A couple of weeks back, I got to attend the second annual Northern blog awards. Believe it or not, this blog was actually on the shortlist for one of the categories…
Since I enjoyed the night so much and since it was the popping of my red carpet cherry, I thought I’d do a little write up on the whole occasion.
What are the Northern blog awards?
The Northern blog awards were put together by Holly Nicol (@Hollygoeslightly) back in 2016 and they’re aimed at celebrating blogging talent from up North.
Northern bloggers tend to miss out on a lot of the bigger opportunities/events as most of it goes on in London, meaning those up here don’t really get the chance to attend the swanky gaffs held further afield.
What was I up for?
The Man Blueprint (I mean the site – I don’t identify as ‘the man blueprint’, this isn’t a weird third person thing) was up for best male blog of the year.
The category was full of some great blogging blokes so it was quite the honour to be rubbing shoulders with these fine fellas.
It was also great to see a couple of ‘em in the flesh on the night itself.
I made Lucy come with me for the day because I didn’t want to be the loner swigging wine from the bottle and shouting obscenities at the winners. For this reason there is going to be a lot of ‘we’ and ‘us’ in the article. I haven’t got multiple personalities just so we’re clear.
We made our way to Manchester early in the morning. I had no idea how easy it was to get there from Liverpool – we got there on the train in about 40 minutes.
Once we were off the train however, it was business time. Breakout Manchester had been kind enough to offer us a go in one of their breakout rooms.
For those of you unfamiliar with Breakout rooms – you have to find clues and solve riddles in order to find the code to break out of a locked room within an hour.
Breakout do it best and we’re absolutely obsessed with ‘em. You can pick from a load of different rooms with interesting stories behind them and varying difficulties.
We put up a valiant effort in this one but failed to actually break out. As you can tell from the picture below, I took the defeat extremely well and didn’t take it out on anyone at all.
This was our fourth go of a breakout room and we’ve got another booked in a week’s time. If you want in on the action you can book a room here.
After we failed to break out, there was a few hours to kill before we got to stuff our faces with fine dining grub.
This meant exploring all the designer stores and pretending we were covert millionaires who could afford to buy out each floor of Selfridges.
In all seriousness though, Manchester is a fantastic city to explore and is basically like Liverpool on steroids. Being a scouser though, I can’t exactly say Manchester is better can I?
Phwoaaaaaar. What a gaff Grafene is!
We were treated to a 6 course tasting menu by these guys and all I can say is – bloody hell.
Grafene put a unique twist on traditional British dining, bringing the taste of the country to the big smoke.
We had dishes such as rendered duck leg, burnt ends of brisket and chocolate, cherry & marigold. Every dish was like eating a nicely portioned bit of heaven, the service was amazing and the whole vibe of the place was as boujie as you’ll find.
The guys at Grafene offer this ‘grafets’ menu along with a few other tasting menus made up of 5 or 7 dishes, vintage champagnes, cocktails and tours. You can dine a la carte too if you’re into your norm activities.
If this tickles your pickle you can book yourself into Grafene here.
For those of you who live under a rock – Air BnB is the new kid on the block that’s giving the hotel business a run for its money.
For about 50 quid, we got to stay in a swanky high rise apartment that overlooked the whole of Manchester. No need for check in desks, over zealous bellboys or dodgy cleaners.
Just meet the hosts, grab the keys and Bob’s yer uncle.
Can’t fault it whatsoever and the location was perfect. Often, going through Air BnB is far cheaper than a hotel room too, which is ideal if you’re looking to make your money stretch as far as possible.
If you’re after some sweet little BnB deals head over here.
Now we’re getting into the nitty gritty. Kicking off the night at the apartment, we had to get ourselves dolled up for the big stage. This involved mostly watching Liverpool playing Chelsea on a livestream for me then jumping into my outfit for the evening. Which reminds me…
My suit for the Northern blog awards was provided by the good folks over at Marc Wallace. These fellas specialise in bespoke tailored suits and they sorted me out with an absolute barnstormer.
The jacket and trousers fitted like a dream and the materials, design, etc was on another level to any other suit I’ve worn before. I’m a huge fan of grey suits and the check pattern was a winner.
I must add, I’m not exactly a suit connoisseur but I can tell if one is decent or not. Well, at least I pretend to.
The lining was a little bit racy (a slew of naked female playing cards) but it was an effective, albeit, weird conversation starter – as long as I gave people forewarning of what I was about to show ’em.
Overall though, my Marc Wallace suit was perfect for my first awards evening and I can’t thank them enough. You can check out their designs here.
I wasn’t going to rock up in my suit and socks was I?
Undandy were kind enough to send me over two pairs of their handmade shoes to pick from for the night. I was faced with the tough decision between the brown oxfords or the black monks.
After an intense decision making process, I opted for the monks – which was definitely the right decision (or so I tell myself).
I met the guys and gals from Undandy when I travelled to Lisbon a couple of months ago and they told me a bit about their company. All of their shoes can be customised online and then they are handmade in an old school workshop right there in Lisbon – all to your specification.
You can also pick pre-made options too. Think of it as Nike ID for grown ups.
If you fancy picking up some bits from one of the best bespoke shoe makers in the world – head over to the Undandy website.
The Venue for the Northern blog awards was the Midland hotel. And what a place to have it! I felt like I was bloody royalty swanning in pretending I had an ounce of talent.
The fact there was even a red carpet made the whole thing feel a little bit surreal. Unfortunately there were no paparazzi snapping ugly candids of me but we can’t have it all can we.
Now, the main event! I’ll be honest, I had absolutely no idea what to expect from the Northern blog awards.
I’d never been to something like this before as you may have guessed from the fact I keep going on about it, so I was sort of expecting a big old chinwag where people ate canapés and looked down their noses at you but I was pleasantly surprised.
Everyone was there to make conversation, meet new people and generally just be very sound. We got a free glass of champagne on arrival (and a few more when they had some left at the end) and it only got better from there.
One thing that took me by surprise was the effort that the sponsors had gone to. There were giant teacups filled with chocolate and popcorn, GIF makers (if that makes sense), photo booths and even a bloody bed. There was a load more too but I didn’t get round to that as I was too focused on securing free chocolate all night.
Then there was the three course meal with a load of free booze. Can’t say fairer than that can you? Luckily most of the table were on the white wine so I managed to keep most of the red to myself which really took my opinion of the Northern blog awards to a whole other level.
It was also great to see so many hard working winners take to the stage – some of whom had been at the blogging game for almost a decade! It was rather motivating seeing how their hard work had paid off so well for them. Seeing how passionate they were about what they do was a real eye opener, too.
Did I win?
Unfortunately ya boi didn’t bring home the bacon. It was a deserved win by Alexander Ward who is a Manchester based photographer and blogger with a fantastic site.
All this has give me a little bit of a kick up the backside in terms of work ethic though. Seeing all these brilliant people giving speeches has motivated me to get up there next year. Even if it’s just drunkenly storming the stage, but still – motivation is motivation.
However, at the end, there was a little afterparty which was brilliant. There was a fantastic live band belting out all the classics and we had a boogie to celebrate me being a big fat loser.
What a day. What a night. What a gaff. What an event. What, what, what.
In all seriousness though, the Northern blog awards is a fantastic idea and with plans to expand over the coming years, I can see them going from strength to strength in no time at all.