So, like Portia, I travelled recently, though my trip wasn’t half as exciting based on the South Korean trip post. Still, however, it was good to go to London even during the otherworldliness of the 10-day mourning period regarding the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
As can be seen from this post’s title, I’m milking this for all it’s worth – ie, there will be three posts about this even though I was only away for three days.
The first one covers the first two days. Number 2 looks at day 3 and seeing friends in person who I hadn’t met up with for in one case over 2.5 years and in the other for probably close to five. We’d been in touch but that was via email and phone. It was a great, great thing to see people ‘in person’. Post number 3 will cover the samples I managed to collect, some purchased from Jovoy and some cadged free (free!) from a few stands at Liberty.
So, onward with the days one and two.
Train travel is the best. And the journey from here to London while just a bit over two hours is just so pleasant. The things one sees. I got into Paddington Station and immediately took myself to the hotel to check in because they’d made the point that everything in London was booked solid. I’d chosen to stay near Kings Cross station because 1) it’s out of the centre and 2) it’s a skip and a jump from the Coal Drops Yard development full of food places, shops and places to sit and watch the world go by.
Once I’d sorted myself it was off to Liberty and Jovoy, near the Oxford Circus tube. I had made myself a list of perfumes I wanted to sample which was part made up of wanting to have a go with the Jul et Mad line (see Portia’s post of a few weeks ago) and part based on choosing a load of things where I liked the names.
As noted above, I’ll write about the samples in a few weeks. Just to mention the things I could only smell on blotters. Those would be The Perfumer’s Story by Azzi Old Books and Malle Moon and Dawn. The first is the best rendering of old books I’ve smelled – ie, old paper, floor wax, used bookshop. It really does smell of these things. Notes: frankincense, olibanum, myrrh, elemi, patchouli, amber, vetiver and cedar. And theperfumersstory.com website offers mini sprays for £10 so I see one of those in my future. The Malles are fantastically expensive oud-based things. Ironically, I didn’t try them on skin and they both disappeared really quickly on paper. So, I have nothing to say about them. The blotter for Moon smells ‘pleasant’ now. Not what you’d expect from an oud and one that costs between £380 and £550.
The day was so beautiful that rather than eat in a restaurant, which is what I had planned, I got stuff from the Waitrose (upmarket grocery store) in Coal Drops Yard and ate it watching people come and go until the sun had set completely.
Thursday was appointment day at the embassy. I don’t enjoy embassy visits so started the day with something I do love: breakfast at Dishoom, a sort of old Indian (as in India) railway café that has a number of outlets in London, including one near my hotel. The bottomless chai and bacon & cream cheese nan roll were just right before taking the tube south of the river (ie, the Thames). Of the appointment I will simply say it took two hours and the people around me seemed as stressed as I was. The only things to show from the visit are water lilies growing in the moat (yes, there’s a moat around the building) and the planting, both of which were gorgeous.
Oh, and the really odd swimming pool up in the sky.
Post the appointment I set off for Harrods. This meant walking west and then taking a bus north. I had wondered if I’d be able to see the people lining up to pay their respects to the Queen, but too many buildings blocking the view.
On the way, I passed the refurbished Battersea Power Station and all the fancy new buildings erected around it. The power station is quite an iconic building (see pic).
I finally made it to Harrods, where the plan was more sampling, and visits to Laduree and the chocolate area (two small boxes: William Curley and one from the Harrods stand), plus a huge pretzel from the bakery area.
At Harrods, it was Amouage to smell Crimson Rocks and a few others from the Renaissance Collection. March had been fulsome about CR. No samples – just sprays on these odd ribbons. I did CR, Material and Ashore on paper and then CR and Ashore on skin. Crimson Rocks disappeared in a half hour. Which is really odd for what was given the notes list a very heavy-duty fragrance (pink pepper, cinnamon bark, rose – essential and ultimate [whatever that means], Jujube honey accord, oakwood, cedarwood and vetiver). Ashore – now that was a different story. One of the most beautiful innocent jasmine (ie, not indolic) perfumes I’ve ever smelled (pink pepper, cardamon, turmeric leaf, jasmine sambac absolute, solar accord, rose, ambergris accord, olibanum and sandalwood). This is a soapy jasmine but the soapiness is soft and fresh rather than Dove soap. Truly lovely.
Then, it was over to Kilian, where I was in search of another of the chosen by name perfumes. This time, Dark Lord. And holy, moly, this is gorgeous. Like one of the best things I’ve smelled in years. It was frustrating that I’d already done both wrists. Dark Lord is (unsurprisingly) leather. Notes: pepper, Sichuan pepper, bergamot, rum, jasmine sambac, davana, leather (birch tar?), vetiver, cypriol oil or nagarmotha, cedar and patchouli. This.Is.Gorgeous. And strong. On the blotter, this starts dry and peppery (unsurprising) in a really beautiful way. It then dives into the heavier notes and my work area, where I have the blotters and samples, smelled of a beautiful heavy leather, like a well made and used saddle plus the horse, for days. This is available nowhere but Harrods as far as I can see and makes an argument for revisiting London just so I can spray this on skin. I don’t see myself buying it, but I really want to see what it will smell like on my chemistry.
After this I walked to Covent Garden for dinner which turned out to be seriously strange (the walk). It took twice as long as normal due to all the people with flowers walking in the opposite direction towards Buckingham Palace. I managed one pic of flowers in St James’ Park.
So, have you sampled any of the things I mentioned? I’m particularly curious about Kilian Dark Lord and The Perfumer’s Story by Azzi Old Books.
(All pics my own)