Afternoon tea is my favourite meal. The fact that tea is central enough to be included in the title is enough. I am part woman, part tea. If something is wrong it’s usually because I need a cuppa and I firmly believe most things can be sorted out over one. I own several teapots and send official Sarah Powell teabags out to everyone on my mailing list (why yes you can sign up right here)

The Powells are a Tetley household. We have always had Tetley tea unless there was a very good offer on another brand that my mother June was swayed by. In the morning June will say “don’t speak to me I haven’t had tea yet” and never goes abroad without several sandwich bags packed full of Tetley. One year she also took Rich Tea biscuits but it turns out they don’t travel well.

The only other thing I love more than tea is tiny little sandwiches. The sort you can eat in two bites. Meaning you can eat 84 of them. Add to this, cakes, scones, cream, jam and the occasional scotch egg and you have the greatest spread on earth. As if this weren’t quite enough, there is also the option to add cocktails and fizz. I believe firmly in adding booze to things. Booze and cheese. Here there is the option for add both.

I have had a lot of afternoon teas. Mine is a body built on clotted cream. I have taken afternoon tea in fancy hotels, by the seaside, at craft afternoons, summer fetes and in the ballroom of a cruise ship. I am delighted by crumpets, squeal for macarons and will always, always have a second scone. Taking tea with someone you love, chatting the afternoon away then going for a lie down is quite simply heaven.

The Sanderson Hotel is a retro 1950’s building outside but inside it’s clever and almost cheeky. I plonked myself down on a red lips sofa in the foyer and honestly didn’t think I’d get up again. To my left was a row of barstools with a giant eye staring out of the back of each of them and to my right twirled a dangling 60s orb seat. How anyone could get in or out of that when full of scone, I will never know.

The Sanderson Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea is centered around their outdoor terrace, a square courtyard with a good breeze but covered enough to stay dry. The first thing to say is there is no fancy dress. Not even if you wanted to. There are no top hats, no bunny ears and no one in a Cheshire Cat purple body stocking. The first thing is to choose from five Alice- inspired teas. Don’t be alarmed by a lack of English Breakfast. I’m someone who only drinks builder’s tea but Alice’s bergamot and vanilla is sweet nectar. In fact it’s so gorgeous they sell it on the way out to take home. Tea is served in bucket sized amounts from fat, stout tea pots guarded by the Queen of Hearts and too heavy not to use both hands. The sugar is found in a ballerina jewellry box which sings when you open it and the menu is bound into a vintage book, the sort of thing Alice would read.

Then comes the towering glory of it all. A skyscraper of delights. The three tiered cakestand of joy. I almost rugby tackled it from the lady bringing it over. Cucumber sandwiches and crab buns  at the bottom, pocket watch macaroons in the middle and caterpillar marshmallows at the top. I am now in love with the Queen of Heart biscuits full of jam and cream and I could have eloped with Tweedle Dee’s lemon curd financier. A tiny plant pot of caramel ice cream covered in chocolate soil and honeycombe, arrived as a surprise, the very best sort of surprise. Finally let’s please talk about the darling little bottle of  cinnamon, apple and peach “Drink Me” potion, which have daydreamed about at the busstop since. Obviously just in case we weren’t ready to roll home perfect scones, jam came with cream you could have stood up in.

Now look, I must tell you this because the people next to us didn’t realise until it was too late, but you can reorder anything you like. This is quite standard at any afternoon tea so always make enquiries. You want more croque monsieur? You have them. Another mocha chessboard gateau? Go for it. We had six smoked salmon scotch eggs.

Usually I am someone who demands colour to really enjoy a thing and the only thing that is bright orange is the mini macarons nestled in grass. I have to concede, the tea set is perfect in monochrome covered in prancing horses and the stripes of the White Rabbit’s waistcoat. It’s made by Luna and Curious and you can buy the lot if you’re feeling flash or a teacup and saucer to be chic at home.

