Stories

I love IKEA. One day I hope to live in IKEA and have 8 bedrooms to choose a different one every night to sleep in. The staff would tuck me in and I could live on meatballs.

IKEA have been in the UK for 30 years, Happy Birthday IKEA 🎉🎂 They are throwing a massive house party with a different decade on each floor designed exactly how your front room would have looked then. The 80s has chequered wallpaper, on the 90s floor there is blue WKD and Magic Eye books as well as a Nintendo you can play Mario Kart on. The 00s is all about feature wall and up another flight of stairs is The Future with a mirror you can chat to and a light changing wall. It’s so clever and if you are in London town between now and Saturday during the day, go and have a look. There are parties there each night though of course they sold out in about 8 seconds. I DJed there last night in the noughties room and if you want your own little party, I’ve done you a playlist of 00s bangers I played. Get someone to flash the dimmer switch, eat a Twiglet and you’ve got the greatest Friday night of all time.

Here’s the official IKEA House Party video with my face talking about about it all:

The IKEA Marketplace is the bit right at the end with all the plates and fake flowers and it’s one of my favourite places on earth. I usually spend three hours in there choosing candles, fake roses, soft toys, placemats and flamingo glasses (I shrieked when I found those) Sometimes I have to walk through quickly before I get drawn in, if I see a pink fork that’s it. Last time I only went to IKEA for a bathroom mirror and I came out with 18 cushions.

My current favourite IKEA piece is one of their armchairs. I think an armchair is a the sign of success. You’ve made it when you’ve got an armchair to eat a bit of Victoria sponge on or read unbothered because no one can sit next to you. The BENARP is colour of a tomato and I’m thinking of exchanging my bed for it. I also got very excited about this entire living room until I realised it was doll’s furniture.

House parties are the best because you can have nice drinks, full access to a fridge and if it’s your own house you can go to bed. Here are a few of my house party thoughts…

  • Lighting: Don’t underestimate a dimmer switch. Also a few lamps around the place. By the time I get to a party I will have almost definitely split something down myself so low lighting is terrific to disguise this.
  • Music: Music is obviously vital, but so is volume. I love talking and there is nothing worse than you’re in the middle of a brilliant anecdote and the music is too loud. I have been known to ask to turn the music down at parties and I’m a DJ. Everyone hates you for a minute and then they go, “oh this is so nice, I love this song and I can talk to this man I fancy.”
  • Food: Food is controversial at a party. My sister doesn’t believe in food at parties, I believe in food everywhere. But it should never be left out too long. Soft crisps, houmous with a skin on it and a olive going crinkly is just not ok. The best policy is eat it or get rid of it. Or better, serve some little canapé things. Take them round, make people eat them (they’ll want to) and then finish the last ones off yourself, DONE.
  • People: The bottom line is you need people to have a party but make it quality and not quantity. One of the best parties I ever had was with three other people. Get everyone to bring someone but tell them they have to be brilliant. In fact they should tell you a brilliant fact about that person before they’re allowed in invite them.

xxox

If you follow my instagram you will have seen me getting very excited about these phenomenal glittery clutch bags from SoS15. In fact I have already put them into The Museum, in an earlier blog post The Best Clutch Bags on Earth.

A few weeks ago I got a lovely message on instagram from a lady called Saundra. Saundra said she’s a fan of my radio show (day MADE) and she would like to make me a clutch bag. You can imagine my delight. I think I actually squealed. Saundra makes all her bags by hand and they are amazing. Every single one is smothered in glitter and it’s proper covering of glitter as well, not just an apologetic smattering. She also does pop art eyes with big lashes and others with huge lips. She’ll make you one with your name on it or your postcode and has just done a commission for some peacock feathered bridesmaids clutches which are to die for.

Saundra has become such a lovely friend since then and I was delighted to travel down to her workshop in Crystal Palace where we drank a lot of tea, chatted and made one of her signature bags.

Saundra hand makes all of her bags in her studio in South London and is proud to be a British company who sources all her materials from within the UK. We made an “All about You” clutch bag and drank a lot of tea while we did it. You can buy SOS15 products from Saundra’s store,  as well as Not on the High Street.

xxox

Sammy and I have never met but we’ve adored each other from afar for a long time. I love her instagram, she loves Jules and Sarah the Podcast. I love her bright yellow hair and the pictures of her baby girl eating a cucumber in the bath and she bought my “Stand Up for Love” t shirt after I posted eating a crumpet in it at Field Day. We’re friends, we’ve just never had a G&T together.

