Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Bonkers about Perfume turns seven! (And ponders on the 'seven year itch'...) Plus an elephant perfume bottle giveaway ;)

Photo courtesy of Annette Tudor of Tiers & Tiaras
Well, notwithstanding the elephant pictured further down this post, with its reputed ability to remember things, I appear to have missed my seventh blog anniversary by a day(!). That is not actually much of a margin for me, taking the long view. I am sure I have missed it by weeks or even months in past years. For yesterday I found myself engrossed in the task of sourcing a specific combination of wool shades for a couple of custom beanies I intend to knit for Portia of Australian Perfume Junkies, and the significance of the date completely passed me by. Portia won't need the hats imminently, as it is of course spring down there, but I do like a challenge and to get ahead of myself. And to avoid doing the housework instead. So that was tangentially perfume-related at least, in the course of which I also learnt how many subtly different shades can loosely be construed as peach!

But yes, seven years - how did that happen? 579 posts to date, which isn't much by today's fast paced, news ticker-type media standards, but I guess each one takes me 4-5 hours on average. Which sounds like an awful long time in terms of the output achieved, but I must have rather a ponderous blogging MO. ;) On a whim I did a quick calculation and that adds up to 413 working days ie more than a year of just blogging!

I mention the 'seven year itch', because I feel I am at a bit of a crossroads. For a while there I thought I was in the perfume doldrums, but my interest can easily be rekindled by a well-timed recommendation from a friend who knows my taste well - big thanks are due to Val CQ Sperrer, Undina, Tara, and Sabine in particular for periodically recranking my perfume mojo. But what has changed for sure is that when unleashed in the perfume department of even a high end emporium like Fortnum & Mason or a specialist store like Bloom, I am no longer that 'kid in a sweet shop' eager to try everything in sight, preferring to stand back, chatting to whomever I am with, and sniffing the odd scent that is pointed out to me - usually because someone has literally handed me strip sprayed with the scent in question! So I appear to have very little self-motivation anymore to seek out new things, which is a new phenomenon.

Still getting a kick from well organised top colours

It doesn't bother me though, as my stash has grown to such unwieldy proportions that from a purely practical point of view it would be bad news if I was lusting after umpteen full bottles of this and that. A 10ml decant of most fragrances that take my fancy these days is quite enough, thank you.

I do additionally seem to have experienced a bit of 'decanter's blues' - a very niche condition as you can imagine!- whereby every time I go to make samples of scents, I get drenched in at least one if not several of the perfumes I am decanting. This is mainly down to a mix of leaky nozzles and the issue of 'blow back' once the vial fills up to a certain level. A level that seems to be getting lower, haha, or that is my observation.

And I guess I was also very chastened by my recent experience of getting rapped over the knuckles by the Royal Mail for attempting to post bottles internationally. That put a real spanner in the works just as I was setting out to monetise some of my stash, and I am indebted to the recipients for helping share the loss. Occasionally even now I am tempted not to bother with a hazard sticker on packages containing one or two samples within the UK, but I cannot risk being caught out again, or I might end up sharing with Rolf Harris in Stafford clink after all!

So given the limited opportunities to offload my perfume collection further afield - I could hold an open house, like Lila das Gupta recently, but Stafford is rather far away for people! - I have turned to knitting as a potential little income stream instead.

My avatar for Runraglan Knits

Oh, and of course since my diagnosis of eyelid eczema in the summer, I have been wearing makeup very sparingly if at all, so as not to tempt fate. I don't think perfume is a trigger, but often I don't bother putting it on either unless there is something I particularly want to try, which as we have just established is not very often these days. A little bit of me thinks it has to be better to limit the amount of chemicals coming into direct contact with my skin. Which isn't like me at all, or the me of old. Why, I have even blogged about the risk or otherwise of chemical overload in the early days of Bonkers, including in my post an amusing quote by Tania Sanchez on the subject if anyone is curious. At the time I was more concerned about my moderate alcohol consumption than being a 'walking chemistry set', but seven years on, the reference to people with allergies has rather come home to roost...certainly as far as toiletries more generally are concerned.

All of which sounds a little subdued or even downbeat, which truly wasn't my intention, yet every so often I start to wonder if I should leave blogging to the old timer behemoths and the new generation coming through, and redeploy the time gained to other activities, like cleaning the house(!), eBaying unwanted belongings, or writing the book that friends have claimed is 'in me'. But you would think that if such a book ever was in me, it would have long since worked its way out again by now...

Yeah, I confess to being an absolute shocker for lacking application, tending to tick off the quick and easy things on my 'to do' list rather than the big ones, to get that instant buzz of faux productivity, when you may only have put the bin out, paid a bill, and picked up the grapestalks the cat has strewn over the carpet. That said, I am proud that I lost my eBay seller's cherry this year, an idea that had previously languished for years in the 'too hard' box, even though I knew it would be a good way of decluttering for profit.;) And my new knitting venture, Runraglan Knits, now has its own Facebook page as of this week, and a few orders in the bag.

