|Photo courtesy of Jim Fogarty|
"In accordance with the Regulation, we ask that Ryanair reimburse Ms Musson those expenses incurred only because of Ryanair's failure to comply with its obligations. The total to be reimbursed for this would be the equivalent of SEK 900.00. We won't ask you to pay for Ms Musson's no doubt stress-busting beer!"
|A nice reliable tram in Gothenburg ~ Source: Wikimedia Commons|
In the end I received the 900.00 SEK to cover the costs of staying on in Sweden an extra night (minus the beer!), plus a further entirely discretionary 253.93 euros to cover my flight with a different airline which I ended up buying in desperation, due to Ryanair's serial inability to mend planes. Result.
Fast forward to last year, when Tara (formerly of Olfactoria's Travels) kindly loaned me a sample set of a new collection of perfumes created by Danielle Ryan. Danielle is the founder of a prestigious drama academy in Dublin - and intriguingly, also the granddaughter of Tony Ryan, founder of Ryanair. ROADS struck me as an amusingly ironic brand name for a scion of an airline dynasty to light upon. And to be fair, it would have been amusingly ironic even if it had referenced air travel, which is of course famously hostile to the transport of perfume.
For it is because of the - to my mind, bonkers and unnecessarily draconian - new postal regulations that we can no longer send perfume overseas without a fair degree of subterfuge and moral turpitude, and even shipments within the UK (travelling by ROADS presumably!) are heavily flagged as 'hazardous' thanks to the requirement to affix an ID8000 label.
And even when personally accompanying your perfume on its plane trip, it must of course be either safely stowed in the hold or taken on as hand luggage in a transparent Zip-loc bag. Well, for bottles up to 100ml. If you are planning to take one of those stonking 450ml bottles of a Dior Collection Privée scent, think again. Or make a particular point of coshing the X-ray machine operative over the head with it on your way through security. Yep, as my friend David observed, it's very much a case of a 'Cologne No Fly Zone' where the airlines are concerned. Hmm...remarkably, Ryanair do actually fly to Cologne-Bonn. Eerily close to civilisation for them, you would have thought.
And then when you think of the notion of a fragrance range linked to the budget airline we all love to joke about, you can't help but wonder if you might have to pay extra for the box to go with your perfume bottle, never mind the carrier bag it comes in.
All joking aside, I actually fly Ryanair a lot even now, as they go all over the shop, including to countless places you have never heard of, plus they are pretty darn cheap and do mostly land on time. So when I sat down to test this set of ten perfumes, I thought that it might be fun to pick out scents to talk about which I associated with a particular Ryanair destination (not all from personal experience!), kicking off each mini-review with extracts from the descriptions accompanying the collection.
Harmattan - OUDJA
"The scent of the wind as it crosses the Sahara desert..."
Notes: lavender, vetiver, oud, saffron, black pepper, tuberose, rose, ylang-ylang, sandalwood, bourbon, tonka bean, frankincense, patchouli and myrrh
Hmm...it was a bit of a challenge finding a Ryanair airport in the flight path of the Harmattan wind, which is apparently a 'cold-dry and dusty trade wind, blowing over the West African subcontinent'. So I came up with Oudja, near the Moroccan / Algerian border. To be honest, it's a fair bit north of the windy action, but my guess is that there would be some sand within striking distance at least, even if it is not notably breezy.
Now I read somewhere that Harmattan is the bestseller of the line; it certainly chimes with the oud-y, 'wind wafting curtains of a hotel room overlooking a souk' Zeitgeist, which famously inspired Andy Tauer's L'Air du Désert Marocain. Between the pepper, oud and incense, Harmattan comes off as a somewhat masculine-leaning, arid and austere scent to my nose, making it a good fit for my choice of Oudja - which doesn't seem to go out of its way to attract visitors, though I note that a techno-pole is under construction near the airport. Going back to our trade wind, Harmattan definitely has an overall vibe of 'dusty' and 'cold-dry'. It's not particularly original, but the oud with its medicinal facet nicely scratches that 'English Patient' itch.
|Oudja ~ Source: Wikipedia|
Graduate 1954 - PARIS
"This represents the woman who, as a result of the limited freedoms offered to her, had to use her femininity and elegance to achieve her goals. Strength through femininity..."
