This time last year I’d just self-published a little Christmas novella called ‘Christmas Without Icing’. A year on and I find myself inside the Harper Collins building in London, because that little Christmas novella now has a brand new title – ‘The First Christmas Without You’ – a gorgeous new cover, and it’s just been published through Harper Impulse!
Not only that, it was also one of three winners of the Harper Impulse Winter Wonderland competition, and part of the prize for winning that competition was Afternoon Tea at Fortnum & Mason, which is why I found myself down in London just days before Christmas. And what an afternoon it was! As if spotting darts players at breakfast in the hotel we were staying at, and Nick from The Apprentice striding through Leicester Square wasn’t exciting enough (and that was about as far as my celebrity spotting went I’m afraid), I was about to experience something I never thought I’d ever get to experience.
First of all I met the gorgeous Charlotte and Katie at the Harper Impulse offices, had a bit of a chat and a little look around before we all hopped on the tube and travelled to Fortnum & Mason, where we met up with fellow competition winner Kathy Jay and Kim from HarperImpulse.
I have to say, Fortnum & Mason isn’t somewhere I ever thought I’d set foot inside. It was a place I’d only ever read about or seen pictures of before, so to actually get to go inside – especially for one of their famous afternoon teas! – it really was quite exciting. And when we got to the Diamond Jubilee Tea Rooms up on the 4th floor, it became obvious how special this was going to be. There were smartly dressed waiters rushing around carrying tiers of cakes and sandwiches, a pianist was playing away in the background… this was not how I would normally be spending a Wednesday afternoon! But to have the chance to experience this, it was something I will never forget.
Choosing what kind of afternoon tea to have was easy – the one with the most cakes, obviously! But to be handed a menu of so many different kinds of tea was enough to make your head spin! I never knew there were so many varieties! I find it hard to make a decision between Yorkshire tea or PG Tips, so this was something else completely!
But when the tea came, it arrived in gorgeous little teapots, complete with tiny tea strainers, and when the afternoon tea came it was just presented so beautifully! Which was why pictures had to be taken, of course. It almost seemed a shame to eat anything! But I did eat, even though I was still incredibly nervous. But the ladies from Harper Impulse were so lovely, and they made me feel at ease from the second I met them. I was even persuaded to try lemon curd and clotted cream on a scone, which is a revelation to me! I’ll be having that again, just probably not in Fortnum & Mason! Although I do appear to have a half eaten jar of Fortnum & Mason lemon curd in my bag… But after that truly fabulous afternoon meeting some gorgeous ladies, eating beautiful food, and finally letting everything sink in, I am now one very happy author. One very happy author indeed.
Thank you so much to everyone at Harper Impulse for making it happen, for giving me an experience I’ll never forget, and for believing in my books. I had an amazing afternoon, but that mug of tea and a digestive biscuit just isn’t going to cut it now… really, it isn’t…