This is also almost the first anniversary of my having Truffle, who - although she is starting to bring in the odd field mouse now (all alive and intact, I hasten to add, and safely escorted off the premises!) - is an endless source of delight and amusement in my life. Here she is at just this time last year.

To lighten the tone, in case the above did come across as a bit 'heavy' and overly introspective, I shall announce the rather frivolous giveaway I came up with to mark this year's anniversary, namely an elephant perfume bottle. I wouldn't rush to put actual perfume in this, mind, as I have no confidence whatsoever in the hermetic properties of that stopper! The petite pachyderm has his own blog post, mind, from which I shall reprise a couple of quotes to whet your appetite:

For example, I love the refreshing directness of the seller's description:

"Not your cheap tacky tourist muck, but made by our own workshops in Cairo."

Then there is the reference to unexpectedly sumptuous materials:

"The gold used, which we always assumed was gold paint, is, in fact, 12 carat gold."

Not forgetting the reassuringly humane working conditions:

"Everyone who works for us is over school leaving age and the working conditions are good." I just checked, and it is only 14, but moving on...!

As someone with a lively interest in packaging materials, I greatly appreciated his conscientious packing strategy.

"It will, of course, be carefully packed in industrial quantities of bubblewrap in order to foil our postmen."

'Foil them' in terms of making it impossible for their postmen to break it, I assume? It is surely not illegal to send glass ornaments from Egypt?, though I could believe anything in my current state of postal paranoia.

So there you have him - 12 carat gold, eh?

To enter, please tell us where you are at in terms of your own perfume interest (I exercised restraint and didn't say the 'j' word!). Or alternatively, why you love elephants. Now I would understand if you didn't wish to win this uniquely exotic prize - I quite understand that pachyderm-themed receptacles are another decidedly niche interest - but hey, somebody might.

I will close the draw on 5/11 at midnight, which seems apt: "Remember remember the 5th of November!". I know the elephant won't forget to remind me that it is time to pick a winner.

Editor's note: I have a sneaking feeling I may have offered this perfume bottle in a past draw, and in our metaphorical Janis Ian-style game of basketball, his name wasn't called, hehe.

And finally, though I have said it numerous times before, it bears repetition, namely that my interest in and affection for the people I have met through this hobby has never wavered, and if anything gets stronger from year to year. So whether my perfume mojo is firing on all cylinders or quietly sputtering away like those gas rings you haven't turned on properly, I remain fiercely attached to my fumehead friends who help me weather the bumps on the road in perfume terms - or deal with the ups and downs (I would say "vicissitudes" but it sounds awfully wordy, even for me) of life in general.

Coming up soon...musings on Angel Muse!, and a bathroom makeover special, in which I share all the many lessons learnt along the way in my capacity as self-styled 'clerk of works'. There will be no perfumes kept in the bathroom, it goes without saying. Which takes me right back to the beginnings of Bonkers again...


Carol said...

Happy blog-o-versary, dear Vanessa!
I liked your new FB page, too.
SOO glad we met through blogging and in real life. xoxox

Vanessa said...

Thanks, Carol, and I am very happy to have your friendship too. The weekend I spent in your town was one of the absolute highlights of the last seven years, and it is no exaggeration to say that the night hanging out at your quirky artist friend's was one of the most unforgettable of my life. Though I would like to forget the hangover! xx

Unknown said...

I share your perfume ennui at the moment and find myself looking to vintage favourites rather than the new releases which seem rather dull in comparison. But congratulations on 7 glorious years of hugely entertaining writing and my best wishes for future perfume adventures and the lovely knitting business. :)

Vanessa said...

Hi Bejoux Noir,

Thanks for stopping by!, and for sharing your own ennui,and vintage leanings. There have been a few new releases that impressed me this year, but by and large there is just too much of all this 'nouveau niche' stuff coming through. I feel overfaced by a lot of it, hence why I would not have the stamina to visit one of the trade fairs.

Thanks too for the good wishes and I will put you in the draw. Even winners have the right to refuse this elephant if he really is no one's cup of tea (again!?).

Anonymous said...

Bountiful Blessings on your belated birthday bemused blogging.
Have to admit that wben I read "one day" my immediate response was "it's been a lot longer in the past. :-)

I'm not in tbe doldrums, at least not about perfume. But I do know I need to use up a lot more of what I have.

Congratulations on the knitting venture. Personally, I'd be content to read your take on that, even occasionally. But I wouldn't want you to take time so many hours away from paying ventures.

No need to enter to enter me. Those pretty bottles are easy to find here.

Wishing you the best in all your choices.