As I write this, the time is now 3.15pm. Which I think we can all agree is the perfect time for tea.

xoxx

I was at heat towers last week and Hannah pointed to my bright pink jelly pumps and said “I used to wear jelly shoes when I was little!”

There is something brilliantly nostalgic about plastic jelly shoes. If you were born in the 80s PVC was fancy and exciting and alarmingly cheap. So cheap that anyone under 10 could easily get through 3 pairs of jellies in a summer. Sturdier than a flip flop and better for rock pooling, they were the ideal holiday shoe.

Jelly shoes were brilliant when you were little for the same reasons they are now, you can shove them on in all weathers and they don’t get wet. They’re good for puddles, beaches and fields. If you spill Ribena or a white wine spritzer on them, no problem! Simply remove, flap around a bit, pop it back on and carry on. In the late 90s jellies came back as a throwback back item and then they came back in the 00s as a 90s throwback item then again and again, so for the last 10 years they haven’t really gone away.

I bought my first pair of Juju “Vicky” mint green cut outs four years ago on an asos haul. I thought they would be “handy” to have as a back up shoe or for running to the shop in. They didn’t leave my feet for the whole summer and then into autumn and even winter for a dash across the road to get my nails done.

They have been a true friend, there for allsorts of capers. They’ve been to Glastonbury, survived seaside trips, British beach walks and actually very long city walks. They have been to brunches, cinema trips and one particular walk around an estuary. They have been strong and sturdy and shown love and tenacity in difficult times. Oddly they also seem to go with everything; dresses, shorts, harem pants, jeans and the most tailored of trousers all look outstanding with the Juju. I’m thinking of making them some sort of award.

But I knew it couldn’t last for forever, I knew they could only take so many train journeys, dog walks and trips to big Sainsbury’s. The other day I went to put them on and they felt different, sort of wonky and I looked down to see one of the cut out at the back had snapped. I wore them anyway.

You can imagine my concern when I saw they were no longer stocked on asos. Were they discontinued everywhere? A small brand that only saw one summer? What the hell would replace them? Thankfully though Office and Schuh both stock Juju Jellies and they of course have their own website. I bought a bright pink pair of Vicky’s as soon as I found out.

Juju Footwear is a family run business, started in 1986 and based in Northampton, which does make them something of A Brit Excellent. They are “exceptionally proud to call ourselves the creators of the the original British jelly shoe” and have been making shoes and wellies for over 25 years. Juju still use the traditional manufacturing method, in the same factory since they started. All their materials are sourced in England and are recyclable, so all the waste jellies are ground up to make new products which I LOVE. In 2012 they became involved in Project Jelly, making kid’s jelly shoes for charity and 20% of all their profits go to Great Ormond Street hospital.

I have just lost a full 40 minutes on jujufootwear.com and have a wishlist of about 18 pairs I want. They have every jelly shoe a person could ever need: heels, flats, cut outs, pastels, neons, monochrome, glitter, casual, smart, playful, high fashion, throwback and just good quality everyday sandals. I have genuine sorrow I missed out on their glittery jelly chelsea boots, making up for it with the glitter jellyboot. And a special mention has got to go to the Kigu parrot wellies. They also do amazing kids wellies for just £7.50.

In these times of changeable inclement weather, it’s good to have a true friend who will support you and be by your side. Or rather on your feet.

xxox

“You’re quite camp aren’t you Sarah?” is one of the best things anyone has ever said to me. I remember clearly being sat in the sixth form common room at school with a girl from the year above. “Yes! Yes I am!” I replied with RuPaul theatricality.

I was an oddball teenager. Ginger, doughy and with none of the attributes needed to be fancied by lads. I went to bed longing to wake up looking like Natalie Imbruglia in the Torn video, but instead I woke with frizzy red hair and a complexion that resembled cranberry Wensleydale. I was teased by the boys on the school bus and spent my lunch times listening to the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack, imagining Taylor Hanson would arrive at the school gates to marry me. In the end and in an effort to fit in, I became a goth. Not a real one of course, I dyed my hair purple in the summer holidays, wore black lipstick occasionally and, perhaps most baffling, started to wear men’s boxer shorts from Gap as underwear.

