Wednesday 28 April 2010

Dreams and Orange Blossom

Orange blossom to me is the smell of happiness. High praise indeed for an essence or scent, especially from someone who can look more towards the darkness than the light. Some things in nature are there to just make us smile and I believe orange blossom is one of them; whether it is in food- especially my favourite macaroons as I stuff them, rather indelicately, into my mouth hoping no one is looking- or whether it is in scent. Still I have never found 'my' orange blossom perfume, despite flirting with several.

I was therefore delighted to find out Penhaligon's had a new orange blossom scent- and that it was created by the sublime French master perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour whose work I greatly admire and who created another recent and very successful perfume for Penhaligon's Amaranthine.

Duchaufour seems to be to have that great gift of creating a scent that is real. By that I mean not a synthetic smell that you immediately know to be perfume made in a laboratory but a smell that is so beautiful it imprints on your mind the way the scent of a lake you visited in Italy, a church in Southern France, or a field filled with glorious poppies might.

In his work for Penhaligon's Duchaufour seems to have really connected with florals in a way he hadn't seemed to in his previous work. Perhaps though these uncertain times mean people are looking more to joyful, reassuring smells like the orange blossom- which will forever be associated with wedding days, hopefully the happiest of days.

Penhaligon's Orange blossom is quite lovely, a very fitting addition to the Penhaligon's family of scents. It is part of their anthology series of scents, fragrances that are inspired by those in their archives- their original orange blossom was apparently created in 1976. This new version is at once very modern and timeless. It has a lightness, a lightheartedness, that would appeal to all.

My problem with orange blossom scents has always been I loved them but they felt just a bit too much on me personally- but this doesn't, this feels right. If I were to compare it to other orange blossoms I have liked very much in the bottle or on others but not on myself I would say this was like a perfect summer's day where there was a light breeze, where as others are a lovely summer day where you are just that little bit hot and uncomfortable; it's unashamedly joyful and delightful but it is never too much.

Head Notes
Neroli, Violet leaf, Bergamot, Lemon-cedrat, Cardamom absolute, Pink berries

Heart Notes
Orange absolute, Egyptian jasmine absolute, Tuberose absolute, Rose essence, Peach flower, Orchid

Base Notes
Sandalwood, Virginian cedar, White musk, Vanilla

Tuesday 27 April 2010

Things my Father told me when I was young

He said: you won't listen now, children never do, but I offer the advice because it's true:

Learn to play the piano when you're young, if you don't you will always wish you had (I didn't, I do)

Do something you love for your job

Start a pension when you're young

You might change your mind about religion and socialism, you might not of course

Don't drink every day (I think he meant alchohol)

Learn Chinese

Wild Places

Britain and Ireland's Best Wild Places: 500 Ways to Discover the Wild by Christopher Somerville is a beautiful book with 500 reasons to get out and see these islands.

Monday 19 April 2010

#musicmonday: Rachel Sermanni interview

I first saw Rachel Sermanni play at Communion at the Notting Hill Arts Club in the very earliest days of January 2010. I immediately loved her voice and her songs, which are delicate but strong, very personal and touching.

Rachel features on the Communion compilation album which has rightly received rave reviews since its release at the beginning of March. It is brings together twenty- one artists from the Communion family and I can say honestly that every single track is a stand out. You can read more about Communion here and great reviews of the album on For Folk's sake and the Independent's website.

I asked Rachel if she would do a little interview for A Rose Beyond the Thames and she kindly agreed.

* Hi Rachel, firstly would you like to tell us about yourself?

Ok! Hello, my name’s Rachel Sermanni and I’m 18. I come from Carr-Bridge, a village in the highlands of Scotland. Recently I’ve also been living with my many kind accommodating family members and friends down in Glasgow as the music scene is a bit busier most of the time in the city. I have a very lovely family who, so far, have supported me in my decisions in the likes of not going to uni, living out the suitcase and stuff. I’m just getting into the beginning of my second ‘gap-year’. University is still an option, as it always will be, but for now I’m enjoying the school of life. I’m proud big sister to two bear-like siblings, brother and sister, whom I love very much :-)

* How did you start making and performing music?

