Saturday, 10 August 2013

More perfumista path crossings...meeting Natalie of Another Perfume Blog

Source: Wikimedia Commons ~ Andy Jamieson
Natalie of Another Perfume Blog has been getting about a bit lately, popping up in various European countries where fellow fumeheads have availed themselves of the chance to meet her in person: Ines reports on their encounter in Croatia here, Tara hooked up with Natalie the day before me in London, and it is Asali's turn next in Copenhagen. And soon Natalie will be moving continents again, to somewhere as far flung as where she has just come from, so I count myself very lucky to have managed to catch her in person yesterday - in Nottingham of all places, which is just 60 miles east (and up a bit) of me.

Natalie, who knows the city well - having lived and studied there not so long ago - suggested a central location for our rendez-vous, to wit the steps of The Council House in Old Market Square.  On my arrival I sent her a text to explain that I was the same side as a funfair, in between two stone lions.  I was mindful of the pitfalls of 'multiple entrance syndrome', of which I once fell most spectacularly foul in Toronto.  I gaily offered to meet a colleague at The Bay department store, which boasts no fewer than eight doors across all four facades.  I ended up circling the building for a full 45 minutes looking out for a stranger of unknown physical description who was at least also looking for me...

Source: Wikimedia Commons ~ Andy Jamieson

Now I did have a pretty good idea of Natalie's appearance, gleaned from glimpses of her long curly hair in photos on APB, supplemented by dim recollections of an eyebrow tweezing video she posted there.  But even armed with these mental images, I was surprised to find not one but two women sitting on the steps of The Council House who looked broadly as I imagined Natalie to.  I discounted one of them because she was wearing hi-top baseball boots - an assumption that was wholly vindicated when the woman in question got up moments later and legged it. The second woman lingered a little longer, but her high-waisted spangly black jeggings didn't quite chime with my impression of Natalie's sartorial style either. ;-) And I was right again, for at that point the real Natalie hove into view, dressed in jeans and a white blouse, her luxuriant hair tied in a plait curvng round one shoulder.  I am pleased to report that she was sporting one of her scarves, in a mix of jewel colours of which purple was a principal component.  I think it is the penultimate one featured in that post, but will await confirmation from its owner!

We repaired without ado to a nearby branch of Caffe Nero, where we proceeded to catch up on the broad outlines of each other's lives.  From an early age Natalie appears to have ricocheted all over the place like a ball in a bagatelle; she seems well adjusted to her peripatetic lifestyle though - and I bet she is an ace at packing too! We discovered that our studies and current professions had a surprising bit of crossover, though the same cannot be said for our attitudes to exercise.  For wherever she is living, Natalie makes time for a regular and varied fitness regime, incorporating different dance styles, yoga and walking, whereas I have been known to toddle down to the corner shop if it isn't raining.

Source: Tripadvisor

Next up, Natalie took me on a walking tour of the city centre, pointing out buildings of interest and favourite hang outs from her student days.  At the first stirrings of hunger we headed for an Italian restaurant recommended by Natalie's friend, and were soon tucking into a couple of hearty pasta dishes.  At this point I must say what a good sport Natalie was, for at the start of the meal we had agreed to share our dishes. However, having lobbed an initial morsel of ravioli onto Natalie's plate, I promptly forgot about our deal and polished off the rest of my food myself.  Not only did Natalie politely overlook this aberrant behaviour, but she even invited me to minesweep her leftover cannelloni.


From the restaurant we adjourned to a pub called The Pitcher & Piano, which is housed in a former church.  It was a vast, cavernous and echoing space, and reminded me a bit of the gothic wine bar Freddie of Smellythoughts had taken me to in Birmingham.  At this point in the evening we finally got on to the subject of perfume(!), chewing the cud about the latest releases, our approaches to blogging, people in Perfume Land we would like to meet, as well as the seemingly endless differences between US and British English, which were a source of much hilarity.  'You say plugboard, I say power strip...'  (And I must mention here that Natalie has the prettiest and most infectious laugh I have ever heard!)  I had brought along some bottles from my vintage collection, and managed to comprehensively drench us both in Blue Grass from the 1970s. Natalie gave me a sample of Zelda by En Voyage Perfumes to try, and we bonded over our mutual appreciation of its fine magnolia note.

