I've been reading - with enjoyment - Meik Wiking's The Little Book of Hygge, an entertaining look at the Danish concept which has had attracted much comment and interest furth of Denmark in recent times. One passage particularly caught my eye and I offer it here as food for thought:
Talking about the many necessities for a good Danish Christmas, the author says, "All the preparations for a hyggelig Christmas are quite often stressful and, indeed, not very hyggelige. Now, this may seem a bit contradictory, but it actually makes sense. Hygge is only possible if it stands in opposition to something which is not hygge*. It is essential for the concept of hygge that it constitutes an alternative to everything that is not hyggeligt in our everyday lives. For a brief moment, hygge protects us against that which is not hyggeligt. There must be anti-hygge for hygge to be valuable...
Remember my friend who commented that the only way our time in the cabin could be more hyggelig was if a storm broke outside? This is hygge. The more it sets the here and now apart from the tough realities of the outside world, the more valuable it becomes."
This shade of Soigné nail varnish is called Bleuet, or cornflower. Chic it may be, but its teal/grey-blue colour is unlike any botanical cornflower I've ever seen. The description - which I imagine has been translated from the French - is daft in any language and is surely another contender for the florid copy award along with this!
That apart, I like the polish, and for those in the market for this colour or others, Soigné have a sale on at the moment.
After all the excitement of this afternoon's Wimbledon men's final* some calming needlework may be needed. I have too many canvases already on the go to think of buying another one, but if I were in the market I'd be very tempted by Kaffe Fassett's unusual and striking 'A Lady' in the Ehrman summer sale.
In this video and this one, Kaffe talks about his use of colour and his organic approach to needlepoint design.
*Kudos to Andy Murray, and commiserations to Milos Raonic whose semi-final match against Roger Federer was supremely entertaining and a highlight of the tournament for me.
In the greenhouse the tomatoes are coming on, and the Marmande* shown above will be the first to be ready. As I pinch out side shoots and tie in new growth, so that unmistakable tomato leaf smell is released. If you want a perfume that recreates that fragrance - and makes it more complex - try La Feuille by Miller Harris.
*Grown from the seed of a supermarket tomato we ate. The plant sat on the kitchen windowsill for a couple of years during which it flowered but didn't fruit. I moved it out to the greenhouse a few weeks ago, repotted it, and waited to see what it would do - 'vigorous' is the best description now!
Over on Instagram I asked a question about the correct spelling of this variety. Daniel's Run Heirloom Tomatoes kindly answered me and said that the full name is Rouge de Marmande, and it dates from 1925, though I read that there is also a more recent introduction called 'Marmonde' which is what my Waitrose ones were labelled as. Whatever its origin, it's a good tomato.
As florid, hyperbolic nonsense goes, advertising copy for perfume is up there with the best, don't you think? I offer you the following by way of example:
"As if in a dream, a fantasy, hovering between euphoria and delirium, Heliotropia inspires such reverie as it unfurls, arousing Elysian visions that threaten to overload the senses. Like a hazy veil of white flowers in the early dawn light, wild gardenia and jasmine sambac appear effortlessly elegant and serene, their fragility belying the intoxicating sweetness and indolic warmth beneath. A weightless floral, both gentle and fresh with glints of piquant green illuminating powdery, swathes of heliotrope. Billowing clouds of silvery white, plumes of sensual, spiritual Somalia Incense and fragrant woods combine for a deep melodic base. A heady fusion, in turns virginal and narcotic, Heliotropia carries the mind to a dream like place, a higher state of illusion."
"The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love colour the most."
"We are more than aware that the psychology of colour names is powerful. Many people might doubt the wisdom of calling a colour 'Dead Salmon', for example, but this name is actually derived from a painting bill found for the decorating of the library at Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire, in 1805. Salmon is the colour and Dead actually refers to the matt paint finish rather than a deceased fish. [...]
However, all the names are rooted in much more than quirkiness or attention-seeking. We use the connotative power of language to describe colours. [...]
There was a deep desire to make a white that was almost gossamer in appearance - a white with very little additional colour and almost translucent - like a spider's web. This was the birth of the colour 'Wevet', named after the Dorset dialect for exactly that: a spider's web. [...]
We all know the hue of a mix of mist and drizzle, which creates the colour 'Mizzle'. 'Dimpse' is also quaint local dialect for the colour of the sky, but this time at twilight. These colours are joined by another weather-related name, 'Cromarty', a sea area referred to in the BBC radio broadcast of the Shipping Forecast, which warns sailors about impending gales and is very much part of the fabric of British life. 'Cromarty', a little lighter than 'Mizzle', conjures up the colours of swirling mists and turbulent seas."
Just a quick post to point you in the direction of Surrender to Chance, a perfume samples shop which I discovered recently. It stocks CB I Hate Perfume which I was keen to try and which is hard to get here so I ordered one or two things which were despatched very promptly and arrived about a week later. Black March appealed on paper as it's described as "a fresh clean scent composed of Rain Drops, Leaf Buds, Wet Twigs, Tree Sap, Bark, Mossy Earth and the faintest hint of Spring", and I'd say that's exactly what it is. I understand that Christopher Brosius (the eponymous CB) used to be the nose behind Demeter, and I have a bottle of their famous Dirt; Black March is very much along those lines but more subtle and more authentic - for lovers of rain and wet earth, like me, it's quite delectable.
A few years ago many of us were fascinated by the BBC documentary series Perfume. It's no longer available on iPlayer, but I've just discovered it on Youtube, so for anyone who wants to see it again, or for those who couldn't watch due to geographical restrictions, you can find it there.
Following the series I read and loved The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur by Jean-Claude Ellena, the "philosopher-nose" who is featured in programme 2 (parts 1, 2, 3, and 4); there's an introductory post on the book here and a short extract from it here. In the documentary, M. Ellena is described as "making fragrance inspired by fantasy", and I am currently much taken with one of his "olfactory masterpieces" for Frederic Malle, L'Eau d'Hiver. Luca Turin classifies it, in Perfumes: The A-Z Guide, as "pale almonds", and begins its entry thus:
"One of the dangers of the new French school of perfumery typified by Jean-Claude Ellena is the lure of bloodless overrefinement, what I would describe as Ravel's* disease: wonderfully crafted, elegantly orchestrated pieces drenched in pale sunlight." He goes on to talk about Ellena's treatment of the fragrance's mimosa note of heliotropin and says, "the result is stunning: an elegiac, powdery, almonds-and-water accord that takes its place [...] among the fragrance Ophelias of this world."
To me it seems understated and effortlessly, seamlessly beautiful, simultaneously warm and cool, serene.
If you want an in-depth look at the chemistry and neuroscience of olfaction and the art and culture of perfume, how about this Secret of Scent course with Luca Turin and Bois de Jasmin's Victoria Frolova? Sounds wonderful.
And one more thing, The Perfume Society has a 'Fragrance Editor', an online search device which helps you find scents based on your perfume preferences. I've no idea how accurate it is, but testing it could be fun.
We've been using Marius Fabre liquid soap (alternating with the Finnish stuff) for a year and more now, and I do recommend it - it lasts a long time and the fragrances are lovely. The bars have been in use for many months, too, but not in the conventional way; I took a tip from Bois de Jasmin and put them in the linen cupboard where (even still tightly wrapped) they scent the sheets beautifully.