I began writing when I wanted to productively use the chords I was learning on the guitar. So, there’d be a chord sequence I’d make up out of the usual D, A, E sequence or something like that and then I’d add words and therefore be able to practice. The excitement of writing did begin to overtake the want for practice, however, once I’d improved. It’s very therapeutic; so I continued, as you can see, to write and experiment with chords. I didn’t perform any of my songs until I was about 15 where I entered a little battle of the bands in our neighbouring village. My brother’s band had also just started up so I feel we have a connection…despite their band being heavy rock and mine being happy folk HA! There were numerous battle of the band type concerts that I entered around the area, it seems that this was the way forward to getting your name known locally.

* I like that you wrote 'song to a fox' (which is a personal favourite of mine) on a train down to London. Do you normally start a song with lyrics, or melody, or can it depend?

I sometimes come up with lyrics in my head but I find it hard to apply them to a chord sequence as it always feels a bit disjointed. The Fox song was different, slightly, as I was so aware and focused on what I was going to write about that there were probably a lot of phrases waiting to be put to melody but in most cases I sit down with the guitar and find a tune and don’t really have any idea on what I’ll write about until I think of a first line. First lines are difficult. My songs always have to have a personal connection, I couldn’t write about someone else’s experience I don’t think. But, anyway, usually the melody and the chords come first…

* You feature on the very wonderful Communion compilation album- was it hard picking one song (My Friend Fire) to put on there or did you know which one you wanted to use right away?

Well, My Friend Fire was the song I recorded down in London just a few months before the compilation release. During recording, we were not aware that it’d be put on the record but later on I was asked. It was my first, proper recording so yes it was quite an easy decision to make. I’m very grateful it managed to get onto the record and I hope that someday I record some more loud ones like that; it was a lot of fun.

* You list lots of your influences on your myspace but what new music are you listening to that you think more people should hear? Especially other Scottish artists that we might not have seen in London but should look up.

I’m very lucky in that my musical social circle over laps with the Scottish Traditional world also. Many of the girls that play with me are primarily traditional musicians and I started out playing whistle and fiddle before ever considering singing. For those out with that sort of circle, they may picture the cliché traditional music of accordion and snare drum on a lonely stage playing irksome ceilidh tunes. But it’s much more than that.

Before I speak of the musicians, I’d like to quickly mention that perhaps my favourite aspect of Scottish culture is Burn’s poetry. Robert Burns has written some of the most beautiful verse I have ever read. It’s all so sincere, romantic and very enjoyable to put to music. I’ve been lucky enough to sing a few of his songs, and they’re all very powerful.

Karine Polwart is a poet of this day and age and her songs are also really great. Her music merges with both contemporary and traditional. I’d recommend her album ‘Scribbled in Chalk’.

* I am a big perfume and fragrance fan and so are lots of the readers of this blog so- although this isn't a question you probably get asked much- what are your favourite smells? They don't have to be perfumes; mine for example are roses, old bookshops and toast

I love the air of the small Scottish islands: it smells very earthy and salty, and fresh; especially before storms. I like the smell of pizza and home-baking. I went through a phase where I liked that chocolate lynx stuff! And my favourite perfume is most definitely Coco Chanel. I got that for my 16th birthday.

* And finally what are you doing next?

I am getting ready to register as self-employed which I’m very excited about. I shall feel very independent and lady-like! There are some other business aspects to focus on which I really should get on with soon…I’m hoping to go on some more tours about Scotland like I did with Stornoway last week (they’re amazing). I have some festivals confirmed for the summer; Belladrum, Wickerman and The Insider. I’m going to play Communion in Dublin next month which I’m really excited about. Pretty much just going to try and get as many gigs as I possibly can this year and perhaps next.
Another very pressing matter is that of a few good recordings. I’m hoping to get some funding to create some quality home recordings soon. It’ll be very exciting when I finally achieve some recordings.

You can buy the Communion compilation album here and you can listen to all of Rachel's recorded songs and keep up to date with her tour dates on her Myspace here. She is also on twitter.

Friday 16 April 2010

Scents that sing Spring!

So here we are- spring is springing and some of the community of perfume bloggers have joined together to write about their favourite scents for this time of year.

