|Source: Foxcroft & Ginger|
And now, here I was in Soho, cosily tucked into a corner of the edgily named cafe Foxcroft & Ginger - which I persisted in referring to as Foxtrot & Ginger, even though I neither dance nor have occasion to use police radio - with Birgit and Tara of Olfactoria's Travels, when I spied a French toast option on the menu for the first time since that fateful meal at Frankie & Benny's.
But I am running ahead of myself...there is a bit to say about the journey down to London first. For starters, it took a mere hour and twenty minutes this time!, owing to the fact that I had snaffled a Virgin ticket for just two quid more than I would have paid on my usual London Midland service that takes about two and a half hours each way. Also - and readers may find my wonderment surprising - there were refreshments on the train. On the train - fancy that! In an actual buffet car dedicated to the purpose, where a cup of hot chocolate cost 30p less than in the cafe at the station. By the time I had finished marvelling at the amenities of the Virgin service, I had arrived at Euston, and a quarter of an hour later, found myself disgorged from the Underground and standing on a sunny pavement in Soho with Birgit. As we waited for Tara to arrive, we chatted about Tara's recent visit, from which they were newly returned. I also admired Birgit's HSOTD (Hermes Scarf Of The Day: a beautiful cashmere number in shades of grey - I counted more than two, but fewer than totally torrid, hehe. ;) ) I can also reveal that it was tied in a 'cowboy knot' - I thought it might be a style called 'the waterfall', which I saw in a YouTube video once, but I was mistaken. It looks rather like the Maxi Cheche in this link, but with the two outer points tied in a cowboy knot as a last step. A very elegant and relaxed look, anyway.
|Source: Foxcroft & Ginger|
Shortly afterwards, Tara popped up and we made straight for Foxcrop & Ginger - I mean Foxcroft...I only finally mastered the name today, would you believe?! - where the waiter directed us to the last available table downstairs. At the far end was a wall of white subway tiles, a sure sign that you are either in a hip and trendy eaterie or a turn of the century public convenience. Menus appraised, the others plumped for Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon, which looked delicious, while of course I had to order the French toast in a bid to exorcise the painful memory of the last one. In fairness, it was more of a French Toast-Croque Monsieur fusion dish, owing to the addition of ham and cheese. Basically, it was the non-pareil of toasted sandwich-like entities, as you can see in the photo.
Unfortunately, we had to be pretty disciplined about the time, as Birgit had a theatre show to catch in the afternoon, however, we did manage to slip in a quick rose scent recce in Liberty, still on the quest of a Holy Grail rose perfume for my friend Jessica. It was great having the combined thinking power of Birgit and Tara and a very helpful male sales assistant as we speed sniffed our way round the perfume hall, scoping the fixtures for rosy inspiration. The top contenders were:
Acqua di Parma Rosa Nobile
Maison de Kurkdjian A la Rose
ODIN Milieu Rose
Keiko Mecheri Attar de Roses
Serges Lutens Fille de Berlin
Jessica is going to check them out on her next trip to the West End, and I will report back on her findings!
After the Liberty detour, we ambled down to Haymarket - or elbowed our way through the crowds, more like. Tara and Birgit lamented the fact that London is a lot more densely populated with tourists than Vienna. After picking up Birgit's ticket, we still had a little while to kill, so we walked round the block, enjoying the sunshine and loitering out of the wind here and there. On one of these street corners, we conducted a side-by-side comparison of Puredistance WHITE on my skin versus Tara's. I had written in my review of how my skin seems to amplify the coumarin facet of the tonka, making for a slightly dry, austere opening, and sure enough, the OT duo agreed that WHITE was 'sharper' on me than on Tara, whose skin seemed to grab the basenotes and go straight to that softer, more dreamy phase of WHITE's development. So to anyone out there who doesn't believe in 'YMMV' skin chemistry, we stick up two empirical fingers at that preposterous notion! Birgit and Tara also sniffed me wearing Opardu, but I will save those musings for a separate post.
|Looking stylish despite the strong wind!|
All too soon, it was time for the parting of the ways. Birgit and Tara's leavetaking was particularly poignant, as they had been constantly in each other's company for the past week. In time honoured perfumista tradition, I pressed a pair of tea towels on Birgit. I figured they would be thin enough to pack at least. Tara and I then made our way to Harvey Nichols. En route I clocked a number of young girls wearing jeans that were ripped at the knees. I suddenly remembered that the girl who was sitting next to me in the train down had worn a similar pair just like these pictured from New Look, and it was clear to me that denim's answer to self-harming must be a bit of a 'Thing' at the moment. I may be a middle aged old fogey, but I really don't approve. When that trend is past, you will be left with a pair of foolishly mutilated jeans. It reminded me of that John Hiatt song lamenting those tempestuous rock stars who 'smash a perfectly good guitar'.
|Source: New Look|
Arriving at Harvey Nichols with a few minutes to spare, Tara and I stopped by Shu Uemura so I could buy a pair of their iconic eyelash curlers. According to Sali Hughes - despite their resemblance to an instrument of medieval torture - eyelash curlers are in fact an indispensable beauty aid for the mature woman, as long as you avoid crimping your lashes into the high kicking pose known as the 'hockey stick'. No danger of that yet awhile. So far I have only mastered one eye(!), and a look I can best describe as 'mildly surprised uplift'. As you can tell, I have been quite surprised lately, what with one thing and another. I kicked myself when I got home for not thinking to bring with me my Shu Uemura Hard Formula brow pencil, so that I could have asked the assistants to whittle it into a 'Samurai sword shape'. Well, that is how it is known, but to my eye it looks more like a canoe paddle or the bill of a platypus. Turns out that the pencil I have is not 09 but 06, which cannot be sharpened in that way anyway. Plus I think it's the wrong colour for my hair (Seal Brown), so in the bin it should go in my next decluttering putsch. Though I know I will struggle to throw away a 'perfectly good eyebrow pencil', if colour wasn't so key.
|The sublimely sultry Tara|
After roaming aimlessly round the top floor of Harvey Nichols, Tara and I eventually found the 'green bar' where we were due to meet Liz Moores of Papillon, who had kindly invited us to join her and her daughter Poppy (aka 'Pod') for a drink. Readers, we could be excused for our failure to locate this stylish watering hole, a) because there seemed to be numerous bars and cafes on the same floor and b) because the seating was predominantly cream, with green accents. And when it came, what a drink it was!
An 'Enchanted Garden' no less, with edible glitter and pansies. I experienced collateral sparkling lip gloss(!) for the rest of the day - I had appreciably more glitter than the others, I should point out. It was, however, an age-inappropriate risk well worth running for the sheer fun factor and intoxicating deliciousness of this cocktail, which featured two kinds of fruit liqueur, vodka and champagne. I am used to drinking my alcohol one variety at a time, so this multiplicity may well have contributed to my feelings of pleasant muzzy-headedness on the train home. Which also took an hour and twenty minutes! A hop and a skip, merely exacerbating the dreamlike sensation I always get whenever I visit London.
Which was compounded further the next day by a 50th birthday party in a Wimpy...
followed by a bracing country yomp in all our finery.