John’s Mega Awards Ceremony!

Compère: Good evening and, at long last, a very warm welcome to John’s Mega Awards Ceremony, this year being held in the (sunny (sorry!)) wet and windy Cathedral City of Ripon, North Yorkshire, here in the UK! As with the television based ‘Eurovision Song Contest’, which shows film of the host city, this ceremony will be interspersed with photographs depicting Ripon, the home town of tonight’s host!

(John’s Aside Comment) I have to apologise here because we had planned to have someone famous as the compère for this ceremony. Unfortunately, limited finance during the current world recession have made that impossible! I would therefore like to thank Mr Colin A. Favour, who has very kindly agreed to compère this evening’s ceremony!  

The Market Square and Obelisk

Compère: There will be three categories of award this evening, beginning with the Versatile Blogger Award, followed by the Liebster Award, and ending with the HUGS Award! These are all prestigious worldwide honours, and the nominees for the awards, as you will hear later in the ceremony, are all outstanding bloggers who not only meet the requirements of each category but go far beyond in every respect!

(John’s Aside Comment) We could argue that in terms of media; when we watch television, or watch the news, or read newspapers, or browse some of the more sensational celebrity based magazines, we are more than often confronted by the unpleasant side of the human experience! We hear about war, famine, poverty, misery, violence, death, deceipt, cheating and lying, to name but a few regular themes! Since I started blogging in September 2011, I have realised that, in the main, blogging is one of the very few overwhelmingly positive forms of media that I have come across in my lifetime! With that statement in mind, I think that these awards are important, because they recognise and celebrate the positive side of the human experience to be found in blogging as a whole, but in particular to be found within the outstanding blogs being nominated.  

Ripon Cathedral (Founded circa 634-709)

Compère: Moving quickly on to the awards, the first category to be awarded tonight is:

Compère: Just before we move on to this evening’s award nominations, our host, John Stirling, would like to thank the four outstanding bloggers who already hold, and have awarded him the VBA. In no particular order, they are the young photography talent that is Rebecca Millar of We are Shutter Proof! Becky has her own unique B/W style of photography with a concentration on Music and Street work. Currently, she is experimenting with styles of portraiture, and her Olympic Portraiture set is a superb example of her growing talent in this area! She also entertains with quirky, fun comments! Next, we have the delightfully effervescent and bubbly Xandre Verkes of Everything & Nothing – Life! fame. Xandre has a uniquely varied, interesting and entertaining blog, and this allied with her obvious zest for life will keep you going back for more and more! Thirdly, we have Todd Materazzi of Todd Materazzi Photography (Titanium Photo). Todd is an amazing B/W photographer and an International Photography Competition prizewinner! His work concentrates on the environment around him and his style grasps the atmosphere and mood of the moment, and presents it in a highly graphic format! Lastly, we have Jacqueline of Sixth Months to Live – The Experiment Continues fame! Jacqueline’s blog questions the way we live our lives; how we should live it so that we feel alive and fulfilled; at the same time being friendly, helpful to others, and making a contribution! What would you do if you had only six months to live? Why not do it now?

(John’s Aside) When you are nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award there are a few tasks which you should complete, if and when you pass on the award to other outstanding blogs. They are as follows:

1.Thank the award-giver and link back to them in your post. (I have completed this.)
2. Share 7 things about yourself. (At the end of this awards post.)
3. Pass this award along to recently discovered blogs you enjoy reading. (I have completed below this.)
4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award. (I have completed this.)

Compère: … and now, in no particular order, this evening’s Versatile Bloggers Awards go to:

1.Ira Blythe of And We Were Here ~ If Only We Were Aware – Ira could be called ‘the quiet photographer’. He has a no nonsense approach to displaying his work, without the distraction of narrative, so that one can really concentrate on his images. His photography is superb! He has a great eye for composition, he gets the depth of field and focus correct every time, and just has that ability to know when something will make a good photograph!

2. Jocelyn of Inspired and Pretty – Jocelyn has a very appealing mixture of items in her blog and there is something for everyone among her posts! Her photography, which is not always the focus of her posts, is superb. Her images are well composed, colourful, nicely focused and interesting! She takes a mean photograph of the things around her and the things that she loves!

