Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Chromatically correct (scented) candles, and a Lidl bit of customer care (Suddenly!)

Lidl Suddenly Madame Glamour the candle - aka scenting your house with ambient Keira Knightley

Apologies for the longer than normal hiatus since my hyacinth post - why, that is nearly assonance, though not quite! I managed to climb out of my temporary slough of despond as the month went on - thanks to the encouraging comments from readers, a spot of 'beditation', avoidance of the news, and (latterly) the comforting furry presence of my sometime cat boarder, Speights. He stayed for ten days, and his toy-savaging and other antics are lovingly chronicled on Facebook if you are my friend over there. And now, finally, I have a bit of work at last, which has given me a further fillip, but of course less time for blogging!

I did want to cover a couple of Lidl-related topics in this post, though: the first concerns the Suddenly Madame Glamour scented candle @ £3.99, in an on-message pink colour. For like the Tiny Tears doll of my youth - or rather not of my youth, as my mother wouldn't let me have one, because it was all too anatomically correct - so a pink shade for a candle based on a Coco Mademoiselle perfume dupe is chromatically correct. This candle may have been out for a while, but I only spotted it in the run up to Christmas. Anyway, I had to have a sniff, and it is a very faithful rendition of Coco Mademoiselle, as candles go - a pretty blunt and forgiving medium, admittedly. The scent was not overtly synthetic or over the top, as scented candles can so often be. I have spent hours in the untidy and ransacked aisles of T K Maxx, systematically sniffing every scented candle whose packaging is remotely broachable by the uncommitted customer, and believe me, I have smelt a few frogs in my time. So I would commend the candle to anyone who likes Suddenly Madame Glamour or Coco Mademoiselle and who would be happy to scent their home with even a suggestion of the wispy, wafty, diaphanous Keira.

I didn't buy one, I might add, as I prefer my scented candles to be more meditative and not mere replicas of a perfume that I love. Yes, I have just realised that I never seek out the candle corollary of a perfume I know and rate, but rather other combinations of notes that make for a happy and low key bouquet, invariably along the woody / incensey spectrum - or maybe involving sandalwood. Only ever a hint of vanilla, mind, as it is a slippery slope to the hellish sticky fug of cheap vanilla tea lights.

Yes, it's shaped like a pineapple, but no, it shouldn't be yellow

But more than that, I realised that regardless of how much I liked its scent, I couldn't have a pink candle in the house. Not simply because I don't have a room where baby pink could possibly coordinate with the existing scheme, but because I don't hold with the idea of a coloured candle in the first place. My rummaging in T K Maxx has thrown up the occasional mud-toned candle, and ones in pale teal and - God forbid - purple. They are just wrong on every level. Okay, wrong on the chromatic level for starters - and often the more vivid the hue, the more trashy the scent, though it doesn't always follow, as in our present case indeed. Yes, the default colour for ALL candles, irrespective of scent, is white. I didn't realise I had such strong views on the point, but seeing this pink candle in Lidl focused my mind wonderfully.

I know Christmas is over, but at least it's white

A Lidl bit of customer care (Suddenly!)

The other Lidl-related matter I wanted to mention is my attempt to return a spare bottle of Suddenly Woman 1. Actually both bottles I bought - having fatally succumbed to a BOGOF deal of two for £7 - are superfluous to requirements, but obviously I can't take back the one I opened. I assumed the other one might be a contender for a refund or credit note or something. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the receipt, but given the uniqueness of the product and the fact that I couldn't very well have bought it anywhere else, I thought I was in with a good chance. Well, as long as they didn't think I had stolen it of course.

Intercepting a sales assistant in free circulation in Lidl is a bit like spotting a hoopoe - they do exist, but a fair bit of 'active loitering' is required to hunt one down in their retail habitat. After ten minutes of cruising the aisles, I collared a chap filling the ready meal freezer and explained my predicament. 'Oh, not having the receipt won't be a problem' he reassured me with a smile and outstretched arm, 'take the box and go and see my colleague on Till 2.' So I hotfooted it over to where I was directed, but the check out assistant said tersely: 'Oh, he gave you wrong information - he's new here. You can't have a refund without a receipt unless you contact Customer Services first and get a reference number. The number to call's on the back of the in-store magazine - here.'

