Snazzy lunch at the Savoy & the 2016 GMG Awards

On the 24th November I was chuffed to bits to be attending the Garden Media Guild’s Awards as a Finalist in their Blog of the Year category.

I’d caught an early train up to London from Somerset, swapping my usual scuffed boots for a new pair of heels as we approached Paddington. I tugged a comb through my ‘wilful’ hair, which had been freshly quaffed for the first time in over a year. I was wearing The One and Only Skirt, which the last time I had worn it (3 years ago?) I’m sure was not quite so tight. I’d just have to breath in.

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I arrived at the Savoy hotel with a little trepidation. I have been to the Savoy before, once for a job interview and another time for a business meeting. So why the nerves? Well, I’d been sent the guest list before hand and it was stuffed full with names of the UK garden glitterati. My fear was that someone would ask me some horticultural question, or mention a Latin name with a testing raised eyebrow (a la Roy Strong), and I’d be rumbled as an intruder. An amateur. A mere grow-my-own veg blogger. Not knowing a single soul, I found my badge on the entrance table, seized an elderflower cordial off a passing tray (I’m still off the booze, sadly) and nudged myself into a safe shrubbery of chatty ladies whilst muttering something about heels caught in Tube escalators by way of introduction. The room of, what, 400? was thankfully noisy enough for no one to hear a bloody word I said. Everyone was very nice and smiled warmly before carrying on where they’d left off. Phew.

I looked around the room… there was Joe Swift, a spade’s spit away “hello, Joe” I said without my lips moving… and over there Carol Klein, resplendent in a buttercup yellow number. I sauntered over and said “Hey. Carol…” (just kidding!) And was that the brilliant photographer, Clive Nichols? Which reminded me: I was hoping to spot one of my heroes, the photographer Tessa Traeger… I’d brought along a fave book of hers I’d chosen for 6th form Art prize, thinking she might sign it. But most of all, I was hoping to recognise fellow garden bloggers whom I’ve got to know on Twitter. In a sea of faces, both turned out to be impossible.

But never mind. A few minutes later the call was made to take our seats for lunch, and I was relieved to have a table number to scuttle towards. It was stunning… yes, the crisp white linen, the beautiful roses, spotless china and sparkling glasses… but mostly I was stunned that they had spelt my surname right on my place card. Yep, it read “Bown”, not “Brown”. I was truly impressed. This was pure class.

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It was a huge relief to be sat between two very interesting people… on one side was the lovely Emma White, a garden designer and writer, who is currently studying for a PHD in environmental psychology. With the recent interest in the benefits of gardening for mental health, we had plenty to talk about. On the other side I was entertained with garden gossip from Sean Cameron, who has built up a successful career as a vlogger on You Tube called The Hort Channel. It was fascinating to learn that You Tube success was a double-edged spade and that Sean is looking for a hobby to replace gardening… and to find mental relaxation from the demands and stresses of non-stop vlogging.

The other people on my table were too far away to talk to, but we exchanged smiles and occasionally sign-languaged each other to pass the condiments. I had a good view of the stage, and it wasn’t long before dessert was served and the award action began. Carol Klein gave an amusing introductory talk, and before I knew it they were presenting the finalists of the blogger award.

And the winner was… Agents of Field! And very well deserved too. Please go and check out Ade and Sophie’s fabulous blog when you have a mo. They are both charming and funny, and it’s a great blog. I was delighted with my bravado to elbow my way through at the end to shake their hands and say hello. I do hope we meet again!

The other blogger finalists were: Andrew O’Brien of Gardens, Weeds & Words, Jack Wallington Garden Design (sadly neither were there to say hello to) and Non Morris of The Dahlia Papers … who is a new name for me. All 3 have great blogs worth following and getting to know them on Twitter too.

Now I could relax, and I stuck into my pudding without the worry of being papp’d with my gnashers blackened by sticky chocolate. I’d just got into an interesting conversation with someone else when at 4.45 we were abruptly turfed off the table with barely a moment to nab the name card as a souvenir. I fled the event as the clock struck 5, and before I was turned back into a country pumpkin. I sat on the grey train on the way home, swapped my heels for the Cinderella boots, and took in the view. The city lights were replaced with total darkness as I was sped back to Somerset, accompanied by my Oscar… a tiny plant I’d discovered in the depths of the goody bag.

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So, I am enormously proud, after nearly 2 years of blogging, to be pinning a GMG Finalists seal to the blog. If I’d been asked for an acceptance speech, this would have been it:

I wish to take the opportunity to say a big thanks to the judges for choosing me as a Finalist and to the GMG for organising the lunch. But most of all a ginormous thanks to You, yes You, dear reader…. for taking the time to read my posts, comment and chat, and for sharing my blog with your online friends. Thank you all! xx

And now I’m going to blub

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To see all the categories of the GMG Awards and their winners and finalists, please click here.

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