3. Karen McRae of Draw and Shoot – Karen is an artist with a camera! She has a unique perspective and creative eye which sees stunning detail and beauty in everything around her. Many of her sets of beautiful photographs leave one in awe and admiration!  If she could bottle her creative talent and market it, she would be one very rich lady!

4. Kenny Devine of Portrait Cafe and Portrait Cafe 2 – Kenny’s street portrait work is quite simply stunning and he really deserves this award for bravery alone! He approaches photogenic men and women on the streets and then photographs them, there and then, producing magazine standard photographs, ‘off the cuff’ so to speak! He has two blogs – Portrait Cafe 1 is a mixture of photographs and narrative, and Portrait Cafe 2 is the ‘coffee table’ version for those who are interested in the photography only! Kenny has been invited to photograph the important St Andrews Charity Fashion Show this year on 25th February!

5. Mike Baker of Photo Mojo Mike – Mike is from Scotland and takes superb photographs of a wide variety of interesting local subjects, in a very creative way. He uses colour and B/W and is equally proficient with both! Mike is moving to Australia very soon and has already been on visits to Sydney taking great photographs! We expect you to keep shooting and posting in Oz, Mike!

6. AJ of AJ’s Photo Lab – AJ’s blog demonstrates great photographic work over a wide variety of subjects! He comes from India and through his varied work, gives us a taste of his wonderful country and culture. It has also been great to watch AJ’s photographic skills and creative skills develop through his blog over the last few months!

7. Firas Abdul Azeez of Firasz Photography – pause. look. it’s a beautiful world! – Firas’ blog is filled with super photographic work covering such themes as abstracts, landscapes, flowers, aircraft , insects and close-ups, to name but a few. He also experiments successfully with aspects of photography such as blur and bokeh! Firas has an interesting outlook to life and always gives his followers something to think about in his narrative!

Congratulations to all seven recipients of the Versatile Blogger Award!

(John’s Aside) There are four issues with awards that I have noticed since I started blogging in September of 2010. Would all recipients and others please note that these apply to all of the awards given tonight.

The Recipient already has the Award – Sometimes, when you want to make an award to a blogger, it is very difficult to tell if they have already received that award, particularly if it is not obvious on their blog, or is so far back among their posts that it is not easy to find. I personally don’t think that matters. If someone values your work, no matter how many times you have received the award before, they should be able to make that award, without the recipient having to do anything further than acknowledge its receipt, possibly by listing the bloggers that have made the award to them under the actual award in their side panel.

The Recipient does not wish to receive Awards – I have come across blogs where they explicitly state that they do not wish to receive ‘blogging’ awards. This is fine and I have no issue with it.  As an example, if I were a professional photographer and my blog was also my website for my business, I might not want to receive or acknowledge blogging awards that distracted from the focus of the blog/website. Unfortunately, not many bloggers make that choice explicit and are likely to receive awards, even though they do not wish to receive them. For these bloggers, the recipient is not obliged to accept the award, and therefore does not need to feel obliged to do the same for the other outstanding blogs that they follow.

The Recipient feels bound to go out and make Awards to other Blogs immediately – Recipients should not feel under pressure to make immediate nominations and follow the rules of the award straight away. It can take time to build a group of blogs that you really want to recognise as outstanding. Make your awards when you are ready!

A Blogger feels disappointed that they have not been included in the Awards, even though the host follows their Blog – All Blogs are unique, and they are Followed, and Awards made, for all sorts of reasons and purposes that can be very different. If you have not received an award in any particular Awards Post, this does not mean that your blog is not valued by the host, or that it is not outstanding in its own right! The focus of awards can be different from Awards Post to Awards Post, and who knows, you may be included in that bloggers next round of awards!

Ripon Cathedral and Kirkgate Pedestrian Shopping

Compère: The next category to be awarded this evening is the:

Compère: This award recognises special talent and is awarded to bloggers who have less than 200 followers. “Liebster” is a German word that means “Dearest” or “Beloved”. It also means ”Favourite”. So, this award not only recognizes bloggers as amazing in their own right, but also as personal favourites. As with the VBA award, our host, John, wishes to thank the blogger who nominated him for this award. She is a young lady already mentioned in the VBA awards, Xandre Verkes of Everything & Nothing – Life! As well as demonstrating a zest for life in her blog, Xandre has a serious side, which can be seen in two of her posts which focus on newly found photographs of 1892 London’s Tower Bridge Under Construction and Wieliczka Salt Mine – I want to visit there!!!