I can’t remember the first time I watched Ab Fab but I gazed at Edina Monsoon and everything changed. She was loud, dramatic, cartoon camp with ridiculous clothes and I adored her. I loved how large everything about her was, how extreme and hilarious a woman on a television could be. She wasn’t interested in fitting in, in fact Eddie thought normal people were boring. Suddenly the sleek women in magazines I desperately wanted to look like were dull and being fabulous was the only way to live. I became a real life embodiment of her, walking around in tye dye and calling everyone “sweetie darling.” The boys on the bus didn’t get it at all.

Marcus Longinotti is one of the most fabulous people I had ever met in my life. He was only one year above me in sixth form but seemed years away in wisdom, experience and owning exactly who he was. He paraded around the common room, throwing around dramatics and slut dropping to Melanie C. I’ll never forget him, dressed as a reverend backstage in the school production of The Crucible, doing a full dance routine to Ricky Martin’s She Bangs. He was living it, all of it and he had no time for anyone who didn’t think they were fabulous. I was in awe.

Marcus practically threw me over his shoulder and took me to Canal Street. For the first time in my life no one cared that I was fat or had corned beef legs. No one cared I didn’t look like Shakira or that I wasn’t cool or didn’t know what to do with my hair. It wasn’t weird I sang Les Mis with my mother round the piano, in fact it was marvellous. I was different and that was fabulous. I wasn’t weird, I was wonderful. I was celebrated just for being there. Just for showing up. No one ever questioned that I was straight, I was me and as long as I was a nice person then “fuck it darling, who cares!”

Throughout my whole life I have been shown acceptance and love from a community that I don’t officially belong to. It has always welcomed me with open arms. It has thrown those arms around me when I have been lonely or scared or full of self hatred. It had hammered the message “be proud of who you are” to me over and over again. It has told me to live the life I want. It has provided my best friends. It has made me who I am.

Of course this year Pride is even bigger because last week marked the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act in England and Wales. There has been shitloads of amazing stuff to celebrate and this Saturday it is the epic Brighton Pride. I lived in Kemptown in Brighton for three years and lost lots of weekends being proud.

Ellie Ellie (a divine Brighton based independent brand) are celebrating the anniversary with their own Love is Love campaign. They believe “that everyone is equal, and want to spread the message that no matter who you love, you matter.” They have created fabulous t shirts as well as rainbow cufflinks with 20% of all sales going to The Kaleidoscope Trust, who work with parliamentarians, government ministers, officials and policy makers to campaign for real change. The t shirts are obscenely flattering so you can look delicious and do something good.

Because Love is Love, whoever it’s between.

xxox

Being a hopeless romantic and someone who loves love, I do enjoy a bit of matchmaking though not between actual real people. No, my liaising is between random things in my flat. Things I think are good together. I will pair them on a shelf so they can live happily ever after. Lionel the giant money pig with a gold pineapple, a plastic R2-D2 with a book about Dolly Parton, for example. The first of these happy couples to make it into The Museum of Sarah is Buddha and a Mirrorball. They’ve been together for nearly a year and are very happy.

I believe every home should have at least one mirrorball and I’ve had this one for most of my life. I’ve had it for so long I can’t remember where it came from but I think it was a present from my mother, June who would have thought it was “very fun.” It came in a brown box with the kind of satisfying polystyrene which fits around it’s shape perfectly. It’s first home was the Victorian fireplace in my bedroom before it was taken to uni, where, after several vodkas, I almost stood on it to recreate the Justin Timberlake album cover. Thankfully it was saved from this horror, moved back home with me and then to Brighton and then to London where it was happily set up with Buddha. Over the years the polystyrene has been lost so it’s taken a few knocks and lost a couple of mirrors but that’s all part of it’s charm now.