Source: birdforum.net
So back home I went and rang Customer Services, who firmly told me that I had been given duff gen in store by both SA No 1 and No 2, and that I wasn't entitled to a refund at all, because I had crucially lost the receipt. They said I could write in and dispute the policy if I wished. So I spent an hour crafting a perfect complaint letter, explaining that I understood that because of their low prices, Lidl may not be able to offer as generous / flexible a returns policy as other retailers. Then I based my main argument around the fact that I had been given conflicting - and progressively more discouraging - information by three separate Lidl staff, and that this was tantamount to 'messing with my mind'.

So I had the letter all ready to go on the hall table the next morning, when I received a phone call from the same Customer Services lady, announcing brightly that she was mistaken and that she could give me a reference number and I could get my money back after all.

So, a clear case of the left hand not knowing what the right hands are doing - all two of them! - or even what the left hand itself is doing, come to that - but a result for me, and I am now all of £3.99 richer, not just the £3.50 that I actually paid, though I came clean about that.

So when it comes to scented candles, where do you stand in the 'the only colour is white' debate?

And do you have any heartwarming - as in 'change of heart'-type - stories about returning unwanted perfume - or do your (involuntary) albatross sanctuaries simply keep growing?


  1. Dear Bonks: IMHO bed sheets should always be white, but scented candles can be any color. I love the candles from Root, here in Ohio ( http://www.rootcandles.com/) Some of their scents are incredible - I'm a big fan of their Ginger Patchouli, and they used to make an Oakmoss one that was amazing (though I am more of an incense burning gal than a scented candle one), and quite inexpensive especially if I am ever in that town as they have a discount store for the not-quite-perfect candles.

    1. Hi Carol,

      I took a look at that link and I really liked those candles, coloured and all. I realise that I don't mind what I would call tapered 'dinner candles' in other colours - I have some red ones myself - but I have never come across *scented* dinner candles before. I realise that my issue is more with the ones in glass containers that are quite wide - these have to be white for some reason. ;)

    2. Hey V: I am not sure scented dinner candles are a good thing (but that is only because I watched some cooking reality show at one point, and the contestants were to do their own restaurant, too, and the judges came down hard on scented dinner candles saying that it clashes with the food!)

      I'm not against colored blankets - heck the more the merrier. But like I said to yellow cellist, only white sheets in the house make it a lot easier to put a bed together :) I just ripped a bottom sheet, and if it was a patterned one, it would be nearly impossible to find something that matched well.

    3. Hi C,

      Oh actually, scented dinner candles are perhaps not ideal from an aroma point of view. I certainly think most dinner candles over here are unfragranced.

      Aha, I do also have coloured blankets with my white bedding - well, A coloured blanket and a coloured throw, both in a sort of taupe shade. Plus a cream throw in the other room. So I guess I am playing it fairly safe on the bedspread side of things. ;0

      Good luck hunting for a suitable bottom sheet!

  2. "and believe me, I have smelt a few frogs in my time", "I know Christmas is over, but at least it's white" - Vanessa, I love you! :) It's hilarious!

    I'm not a candle person at all so with my limited exposure to these products I never really thought about the color of candles (though I do have an opinion about sheets: hate white! ;) ). But out of those several that I've ever burned all but one were white. One was dark green and smelled of pine. It wasn't bad but as I blowing it out the colored wax went all over my white tablecloth - so I'm prejudiced.

    Glad to hear that it was work that prevented you from blogging - it's a good reason, much better than most other possible ones. Good luck! :)

    1. Hi Undina,

      Love you too! ;) Hmm, you and Carol have really got me thinking about bedding now. I currently only have white duvet covers on my two beds at the new house, but I am not against coloured designs at all, and have historically had lots of patterned or plain coloured bedding. A particular favourite is a single duvet set (now decommissioned due to the lack of a single bed) in a dark blue and white paisley / aztec pattern. From Habitat back in the late 80s at a guess. Quite hard to describe, but still fresh and edgy today.

      I hear you about the spilt coloured wax - a friend once gave me purple tealights with glitter in them! They more or less exploded at the Christmas dinner table one year, and I have given anything with glitter in it a wide berth ever since. Hmm, I wonder if my reservations about coloured scented candles are also linked to that traumatic experience.