(John’s Aside) As with the Versatile Bloggers Award, there are rules associated with the Liebster Blog Award that recipients should complete, if and when you pass on the award to other outstanding blogs. They are as follows:

1) Thank the fellow blogger who awarded it to you. (I have completed this.)
2) Link back to the said blogger who shared the award. (I have completed this.)
3) Post the award on your blog. (I have completed this.)
4) Pick 5 other blogs you want to recognise. (I have completed this+1.)
5) Visit the 5 bloggers and let them know that they receive the award. (I have completed this.)

Compère: There has been some technical difficulty in nominating favourite blogs for the Liebster Award because none of the ‘personal favourite’ blogs followed by our host actually indicate the number of followers their blogs have. Taking this into account, on this occasion only, the organisers have chosen to ignore the ‘under 200 followers’ rule and made the decision that the awards would focus on ‘personal favourite’ bloggers i.e. those outstanding bloggers who have developed a friendship with the host; regularly reading and commenting on each others posts in a much more social way during their blogging! They all make you feel as if you have known them forever!

So now, in no particular order, this evening’s Liebster Awards go to:

1.Rebecca Millar of We are Shutter Proof – Mentioned earlier, this unique photographic blog, and the young photography talent that is Becky Millar, inspired our host to create his own blog on WordPress. The quality of Becky’s original Street and Music images is outstanding and she has recently been a finalist in the NME Music Photography of the Year Awards! Becky, who already has the Versatile Blogger Award, is always striving for perfection, is always willing to take on challenges, and keen to diversify on her photographic journey! This award is in appreciation of her work, for her infectious photographic enthusiasm, and for being friends with a fellow photographic blogger from the other end of the age spectrum!

2. Xandre Verkes of Everything & Nothing – Life! – We hope that Xandre will not feel uncomfortable about receiving this award again, particularly as it is ‘bouncing’ directly back at her from our host! John felt it was important to be able to reciprocate because, although her blog is outstanding in itself, it is Xandre who makes it special. She is one of these people who ‘goes that extra mile’ to make friends with everyone she meets, and is always kind, witty and fun with her comments! Xandre, please enjoy this appreciation of you and your blog without having to do anything in return!

3. Karen McRae of Draw and Shoot – Karen offers us outstanding, skilled photography with a full-on creative twist! Karen is one of those very lucky people who sees the unusual in ordinary, everyday life and can capture it for the rest of us mere mortals to appreciate and enjoy! Karen’s beautiful sets of images would look stunning in gallery exhibition! Karen, we hope you don’t mind this second award for the evening, and if you already have them, please just enjoy the accolade without feeling you have to do anything about them?

4.  Bob Zeller of Texas Tweeties – Bob is a highly skilled bird and wildlife photographer, and his blog is filled with spectacular photographs of a wide variety of amazing bird species! These are supported by Bob’s very own highly entertaining narrative; full of information, stories and jokes! Bob’s comments also reflect his sense of humour! This award is in appreciation of all of these facets put together! Bob, if you already have this award, please enjoy the appreciation of you and your work without having to follow up on it!

5. Katie Johnson of Katie’s Camera Blog – Katie is a professional photographer who concentrates on Architecture and Interiors in her working life. Having said that, Katie’s work is also her hobby, but in a much more diverse way – she photographs a huge variety of different subjects. Our host particularly likes her architectural photography and that of Santa Fe! Her narrative is also very interesting and entertaining and she likes to discuss the occasional ‘controversial’ issue with followers within her comments! Katie, if you already have this award, please enjoy the appreciation of you and your photography without feeling that you have to follow it up!

