We are half way through the summer and even though it should all be sunshine and picnics, the weather in the UK has had other ideas. So what do you do when it’s raining outside? You dust off your best china, bake some scones and have afternoon tea in your lounge of course! How quintessentially British of me. And did I mention that its Afternoon Tea week?

I’ve been a fan of Spode’s Italian Blue range of China for a long time. I was bought up on chintz and Chinoiserie (just ask my mother), so I can appreciate a good tea cup and saucer like the best of us. Especially one in a classic design like Spode’s Italian Blue range. I swear I must have been Italian in a previous life, as this range has my little vintage heart.

Spode is one of those iconic British brands which I’ve been a fan of of for a long time. Founded in 1770, this Italian blue collection was inspired by classical Italian architecture back in the 16th century when wealthy British aristocrats and those with new money would take off for months at a time to tour as much of the known world as possible. They’d bring back with them magnificent tales, and lots of sketches and paintings, which directly inspired Spode’s company founder Josiah Spode.

And now it’s in my kitchen cupboard looking pretty, and coming out for rainy days (and most days) like today.

Some of my favourite pieces from the collection include the huge 200th anniversary platter which I’m excited to host a big soiree just to use it and the Italian blue jug which also doubles up nicely as a vase.

I’m also slightly in love with the plastic sandwich platter which at £8.50 is a bargain and is even useful just to bring tea in bed in the mornings.

Blue Italian Sugar box   £44;   Blue Italian Tea cup and saucer set of 4   a £110;   Blue Italian Tea Pot   £102.50;   Blue Italian Cake   slice £15;   Blue Italian Cream Jug   £34.50   Blue Italian Jug   £42.50 (larger vase with flowers in) All from   Spode  .

Blue Italian Sugar box £44; Blue Italian Tea cup and saucer set of 4 a £110; Blue Italian Tea Pot £102.50; Blue Italian Cake slice £15; Blue Italian Cream Jug £34.50 Blue Italian Jug £42.50 (larger vase with flowers in) All from Spode.

Now back to the scones. I’ll be honest, I’m not the domestic goddess you might think I am. We actually have a compartment of our oven which has never been used. But, I do love baking (and eating cake) . So in case you fancy making some fruit scones, I’ve attached my simple fools proof guide. And both my husband and toddler will agree that they were rather very tasty.

Fruit Scone Ingredients

  • 350g self-raising flour, plus more for dusting

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • ¼ tsp salt

  • 85g butter, cut into cubes

  • 3 tbsp caster sugar

  • 175ml milk

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • squeeze of lemon juice

  • 100g sultanas

  • beaten egg to glaze

  • Jam of your choice and clotted cream, to serve (I chose raspberry, naturally)

The Method

Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7.

Tip the flour into a large bowl with the salt and baking powder, then mix with your hands.

Next I added the butter, and rubbed it in until the mix looks like fine crumbs. Stir in the sugar.

  1. Put the milk into a jug and heat in the microwave for about 30 secs until warm, but not hot. Add the vanilla and lemon juice, then set aside for a moment. Put a baking sheet on a tray in the oven.

  2. Make a well in the dry mix, then add the liquid and sultanas and combine it quickly with a cutlery knife – it will seem pretty wet at first. Scatter some flour onto the work surface and tip the dough out. Dredge the dough and your hands with a little more flour, then fold the dough over 2-3 times until it’s a little smoother. Pat into a round tin about 4cm deep.

  3. Take a 5cm cutter (smooth-edged cutters tend to cut more cleanly, giving a better rise) and dip it into some flour. Plunge into the dough, then repeat until you have four scones. You may need to press what’s left of the dough back into a round to cut out another four.

  4. Brush the tops with beaten egg, then carefully place onto the hot baking tray.

  5. Bake for 10 mins until risen and golden on the top. Eat just warm or cold on the day of baking, generously topped with jam and clotted cream.

Blue Italian Sugar box   £44;   Blue Italian Tea cup and saucer set of 4   a £110;   Blue Italian Tea Pot   £102.50;   Blue Italian Cake   slice £15;   Blue Italian Cream Jug   £34.50;   Blue Italian Jug   £42.50 (larger one with flowers in. All from   Spode  .

Blue Italian Sugar box £44; Blue Italian Tea cup and saucer set of 4 a £110; Blue Italian Tea Pot £102.50; Blue Italian Cake slice £15; Blue Italian Cream Jug £34.50; Blue Italian Jug £42.50 (larger one with flowers in. All from Spode.

And that’s it! I’d love to know what you think of my little afternoon set up, and if you try my Scone recipe, do let me know what you think? And… most importantly, are you a cream first then jam? Or jam then cream? It’s one of those things we can never agree on in this house.

A x

[AD] This post is part of a collaboration with SPODE. All styling, images, thoughts and opinions are my own.


hallway tour with divine savages

The hallway always felt like the smallest room in the house. It's only 90cm wide in some parts, and it's narrow width and steep stairs were bland and dusty from the loft conversion.

In turns out, this project was one of our biggest in terms of decoration and judging by the number of rolls of wallpaper we got through (11 rolls to be exact). 

I did a blog post back in June on our Hallway plans using the fabulous Divine Savages Deco Martini wallpaper in Blush, back with Farrow and Ball's Railings, separated by a Dado rail which my dad put in, and I can now say it's now finished. Okay, so technically I still want to add some more artworks and buy a carpet runner but for now, its finished. And what a difference it makes. 

Ceiling Light -   Homesense   £29.99, Wallpaper-   Divine Savages   Deco Martini Blush £140 per roll, Paint- Farrow and Ball Railings, Rug Runner-   Wayfair   £99, Brass mirror-   Made.com  £99, Coat Hooks -    West Elm  £69. 

