Sunday, 16 February 2020

Paying it Forward: (in) Puredistance Gold


"This post is a part of a joint mini project, a.k.a. giveaway, held by Undina (Undina’s Looking Glass), Vanessa (Bonkers about Perfume), Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle) and Portia (Australian Perfume Junkies) – see details at the bottom of the post."

Ooh, I haven't participated in a joint blogging project in forever. I do remember one in 2010 on The Scents of the Mediterranean, and there must have been an example or two since. However, with being a bit of a lone wolf that walks by itself I haven't tended to do much in the way of collaborations with other bloggers. To be fair, I haven't done much blogging lately, period, which has as much to do with the ongoing jip from my sprained pelvis (and inability to sit still for long periods) as it has with any dip in my fragrant mojo. Be that as it may, the rationale behind this particular joint exercise struck me as so worthwhile that I am delighted to have been asked to host the UK end of the giveaway.

Without further ado I should add that this initiative is the brainchild of Undina, who explains how she lit upon the idea on Undina's Looking Glass.

For the full background do hop over to her blog, but in brief, Puredistance is a fine example of 'slow perfumery' (to annexe a term perhaps best known in the context of cooking and travel). It has gradually increased both its stable of fragrances and its retail network, growing the company in a measured and organic way, also in terms of its marketing approach. Undina feels (and I wholeheartedly agree) that Puredistance has always been appreciative of the varied and highly individual ways in which bloggers have spread the word about its perfumes. The company even collated their reviews into a presentation book, which I have never seen done by a brand before. To this day, 11 years on from the launch of PD 1, Puredistance continues to be unstintingly generous to the blogging community in its provision of samples. This was never conditional on their part, and by the same token, we bloggers wrote from the heart and not as part of some tacit quid pro quo arrangement that 'free stuff' would automatically come our way. But because of Puredistance's respect for the blogging community and its voice, I'd say this naturally led to closer - while still independent - ties.

Conversely, owing to the limited distribution of the brand, the fact of the matter remains that most people reading reviews will probably not have the opportunity to try these perfumes in a store anywhere near them. Which is why Undina thought it would be a nice idea to hold parallel giveaways in the four regions of the participating bloggers, enabling one reader in each area to win a sample of Puredistance's latest release, GOLD.




Here's the technical detail, courtesy of Undina:

"Puredistance Gold Sample(s) Giveaway

One ~ 1.5ml handmade sample of Puredistance Gold is offered in a giveaway on each blog for a reader from the specific geographical region:

Bonkers about Perfume - the UK
Undina’s Looking Glass – the US and Canada
Chemist in the Bottle  – Europe (without the UK)**

While you’re invited and encouraged to comment on any/all of the participating blogs, to be entered into the draw you should leave a comment on 'your' region’s blog, following the instructions given there.

The draw will close on February 23. You know all the disclaimers etc."

Now I love GOLD myself and for anyone who hasn't tried the line, it is an ideal introduction to Puredistance's luxurious yet wearable style. Links to my review of it and those of five other scents are listed below, along with one to my post about visiting the offices of Puredistance in 2011 - I was apparently the first blogger to do so. I received a very warm welcome from Jan Ewoud Vos and his team, and at the end of our meeting was given a memorably packaged(!) ;) slice of apple cake for the road.









Editor's note: It occurred to me that as Bonkers receives few comments anymore - looking again at these reviews has rather reminded me of that - if you are in the UK the chances of scoring a sample here are extremely high!

**Europe (without the UK) Ah, how true...;(


WHITE and BLACK cosying up together


Saturday, 11 January 2020

Pines, spines, and clementines: A Bonkers Christmas and New Year Round Up

Well, here is another post that has been a long time in coming, but in my defence it hurts to sit, and the latest office trend of 'standing desks' has yet to reach Bonkers Towers. But mindful that it will soon be Shrove Tuesday at this rate, I thought it was high time I wrote a bit about the holiday period, and about taking stock generally.

The three scents of Christmas

A Facebook friend asked me in the run up to Christmas what my three favourite smells were around this time, and I came up with these in about half a second:

  • Pine needles (notwithstanding my little artificial tree)
  • Myrrh* (a favourite note in perfumes, and also in Bengale Rouge - see below!)
  • A successfully roasted turkey (by no means a given in my world)

* As immortalised in the Billy Idol song: "In the midnight hour she cried 'Myrrh, myrrh, myrrh'!"

NB For more on my agonies down the years as to the correct method of cooking a turkey, please see this post. I could add the smell of clementines, given the option of a fourth, but they have their moment later in this post.




Perfumes worn over the holidays

A three way tie between Bengale Rouge, Puredistance GOLD, and Hiuse of Cherry Bomb Immortal Beloved, all of which feel suitably Christmassy to my nose. I also gave PoaL an airing, inspired by the talk in Liverpool featured in my last post.

Holiday oddities

December was a very sociable month generally, with a total of 25 'socialising units', where a unit is either a party or other event, seeing a friend, or having a long phone conversation with someone. I would have been happy to spread these units out over several months, but that is not the way Christmas tends to go. In amongst all the gatherings, a few amusing things occurred...

Trans terriers, non-binary St Bernards, and universal Christmas cards

Here is the oddest 'envelope' in which I received a Christmas card. It was some kind of brainstorm or checklist used in a gender awareness workshop by a friend who does arts in the community (or something). To me it looks like a tentative way to address a trans terrier or non-binary St Bernard, but I could be wrong. Note the amusing juxtaposition towards the bottom of 'lesbian singer beast lover of artist'.






The card inside was handmade, but quite normal, signed, but not addressed to anyone. That's the second card I had this year where the donor told me to "pick a card, any card!", from a carrier bag full or whatever. "What if it doesn't say my name on it?" I piped up. "None of them do!" The one my friend Mary gave me (she of the trade fair in Brussels where I helped out on the stand) - or which I chose from the fan she held out to be exact - had gone a step further by being completely blank inside; it featured one of her past designs, now gracing soft furnishings by Matalan and IKEA etc. It is so nice in an Indian Paisley type of way - and big! - that I might even frame it. This strikes me as a much more flexible (if less personal ;) ) system than committing to a particular person in writing, and then failing to bump into them that Christmas - or any Christmas. Assuming you are determined not to post the card.

It IS rocket science!

