Two of my very favourite things to do are visiting historic houses and drinking cocktails. Up until now the two have never been combined. This was until I received an invitation to try out the Little Nan’s pop-up at Sutton House, a National Trust property in Hackney. I was familiar with the concept of Little Nan’s as I know someone who used to work there. This fantastic pop up bar, has done the rounds in London bringing it’s kitsch and quirky teapot cocktails to several different locations. The bar which recreates your gran’s living room and serves all it’s drinks in vintage china has won a host of awards and I couldn’t wait to give it a try.

Little Nan's Pop Up Cocktail Bar Sutton houseLittle Nan’s is now offering a boozy afternoon tea at Sutton House on Sundays from 10th July, which includes their infamous tea pot cocktails, along with a classic British afternoon tea. I went along with Rob for an afternoon date and we enjoyed every minute of it.

Little Nan's Afternoon TeaOn arrival we were given a fascinating tour of the house from an absolutely lovely elderly volunteer. Her knowledge of the house and surrounding area was absolutely amazing and we both enjoyed listening to her insights and anecdotes on the history of the house. The house is originally tudor with many later alterations. You can see it’s diverse past in the different bricks and windows which make up it’s beautiful structure. I would love to go back and look round the house again. It was a great visit and right in the heart of Hackney.

Little Nan's Sutton House Afternoon Tea Teapot CocktailOn to the afternoon tea, which was in a pretty room at the front of the house. The table were decked out in Nan’s best linen tablecloths with carnations in a vase and lovely mismatched tea cups.

Little Nan's Sutton House Cocktail MenuThe selection of cocktails was great and all laced with some of my favourite ingredients. Unfortunately I was committed to driving my daughter somewhere later that day, so they mixed me up a tasty mocktail instead. Rob had a King Henry 8th, which I had a little taste of and it was absolutely delicious. The teapot it came in was huge and you certainly get a lot of alcohol for your money! Rob got quite a few tea cups out of his pot.

Little Nan's Sutton House Afternoon TeaThe afternoon tea consisted of a great selection of finger sandwiches along with scones and two types of home made cake. These were all absolutely delicious and beautifully presented on a vintage cake-stand.

Little Nan's Sutton House Afternoon Tea SconesThe tea was served by little mum, who is the mother of the owner Tristan. She was an absolutely delight and definitely made the whole experience even nicer.

Little Nan's Sutton House Afternoon Tea SandwichesAfter the tea we were offered yet more cake, there was a choice of carrot cake or Victoria sponge. By this point after all the jam and cake and the sweet cocktails, I didn’t think I could handle any more sugar! But I gave it a go. I chose the carrot cake and it really was lovely.

Little Nan's Sutton House Afternoon Tea Carrot CakeWe left on a bit of a sugar high, with Rob more than a little tipsy.  We had an absolutely lovely afternoon together. This would be perfect for a date or a nice afternoon out with friends. I loved the combination of the culture of the house, the sophistication of the afternoon tea and the naughtiness of cocktails in the afternoon.

Little Nan's Sutton House CakesThe afternoon tea costs £20 and £30 with a cocktail. This includes a viewing of Sutton House. 

The tea will be running on Sundays from 10th July – 25th September. The tea runs from 2-4pm.

Find Sutton House at – 2-4 Homerton High Street, Hackney, London, E9 6JQ The nearest Station is Hackney Central. 

Find more information and booking details here

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Antiques are something I’ve always had a huge love for. Since I was little and used to spend time in my Grandmas’s shop or look at all the lovely furniture and decorative items in their home. The past is a great place to look for beautiful things. This week I attended the preview evening of the Olympia Art and Antiques Fair. The fair brings together the most prestigious antiques dealers with the very finest products. Items on display range from early 20th century pieces all the way back to incredible ancient pieces, which are so old it’s a treat just to be able to look at them.

Olympia Art and Antiques Gold Cherub StatueDealers bring only their very finest pieces and as such prices range from the hundreds to many thousands of pounds. Even if you are not in the market for buying, I’d recommend a visit just to bask in all the beautiful treasures on display. I only had just over an hour to look round and I’d recommend allowing a lot more time as there is just so much to see. I thought I’d share a few of my favourite pieces from the show…

Olympia Art and Antiques Art Deco PosterA detail from an art deco poster from Duveen Art and Antiques.

Olympia Art and Antiques fair Patricia Lester 70s 80s Vintage dressA vintage Patricia Lester Dress from Midwinter Antiques.

Olympia Art and Antiques Fair Cherub with TrumpetOne of a pair of gorgeous antique cherubs.

Olympia Art and Antiques Fair French Art Deco Bronze FigurineA stunning French 1925 art deco bronze figurine from Solo Antiques.

Olympia Art and Antiques Fair Ancient Egyptian HeadAn Egyptian face from Art Ancient.

Olympia Art and Antiques Fair Art Deco Bronze FigurineA bronze art deco figurine from Jeroem Markies Art Deco.

Olympia Art and Antiques Fair Monk StatueA lovely painted wooden monk statue.