Ceiling Light - Homesense £29.99, Wallpaper- Divine Savages Deco Martini Blush £140 per roll, Paint- Farrow and Ball Railings, Rug Runner- Wayfair £99, Brass mirror- Made.com £99, Coat Hooks - West Elm £69. 

Lets just take a minute to appreciate the fringed beauty of a light hanging in the hallway. Not only was it only £29.99 from my local homesense, but it's also bang on trend according to my recent living.etc magazine

Mirror-   Made.com   £99, Divine Savages -   Deco martini Blush   wallpaper £140 per roll

Mirror- Made.com £99, Divine Savages - Deco martini Blush wallpaper £140 per roll

Amanda Cotton selfie

Before we started work, the hallway had previously been painted in light grey emulsion. It was dull, dusty and lacked spark. As we've renovated our victorian house, we've tried to keep a lot of the original features of the house, and where those features had been ripped out, we've tried to  add them back in.  We had a coving specialist replicate the original coving of our lounge throughout our hallway and landing, and my dad kindly put the dado rail up for us to add more character. 

Oh and the corbels you see in the square archway in the entrance hallway, well they were added in to also add some more character. (Purchased from Ebay, and held up by some no nails glue). 

We kept all the original victorian doors, which we had dipped and stripped and re hung. In hindsight, we probably should have replaced them all so they fit better. Upstairs in our loft we went with new painted fire doors with brass handles and these all look amazing, and fit great. If we knew seven years ago that we would go into the loft then we would have done things differently. But hindsight is an amazing thing, eh? 

**Personal Disclaimer** Dark colours can make spaces feel small. Since our hallway's been finished it feels more cosy and characterful. I think you should always decorate a home for you, and not worry about what others think. Stop worrying about whether you are 'adding value'. The added value is knowing that your living in the home of your dreams. 

The floor below is the first floor, which leads to Otis' nursery. We then have a second set of stairs to our converted loft. Two staircases + 3 floors = 11 rolls of wallpaper + a tone of Farrow and ball paint. 

Hallway with deco martini wallpaper and dado rail

As we enter the loft, you'll notice the change of painted doors which I mentioned before. 

The paint as I said is Farrow and ball Railings. We used Modern Emulsion for the walls and Estate Eggshell for the woodwork. We bought most of the paint from Paint depot which always has a 10% discount code for new customers and free delivery... every little helps and all that. You're welcome. FYI, this is the cheapest I've ever been able to find Farrow and Ball paint and I have searched the internet high and low!

I'm not advertising Farrow and ball, but I  think the positive points of farrow and ball are that its factory mixed, which means if you need to top it up, or buy more it should in theory match as its not mixed in one of those machines which have just made up a red, when you want a green. If you catch my drift. Plus I love how it goes on and how the colour is so deep and only requires 2 coats for dark colours, unlike other paints. 

Modlo   lampshade £69, floor lamp stand £28-   Iconic lights

Modlo lampshade £69, floor lamp stand £28- Iconic lights

And now onto the wallpaper. oh the wallpaper of dreams.  The Deco martini blush/ blue wallpaper is from the talented guys at Divine Savages. It wasn't free, but it was discounted by them to allow me to do this. Afterall, I needed 11 rolls, and I'm on maternity leave. Thank you lads! I'll forever be in your debt. 

And to quote Darren the decorator "It hangs like a dream". Its heavy, thick and feels expensive, plus I love how it feels in keeping with the era of the house, even though the house is Victorian and the print is more 1920's styling. Plus I love the shades of blush pink mixed back with the blues and dark grey. It fits perfectly with the railings paint.  

Dowsing and Reynolds   black & Brass toggle switch £24.99

Dowsing and Reynolds black & Brass toggle switch £24.99

I chose black/brass metal toggle switches from Dowsing and reynolds which worked perfectly against the wallpaper. I then bought cheaper black metal plug sockets from Amazon to blend with the railings paint. 

One conundrum we did face was an unusual angle in the wall, which goes from the loft to the ceiling (below right pic).  Due to the complexity of trying to wallpaper over it, and seeing the wallpaper shooting off in strange directions, Darren the decorator suggested painting it, and wallpapering above and below.  I love how something unexpected ended up being a little added feature.  

We added accents of brass with accessories, such as this pendant glass bulb ceiling light from John Lewis.  I also bought a brass trimmed round mirror from Made.com for the hallway and a brass coat hook rack from West Elm. 

Brass and glass Pendant light from   Johnlewis  . 

Brass and glass Pendant light from Johnlewis

So I think that's pretty much everything. I love how we've gone from drab to fab in this space. The Divine Savage Deco martini wallpaper adds a wow factor, and I think it's important to add some drama to the entrance of your home since its the first thing people see. And lastly, I love how the print snakes through the centre of the house and links all the levels.  This was an important factor after our loft extension, as we wanted the new spaces to blend with the old and this wallpaper has really helped merge them together and become the heart of the home. 



Sometimes all it takes is a little know how, arm grease and a good old DIY store to help pimp your dining table. I was hosting a dinner party when we accidentally scorched the table, leaving it with a lovely white mark, right in the centre.  I've googled tutorials on getting white heat marks out yourself with an iron and a damp cloth, but after years of ignoring all the scratches, dents and marks I thought it was time to take action. Spend less than £70 to re vamp, or get a new table. It didnt take long to decide which option to go with...

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It must be five years since I first set eyes on a brass bar cart at Alfie’s Antique market, long before they became a mainstream staple in the likes of Oliver BonasRocket St George and Abigail Ahern, and I’ve been completely obsessed with them ever since. You might have even seen my shopping guide on them last year?  Five years on, I’ve still not found the perfect one which fits my style, price and size of my lounge so I've created the perfect solution to give me that bar cart fix- a drinks tray. 

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