Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Best of the best for 2009

I was very happy to be asked to participate in a joint blogging project 'the best of the best' by the lovely Helg at Perfume Shrine.

So here are my best things of the year

*Best Perfumery Trends in 2009:

*Best in Niche:
Ormonde Jayne Tiare, Frederic Malle Geranium Pour Monsier, Miller Harris Fleur De Bois, Penhaligon’s reissued Limes (though I know it was available at Harrod’s before)

*Best Mainstream:
I would say YSL Parisienne and Narciso Rodriguez Essence but I think this was a poor year for mainstream fragrance, sadly. Again.

*Best Packaging/Advertising:
Best packaging Grossmith
Best advertising Chanel No 5, YSL Parisienne

*Best in Home-Scenting:
Frederic Malle home if money was no object
I also like the Miller Harris tea range which was expanded this year. I think the idea of a perfumer working on tea is very interesting and would be interested in more doing this (which doesn’t mean I want Calvin Klein tea!)

*Notable Perfumers for their Excellence in 2009:
Always Jean Claude Elena, I really admire the man and the way he works and if I could get a copy of his most recent book it would make me very happy. It seems to be available no where at all. So if anyone knows where I can get one please, please tell me!
Bertrand Duchaufour for Al-Oud and his work at Penhaligon's

*Best Brand Revival:

*Best Inexpensive Finds (beauty & scent-related):
It was a re- find but the L’Occitane Green Tea with Mint scent saw me through some hot summer weather very well
Tesco lavender and chamomile baby wipes for the face are divine- I make special trips to get them. Everything else is a little abrasive on my sensitive skin but for some reason it drinks these up. I don't want it to be so but it is.

*Non- perfume- but still a bit scented!

*Best Reading:
Although it didn’t come out this year I read Never let me go this year and it has stayed with me more than anything else. Likewise I have discovered Cormac McCarthy this year, a bit later than everyone else, and am thoroughly enjoying his different style and poetic painting with words.
I also very much enjoyed the paperback version of Perfumes: The Guide, of course!

*Best Gift I Got:
Primrose bakery cookbook- scented cookery- Earl Grey cupcakes will be made this weekend and a rose butter cream iced Victoria sponge may follow. Most people fast in January but I seem to be going for fattening.

*Best film
Too hard. Bright Star was beautiful. Glorious 39 isn’t perfect but I’ve taken it to my heart.

There are more very interesting participating blogs on these links, please don't forget to visit them:
Mossy Loomings,1000fragrances, Smelly Blog, Bittergrace Notes, Shoes-cake-perfume,
Eiderdown Press Journal, Scent Hive, Olfactarama, Roxana's Illuminated Journal,
The Non Blonde, Notes from the Ledge, I smell therefore I am,
Under the Cupola, All I am a Redhead, Perfume In Progress, Savvy Thinker

Happy New Year everyone.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Thoughts on New Year

I have always suspected you are either a Christmas person or a New Year person. While I love Christmas I must confess to usually having to psyche myself up for New Year- not the new start, resolutions bit, I actually find all that quite refreshing and engaging- it’s the actual eve. I love a party at any time but there is something about the enforced jollity of New Year’ Eve that I find fails- I don’t seem to have all that much fun until about 2am when everyone relaxes and the fun really gets going- then it’s great sure but it’s a party like any other.

This year though something has changed and I’m very excited about New Year. It helps that I’m doing something this year that I would bite someone’s arm off to do on any day let alone New Year- but it isn’t just that, I really want to see out this year and see next with a blast. This has mostly been a good year for me and I think it deserves a good send off. My worries are really for what happens from the 1st onwards. Next year will be a big year for me. I’m in the twilight of my twenties now and though I’m very happy with myself I am not married, home owning or any of those things.

In some ways before I go down that road I want to have really achieved something. To me that doesn’t just mean flats, cars and shoes, which it seems to mean to so many people, it means something I will be proud of later. I suppose if I am totally honest because I don't know if I am going to achieve the conventional happiness- I would like to but I don't think life ends if you don't. I really don't. Sadly some people around me do and that is starting to cause some issues. The opportunity of a fresh start is wonderful but right now I feel a bit too tired to pick everything up and be relentlessly positive about all that I do and everyone I see again. It will pass as all blue days do. The restorative nature of Christmas and some time at home with family and animals is a blessing but when you come back you come back to everything being the same but this time without Christmas to look forward to.