      The work only started this week actually, and is only about 3-4 days tops, but still very welcome - it was a four day headache that kept me from blogging lately. ;(

  3. What a lovely post to read over breakfast :) I'm a recent convert to scented candles, thanks to the Aladdin's cave that is TK Maxx. I too have spent many happy moments systematically sniffing all the non-ghastly looking candles on offer - some vile, some not to my taste, and many lovely. I surprised myself recently by liking (ang buying, of course) a peppermint scented candle - it gives a lovely and far-from overpowering scent and comes in a beautifully glowing red jar. And the candle itself is white :) I'd never really thought about candle colour before, but now I will.

    Regarding bedsheets, I used to be firmly of your opinion, Carol. However I'm a recent enthusiastic convert to coloured and even patterned sheets, and am the proud owner and user of (among others) a blue-green bedsheet with white dinosaur sillhouettes. Because this is clearly the bedding appropriate for a woman in her twenties...

    1. When I was in my twenties, I had all sorts of colored sheets. But I choose now only white as they mix and match better! Plus to be able to find additional pillowcases in matching colors is a nightmare. It is all about me being lazy :)

    2. Hi yellow_cello,

      Thanks for stopping by! T K Maxx is great, provided you are prepared to put in the rummaging time - it is akin to an archaeological dig I would say! I have not come across a peppermint-scented candle - that might be quite therapeutic actually now you mention it.

      I see you are another fan of coloured / patterned bedding. I haven't got into animal prints of any kind myself, but do like a bit of a pattern - Paisley or a sort of Wm Morris willow pattern is maybe my thing.

    3. Hi Carol,

      No question that white is easier to mix and match. In one of my newly decorated bedrooms, I have a feature wall that is patterned, so everything else in the room needs to be plain in my view, including the bedding. The other bedroom is all sorts of cream, so never say never, but I have two white duvet sets on the go currently, plus a few cream and pale yellow pillowcases to ring the changes a bit.

  4. A very entertaining tale with a happy ending. A happy beginning too, learning that you have some work.

    Yes, now you come to mention it, candles definitely should be white or cream. Too reminiscent of those horrible Yankee Candles otherwise, which my brother-in-law is fond of. I only have them for decoration though, preferring to burn oils or incense sticks.

    Now as for bedsheets, you could do a whole new post here or on FB, I think. I also felt white was the only colour for the past 10 years of having my own house. Since your visit when you commented that you expected my bedroom to be red(!) I have acquired a deep red bedspread/throw and am actually contemplating matching linen.

    1. Hi Tara,

      Yes, am so glad to have work, even this small job.

      Yankee Candles are a bit OTT, I find. We have a shop in town selling those and its pungent aroma makes it outside, a bit like LUSH shops, tbh. I mostly burn joss sticks too, come to think of it, and only light the scented candles for about an hour, which it says on the instructions - I have never quite figured out why. They get a bit hot, for one thing, and sometimes the scent becomes too much over time.

      Haha, maybe I will do a bedding post sometime. ;) I did one on tea towels after all, and I never would have seen that coming. I did indeed expect your bedroom to be red - not sure why, even - so a grey / red scheme, as I imagine it will be now, sounds rather elegant. Most of all, I am flattered you would act on my unexplained preconceptions of a suitable colour scheme. ;)

  5. Hello, I'm Sally and I'm a candle addict. To stop my habit from burning through (ha!) my household budget however, I have, for the past decade or so, been making my own, which has proven an entertaining activity with varying results. The beauty of this though, is that I can control the type and strength of scent with careful use of essential oils. I mostly use just plain white wax, but have been known to add vegetable coloring - mostly in green or red for Christmas.

    Regarding bedding, I like plain sheets in pale, earthy colors but with patterned duvet covers. I'm on a bit of a shades of brown kick at the moment and am contemplating redecorating a couple of rooms - including a bedroom - in cream, coffee, cocoa. I have a veritable stack of paint swatches and am somewhat overwhelmed by how many shades of "cream" there is...

    1. Hi SallyM,

      'Burning your budget' - love it. Makes a nice change from boats and bras. ;) Am very impressed at your own candle making efforts - I have a soap making kit somewhere but can't motivate myself to have a go with that.

      I am definitely a plain sheet and patterned duvet person, assuming my decor is not additionally patterned. I have had a shades of brown phase in another house - all those mocha, coffee, caramel, putty kind of numbers. Still into taupe as I say. Then my spare bedroom is layers of cream, and you are right, there are simply loads! The walls are F & B Matchstick, which is a sort of warm sandy creamy greige. Are you keeping up? ;) Enjoy your decorating planning - I think it is a fun process, however long it goes on for.