-- Lindaloo

Vanessa said...

Hi Lindaloo,

Thanks so much for the alliterative greetings- always appreciated. ;)

Haha, you have been keeping up with the asynchronous marking of past occasions, I see. I am glad to hear you are still fired up about perfume, and I might do a very occasional knitting post if I can think of an appropriate (as in potentially humorous) angle. I am mindful that my subject matter is already quite disparate (perfume, travel, gig related travel, kittens, skincare, the occasional book review - and imminently, bathrooms!) and am never sure how much I can push the topic boundaries. But knitting for perfumistas is on-message in my book!

Martha said...

Congratulations on the seventh! Your anniversary made me go check my own log date and discover that I too am a few weeks past my seventh anniversary, which reminded me that I think that I made the same discovery around your fifth blogoversary, or so.

Perfume has taken a back seat to The Farm for me lately, which I find rather sad. Not that the Farm is sad; I just rather wish that I could maintain a consuming interest in multiple hobbies, the way I used to. I'm still figuring out what the deal is there.

Anonymous said...

Your blog has been a relatively recent discovery for me, but now having found it I don't want to lose it! I value your different and often funny take on all matters and appreciate your wit and intelligence. In fact I enjoy your writing so much that I have recruited my husband to reading it and he is now a fan too. Oh my goodness, this sounds a bit stalkerish ..... but it's true.

I empathise with the perfume doldrums and it helps me to know that there are fellow sufferers. I'm not sure whether the magnificent obsession ever returns, but I find I now appreciate what I like and hardly ever need to get to know any new releases; I just don't need any more to add to my hoard, although I am very happy when a friend sends me something to try .....

Of course I could do with more pictures of Truffle - but then who couldn't?

So, congratulations on your anniversary, keep up the good work and please don't send me the elephant as I have too much stuff already (witness the above hoard).


AustralianPerfumeJunkies said...

WOO HOO! Excited about your Blog-iversary (a bit) but SCREAMINGLY excited about my beanies! YAY
I will collect them in March when in London. SHHHHH
7 years is a huge effort. Congratulations.
Love from your favourite "caution".
Portia xxx

Tara said...

Wow, V. 7 years is impressive and what a lovely post to mark it.

Although your writing never feels laboured it's clear you put a lot of time into your post and it's much appreciated.

You also help re-ignite my fading fragrance flame. It's the people that keep you going, I agree. It still rankles me that when I mentioned my "perfume friends" my work colleague asked in a superior manner "Are they friends or acquaintances?". FRIENDS!!!

Love "decanter's blues". That's a song yet to be written but I'm well aware of the sentiment.

Maybe you will start selling your knitwear on Ebay now you are used to it. Have you thought of selling perfume via the UK Sale/Swap Facebook group?

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Bonks, on the blog anniversary and on the spiffing knitting too - I'm very impressed by both!

cheerio - and please omit me from the draw as I'm trying to cull things, honestly, I am ...

Anna in Edinburgh

Unknown said...

Happy Geburtstag, dear bonkers. Just saw this and I will leave a longer reply tomorrow.

Vanessa said...

Hi Martha,

Thanks! I do think of us as very much contemporaneous, and you have just provided the evidence. Maybe it is a thing with blogging over the long term that you do start to veer into different directions. First sewing with you, and now growing. Perhaps it is the restlessness of middle age, but in the end you have to follow the muse!

Vanessa said...

Hi Jillie,

Thank you for your lovely and inspiring comment. Inadvertently inveigling people's spouses to read my blog is a real feat and I feel suitably honoured that your husband is a fan. Even if he is not a fumehead as such, he might appreciate the forthcoming bathroom post?

We sound very similar in terms of our stages in the perfume hobby. Point noted about the Truffle pics. As long as they are not too shamelessly shoehorned in, they will continue to be a bit of a leitmotif!

Vanessa said...

Hi Portia,

I am excited about the beanies too. The grey wool with the fleck of peach arrived and it is beautiful. I may experiment with two different styles and you can take your pick. I know I could 'move' the other one.

Thanks for your good wishes and support and you are hands down my favourite 'caution', haha. xx

Vanessa said...

PS I mean grey with flecks - and solid grey with peach stripes on the brim. That wool has yet to arrive.

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

Thanks for your kind words and I am as surprised as I am pleased that I ignite your fragrance flame in any way at all, despite my own ennui.

I know that one about other friends not understanding the status of perfume friends. I am closer these days to some of my PFs than my RFs ('regular friends'), and they tend to know more about the ins and outs of my daily life. So yes, not acquaintances anymore by any stretch.

I have previously sold the odd bottle on the site you mention, which though dominated by men, is still not a bad place to move feminine scents. Given the aforementioned 'decanter's blues' I may not offer three sizes of decant of 20 fragrances any time soon, as some people do on there, though. ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi Anna,

Nice to hear from you and LOL at 'spiffing knitting' - you are a wag!

