Monday, 17 October 2011

A visit to London, running for the Stroke Association and perfume, of course

 I don't think I've mentioned this before, but about two months ago my better half took up running again and as part of the motivation to keep going, signed up for a 10km run as part of raising money for a charity. This took place about six weeks ago and she completed the race in approximately 1hr 17min. Since then she has kept up the good work and yesterday took part in another 10km race in London's Hyde Park, this time for the Stroke Foundation UK. She did very well, completing the race in just under 59 minutes, shaving 18 minutes off her personal best! I know I am perhaps biased, but I think that is pretty damn impressive, so well done my wife.

London, as ever, was absolutely manic. I think it's the busiest I've ever seen it in mid-October, on a Sunday. Similarly to the last time we were there, in July, it was just as difficult to get around with a pushchair, not helped by the fact that some Underground lines weren't running due to engineering works. 

As always, no visit to London is complete for me without at least one perfume excursion. Unfortunately I did not manage to get to Selfridges, Harrods or Liberty, and Les Senteurs was closed. On the subject of Les Senteurs, I've always sung its praises, and nothing has led me to believe that this store offers anything less than stellar service, but I am disappointed at how expensive their samples have got. Not long ago you could order 6 generous samples for £15 inclusive of postage, then it went up to £18 which is still very reasonable. Now you can only order 4 samples at £5 per item. If you worked that out on a 6-sample basis, that is a price increase of 67%. I know raw materials and other costs go up, but that is a big jump, sadly.

Anyway, back on topic, I did manage to go to House of Fraser in Victoria. If you know this part of town at all, you may recall that this department store used to be the flagship of a group of stores called Army and Navy. Although they've been owned by House of Fraser since 1976, I still prefer the name Army and Navy Stores. It sounds more quaint. Well, House of Fraser carries a solid range of perfumes, but fairly standard. On this occasion I saw that they are now stocking the DSquared line. I tried two of them, the names escape me. There were about ten of these blighters, so I honestly couldn't remember but I thought they smelled quite nice. They lacked a bit of oomph, fading half way through but I thought for what they are they are decent.

I also sprayed on a blotter possibly my favourite Guerlain, Le Heure Bleu, in eau de parfum concentration. Honestly, this perfume just has a knack of speaking to me. I can't really explain, but smelling it is like opening a door into a world of grace, mystery and contemplation.

The final perfume I tried, on a blotter, was Bottega Veneta. My word, but this was entirely unexpected. It is lovely, lovely, lovely. I don't know how it wears on skin but it reminded me quite a lot of the style of Serge Lutens, in perhaps a slightly more pared down style. It smelled quite plumy, with hints of leather and amber. If this is a mainstream perfume, then we need more of this! Yum.

So, after a Chinese meal at our old haunt in Strutton Ground we headed back home, only to find that there were engineering works on the mainline trains as well, so we had to get a replacement bus back to Tunbridge Wells from Tonbridge (meaningless I know, unless you live in Britain,...). We waited half an hour for the bus, while the driver sat in his cab finishing eating his takeaway while we shivered in the chill evening, finally getting back home at about 9pm that night. The kids were absolutely stuffed, but the good news is that they slept well!


  1. Michael, this only adds fuel to my Bottega Veneta fire. :) Need to find a sample! ;)

  2. Yes, BV is lovely, and yes we need more mainstream perfumes like this! I have found two "lay" converts already and I am still working on it...

  3. Jen, have you tried it yet? I'm not sure who stocks it. House of Fraser in the UK, clearly, but that's the only place I've encountered it so far.

    I need to try it on skin now.

  4. Vanessa I take it you're a fan then? ;-)



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