Currently sitting on a plane on my way to London for the U.K. Blog Awards. When I found out about the awards it didn’t even cross my mind that I would be attending, let alone be shortlisted! Of the 4,000 entries, my little blog stood out and it got shortlisted for the International Influencer category along with 7 other bloggers. How cool is that?! I have zero expectations of winning the actual award, but knowing that people enjoy my blog and actually voted is more than enough.
Tonight’s awards are being held at The Marriott Grosvenor Square and I have no idea what to expect. One thing for sure is that I’m looking forward to being in a room with fellow bloggers and finally interacting with the human behind the social media handle.
I’ve met so many great people during this past year through social media and some I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in person. Tonight I finally get to meet a cool couple in the flesh from the US that shares so much in common with my husband and I. I joked many times that we live parallel lives and now we get to celebrate our nominations in London together! The blogging world can be lonely at times, but then you also get to connect with some lovely people from all over the world.
Why Did I Start A Blog?
In all honesty, blogging has kept me from losing my mind. Why? You ask. It all started when my husband came to me one day back in Toronto and mentioned that he was approached about an opportunity at his current firm in Dublin , Ireland. Before he could even finish his sentence, I blurted out: “so, when do we leave?”. I’ve always dreamt of living in Europe and even though I’d never been to Ireland, I thought why not! In June of 2015, I gave my six-month notice. Yes, I know, who does that?! But I had a really good relationship with my boss and I couldn’t leave her hanging. It was time to say goodbye to my busy career and take some time off for the first time.
Then all the planning began! Turns out moving overseas isn’t as easy as going on vacation for a few months. Where are we going to live? How do we get our fur baby over there? How do we organize our shipments and time everything perfectly? Luckily, I’m a planner and managed to organize a seamless move which got us in our new place unpacked and completely settled within 2 weeks. Oh, and all this without my husband because he decided to get shingles. Ok, fine. Really not his fault and I’m sure it wasn’t fun for him either. But come on! Terrible timing!
I’ll dive deeper into our expat journey another time. For now, back to the reason why I started a blog. Turns out I’m not cut out to be a housewife. Going from traveling almost every week, working 12 hour days to worrying about what to make for dinner and how many loads of laundry I can get done in a day was driving me mad! I salute anyone who enjoys this lifestyle and I am not diminishing this in any way. It just wasn’t for me and it never will be. That’s when I decided I had to do something to keep my mind active and my creative juices flowing.
Part of the deal when we decided to move to Dublin was to travel more. Being within Europe meant more weekends away and fewer vacation days used. There’s a saying that goes like this: “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”. I love to travel and I really enjoy writing so why not combine the two? That’s how Travel Like A Chieff was born. My new project was to create one of the best blogs to follow. In February 2017, I started working on the website design, brainstorming the blog name and trying to figure out the technical side of blogging. The latter is still a work in progress and may remain this way forever!
Fast forward one year and you get 58 posts, a few more countries and cities visited, a growing social media presence and a fully functioning website. All results of my incessant need to succeed and get things done. Those who know me, know that I don’t do things halfway, I’m all in or not at all. And why not be all in with something you truly enjoy?! I was also really bored with lots of time on my hands.
How I Got Nominated For The U.K. Blog Awards
2017 was coming to an end and I came across the U.K. Blog Awards, a platform where you can recognize other bloggers. I then proceeded to nominate a few blogs that I follow and enjoy, one being EBwoodward. The lovely couple, and fellow foodie travelers, I mentioned earlier. I am a true believer that what you put out there is what you get back in life and I like to recognize talent when I can. In a world where everyone is more concerned with getting ahead than they are with taking the time to appreciate others, I wanted to make sure they didn’t go unnoticed. So that’s why I nominated them for the U.K. Blog Awards. They were kind enough to nominate me back; what you put out...
Following the nomination, the voting began and this is where I saw the biggest support. Friends, family, fellow bloggers, and followers showed their appreciation by voting for my blog which I’ll be forever grateful for! At this point, I really had no expectations and I didn’t think I would get much further than a nomination. I knew I had a good blog but it was still early in the game and there are so many well-known blogs out there so the competition was stiff. Well, I was wrong! On January 1st I got an email from the U.K. Blog awards informing me that my blog had been shortlisted along with 7 others out of thousands of entries. I was happy I made it this far and considered this to be an accomplishment in itself.
Here are the other interesting blogs nominated for the International Influencer Category: EBwoodward, The Red Notebook Blog, Cheryl De Marco, Little Foot Adventures, Monte Oz Live, Jersey Girl and Chloe Rose Art.