So thank goodness for new year- a big party to blow the post Christmas melancholy away and then onwards- going not gently into 2010.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Happy Christmas

O Come All Ye Faithful. Christmas Tree in Trafalger Square. Fortnum's windows. Borough market- mullings and turkeys and cheese oh my. Carols at Waterloo. The Royal Albert Hall. Comfort and joy. Elf. The Burlington Arcade. Happy Christmas from everyone on the Bakerloo line. Reindeer in Covent Garden. A Christmas Carol. Silent Night. Midnight mass.

Wishing everyone a very Merry, happy and peaceful Christmas.

Monday, 21 December 2009

'I never love England more than when covered in snow'

Goodbye England (Covered in snow)

You were so smart then in your jacket and coat
My softest red scarf was warming your throat
Winter was on us at the end of my nose
But I never love England
More than when covered in snow

But a friend of mine says it's good to hear
That you believe in love even if set in fear
well I'll hold you there brother and set you straight
I wont make believe that love is frail
And willing to break

I will come back here, bring me back when I'm old
I want to lay here forever in the cold.
I might be cold but I'm just skin and bones
And I never love England
More than when covered in snow

I wrote my name in your book, only god knows why
And I bet you that he cracked a smile
And I'm clearing all the stuff out of my room
trying desperately to figure out
What it is that makes me blue
and I wrote in a big letter to you
And it's 22 pages front and back
And it's too good to be used
and I tried to be a girl who likes to be used
I'm too good for that
There's a mind under this hat and I
Called them all and told them i've got to move

I'm out man , it's too hard

Feel like running, feel like running
Running off.
And we will keep you, we will keep you little one
Safe from harm, like an extra arm
You are part of us.

You were so smart then in your jacket and coat
and my softest red scarf was warming your throat
Winter will leave us, left the end of my nose
So goodbye old England 'till next years snow

My favourite new Christmas song: Goodbye England (Covered in Snow) by Laura Marling.

Lyrics courtesy of Popular lyrics.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Your non-festive festive traditions

There are some things I associate with Christmas that are very normal- mulling wine, decorating the tree, reading myself the night before Christmas before going to sleep on Christmas eve. They are mostly extremely traditional, though that doesn’t make them any the less wonderful.

There are also some things I associate with Christmas that really aren’t anything to do with it- or even winter. They have become traditions over time and in some ways mean as much as singing carols but I’m not sure why or how.

So on top of testing the fairy lights, finding the end of sellotape and watching Home Alone I also think of watching I Capture the Castle after a long bath whilst eating rose and violet creams in pyjamas as extremely Christmasy- though really it isn’t at all. Likewise re- arranging my perfume collection and reading The Pursuit of Love is as festive to me as putting cloves in clementines. I can and sometimes do do all of these things at other times of year but they always make me feel the warm glow of Christmas time inside.

Are you looking forward to doing anything that isn’t Christmasy, but is?

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Nordic bakery

I seem to be having a very Nordic few days. My discovery of the word hygellig detailed below was quickly followed by lunch at The Nordic Bakery on Golden Square on Friday. I have chatted away about wanting to go to this and other Scandanavian restaurants in London for ages without actually getting round to it but a particularly bitter, grey December day seemed like the perfect day to change that.

The bakery is immediately homely despite being quite spare (as is only fitting for a Nordic themed place). The menu is perfect for this time of year, there are thick, hearty but not stodgy rye breads, good strong thick coffee, spicy, fragrant and delicious Glogg and, as I had wished and hoped, gloriously sticky indulgent cinnamon buns.

Honestly I could move into this place. I feel a strong affinity with all things scandanivian and had Swedish, Finnish and Danish neighbours as a child whose Mother's gave me a love for sour yoghurt, cloudberry jam (and later liquer) and of course the buns (recipes seem to vary from country to country).