Olympia art and Antiques Art Deco Red Poppy Glass PotA stunning 1900 French vintage glass vase from Solo Antiques.

Olympia Art and Antiques Fair Art Deco Chairs and SideboardA wonderful pair of chairs from Justin Evershed-Martin.

Olympia Art and Antiques Art Deco Inlaid Wooden DeskAn exquisite wooden inlaid dressing table from Justin Evershed-Martin.

Olympia Art and Antiques Table FootballA football table from Hatchwell Antiques.

Olympia Art and Antiques Deco Bronze SculptureA 1928 ‘Rocket Girl’ bronze sculpture from Solo Antiques.

Olympia Art and Antiques fair Ancient Coin HoardA wonderful coin hoard from Art Ancient.

Olympia Art and Antiques Religious StatueA carved Christ statue from Pearse Lukies Antiques.

Olympia Art and Antiques Crochet AnimalsOne of several amazing crocheted animals from Anthony Fell.

Olympia Art and Antiques Fair Blue and White ChinaA huge selection on blue and white porcelain from Sue Norman.

Olympia Art and Antiques Fair Careless Talk Costs Lives PosterWW2 posters from Manning Fine Art. This dealer also has the original Keep Calm and Carry on Poster, which has such an interesting background. I’m going to be writing a separate post on it, in the near future so keep your eyes peeled.

This is such a tiny selection of the wonderful things on display. It really is an amazing treasure trove of beautiful things waiting to find new homes. One day when I own my own stately home, I’ll be coming here for my furniture and antiques!

The fair runs until 3rd July at the Olympia Exhibition Centre in London.

Find more details on The Art and Antiques Fair website.

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It’s been a little while since I wrote a Birchbox review and I thought it was high time I shared the contents of my latest box. Birchbox is a monthly beauty subscription box, packed with high-end surprise beauty products which arrive at your door once a month. I’ve been subscribed for a few years now and always love getting my surprise package through the post.

Birchbox June 2016This months box was mostly a good one. I absolutely loved the box itself, which opens like a little drawer. I reuse the boxes to organise all my vintage jewellery, so this will be perfect for keeping some of my brooches or earrings in.

June 2016 Birchbox ReviewThe tropical themed box, is packed with summer beauty essentials and has a great mix of products. I like it when boxes contain a good variety of products and this one has a make-up item, 3 skincare items and a hair product, I was really happy with the selection.

June 2016 Birchbox ContentsSo here’s what I thought of everything in the box…

June Birchbox Jelly Pong Pong Paradise PigmentThe first product in the box was the Jelly Pong Pong Paradise Pigments in the shade Cake Pop. This lovely product adds a touch of colour to lips and cheeks and can be built up for more intense colour. The pigment is easy to apply and super moisturising. The colour goes on quite subtly for a lovely everyday glow. I really like this product, which I will be popping into my handbag for when my makeup needs a little brightening up. This full-sized product would usually cost £17.95.

June Birchbox Percy and Reed HairsprayThe next product is the Percy and Reed Reassuringly Firm Session Hold Hairspray. This is a nice strong hairspray, perfect for setting up dos and vintage curls. The spray is very fine and doesn’t make the hair feel crunchy. I liked this product and I think it will be handy to carry around with me, to keep my hair looking nice. I probably wouldn’t repurchase despite this being a great product, as I prefer cheaper hairsprays! The full size product costs £12 a can.

June Birchbox Monu Body OilThe only body product in the box was the Monu Professional Skincare MONUSpa Relaxing Bali Body Oil. This body oil, contains a comforting blend of essential oils. Sandalwood and Rosewood to sooth tired muscles and apricot seeds nourish and hydrate the skin’s surface. You only need a small amount of the product to cover the skin. I found that it absorbed really quickly and my skin felt amazing after using it. I really loved this product. The full sized version costs £29.95.

June Birchbox James Read Overnight TanThe only product that I haven’t used yet is the James Reed Overnight Tan Sleep Mask for Face. I used to fake tan quite a lot, but I prefer to stay pale now. I will be keeping this product in case I decide to use it in the future though. The full size product usually costs £25.

June Birchbox Ainy Face ScrubThe last product in the box was the Aïny Pure Lumiére Gommage Pureté Eclat Visage. This is a gentle face scrub, which turns into a nourishing milk on contact with water. The product contains beads of jojoba to exfoliate the skin. I really liked the scent of the product and my skin felt great after using it. My only complaint was that for me it wasn’t scrubby enough. I like my exfoliators to be a little more harsh than this one. That’s just my preference though, this is a lovely product. The full-sized version costs £25.

June 2016 BirchboxOverall I was really happy with this months box and really enjoyed trying all the products.

I planned to review May’s box and got as far as photographing everything, but then somehow managed to misplace the products and didn’t get to use them. But I thought I’d just share a picture of the contents so you can see what was inside…

May 2016 Birchbox ContentsI was a really lovely box, so I hope I find it!

If you’d like to receive a monthly Birchbox too, I have a refer a friend link which adds £5 worth of points to your account when you sign up. These can be used to buy full-sized products in the Birchbox shop.

