Well, that's unusual...I am writing this post on my actual blog anniversary as opposed to a few days or weeks later, or not at all. I shan't make a big deal of it, as it doesn't seem warranted now I am only posting once a month or so, and I am sure I have lost some of my regular readers and commenters because of this sparse frequency. But people I will never know are still finding their way to the archives with their 756 posts - not necessarily meaning to, mind, as I suggested in this piece about blogging 11 years ago (see the full thing here):
'And the other important point to mention – and the final reason for keeping a sense of perspective - is that, crucially, many of your readers will land on your blog by mistake… Some of the more peculiar search terms that have directed people to Bonkers include: “leopard fantasy”, “Bo Derek naked”, “Anne Hathaway’s cottage opal flash parfum”, “Slovakian hobbits biscuits”, “swingos hotel Cleveland”, “card nuisance call boss telling her to do some work”, “kidnapping lillies” (sic), “what is the landform of Ohio”, “avocado” and “slime”.'
The weird thing is that we get tourists fetching up in Stafford by mistake who are also looking for Anne Hathaway's cottage, albeit not its associated perfume, if there even is one? Traffic is still traffic though, so I will cheerfully take all-comers.
And though I am not posting often, I have been doing quite a few perfume "consultations" for friends or even friends of friends behind the scenes - one chap bought a bottle of L'Air du Desert Marocain on the back of his epiphany at my house - so fragrance is very much an ongoing interest. I have, however, largely lost any curiosity about new releases, as my tolerance for plethoras is much reduced these days. Plus I am only dimly aware of the latest crop of perfume blogs, because I still cling to those of my "generation" of 10-15 years ago. My blog roll is a frozen tribute to them, even though some of the titles are dormant now, and a few of the links may not work. I am even a bit out of touch with my cherished clutch of perfume friends - the aftermath of Covid and the chaos in the world generally may have played a role in that.
Despite this backdrop of drifting in my own becalmed backwater, and having more to do with fragrance wearers "in the wild" than the personalities in the blogosphere, occasionally, very occasionally, a new scent hits me in the solar plexus that I come across by some other route than a tip off from a fellow blogger, my usual source of information in recent years ever since I fell off a cliff as far as the brands / perfume houses were concerned, and they stopped sending me things to try.
To explain how this discovery came about, I need firstly to mention that I have recently joined a Qigong and a Mindfulness class. There is a bit of meditation tacked on at the end of the Qigong class and a bit of Qigong incorporated into the Mindfulness one. I didn't get on with Tai Chi which I also dabbled in - it was like a slo-mo version of Pan's People, with choreography that far exceeded my powers of coordination, but Qigong I can do, and it does wonderful things to me in return. "Postural diazepam" I called it. As things have turned out, this post from 2010 was eerily prescient, as the class I now attend is indeed under the auspices of the u3a (University of the Third Age).
Anyway, at the end of a recent Mindfulness class the leader started reminiscing about the smell of pure sandalwood oil from Mysore, and asked me if it was still used in modern perfumery, and whether I knew of current perfumes with a goodly dose of quality sandalwood of whatever provenance, so I said I would go away and have a think. I consulted a few blogs and YouTubers who had done their "Top 10 sandalwood fragrances" - there was quite a bit of crossover with the ones I had thought of, such as Guerlain Samsara, Diptyque Tam Dao, Hermes Santal Massoia, Le Labo Santal 33 etc - but several by Serge Lutens were not on my radar, including the one that most piqued my curiosity, Santal Majuscule. What's not to like about sandalwood being "writ large", in capital letters? ;) I had a sudden urge to try this apparent behemoth, and checked its availability on the sampling sites.
First off, I bought a 1ml sample from Fragrance Samples UK...it came promptly, and knocked me sideways. I immediately rushed to run Santal Majuscule through the Boisdejasmin-ometer, as my taste in perfume is spookily aligned with Victoria's. Sure enough, she gives it four stars, and I will leave her to parse this beautiful rose and sandalwood scent, with its creamy, dusty base and meditative quality, making it the perfect accompaniment to a Mindfulness class!
Notes: sandalwood, rose, cocoa, tonka bean
I quite agree with her use of the word "tender", which is exactly how it reads to me - a gentle murmur, a dreamy romantic scent, not shouty or scratchy or majuscule at all! I expect I am drawn to it because I love PG Brulure de Rose, which also has a powdery rose and chocolate accord. But Santal Majuscule is quieter and more refined somehow, much as I love Brulure.
I knew I needed more of the stuff, but the price of a 10ml decant on Fragrance Samples UK was £27.50 approx, so I googled some more suppliers (there are loads here these days, unlike the old days when you had to send off to The Perfumed Court or Luckyscent in the States!). Next up I landed on Scent Samples UK, who were offering the same amount for a mere £15, including p & p. Well, that seemed too good to be true, given that 50ml of this perfume retails for £125, which should work out at £25 per 10ml, much closer to the Fragrance Samples UK price. I googled reviews of Scent Samples UK on Trustpilot, and they were a bit mixed, but not worryingly so - or rather not to the point where I didn't dare risk an outlay of £15...
The decant also arrived very quickly, but on my first spray I couldn't detect the lovely dusty base - it was thin and very topnote-y - like a designer take on Santal Majuscule for a younger audience, if you can imagine that. I was disappointed and couldn't decide whether to send the perfume back or keep it for "casual spraying", with it being so relatively cheap. Then I had the idea to buy one more small decant from a private seller in a Facebook group, to help me figure out which was the true version, "best of three"-style. I was sure this person's bottle would be kosher, as the culture of that group is very straight and honest.
I also wrote to Scent Samples UK, explaining what had happened, and how I was going to wait till I had a third sample to test before taking a final view, and they were fine about it, saying I could send the decant back for a full refund if I wasn't happy after doing that comparison, whilst also drawing my attention to the possibility of natural variation between batches. The bit about the fragrance being crafted by skilled artisans amused me for some reason.
"It's essential to note that variations in the scent and colour of Santal Majuscule may occur due to its unique composition and craftsmanship. Each batch is carefully blended and crafted by skilled artisans, which can lead to subtle differences between batches."
So sample No 3 duly arrived, which smelt close to No 1 from Fragrance Samples UK...but meanwhile, I kept spraying the decant from Scent Samples UK, and lo and behold I suddenly got the full dusty, powdery experience! I think that very first spray must not have had all the ingredients in it, a bit like a vinaigrette bottle that you need to shake first, haha. Then I remembered that I had covered this very topic in an old post somewhere, which took some finding, but here it is:
I do believe that I may have been experiencing the same phenomenon of "the unrepresentative squirt", and wrote back to Scent Samples UK accordingly, thanking them for their offer of a refund but saying it wouldn't be necessary after all. How they manage to sell 10ml for £15 is still a mystery though...did they get a bulk discount from Serge Lutens, or acquire some old stock on the grey market, or a job lot of testers, or are they having a fire sale prior to shutting up shop? Maybe Santal Majuscule is their loss leader, but if so it seems an odd one to choose.
So there you have it...I am delighted to have enough Santal Majuscule to be going on with, and to have discovered a scent to which I have the same visceral attachment as I do to Brulure de Rose, yet which is softer and more "Mindfulness class-appropriate".