6. Todd Materazzi of Todd Materazzi Photography (Titanium Photo) – Todd should be a professional photographer because his crisp, graphic photography just ‘slaps you in the face’ in a ‘sit up and take notice’ way! His work is crisp, sharp and clear and full of atmosphere and mood! It would grace any wall it was hung on and it would be stunning to see in exhibition! In addition to commenting back and forth on their blogs, Todd and our host, John, have also e-mailed each other and Todd has introduced John to a friend of his who is a patriot Scot and came from Glasgow!

Congratulations to all six recipients of the Versatile Blogger Award!

(John’s Aside) Just a reminder that there is no requirement for those who have received this award previously to follow the rules again, unless they wish to do so!

In addition to the possible award issues mentioned earlier, there is a further issue with the Liebster Award, that also applies to all recipients of this award and other bloggers:

The Majority of Blogs do not indicate the Number of Followers they have? –  This has been a real issue with the Liebster Awards! It would appear that lots of blogs indicate the visitors they have had, but very few show the number of ‘Followers’ they have! It makes the ‘under 200 followers’ rule difficult to follow!

Looking towards Kirkgate with the Cathedral wall to the left!

Compère: The next and final category to be awarded this evening is the HUG Award:

Compère: The first two awards of this evening have been focused on outstanding blogs and bloggers! The HUG Award© is very different in it’s focus and is specifically designed to be awarded to people who promote hope, love, peace, equality and unity for all. It can be awarded to anyone anywhere in the world. It is awarded to people who, regardless of their beliefs – religious, spiritual, cultural or political, are able to nurture hope, and respect the dignity of all people. It is for people who strive to make the world a better place! Once again, our host would like to thank Xandre Verkes of Everything & Nothing – Life! for nominating him for this award. He was quite literally stunned, and is still trying to work out why he has received it? We think it is because he can be quite outspoken about issues that affect people around the world in some of his posts.

(John’s Aside) As with the previous awards, there are rules associated with the HUG Award© that recipients should complete, if and when they pass on the award to other worthy blogs, websites or people. They are as follows:

1. Upon receiving the HUG Award, you may nominate others who meet the guidelines of the award.
2. Nominees may only receive the HUG Award one time.
3. You can nominate as many people, websites, or blogs as you want that reflects the award’s essence.
4. Upon receipt of the award, nominate at least one other person. The award is not time limited, so you can nominate new people or sites you encounter in the future.
5. Contact your nominees and tell them that you have nominated them for the  HUG Award.
6. Please link this page:  When you contact your nominees for the award, please include a link to this page,, so they will have the same information you received about the award. The nominees can then spread the award by nominating others.
7. Please post a comment on this page at to inform Connie Wayne, who created this award, about the websites, blogs, or persons you nominated and accepted the HUG Award.
8. You may print a copy of the HUG Award Certificate for people you nominate, who do not have a website, blog, or social media account. If they have an email, you may email them a copy of the original HUG Award and Certificate.
A detailed list is written in Connie’s Blog. Please visit the site and read the post of HUG award at for both the rules and for discovering its generous heart.

Compère: Moving on, this evening celebrates our host’s first nomination for the HUG Award© and it goes to:

1) Jacqueline of Six Months to Live: The Experiment Continues! – It could be argued that the vast majority of human beings drift through their lives, living the same day to day routines, and never actually achieve their hopes and dreams along the way! They lose sight of the big picture and, before they know it, they reach retirement age, take stock of their lives up until that point, only to find that it has, up until then, been unfulfilling. Hopes and dreams have been lost along the way! In her blog, Jacqueline reminds people that life is for living now; but not only to fulfil our own and our family’s hopes and dreams, but also to help friends and those many other lives that we come across to fulfil theirs, through friendship, help and support where it is needed! Jacqueline inspires people through her journey to fulfil her own hopes and dreams, and through her blog and other work, gives hope to everyone that they can fulfil their hopes and dreams! What would you do if you were told you had six months to live? If you have an outstanding list of hopes and dreams, why not make a start and get out there and do them now, and live every six months as if it were your last!

Congratulations to Jacqueline on receiving the HUG Award©!

Kirkgate looking towards Ripon Cathedral!

