It’s October. I am having a bit of trouble getting my head round that.
In any case, in round two of my travel log, the focus is meeting up with friends I hadn’t been able to see in years. It’s one thing to chat and email with people, quite another to meet up over lunch or tea and biscuits – ie, a whole ‘nother thing.
After my two days doing stuff and a wearying appointment in London, Friday was friends day!
I’m going to do this in reverse because I have a lot more to say about second visit. You’ll see why.
I met my friend Ken in Notting Hill (west London) because it was equidistant from breakfast meet-up and Paddington Station for getting train home.
Ken is one of my oldest friends here. He’s one of those still waters run deep people. Tremendously interesting person with a quirky sense of humour. He was also very hands on when I had my son over 20 years ago, who still very much thinks of him as a parent stand-in.
Lunch at a local restaurant. A couple of hours of chat. Like many of us, he’s had a very difficult few years for a variety of reasons. That won’t go away (eg, issues with a parent) but it’s getting better and he’s in a steady place now.
One of the loveliest things about hanging with Ken is he makes me laugh even when he maybe doesn’t mean to. That dry sense of delivery and ability to see the world a bit sideways.
Sometimes even a short visit with an old friend can fill you with a sense of luck (that you know this person) and joy (that you get to be in their company).
As to the morning visit, that was equally as pleasurable but with a very different sort of person.
B is another friend from London days but she came via perfume. I met her in the early days of running my online shop, Scent and Sensibility Perfume, when she ordered some samples. I can’t recall how things ran from that but she ended up organising a smell-a-thon at one of the bookshops she ran at the time and that was that.
We’re in contact via email most days and have prodded and supported and picked each other up numerous times over the years.
B is one of those people who has done a lot, so you learn a lot from her without ever feeling it.
And that includes perfume because she’s the business. From the get-go when we met of course we’d talk fragrance and she knows waaaay more than I ever will.
She’s a serious collector (see all the pics) and is always engaged by perfume.
Anyway, she’s in west London, on one of those leafy streets with weird gardens that start at the back of the houses and then go down steps to the lawn and the body of the thing.
We sat on the terrace drinking tea (and with me eating ginger biscuits) catching up and examining the world.
And then we went upstairs.
Shelves and shelves of bottles – new bottles, old bottles, bottles of long-gone juice. It was a bit head-spinning but in the best possible way. I’d seen her collection in past houses but somehow missed the breadth of it.
I got to try an old Halston which B explained she got cheap off eBay from someone who didn’t know what they had — ie, it was an LE bottle with a sterling silver sleeve around the neck. Gorgeous.
There are the Black shelves and the Shrine to Guerlain.
I tried other stuff but it’s out of my head. I got background on the machinations of Lin Harris. We discussed Kenzo Elephant and the 1980s and all the stuff we miss from that period.
Like the visit with Ken, sad and happy and fun and just really full of the joy of being with someone you love and haven’t seen in ages. Fills you up.
I felt so calm and lucky on my train home, so full of the talk and the food, and the pleasure of actually looking at people across a table (or a room full of perfume) …