It is award week here at Haynet with the finalists being announced in the Country Style Blogger of the Year Award 2018. Hosted by Haynet and sponsored by countryside PR & Social Media Marketing Agency MirrorMePR, the award is in its second year recognising blogging talent with country style running through its veins. Following from the hugely successful Equestrian Blogger of the Year Award, it felt a natural progression to separate the writers who focus on life in the countryside and recognise them with an individual award.
Last years worthy winner in the first ever Country Style Blogger of the Year Award was Sophie in the Sticks. Her passionate rural blog shows Sophie’s love for the seasons through her distinct writing and photographic style. Samantha Hobden, one of the award judges, recently caught up with Sophie to see how her blogging year has been since winning the award in 2017:
Has your heart always been in the countryside? Did you spend your childhood in a rural environment?
I grew up in a large village and although we didn’t connect especially closely with nature it was definitely quiet. My favourite childhood memories of the countryside are hacking out on ponies, through lanes bordered by oil seed rape in bloom and galloping on stubble field boundaries and wandering up the lane blackberry picking with Grandma. Towns and cities feel very alien environments to me, somewhere to shop then leave asap.
Your love for the seasons is written about with such passion. What is your favourite time of year?
Until a couple of years ago, I would have adamantly insisted that summer is by far the best part of the year with sizzling heat, endless days of sunshine, golden wheat fields swishing in the light breeze and flowers in bloom absolutely everywhere. While I still love this with such fierce intensity, since starting to grow flowers a few years ago I’ve come to yearn the very start of spring. The day you know for sure that winter is over; those first warm rays of sunshine which enforce losing a jumper for half an hour. The first few wildflowers in bloom on the banks; primroses, lesser celandine and the start of cow parsley, that feeling that exciting things are happening and that the world is filling with possibility once more. That’s the most inspiring point of the year and it lifts my spirits to dizzying heights.
Fashion comes through strongly through your blog. What are your favourite three key pieces of clothing you could not live without?
What a tough question! I have to say that I only ever dress to make myself happy which is why sometimes I’m overdressed or wear pieces which have long since been shunned by the catwalk. A throw on dress is an absolute must-have as sometimes a spur of the moment decision is made to go out and it only takes a minute to pop on a beautiful bright dress which requires no additional styling or accessories. Ankle boots are how my feet are homed about 80% of the year and they are ideal for most occasions – especially with dresses. A decent pair of denim shorts as these will forever be comfortable and can coordinate with everything from stiff shirts, camisoles, blouses and crop tops, jumpers…. you name it, those denim shorts will see a good lot of wear.
A key part of your blog is your love of photography. What is your top tip for getting a striking countryside shot?
I’m not a trained photographer but I’ve spent years enjoying the tries to take the photographs that make me happy. I love exploring depths of field, sparkles, rain, sunshine, light and shade, interesting backgrounds and views across the floor. My advice would be to take endless pictures and build up a feeling of what you like to see as a result. My aim with photography is to capture exactly how that moment felt; the spark, the thing which made it unique. As an individual piece to hang on the wall, not so much but each post’s collection builds up a real feel of what that time was like.
You post an average of twenty posts a month on your blog. Do you ever struggle to find topics to talk about?
Never! I usually have surplus material which falls by the wayside through lack of time to compose pieces. It’s almost always photographed lead content; I take pictures, edit (usually only resize and sometimes crop) the ones I really like, then write up things of interest and notes about the time there. Often on a walk, I will end up with two or three posts’ worth with so much to see through the lens plus some shots of myself too. There is just so much to say about the world around us.
Why do you love blogging so much?
There are so many reasons! It’s essentially a photo diary which I can look back through, there are over 1000 posts so plenty to read that I’ve long since forgotten about. It’s somewhere to share my pictures and thoughts – if I didn’t get posts published they would just linger and feel pointless. Lastly and most importantly, it’s the one part of my life that feels my own; nobody considers me to be a creative person yet blogging has allowed me to explore my writing and passions to unveil a definite final result which I’m proud of.
Did winning the award change anything for you?
I’ve never felt like a confident blogger before yet the support and kind comments that I’ve received have been overwhelmingly uplifting and have given me such a warm glow. I’m so grateful for that, it’s meant a lot to me.
What advice would you give wannabe bloggers out there?
Do your thing; decide what drives you, follow your passion and don’t let anyone else’s negativity change your mind. So what if you’re not mainstream? It doesn’t matter. Stay true to yourself and stick to your plan.
Please come along to Sophie in the Sticks
The finalists in the Country Style Blogger of the Year Award 2018 are being announced on Wednesday 2nd May 2018 8pm through its dedicated Twitter channel.