Grateful for the nomination and for being shortlisted I was ready to accept all this and move on. Until my family insisted I go to the awards stating that I could really win the whole thing. After shrugging them off for quite some time I decided a weekend in London is always a good idea so why not kill two birds with one stone.
Leading Up To The U.K. Blog Awards
And here we are! The week leading up to the U.K. Blog Awards has finally arrived and of course, I left everything to the last minute. I pride myself on being uber organized but when it comes to dressing up and getting glam, I’m a complete fail. I ordered an outfit on Net-A-Porter for next day delivery and found out the day before the awards that it wouldn’t arrive on time. Fuck. All my evening dresses are at my in-law’s in Montreal so a backup isn’t an option. I frantically grabbed my purse and made my way to Brown Thomas with only 2 hours to find something to wear to an event happening the following day. With only 20 minutes left I came across THE dress. Needless to say, I was relieved and ready to go!
But that wasn’t the end of it. Let’s fast forward to the day of the event. I’m now standing at the baggage carousel waiting for my carry-on. All because I chose a seat on City Jet where my carry-on didn’t fit in the overhead bin, which meant I had to check it outside the plane. As I’m waiting, I see a member of the crew carrying my garment bag to the lost and found! Shit! That’s my dress!! I dodged another bullet and luckily I wasn’t in a cab on my way to city center without my dress.
Finally made it to the hotel, with all my belongings. I had scheduled a make-up session in my room since I am clueless in the make-up department and can use all the help I can get. The lovely Luciana Andriano, a celebrity make-up artists from London made me look flawless. I booked her on the Perfect10 Mobile Beauty website and highly recommend her if you are looking for an experienced make-up artist that actually listens to you. Make-up was done, dress on, accessories on, husband dressed and we were ready to go! We hopped in a cab and made our way to the Marriott Grosvenor Hotel. I’d like to say we were on time but I’ll opt for fashionably late.
Evening Of The U.K. Blog Awards
As we pulled up we spotted Erin and Brandon getting out of the cab right in front of us so we made our way inside and met with them. We took a few pictures in front of the #UKBA18 sign and proceeded to the cocktail area. The room was filled with fellow content creators and their guests all looking their best. You could sense the excitement in the room. As we sipped our bubbly and chatted we were then called in to take a seat. We, of course, chose the seats at the back of the room. I can only speak for myself when I say that I wasn’t expecting to win so walking across hundreds of people in my 4 inch Choos wasn’t a concern because it wasn’t going to happen.
Cue the music, the awards are starting! The lovely Gina Akers gave a wonderful intro speech about being underestimated and how this could be a blessing in disguise. Her words were inspirational and representative of what most content creators experience along with their journey. Following her speech, both Hayley Marie Sparks and Dean McCullough, presenters for the night, launched the awards and started with the first category.
It was fun to see everyone accept their awards and also to see the face behind the blog. So much talent in the room! There were 33 categories, each with 6 to 8 finalists, in various niches like fashion and beauty, food and drink, education, sports and fitness and much more.
And The Winner Is…
We were finalists in the 20th category so we got to enjoy a few cocktails leading up to the announcement. And then it was time! The screen lit up with “International Influencers” and each finalist was announced including Travel Like A Chieff. This was the first time I’d heard my blog name announced to an audience and it was kind of cool. My husband who clearly believed I was going to win made sure to set the camera at the perfect angle and kept asking me if it was ok. I just looked at him and said: “You’re really sweet but they’re not going to call my name. Put that thing away!” Which is the reason why we ended up with a vertical iPhone video, you know, the ones with the two empty spaces on each side?
And the winner is… “Travel Like A Chieff”. It took a second to register and I needed a little nudge to get me up. I then made my way down what felt like the longest isle ever and accepted the award without tripping. A huge accomplishment for someone who wears heels once a year. Of course, with all the excitement I ended up walking back to my seat instead of turning left and heading towards the back. I still don’t know what was back there or what I missed out on. Oh well.
Guys, I won! I really won! I just joined the group of award-winning blogs!!
Following The U.K. Blog Awards
We were starving at this point and the hubby really doesn’t like clubs so we skipped the after party at Café de Paris . In hindsight I wish we’d gone, it would have been the perfect opportunity to meet everyone in a more relaxed setting and celebrate our victories. Alas, there’s always next year! Now that I know what to expect, I look forward to more of these events and hopefully it isn’t the last award I receive. I am so grateful for the recognition and I can now say I have an award-winning blog! I'm going to keep repeating that all the time now.
There are tons of projects in the pipeline and I can’t wait to take my blog to the next level. Thank you to everyone who believed in me and took the time to vote and to the judges for choosing my luxury travel blog. I hope you stick around for what’s to come!
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