The Blog North Awards, 2013

Food politics
Blimey. I won the Blog North Award for best Food & Drink Blog, 2013.

It isn’t often that I win things, especially for writing about what I made for dinner, but that’s exactly what’s happened. I find myself in the unusual, strange and slightly intoxicating position of having this blog named Best Food and Drink Blog by the good people at the Blog North Awards.

The Blog North Awards ‘celebrate the best of Northern England’s independent publishing, and aim to bring some of the great new writing being published online to a wider audience’. They’re presided over by a scarily qualified panel of writers, journalists and people very much in the know about these things, who decide on a shortlist, and then eventual winners with the help of an online vote.

As I write that, I can’t quite believe I’ve actually won. When I found out that this blog had been shortlisted, I nearly fell off my chair, and on seeing that the shortlist also included one of the very blogs that had inspired me to start writing (Leigh Linley’s superb The Good Stuff), I felt quite chuffed to be even in the running.

That was A Good Day’s Work, as they say, and I was more than happy with being shortlisted.

Imagine that! Shortlisted as one of the best blogs in the North by some seriously talented judging-type people! It’s simply astonishing.

To win the category is something else entirely, and a day on, I’ve still not quite accepted that it’s true. It feels humbling, exciting, thrilling and every other superlative I could possibly throw at it, but most of all, it’s a wonderful feeling to have my work recognised and validated so publicly.

Blogging isn’t easy. Yes, it’s incredible fun, and I’ve learnt plenty from doing it, but it can be a grind. There have been times when I’ve sat here with a sense of rising panic, convinced that I had nothing at all to say. There have been other times when I’ve dug around under the bonnet in a slightly too cavalier fashion and spent the next few days stretching my rudimentary coding skills to the very limit as I’ve tried to batter the twitching corpse of them apples back to life. I’ve learnt about backups.

For all those times, there have been others that are the direct opposite.

There was the time when lots of journalists suddenly thought that I was a leading authority on eating horse meat, just because I’d written something about it the year before, and wanted quotes for their articles. There’s been the small thrill of seeing a photo picked up and showcased by the giant food photography sites like Foodgawker or Tastespotting.

There have been posts that have made me cry as I’ve written them, others that seemed to take on a life of their own, resurfacing every now and again for another round. I once received an out-of -the-blue email from a man in New York, whose girlfriend would text him at work and give him lists of stuff to buy on his way home, so she could cook whatever it is I’d blogged about.  As a blogger of food related things, there’s nothing better than when somebody actually cooks the things you write about.

My favourite post of all is nothing to do with food. It’s about my daughter learning to ride her bike. Yes, there’s a recipe shoehorned in, but I’ll admit now that it was a token effort to try to stay on message. The real value to me of that post is that it captured a little, insignificant moment in my life and made it live forever.

That’s what writing does … it makes things live forever.

I asked a question on twitter a while ago about what makes a blog post ‘good’, and one answer shone out.

I paraphrase enormously, and apologise in advance to the Yoda-like sage whose name I forget who said it, but the general gist was that you know a post is good when you hit Publish, rest your hands on the keyboard and smile.

That’s what I try to do every time I press that button.

Thankyou to everybody who voted in the Blog North Awards, and to everybody who reads what I write. I truly appreciate it.