Notes: tuberose, frangipani, old rose, heliotrope, mandarin, muguet, clove, green moss, cedarwood, Virginian sandalwood and patchouli
I am not quite sure why a woman who went to university as long ago as 1954 should still need to use feminine wiles to get anywhere, but assuming that she does, she can start by hitching a lift from Beauvais to actual Paris, a journey of an hour and a half by bus apparently. I chose Paris to be twinned with this pretty scent, because it is a wistful, old-fashioned floral with a feel of Bourjois Soir de Paris about it: watery, sweet and unashamedly girlish - though if one were to cast it in ladies' hosiery terms, it would be more of an 'Ambre' or 'Beige Doré' I sense, rather than fishnets or the implicit bluestocking of the fragrance name.
|My vintage mini, since jettisoned due to chronic black gunge issues|
Neon - KAVOS
"Fluorescent and alive. This fragrance bursts with fun and style. For the things that make us smile..."
Notes: nutmeg, cinnamon, heliotrope, wild iris, vanilla, and a reassuring woody base
Trust me, there is nothing about this perfume that is 'reassuring'. The clue lies in the name and the description(!), hence my choice of Kavos. For Neon is a brash, vibrant, bubblegum kind of scent, that smacks you over the head with a double whammy of heliotrope and vanilla, not unlike the sort of sickly cocktails being downed by the pitcherful in the pulsating nightspots of this Greek party resort, leading to a general divesting of inhibitions and clothes, and a hangover the size of Colossus (sorry, that's Rhodes, not Corfu) in the morning.
|Kavos ~ Source: Wikimedia Commons (they must have been up early!)|
White Noise - KRAKOW
"The static calm of white noise inspires a sense of stillness and reflection..."
Notes: green apple, lemon balm, mandarin, grapefruit, iris, violet leaf, heliotrope, tuberose, jasmine blossom, old rose, cedarwood, sandalwood, leather, amber and vanilla
My first thought about White Noise is that it might be the very thing you need a CD of in order to sleep in Kavos, assuming you are not one of the revellers. My second thought was that the perfumer must have a jolly big tub of heliotrope on the go, as this is the third perfume to feature it in a row. But I am going to go with Krakow, which I visited in January 1996, when it was buried under drifts upon drifts of pillowy snow. Sleep does come into this recollection, for I was training a young colleague on that trip, and shortly after setting off for Kielce, some 75 miles away, to conduct her first solo interview, she fainted on the train, kiboshing my lie in and day off in one fell, hypoglycaemic swoop. As with actual white noise, I couldn't pick out any individual notes in this perfume - or even have a stab at describing it - but it is similar in style to Olfactive Studio's Lumière Blanche - a creamy, woody, numinous mantra-type fragrance, and one of my favourites of the bunch.
|Krakow ~ Source: Wikimedia Commons|
Bitter End - KNOCK
Bitter End is 'inspired by the west of Ireland, a beautiful barren place of isolation...'
Notes: wild grasses, cooling mints and wet bracken, fig leaf, olive, wild thyme, oakmoss, violet leaf, vetiver
Well, though I grew up in the North, I have holidayed extensively in the West of Ireland, and have vivid memories of its wild grasses and wet bracken, not to mention soggy socks, permeable kagoules, and the sharp tingle of relentless drizzle on your cheeks. I picture craggy landscapes shrouded in low cloud, sheep hunkered down by dry stone walls bordering fields of peat, and endless vistas of sludgy grey and brown. The sort of area that is so remote that it pays to trail bread vans so you get a loaf that has a best before date later than yesterday.
Bitter End (is the name some kind of veiled political comment, hehe?) I wouldn't class as bitter. To my nose it smells more of damp violets and some vaguely muddy greenery, shot through with the faintest hint of mint, though your air miles may vary and I don't wish to 'Knock' it.
|Connemara ~ courtesy of Clare Chick|
Which brings me neatly to the last scent in my virtual olfactory recce of Ryanair routes, namely Cloud 9, which needs no destination...
Cloud 9 - UP IN THE AIR
"A clean, calm scent. A feeling of floating happiness. Clean air, hot milk, comfort and lightness..."
Notes: chamomile, geranium, jasmine, vanilla, amber, musk and sandalwood
I have nothing much to say about Cloud 9, except that it is very pleasant rather than transcendental, though none the worse for that. I am not sure you would find hot milk on a Ryanair flight come to think of it, and the floating happiness only kicks in once they have got that scratch card routine out of the way - not to mention the push on duty free deals. Which do of course include perfume. ;) Hmm, somehow I doubt that the ROADS range - imaginative and amusingly quirky though it is - will displace the designer bellwethers in Ryanair's in-flight magazine any time soon...