I did one of my flying visits to London Thursday and Friday – to visit with several friends I hadn’t seen in person since Covid. Of course, there’d been contact on phone, online, etc, but we all know that’s not the same.

I arrived midday at Paddington station with the expectation of stopping at the weird Dorothy Circus gallery in sort of west-central London with the plan of trying some Maria Candida Gentile perfumes. Got to the turning for that and decided I didn’t have the will. It was cold and blowy in London, with that weird, irritating, whispering wind.

So, instead walked on to Selfridges to get the friend I was meeting that evening a birthday gift and card. At least that wasn’t too fraught: a small Diptyque candle and a card. Found the place for gift wrapping only to see the cost was £7 which is just silly. The nice small Diptyque bag would have to do. Did a small wander thinking I might try on some lipsticks but it was all just too manic (and I was getting hungry). So, made my way towards the exit. Just as I was thinking I’m going to be released there was the Officine Universelle Buly stand – which was the other house I was planning to sample. There seem to be some really interesting less sweet scents like mint and cucumber. It appears some houses are looking at botanical fragrances which sounds an interesting direction.

But as I stopped in front of the stand I just got overwhelmed again (a lot, and I do mean a lot, of bottles). Just too frenetic.

So, I left and will have to order samples.

I felt such silly relief – even with the wind still doing that stupid whispering stuff. And sometimes it’s better to eat something, drink a load of tea, and watch the world go by.

Thus fortified, I went and checked into the hotel. Just as an aside, if you’re planning a London trip and are confident enough not to stay in central London The Montague on the Gardens near Russell Square is just … the bees knees. A bit old fashioned English with considered but not obsequious service, really nice rooms, wonderful bathrooms (that sort of thing is important to me), and just the most wonderful, comfortable, huge beds with way too many pillows.

(Interior courtyard view from my hotel room window —
London has a number of these lovely enclosed garden areas)

Which was all very good to return to after a verrrrry long evening with birthday friend eating, drinking and catching up on loads of news. Roza is someone I met via my son when he was nursery age. He and her son became besties and we benefited from that.

Returned to hotel freezing cold and very tired straight into hot shower and bed with very weird vivid dreams about magic. Go figure.

Next morning was breakfast with another friend. A place called Dishoom (which I’ve written about before) for sausage stuffed naans and a lot of chai. Again, hours of catching up. Was surprised they didn’t turf us out.

Finally, on to tube and Docklands Light Railway toy train to friend who lives in the Docklands area of East London for lunch (was really not hungry by that point). This is someone I went to secondary school with who also ended up in England. Last saw her in person … a lot of years ago. Hours upon hours of chat.

(View of the Thames from Pamela’s balcony. She lives in apartment in
refurbed old warehouse in Docklands area.)

Then back to Paddington for train home. Another very late night but this sense of contentment, of being filled with the catching up and the company of unusual women with oomph.

Back to perfume next week, but do you have those types of encounters – with long-time friends whoever they are? It’s totally nourishing of the soul. And while I wanted to go to bed at 8 o’clock on Saturday night it was all so whirlwind I think I will feel full of this sort of simple but necessary pleasure for quite some time.

Oh, and I brought Perfumer H Smoke with me. Perfect in the blustery grey London weather.

Pics: Pexels and mine

  • Tom says:

    I’m so Ammurrican- I thought “flying visit” meant you took a plane. But they don’t land at Paddington, do they?

    This country is just too darned large sometimes. There are bunches of people I would love to catch up with but I simply am not able to take the time- I would have to take a few weeks and go from the Deep South through the Midwest (curving up through NY/NE) Not that it would be impossible (or even really prohibitively expensive, considering) it would just be a big chunk of time if it weren’t a drop in, shake hands, and leave sort of deal.

    As far as being overwhelmed with the number of things to smell, I get it. Some of these new houses have been around ten minutes and have more scents than Guerlain has done in two centuries.

  • March says:

    Oh, that sounds lovely — all of it, including the changes of plan, the blustery weather etc. The pandemic gave the notion of getting together with friends the importance it deserves. I got secondhand anxiety with your hunger lol — I turn into an absolute hangry witch without realizing it and then food becomes paramount. I’m one of those “must eat NOW” folks rather than “oh sometime in the next two hours let’s have lunch.” What a perfect mini-trip.

    • cinnamon says:

      The problem with hunger is it sneaks up and then there are the parallel issues of where to stop and what to get — which become more difficult the hungrier you are.

      • March says:

        Yes! And it can be so annoying to friends / fellow travelers who are fine eating … whenever we get around to it. If I’m traveling or unsure of food access, I have snacks in my handbag so I don’t find myself overwhelmed and weeping on some street corner 😀

  • Dina C. says:

    Catching up with cherished friends from years gone by is the very best kind of time spent. Perfumes will always be there to sample in vast varieties (far too many!). But the chance to see an old friend must be seized with both hands. Sounds like a lovely hotel stay, and lots of good food, too. I’m really pleased for you, Cinnamon.

    • cinnamon says:

      Tx. It was all the things you said — and I’m sort of thinking sometimes it’s simply easier to buy samples online rather than deal with a SA when one has no intention of buying immediately.

  • Portia says:

    Heya Cinnamon,
    Yes, friends are my lifeblood. I’m lucky enough to have a broad group from all over the world and that means every trip there is someone/s to catch up with, usually after a large gap.
    There are quite a few houses with enormous catalogues. It’s always overwhelming to be confronted with them all. Doesn’t help that many also have flankers by the truckload too.
    I looked up the hotel. Very nice. London is starting to price me out though. Not so long ago that money would be three nights worth. (Yes, man shakes fist at cloud. I know)
    Glad you had some excellent friend time. I completely understand the joy.
    Portia xx

    • cinnamon says:

      I was reminded it was great sniffing with you when all we were doing was perfume. This was simply system overload. Yup, everything is pricier. It’s head spinning.

  • alityke says:

    I caught up with my hairdresser who has become a dear friend last week. It’s was the first time I had met her son. I found I enjoyed being with preschool children as well as catching up with her.
    I need to catch up with other friends. My family illnesses & protecting DH during his treatment has left me very self sufficient, but lonely at times

    • cinnamon says:

      Interesting on preschool children. I was a bit surprised by how much more got discussed in person vs phone etc. Perhaps we’re so much more relaxed.

  • Filomena says:

    Glad you had a good trip. I have had several experiences like that. It is usually good to revisit old friends.

    • cinnamon says:

      Thanks. It’s fascinating how there is to discuss — about all kinds of different things. A reminder about doing visits more often.