New Year is also when you finally start to have tantalising glimpses of the back of the fridge. And when you fashion oddball fusion dishes from faintly fermenting leftovers, because you would rather play Russian roulette with salmonella and listeria than accept that you went a bit mad with the big Christmas shop.
That said, I did get into the habit lately of sniffing my food before consumption, as well as scrutinising it for obvious signs of mould - and thus it was that some fizzy and oddly sweet-smelling parsnips with mushy middles got the chop smartish. As in didn't get the chop and go in the soup I was making!
|"Sprouts are not just for Christmas."|
Then New Year makes you realise your friends' eyesight is ageing at the same rapid pace as yours, as their festive messages - while warm and uplifting - are full of typos and predictive text gibberish.
It is also a time for writing appointments in new diaries in exceptionally neat handwriting, while knowing full well that your painstaking script will turn to complete rats**t as the year progresses.
New Year's Resolutions
And let's not forget those New Year's resolutions. This was a popular topic of conversation at the party I attended last night, and it amused me that in answer to the question: "What do you wish for in 2017?" one friend said "World peace" while I said "Teeming neurons", an oblique reference to the beneficial effect of aerobic exercise on hippocampus tissue. I did at least go for a long hike the other day with two friends, each of whom had two dogs. On the way round we met so many other people out with their dogs that it got mighty confusing, and in the ensuing furry melees I felt sure that people must just have been glad to go home with the same number of dogs that they set out with.
|The lady in red is wearing a cashmere scarf I knitted!|
I do have other resolutions, mind - all equally selfish it must be said: to read more books, and knit more, and sell a load of old clothes on eBay. And ideally eat less sugar, having recently scared myself witless about the deleterious effects of refined carbohydrates with this Long Read. It really is long, I must warn you. As I said on Facebook, where I posted the link, I think I could romp through 'Girl on a Train' quicker. It even made me eye up my four pack of Double Deckers with a newfound suspicion. That particular New Year's resolution isn't going at all well, however, as the very first thing I ate today as I walked home from the party was half a cranberry muffin, distributed free to departing revellers by our host. It was quite delicious, and on balance I think I will carry on eating my favourite confectionery and biscuits, and the devil and the dentist and the doctor take the hindmost.
Because it was the holidays, I relaxed my usual rules and allowed Truffle to sleep on the bed with me - but only in the mornings, if I was having a lie in. I associate this time with the rich scent of patchouli, for often her paws would have traces of earth on them from night manoeuvres on the allotments.
Diptyque Eau Duelle: the boomerang bottle with a duo of botched sales
So yes, now that I am in my late 50s and things are starting to fail on multiple fronts, health issues are very much on my mind. Not helped by the slew of celebrity deaths this year, some of them younger than me. Though one or two had rather caned it in their time, one way and another. But maybe that is ultimately okay, for it is not about how long you live, but how fully, and how alive you felt while you were at it. (See muffin mention above.) I sense a discussion on the pros and cons of living in the fast lane / a rock 'n' roll lifestyle - or even one with occasional treats, haha - could warrant a whole other post sometime, albeit not about perfume, I know.
But on to the health of my fragrance collection, and specifically the unfortunate effects of ageing on my 70% full 100ml bottle of Diptyque Eau Duelle. I have owned it since 2009 or 2010 at a guess?, so quite a few years it must be said, and recently tried selling it on that UK Fragrance Sale/Swap/Split site. I put it up for a reduced price of £25, which was intended to reflect the bottle's age in a non-specific way. The first person to buy it messaged me shortly afterwards to say that she had compared my Eau Duelle with a recently acquired sample and found my bottle to be all about the vanilla, and missing "some of the more smoky woodsy notes".
I wrote back, most apologetic, and explaining that I had sort of "grown old" with my bottle, as it were, and had not noticed how it might have morphed over that time. However, I quite understood that she was in a position to check on the difference that ageing had brought about, and promptly refunded her money.
A little while later, another would-be purchaser came through, offering to buy my 'boomerang bottle' of Eau Duelle - so I had now received dual offers, you could say! I told him what had happened with the previous buyer, and this chap replied that he only wanted to use the scent as a room atomiser, and wasn't too worried about all the nuances of the notes being detectable. So the bottle was duly despatched before Christmas, with an even more reduced price of £19. Though this time I suggested to the buyer that he only pay me if he was happy with the perfume. And now it is sadly on its way back again... ;) In a message I learnt the reason for his not wishing to keep the bottle:
"Although I like the smell I think it has lost a lot of its strength. I tried it on the aroma diffuser but it was very weak and I could not really smell it."
I have to say that Eau Duelle is quite strong when applied as a perfume, even in its EDT concentration, but for his particular purpose it was clearly not fit, so no money changed hands and it seems this bottle is destined to stay put!
