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) …
Your trip sounds great- I’m glad you enjoyed it!
Thank you. It made me want to do it again fairly soon…
Friends! Lovely, lovely friends! I’ve got my ‘gold’ friends – and now I am making ‘silver’ with some lovely women from neighboring towns. It’s delightful!
Your time sounds sublime! Glad it was thus. May it always be so.
Covid has made me appreciate travel all the more. And it’s not good to be too long between visits with friends. They are sustenance for the soul.
Meeting a friend is good for de-weirding, to make up a term. Even Before I’d noticed that too much solitude, not being to share with another understanding soul is not good for a body.
De-weirding should enter the language. Agree about too much solitude not being good for the body.
Ahhhhhh, the absolute JOY of that time spent with people who you feel good being around, what a delight! It sounds like a wonderful trip, especially coming on the heels of COVID while we all figure out our new “normal.” And I remember that rush from a bunch of us casually getting together at Saks or wherever for sniffage followed by coffee.
Yup, I miss sniffathons and then doing things like lunch at Fortnum & Mason or even just pastries somewhere.
Finally seeing friends is a big deal. I can totally relate. This Saturday I saw my cousin whom I hadn’t seen since prepandemic. She’s a private school teacher and was down in DC scoping things out, getting ready for a big trip with her kids in the spring. We ate dinner at a charming Italian restaurant and got all caught up. I love that your friend B has such an amazing perfume collection and you got to explore it! Wow, that’s amazing. Incredible collection. They say that those social connections actually help people live longer, and I can see why. They bring SO much joy.
You can’t really hug someone on Zoom. Wonderful that you could see your cousin after so long. I find I’m still twitchy eating in restaurants but I do it as carefully as possible anyway.
Thank you for sharing. Meeting friends IRL is such a joy.
I love your fragrance friends storage especially the Shrine to Guerlain. Her collection is so eclectic, Kim Kardashian juxtaposed with niche & hard to find vintage. A real perfume hound at work. Thank you both for sharing.
It was so much fun to look through things. And indeed she is eclectic and democratic in her tastes 🙂
What a lovely post – nothing better than seeing old friends and reconnecting!
Agree — particularly so after all the Covid madness. It is just so different seeing people in person vs electronically.
I totally understand your feeling of joy. Having just returned from seeing Jin’s family for the first time in nearly four years it is still fresh in my mind.
OOOHH! Your collector friend’s place sounds like a slice of heaven.
This was a lovely read.
I don’t think she has quite as many bottles as you do (though I believe some are still in boxes). I so enjoyed your post on the family visit. Your happiness (and Jin’s) is clear.