Monthly Archives: March 2014

THE DAFFODILS OF BADDESLEY CLINTON

 

 

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I will soon get back to the requisite business of writing about perfume, but just thought I would share some photographs with you today of a place I had never been to before (even though it is only fifteen minutes from my parents’ house), and which I fell in love with a week or so ago when my father insisted suddenly that we all go and see some daffodils that were in the environs of Baddesley Clinton, an early sixteenth century English house that sheltered persecuted Catholics in secret cellars and which has the most compelling atmosphere. It is in places like this that I feel haunted by a deep, atavistic Englishness that perturbs me, particularly wen you drive off, afterwards, in the direction of Packwood House, with its famous topiaries, and come across banks and banks of swaying, inviting, happily alive spring daffodils.

 

 

 

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Me in daffodils taking a photo of my father in daffodils taking a picture of me in daffodils.

 

 

 

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Where I hope to retire to if it all gets too much.

 

 

 

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Next stop: Tokyo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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three perfumed men of letters

 

 

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From right to left: Persolaise, The Candy Perfume Boy, The Black Narcissus. 

 

 

I particularly like Thomas’ impish grin in the second shot: 

 

 

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cascades

Both of us had dreams/nightmares about Japan last night.
I can feel it coming closer, as this whirlwind England visit draws to a close. It has been amazing, actually – a real maelstrom of different emotions and people: Perfume Lovers London was petrifying initially but I ultimately loved it (such great people!), and I also just happened to walk away with the ultimate prize at the Jasmine Awards, the Literary Prize, which wasn’t bad either.

I have much to write about, but will just leave you with an image of the kind of scenery that will be there when I go back.

Don’t think it can ever really compare to the beauty of the English countryside, though….

The Black Narcissus

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I took this picture yesterday in Engakuji shrine, just down the hill from my house. A cascading flourish of bamboo, some kind of Japanese catkins (or laburnum?), and in the foreground, with its fresh, delicate scent, white plum blossom.  An impetuous, stirring whoosh of incoming Spring.

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I LOVE DAISY BOW

 

 

Just an hour before I am about to take the train down to London yet again, for my judging, tomorrow, of the Perfume Extraordinaire and Best Independent Perfume award at this coming May’s Fragrance Foundation Awards at Elizabeth Arden (so exciting!) and then in the evening, my debut Vanilla Thing at New Cavendish House  (tomorrow is going to be VERY busy nasally)  there arrives, just in time, a spectacular package from the marvellous Daisy Bow – that bacon-lovin’, French-teaching intellectual from New York who seems to epitomize the intelligent fun, epicurean approach to existence –  containing, miraculously and to my great delight, a package of obscure treasures that included a very generous spray sample of what was the missing ingredient from my vanilla talk tomorrow at Perfume Lovers London: Tihota by Indult. 

 

 

Tihota: the longest-lasting, creamiest, musky, salty, skin-lickin’ vanilla that ever existed – a vanilla that may or not be your own cup of vanillic tea if you like the volume turned down on your spoons of fat-accumulating ice cream, or must have your lustrous, pure vanilla beans barbecued, bamboozled and skewered with a load of unnecessary facets like many of the twisted perfumistas out there (or like my mother, who has just grimaced and said a big UGH……….YUK, it just smells like a great big cake, a pint of foul vanilla essence…….UH!!!!  as my father simultaneously utters an unexpected NOW THAT IS REALLY LOVERLY and attempts to spray a whole load of it on his left hand, me pulling it back violently to save some back for Thursday) but which should, surely, in any case, form a part of any relevant discussion on the topic of vanilla planifolia/fragrans/ tahitensis.

 

 

Tihota: a perfume that was brought back, not long ago, to thigh-expanding life after its cruel, sugar-severing discontinuation, as vanilla lovers the world over marched in protest on the streets of  New York, London and Lahore; tore out their hair from the roots, ululating:unctuous tongues splayed fat, and longingly; slaking in sweet, bloody desperation for its return, unable to live another day until a viable and sustainable supply of this thick and edible vanilla pod elixir were guaranteed and secured for perpetuity.

A perfume that is always sold out or on back order wherever you look, and one that I had, unfortunately, given up hope of having as part of my vanilla-fest tomorrow. 

 

 

No longer. Because now, as I happen to be coming into contact with some truly quite fabulous people the world over since starting The Black Narcissus, all the podtastic members of the club will be able, if they haven’t smelled it already, to begin the evening with the sweetest, vanilla-est, most complete – some might say sickliest – vanilla that there ever was. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks Daisy 

 

x

xxxx

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THIEVES IN THE TEMPLE: MY SACRILEGIOUS FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH YLANG YLANG FLOWERS AT THE TAMAN SARI WATER PALACE, YOGYAKARTA

Craving all this.

The Black Narcissus

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It somehow felt inevitable that we would have a blistering argument the moment we left the vanilla plantation.

It had been utterly magical; fascinating, unforgettable –  movingly so – and yet we had also surrendered autonomy in many ways – our mealtimes planned and eaten together with the family and our translator; the lessons and plantation visiting schedule, though flexible timewise (” do you mind if I have a siesta?” ) set, basically, for each day.

Part of me loved all of this. No internet, no responsibilities, the receptiveness of being taught something I deeply wanted to learn, the absolute beauty of the place itself. I was even quite enjoying the early to bed, early to rise aspect of it as well, which lay in stark contrast to my usual hectic workweek here in Japan: in our (separate) beds by 9.30pm each night; up with the lark before seven each…

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VANNIILLLLLLLAAAAAAAAAA!!!!

 

 

Two days before my Perfume Lovers London talk on vanilla perfumes, I am now, in my parents’ house upstairs room, positively suffocating on the sweet and oozy stuff in readiness.

 

 

Vanilla this, vanilla that: vanilla-pod okey-kokey. 

 

Vanilla. 

 

 

Mmmm, just the sound of it..

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THE SPRING FLOWERS THAT ENDURE : Nymphéa, Flower, J’Adore, Antonia’s Flowers, Floret, Romance, Pleasures, Bouquet De La Reine

The Black Narcissus

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It is that time.

NYMPHEA / IL PROFUMO (2004)

I am not sure how such a heavenly creature actually works on a real life girl, but this dreamy, artful, fresh-green bouquet (bamboo, fig, white waterlily, lotus flowers, water jasmine, and white rose) is, in my view, almost heartbreakingly lovely. Il Profumo describes it as having a ‘lacustrine tranquillity’, and it does have such a transparent, lake-like, lily-pad beauty that I am compelled to agree.

ANTONIA’S FLOWERS/ ANTONIA’S FLOWERS (1985)

Antonia was a florist in The Hamptons, and knowing her flowers, and adoring freesias, and being dissatisfied with the floral scents available on the market, set out to create her own. In the process she produced three American classics: Antonia’s Flowers, Floret, and Tiempe Passate, all of which have apparently been among the best selling fragrances since their launches at Bergdorf’s and Barney’s New York.

Despite my own personal love of

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