We spend so much time chasing the cuisine and ingredients from far flung places but I think, certainly until recently, slightly ignore food from Nordic and Germanic countries here- and I don't know why because there are so many delicious things to try- and actually they are often quite budget friendly. Happily this does seem to be changing and we are all getting more adventurous. My kitchen is currently full of lots of things from the German shop at Borough market. I don't know what to with half of it but I am going to have learning.

Monday, 14 December 2009


Hyggelig. Isn't that a word that makes you smile? Even before you know what it means. I discovered it reading the 'This much I know' interview with Sandi Toksvig inThe Guardian.

In the article she says a hyggelig is an untranslatable Danish term for getting together with friends and family and sitting around in a cosy atmosphere with nice food and wine and candles. Not being Danish I can only take her word for it- I have googled definitions and the general consensus seems to be something like what she is saying.

I am newly in the love with this word and keep using it to describe the current evenings of mulled wine in our flathold. I can't help but drop it in to conversations about what I'm doing, will be doing or would like to be doing- not to sound terribly clever but just because it's a fun word to use.

I adore English and while accepting I will never come close to knowing even half the words available to me within it I continue to try and expand my vocabulary. Sadly I have never been terribly gifted with other languages but the discovery of beautiful little words like this makes me want to redouble my efforts not to be the lousy linguist of London that most continental people probably imagine as a stereotype.

Perhaps I could try and learn some Danish- on the strength of hyggelig it seems like a worthwhile language to try.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Why thank- you

Miss Nightingale, she of exquisite taste at the very inspiring blog Beyond the Pale, has been extremely kind and given me an award.

I would like to pass the compliment on to five blogs who are: Metropolitan Mum, A Novice novelist, The Daily Connoisseur,
Wee Birdy and Jacob Wrestling.

Now, to each of the award winners: Pick up your award (save the picture above) and pass it along to 5 blogs of your choosing- if you choose to.

Then answer the following questions with one word & post on your blog:

My answers are:

1. Where is your phone? charging
2. Your hair? Espresso
3. Your Mother? Lovely
4. Your Father? Inspiring
5. Your favourite food? Cheese
6. Your dream last night? Forgotten
7. Your favourite drink? Champagne
8. Your dream/goal? Writing
9. What room are you in? Bedroom
10. Your hobby? Perfume
11. Your fear? Mundanity
12. Where do you want to be in six years? London
13. Where were you last night? Home
14. Something that you’re not? Boy
15. Muffins? English
16. Wishlist item? Books
17. Where did you grow up? Surrey
18. Last thing you did? Tea
19. What are you wearing? Jeans
20. Your TV? Off
21. Your pets? at parents
22. Friends? Good
23. Your life? Good
24. Your mood? Reflective
25. Missing someone? Probably
26. Vehicle? VW
27. Something you’re not wearing? Hat
28. Your favourite store? Liberty
29. Your Favourite colour? Green
30. When was the last time you laughed? Yesterday
31. The last time you cried? Sunday
32. Your best friend? Various
33. One place that I go to over and over? Waterloo (station)
34. Facebook? Yes (but against my better judgement really)
35. Favourite place to eat? Seaside

Friday, 4 December 2009

Inherit the wind

'He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind:
and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart'
(Proverbs 11:29)

I ‘sat’ high up in the Old Vic to see Inherit the Wind last night- as high as the chandelier- I could see the whole theatre and most of the stage if I stood up and lent over a rail.

You would think the restricted view would be incredibly frustrating but after a while it won me over.

Standing to see something makes you concentrate more doesn’t it? and when I think about it I would never choose to sit down at a gig- even at the monstrous 02- and not every gig I go to involves a hoedown (although happily very many do) so why would theatre be different?

Inherit the Wind was worth standing up for- and so surprisingly thought provoking for an older piece about the bible and the origin of species. Kevin Spacey was wonderful- I’m not sure he knows how to disappoint in the theatre. The silent scene at the end when he puts both books together and clasps them tightly in his hands is extremely moving, although he plays it with a lightness of touch and step. In another life he would have been a travelling player, gracing a thousand stages.