My Christmas Day was uncharacteristically memorable, as I was invited to a lunchtime drinks party - I don't normally go out once I am somewhere for Christmas, as it were, which is usually at home. Anyway, it just so happened that I met an actual rocket scientist(!) from Hyde, whose aunt was killed by Britain's most prolific serial killer, Dr Shipman - either one of those facts would have lent exoticism to the event, never mind both. He featured in some Wallace & Grommit production apparently *as* a rocket scientist. He was wearing a black shirt with planets and slightly sparkly stars on. A waggish friend suggested:

"It'd be good if more people, e.g, [insert name of mutual friend who is a gastric nurse], wore clothes with their day job designed on them."

NB The same waggish friend pointed out that the date I mentioned in my last post as being symmetrical - 19.12.19 - was merely 'repetitive'. He is quite right in fact, plus the 12 rather obstructs proceedings. 

An existential llama crisis 

This Christmas, I gave a friend a tea towel with a knitting theme on it, plus a felt llama tree decoration. A few days ago I received the following message:

"Today the serious debate at home is not are we on the brink of World War III or if ethical veganism is a philosophical belief, but whether we can squeeze the llama gift into the class of an objet d'art or if it has to be classed as a Christmas decoration (the difference of course being consigned to a box or not). Input please!"

To which I replied:

"LOL at your llama dilemma. Or should that be LLOL? I think the string condemns him to Xmas dec status - I've had a similar existential crisis with a gingerbread man in a jaunty tartan scarf."

Oh, and then there was Santa, living it large on the lodger's bed while he was away, and having found the biscuits!




Best new release of 2019

With every passing year, I realise how much I am out of touch with the perfume scene. Other bloggers compile their 'Best of 2019' posts - as I used to do myself indeed - and I only recognise at most one name on the list, haha. This year that name has been Papillon Perfumery's Bengale Rouge. I don't even stop to look out for new things at airport duty frees now - a new release has more or less got to be put into my hand for me to try it, such is the pancake flat state of my perfume passion plateau. So there you go - the best new release of 2019 for me is (by default) Bengale Rouge! To be fair, I suspect it might hold that spot even if I had tried some of the other new things. I haven't even smelt Rose et Cuir by Frederic Malle, though I really don't think it would be for me.



2019 perfumes I might have liked if I had smelt them(!)

To answer this question I took a look at Victoria's round up on Bois de Jasmin, my taste being closely aligned to hers, by and large. The scent that caught my eye in her list was Miller Harris's Sublime Blossom:

"Sublime Blossom is a creamy flower wrapped in musk and sandalwood. The main floral accent here is osmanthus and ylang-ylang, both of which have a luscious fruity nuance."

I am a sucker for ylang-ylang, and recently bought a little bottle of the essential oil for use in the bath. There is more to that story in fact, which I may save for another post about my last trip to the French house...

Then Van Cleef & Arpels Santal Blanc is another of Victoria's picks, and the note list is a little unusual:

Notes: fig, orange, violet, sandalwood, tonka bean and musk

Somewhere I still have the several tonka beans Victoria gave me when I visited her in her flat in Brussels. Given the extraodinary reach of her recent international wanderings, you'd be hard pushed to visit her anywhere these days!

Trying new things 

This year I am not going to bring out the tired old resolutions of yore, like those overly familiar Christmas decorations you can't bring yourself to chuck out. Somewhere at the back of my mind I do of course still want to take 150 minutes of exercise a week - which is only 20 minutes a day after all. I think I am probably doing that already simply by going about my daily business. And then of course I also hope to do press ups against the pantry door while reheating my tea in the microwave, and engage in casual bursts of weight lifting involving tins of beans. Going to bed earlier and cutting down on alcohol are also loose aspirations somewhere in the furthest recesses of my psyche. But no, my actual 'resolution' is to try new things. (Though not necessarily perfumes, as mentioned. ;) )

This started before New Year indeed, when I popped to the corner shop for a half bottle of vodka. That's two firsts in one in fact: buying alcohol in a corner shop, and buying a half bottle of vodka. I have hardly ever bought vodka in my life. But what had happened was that I had succumbed to an impulse buy of a bottle of Diet Coke billed as having a hint of 'festive clementine'. Which had got me thinking about what mixers go with Coke, and vodka popped into my head. Not being a rum person. Or being a rum person, but not in the alcoholic way at least. So I had a vodka and coke with festive clementine, accessorised with a slice of clementine, one of many going slightly hard in the fruit bowl at the time, and looking for any role at this point.

Vodka, hot chilli jam, and a good book

So there was the vodka, plus I am also dabbling in herbal tea (which I hate!) to curtail my caffeine consumption after 4pm. It has only just come to my attention that caffeine has a tremendous half life of something like six hours, which may conceivably be one of the many factors for my poor sleep these days. So great is its half life in fact, that on closer inspection it must qualify as a double life nearly. I have settled on a blend of tea by Pukka called Womankind, which is not too sweet and not too swampy, but still not my thing. The packet is quite pleasing to the eye, but that is not enough even so to endear me to the category.

I have also had a bit of a late onset chutney epiphany - my friend's homemade chilli jam and one with rhubarb and I forget what else. I am experimenting with meditating too, but due to the aforementioned problematic sitting (see below), I may have to come back to that.

Back to my back

The main news to mention from the holiday period is the worsening of a long term niggling back problem: from Boxing Day the pain became more acute in that area, making sitting, standing or lying uncomfortable, which is clearly rather impractical! I have been to see an osteopath whose working diagnosis is a sprained ligament in my pelvis, though tests for other causes are ongoing via my GP. I did fall down stairs in a car park in November, and have done a lot of travelling in 2019 (driving to France and back, touring with the band, carrying luggage and gear and sitting in vans); then I've moved a lot of furniture (including a cast iron grate!), done a lot of housework and bed changing as a result of my venture into Airbnb, and additionally have a decidedly unsupportive office chair, a sporty car seat, a slightly saggy mattress, and a pair of favourite, but unevenly worn shoes that may have thrown my balance off a bit. The cause is probably the cumulative impact of all these so-called 'microtraumas'...


Foxy, but unforgiving...


To put matters right, I have ordered a proper office chair and am investigating a new mattress. My quest began with a little lie down on the Sleepmatch bed in Dreams - best three minutes of the entire holiday(!). It has rollers that come at you from below in unexpected ways, like a funfair machine or mechanical water bed - or like being nuzzled and munched by a recumbent alien wearing a fleecy stocking mask - incredibly sensuous and relaxing, let's just say. I'd have bought that bed if it was for sale. ;). Damn near fell asleep in the shop. You lie there staring at a screen on which pops up your name, a list of recommended mattresses, and how far you are along the firmness spectrum. Answer - hardly at all, which I knew anyway, given the state of my back, and my light weight. 

