Monday 27 February 2023

L'Erbolario Meharees, a three-date perfume date, and a quick health update

St Mary's, Stafford ~ Source: Wikimapia

That's a rather date-heavy title, but the reason will become clear presently...!

I will have to keep this post fairly short, as unfortunately my trapped nerve pain is back, I hope only temporarily. I had to stop my nerve blocking medication recently, as one of its key side effects would have muddied the symptoms of another condition for which I was being tested, and it may be that the pain hadn't in fact gone away naturally as I had thought, but rather was being successfully controlled by the drug - and with a bit of luck will be again! 

In the spirit of getting on with things regardless, I have carried out a couple of "perfume consultations" lately - I will couch them in inverted commas as they sound too formal and grand without. The first was with a neighbour, K, who is my go-to mattress flipping partner, and also helped me chop vegetables and open tins when my neck and arm were at their worst. I was very grateful for her help and wanted to return the favour in some form. It turns out that she had been disappointed in a couple of her recent perfume purchases / gift requests, which were based on glowing Mumsnet recommendations. I do myself turn to Mumsnet extensively for views on everything from shades of wall paint that would match a specific colour of kitchen cabinet to menopausal supplements, foolproof ways to cook a turkey, and remedies for eczema and mould on windows; in the light of K's experience, however, I would counsel against being swept up by the collective fervour of mums about a particular fragrance. Anyway, we had a good session testing different combos of woody / spicy / ambery / orange-y / powdery scents, and K took away a dozen samples to test at her leisure, including Maison Kurkdjian APOM pour femme, DSH Nourouz, Armani She White, Penhaligon's Elixir, By Kilian Amber Oud, and Puredistance Sheiduna. We both hoped that if she fell in love with any of them, it wouldn't turn out to be one that was either discontinued or horrendously expensive, which as we all know is a lot to ask for these days.

Next up was a meeting with a crime writer friend, Maureen, who had asked me to put together a selection of perfumes with vanilla in them; she also wanted to try Prada Candy, the second of my trapped nerve comfort scents. We met up in a coffee shop in town that I hadn't been in since the 80s - no idea why not, as it was bright and cosy, with a good view of St Mary's church and grounds, and sported the fancy new name of French & Byrne, which to my mind rather evoked a top hair salon or a brand of toiletries you might find in the better class of B & B, when it is in fact a specialist in brunch. Maureen had a coffee and got a wholemeal date scone to take away, kindly buying me one as well, along with my pot of tea.

I can't recall exactly what I gave her to try, though quite a few of the samples I had brought were "straight up" vanillas that Maureen not unexpectedly found a tad simplistic, while Hermes Vanille Galante and L'Esprit d'Oscar were a little too oddball for her taste. Her top two scents that really hit the spot were firstly Bvlgari Jasmin Noir, which I included in the testing pack a) because it is in a similar vein to Candy, and b) because M likes Lancome La Vie est Belle and I thought this would be a less sweet variant of possible interest - and L'Erbolario Meharees. She also liked Mona di Orio Vanille (vanilla with a treacly twist), and Jo Malone Vanilla & Anise (vanilla with an aniseed twist, as you may readily infer).

As soon as Maureen expressed an interest in Meharees, I revealed that it had dates in it - or notes that conjured up the smell of dates, it might be more accurate to say - and she said that might be why she was subliminally drawn to it, citing the bagged date scone in evidence. She is a prodigious lover of dates, it transpires! At that point I thought to mention that I had (uncharacteristically) made flapjack with dates in it only the other day, and had I known I would have given her a few pieces to take home.

I later sent Maureen the exchange I had with the band when I presented Meharees to them to try in Berlin (almost nine years ago, wow!). Jane, the tour manager, had just brought it back from Bologna, where they had gigged the week before, so if nothing else it is a well travelled bottle. (Full post here.)

The Méharées handover, and the focus group in a kebab shop 

That first night in Berlin also saw the handover by Jane (who FYI rocked Gorilla Perfumes' heady floral, Sikkim Girls, all week) of the bottle of L'Erbolario Méharées, which they had kindly bought for me in Bologna the previous weekend.  Thus it was that when I adjourned with the band to the kebab shop near their digs, I still had the bottle of perfume in my hand, and it was ceremoniously plonked on the table, next to the condiments, before I had the idea to ask them what they made of it, and passed the bottle around, inviting them to sniff the nozzle.

Guitarist: 'It's quite sweet.'
Bass player: 'It's nice - is there really just myrrh and dates in there?'
Singer (in a slightly incredulous tone): 'Whoever thought to put myrrh in a perfume?!'

(Editor's Note: The singer has certainly seen fit to put references to the scent of myrrh in a fair few of his lyrics. ;) )

So that meeting in a brunch cafe had a satisfactory outcome - I am always pleased when friends find new scents to love. And when she got home, Maureen scored a partial bottle of Jasmin Noir on eBay (it has since been renamed "Splendida Jasmin Noir", but the formula hasn't changed), and a full bottle of Meharees on Amazon. She was even more pleased with her purchase of the latter when I lobbed in the fact that Meharees is generally considered to be the best dupe going of a scent called Musc Ravageur.

