Friday, June 19, 2015

Report back on my trip to the UK - Part 3

Not strictly the UK, but on Friday 12th June I flew to Dublin to meet up with fellow Minxes. These ladies are not only my writing friends and critique partners, they've become like family. We stayed up late every night, drank copious amounts of wine and coffee, and talked, talked, talked.

But all too soon it was over, and  I can't wait until I get another chance to meet with them again - one weekend was definitely too short a time!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Report back on my trip to the UK - Part 2

My next big day in London, Donna (who has been my friend since we were the tender age of 3 years old) and I travelled back into London from Bishops Stortford. We wandered the area around Oxford Street, New Bond Street and Regent Street. While Donna shopped in Whole Foods, I made a phone call home to check on my father, who had been admitted to hospital earlier in the week.

Then while Donna attended a training seminar, I met with author and honorary Minx Zara Cox for tea at Fortnum & Mason. It was a really warm day and after climbing five storeys I was feeling hot and sweaty, so not exactly fitting the ultra-elegant interior, but it was a superb afternoon tea and we had a wonderful chat.

After braving the crowds in Hamleys and around Piccadilly Circus, I re-joined Donna in Leicester Square where we enjoyed a couple of glasses of Prosecco and people watching while the Minions arrived across the square for the premiere of their newest movie, to the screams of their adoring fans.

Our view of Leicester Square

We then hurried to the Victoria Apollo for Wicked, the musical. I love musicals, so I'm easily impressed, but I really enjoyed this show. This is the story behind the Wizard of Oz, of how Glinda the Good and Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West) became the characters we love and hate - and there are flying monkeys!

Tomorrow I'll post about the second half of my trip: the Minxy meet-up in Ireland.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Report back on my trip to the UK - Part 1

And Ireland too (I am aware the Republic isn't part of Her Majesty's Kingdom!)

I arrived in London around midday and it took a few hours to get across the city and out to Bishops Stortford, so I was pretty finished by the time I finally arrived. My first evening was spent quietly with my childhood friend Donna, catching up over steak and wine.

The next day I travelled back into London for lunch with my editor, Charlotte Ledger, at the lovely Rooftop Cafe, across the road from the new HarperCollins offices. Hidden behind a nondescript office building entrance, this little gem was a wonderful surprise, with a great view and even better food. We enjoyed a delightful yet healthy lunch (really yummy asparagus!), accompanied by Cava (Spanish sparkling wine) and lots of chat. We didn't talk much about business but it was wonderful just to get to know each other.

The Rooftop Cafe near London Bridge

The view from the Rooftop Cafe towards The News Building

After lunch, Charlotte gave me a guided tour of the HarperCollins offices in The News Building (previously known as Baby Shard) which began with the most wonderful surprise: a display of my books, including the very latest which I hadn't yet seen in paperback format.

I was also introduced to the two cover artists who designed my covers, met Kimberly Young (head of Women's Fiction at HC) as she was dashing between meetings, and was thoroughly impressed by the light, airy offices filled with books and surrounded by the most spectacular views. What I wouldn't do to work for a company that provides its employees with their own book store!

The view from The News Building

The famous Wall of Books at the staff book store

Me and the lovely Charlotte in the staff book store

Then, feeling guilty at taking up so much of Charlotte's time when she has the workload of three people, I left her to work and went to browse through Southwark Cathedral and Borough Market, where I stopped to enjoy a refreshing glass of Pimms laced with summer fruits.

Southwark Cathedral

The News Building (left) and The Shard (right) from the yard of Southwark Cathedral

I then wandered the area of Southwark, past the Golden Hinde, the ruins of Winchester Palace, down Clink Street where the infamous prison once stood, to the Thames.

Golden Hinde II, modelled on Francis Drake's famous ship

Ruins of the palace of the Bishops of Winchester

I don't really need to caption this photo, do I?

The late summer sunlight was deceptive and I nearly ran late for my next appointment: dinner in Belgravia with HarperImpulse author Brigid Coady. Unbelievably, after having had a big lunch, I managed to pack away another big meal, this time accompanied by Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine).

Brigid and I had such an amazing chat that neither of us thought to take photographs - which is probably just as well since this blog post is already long enough!

More to follow on my London adventures tomorrow...