I didn't end up buying any of the recommended beds though, as the only one that was in my budget had just 800 pocket springs, and I was looking for a minimum of 1000. Still, it confirmed me in my belief that bad backs and firm ('orthopaedic') mattresses are not a match made in heaven, as people used to think.

The osteopath also told me to sleep with a cushion between my knees, a tip which has passed me by all these years, along with the half life of caffeine. Imagine my surprise to learn that the entire Sperrer family - young and older members alike! - have been sleeping like this for years. Here is Val's husband Chris striking the pose. No wonder they are in such tip top spinal health. While on the subject of spines, in German they are known as a 'Wirbelsaeule' ie a 'whirly column'. How much do I love that apt term for the pillar of our anatomy.



Val's husband in supported napping mode.

Book reading goal

I am in awe of Tara of A Bottled Rose's phenomenal reading rate - 50 books last year compared to my measly 12. Arguably, if I had spent more time reading and less time doing all those physical things I mentioned earlier, I might have spared my lumbar area as well as achieved a greater total, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. This year I am aiming for pelvic restoration and a reading tally of 18 books, kicking off the year with the hilarious and oddball "Reasons to be Cheerful" by Nina Stibbe. The first book I have ever come across that is written from the perspective of a dental assistant. Nina Stibbe has been compared to Sue Townsend - quintessentially British, with a fine line in observational humour. I can also thoroughly recommend "A Near Perfect Christmas" by her, with which I kicked off 2019.

As it happens, I recently had an excellent book buying spree in a couple of charity shops, and also received two books for Christmas. I decided to put them on my coffee table to encourage me to make my target this year. I expect there are a few more than 18 in that pile, but I might not take to all of them. And Middlemarch is probably too long to bother with when I am against the clock in this way(!). Plus I have read it already. Ditto To Kill a Mocking Bird, which is in there somewhere, but which I fancy rereading after 40 years or so.




Social media diet

Another way in which I might tip the odds towards reaching my reading goal is to spend less time in 2020 on social media. This encompasses the great vortex that is Facebook, plus Instagram and Twitter (though I hardly use the latter), also Whatsapp, text messages and emails. My virtual life has spiralled out of control lately and it is starting to get me down because of everything else I am not acccomplishing, including reading as I say, but also blogging itself(!). I have three email accounts and counted 37 named folders up to the end of 'D' on one of them. One or two are project or work folders, but the majority are people with whom I have had sufficient exchanges for them to warrant their own folder. I couldn't bring myself to tot up the rest of the alphabet or the folders in the other accounts, though there are fewer associated with those. Then I had 32 active conversations on Messenger going the last time I looked, and about 15 by text. Trying to keep up with it all is much like a fast paced game of Whac-a-Mole, and I don't mean that unkindly. There is never a sense of progress - you respond to one message or email and then another pops up, and then the first again. That constant sense of failure and of letting the people at the other end of these exchanges down by not replying in a timely manner is weighing on my conscience, and I will just have to take things more slowly and accept that I can't keep all the social media plates spinning...I shall probably also miss some people's birthdays and operations, new jobs and lost pets, but for the sake of my own mental health something really has to give.


On nurse duty again, picking up the slack from Ludlow the bear

A word on Truffle

In her comment on my last post, Undina expressed a wish for more news / pictures of Truffle. She is not bringing in mice at the moment, which is great, though doubtless a temporary truce for the holidays. She also pretty much left the decorations alone, though the tree is derisorily small in feline terms. However, she is proving a nuisance by refusing to eat her already rather expensive cat crunchies, favouring instead an even more high end brand called True Instinct, whose strapline ominously reads:



Suffice to say there's been a lot of instinctive desiring going on in this house, which I am trying not to overly indulge.

In her defence, Truffle has been quite loving and lain on me when I have been feeling poorly due to the bad back business, and also reminded me to go and feed my friend M's cat, which was thoughtful of her.



She has also enjoyed a lot of turkey and chicken - I roasted both over Christmas week, and made four lots of soup in all, one of which unsurprisingly involved fowl!





So how has your Christmas been, if it doesn't seem like aeons ago?

Not dogged by illness and with the optimum number of socialising units, I hope!


Saturday, 21 December 2019

Portraits of a Lady: 'Perfume Stories in Conversation' at Tate Liverpool, 19.12.19

First things first...yesterday's date is pleasingly symmetrical, if not exactly palindromic like the page views tally in my last post. Yet even had it not been symmetrical - never mind palindromic - yesterday was a hugely enjoyable day, for a number of coincidences occurred and paths were crossed, in unexpected ways. And this despite the fact that my day started preternaturally early again - in darkness, no less. Who knew that mornings can be like the middle of the night in December?? Too many years spent around musicians and their unsociable body clocks has given me an aversion - nay, allergy - to any hour earlier than 8.30am.

I got up at this time as I was due to attend a talk on perfume at John Moores University, which strangely doesn't have an apostrophe. I infer that this is because the university is merely named after the distinguished businessman in question who founded the Littlewoods retail chain and football pools, rather than being in any way 'possessed' by him.

I travelled on a pleasingly fast train to Liverpool operated by Avanti, which it took me till mid-afternoon to realise is the company who took over from Virgin the other week. It only stopped at Runcorn, and then sadly at the railway station, not half way across the famous wrought iron bridge so I could have taken a better picture. The bridge has several names, including 'Ethelfleda', which is so good I wish I at least had a chicken to call it after. Next week's (albeit dead) turkey may briefly acquire this moniker instead...




Now don't laugh, but I brought my A-Z of Liverpool with me, which dates from 1990, the year when I stayed at the Adelphi Hotel (of Onedin Line fame) and had the use of a company 'pool' mobile phone the size of a brick. I'll be honest, I navigated in the end using a combination of helpful tourist signage and the blue dot on Google maps, but it felt good to have the A-Z as back up. A bit like shopping with a wicker basket.

I arrived at Albert Dock a little early, and took a quick snap of this doughnut van with its transatlantic spelling and tempting offer of candyfloss and 'slush'. That's what you get I expect if you drop your candyfloss in the Mersey. Parked a little further on was a double decker London bus offering tea and coffee; an old telephone box next to it had been repurposed as a milk and sugar station. You don't get that sort of vintage charm in Starbucks, even if they do offer milk in different fat percentages.




