|Angela Flanders store|
The chosen day for the meet-up dawned dry and preternaturally early. My alarm roused me at my friend's house in Teddington at 7.30am. I must say that 8am is a foreign country to me at the best of times, but there was nothing for it but to leap into action. I arrived at the chosen rendez-vous point, Patisserie Valerie in Spitalfields, at bang on 10.30 am for a 10.30 - 11 am start. I was delighted to spot Tara - in the dark coat whose precise colour was a memorable object of confusion on our first meeting - loitering outside, just slightly more unfashionably early than me. Little did we know that three others had already preceded us and were installed at a large table indoors, while Pia herself stood sentry at a door round the other side to intercept stragglers.
People continued to dribble in over the next half an hour or so, but we got stuck into breakfast without ado. My conventional-looking scone paled into insignificance beside Tara's humungous chocolate croissant, while Nick's millefeuille was so substantial that he had to abandon it somewhere around the "cinq cents" mark.
|Tara, looking unfazed by her enormous croissant|
|Nick and Pia at Angela Flanders|
The strips I have retained were mostly drawn from three of the four ranges, the fourth (The Artillery Range) being more geared to men, as a cursory dabble confirmed:
Signature Fragrances: Bois de Seville, Melissa, Ottoman
Collection Florale: Mimosa, Bouquet d'Amour
Collection Noir (sic): Figue Noire, Oudh Noir
|Sarah McCartney at Angela Flanders|
One perfume which I sniffed and admired on Lisa (aka Wordbird) was Parchment, another Signature Fragrance with spices, citrus, vanilla and amber. If my memory serves me, this is the one which Lisa initially thought smelt of fish, but the impression was happily fleeting, and Parchment quickly morphed into a yo-ho-ho-Long John Silver-type scent of the most evocative kind.
|Somewhat creepy candles by Cire Trudon|
It was a squeeze in Bloom, and testing a bit of a genial bunfight. Accordingly, I curtailed my explorations to the Jovoy range (where my sniffing was exclusively nozzle-based), Ann Gérard (I sprayed Perle de Mousse and Ciele d'Opale on strips), and Vero Profumo's Mito (which was awarded precious skin space on account of its iconic status on the blogs!).
Of the Jovoy range, I was drawn to a fig one - L'Arbre de Connaissance - and duly bought a sample.
Notes: citruses, green leaves, fig, sandalwood, patchouli, fig tree wood
The Ann Gérard trio piqued my interest, on account of Bertrand Duchaufour being the nose - I liked Perle de Mousse best (notes are listed below). The third, Cuir de Nacre, was a leather scent not to my taste.
Notes: aldehydes, ambergris, bergamot, Bulgarian rose, cloves, galbanum, gardenia, green mandarin, hawthorn, ivy, jasmine, lily-of-the-valley, mastic, musk, pink pepper, vanilla
|From L to R: Perle de Mousse, Ciel d'Opale, Cuir de Nacre|
Notes: bergamot, magnolia, jasmine, galbanum, hyacinth, cypress and moss
After Bloom, we took a bus to Piccadilly and were strolling along Jermyn Street when we spied a branch of Geo F Trumper. A shade too early for our tea at Fortnum & Mason's, we happily killed the requisite time in this store, a temple to gentlemen's grooming, though its perfume range is aimed at both sexes. I was especially drawn to the ample selection of dainty nail brushes and shaving soaps in wooden boxes - the sandalwood one in particular. But that belongs more properly to another post...
3pm saw us settled at our table in the upstairs - and as Pia was at pains to point out, comparatively less expensive! - tea room in Fortnum's. Tea was £6 a pot, but what a pot! Scones were £6 the pair, but came with a perfectly spherical "boule" of clotted cream. I opted for one slice of Welsh Rarebit (at £9.50 each, there was no way I could run to two), but as it turned out, one was perfectly filling, deliciously savoury and fluffy, and topped with two rashers of good back bacon.
|The nonpareil of Welsh Rarebits|
Here is the description on the Les Senteurs website, which stocks several of the scents in the range:
"A medley of masculine scents including juniper (think well-iced gin and tonic), mint and aniseed (tooth powder) meld with lavender, patchouli and golden helichrysum. Dark, deep, woody and reassuring. Spicy, warm and resolutely masculine."
As well as sampling Sarah's fragrance range, we smelt one of Pia's creations on blotters - an aldehydic peach scent. There was also a fair amount of informal swapping of our unwanted niche stash, while Lisa delighted the group by handing out packets of Welsh cakes to anyone keen to try them.
Special mention should be made of the "Ladies' Powder Room", with its gilded baroque mirrors and supplies of individual hand towels. No broken hand dryers or futile shreds of paper towel for such an august establishment.
Sadly, I had to cut and run at that point, as I had a particular train to catch home, but the others repaired to the perfume department of Fortnum's for a final sniffing foray.
And then, in what seemed like no time at all, I was home, blissed out on scents and good company. The Lion, The Cupboard And The Welsh Rarebit from Central Casting. The fellowship of fumeheads is indeed a wonderful thing, and many thanks are due to Pia for her hard work in organising this most enjoyable and memorable day.
|Tara, Lisa and Sarah at Patisserie Valerie|