At about 10pm I reluctantly thought I had better make tracks - I had the drive back ahead of me, plus I hadn't clocked when the car park closed.  I gave Natalie a lift back to her digs on the university campus - well, once I finally found the car park where I had left my car, that is. ;-)  Oh, and once we found the correct building on the campus.  I tried programming my sat nav with various addresses and postcodes, but English Kate, the voice in the machine, was flummoxed by all of them, so we resorted to peering through serial gloomy expanses in a bid to discern Natalie's accommodation block, eventually coming up trumps.

Natalie, improvising with the menu in the absence of a large camera

With Natalie safely dropped off I had a clear run home, and when I got back to Stafford I was suddenly struck by the unreality of the day's events. I think this was because I expect to have to travel further than I just did to meet a perfumista who is herself from so far away - to London at the very least, if not mainlaind Europe indeed.  But the vial of Zelda is proof that I did in fact meet Natalie in Nottingham.  I wonder if I could pull this stunt off again, and rendez-vous with other perfumistas in places near me...for example Ines in Ingestre, Kafka in Keele, Asali in Aston, Suzanne in Sutton Coldfield and so on.  Now there's a challenge!


Natalie said...

It was such an absolute DELIGHT to meet you, Vanessa. I don't want to say "it was a pleasure to meet you" because that's much too dry. My only complaint: you've made me sound much nicer and more interesting than I am. ;) The "spin" that us getting lost on campus was British Kate's fault is quite tactful of you. One might argue American Natalie should have known where she was being housed.

I should have warned you I would not be any of the people who were already there when you arrived. I'm perpetually 5 minutes late. (It goes without saying, and thank you for pointing it out, that I would also not be the person in jeggings - of any stripe or spangle.)

leathermountain said...

I don't know, I think jeggings can be great. But not as amusing as your blog. Thanks for another goofy smile (mine, I mean).

Undina said...

Vanessa, I think you've described Natalie perfectly - no matter what she says :)

Thank you for the prompt report, I enjoyed reading about your meeting. Now it's a circle: I met both you and Natalie and you met Natalie. Now we need to think about organizing bigger meetings ;)

Kafka said...

"whereas I have been known to toddle down to the corner shop if it isn't raining." -- Hahaha, you and me, both, Vanessa, you and me both! *grin* My brother once said that he would sell tickets to the event of me running a mile. :D

It sounds like such a lovely, fun meeting. The tale of the British Kate and the jeggings, the lobbing of a single raviolo, and the joy of a shared perfume connection.

BTW, I think I want to make "Kafka in Keele" my new posting name or, even better, "Kafka in Kiel." ;) And, as an aside, Kafka will be in Paris for a few days in early October, so not quite a K-starting city, but it does open up some possibilities.... :)

Ines said...

Oh, it was so much fun reading about your encounter! And I love the fact Natalie will have met half of the European bloggers by the time her trip is over. :)
Ok, not half, but quite a lot still.

P.S. I have no idea where Ingestre is but it sounds good to me. ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi Natalie,

The delight is mutual, and in my depiction of you I barely scratched the surface of your niceness and interestingness (if that is a word!).

And I would cut American Natalie a great deal of slack when it comes to locating her digs - that campus was huge, seriously dark, and minimally signed! ;-)

Vanessa said...

Hi leathermountain,

I didn't wish to diss all jeggings, for on the right person (I'm thinking Alexa Chung) I am sure they could look quite cool in a hipsterish kind of way. Though possibly not in denim. And certainly not on me in any fabric!

I think my main issue with this pair was the over-spanglification in broad daylight.

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

You, Tara and Ines (and counting!) are my witnesses that Natalie is as lovely as I say she is.

And you are right about the circular / or even triangular? ;-) nature of our meetups. There's the axis you mention of you/me/Natalie, then there is me/Tara/Natalie and Ines/Natalie/Asali (soon!) And I bet there are others along these lines. We will shall need a graphic by and by and I know just the woman for the job!

Vanessa said...

Hi Kafka,

Haha, how funny that we are both sluggards in the exercise department! I must say that Natalie has inspired me - in my head at least ;-) - to see if I couldn't revive my jogging ability, dormant now for many years but *possibly* capable of resurrection.

