Hello, Marketing Manager Fiona here! It is now December and there are only a few weeks left until the end of the year, and what a year it has been! If you are just about to get into the Christmas spirit, I am sorry to tell you that the Sweet Cherry team have beaten you to it. For the past week we have been trudging through fake carpet snow, attempting to sing Christmas carols in different languages, and tasting anything with the words “mulled” or “candy cane” in the name. Yes, we spent a week at the Ideal Home Show at Christmas!

 The show is essentially a shopper’s paradise, where visitors can visit a number of different stands and buy home products and services at discounted prices. Think Black Friday on repeat all week.

This was Sweet Cherry’s very first time at the event and most of the team packed their bags, leaving the office behind. We attended the show to sell our books, and to help our sister company, Bangzo Books, with their sales. We also hosted a very special author signing event, and invited Angie Lake, author of Danny Dingle’s Fantastic Finds: The Metal Mobile,  Andrew Davis, author/designer of our first adult colouring book Rangoli and Susan McNally, author of The Morrow Secrets Trilogy, to come along, and thankfully they agreed. We also asked début author Myra King to join in the fun as we also launched her brand new horse and pony book, Apley Towers: The Lost Kodas on the first day of the show.

 We hit the road early on Tuesday morning, expertly balancing a four tier cake with a huge horse head topper between us and arrived at the venue, bleary-eyed but ready to work. After an intense first day of setting up, we met Myra and Angie outside and went for a team meal at a little Italian place across the road from our hotel in Kensington. After some delicious food and great conversation, we split up for the night to explore our hotel and rooms and then fell into our beds for a good night’s sleep.

The first day was another early start, but after a couple of coffee and hot chocolate breaks, 10 am rolled around quickly and we were ready to open shop. To celebrate our very first day, and the launch of Apley Towers, SCP editor Cecilia and I enticed passers-by with free cherry-topped cupcakes and pointed them towards our centrepiece cake decoration – four tiers of cake, each depicting a different Sweet Cherry title using marzipan and edible cake stickers. The launch went down a treat, and the table was flooded by potential new readers, young and old.

Thursday was Author Signing Day and I had my work cut out looking after a range of different authors from different publishing houses. First, the wonderful Steve Antony (in his brightly coloured doughnut shirt) joined us at the stand and gave an outstanding reading from his two best-selling titles, The Queen’s Hat and Please Mr Panda. In the late afternoon, Claudia Joseph, author of the beautiful William and Kate’s Britain came and signed copies of her books and met a couple of royal family super-fans. Lastly, Richard Merritt visited the stand with friends and finished the night by signing copies of his Anti-Stress Colouring Book series, for shoppers to enjoy. He also did a Q&A with our very own Angie Lake, and even posed with us later in a quick photo shoot!

 Friday, Saturday and Sunday were incredibly busy. Our authors Susan McNally, Andrew Davis, Myra King and Angie Lake worked hour after hour signing copies of their books, only stopping to eat and make toilet dashes. I spent my time tweeting as many times as I could, fighting a non-existent Wi-Fi signal, happily running up and down on coffee runs and trying but failing to get in on photo opportunities with celebrities – especially Gino D’Acampo – as they left the exhibition stage. The rush was great!

 At the end of the exhibition though, we could hardly stand up! But the Sweet Cherry and Bangzo teams worked together to repack the rest of our stock – which took over 3 hours – and then popped across the room for a delicious Indian meal before we hit the road. Then we tumbled into our car and made the journey back to sleepy Leicester, arriving in the early hours of Monday morning!

I am definitely looking forward to the next Ideal Home Show, I can’t wait to see what we come up with for next year!