You are duly de-entered from the draw. ;)

Vanessa said...

Danke, Sabine, und das hat keine Eile!

hayley said...

Hi vanessa
I love reading your blog, I always drop by to see if there are new posts and your past advice to me was super helpful. I too have slowed down with my perfume hobby not frantically smelling everything, but I like that. I feel more confident in what I like. I don't like lots of choice it stresses me out so I have a small full bottle collection and think really carefully before adding to it. Having said that I still have sample splurges especially after discovering beauty spin and order a few to try then feel massively guilty, I've never figured out how/where you swap samples...
Loving updates of Truffle too, off the scale cute ��

Asali said...

A very happy anniversary dear Vanessa. 7 years! Time flies... I think the ups and downs are just part of blogging, and accepting them is the only way to keep enjoying it. At the moment I write so much at work that I just can't keep my creative writing skills going when I get home. I try to keep up, but just as I sit down to answer an old post by you or other lovely bloggers, I notice a new post got published :-0
Anyway, Truffle is not just a joy to you, but to all of us following her. I loved the story of her hanging out with her gang.
Oh and I can't wait to hear the bath renovation story.
Cheers to another 7! (No need to enter me, I'm all set with Knick-knack ;-) )

Vanessa said...

Hi Hayley,

Great to hear from you, and to learn that you have found some of my posts helpful - that is a bonus!

Ooh, I can so relate to the point about lots of choice stressing you out - I am also that soldier - which partly explains why I am pulling in my antennae in terms of all the new stuff out there.

Sample splurges are a good way to control any remaining urges to impulse buy perfume!

Truffle is sitting on my lap as I type, purring away, and she says thank you. ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi Asali,

Thanks for your good wishes, and I think you could well be right that the ups and downs are part of the process of blogging. I think I also feel a bit overwhelmed at the moment by all the jobs that are outstanding on the house and garden. Had a minor flood yesterday and the lights blew, which was a bit alarming, and will need professional intervention on both counts. You think you have done so many things on your 'to do' list, when some more Hydra heads pop up, type of thing.

I quite understand that you may have shot your bolt in terms of creative writing if you are already writing a lot for work - but as a fellow freelancer, it is great that you have so much on your plate at the moment.

Truffle will continue to feature on the blog, as it is clear she has quite a few fans. ;) We are a week off our first year in this house together - that time has flown too!

Undina said...

Seven years? It's a long time for almost anything, especially hobbies. Congratulation and thank you! I enjoyed many of those 579 :) I hope you'll keep going (they say it gets better with the time - I don't know about hobbies but can attest to some other aspects of life ;)) but in any case... I know where you live!

I don't like elephants (and perfume bottles), so DNEM. As to the perfumes... I still wear them every day (unless I'm sick), and can hardly imagine going scentless. And if I have time and opportunity, I'm still curious about new perfumes. But I've been really busy in the last couple of years, so I can hardly find time for thinking about perfumes that I don't know/love already. And it takes me much longer than 5 hours to write a post... (sigh) But I'm not giving up yet!

Good luck with your knitting j.... ;-P (I'll take a look at your FB page tomorrow).

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

The thanks are all mine to you for being such a loyal follower and good friend and perfume enabler over the past 6? of the 7 years (approx!). I know I didn't know you when I was in California last, or I would have suggested we met then.

I do understand how your recent busy spell - at your old place of work, but the new one also seems to keep you occupied! - has meant you have less time to spend on hobbies, including perfume, but it's great that you are still curious about new things. And I guess I am too, when in the right mood!

If it is any comfort, quite a lot of posts take more like 7 hours - the ones with any degree of research or the big accounts of meet ups or travel abroad - but if I had to write a post in a language that wasn't my native one there is no knowing how long it would take. Several days at least!

Thanks too for wishing me well with my knitting venture. Am working on a scarf commission at the moment on really fine needles and enjoying it a lot!

Blacknall Allen said...

Happy Seventh! Yes blogging such a long time must sometimes seem rather more like a job than a hobby. Asali is probably correct that one's interest rises and falls over time, but your posts are so consistently amusing and inimitably your own that you're a pleasure to read. Do consider that book ;-)

Vanessa said...

Hi Blacknall,

I am touched by your lovely comment - positive feedback like that gives me the impetus to carry on!

Cynthia.Richardson said...

I love fragrances and have a huge Jo Malone collection. And, alternatively, I do love elephants and also have a large collection and would like to add this to it. (Maybe I have a hoarding issue)

Vanessa said...

Hi Cynthia,

Thanks for dropping by, and what a marvellous coincidence of hobbies! I can tell you that the odds in the draw are excellent, so I wish you luck. ;)