Instagram is full of these glorious relationships. I’ve met people to work with, I’ve found events, clothes, homewares I wouldn’t otherwise know about and I’ve got my own little community of people I love but I’ve never met. One of the reasons I love this hotbed of instafriends is because I am obsessed with how people spend their time. I love knowing when they get up, what they eat, when they read, what they do of an evening. I feel like I work, watch First Dates, eat, have a bath and go to bed so if anyone finds the time to do anything apart from that I’m all over it.

When Sammy posted her incredible lobster “that shit cray” needlework on instagram I was in awe. I also wondered “how does she do it?!” Sammy is one of those amazing people who runs a teenage magazine, does massive celebrity interviews, has her daughter (the divine Daphne) makes amazing vagina cupcakes, has a cat, finds the best vintage tops and always has perfect eyeliner flicks. And now needlepoint that is on point. I barely have time to watch Dr Foster.

I told her it was the greatest thing I’ve ever seen and she said she would make me one and she has. She also asked if it would go into The Museum of Sarah and I said it would go front and centre on it’s own plinth and that’s exactly where it is.

She’s completely inspired me and tonight, I’m going to my first quilting class.

xoxx

“Dream more, learn more, care more and be more” Dolly Parton

Inspiration comes usually while I’m in the shower. During the course of a good wash I can have 34 life changing, brilliant ideas for articles, outfits, dinners, tv documentaries, my own talk show and ways to get thin. I emerge clean, damp and ready to change the world. But then I have to do my make up, eat, send an email, put something on instagram, eat again and watch Corrie, so many of these ideas don’t get any further than the bath mat. Despite having the same hours in the day as Obama, I just can’t action all of them. Being inspired is easy, staying inspired is not.

Sometimes you need a bit of extra guidance. A bit of something to reinvigorate you. To pick you up and get you going again. Yes there are quotes and affirmations everywhere, but sometimes I need more. I need the big guns. I want direct advice from someone incredible, untouchable, a legend. I want to know, What would Dolly Parton Do?

Now I love a bit of a book. And by “bit of a book” I mean those books that are usually sold by the till in places that aren’t book shops.  A small and fun book. A “look at this” book. A “oh that’s funny, she’ll love that” book. I can’t resist them. They make excellent presents which is why most of the ones I own were given to me. Currently on my shelf I can see “Everything is Going to Be OK,” “Get Sh*t Done,” and one of my favourites “F*ck That: An Honest Meditation.”

However, there are two little books on my shelf that I flick through more than any other. They are packed full of inspirational goodness and are part of the Pocket Wisdom series, Both were presents and both are excellent women: Pocket Iris Wisdom and Pocket Dolly Wisdom.

Iris Apfel is a businesswoman, interior designer and fashion icon.  If you haven’t seen the film Iris please and go and watch it on Netflix now.  I can’t remember how I found out about Iris Apfel but I think it was after watching the Channel 4 documentary “Fabulous Fashionistas.” This followed six ladies with an average age of 80 who all have an incredible sense of style. They are all empowered and wonderful and ridiculously inspiring. I’ve watched that documentary about 14 times so was hungry for something else and that’s how I found Iris.

Iris is no nonsense, she’s a fierce New Yorker and has no time for bullshit.

“I think it’s an awful thing to look like everybody else”

“Caviar is my drug of choice”

“If your hair is done properly and you’re wearing good shoes, you can get away with anything”

🙌🏻

Like everyone else, my sister Lorna and I love Dolly Parton. Her kindness, her humour, her hair, there is nothing I can write here to describe the majesty of Dolly.

It was a glorious Sunday afternoon at Glastonbury. I wore a candy striped dress and we drank red wine and danced at the Pyramid Stage singing Jolene and hearing Dolly tell us she was so happy to be there. It was so big and emotional and the wine and I started to cry.  I turned round to see another girl crying, I said “I don’t know why I’m crying!” she said she didn’t know either and we laughed.

When Lorna moved to Buenos Aires for two years she gave me this little book so I’d always have Dolly to turn to when she wasn’t there. Which made me cry again.

“Find out who you are and do it on purpose”

“When I was with Andy Warhol, I thought ‘God his wig looks cheaper than mine!’”

You can also have other pocket wisdoms from David Bowie, Kanye West, Coco Chanel and even Michelle Obama. All of them are available from Wordery.

“You only have one trip, you might as well enjoy it” Iris Apfel

xxox

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