  6. I'm with you in regard to scented candles, assuming that's what we're talking about. I do occationally have coloured (unscented) candles, even if they are mostly white.
    I like the idea of scented candles more than I actually like them in reality. I have a few Vosluspa candles because apart from smelling good like look great, but actually I have a feeling that I might not take greatly to smoked fragrance. At least incense in smoke form is an absolute no go (allergy).
    I was following your time with Speight with great pleasure over on FB, especially as I just got a holiday cat myself. She's ever so funny constantly talking to me, letting me know exactly what she wants.
    Great news about the job :-)

    1. Hi Asali,

      I have amended the title to clarify that point - for while it should have been clear in the body of the post that I was talking just about the squatter scented variety of candle, the title itself was a little vague - driven as usual by the alliterative imperative. ;)

      I hear you on 'smoked fragrance' and a couple of even my regulation white ones smell a little full on when they have been burning for a while.

      So pleased to hear you have a 'holiday cat' yourself. She sounds very vocal and good company - I will look out for any parallel appearances on Facebook!

      Yes, it's great to have a job, even a few days' work is most welcome.

  7. Ha, just reread that, sounds like the coloured candles are mostly white, haha. Well, you know what I mean :-)

    1. Haha, I got your meaning, after a bit of a double take!

  8. My big temptation sheet wise is linen.Linen sheets, they cost the earth but get so soft with washing and naturally I only own one boudoir case bought in frivolous South Carolina! Candles I think I'll buy but never do. I spritz Guerlain Vetiver around hope it passes for a candle!

    Glad that you were busy and had a cat companion- this is a spring that may prove interesting- and isn't it great that January is over? Yay candidly!

    1. Hi Blacknall,

      Ah, my friend just bought some linen bedding. I think I may have one set of bedding that is linen or a linen mix, as it is definitely getting softer. I may inspect the label out of curiosity. I don't think it cost the earth though, so I may be mistaken. Though it was heavily discounted. Would love to see your boudoir case from SC - does it have saw palmetto trees on it by any chance - or a pineapple?

      I shan't be sorry to see the back of January, though February is a bit of a chore too, hehe.

  9. Hi Vanessa,
    I can't imagine battling for a refund in either LIDL or ALDI. Last week in ALDI I 'packed my bag at the till' (terrible sin) and was greeted with scornful sneers by the check out guy. I just don't see the point in double packing when you are only buying a few things. If their prawns didn't taste like delicious lobster I wouldn't go. Good prawns and gin are a strong draw.
    I wonder if I can take my Miller Harris Fleur Oriental candle back to TX Maxx and complain about it's almost indiscernible smell? I might try if I get bored enough this weekend!
    Speights is a beauty. If your friend ever needs a sitter when you are away I am more than willing and perhaps might pay her/him to borrow the gorgeous creature.

    1. Hi Odiferess,

      I do battle in both of those stores out of sheer bloodymindedness and principle. I have yet to gird my loins though to take back a defective roll of ribbon from BM Bargains that cost 99p. I would spend that on petrol going to the retail park. It is probably too late now.

      Gin is a strong draw for me to Aldi, I must say. Their nuts are very affordable too. And their fancy crackers and nibbles. It would be my go-to outlet for caviar, if I was that way inclined!

      You can try and take the candle back if its smell is almost indiscernible - that is not what you would expect of Fleur Oriental. I have a friend who used to get a bad head from the perfume, so I can't imagine it not registering at all in candle form.

      Speights is gorgeous! I shall try always to be available when a sitter is needed, but will let you be first reserve, hehe. x

  10. I am glad you were able to get the refund after all that trouble! As for candle colors, I think I agree that white is best. However, I am okay with some earth tones (tan, cream, the occasional mossy green). I am also guilty of sniffing everything that might have a vague scent at T.J. Maxx, including the soaps :)

    1. Hi Yuki,

      It wasn't much of a refund, but it is the principle of the matter, I always say. ;) I don't mind earth tones for candles, but only for the tall, tapered, dinner sort still. Good to meet a fellow T K Maxx sniffer - I was at it again only the other day!