I have been to Kiel, and ironically I may be there around the time you plan to be in Paris - or if not in Kiel, in Germany generally. But the job hasn't been confirmed yet. Kiel is a bracing city with a fine seafaring tradition. Keele is a well regarded university up the road from me! So we will see...

Vanessa said...

Hi Ines,

Natalie is surely clocking up the Euro bloggers, no question! I asked if she had met Elisa Gabbert by any chance (who lived in the same state) and was envious to learn she had indeed.

Ingestre is a pretty hamlet outside Stafford, which sadly may get flattened when they build the high speed train link to the NW in a few years' time. So we had better get our meeting in quick!

Tara said...

I knew you two would have a lot of fun and so you did! How nice that you also got to spend such a long time in each other's company.

I can confirm that Natalie is an utter joy. She has such a graceful way with her it's no surprise to find she has long practised ballet.

Thanks for being so fast with the super enjoyable write-up. It's the little details you include that make it especially entertaining.

Suzanne said...

Vanessa, echoing exactly what Tara and Kafka said, your little details are what makes these accounts so fetching. I got a kick out of hearing how you were able to discount one of the women who might be Natalie by way of the hi-top baseball boots she was wearing. (For even though Natalie was quick to note in her comments that she wouldn't deign to wear leggings of any sparkle or stripe and seemed relieved that you pointed this out, I certainly can't see her in hi-top baseball boots either!)

(I must admit, though, that I wish she wasn't wearing that giant menu, as she's quite beautiful and I've enjoyed seeing her in the rare photo in the past.)

Glad that the two of you got to meet and that you had such an excellent time. And now I'm off to Google "Sutton Codfield" so that I know where I'm headed if I ever have the chance to make your fine acquaintance! :-D

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

You were absolutely spot on in your description of Natalie to me after your own meeting, and 'graceful' is an excellent word to sum up her lissom elegance!

I was pleased we had as long as we did together - the other possible option would have been early on Sunday morning, but I am not very good at mornings, especially not ones in a different county. Had that been the only 'window' I would have gone then, obviously.

Vanessa said...

Hi Suzanne,

Glad to learn that we are as one on the hi-top baseball boots. Natalie may be sporty in terms of her fitness regime, but I didn't picture her as a wearer of overtly sporty attire, and my hunch was correct.

Photos of Natalie are indeed rare, and the pose with the menu was my idea, to perpetuate the theme of Natalie's coyness in front of the camera, though she is of course quite comfortable behind one. ;-)

Now I think you will be pleased to be yoked with Sutton Coldfield, an affluent suburb of Birmingham. Moxhull Hall might be a nice place for our rendez-vous... ;-)

Suzanne said...

Vanessa, oh my, you have exquisite taste!!! I am at this moment plotting a way to sell one of my kidneys and a few other stray organs so I can come meet you at Moxhull Hall. It's beyond gorgeous - thank you for the link. :-)

Vanessa said...

Hi Suzanne,

I found Moxhull Hall whilst googling images of Sutton Coldfield, a place in which I have occasionally interviewed affluent consumers, but never lingered. In the happy event that you are over in the UK one day, we could nurse our small glasses of wine for as long as possible in one of the Hall's stylishly appointed lounges before heading back to my house for some larger and more affordable measures of refreshments! ;-)

Elisa said...

Oh look, there's my name, in the comments! :) This sounds so fun, makes me miss my local perfume buddy!

Vanessa said...

Hi Elisa,

Yes! I was pleased with myself for having correctly guessed a personal connection between you two, and would love to complete the triangle some day. Your local airport (through which I have transited once, bound for Boulder) has the distinction of being the civil engineering structure that most closely resembles lemon meringue pie.

Elisa said...

Ha! Yes, it's a very weird airport, I can never decide if I like it or not. (I definitely do NOT like the crazy-eyed blue horse sculpture out front, which apparently fell on and killed its sculptor, my favorite piece of Denver trivia...)

Vanessa said...

Hi Elisa,

I think I rather liked it, though I have no recollection of the murderous crazy-eyed blue horse sculpture out front. In fairness it was late and dark (I had already been from Salt Lake City to Texas and back to Colorado that day), so my powers of observation will doubtless have been flagging at that point.