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Before putting myself on a strict spending ban, I had one last hurrah and ordered a few bits from the Lindy Bop sale. This was a few weeks ago now, and I’ve just got round to trying all my new things on. I went a little out of my comfort zone with this order, as I wanted to try a few pieces that  will fill gaps in my wardrobe. Excuse the poor lighting in the photos, I had to take these myself indoors on a rainy day.

Lindy Bop Tropical DressMy first purchase was the lovely tropical Pink Hibiscus Cynthia dress. I usually choose quite classic English style vintage dresses with more traditional floral designs. I absolutely love this tiki inspired dress as a summer alternative. Out of all the Lindy Bop dresses I’ve tried, this is my favourite one fit-wise. It’s a really flattering design and works really well on my body shape. I went for a size 14 in this one. This dress is currently £18 in the sale.

Lindy Bop Tiki DressThe other dress I bought was the Zsa Zsa Blue Tropical Twin Set Wiggle Dress. I don’t really wear wiggle dresses very often as I feel like they show all the bits I’d rather hide. But I found this one really flattering and I love that it comes with a matching bolero. I can’t wait to wear this out for evening drinks this summer. This dress is currently £24 in the sale.

Lindy Bop Floral CaprisFloral capris are definitely out of my comfort zone, but I really wanted to try the Kendra Classic Floral Print Cropped Capri Trousers. They actually look a lot better in real life than in these pictures. Here I’ve teamed them with an original 50s cotton blouse, but I’m on a the lookout for a white gypsy top to wear with them instead. These are currently £12 in the sale.

Lindy Bop Cocktail Glass SkirtLastly I got the Peggy Fifties Style Pink Cocktail Glass Full Circle Skirt, again this isn’t as traditional as some of things I would usually go for, but I thought it was really fun, especially as I love cocktails so much! The skirt is lovely and full, I’m wearing two petticoats with it here.

Annoying all these items have gone back up to full price, Lindy Bop often put nearly everything in the sale and then return it to normal price. I still think everything is really reasonable though. They currently have an up to 50% off sale with lots of other lovely things in it, so its well worth a look.

For some of my favourite new arrivals, check out my Lindy Bop Summer Wishlist.

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Today’s blog post was written by my brother Matthew, about a press screening we went to a few weeks ago…

Just like my sister Catherine, I’ve always wanted to travel back in time. I’m fascinated by history and art, which is why I became a curator. I spent my teenage years obsessed with the 18th Century, spending hours pouring over the music, paintings and beautiful clothes of the era.

However, sometimes this wasn’t enough… sometimes I just wanted to feel as though I was actually in the 18th Century. At times like this I would watch Barry Lyndon.

BARRY LYNDON PIC 2 -® 1975 Warner Bros. All Rights ReservedStanley Kubrick’s 1975 film is going to be re-released nationwide by the BFI on the 29th July and Catherine and I were lucky enough to see an advance screening at the BFI on London’s Southbank. What would it be like to return to my obsession after many years, and to finally see it on the big screen? I wasn’t disappointed.

The film follows the fortunes of a no-good eighteenth-century anti-hero, Redmond Barry, from rural Ireland to the highest levels of English society. Don’t believe the flashy new trailer for it, this film is a perfectly structured masterpiece. As each scene unfolds we follow Barry through his scrapes with danger, lucky breaks, deceptions, romances, vanities, follies and tragedies. You can’t decide if you’re on his side or not as he does nothing but serve his own self-interest, but you’ll want to follow his story every step of the way.

BARRY LYNDON PIC 8 -® 1975 Warner Bros. All Rights ReservedThat’s not why I loved this film when I was a teenager though. Did I mention that this is one of the most beautiful films ever made? Kubrick closely studied the paintings of the era and every shot looks as though it was painted by one of the great artists of the time. It’s as though the paintings of Hogarth, Gainsborough and Zoffany have come alive before your eyes. Kubrick’s attention to detail is extraordinary. He even developed new ways of filming with revolutionary lenses to capture the full beauty of scenes lit just by candles or daylight.

BARRY LYNDON PIC 4 -® 1975 Warner Bros. All Rights ReservedHe filmed in real eighteenth-century houses and gardens. It’s so authentic that a curator friend of mine uses the film to illustrate her talks on eighteenth-century dining. If you’ve ever gone to a National Trust house and wondered what life was like in it when it was built, then watch this film. Seeing the film on the big screen, you’ll fall in love with the stunning costumes and be mesmerised by Lady Lyndon’s haunting beauty. You might be sat in the cinema, but you’ll feel as though you’re among the sumptuously dressed aristocrats losing their fortunes at the gambling table, or with the soldiers risking their lives on the battlefield. This is why I’ve always loved it – it’s as close as you’ll ever get to stepping back in time.

BARRY LYNDON PIC 9 -® 1975 Warner Bros. All Rights ReservedGo and watch it this summer. As the film closes, and Handel’s dramatic Sarabande plays over the credits, you really won’t want to return to the 21st Century.

Find out more about the release on the BFI website.

Matthew Story is a curator at Historic Royal Palaces, he is an art historian with a specialism in historic art and decorative art. 

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