Monday, 19 September 2016

A Trip To London! The MAD Blog Awards 2016

Last Friday it was the prestigious Mad Blog Awards at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, London.

I was attending as a finalist, for the third time! I only get to go because of my lovely friends and readers who nominate me and vote for me. I didn't win, again, but that doesn't really matter. What matters is getting to spend the evening with lovely people celebrating all blogs and how blogging changes your life.

This was my first time attending as a disabled person. Before, I've gone on my own, a little nervous travelling around London but the excitement overtakes all nerves.

This time my partner had to come with me, to push my wheelchair and help me get around. I can't do anything without someone helping me now. It makes me sad, but it also makes me appreciate the people in my life more.

It's not just the people in my life, sometimes strangers help out a lot too.

Let me tell you a story. It all began on Friday lunchtime. All packed and ready to go, I was waiting at the bus stop with Graham, my partner, to get the bus to the train station. The bus was really late and I was getting worried we would miss our train. Graham always says I panic to much, he calls me a flapper. Then he realised that he hadn't packed his shoes so we had to go back home. It was getting late so I called a taxi to take us to the station. We told the driver that we were late and he sped off into town like lightening. I was sitting in the back focusing on my mobile to distract from the speeding driver.  We got to the station with five minutes to spare when disaster struck. After getting out of the taxi, getting my wheelchair out of the boot, getting me in the chair, sorting out the luggage, we were in a bit of a panic and Graham may have just been pushing me a little too fast when he hit a water drain...and I went flying, literally, I felt myself propelled into the air and there was nothing I could do. Thankfully I had a suitcase on my lap, that also went flying and I landed on top. That saved my upper body, other wise my hands, arms and face would have probably been hit pretty hard. There was nothing to save my legs though and it's incredibly, incredibly painful for me to lie face down. Everything became a complete blur but I was aware of so many people asking if I was ok, asking Graham if he needed help, and Graham pleading how sorry he was. I was lifted up back into my chair. My legs had given up working altogether and I was shaking with fear. Everyone was so nice and helpful and I don't even remember seeing a single face. Just voices of kindness.

The station assistance man who had been waiting for us was very understanding and said we could get on the next train in twenty minutes. He told us to grab a coffee and take our time.

The train was late, there was a tree on the line.

Were we ever going to get to London?

Finally, placed on the train, nerves started to settle a little and we pulled out our packed lunch, even though it was well past lunch time. We were about an hour into the journey, which was pretty slow because of back log of trains, a train traffic jam, over the delay clearing the tree. Then Graham said to me, did you pack my shirt! What! I thought he'd packed all his clothes, now it looked like he was attending the awards shirtless! Don't panic, I remember Sally saying there is a TK Max nearby for those last minute emergencies. He'd just have to go and buy a new shirt.

Then the train stopped and into our coach poured a bunch of football fans, beer cans in hand, loud and singing football songs. Oh, no, just what we needed. We shrank into our seats and thought maybe if we were quiet they wouldn't notice us. Graham is not a shirker though, he talks to anyone. After about ten minutes he piped up..."are you Leicester supporters then' This made me snort with laughter, along with the football 'hooligans' They had talked about nothing but their players and sang their teams songs, I knew they were Liverpool supporters and I don't like football. This broke the ice though and they turned out to be really nice lads. Graham chatted football with them for the rest of the journey. When we arrived they offered to help him lift me off the train. I declined, the station assistance where waiting for me with a ramp...much safer, especially after what had happened earlier.

We had decided that we were going to walk from the station to the hotel..yes, walk. It was only a 40 minute walk according to Google maps with most of it being through Hyde Park. We started off in the wrong direction but I corrected that quickly and we about turned and were soon on our way. The rest of the directions were easy to follow and we soon arrived at the park. At an entrance with steps! Google maps didn't tell me that. Refusing to be defeated and with the end of the journey in site we conquered this obstacle by me getting out of the wheelchair, grabbing the rail and walking up the steps. Thankfully they were small steps and wide apart so it was not so bad, and easy for Graham to lug the wheelchair up too. Once in the park we headed in what we hoped was the right direction, enjoyed some of the lovely views and soon arrived at the hotel. As soon as we arrived in the room Graham sped out again to buy a new shirt, luckily he got a real bargain.

We arrived at the Awards after freshening up and dressing up feeling like the rest of the day didn't matter and we had a truly wonderful evening.

I got to meet a few ladies that I'd only ever talked to online before which was lovely. I also caught up with some friends old and new. The food was delicious, the wine flowed and more new friends made. Seeing each winner called out was really exciting and it was lovely that every winner took the time to say a few words. I know that must be nerve wracking standing on a stage and speaking to everyone. I couldn't do it, which is one of the reasons I'm glad I've never won.

Every award was well deserved but it was lovely to see my friend Steph from Steph's Two Girls on the stage for the Outstanding blogger awards. She didn't win but you can't deny that Becky from Baby Budgeting deserved her award. Also, a big congratulations to my fellow Brummy Emma from Brummy Mummy of 2 for her awards for best use of video and Blogger of the Year!

Helen Lederer was our host and she was brilliant. She did channel the last years host a couple of times which was hilarious, but I think she did a better job. Probably because she wasn't so drunk.

All in all, despite our eventful journey, it was an incredible evening. Enough of my waffling, lets have some photos.

First up, here's me, Steph and Jeanette, we've been friends through our blogs for years now! It's the first time that I've met Jeanette though and she blogs at AutismMumma.

 This is me and the lovely Helen Lederer.

I always find it so difficult to photograph the food nicely when we eat by candlelight and only have our phone cameras, but you do want to see some don't you? 

The dessert had mixed reactions on our table. Personally I loved it, it was fresh and light and the flavours worked well together. And you could eat the green stick.

Here is Helen doing her job, she was really funny and such a nice person.

 All the nominees for the Outstanding Contribution Award. Well done all of you and keep up the good work.

As always it was a great evening thanks to  the Tots 100 team who work so hard to bring this all together each year. A big thanks to everyone who nominated me and voted for me. A big thanks to the lovely Karen from Mini Travellers for helping me when I had to be away from Graham (and big congratulations on your win!)
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