(John’s Aside Comment) …and now, to fully fulfil the rules of the VBA, here are seven items about myself :

1) I am a bit of a perfectionist, which drives me and my other half (Penny) crazy!
2) I love travelling and wish I could afford to do it lots more!!
3) I play guitar and sing (I was in a folk band which played local pubs when I was younger)!!!
4) Having said that, my favourite style of music is heavy rock! My favourite artists/bands are (in no particular order) David Bowie, Lulu, the very sadly deceased Whitney Houston, Dolly Parton, James Blunt, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Queen (who I was lucky enough to see live in 1982), Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Muse and Kings of Leon!!!!
5) I love watching movies – particularly Sci-fi and Horror (I like seeing potential for the future and occasionally being scared out of my mind)!!!!
6) I enjoy going to the theatre – there is nothing quite like live acting, music and dance, and London West End shows are just something else!
7) I love reading – my favourite authors are Greg Bear, Stephen King, James Herbert, Dean Koontz, Richard Laymon and Shaun Hutson!!!!!!

Dining 'al fresco' in sunny Ripon!

Compère: …and now we come to the end of John’s Mega Award Ceremony brought to you from Ripon, North Yorkshire in the UK! Our congratulations go to all of tonight’s award winners, and remember that this evening’s awards are a token of recognition and appreciation of who you are and what you do! Hopefully you will value them as such! From me, your compère, and from John, your host, we hope you have enjoyed the ceremony! Thank you for joining us on this prestigious evening and goodnight!


25 thoughts on “John’s Mega Awards Ceremony!

  1. I’ve got to say that this was the most entertaining awards receipt post I’ve ever read, John! 🙂 You are so good. And you deserve all these awards.You have noted some fantastic blogs here too. And thanks too for mentioning my photography blog. I truly appreciate it! 🙂

  2. Ah John! Such a clever and creative way to present your awards. Truly I feel like I am under-dressed for the occasion! And a trip to the hairdresser is long overdue… 😉
    Congrats on all your well deserved recognition.

    It’s always fun to find new excellent blogs so I’m looking forward to exploring your links.
    I am humbled by all your kind words John, thank you so much for what you have written. Sincerely, thank you!

    • Ha! Ha! Thanks for that, Karen! All of the words I have written are totally genuine and you deserved every one of them! Hope you make a fortune bottling your creativity!

      Although it is nice to receive the appreciation that comes with a blogging award, and to know that someone has liked your work enough to put effort into making that award, for me, peoples likes and comments are much more important. Likes and comments are much more personal; they allow you to get to know a bit about the person behind them, and if anyone doesn’t like a particular post or photograph, they don’t need to respond to that particular one!

      Although it was time consuming to do, I quite enjoyed putting the post together! However, as I said in response to Katie’s comment, by the time it was completed there was so much text I thought people would just be bored with it!

      I was thinking about your work and comparing it to mine, Karen, and I came to the conclusion that in our photography, you are an artist and I am a draughtsman! Let me know if you understand that! I also came to the conclusion that I would much rather be the artist!



    • Hi Lorna and thanks for the comment! Do you remember where you took tea in Ripon? I would be interested to know! We are very much tea and coffee people and part of our outings is always dropping into nice, quaint tea shops! We couldn’t function without them! I have just signed up as a follower of your blog – hope to see lots of tea rooms we can visit on holidays in the UK!



      • Hi John, I wish I could remember, I’ve been racking my brains to no avail! It was several years ago and I just popped in on my way further south. I must have a proper holiday in Yorkshire some time because I’m sure there are lots of wonderful tearooms. I do remember going to Betty’s in Harrogate, which was really was rather nice, and there are branches in 5 other places, including Ilkley which my sister has been to and said was lovely. Perhaps I could recommend Margaret Thornby’s Tearoom Guide? I would love to cover England as well but I’m having trouble getting round the whole of Scotland as it is. If you google her name you should find a copy of her book. She produces a magazine about tearooms too.

    • Sorry for the time taken before replying to your comment! I replied to the others yesterday but, disaster of disasters, my Mac went on the blink and refused to start! I think the hard drive is jiggered!!! It is going away to Apple for repair on Wednesday 29th Feb and will arrive back the following Wednesday, according to the organisers, but we will see! I’m suffering withdrawal symptoms already! Glad I had it covered for repair or replace, and that all my photographs are backed up on 2 stand alone hard drives!!! However, it looks as though I will still lose lots of items, including my I-Tunes stuff! I am using Penny’s laptop at the moment, which screen wise is appalling! So, no new posts for a week and a half! Thanks for the comment, Becky! Glad you enjoyed the ‘show’!



