If you subscribe to The Perfume Society they will send you a box of delights among which are samples of eight scents with smelling notes.
The girls and I - with the odd comment from Mr. C. in the background - had great fun testing each fragrance on the blotter strips and noting our impressions, and then awarding them a star rating out of five. On our initial nosing, one perfume (not shown here) got nul points for its 'bubblegum/gel pens/too sweet vanilla/juvenile, and not in a good way' accord; three earned four stars apiece - Versace Crystal Noir, an oriental with white florals, Nina Ricci L'Air du Temps, 'like walking through a flower garden', and Atkinsons 24 Old Bond Street, 'woody/minty/masculine'; one got five stars, and that was Miller Harris Fleurs de Sel, 'very herbal/hillside/smells like Mum', that comment no doubt because I wear another Miller Harris fragrance, La Pluie, often.
Coming back to them later as the scents have developed on the blotters, I'd demote the Versace as it's on the bland side, but would keep as my favourites the Nina Ricci, Atkinsons, and Miller Harris. Later we might try answering some of the questions on the smelling notes such as (for Fleurs de Sel), "which character from a book you love might wear this fragrance?" - maybe a Mary Stewart heroine in the South of France?
In Sunday's post I alluded to Typepad's having been down. Their technical problems over the long weekend, caused by some miscreant, continue, and while this blog is back up, Cornflower Books is still unavailable (it's configured differently, and service to that class of sites has yet to be restored). I hope it will be accessible again soon, but just in case you're wondering - and thanks, Di, for your comment! - that's what's going on.
Back on this site, there will be another post up later in the day, and if C. Books is still not functioning, we can always talk about things bookish here.
I have a special guest over on Cornflower Books today, a gentleman whose stellar writing career really only began when he was approaching 70. Since making quite a splash with his first novel, Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce books have gone on to be published in 37 countries; they are bestsellers around the world, and are currently being adapted for the small screen by Sam Mendes. I love them, and I am delighted to have their creator with us today, so please pop over and meet him.
Our islands are rich in regional accents - many of them music to the ear! I came upon this clip via Gretchen Rubin, and it's a whirlwind tour round some of the country by accent and dialect coach Andrew Jack, but it gives a sense of the marvellous range and variety we have in Britain.
It reminded me of a story the novelist J.I.M. Stewart (Michael Innes) told in his autobiography. Stewart was at a dinner at his Oxford college at which the special guest was a renowned phonetician. This man - Professor Higgins-like - could pin down a person's origins within a sentence or two of hearing them speak, a feat he demonstrated with uncanny precision as he went round all those seated at High Table. Finally, he reached Stewart, a man born and brought up here in Edinburgh, but who had since spent twenty five years away from his home city in places as distinctive of accent as Australia, Yorkshire and Northern Ireland. Surely these strong and diverse influences would tell on his speech. Stewart began to talk, but the phonetician stopped him with a pointed finger and the flat tone of authority: "Edinburgh," he said, and then with undisguised glee he homed in even further, "the Edinburgh Academy!" Sure enough, that had been Stewart's school.
By the way, if you follow the link above to Andrew Jack's site and scroll down to the video on the homepage, you'll hear him talk about his involvement with the languages and accents of Tolkien's Middle Earth in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films.
The past few days have seen our children, who are all young adults now, reach several milestones. The eldest has had a paper accepted for publication in an academic book, the middle one has passed the Army Officer Selection Board, so his next stop will be Sandhurst, and the youngest has passed her driving test.
Their parents are by turns proud, relieved, and anxious!
(The picture was taken - a while ago, as you can tell - at New Zealand's Moeraki Boulders.)
Here is a generous offer for Cornflower readers: if you quote the code GLOBE5 when booking tickets for the play Eternal Love at Edinburgh's King's Theatre (March 18th. to 22nd.), you'll get a £5 discount.
This is the Shakespeare's Globe production of the story of Abelard and Heloise by Howard Brenton and it's billed as a "funny, passionate and legendary love story". Click here for more information including a short video clip from the writer. It sounds excellent, and I shall go if I can.
Reading a publisher's catalogue yesterday, one book in particular caught my eye: Adventures in Stationery: Stories From Your Pencil Case by James Ward is not due out until October, but a lot of us are stationery fiends so may want to add it to the pre-Christmas wish list! Here's the blurb:
"From the first fresh sheet of a hipster's Moleskine notebook to the last gnawed biro lurking at the bottom of a briefcase, stationery is an inescapable part - and pleasure - of our lives. But while few are immune to the lure of of flickable rubber bands or a novelty Post-it note, we rarely, if ever, think about why they are and who first dreamt them up.
Drawing on a lifetime's obsession and research in the obscurest of places, this is a tale of brilliant designs, accidental inventions, bitter rivalries and epic feats of procrastination, laced with Proustian nostalgia.
In a quiet way, the inventors of Sellotape, the highlighter and Tipp-Ex have changed our lives; this book, for anyone who's ever had a favourite pencil case or pondered the evolution of desk organisers, restores them to their rightful place in our hearts and minds."
And speaking of "procrastination" and "desk organisers", as I tackled the overflowing inbox this afternoon and moved books from one pile to another, I thought this might prove helpful!
To remind me which handknits require hand washing and which can happily go into the machine: a sheet of A4 paper with holes punched down both sides, a snippet of yarn threaded through each hole, the name of the article to which the yarn pertains, and then the washing instructions.
I've slipped this into a polythene sleeve and put it with the laundry supplies.
- A papier mâché dog called Spencer. - Mary Portas - looking soignée, despite the gale force winds and rain - in the taxi queue at Paddington station. - The very crowded interior of Polpo (Covent Garden) - they don't take bookings and there was a long wait for a table, so sampling their food remains a pleasure postponed. - Lots of lovely lady authors - meeting them was worth the hair-raising buffeting on the descent to Heathrow!