The talk was held upstairs at Tate Liverpool, in a section of a big gallery space screened off by a curtain - not all the way, mind, so at various points during proceedings other visitors threw us a quizzical look as they were passing in their search for Dali's Lobster Telephone. I say 'search', as I am not sure that any of the 11 lobsters Dali made is in Liverpool anymore. My mobile phone from 1990 was not far off in size if not shape, now I think of it.

So, on to the event itself: Perfume Stories in Conversation (Alchemy, Olfaction and Synaesthesia), created and hosted by Michael O'Shaughnessy. Mike is Senior Lecturer in Graphic Design & Illustration at Liverpool School of Art & Design at John Moores University. He began his talk by playing a song by Barry White(!), which proved a good ice breaker, and was at pains to point out that perfume is about so much more than the art of seduction (despite what the glossy, gold-dipped adverts would tell us). He gave us a bit of background on his own academic research and commercial art, including several high profile commissions, such as a billboard featuring his own handwriting that formed the skin of the Everyman building.

Source: moshaughnessy.co.uk

The structure remained in place for 18 months, and miraculously didn't get 'tagged' in all that time by graffiti artists, which Mike attributed to his 'inclusive' use of cursive writing, which looked a bit like graffiti to start with. He adopted a similar approach on a project for Dong Energy, a Danish company which installed 32 wind turbines in Liverpool Bay, and his billboard with the caption "This Beautiful Place" was similarly left intact. Regular readers may recall that I am a big fan of wind farms, having done a project on glue in California, some of which is used to fix rattling nacelles, as the big 'gubbins housings' at the top are called.

To seal his credentials, Mike mentioned that he had in fact swum the Mersey, which impressed us all no end. So by this point I was definitely sold on Mike's handwriting and level of fitness, and we moved onto the key premise of his event, namely a "proposition of multi-sensory experience in Art":

"We experience drawing in the same way that smell can provide a trigger for memory and sensation. Scent invites us to recount and create new stories, sharing and revealing layers of experience." 

After romping through a few surprise facts about our sense of smell, including the one about it remaining when we are asleep (something the ex-firefighter in our group was able to confirm!), Mike presented us with a selection of evocative quotes about perfume from literature. One, from Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, featured bitter almonds reminding a character in the book of the fate of unrequited love. It was a great quote, and reminded me in turn of my happily morbid teenage years engrossed in Agatha Christie novels, where death by the chemically closely related cyanide was a go-to MO. But better still, we also learnt that Mike had been commissioned to do a portrait of Marquez, whom he decided to dress as a fish, in a nod to another work by the author, in case you were wondering(!).




We had already started to discuss what scenes different scents and smells evoke in our minds, and at this point Mike passed around a blotter sprayed with Chanel Cuir de Russie. This was a rather spooky moment for me, as I had so nearly chosen Cuir de Russie as my SOTD - to the point of holding the mini in my hand for a moment or two before putting it back in the drawer - however, I ended up opting for the more public space-appropriate and sadly discontinued Guerlain Plus Que Jamais.

Mike also showed us a book he had had published on Perfume and Drawing: it comprised a series of portraits of ladies - mostly but not exclusively his niece, I think? - juxtaposed with a list of perfumes containing a particular fragrance material, followed by a literary quote. At this point Mike disclosed that A Portrait of a Lady, or PoaL as it is commonly known in the blogosphere, was his all-time favourite perfume! This happens to be the favourite of Val the Cookie Queen, who has kept me supplied with both PoaL and CdR. I have an abiding memory of Val lavishly applying PoaL in an underground car park in Augsburg, before we went into a Monochrome Set gig at a nearby club. So I guess I have a memory link between that fragrance and music and perfume friends. And although I am not sure it works on me, I am a big admirer of PoaL, which I first smelt not on skin, but sprayed on Katie Puckrik's pashmina, which she was using as the garment equivalent of a room diffuser. Another strong memory, this time linking the scent to perfume friends - and fabric!



Mike went on to tell us about workshops he had run with his art students, giving them perfumes to smell blind and seeing how they reacted and what specific associations they had with the scents. (He is a big pusher of perfume / evangelist, and I salute him for it.) We did a bit of that too and the reactions from our group to the perfume Mike had selected were all over the map, and not uniformly positive. One lady was reminded of the dentist, another had no particular associations but didn't care for it, while I could pick up fruity notes, but ones that had been spoilt or muddied by something indeterminate that might have been spices or herbs. I shan't say what the perfume was, or what it was meant to smell like, in case anyone gets the opportunity to attend one of Mike's workshops or talks, but let's just say it was pretty left field in its inspiration!




There was more...Mike mentioned a thought provoking quote by Siri Hustvedt, speaking of the artist Morandi. Oddly, I have just read The Summer Without Men by her - not to be confused with the iPhone application of the same name - and used to have a Morandi print over my bed two houses ago. I think ex-Mr Bonkers must have won custody of it. Mike also referenced Mikhail Bulgarov's Master & Margarita, which is sitting in one of my many tsundokus, as is the Marquez book indeed.

After the talk, which all of us didn't want to end(!), I repaired to the cafe with Mike and a lecturer colleague of his whose speciality is textiles and fashion, to carry on the conversation. I did take a full body photo of Mike during the talk, but he preferred this off-duty one in which he feels he comes across as more jolly. I told him that he looks a bit like my Graphic Design lecturer friend Simon - the one who lives on a narrow boat and finds room in his tiny fridge to store his perfumes - crossed with a more exuberant and charismatic version of Jeremy Corbyn. I added that Mike could give Jeremy lessons in being more animated / genial / zealous /generally 'up'. I don't suppose it would  have helped him win the election if he had also swum the Mersey, but JC definitely has a charm deficit, while Mike has it in spades. Like wind energy - and unlike perfume - charm can't readily be stored for someone else to use...




You may well ask how I came to hear of this event, and the short answer is through my indie singer songwriter friend Jessica - she of the enviably smooth and high forehead, and somewhat protracted but happily successful rose perfume quest. Jessica knows Mike, but the connection is more with a relative of hers from a long time ago. So that was another coincidence.

Anyway, I could have chatted to the pair all afternoon, but suddenly realised the time, and Mike said I would need to get a move on to stand a chance of catching my train. He had not reckoned with my ability to deploy high intensity spurts of scurrying, mind (my own version of HIIT training, if you will), and I made the train with ten minutes to spare, including a stop at a market stall to buy a pair of the cheapest and most badly made pyjamas on the planet. At £6 though you can't go wrong, even if you do end up spending more time snipping off the stray ends of cotton than sleeping.