  3. John, I am humbled your kind words in your previous e-mail, and now in your extravagant awards ceremony. I am sorry that I couldn’t attend, but my tux was still at the dry cleaners. 🙂

    Seriously, thank you so much for bestowing upon me the prestigeous Liebster Blog Award.


    • Hi Bob – Ha! Ha! Thanks for your comments! Also, thanks for the e-mails – they are much appreciated and I will respond to them sometime this week, if Penny lets me borrow her laptop! As I have just said to Becky Millar, my Mac has broken down, defunkt hard drive, and is going to be out of use and away for a week and a half! So, no posts in that time! I can keep up with everyone’s posts though with this laptop though! I’ll be in touch!



  4. Thank you so much John for giving me this award, I am so very honored ! It really means a lot to me ! Thank you for your kind words on my blog.
    Wow ! What a superb ceremony. I have never seen such a presentation for Awards on any blog, it was very well done, I could almost hear people’s applauses ! I have started looking at other blogs you nominated and have discovered interesting and beautiful blogs.
    We have same taste for music ! I adore David Bowie, I started buying his music when I was only 12 years old and I still love all my albums. I also adore Queen, Freddy Mercury had such a beautiful voice, and I really really like Kings Of Leon ! And of course I love all the others you mentioned.
    Beautiful photos of your town’s streets, the cathedral is superb !

    • Hi Jocelyne – You are very welcome, and thanks for your complements about the awards post!

      I first saw David Bowie on the television before he was at all known for music and that is a long time ago!!!

      Yeah! Ripon is a lovely little Market Town. It is called the City of Ripon because it has a Cathedral. I will try to get some better views of the Cathedral, because I am not sure that the photos I used give you a good impression of its actual size, which towers over everything else for many miles around!

      Thanks for dropping by!


  5. John!!!! This must be the best ceremony EVER!!!! I just loved hopping along from award to award!!!! & the photos of Ripon are outstanding – I especially like the Cathedral & the Dining Al fresco shot…. just gorgeous!!! – Wishing I could have attended this ceremony in person… my apologies for my absence!!! 😀 you have great taste in Music… (sooooooo jealous you got to see Queen live… I would give my two front teeth!!! 😉 ) Great post John!!! & thank you sooooooooo much for acknowledging my blog… & awarding me with the Liebster again!!! It really is a very special gesture!!! & all your awards super well deserved John!!! 🙂 **

    • Hey Xandre! Thanks for the super complements on the post and the photographs. I really ought to do some more posts based on places in the UK. I don’t tend to do that because the places seem so ordinary to me who lives here, compared to adventures abroad! Do you find that? Possibly not, because your country is so large compared to the titchy little UK! If you have read any of my replies to other comments on this post page you will know that I will not be posting for a couple of weeks because my Mac has had a bit of a crash and is going off to the Apple doctors to have a disc replaced! Disaster! Anyway, I don’t have access to my photographs, which were very luckily on two stand alone hard drives, and I am stuck using Penny’s laptop when I can get a hold of it! I will still try to keep up with everyones posts during that time and plan something for when the ‘Mac comes back’!

      Take care, Xandre!


    • Hi Suzanne – Thanks for dropping by my blog, for the complement, and for following me! I have been to visit your blog and your photographs are amazing – so I have signed up to follow you in return – what fun!



      • LOL! Thank you! Glad you stopped by :),,we are having some fun! You may get whiplash,,I go back and forth from serious to silly pretty rapidly 🙂

  6. This post, in particular, made me smile. A lot of really great photographers out there. Congrats to each. And as for you….I love the 3rd, 4th and 5th photos. Spectacular. Love love the color!

    • Thanks for visiting again, Shayna, and glad you liked the post – it is very different from my usuals! I am sure that Ripon looks very different from your part of the world! That is one of the great things about blogging – seeing different parts of the world ‘up close and personal’ through the eyes of the everyday man or woman who actually lives there!



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