Friday 30 October 2009

Life is sweeter with sweets

This is the Life is Sweet cook book from the glorious retro sweet shopHope and Greenwood.

I used to live near to the actual shop in East Dulwich and am very fond of it for that reason- as well as sugary, sticky, brightly coloured reasons!

The book offers lots of recipes for proper sweets- something you actually don't see very often I don't find- unless I have been looking in the wrong places!

My favourite confectionery of all is a rose or violet cream- and Hope and Greenwood's are one of my preferred boxes both for what's on the outside and what's on the inside (although really I don't discriminate on the basis of box- only taste!).

I have a rather strange love for vintage cardboard boxes and the sound they make when you open and close them. This is going to sound utterly crazy but I find the very gently closing of the hard cardboard of old stocking boxes, or new Laduree boxes incredibly relaxing and soothing- and the H&G rose and violet creams makes a similarly satisfying sound. The old box I have from last Christmas is currently making a lovely home for some of my perfume samples- and I enjoy opening and closing it very much, mad lady that I am.

Thursday 29 October 2009

Ormonde Jayne: Tiare review

Tahiti is my idea of what paradise on earth must really be like. The image I had of it for a long time- that we probably all first have in our minds when people mention a trip there- is of those little huts on stilts out in Aquamarine sea.

Inshore though the Tahiti I read about is lush with vegetation and tropical flowers; the Queen of the Tahitian flowers being the Tiare which I think is utterly charming and one of a select group that I can only describe as happy flowers. By that I mean flowers that not only bring a smile to your face (most flowers do that for me) but in which you can almost see the sunshine that has made them grow- the Tiare is the much more exotic and rarefied cousin of the sunflower and the daisy in this respect.

The new fragrance from the London based perfume house Ormonde Jayne is called Tiare.

The fragrance is based around this delicate, enchanting flower and the precious oil made from it is at the heart of the scent. The full list of notes is:

Top notes: Mandarin, Orange flower and Sicialian lime

Heart/ Middle notes: Tiare, Freesia, Water lilies, Jasmine, Orris and Ylang

Base notes: Cedar, Vetiver, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Moss and Musk

This is a transporting fragrance but not in the traditional far- away island sense of suntan lotion and pina coladas- it is much more subtle and certainly more refined. The middle notes sing- there is the richness of high quality jasmine and the sensuality of ylang but there is also a green but slightly creamy quality to this scent which can only be the precious Tiare.

You can smell good quality in a scent the way you can see it in a tailored suit, or hear it in the clipped noise fine shoes make on pavements. Tiare, like all the Ormonde Jayne scents, is made up of very fine oils that speak for themselves- and as the scent dries down to it's base it becomes more and more interesting, it speaks more softly but that in no way means it has anything less interesting to say.

I have only had my sample for a day so I’m sure my thoughts about it will develop but at the moment I can’t stop thinking this shares something in character with the bottled delight that is Diorissimo. That is in not because I think they smell especially similar but they have a similar character. You might look at two women who outwardly were not at all alike but there sense of humour and ideas might be very aligned- well I find these two scents aligned in some ways. They are joyful to wear, at once very simply beautiful celebrations of two enchanting flowers(the Lily and the Tiare) and at the same time very complex amalgamations of oils that sing together like a choir.

I would wear this scent at any time of the year- in fact the two times I think it would smell best to me would be on a crisp cold London night when I was buttoned up in a coat and in a cocktail dress on holiday. Perhaps one day I will get to Tahiti and if I do I will be taking some Tiare perfume with me there. Until then I have my little vial and my dreams.

Tiare is available from Ormonde Jayne's website here and from their boutiques in London (on Bond Street's Royal Arcade) or Jumeriah Beach in Dubai.

Tiare flowers picture courtesy of Tahiti Tourisme here.

Rose was the lucky recipient of a sample from Ormonde Jayne

Sunday 25 October 2009

Gloved up

Accessories shopping is really one of my retail joys. I can appreciate the perfect black dress or pair of jeans and am glad to find them but it's the little touches that I adore: shoes, jewellery, hosiery- the whole lot.

Autumn brings the opportunity to shop for gloves and to call this shopping necessity.

The apple hasn't fallen far from the tree with me and my Mother has a similar fondness for all things accessories (all things lovely really). I vividly remember the wonder with which I would open her glove drawer as a child. The draw was part of a white wooden bedroom suite with gold coloured edging and handles- that sort of barbie/ versailles look that seems to have been so popular circa 1970 something.

Inside were gloves in virtually every colour, kept in perfectly sized clear plastic bags. There were many black leather gloves and some other sensible darker colours, browns, navys and greens. It was the sherbet coloured gloves that I always gazed at and tried on as a child. My favourite were the bubblegum pink, the primrose and of course her wedding gloves (I know I know who knew such a thing existed- they were white matte silk in case you are wondering).

Sometimes I really do long to jump in a tardis and go back sixty years or so to a time when everyone wore good gloves if they could- and you could buy these little hand warming works of art in any colour you could name.

When I want to step back in time I go to the Burlington Arcade and wander up, sometimes with a macaroon or two from Laduree, taking in all the beautiful shops.

It's fitting then that it was on the Burlington Arcade I found out about
Sermoneta gloves. These gloves are modern and have a sense of fun but they are the real thing and the craftsmanship looks to be of the standard of days gone by.

