours since I left London.
Then, when I was just 20 miles away from Nottingham, Google notified me that the M1 was closed from Junction 24 to 25. So, once again, I was forced into a detour. Thankfully, this one only added about 40 minutes to the drive… I eventually got home at 2am this morning. But you know what? It was worth it!
And That’s All Folks
In the end, I went from feeling excited about the opportunity to meet new people, to panic about being late, to being overcome with happiness and shock at winning an award, then finally to exhausted and frustrated trying to get home. It really was a whirlwind of emotions – there’s no other way to describe it. However, the night was absolutely incredible and I met some amazing people! So you can bet I’m hoping to go again next year.
One final note; I want to say a huge thank you, again, to everyone who voted for me and everyone who reads 16-Bit Dad. I also want to say congratulations to every winner, highly commended blog and finalist of the UK Blog Awards. And finally, I want to say thank you to the UK Blog Awards team for putting on an unforgettable event.
Did you manage to go to the UK Blog Awards? Would you have liked to have gone? Let me know in the comments below!