On my way back I spied this curious sign for a 'Genting Casino'. I had no idea that 'genting' was a verb, and have a strong suspicion it has very little to do with the kind of behaviour I might consider 'gentlemanly'...




PS The concept of scent and synaesthesia took me back to the event hosted by Le Labo which I wrote up in a guest post on Cafleurbon, where they got us to feel different textiles and say which one went with a particular scent. I bet that is an exercise Mike's colleague would have been brilliant at!


A Rembrandt portrait, with bonus tantalising glimpses of M's desktop folders!

Friday, 13 December 2019

A Post-Election and Pre-Christmas Potpourri Post: Watching the Clock, and a Couple of Skincare Epiphanies

Just to reassure you, this post will not be about actual potpourri, notwithstanding the fact that potpourri is scented. It really was 'a thing' years ago, wasn't it? - round about the time of those excessively ruched Austrian blinds, or maybe later still- and no home was complete at Christmas without some kind of petal / pine cone / random bit of stick combo in a bowl. Some of these mixes smelt truly overpowering, till the scent wore off eventually. I do in fact put out a non-scented collection of baubles interspersed with some bendy stick garnish, but whatever it is, potpourri is not the name for it.

But no, I meant the word in its metaphorical sense, as a 'mixed bag'. And to be clear, this post is not about the election either, though I will just reproduce my Facebook post on polling from yesterday, for anyone not my friend on there:

'At the polling station this morning I asked the woman on the door if I could have two votes for the price of one for turning up before midday. "Only I think I may need two." "No, sorry", she said. Asked the same question of the two women officiating at the desk, and received the same answer. One vote per person, no BOGOF or "bottomless" votes to be had at all, even though it was just turned ten."Okay then", I said, "I may just come back later in a different coat."'

What I didn't mention on Facebook was that after voting, I popped to the bakery at the hospital, to buy two of their famously creamy doughnuts for my ex's mum (aka my Elderly Friend) and me to have after taking her to a different hospital for an eye test. You have to get there early to catch them - though as you will infer from the above it was barely mid-morning. I inquired of the girl serving:

"You will still have these after the election, won't you?"
"I do hope so", she replied.

You see, they have closed our night time A & E service at Stafford, and there is a fair bit of hanging around on trolleys in corridors before being seen to, as I can testify myself, but to lose the doughnuts would be too awful to contemplate. So that is the political part of the post over.




Watching the clock

On the 30th November, my blog finally clocked up its two millionth page view. I was busy selling my knitted wares at a craft fair at the time, but was keen not to miss this major event, having not long since failed to watch the odometer on my car cycle through 20,000 miles, with its pleasing string of noughts. I started looking at the blog on my phone every few minutes once there were only about 80 page views to go, and when the clock hit 1,999,999 I was all ready to screenshot the magic number about to appear. Unfortunately, there was a small flurry of readers at that very moment - including a well-meaning friend sitting beside me who went onto Bonkers specifically to give me that final view I needed ;) - for when I refreshed the home page, the counter had leapt to 2,000,002(!). The number being palindromic is a small comfort at least. The previous evening, worried that there might have been a sudden and inexplicable wave of readers nudging the number closer to the target, due to a school project in Norway, for example, or a random mention of the blog in the Romanian equivalent of Mumsnet - for stranger things do happen to cause a sudden spike in traffic - I had entrusted a friend in Massachusetts with the task of keeping an eye on my tally during his evening, thereby adding a good five hours to our 'observation window'. As things turned out, the 2m mark happened on my watch, but he has kindly Photoshopped it after the fact to the desired figure!


Click on the image to reveal the noughts!


Skincare epiphanies - Jam today

A long time ago I wrote a post about those deeply annoying stackable plastic pots you can put travel-sized portions of toiletries in. I say annoying, because the thread on the screwable base of each pot starts to shear off and the blasted tower disintegrates soon after purchase, often with disastrous results in your sponge bag, depending on what you had put in them. The post in question arguably has one of my best titles on Bonkers: 'A slam dunk gunkfest: snap-prone stack pots'.




Then I was just washing up a mini pot of Bonne Maman jam with a view to chucking it in the recycling when it dawned on me that it would make a much more secure individual travel pot for no outlay. Plus I could 'be more Greta' at a stroke. You can buy the individual ones in a more sturdy plastic and with a white lid, but they cost about three quid each. I felt properly Blue Peterish repurposing jam receptacles! Now I just need to eat A Lot More Jam in order to accumulate enough pots for my many and various unguents. Being glass, they will be more weighty than the stack pots, admittedly, but the risk of disaster should be negligible by comparison.




Skincare epiphanies - Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Moisturiser

My morning routine used to involve an Olay serum*, which I have talked about on the blog before, and which I would put on before my Paula's Choice Resist tinted moisturiser**. Oh yes, and funnily enough, the serum is mentioned in a post in which I lament malfunctioning beauty products of all kinds, including our very travel pots!

I am on about my tenth? bottle of the Olay serum, and remain a big fan, but then along came this Neutrogena moisturiser - or rather I suddenly became aware of it, as it was already 'along' - and for sheer hydrating staying power, it tops the serum. It is to a chance watching last April of a Caroline Hirons TV review on This Morning that I owe this discovery. The stuff is nothing short of amazing, on account of its extreme moisture retention. It is a creamy gel-like consistency, and though it looks like goop on your fingers, dries without stickiness, and it is just as easy to apply my tinted moisturiser over it as was the case with the Olay. I honestly think it has softened my morning wrinkles and eye bags since I started using it in May, though it might be a combination of that and regular use of coconut oil at night. Also, I was buying the Neutrogena moisturiser from Boots for about £12.99, but do shop around as there are some great offers at Tesco or on Amazon.

[NB I have no personal connection with Caroline Hirons, other than the rather offbeat fact that she once lambasted me on Louise Woollam's Facebook wall for confessing to repeatedly microwaving my tea.]






*Full name = Olay Regenerist Daily Regenerating Serum
**Full name = Paula's Choice Resist Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense SPF30

Finally, here is the palindromic number, specially for Undina! (As before, click on the photo to see the numbers properly.)