I have not treated myself to a pair of their gloves yet but I have decided as soon as it gets cold enough I will treat myself to some to add to my collection (which by the way is mostly made up of beautiful gloves from Dents who I wouldn't want not to mention in a post about gloves- before I saw Sermoneta their gloves were the only ones I ever looked at with lust).

Friday 16 October 2009

Sigh No More

My favourite band of the moment Mumford and Sons have just launched their website here.

My love of music doesn't come as much as it should here- other sensory and shopping pleasures seem to elbow the tunes to one side but really music is the most constant and present cultural artistic thing in my life- and probably in many peoples.

This band are great- there's music to comfort, music to make you think, music to heal and music to dance to- nay kick your shoes off and hoe down too.

Take a peek and have a listen. Their new album is Sigh No More and it's available from all good record shops- and some really great ones too.

Monday 12 October 2009


Autumn is the reigning King at the moment- dressed in splendid robes of burnt gold, orange and red. Summer is like the aged lion that is trying to make a last stand. The lion roared on Saturday but really it knows it’s supremacy has passed. Now it’s Autumn’s time. The hot cider is preferable to it’s chilled cousin at Borough market. You want a glass of red wine with dinner, not white or rose. You need socks (or even slippers) on in the house, and that extra jumper. You pull the blankets up tight around you at night and the scents you crave match the leaves on the trees- deep ambers, aged and warm.

Then there is the little Prince of winter. He is growing in power. You can start to feel his magic moving in- you catch it in the sharp wind over the bridges of London sometimes. You can feel it in the dew on the grass and when the darkness falls unnaturally early. You can see it on the stone cold walls of the churches which are mostly empty, they are almost aching for winter, for Christmas, to be filled with people and singing.

For now though it’s Autumn. The briefest but most magnificent of seasons. Put on your winter coat, get outside and kick the leaves. Long live the King of seasons.

The "Fighting Temeraire" Tugged to her Last Berth to be Broken up, before 1839
by William Turner.

Available from here.


I am still having lots of trouble commenting- on my own blog and on everyone else's!

Wordpress blogs have seemed better- unless I swear!- but today I can't comment on those either.

So I am grateful as always for all the lovely comments here and I am reading your blogs elsewhere but my comments will be a bit delayed as I only make them on my laptop- which I'm not on all the time.


Thursday 8 October 2009

Going gardening

Alex Monroe's new collection The Gardener is finally available online from his shophere (as you probably know if you follow the Alex Monroe blog).

I missed the preview at Penhaligon's after having written about it because of christening and wedding season so I am seeing some of the designs for the first time.

The citrine, the watering can and the twig are top of the wish list- but really I want it all. As always.

Wednesday 7 October 2009

Start the week

is back. My favourite Radio 4 programme of the week- finding out was a lovely present on a dark and rainy Monday evening. You can read and listen here.

Tuesday 6 October 2009

Wedding season

This summer has been wedding, wedding, wedding (not mine you understand).

I recently discovered wedding photographer Dan Johnson's blog. It has lots of lovely and wonderfully natural photographs on it but also some very funny observations and insider tips. My favourites being ten ways to spend more time doing group photos and rules for wedding guests- if I ever get married the latter may well find it's way into the bumpf that gets sent out with the invitation...

Photograph from Dan Johnson's blog. I suppose that's obvious isn't it, but it's always nice to be polite.

Sunday 4 October 2009

Last chance to see

This is Sirocco. He is a Kakapo- a flightless parrot.

I watched him on Last chance to see last night and was completely enchanted.

The indescribably wonderful Stephen Fry described Sircocco as looking old- fashioned and he's quite right (of course). He does look like he is from another time- a Victorian gentleman of a bird.

If you have missed this programme I can't recommend it more. These kinds of programmes are why I am glad to pay my licence fee.

You can be friends with Sirocco on Facebook and you can watch the programme on the bbc i-player.

True Grace

For a long time I didn't 'get' scented candles. I don't know why but I just didn't covet them or feel I needed them in my life. Now that's all changed and I want candles all over the house, in various scents for various moods.

The candles I want them to be are from True Grace. I have been spending far too long sniffing their wares in shops lately and so I finally looked up their website- which is delightful. You can select scents from either the Manor, the village or the walled garden; the ones I desire the most are comforting, seashore and meadow- but really I would be happy with any of them- or indeed all of them.

I love to find British companies that are stylish and that take the best things about our traditions but don't live in the past. True Grace seems to be a company like that and I feel I've taken them a little bit into my heart- and want to take them into my house.

Thursday 1 October 2009

Corsages on coats and whiskers on kittens

One of most visited internet shopping outposts is Not on the High Street and I found these corsages by A Alicia there. (There is also an A Alicia etsy shop I have discovered).

Corsages make me smile and definitely fit into 'my favourite things', whether they are made of felt or crochet or even real flowers. Someone said they thought they were a horrid tradition for weddings to me the other day- but I think they are wonderful- obviously only nice ones, none with that strange white filler stuff you get in petrol station bouquets.

Anyway in these times of watching our purse strings and make do and mend I think A Alicia's could give a wonderful lift to coats and even plain and inexpensive t-shirts and dresses and that is how I am going to justify one for myself.


I'm rather addicted to India Knight's Posterous blog thing. It has lots of lovely things I WANT and it's just, you know, fun. As she said on her twitter it's a bit like an extension of her book The Shops.


How did the news that Anthropologie is opening in London pass me by?

Good times.

(This will also slightly alleviate my longing for a New York holiday, only slightly though).