Ruth and Sim, part of the Barrow Library team who won our Desmond Elliott Prize competition, share their adventures in London attending the glamorous awards ceremony at Fortnum & Mason.
13:06 We arrive in the big smoke to a gloriously hot and sunny day. First stop the British Library to check out their First World War display (to get some inspiration for ours). Enjoyed the visit, particularly the shop, and then made our way to our lodgings for the evening to prepare for the Desmond Elliott Prize ceremony, with plenty of time to spare.
16:43 Time to get sparkly for the event.
18:09 Not quite ready - still painting nails in cab.
18:10 Arrive at Fortnum & Mason - the kindly concierge rushes to help us from cab and assist in helping us find the Drawing Room - a light and beautiful room, lined with hand-painted silk wallpaper (just like home).
Feeling more than a little apprehensive we enter the room but the nerves soon dissipate (not down to the fizz - very nice as it was) but to the welcoming reception we receive. It is lovely to put the faces to The Reading Agency staff Rose and Karen from our numerous email exchanges, "What shall we wear?" etc. They are so complimentary about our Barrow Library winning display, including Stampy, on his mini trapeze paying homage to Desmond Elliott. Christine Berry, one of the trustees of the Desmond Elliott Charitable Trust, is equally charming and we glean an insight into Desmond Elliott through her fascinating anecdotes, including how they came to work together.
We are thrust into an unexpected photo shoot with the three shortlisted authors; Robert Allison, Eimear McBride and DW Wilson. We wish them well and continue on our quest to find more canapés (and fizz). Glasses in hand we are called to attention for the speeches.
Dallas Manderson, Chairman of the trust, gives a fantastic speech which includes, "What the government is doing to libraries is reprehensible..." - this receives a big cheer.
Chair of the judges, Chris Cleave, gives a rousing speech and announces the winner to be Eimear McBride! Well done Eimear! Cue selfie with the winner - Eimear seemed bemused, yet pleased, to have her picture taken with the winning Library display team.
The evening reaches new heights when the incredible gourmet cake-pop canapés are presented - they quite literally take our breath away, and also stop us talking for a while.
21:18 Helped back in cab by lovely concierge.
What a blast we've had - pleased to see the love for libraries is flourishing in these difficult times. We met some wonderful people and had a glimpse into the world of publishing, journalism and writing. Same time next year?
Many, many thanks to everyone who enabled our visit - we both absolutely, totally, overwhelmingly, spectacularly quite liked it!
You can find out more about the Desmond Elliott Prize for this year and the winner Eimear McBride.
If you want to find out more about the prize winning Barrow Library, take a look at their Facebook page.