Now the last time I saw Undina and her husband was during that trip in March, and by a quirk of chance, I got to see them very briefly the day before I set off on this latest one. I can't be sure that we will always keep up such tidy synchronicity, but for the moment I associate band tours with meeting The Undinas.
The travel issues referenced in the title started at Stafford in fact, when I discovered a sleeping man in my forward facing, window, power socket-supplied seat. And next to him, his sleeping girlfriend with her head on his shoulder. I let it go, though friends have since suggested that he was probably faking it, and that I should at least have given him a hard stare or an admonishing poke.
Undina and her vSO were flying into Heathroom from the Ukraine at the same time as my train arrived in Euston, but it took a while before they finally got their bags and could make their way to their Airbnb in Bayswater. They were due to pick up the keys to it in a little supermarket nearby, so I staked the shop out from an outside table at the cafe next door, despite the inclement weather.
While the pair were still getting their bearings in what was to be their home for the next week, I handed over a pint of milk, which I had bought round the corner, thinking it one of life's absolute necessities, right up there with the washing machine. Having recce'd their accommodation and its compact amenities we collapsed on the sofas, and the ritual exchange of perfumes between Undina and me commenced, preceded by the ritual exchange of small presents (I wasn't counting the milk). Undina gave me a cat-themed foldaway tote bag from Ulster Weavers, which - given where I am from - is a welcome example of carrying cats to Newcastle...I mean Belfast.
Meanwhile, in another neat parallel, I gave Undina a make up bag / pouch with a Voysey-esque design on it. I bought it from a museum shop in the UK, but couldn't resist a wry smile on spotting that it was in fact by a brand in New York.
Although it was only a short catch up, there was also time for Undina to show me several extremely sweet videos on her phone of Rusty having his tummy stroked. As they were away for a while this time, they had engaged a live-in pet sitter, whose daily footage of their blissed out cat was testament to the fact that he was being well cared for in their absence.
Now I am back from Germany, I am just getting into trying the samples Undina gave me. She has a very good sense of my taste - which could be summed up in a nutshell as furry ambers and powdery orientals for winter, and sultry florals or refreshing colognes for summer. For our meeting I had drained the last of a sample of Long Courrier, from Pierre Guillaume's The Cruise collection, which was kindly donated by Sabine (Iridescents) many moons ago.
I see that the name means 'long distance flight', which could certainly apply to the one Undina and her vSO had just come on.
"...a solar oriental built around a core of salty vanilla, the perfumer evokes faraway destinations, beaches on the other side of the world, lazy days gorged with sea spray and the delicious scent of suntan lotion…"
In hindsight, that was an ironic choice for a wet and blustery autumn day in London, which set the tone for the wet and wayward week that followed in Germany, of which more very shortly!
Editor's note: special thanks are due to John, the band's keyboard player, who kindly stowed Undina's samples in his instrument case for me, as I was travelling on hand luggage only, and they wouldn't have fitted in my already bulging(!) transparent plastic bag you take through security.