These incidents have brought it home to me that it is very difficult to sell a bottle of perfume you have had knocking around for a while, because the buyer expects it to be just as it was when it was new. And this got me thinking about the notion of ageing in broad terms, and how women too are expected to look as they did when they were young, or at least to give the arresting of the effects of ageing their very best shot! And that is a shame - the fact that something or someone is only acceptable if they are as they once were, even though the changes may not necessarily be all bad - just different. My Eau Duelle doesn't smell off; it still smells as pleasantly vanilla-y as many a vanilla-forward scent such as Annick Goutal's Vanille Exquise, or L'Artisan's Vanilia. But like me, I accept that it is missing some of its faculties - I mean facets!
Miscellaneous retrospective stuff
On the world stage, it goes without saying that 2016 was a pretty diabolical year, with spiralling levels of conflict and political turmoil. Frankly I am not too hopeful that 2017 is going to be much of an improvement. Or rather that things may get worse before they get better...
In a much more minor way, 2016 was a bit of a bummer for me personally in that I developed eyelid eczema in the spring, which still flares up from time to time, though I am more aware of the triggers now. I plan to do a separate post on how I have got on with various skincare products, now that I have been using them all for a while - some of them recommended by readers!
Highlights of the year on the social front included the great gathering of the clans in January for Portia's PLL talk, and subsequently knitting beanies for her ;) - I will get onto the next commission in good time for your winter! - along with Pia and Nick's highly enjoyable Smelly Cakey Perfume Meet Up in October. Then in May I spent a birthday to remember when I visited Liz Moores again, this time with Tara. My trip to France in August to visit my friend L was also one of my happiest times this year - a life changing one, no less, in that it planted the seed that I might one day retire over there, while the recent band tour in Germany was the usual rumbustious and 'sleep when I'm dead' fun.
|Portia, me and Angela|
Favourite perfumes of 2016
Of all the years I have been blogging, this is going to be my sketchiest selection, as I have tried so few of the new releases! With that caveat here is my little list - I have fellow bloggers to thanks for introducing me to quite a few of these - Val is responsible for three,and Undina two! As Undina found in her own recent round up of the best of 2016, my list quite fortuitously runs to ten...;)
Jo Malone Mimosa & Cardamom
Aroma M Vanilla Hinoki
Aroma M Geisha Noire (my new favourite furry animalic amber)
By Kilian Amber Oud (as above, but sweeter, and less hoochy)
Ruth Mastenbroek Oxford
Chanel No 5 L'Eau (briefly tried on skin in store, but I liked what I remember)
Hermès Doblis (I have no words! The ne plus ultra ambrosia of leather scents. Okay, I had a few.)
|Source: aroma M perfumes|
What I would really like to try!
Aftelier Perfumes Vanilla Smoke
Afterlier Perfumes Amber Tapestry
Hiram Green Arbolé Arbolé
Sarah Jessica Parker Stash
Fellow bloggers have massively piqued my curiosity about these.
Losing the plot?
On a housekeeping note, I noticed that in 2016 my page views went up quite markedly to nearly 40,000 a month, while the comments on my blog fell. I am not sure what is behind that dual(!) phenomenon, though if I had to guess I'd say that some of the new traffic is probably a fluke-y spike. As for the reduction in comments, it may be that I am now too much on the margins of the perfume scene to be regarded as a bona fide - or even a particularly enthusiastic! - voice on developments within it, compounded by my possibly annoying propensity to go off with alarming regularity on tangents (travel posts, skincare posts, and manifestations of off-topic silliness of every stripe). But I may never know the reason, as those readers may now have stopped reading as well as commenting! And it may not be that the lack of interaction by readers is a protest vote at all, but is due to something else entirely. I have no way of knowing though - that is the conundrum - so as a blogger it is natural to question the merits of what you are doing first. (Especially when you factor in middle-aged paranoia, haha.) But seriously, I would be glad to know what people think of the topic mix, and whether I should stick to perfume on here, and create a separate blog for the other topics. Or even drop the perfume side and just focus on travel periodically - I don't know. I do wonder whether Bonkers might have become a bit of an unholy mishmash now, and people are just too polite to say so. ;)
I can assure you though that I will be reviewing some more perfumes soon. Also, the bathroom renovation really does deserve a post of its own - for the comedy value of the whole sorry palaver alone! - though I realise that would be another digression. For yes, as you may have noticed, I am rather Bonkers about Bathrooms - and sanitary- and brassware in particular. Yet in this picture I took last night (several sheets to the wind it must be said) I completely failed to get the all-important taps in!
And finally, I would like to wish everyone out there - regular readers, occasional readers, or those who have landed here by mistake! - a very Happy New Year, or as happy a one as we can collectively contrive in this mad, mad world...
Ooh look, I have managed to get back to Sunday posting after a bit of a 'temporal drift' of late.