Hey Posse. Yes, it was a grand secret. Two birthdays kept totally secret from the celebrators. There was a super secret fly in by a couple of friends. A couple of perfumes dates and the most lavish London I’ve ever experienced. Five days flying for eight days on the ground. It was a happily exhausting whirlwind. It was also terrific fun, every day a new and exciting adventure.
One downside of such event centric fly ins is the lack of time to see everyone. Apologies to those I missed.
Also, the reason this all became a secret squirrels adventure was because I’d told one of the birthday girls I couldn’t afford the trip. This was true because we just didn’t have enough spare money to both go. Then Jin bought me the airfare. From that moment both the birthday girls’ families and I conspired to keep Mum.
This year is a big travel year. We still have a 50th in India in August and then Jin’s brothers wedding in Slovakia in November, to which we are taking his parents and auntie. Every spare cent we earn is going to event travel in 2023. There will be very little perfume buying and other divine extravagances.
Whirlwind London 2023
I arrived at Heathrow after doing the Sydney to London hop in Korean Air. I sat the back of the plane in an aisle seat on both legs. There was an overnight in the Grand Hyatt with breakfast included as part of the fare. 10 hours to Seoul. 14 hours to London. It was comfortable, I had all the entertainment and finally finished the torturous Tove Jansson biography. Food was also good and I admit to a couple of Whiskey & Coke Zeros to get me sleeping on the Seoul to London leg. Mission accomplished.
Tubed it from Heathrow to Green Park and I was staying just around the corner in the club. We’ve been members for years but this was my first stay. Bedroom overlooking Green Park! Very bloody cool.
First morning I jumped the Oxford Tube bus from Victoria and met Mazz (birthday girl) and her wife Debbie who collected me and snuck me into the house. SURPRISE!! We had a few drinks and I finally got to see the amazing new home they have bought and are renovating together. It was the loveliest afternoon.
Came back to Green Park, set the alarm for 6.30 and was having a 45 minute nap before meeting the 50th birthday girl Tara (of A Bottle Rose) and her sister Lisa for dinner just around the corner from the club. I really wanted to do the surprise before her birthday so she could do a 12 point collapse then, get it out of her system and we could continue birthday week calmly. Set it for 6.30am didn’t I and slept through. GAH!
Lisa had organised High Tea at the Ritz for Tara, Mum Peggy, Dad Vic, herself and me. I wandered over and met them at their hotel next to Buckingham Palace. Tara was completely taken by surprise, happy tears and excitement all round and we had a lovely hour getting her back together. Then it was off to the Ritz and the high tea was bloody magnificent.
That evening Tara, Lisa and I joined Lisa’s husband Chris and daughter Mia for the Hockney immersive art installation and dinner. It was awesome.
Brunch with Tara’s family.
The whole family went to AquaShard, in the monumental Shard building for lunch. It was bloody gorgeous and the view over London from our table was excellent.
Afterwards we all went and had a wander through Borough Markets. Don’t know how I’ve never been there. It’s fantastic.
I went out to visit Tara and we spent the day lunching, wandering the gardens near her home, having cuppas and seeing some art installations nearby. We also managed to hit a TKMaxx where she bought me Serpent Boheme by Boucheron. I also grabbed a Citron Citron by Miller Harris. Excellent bargains.
That night a secret visit started from friends who also stay at our club. We had drinks and nibbles in the club bar till quite late.
Tara took me for lunch at the pop up Art Bar in Claridge’s for lunch. I had the most delicious savoury galette. YUM! Then we popped down and wandered the gallery. Interesting, inspiring pieces that will probably not become classics. We then wandered the Bond St area. Fell madly in love with the new Diptyque L’Eau Papier, OMG! It’s amazing and I really want a bottle. We also smelled the new Hermessence Violette Volynka. GAH! Also unbelievably fabulous. Violet and leather. Old trope, new vision. Also added to the To Buy List.
Had drinks and nibbles again with the secret visitors.
Secret visitors and I hit the National Gallery for the After Impressionism: Inventing Modern Art show. Bloody hell! It was amazing. Thoroughly panned by the critics we had the place almost to ourselves. YAY! It was so good. we saw some of the evolution of artists I knew, were introduced to a few new artists, reminded of others. Many of the paintings were from private collections so I’d never seen them before. Cezanne, Bracht, Rousseau, Picasso, Mondrian, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Klimt, André Derain, Seurat and others. My mind was officially blown.
Met with Cinnamon for a Harrod’s and Harvey Nichs afternoon. She has done a beautiful job of relating our adventures in her Sensory Overload post. We had such an excellent afternoon. my favourites that we smelled were the newest Thameen; Fanfare, Fragrance du Bois PM extrait and Guerlain Harrod’s exclusive. There was a lot more to like but had I been spending these are the three I’d be having.
Drinks and nibbles. Happy ending to an amazing day.
Hit Fortnum & Mason with one of my secret visitors. We did the whole tea and perfume floors. It was super fun. The SA and I were talking and he said to me after I enquired about a couple of absent brands, “Well, we are a very niche centred store” and I replied, “Niche? There is no niche here, it’s all masstige.” He looked like he was going to bite back, shook his head, smiled and had a little chuckle, “Touché.” It was a very nice moment.
Then we trotted across the road to the Royal Academy to see Souls Grown Deep like the Rivers; Black Artists from the American South. A very moving show of found objects sculptures, painting and art depicting the grief/loss/dereliction of African Americans in the southern states. Some of the works brought me to teary eyed sadness and a complete loss for anything I can personally do to help.
Then I headed up to the great wilds of Leighton Buzzard to see Nick Gilbert and Pia Long. Firstly to see their Olfiction HQ, shown to me by Nick and Anais, and then for pizza dinner in their home. Smelling the new Bougee Boujies perfume range was such a treat and I’ll be doing posts on them very soon. They’re not available yet but should be in the very near future. I’d also like to take a little moment to say how beautiful they all are. We had an excellent time and I’m even more madly in love with Pia and Nick if that’s even possible.
Late catch ups for a snack and bevy with Tara. This day was the biggest whirlwind of them all.
Mazz came to town for breakfast at the club. We then headed off to the National Gallery to see the post impressionists, my second visit and seeing it with a different artist meant I learned a completely new set of information about the arts. It was wonderful.
I left Mazz there because it was time to go get my train and plane home. About 33 hours non stop from door to door. Korean Air was excellent again, only a few hours in the lounge at Seoul. Ate so much food.
Got home and slept. A lot.
Hope you enjoyed my mad whirlwind adventure.