I have had one of those days where you find yourself staring at a spot on the floor, with a silly smile on your face. One of those days where you have a feeling of rosiness, and things being all fine with the world, when you have that constant sense – even if you temporarily forget what – that something really, really good has happened. Yesterday was the Garden Media Guild awards lunch. I have been attending this shindig for a very long time, about ten years I reckon, and always loved it for the glamour it sprinkles on the gardening world. But I have never won or even been shortlisted for a thing, and have always gone home lightly pissed but empty-handed. But this year I entered this blog, and it won.
I was thrilled enough at being on the shortlist, which included three of my absolute favourite blogs in the world, Mark Diacono’s Otter Farm blog, James Alexander-Sinclair’s Blogging from Blackpitts and Dawn Isaac’s Little Green Fingers. But the moment Alan Gray said ‘And the winner is… Lia Leendertz’ ranks up there with the real crackers, career-wise (these are the two others: being called to my neighbour’s phone in the depths of the Italian countryside to take a call from Ian Hodgson, editor of The Garden, telling me to set off for home because he was giving me my first garden journalist job; and getting the phonecall on Lyme Regis seafront from Susie Steiner at The Guardian giving me my regular slot at Weekend. The feeling is almost precisely the same; glee combined with wonder at having actually reached a longed-for milestone, against all expectations).
So I wobbled my way to the front, thinking ‘Am I making a fool of myself here? Did they really just call my name?’, and Alan Gray read out lovely things the judges had said about the blog, and they took a picture in which I tried not to grin like an idiot and they gave me a certificate and £250. And when I got back to the table I was shaking.
This blog is almost exactly a year old and I love writing it. I love the comments and the sense of community, and the fact that I can write what I want when i want and, wonderfully, people seem to be interested and want to join in. I love the fact that it is the most political of posts that have attracted the most comments, and how that gives lie to the cosy, inward-looking image that many people have of gardeners. And on a more personal level I rely on the support I get from fellow bloggers and twitterers. So I know I’m being gushy and uncool and over-emotional – I am a little tired and more than a little hung over – but I think this is a perfect opportunity to say thanks to all those who encouraged me to set this up in the first place, gave me advice or answered my annoying questions when I was struggling with the technical side of things, and to everyone who has left comments, or even just visited quietly. No blog works in a vacuum, so thank you.
I will be sitting, staring, smiling in slight disbelief for a little while yet.