Stories

“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

“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

Look, I’m over on Bloglovin!

There has been an ongoing debate between my sweetheart and I for some time now: whether cushions actually make a sofa more or less comfortable. Of course I have always strongly fought the side that cushions are brilliant so of course they enhance a sofa. My boyfriend claims the aesthetic does not outweigh the fact the sofa is better to sit on without them.

This may be because he’s not actually allowed to sit *on* them. Cushions are too nice to go under a bottom, no matter how lovely the bottom is. They are to be sat in front of and leaned back on to. They are not there for comfort but to look good. Cushions are to be admired and not plunge a hand into as you get up off the sofa. You can see the trouble we’ve had.

I have cushions of every size and shape. Of every pattern and colour. Cushions that look like a bag of chips, several in various 70s patterns bought from eBay and one in the shape of a dinosaur, named Dougie. These have covered my teal two seater entirely from left to right, reducing the actual sitting space by about a third. Even if you are the only person on the sofa it was crowded.

Every time we want to use the sofa bed the cushions have to be taken off and stacked neatly beside the sofa, a process that takes far longer than it should. After the bed has been used, the cushions need to be unstacked and placed back in a suitable order. However what usually happens is someone (me) loses interest and they remain on the floor until lunchtime. This meant they would inevitably be stood on. It is gave my boyfriend’s kids the idea for a stepping stone game involving the floor as the sea. Later on, when one was being used a booster seat for dinner, I decided enough was enough. I needed a cushion cull.

It was hard to choose which ones to keep and I couldn’t look Dougie in the eye as he was packed into a suitcase to take to storage. But there were two cushions I knew would always stay. Both of them were presents and both of them are fabulous women.

The first one is from one of my favourite shops in London, We Built This City, which is on Carnaby Street and you also buy everything online on their terrific website. WBTC are “revolutionising London souvenirs” and they have everything from full English breakfast pencils to pigeon washi tape. They also have work with loads of brilliant artists who are all inspired by the city.

My Queen Elizabeth I cushion is made by Victoria Crossman, who sadly seems to be offline at the moment but does promise she’ll be back soon. It’s a fabulous depiction of Liz in a very ornate ruff overseeing the empire, one hand on her globe and watching her ships coming in. I love a queen and also The Queen so anything royal I’m up for. I saw this cushion, screamed that I loved it and forgot about until my birthday when it was bought for me as a present. People who remember things you point out should always be treasured. I love it because it’s so detailed, the colours are thrilling and it’s got a terrific sense of humour.

I bought the other cushion when I’d been doing some work on the Southbank and wandered into The National Theatre for a cup of tea and their wifi. Their shop is also well worth a browse and they had a huge display for their 2015 production of The Beaux Stratagem. There were tote bags and notebooks and right in the middle, this sumptuous cushion. I bought it immediately and then went to the box office to book tickets. I love a bawdy restoration comedy and every time I see this cushion I think of fans, big wigs and high class jinks. I’m looking her in the eye right now and she’s willing me to have a G&T and a French Fancy.

I’ve been forced to concede a life with less cushions is better and these ladies are more than enough lounging on the sofa. Though I do think this Oliver Bonas sheepskin number would just sit with them nicely.

xxox