Buddha moved in two years ago when I graduated from a blogging workshop in 2015. The Blogcademy was a weekend workshop where we learnt about blogging and instagram and larked about with pineapples. Unfortunately I had a revolting cold so spent the whole thing dosed up and trying not to breathe on anyone. Throughout the weekend there was a photo competition but because I was ill and also the least competitive person in the UK, I didn’t really think about it.

It was only when they were announcing the winners that I saw the array of prizes and there he was, my neon pink light up Buddha. Much like a decent raffle, if you won you could go up and choose which prize you wanted. As the award giving went on the choice of prizes got smaller and smaller but to my bafflement, no one chose Buddha. When my name was called I darted towards the front and stopped short of grabbing him or screaming “he’s MINE! I want HIM!!” I gracefully picked him up, took the applause and Kat from The Blogcademy said “I knew someone would like him.” He’s been on my shelf, and at a disco, ever since.

photo c/o nubbytwiglet.com and Sarah Kuszelewicz. I was SO ill.

I had a good hunt around for where you could buy Buddha and most places seem to be out of stock (understandably, he is divine) but they do have him at octer if you need him in your life. Everywhere from Very to Not on The High Street sell mirror and disco ball things or if you want to real deal, you want Mirrorball Paul. Can we also just take a moment for this one designed for budgie bird cages?

xxox

When I first moved to London, I was very much babe pig in the city. It was loud and crowded and shiny and there were beautiful things to buy. One of those things was a delicious velvet tub chair that sat in the window of Oliver Bonas.

Oliver Bonas was started by Olly Tress who opened his first shop in Fulham in 1993. His parents lived in Hong Kong and Olly would visit them and bring things back for his lucky lucky mates. This gifting was obviously very popular and he thought “there’s something in this” so started making a bit of money to get him through his Anthropology degree. A couple of years after he left uni he opened the shop, which was repainted by his mates and featured a second hand till Olly bought for £60.

He says they sold “a magpie collection of seemingly random lifestyle ‘things’ including furniture, gifts, jewellery, bags, accessories and homeware” and “that was pretty unusual for a shop at the time, some people were confused by it, others loved it” Of course they did. The name comes from Oliver’s girlfriend at the time, Anna Bonas who let him use her surname and “very kindly hasn’t demanded that I change it.” I think having a shop named after you by your dearly beloved is one of the greatest romantic gestures of our age.

In an interview with London Loves Business, Olly says he found opening a second shop “much, much harder.” He admits he didn’t have many business skills and his “execution skills were very poor and it just meant it was very stressful… I should think the business grew much less efficiently than it could have done.” I always assume anyone with a phenomenally successful business knew exactly what they were doing all along, so  I think it’s inspiring to know Olly learnt as he went along.

Now Oliver Bonas have 60 stores throughout the country selling clothes, homeware and quirky gifts like Cat Bingo, just the sort of thing The Museum of Sarah loves. What’s interesting is whereas they used to just sell things from other designers, they now have a whole in house design team. One of whom drew my portrait last week at their Christmas press day.

At that press day I fell upon their gifty bits and realised I was wearing a dress that matched the whole range perfectly. They also had a drinks trolley, sushi and afternoon tea. I could have happily stayed there for the rest of the day.

These designs are based around a speed sketching session done by the design team, drawing portraits of the everyone in the company. The designs were simplified, dreamy colours were added and they created this heavenly range of glasses, makeup bags, phone covers and my favourite, trinket dishes. It’s the first time I can say honestly be thrilled to get a laundry bag for Christmas.

I also love their “Confident” enamel pins, which have messages like “looking good” and “fairest of them all” instead of the usual “sorry not sorry” they seem to be selling everywhere else. The 2018 diary come workbook is to die for and emblazoned on the cover is the Oliver Bonas motto “Work Hard, Play Hard & Be Kind” which I think says it all.

xxox