Wednesday, 20 November 2019

A 24 Karat Caress: Pure(distance) GOLD "review" (aka enthusiastic ramblings)


Or should that be "Karess"? Maybe not, as the word looks too far removed from its original spelling and meaning to be recognisable. Actually, a number of possible titles sprung to my mind for this post, unusually for me, including "Opulent Skin Scent" and "Molten Luxury". I could perhaps park this "not really a review, as my posts never are these days" right there, because those three images sum up most of what I have to say about GOLD, but readers don't get off that lightly, so I shall meander on regardless...!

Yes, a parcel from Puredistance arrived the other day, as I was right in the midst of a distressing multi-lateral mouse infestation. The "errant varmint" (as I would call them if I were American) laid waste to my best, most expensive - and previously pristine - sofa, along with a Welsh dresser, which is only mine on a long loan basis. When I say "laid waste", that is a literal definition of what occurred, accompanied by a frenzied side of cushion and quilted throw chewing. So the arrival of the parcel, with its gold-themed contents, cheered me up considerably - and this long before I opened the box.

Puredistance packaging is very nicely coordinated, such that I was happy to contemplate the ribbonry - ribbonage? - for a whole evening before steeling myself to (irrevocably) undo the bow and broach the box within. I love a good ribbon, and made a mental note to repurpose it in one of my knitted hot water bottle covers. I even have some matching old gold yarn ready to roll.

But eventually the following day my curiosity got the better of me and I opened the box, to reprise the famous line in 'Take your Pick', that hoary old game show of yore. The test tube 'bottles' come in burnished metal these days, and have a little bicycle clip round the neck. I am not quite sure of its function - maybe to forestall leakage - nothing to do with keeping trousers away from chains, obviously.

The people at Puredistance had enclosed a pack of postcards covering different aspects of the background to the fragrance. The image below on one of the cards illustrates the artistic idea for GOLD, namely to recreate in olfactory terms multi-tonal gold blocks in the style of a Mondrian painting - or Mondriaan with an extra 'a' if you are Dutch, and they are.

"Antoine Lie created GOLD to finish a trilogy showcasing the 3 signature Puredistance colours using incredibly high quality ingredients. The visual inspiration for GOLD has been the 'Metallized Mondriaan' above (created by Mr Vos). Chic shades of gold - varying in intensity and warmth - are harmoniously laid out in a well balanced pattern."



Here are the notes - I have omitted whether each one is essence or absolute etc, but the ingredients are pretty sumptuous all right.

Top notes: Green mandarin, Bergamot, Pink peppercorn, Rosemary, Clove buds
Middle notes: Jasmine, Ciste, Geranium, Cinnamon bark
Basenotes: Styrax, Benzoin, Myrrh, Patchouli, Vanilla green beans, Tonka beans, Castoreum, Vetiver



Source: waterforum.net

Two thoughts about this - well, three, when I get to it - namely that I have an odd link with Mondriaan and The Netherlands: In 2002 I had occasion to go to Dordrecht, an underrated town on the coast, to interview a chemicals company about I know not what now. The meeting was held in a big office, on the white wall of which was an enormous Mondriaan painting - well, not an original I assume - in those typical striking shades of red, blue and white, with a hint of yellow, and black borders in between the blocks of colour. The memory has stayed with me ever since. It was long before I 'found' fragrance, and I little knew at the time that one day I would be sampling a Dutch scent inspired by the painter - and loving it...


Source: spoonflower.com

Secondly, it occurred to me that that multi-tonal assembly of blocks is reminiscent of a bronzer palette, a make up item with which I have never engaged. Maybe even one to do with contouring, a technique about which I am on even shakier ground! But you know what I mean. I have an Estee Lauder capsule weekend makeup palette somewhere and it also illustrates the point, albeit in less metallic / goldy terms.



So that was that...I already liked the premise of the scent before I sniffed it. And when I did I was not disappointed. Long term readers may recall my post about Apres L'Ondee and Virginia Woolf, in which I mention how a review by journalist Hannah Betts was a major trigger for my falling down the rabbit hole.

"I also experienced 'sudden onset perfume mania', but for me it was not so much a fragrance which triggered this epiphany, as a review of a fragrance, namely Hannah Betts’ 2005 article for The Times on 'glacial perfumes'.  She starts by quoting former French Vogue editor Joan Juliet Buck’s comment about her heightened emotional response to narcissus absolute.

'Just a drop on each wrist and two in the bath were enough to send silver running down the walls. It set the world throbbing out of control when I wore it. I became a little weird.'

Betts point outs that the sense of silver trickling down bathroom walls is all the more pronounced if the perfume already smells of silver – 'then walls course all the sooner'.  This leads her neatly into a discussion of her own favourite cool, metallic scents, namely Après L’Ondée and Hiris by Hermès, and how this effect is created by the use of orris butter, one of the most expensive perfumery materials of all, a creamy paste derived from the iris root."



I refer back to that pivotal moment in my hobby, for it struck me that Puredistance GOLD could be the gold equivalent! There may just be a clue in the perfume's name...;) It is warm to silver's cold, but stops well short of hot. Call it the power of semantic suggestion, but when I first sprayed GOLD, I had a sense of liquid slowly creeping across my skin in a soothing way, as though my skin were being dipped in fine gold leaf. And there it sat, the ultimate skin scent, with a very subtle opulence to it, though as ever I find it awfully hard to describe. I can say that when I first sniffed GOLD, an image popped into my head of the love child of Opardu and Sheiduna, but I don't want to imply too much by that - only to report that it happened(!). Though there is a fair bit of crossover notewise with Sheiduna, I see (7-8 notes, even), while GOLD and Opardu both feature jasmine. I may be clutching at straws there, admittedly.

GOLD is a smooth, silky, ever so slightly sweet oriental. There is not a hint of resinous fuzz, or only the faintest murmur at the outset, despite the several basenotes that can read that way: myrrh, benzoin etc. Sheiduna is definitely more overtly fuzzy in that regard. I have quite a high tolerance for fuzzy notes in fact, though some of the Tauers can be a bit scratchy. But in any case, GOLD soon subsides into the silky - and slinky - concoction mentioned above. It feels luxurious in a 'barely there' kind of way. As with Bengale Rouge and Papillon Perfumes, this latest release is my standout favourite of the line, and I speak as someone still fiercely attached to Puredistance1.

Then it occurred to me that I could have posted about GOLD in my 'Careful Whispers' series - whatever happened to that? It seems to have stalled in 2014! But I see that one of the scents included was Penhaligon's Iris Prima. GOLD has a bit of the vibe of that scent too, but with more oriental notes and overall oomph. A skin scent with 'lo-fi welly' if you will, which I know sounds paradoxical, as does 'opulent' in this context, come to think of it, conjuring up a grander, more unctuous production as a rule. But nevertheless GOLD really does manage to be both.

