Tuesday 27 July 2021

Perfumista samples site, and how Robin made me blog again

Princess Diana rose

I have been away too long. Too long from the blog, and from the perfume scene generally. I have not been completely asleep on the job, but have largely got tip offs about new releases from other blogger friends, and occasionally still from a perfumer directly. I read just two fragrance blogs regularly, and comment on both. In the old days it was upwards of 20. I wear perfume fitfully, but always with enthusiasm when I remember to do so. I am not making great inroads into my SABLE*, but it gives me pleasure to drain the odd 1ml sample or little decant every so often. A few things have turned while I wasn't looking, but we are none of us getting any younger.

Yet perhaps unexpectedly, it is my recent distracting health issues that have led me back to perfume. I am still being investigated for a couple of issues, while a few others have been diagnosed, or have disappeared as mysteriously as they came, or been relegated to the "to be monitored" (aka "too hard") pile. Harrowing as the process has been at times, I am so grateful to have been scanned from top to toe, as I mentioned in my earlier posts. Last week saw my eyeballs join the list, with bones to follow next month. Somewhere along the way, a consultant said he really liked me, as I was "unusual", which was a tonic in itself. ;) Another doctor said he believed in "treating the person rather than the test results", while conceding that I had managed to clock up a startling number of abnormal findings in recent months which would worry anyone.

So this unsettling experience - compounded by a spike in neighbour bother, on which I shan't dwell here - led me to crave rose perfumes of late, which I do periodically in times of stress, ever since I hit the menopause. I have been enjoying them in my garden too, while the friend who painted my flittersniffer avatar (David Gleeson) gave me a 'Princess Diana rose' from his, so one way and another, the flowers and their scents have been on my mind. 

A cursory rummage in my perfume wardrobes (literally!) was enough to establish that I own very few rose-centric scents anymore. I have Bvlgari's Rose Essentielle, which I wore to my dad's funeral, but it is quite modern in style. I was after something lush and multi-layered, like Keiko Mecheri's Mogador, which my friend Jessica found for herself after a long and winding quest. A veritable feather bed of petals you can sink into with your nose, you know the sort of thing. Or indeed the late lamented Creed Fleur de The Rose Bulgare, which Bois de Jasmin rates very highly: "After a somewhat perfume-y and oddly 'green' start, this one is unmatched rose verisimilitude". Hiram Green's Lustre also ticks the box, but a vegan friend has fallen in love with it, and I wouldn't part them for the world, while the other rose scents in my collection are wintery, or dark, or spicy, or powdery, or linear, or have a goodly dollop of Tauerade. I couldn't find a single soliflore in my drawer. ;)

Minutes later, I had clicked on a perfume sampling site called "Perfumista" (a very good name to appeal to our community!), and scored a 5ml decant of Parfumerie Generale Brulure de Rose, and a 1ml sample of Diptyque's Ilio, my curiosity about which had been piqued by Undina's recent review. I hunted for the chilly new Serge Lutens she also reviewedLa Dompteuse EncagĂ©e - but to no avail. They were out of the Hiram Green as well, though I was impressed the brand was even stocked. I wracked my brain for other scents I had heard about lately, and rootled around in Jo Loves, Jo Malone, Tom Ford and Hermes, then left it at that. And I know Brulure de Rose isn't a soliflore either, but I miss having a bottle, and 5ml should keep the lemmings from the door for a bit. They don't do Keiko Mecheri in fact, though I did look. An impressive range of niche lines nonetheless.

'Thinking of you' 

The Perfumista site offers free delivery on orders over £10, which is great, as I expect to buy at least £25 worth of something (invariably wool!) to qualify for that perk. A slightly irritating thing about the website - as it displayed on my laptop anyway - is that it was impossible to scroll down the brand list beyond the M row, no idea why. I viewed the site on my mobile instead (where brands appeared under the Categories tab, somewhat illogically) to refresh my mind about what else I might be interested in.

And I am writing about this site before the perfumes have even arrived, because the mere fact of my having bought them - like in the good old days of The Perfumed Court! - is noteworthy enough, I felt. Today I have gone back into Google to see what other sites are out there now (I may be the last person to know about them all, haha), and on the first page of results I clocked Fragrance Samples UK, Perfume-samples, and Scent Samples, all of which were new to me. I have been away too long, as I say.

