Saturday 28 November 2020

The Rare Witch Project: A REEK Perfume Damn Rebel Witches hunt - with a lot at stake...!

Source: REEK Perfume

I say, did you go a bit mad this Black Friday? I didn't buy an enormous telly, an Amazon Ring Stick Up Cam Battery (in contrasting white!), a Ninja Foodi 7-in-1 Multi-Cooker, or anything of that gadgety ilk, but I did do some impromptu Christmas shopping, the nature of which I obviously can't reveal. I also scored some bargain health supplements - neither vitamins nor minerals as such, but offbeat vegetal things that purport to cure oxidative stress, lower cholesterol, and generally finetune your brain like the Holland & Barrett equivalent of WD40.

Oh, and I stocked up on no fewer than three jars of Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel for my particular type of normal/combination skin, about which I wrote a mini-review a year ago. It is usually about £12, occasionally discounted in Boots by a third to around the £8 mark, but these pots were £6.99 each, so had to be snapped up. I am indebted to Caroline Hirons for this moisturising epiphany, and have been using it non-stop ever since I saw her talking about it on a morning TV show. It is fantastically hydrating, and though goopy going on, soon dries to a silky soft consistency. It doesn't contain any SPF, so I apply a tinted moisturiser by Paula's Choice that has SPF30 in it on top. It truly is like an instantly plumping bath for my increasingly crepey skin.

Source: Amazon

Then the other day a friend contacted me (he features in a number of past posts, including this one), to say that his daughter had fallen in love with a REEK scent I had given him to try in one of my lucky dip bundles of samples, and which he had in turn passed on to her, to wit Damn Rebel Witches - not to be confused with its rhyming stablemate, Damn Rebel Bitches. She had tried to google it with a view to buying a bottle for herself, but drew a blank.

Should anyone need reminding, this duo of perfumes was the brainchild of historical novelist Sara Sheridan and her daughter Molly, in collaboration with perfumer Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays. They wanted to honour the feisty exploits of Jacobite women, whom the brand describe as "powerful" and "unapologetic". The two REEK scents were sold in the Urban Reivers pop-up store in Edinburgh, which opened at the time of the Edinburgh festival in 2016, and sold a variety of Scottish-themed "luxury treats and gifts".

As an aside I simply must mention that my friend Clare had a dog Meg - no longer with us, sadly, but who has been featured on Cafleurebon! - and was also the offspring of a pedigree spaniel rejoicing in the patrician canine name of Whaupley Reiver. This list of his equally whimsical progeny is easily as absorbing as anything you will read on here!

Anyway, my friend's daughter drew a blank with stockists of her new favourite perfume, Damn Rebel Witches, so turned to me for help via her dad. Always happy to help foster the cause of niche perfume in any way, shape or form, I thought to contact Sarah herself, to inquire if she knew of any stock still knocking around the UK - assuming the REEK brand had indeed been discontinued.

Sarah did confirm the demise of REEK, but gave me the good news that she was now poised to resurrect the Damn Rebel perfume pair under her own brand, and pointed me in the direction of her Hot Pink Weekend sale. Knowing Sarah to be an individualistic canoe paddler, I am not at all surprised that she wouldn't be so dull and conformist as to stick with Black.

Source: 4160 Tuesdays

Having consulted with my friend as to his daughter's quantity requirements, and bearing in mind the very attractive discount applying this weekend, I custom bought a couple of bottles, which should last her a good long while. You never know when things might be discontinued again for one reason of another, so it made sense to stock up, I felt.

It was nice to reconnect with Sarah through this quest: she has the rare distinction of being the only perfumer ever to visit Bonkers Towers (on her and her husband's way down from Morecambe). I was very glad to help track down this proxy lemming, and it was a happy coincidence that I knew Sarah and was able to get to the bottom of the supply situation.

Then I learnt from a piece by Suzy Nightingale for The Perfume Society, that another one of Sarah's scents, Maxed Out, is amongst Molly Sheridan's top five smells, along with bread, petrol, Chanel No 5 and Elnett hairspray - august company indeed. I have a sample of Maxed Out somewhere and am curious to give it another go, even though I am not at that point, despite my Black Friday splurge...;)

The empty vial that sparked the hunt!

