Last week, Wintercraft and I were invited to our first awards ceremony at the Master Stationers' Hall in London. The hall itself is literally a stone's throw away from St Paul's Cathedral, and while Wintercraft may not have come away with the prize on the night, it did give me the chance to tick off one of my travelling goals the next morning...
Firstly, the awards night.
The dinner and prizes were both served in the Master Stationers' meeting hall, which had some fantastic stained glass windows. The hall dates back to the 1600s and I heard some people comparing it to the Great Hall at Hogwarts throughout the evening. Here are some photos so you can judge for yourself.
I went along with my wonderful editor, Hannah Sheppard from Headline, and we got to meet some lovely authors including Mike Lancaster, author of the YA novel 0.4, who gave us a sneaky preview of the cover of his next book (which looks and sounds brilliant). We also met Frederick Forsyth, who was there to give out one of the awards, and there was a general buzz of nerves and excitement around the hall as the winners were announced.
A huge storm cloud lurked over the hall and threatened to burst as Hannah and I walked through the London streets afterwards: her heading home and me heading back to my hotel. But I had unfinished business...
I could see the dome of St Paul's Cathedral from my hotel room, and I had come so close to it during the awards night that I had to go back there the next morning.
I completely blame Mary Poppins for this.
I took some photos outside, humming 'feed the birds, tuppence a bag' to myself, and spotted one lonely pigeon on the cathedral steps.
Ah well. He seemed happy enough having all that space to himself.
I may have had a mad dash ahead of me to make it to Kings Cross in time for my train, but I've always wanted to visit the cathedral. It's been on my travelling wish list for years, so I couldn't resist buying a ticket and heading inside.
There weren't many people there at that time of the morning and I got to stand undisturbed right under the dome. The paintings were beautiful. Someone moved a chair while I was there and the sound resonated around the building in quite a spectacular way. It must be amazing to hear people singing inside.
After that, I headed down into the crypt, which I had completely to myself, and wandered around the tombs alone.
I was tempted towards the gift shop (my one weakness in any place that I visit), but I had a train to catch. I left the cathedral and its watchful statues behind and headed for home.
Thanks for a great time, London. As always, I will be back.