Of course I love all the seasons, I love the changes and think we are so lucky to have four quite distinct seasons in the UK most years. I think spring is an especially good time for perfume; you can wear virtually anything, heavier scents can still work as it's not so hot that they become oppressive but you can also start to wear lighter, perhaps more joyful smells.

The scents I am looking to this spring are:

By Redo La Tulipe: a new scent this is green and clean which is perhaps unusual but on this only the second day of trying it delightful. It does smell quite like Tulips, or perhaps the smell in the air when you have just bought some tulips and are walking home with them. It is also has a pronounced and delicious rhubarb top note- one of my very favourite smells in perfume which is very underused- it works very well here.

Guerlain Apres L'Ondee (somehow it gets on to every list I write!): because it's beautiful of course- and because of the suggestion of warmth in it- the sunshine after the rain, the smile after the tears that all of it's lovers appreciate is perfect for spring, which is the most optimistic of the seasons.

Balmain Vent Vert: The greenest of all the green scents. I have never smelled a vintage formulation though I would dearly love to. I can only imagine how very verdant it must have been because even the reformulation is still stunning to me- I know not everyone agrees on this. I think it grows on skin, it always gets extremely positive comments when I wear it but it's definitely one that needs to be let out of the bottle and on to skin to show itself.

Penhaligon's Bluebell: Walking through the bluebell woods in the spring; is there anything more spring like and is there anything more beautiful? this smells exactly of those woods; lots of detractors don't see this but I would suggest they might never have been lucky enough to go to a bluebell wood- it doesn't smell very floral there, it smells of damp ancient soil and the bark of the trees that have been growing their for several hundred years, of the cold of winter subsiding in the earth and of the sun breaking in through the canopy and at the sides.

L'Artisan La Chasse Aux Pappillions: chasing the butterflies, creamy, delicious and gloriously floral- this is lovely worn sparingly in high summer too but I like to wear it in the spring, as I start to wear sandals and dresses and I can be more easily feminine out of the jeans and layers of winter.

Chanel number 19: A cousin of Vent Vert, perhaps a more refined one. Chanel 19 is perfect at any time of year, supremely elegant and ladylike without ever being boring or unimaginative, like Coco it's not terrible publicised by Chanel because it doesn't need to be. Still I think again this comes into it's own in the spring when the evenings are still chilly.

Creed Spring Flower: it's in the name isn't it- though this is very melon heavy and melons aren't spring like. Still this is light and carefree but a bit too much in the height of summer; perfect for now when you want to be a bit pink and feminine.

Please do take a look at the other blogs taking part (they are all listed below)- and do let me know what perfumes or smells make you think of spring.

Katie Puckrik Smells
Perfume Shrine
The Non Blonde
I Smell Therefore I Am
Notes from the Ledge
Scent Hive
Savvy Thinker
Roxana's Illuminated Journal
Perfume in Progress
All I Am A Redhead
Ambre Gris

Special thanks to Ayala from Smelly Blog for arranging the event, Katie Puckrik for the idea and Helg for our header- the fraulein in full song like the scents we are talking about!

Thursday 15 April 2010

Supermarket superstress

I press start

Self- service machine: Are you using your own bags?

Rose: Presses yes

SSM: Please wait for attendant to verify bags

Rose: Verify bags, WTF, I knew I should have just queued up

Rose: presses cancel transaction, because she thinks she can outsmart the computer

SSM: Are you using your own bags?

Rose: NO! Ha ha!

Rose: zaps thing- milk I think and puts it in her own, unverified bag by her feet

SSM: Says over and over again that I must put my milk in the verified bag provided in the correct position or I will be up before a supermarket compliance firing squad- or this is implied in the way it repeats ‘please put item in bagging area’ anyway (I also note the SSM's bad grammar)

Rose: puts item in bagging area- admits defeat, it’s like I am in Vichy France, I kid myself I am resisting and it's okay to let the small battles go but really we know I've given up

Rose: continues to zap and place items in regulation bag in regulation area and then selects payment type

SSM: Do you have a nectar/ club/ boots/ other card?