And finally, a word on Karats...18K tends to be the standard for jewellery, as it has a percentage of alloys that increase the metal's strength. By contrast 24K is the purest grade, but is not considered robust enough.

However the purer 24K is perfectly suitable to spray in perfume form(!). And there's a clue in the brand name too...

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Bonkers turned Ten the other day!

Source: cakecentral.com
I know, I know, another nonchalantly asynchronous blog anniversary - the actual date being 25th October (I am pretty sure, but will just check...). I don't think readers will mind though, indeed I am not at all sure I even deserve an anniversary owing to the spasmodic and infrequent nature of my posts this year: a measly 16 to date in total. Still and all, it is a bit over a month at the current rate till I will reach two million page views, and I have written 678 posts in the past ten years. (679 now...) That does sound like quite a lot, actually(!), especially when I reckon up how long each one takes.

Meanwhile, I could have accepted various offers from would-be guest posters down the years, most recently one from the PR of a company that makes 'fermented skin products'. I was offered $35 for the privilege, but turned her down. I know I hardly post myself, but if you started to see features on beauty in a completely different - and doubtless conspicuously advertorial - style by someone called Mindy (not her real name, but you get the idea) you would probably smell a rat.

The thing about not posting very much, however, is that people naturally drift off after a while, unsure whether you will ever get your act together again. I understand that blogs may be somewhat on the decline anyway, and Instagram in the ascendent, but I am not going to start blogging on there in my twilight years, as it were - OR in bitesize snippets on Twitter, though I have seen that done. The format on that occasion proved spectacular, in a relentlessly bludgeoning kind of a way.

Now I do get a few comments from genuine perfume lovers still, but the vast majority are bot-driven(?) gibberish from spammers of every stripe. Some of these are funny though, so here is a small selection, reproduced verbatim:

"Thank you for the good write up. It in fact was an amusement account it. Look advanced to more added agreeable from you. However, how could we communicate?"

"Yes finally someone writes about url shorten." (I didn't!)

"Hurrah that's what I was exploring for, what a data! present here at this blog, thanks admin of this website."

If I am honest, I do find the slew of spam comments depressing, even if, for the most part, they are intercepted and await my moderation. I know that if Blogger was not such a cantankerous and unuser-friendly format, I might get a few more real people making it through, but I am not going to jump ship to Wordpress at this late stage either.

Rather, I will continue to sputter on, not unlike the tramps in Waiting for Godot:

"I can't go on. I'll go on."


My blogging helper and familiar!

For I do love perfume and wear it most days. It's the sadly discontinued Guerlain Plus Que Jamais today, rather aptly, as it was always my kneejerk choice whenever anyone asked me what my favourite scent was. And maybe it still is, though there are numerous others biting at its heels, not least HOCB Immortal Beloved, and now Bengale Rouge.

And of course there are the great friends in this community, my regular exchanges with whom mean the world to me (you know who you are!).

Then behind the scenes I continue to convert more of my 'civilian'* friends to niche fragrance. One in particular doesn't have a clue what they are wearing on any given occasion - the samples they've been given are all simply called 'sprays'- but the main thing is that they are 'spraying' at all(!).

So, you know, there is still a degree of scented goings on in my life. But while I do genuinely think that some of my early posts were proper reviews with perfume (more or less!) firmly centre stage - eg this seasonal one of L'Etat Libre d'Orange's pumpkin-forward Like This or this ode to body odour and libraries that is my take on Miller Harris's L'Air de Rien - I would be the first to concede that fragrance has become an increasingly tangential theme over time, such that I doubt very much whether anyone would stop by Bonkers these days for a real review of a new release.

But that's okay. I think Nature is quietly trying to tell me that I am if anything a travel writer who happens to like fragrance. I have been doing a fair bit of travelling lately in fact - interspersed with bursts of renovations and repairs to two houses! - and that is my main focus.


One of those black eyes is genuine!

In summary therefore, I am definitely slowing down in blogging terms, but am not at a complete stop yet...and if you don't mind the topic veering a bit to the left and right of perfume per se, you can look forward to more 'added agreeable' from the admin of this website for a bit longer at least...;)

*(copyright Tara of A Bottled Rose)



Thursday, 17 October 2019

The Travel Disruption Tour: The Monochrome Set in Germany, October 2019

Arriving into Frankfurt
Well, I said in my last post that I would write about the recent German tour of The Monochrome Set 'very shortly', and to do so in under ten days definitely counts as that, given the current, languid pace of my blogging. I could take to calling it 'slow blogging', but I am not sure that that would be seen as a good thing. It is not as though I am producing an unctuous beef stew at the end of it that has been simmering for six hours, or a coat that will last you for ten years instead of a couple of wearings. Oh I say, look how many slow things there are as part of the 'slow movement'! There's also 'slow travel', which the relentless pace of this latest trip most certainly was not, though arguably the many train delays we incurred might perhaps be described as 'enforced slow travel'. No, we should have stayed in one spot really to qualify as slow travellers, rather than zigzagging hither and thither as the gig schedule dictated. As has become the pattern for my travel posts, I shall approach this one thematically rather than chronologically, starting with:

Stop-and-Go statt Rock 'n' Roll 

Check out the advert below for the German railways, aka the Deutsche Bahn: 'Time at last for Rock 'n' Roll instead of Stop-and-Go'. Oh, the irony...the exact reverse is the case! To be fair, Easyjet should take some of the blame for making us arrive into Munich two hours late on Day 1, so that we missed our specified train and were obliged to buy fresh tickets for the next one. I had run on ahead to the travel centre to see what could be done, while the band collected their luggage. By a horrible quirk of fate, had they not hoved into view (no really, that is the past participle) within the next four minutes, we would have missed that train, forked out over 50% extra for the one after that, and got to our destination later still. As it was, we thought we might miss our onward connection to Nuremberg at Munich, as there didn't seem to be any carriage No 23 on the train standing at the platform stated on our itinerary. Now there were just two minutes to work out where the correct train was: it turned out to be joined to the back of the one we were puzzling over. Well, actually we had 20 minutes in hindsight, as the blasted thing was delayed by a technical fault. I rang ahead to the promoter to explain about the hold ups and revise our ETA. Thus it was that the band walked on stage - not having eaten or sound checked or changed, and half an hour later than their nominal stage time - but as cool, calm and collected as though nothing had happened. Delighted that they had made it, the audience gave them a rapturous welcome, and called for several encores at the end of the set.