The play is directed by Trevor Nunn who takes the opportunity to insert some great country music asides which I think help the first half which is heavy on exposition. It was the second part, the tight court room drama, that I became more and more involved in. Standing high up in a dark, hushed theatre I was happily reminded of my precious freedom to think whatever I want and to clasp it tightly.

Thursday, 3 December 2009


Yet more present shopping over here at Rose towers.

Aren't these mix tapes on UBS sticks a charming way of keeping an old idea alive?

With rose tinted specs on mix tapes seem like a wonderful thing we've lost. When you think again though actually there was always the fear that your beloved tape from a dear boy/ girl/ mate would be chewed by your player- and the fact that after the first 100 plays you were going to get that whirring sound at the beginning of your most loved tracks.

I still kind of miss them though. They were a 99p way of giving something really personal. The UBS stick seems like a cute way of updating the idea. Plus it's pretty good for boys/ girls. Nicer than an i- tunes gift card don't you think?

Found via The Guardian.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Gift Guide 2009

For everyone:

A moleskin per month- all in different colours.

Keel's Simple Diary. I have one (a yellow one) so can attest that it is fun but takes the pressure off writing something every day. I know they have been around for a little while but I'm sure there are still plenty of people who don't know about them. I heard about them via Lola is Beauty.

For him:

London review of books keyboard reference mouse mat Found via India Knight's Posterous. I've ordered two- and I'm hoping someone orders one for me!

The new Star Trek motion picture. I loved it. So did everyone I know. You can watch it with the whole family too I think- except perhaps watch out for the 'Wrath of Khan' bit. Picture from all posters.

Bamboo i- pod sleeves. Don't they look good? A good alternative to the sock mine has been living in for about 6 months. Perhaps my i- pod deserves a Christmas present? (Founda via Divine Caroline).

For her:

Bright Star: The Complete Poems and Selected Letters. There are other books and editions of John Keats poetry and letters to Fanny Brawne but this cover was the prettiest. I suggest going to a real bookshop and burying your head in the various works available and picking the one you think best.

If that picture of Fanny falling into the Blubells makes your heart flutter like it does mine- or if you just want to give a themed gift might I suggest some Penhaligon's bluebell bath oil would go beautifully with the book.

The scent is delightful, it smells of the ground under the blubells as well as the woods they grow near.

Perhaps more knowing is Ormonde Woman bath oil from Ormonde Jayne. The scent is bewitching, beguiling and utterly beautiful. (Please send me some Santa).

On a tighter budget I think this retro bath oil from Boots looks and smells very good- very much the kind of thing you might get in a European apothocary- which can only be a good thing.

Also in the beauty departmentMedieval by Lipstick Queen is the colour of naturally flushed lips and comes in rather wonderful packaging don't you think. Ideal for ladies who love a bodice ripper.

If you prefer to give an experience I think the afternoon tea at the Athenaeum Hotel is sublime. I have had lots of afternoon teas but this is the best so far- and they let you take your time. It is also quiet and roomy enough in their salon to be ideal for Mother's and Grandmother's who might not like the din and excitement of some of the fast moving but lovely London restaurants that do tea. Ideally take a walk around Green Park before tea as with two rounds of sandwiches, scones, 2 choices of cake (and/ or macaroons) and crumpets you need to work up a hunger!


Glad tidings at Luckyscent where I found that Commes De Garcon are now offering actual incense sticks scented with their incense perfume range- which is much adored by myself and other perfumistas (and so scent legend says Morrissey).

Tom Ford's Black Orchid now comes in a handbag sized pen. I am actually not that big a fan of the juice- though I very much like voile de fleur- but I seem to be the only person I know who isn't and the bottle is to die for good looking.

For the men in your life I don't think you can ever go wrong with a bottle of Caron Pour Homme.

(Picture from Fragrantica).

For men and women either scent or any of the accompanying range from Acqua Di parma always brings a smile. Who couldn't like that slightly clean but slightly smoky, incense fragrance or that sunny yellow packaging?

If they are developing an interest in scent- or just like a good book to dip in and out of Perfumes: The Guide is a work of genius to me. It's also now available in paperback!

Happy shopping!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

If I was getting married I would have this invitation

Found at A Cup of Jo- obviously a constant source of inspiration and delight.