Saturday 14 November 2020

Covid Nose: can we all still smell?, plus a lockdown medley

Brandon Gregory [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Covid Nose

The other week one of the tenants in the house next door popped his head over the garden wall - rather too close(!), looking back, and announced that he had just had a Covid test delivered, as he was suffering from flu-like symptoms, and had lost his sense of smell. I dived back inside my house sharpish, hoping that the virus wouldn't be able to leach through the wall, like the occasional whiff of weed. I never did find out if he had the illness or not, but the exchange got me thinking about this quite distinctive symptom of Coronavirus, present apparently in about 60% of cases. From ENT UK:

"Post-viral anosmia is one of the leading causes of loss of sense of smell in adults, accounting for up to 40% cases of anosmia. Viruses that give rise to the common cold are well known to cause post-infectious loss, and over 200 different viruses are known to cause upper respiratory tract infections. Previously described coronaviruses are thought to account for 10- 15% cases. It is therefore perhaps no surprise that the novel COVID-19 virus would also cause anosmia in infected patients."

The phenomenon is more common in women than men apparently, and can sometimes even be the only symptom of Covid. I know of two other young people and someone of my own age to whom that happened when they fell ill with the virus, and in all three cases they recovered their sense of smell after some weeks. From what I have read to date, I don't think the anosmia is irreversible, but obviously this is a very individual disease, so there may be exceptions to the rule. I thought to mention the matter, as losing one's sense of smell is such a blow for a perfume lover, and I wondered if anyone else had had this experience. 

NIAID [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Reading more, and judging a book by its cover

According to the little black notebook I keep for this purpose, in 2019 I read a paltry 12 books in the whole year, or one a month on average, while so far in 2020 I am up to 21 books, with seven weeks of the year still to go. Two were admittedly slimmish volumes of poetry, and one an even slimmer self-help-type book - Derren Brown's 'A Little Happier', which I highly recommend by the way - but many were in the 300 page range, with a few doorstopper thrillers half as long again.

The other day I felt moved to post an 'unbook review' of a recent read on Facebook, 'Everything Under' by Daisy Johnson. It was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2018, which didn't sway me either way, for the winners often write works I find as impenetrable as their names unpronounceable, and having now read 'Everything Under', I find the accolade frankly baffling. Yes, I have to confess that I picked the book out in a charity shop purely on account of its beautiful retro cover.  

"Now I am as liberal as they come, but 'Everything Under' proved to be an outlandish case of minority bingo. The story featured not one but two cross-dressers, one of them living in a shed, the other a child murderer with a limp, learning difficulties, two different identities, and an unfortunate start in life in a wheelie bin. There is also a bisexual woman with Alzheimer's, incestuous tendencies, and a surprise ability to do handstands, a number of grumpy fishermen, a floating female butcher, and a peripatetic river monster called The Bonak. None of which is a spoiler. I should perhaps have spotted the two reviews which both described the book as 'unsettling'."

What the cat hasn't dragged far!

At the start of this month, I received a tip off from my former lodger about a study being conducted by Derby University, amusingly entitled: 'What the cat dragged in'. They were appealing for feline volunteers, so I enrolled Truffle immediately. I also put her forward for a camera and/or GPS experiment, about which Truffle would be appalled if she knew, as she is the kind of cat who sloughs off a collar minutes after it has been forced on her. The study requires me to upload her prey stats (dead and alive) every month, and bone up on the difference between a mouse, a shrew and a vole, using a handy illustrated pdf they have supplied. Not sure what I am meant to do if Truffle only leaves me a spleen or a tail, as has been known. I am also mindful that her kill rate is massively down since the Covid crisis - to almost nothing in fact. It makes me suspect that much of her hunting in the last couple of years was attention-seeking behaviour, for there was a steady procession of Airbnb guests over that period, and she may have felt left out. By contrast, I have only been to France since Covid struck, and the cat has had me around far more than she is used to. That is not necessarily a wholly positive thing, mind, for she seems to have switched to hunting me, and has an annoying habit of biting my arm at the drop of a hat.