Source: Horizont.net

Overly elaborate hotel instructions

This next topic only relates to me, as on the first night I opted to stay in a different, cheaper hotel from the band. When I realised how late I was going to be - with no time to check in before the gig - I thought to ask how I would in fact get in, as there isn't always someone on reception 24/7, and so it proved. Instead, whilst I was still on the train, I was sent an email from the hotel with instructions:

'We will deposit the room key in our key safe at the night entrance at [street address] (white box). The night entrance is located on the right hand side round the corner from the main entrance, in [street address], under the illuminated advert for the [hotel name] (opposite [name of] hair salon).

You will find your key, together with additional information, in locker No 1. Your personal opening code is xxxx. If the door of the locker doesn't open within 5 seconds, please repeat the process again.

Please hold the chip on your key on the reading field to the left of the door until the green light comes on. (Watch out: the door opens outwards!) The white chip card opens the entrance door and also the door of your room. Your room is located on the 4th floor (Room number 455B.)'

And just in case I wondered...

'Room 455A is not occupied.

You are welcome to take the lift up to the fourth floor. When you step out of the lift, please go left towards the rooms.'

They haven't quite finished thinking of all eventualities...

'If the doors of our hotel or your overnight room do not open with your room chip, or if you have lost your chip, we kindly request you to contact: The emergency key service of Company x on tel no y.'

Readers, I managed everything okay! NB This is NOT the entrance I used...;)


Source: Wikimedia Commons

An ornamental sink

At the Hamburg venue on the last night, each individual cubicle in the ladies toilets was equipped with its own miniature sink. However, Jane, the other female member of our party, had gone in before me and warned me that the sink was purely ornamental, and that I should wash my hands in one of bigger basins beyond. Have you ever come across such a futile fixture before? Maybe they just haven't got round to plumbing them in, but it didn't look that way. The mirror was handy, to be fair.


Neither use nor ornament?


Serial meetings with people from Stoke

During a smoking interlude outside the venue in Frankfurt, Bid the singer got chatting to a member of the audience, who turned out to be a guitar player - from Stoke-on-Trent. 'Oh', he replied, 'I know someone from Stafford'. Indeed the Stafford person in question was yards away at the time. A couple of days later and we had reached Hamburg. During the band's sound check, I got chatting to the tall blond guitarist in the support group, who were local. Ah, local they may have been, but it didn't take too many steps in our conversation before he revealed that he had spent a year in Stoke(!), studying Engineering Management, and taking a lively interest in the Potteries music scene. He suggested a few venues there that might be suitable for The Monochrome Set. We segued into neighbouring Newcastle-under-Lyme and the conversation rapidly descended into the realms of the surreal.


Source: geograph.co.uk

Excessively dark venues

It is customary on the music circuit - well, indie and rock, say - to expect dark, grungy, often subterranean interiors, but one venue on this trip took the cake. Not only was the green room plunged into almost total darkness, but the stage was pretty gloomy, and at several points Bid the singer was unable to see his own guitar to play. I seriously need to work on my nocturnal knitting skills, and it was also difficult to check the fillings of the rolls that constituted our 'arrival snacks'. Given the presence of two vegans and a vegetarian in our party of seven, being able to accurately ID what's in the food is pretty key. The walls of the green room were not unlike the Santa's grottos in department stores of my childhood, only black rather than snow white. I guess there was a clue in the name of the club - The Cave.




Lederhosen and Dirndl frenzy

This latest tour coincided with Oktoberfest, and we shared quite a few of our troubled train journeys with large groups of both sexes sporting the traditional Bavarian costume of Lederhosen and Dirndl. The latter being those corseted Nell Gwynn-type dresses that give women supernatural amounts of uplift. We couldn't help but be distracted by bouncing bosoms at every turn as the trains juddered along the tracks. I failed to capture any of these gaily got up festival goers on camera, though later spotted outfits for sale in a vintage shop on my final day in Hamburg.


With bonus building reflection!


Lightning quick hotel turnarounds

Speaking of outfits, one notable feature of this trip - linked to the train bother - was the fact that we had next to no downtime in our hotels before heading out to the venue. We would reach our hotels around four or five (if at all!), after being on the go all day. Then half an hour later at most - or as little as ten minutes, even - we would meet in the foyer and embark on the next leg of what always ended up being a very long day and night. Sometimes my brain went into meltdown trying to decide what were the most important things to accomplish in that short window of time after checking in, and whatever I did manage to do I invariably laid complete waste to my hotel room in the process! This photo was taken the following morning, but as you can see I haven't tidied up in between. ;) NB I was to lose those bed socks in the sheet chaos the very next night.





The big swizz that is "the world's narrowest street": Spreuerhofstrasse in Reutlingen

I did not make a detour to visit it, but Mike the drummer was curious to check out this Guinness record-holding street in Reutlingen after their gig. It measures only 31cm (a foot to you and me) at its narrowest point, and was constructed after most of the town was destroyed in the great fire of 1726. Mike has devoted a whole post to it on his blog, Urban75. He dismissed it as most disappointing, and 'a passageway at best'. ;) Check out his amusing piece here.


Source: Wikipedia (via kathrin_glaisser)

Fizzy in-flight fun

As is often the way in pressurised cabins, on the return flight home my sparkling water sprayed over the man in the seat next to me. "It will prepare you for Manchester?", I volunteered lamely, after first 'showering' him with apologies. Then I resumed my knitting, whereupon the man inquired:

"What are you making?"

"A scarf."

"Oh, I thought it might have been a towel."


Source: hamburg-airport.de

Graffiti galore

I have included pictures of graffiti-strewn venues on the blog before (see, for example, this post from 2012), but I will add one of the finer examples of the genre I spotted in Hamburg on my final walkabout. And believe me, there are lots of awful ones on inappropriate walls and fixtures, that amount to plain vandalism in my view. But here and there there are colourful splurges - and splodges - of genuine whimsy and creativity.



Perfumes worn

To close, here is a note of the perfumes I wore over the course of the week (if I can remember!):

  • DSH Foxy edp
  • Diptyque Volutes edt
  • Chanel Cuir de Russie
  • Papillon Perfumery Bengale Rouge (twice!)
  • Elizabeth and James Nirvana Amethyst

How real is that doggy in the window?