So how, you may ask, does Robin come into it? That would be Robin of Now Smell This of course, though I hardly need to mention that I am sure, as her blog is a cross between a behemoth and a bellwether; it is the CNN of the blogosphere, and a bottomless resource in more ways than you can shake a blotter at. I am in awe of the work Robin has put into maintaining the site all these years. She is a tower of strength and endurance, no question. And of course I once had a couple of guest posts on there in 2012 (well, one on NST itself and a companion post the next day on Bonkers); unfortunately they led to a barrage of trolling, and got me banned from linking to the blog on Facebook for three years, which I admit to thinking a disproportionate response at the time. ;) [Links on request for anyone who missed the whole kerfuffle and may be curious.] Anyway, I was looking to see if Robin or anyone at NST had also reviewed the new Serge Lutens, and then thought to check her blogroll to see if I was even still on it, and miraculously I was! It was quite a sobering read, mind, as so many of the names have got "no longer updated" in brackets after them, and I really didn't want that fate to befall me too.

So here I am, sneaking a post in before Robin notices I had been gone a while, hehe; still not through the 'testing tunnel', but learning to live with being abnormal. After all, that consultant did say I was "unusual", so I have a reputation to maintain...

And lastly, here is a rose David painted earlier - doubtless also from his garden (am surprised he is not called Austin, quite frankly) - because while perfume sillage evaporates and real flowers die, a still life painting is a joy forever. 

'rose pink' by David Gleeson

UPDATE: The samples are here! The vials are nicely presented, in an easy-to-rip-open sealed silver pouch inside a sturdy brown envelope inside a white Jiffy bag. Oh, it is so good to be reunited with the PG...!

*My SIL's acronym for "Stash Above and Beyond Life Expectancy"

Monday 5 July 2021

Blog housekeeping: Bonkers moves from Feedburner to Follow.it, and thoughts on 'turning green'

Well, would you believe that not a lot has happened since I wrote my post in April about being indisposed. The scan I mentioned at the time did find a little something that has since been surgically removed and sent off for inspection, but I remain 'under investigation' for the other issues I mentioned. Meanwhile new organ systems continue to be added to the list of suspects with monotonous regularity, a bit like the Government with its red and amber countries. I have come to view abnormal blood results as the new normal, though hopefully not forever. Throw into the mix the impact of seasonal allergies on my eczema (as in this post, though not quite so bad this year!) and several chipped front teeth, and you have the general picture. I feel very much like a oldish car that you take in for its MOT and one wiper replacement, only to have the garage mutter darkly that your brake pads are worn, the steering is out, your head gasket is leaking, and your big end could fall off at any moment.

I hope to resume posting by and by, but remain a bit detached from the perfume scene while this diagnostic limbo is ongoing. A waggish friend said: "Yes, you are left in a constant state of never-knowing, a phrase for which there is probably some obscure tribal word." And the not knowing what is wrong with me makes it difficult to 'live right', though I am broadly having a go, with the odd dietary lapse (aka cake) here and there.

The other week I was jolted out of my distracted state, however, by the notification from Google that its Feedburner subscription service was going to be axed later this month. I started to half-heartedly research alternatives when I was approached by one of the free platforms I had lit upon myself, namely Follow.it. I gladly let them guide me through the process and port my list of email subscribers across to their system - they kindly offered to weed out the many bots who were on the list, like bad bacteria colonising one's gut. These creepy web crawlies are largely detectable by their tell-tale gobbledygook addresses, so it may turn out in the end that I only have fifty subscribers rather than 1650... 

So this post is just to give readers the heads up about the switch, which you will notice in due course. It should be seamless, but in the unfortunate instance of your having a rather implausible email address yourself(!), leading you to be culled by the nice people at Follow.it doing the heavy list lifting, I apologise in advance. It should be a relatively straightforward process to reinstate your email subscription in that case by using the new Follow.it widget in the sidebar.

As you can tell I don't understand much about these things, being supremely untechy as a blog owner, but I gather that Follow.it has some extra features compared to Feedburner, if that sort of thing interests you: this link should take you to their new dashboard where you can define certain filters and delivery channels, with more whizzy options apparently in the pipeline. 

Any queries, let me know, and I hope to 'turn green' (to reprise our traffic light analogy) and be back before too long!