I mean what's not to like about a ravaging musk?


Anonymous said...

Good work V!

I'm sure owned Jasmin Noir or more likely bought it for my sister because It was very 'vanilla forward'.

I've bought Glossier You for my niece's 14th birthday (her first perfume) on the recommendation if Sali Hughes for teens. It sounds like a nice soft musk with iris. I'm hoping I can get her to spray it straight away so I can test it, haha. Need to wait till the end of March though.

Anonymous said...

Tara x

Anonymous said...

I am wearing Splendida Iris d'Or today! Quite a comforting scent and I wonder if it shares any notes with the Jasmin. Also wonder if Meharees shares similarities with OJ's Ta'if, as that has dates too!

So sorry to read that your nerve pain is back, although it does sound like it was really lurking there all the time. Good luck with your health "issues" - it all gets rather overwhelming, but kind friends make a difference. One of mine was fond of the phrase "keep taking the tablets", but sometimes you can't!

Please take care.


Maureen Carter said...

I so enjoyed our mini sniff-fest, V. Definitely a date or four to remember. In timely fashion, my Bvlgari Jasmin Noir arrived as you published this blog. It has already had an outing. I should receive the Meharees early next month.

I think it a tad cruel of you to post a picture of your date flapjack! It looks sp gppd and I feel I missed out on a jolly tasty treat! Seriously, it was great to see you and here's to the next time . . .

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

Why, you are quite right about Jasmin Noir having vanilla in it after all - in the form of tonka bean. I have amended my post accordingly. Thanks for pointing that out - I think I like it even more now. ;)

How interesting about Glossier You...I did another "perfume consultation" for my English teacher, Sheila, whose stepdaughter's signature scent is that. It piqued Sheila's curiosity, but she was struggling to get hold of it, with it being a bit of a cult scent. In the end I sent her some Il Profvmo Nuda instead, and suggested she also try SJP Lovely and Narciso Rodriguez for Her. I am seeing her soon and will inquire if she ever got hold of the GY. Hope your niece likes it too!

Vanessa said...

Hi Jillie,

Ooh, I haven't tried Splendida Iris d'Or, indeed I wasn't even aware there was a Splendida range till I started hunting for Jasmin Noir. I do have Ta'if and can confirm that it is a very different animal from Meharees. Meharees is more like a scent I came across in Bruges by Les Parfums du Soleil, called Soir de Marrakech, and like Musc Rav, as I mentioned. It has a radiant oomph to it, whereas Ta'if is dusty and arid. Do you know Sonia Rykiel Woman? It has the same radiant oomph quality, albeit different notes.

Thanks for your good wishes ref my nerve pain, and you are so right about the importance of kind friends. There was a feature on World at One today about the secret behind health and happiness: a decades-long study has finally concluded that one of the most important factors of all is having a good social network and people you can call upon in hard times - or the middle of the night even, at a push, though I would very much try not to. ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi Maureen,

Am so pleased you found two new scents to enjoy, and for me to enjoy sniffing on you when we meet. ;) The Meharees in particular is pretty darn rare, but even Jasmin Noir is not remotely ubiquitous. Now I know your date predilection, I will be sure to get some flapjack to you next time I am overtaken by an unusual burst of culinary zeal.

Tatiana said...

I'm sorry to hear that your nerve pain has returned. I can sympathize as I'm recovering from a bout of calcific tendonitis in my dominant shoulder. I do hope you feel much, much better soon.
I think it's really lovely that you often share your samples and help friends find fragrances they will love.
I'm going to try to find a sample of Meharées. My daughter shared her FM Musc Ravageur with me. On her it smells divine, on my skin not so much. So I'm curious if Meharées as a dupe for MR will smell similar or work better on my skin.

Vanessa said...

Hi Tatiana,

Nice to hear from you, and I am sorry that you have also had pain in that general area lately - I have looked up calcified tendonitis and it sounds quite challenging. ;( Hope you make a full recovery soon.

How interesting about your and your daughter's different outcomes with Musc Ravageur on skin. Well worth seeing if Meharees would suit you better if you have access to it over there.

Anonymous said...

V - I heard that very item yesterday! Mind you, my husband and I thought it was stating the obvious, but it was good to hear someone putting it so well. Hmmmm .... calling for help at 3 in the morning .... that's tough, but I know that if one of my friends did that, then they would really be needing me.

I don't know Woman, but will sniff it out.


Vanessa said...

Hi Jillie,

It was a good item! I don't think the importance of social networks on health is so obvious as its effect on happiness, perhaps?

I have never called for help at 3am, though I did go round to my ex's at 5am not so long ago after he pocket dialled me from Manchester airport and I thought he was gasping for air and possibly about to expire. ;)

Anonymous said...

You're right!

Oh my goodness, you've made me giggle at the thought of your mercy mission. What a sweet person you are! Seriously, though, you must have been so distraught.


Vanessa said...

Yes, I was! Especially as I hesitated for a couple of hours before going over there. It wasn't lost on me that if he had been having breathing difficulties, I would probably have left it too late. ;)