Truffle may also have found another outlet for her attention-seeking tendencies, namely crashing Zoom calls!

Photo courtesy of Sarah Rayne

Remembering The Non-Blonde

Facebook reminded me this week that Gaia Fishler, aka The Non-Blonde, who died suddenly in late November last year, would have been 50 the other day. A Non-Birthday, if you will, and how poignant that Gaia didn't even make that modest middle-aged milestone. I have a soft spot for her, not least because of her great work caring for all those cats, our shared love of MAC Taupe Satin eyeshadow, and the fact that when I was starting out with Bonkers, Gaia was possibly the first 'senior blogger' to add me to her blog roll, and give me that bit of a leg up through her endorsement.

Gaia and Lizzy via her blog

My ongoing Olive Oyl transformation

Okay, now I don't mean to overplay this, but I have been inspired by fellow blogger, born again DJ, and all-round good egg Val The Cookie Queen to carry on using the piece of gym equipment I inherited a while back from ex-Mr Bonkers - to whom I had originally given it 20 years ago! - and have been working out more on than off since March, with noticeable results. My thighs are somewhat more solid (though obviously not up to Val's steel pylon standard  ;) ), instead of being a flaccid mass flanked by a jodhpur flap. I also have discernible bulges on my shoulders and upper arms, although my underarms are still a bit batwing-y, and I hope to find more exercises to specifically target those areas. 

'But I would walk 10,000 steps'

And now that we are in fullish lockdown again, one of the few things we still can do apart from grocery shopping is go for a walk with one friend. I have been doing quite a lot of long walks in and around Stafford, both on my own and accompanied by a series of singletons seeking company. The not being able to be inside other people's homes is a mighty inconvenience though. For yesterday after a particularly long walk on the local marshes (18,200 steps!), my companion went into her house to warm me up some soup, which I proceeded to stand and drink on the pavement outside her house(!). But it is what it is, and I do have the lockdown to thank for the fact that I have been devoting a lot more time to exercise indoors and out, not least for its mental health benefits, which are considerable.

'Chase View'

Knitting for England

I have no comparative statistics on my knitting output in 2019 versus this year, but I can say with confidence that 2020 will have massively dwarfed it. ;) I have been knitting non-stop in fact, and find the action of the needles meditative and calming. This year I have added a couple of new categories to my repertoire, namely bookmarks and ear warmers. Yesterday I had a flask of tea on the allotments with the friend known as Crafty Kate, and she went home with this pale cream and beige number, which she thought nicely wintery in its colour scheme. "For when you don't want your whole head to be hot", she went on to explain. I may upload an album of photos on Facebook of my latest projects sometime soon and link to it on the blog, in case anyone who is not a knitter themselves fancies picking up any handmade items for themselves or as Christmas presents.

I would be most interested to learn how everyone is doing in terms of dodging the virus - or not! - and also how your life has changed due to the pandemic, and what coping strategies you are deploying to get through this 'unprecedented' time.

Thursday 5 November 2020

Results of the Puredistance RUBIKONA giveaway!

Now that lockdown is upon us, I am getting on with indoor activities, including the all-important task of selecting two winners of the Puredistance RUBIKONA samples.

I promised readers that the odds were excellent, as Bonkers receives very few comments, plus I am mindful that other giveaways had preceded my post, heading off some of the demand. 

The last time I held a draw - for a Puredistance GOLD sample - there were eight participants who wished to be entered, and one vial up for grabs. This time there were only four such readers living in the UK - at least I think they all do - and TWO samples, giving entrants a 50% chance of winning. How much better is that than the National Lottery! Or even the throw of a dice. 

I used again, which seemed surprised that the number range was so short I could almost have flipped a coin. If there had been three winners, I really could have picked the last one that way. ;)

Without further ado I can reveal that the winners of the RUBIKONA samples are:





Drop me a line on flittersniffer at gmail dot com with your postal address and I will happily brave the lockdown regulations to get your perfume off to you. I will choose a Post Office that is also a shop and construe the sortie as a unit of exercise or a foray for milk.