08 October, 2012

Winners are Grinners

Yesterday was a massive day.  We hadn't had a great night with Raina (awake at 2.30, then again quite early), but Maarten bless his soul was up and eager to deal with it so I could get some rest ahead of the long day ahead.  In fact, he was Super-Dad all morning, with breakfast on the table when I came down, then getting Raina all ready for our big day trip to Amsterdam for the i am not a tourist fair so I could concentrate on trying to tame my mad, frizzy mess that sometimes resembles hair.  In fact, he was so organised that we made it out the door early!  That almost never happens.  We're at the stage now where we make our get out of the house deadline 15 minutes before we actually should be out the door and we're usually only a little bit late for everything...

So, we made it to Amsterdam with plenty of time to spare and hit the fair.  I hadn't taken two steps inside when I had half a dozen bags shoved at me and was pounced upon by a market research dude, but after a few deep breaths I squeezed through into the main hall where all the action was.  I made a bee-line to the Expatica stall to introduce myself and find out how the competition was going to shape up, then I took a seat to take a few deep breaths.  To be perfectly honest, I wasn't all that nervous.  It's much more difficult for me to knock on the neighbour's door to collect a package than it is to get upon stage in front of thousands (okay, dozens) of people to deliver a reading.

Andy, the fantastic Toastmaster gave me the run-down, I was first up and it was time to get on with it.  Up on stage I went, looked down at my page and could hardly read as I was shaking so damn much!  I thought, ok, I need to make this shaking less obvious, so it was time to try and wing it.  I started moving around on stage a bit and only glancing briefly at the page and it seemed to work.  Although I did quite a bit of ad-libbing and forgot some of my best lines!

Image thanks to the awesome Indigo Jones.  That's Maarten and Raina there in the foreground.
Next up was Catina from Amsterdam Mama.  Catina read a fabulous post called Pancake Panic - Mama gets stuck in honour of Breast cancer awareness month.  Catina had the crowd in stitches with the imagery of getting her girls stuck in the mammogram machine.

Then Nandini from Taal : : Tale took to the stage with her thought provoking post about identity while visiting the hairdresser; Kapper Who?

Once all three of us had read our pieces, it was time to climb back on stage for the voting.  It was a process that Catina and I agreed took us straight back to high school.  I felt 16 again, standing up there, trying to appear nonchalant, all the while secretly hoping that I get the loudest cheers.  You know, just like in high school.

Because Maarten had been an exceptional campaigner, he had brought along a contingency of loud voices to cheer me on.  And it was entirely due to them that the applause-o-meter (Rhys, from Expatica) decided that I was victorious!

Thanks to Amsterdam Writing Workshops I won a fantastic two day workshop of my choice, worth 150 euros!  The course is something that I am very much looking forward to and it's wonderful to be given the opportunity to improve my writing skills, something that I have been desperate to do for a long time.

After the competition was over, I was able to spend some more time walking around visiting stalls, and I was treated to a gorgeous pink velvet cupcake from Alice in Cakeland by a friend.  I caught up with Lynn from Nomad Parents who has some brilliant projects in the pipeline and I also managed to catch Emmy from Amsterdam Mamas, which must be the fastest growing community in Amsterdam.

We even managed to wind it all up with a sensational cheese tasting from Reypenaer, trying not to be too piggy by scoffing some of the most famous and best tasting cheeses in the entire world.

Thanks very much to Expatica for putting on such a wonderful event and hosting such a fun competition   My  only criticism:  give the job agencies more space.  The hoards of people surrounding them made it difficult to navigate the close quarters at times.  But that's a minor detail in a wonderful day.

See you next year.

Did you attend?  Did you try any of the workshops on offer?  What did you think, will you go back next year?

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