Rose: thinks about bothering to find it and how much longer this will take


Rose: NO! give me a chance

Rose: pays, gets receipt and then- ha ha transfers her shopping to the unverified, unchecked, unregulated bags for life- a small victory after all- I should wear a mac and beret

Pause. Has time away from shops.

The next time I go to the supermarket I decide the self- service is just too bossy and inflexible and I will go to a real person. There is a big queue, there is always a big queue. Do the British just love spending their weekends in small, metro sized supermarkets? (I guess I am here).

I get to the till. I get out my unverified bag still battling for the environment- and also because of the way the real people ask if you need a bag like they are asking if you are going to smoke a fat cigar over their newborn. The man zaps things, I pack frantically while I feel the eyes of people on me- I know they are thinking come on come on I am only getting petrol. I feel rushed, someone is now standing right next to me holding out a bottle of milk waiting to be served even though the man hasn’t even asked how I will pay.

The man: that will be £quite a lot of pounds.

I give him my card.

Pushy man looks to the sky.

Till operator: do you have a (fill in the appropriate loyalty) card?

Me: no

till operator: yes you do I can see it there

me: oh yes well er I was just trying to be quick

till guy: you wouldn’t want to miss out

other milk guy: looks ragey.

Loyalty card is swiped real card is swiped and bits of paper (why are there so many) are thrust in my hand. I frantically try and put my wallet away while milk guy starts to pay. I want to shout at him I didn’t take that long, buying 5 items isn’t a crime! I don’t want to leave the shop with my wallet out, we are in Mile End, it’s not a good idea!

That's all. There is no point in trying to fight this. They will go on charging us a premium for the metro supermarkets while making the whole experience of paying like a scene from 1984.

Tuesday 13 April 2010

By Redo: new fragrance and pop- up shop in London

ByRedo have launched a new scent called La Tulipe- just the name makes me smile- how perfect for the springing spring days we're having here.

The scent is available at a pop- up shop in the St. Martin's Lane Hotel until the 31st of May.

All details courtesy of the Wonderland Magazine blog. You can read their full post here.

Ally Capellino and Liberty of London

2010 marks the 30th anniversary of the ever cool, ever young Ally Capellino and in April the company are having 30 days of celebration for 30 years in business.

Ally has collaborated with long- term stockist and Rose favourite Liberty of London for the anniversary producing two re-worked styles exclusively for them- and both are lined with Liberty fabric- which obviously means I want one if not both.

For men Ally's Frank rucksack has been produced in soft blue leather and contrasting tan leather buckles.

For the women the bag pictured has been created using a design from Ally’s archive and reworked in soft brown leather, again with contrasting satchel buckles.

Liberty will house an installation in the main stairwell, starting on the men’s floor, it will wind its way upwards, to be glimpsed also from the women’s floor. The display will act as a taster of the full installation at The Wapping Project, which you can read about on Ally's website here.

Monday 12 April 2010

#musicmonday: Summer Camp- Ghost Train

Summer Camp are Jeremy Warmsley and Elizabeth Sankey.

For a time their identity was an intriguing mystery but they have just played their first headline gig at The Lexington and I've already been lucky enough to see them at Owl Parliament and Communion in London.

Summer Camp's music sounds to me like it's from the soundtrack to a really cool film that no one saw in the cinema but that picks up momentum as it moves through the bedrooms and houses of students, dreamers, those people who seem like they are drifting but aren't really. The film would be about American kids having a seminal summer in their lives where not very much actually happened but it all seemed very important to the characters.

The film would be lo-fi and slightly drained of it's colour with sun- like an old beach boys record cover; a bit like if Sofia Coppolla did an all American summer movie. When you saw it you'd love it and tell all your friends and then you'd be sad when it became well known and it was no longer your little secret.

Summer Camp's first release 'Ghost Train' is available from the Moshi Moshi Singles Club from today.

Wednesday 7 April 2010

Beautiful berries

The Pineberry is apparently the strawberry that tastes like pineapple. It looks very charming doesn't it? like nature got confused with it's crayons and coloured the strawberries in wrong this time.

Found via Daily Candy; you can also read more about pineberries, their eighteenth century origins and why they are still a strawberry, at the Guardian.

Photo also via Daily Candy.