11 Candles In Antwerp – Freddie Albrighton‘s Lutens


I do love the smell of the standard tea-lights. (Is that hyphenated?) I always have one burning in the bog. It’s lovely to go into, amazing how much warmth and smell one candle can give off. The whole loo is so gemütlich. Inviting a Wordle session ——



Pretty similar in a church, but of course much more intense. The larger number of candles heating and expanding the air above them, as they flicker and glow.


It would appear that Albrighton had 11 relatives, all of whom have turned their toes up. And he lit 11 candles, in Antwerp, for them. I don’t think they all died in Antwerp though. I mean that would be a bit odd. Unless they al fought in the Siege of Antwerp. Or the Battle of the Scheldt. I dunno.

A CLASSICAL WHITE ORCHID bouquet, spiked with pink pepper, melts into a bed of dense creamy candlewax. Beschreiben von Parfüm muss man lieben!! I am sure he missed out jasmine ——

Basically it’s a very appealing creamy waxy white floral. It stays on the skin perhaps longer than his other fragrances, but that is not a negative thing. It’s gorgeous on your clothing the next day I must say. Very Lutensian in smell, with a name that Serge himself might well have come up with.

Does it smell of candlewax? Yes. Would we have known that had candles not been mentioned in the name? Probably not. Does it matter? No.

VAL.

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VIVACIOUS: Scent Semantics #8

Hey Crew. Scent Semantics?

We get a word, we get a date, we have to choose a single fragrance that fits the word and then have to explain how it fits together, in our way. As much or little as we feel the word/fragrance connection needs. We are going to probe a little into how each of us bloggers see the world, fragrance, ourselves. We get to see how one word can inspire different directions in connection. or not.

VIVACIOUS: Scent Semantics #8

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Reading Diary

Since December I’ve been on a self-development/spirituality audiobook kick which shows no immediate signs of abating. Therefore my fiction reading has slowed down but here are the books that I have got to.

The Galaxy, And The Ground Within (Wayfarers 4) by Becky Chambers

“She definitely looked to be the sort who would love a good exclamation point (or twelve).”

I’ve loved this Sci-Fi series so much I was a bit apprehensive about how it would be concluded. I had hoped it would circle back to the characters in the first book but instead once again we have a new cast (except for one) and this time they are all aliens. I say aliens, really they all talk and act in such human ways it doesn’t feel like reading about beings from other planets. The plot is that three spaceships are grounded at a kind of planetary rest stop when the satellite system goes down. The pilots are three different species and their host and her young child do their best to make them all feel welcome while stranded.

Like the other books it’s all about the characters and their interactions rather than an action-packed storyline. Prejudices are expressed and overcome and it leaves you feeling uplifted and hopeful. I can see how some would find the Wayfarers series too ‘woke’ with its themes about gender and race but I’ve loved it. 4.25/5

The Other Bennett Sister by Janice Hadlow

“There are times when happiness must be fought for, if we are to have any chance at all of achieving it.”

If like me, you’re a fan of Pride and Prejudice in any of its forms, I highly recommend this book. It starts off as a kind of retelling of the Austen novel but from the perspective of the overlooked, middle sister, Mary. In the many versions of the story, Mary comes across as dull, priggish and lacking in self-awareness. The Other Bennett shows how she may have become this way with a critical mother, a distant father and sisters who eclipsed her in varying ways.

It was fun to see Lizzy and Mr Darcy enjoying married life and the marriage of Mr Collins and Charlotte Lucas up close. However, it then carries on after the events of Pride and Prejudice as Mary sets out on her own quest to find a place for herself in a society where a single woman without money is in a precarious and piteous position. She aims to live only by cold rationality but finds this is challenged as we see Mary has feelings that she has tried her hardest to push down.

The plot is often unlikely and unsurprising in equal measure but it’s also a delight. The writing is seamlessly in the Austen style and Mary proves a compelling heroine in her own right. 4.25/5

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

“It’s the regret that makes us shrivel and wither and feel like our own and other people’s worst enemy.”

Hmm, I have many thoughts and feelings about this book which has been hugely popular and won Best Fiction in the Goodreads Awards last year.

I gained a lot from Haig’s memoir about depression Reasons to Stay Alive but this is the first fiction work of his I’ve read. At the start of the book, Nora becomes depressed after a series of tough live events, eventually becoming suicidal and taking an overdose. She finds out the place between life and death is The Midnight Library where each of the infinite number of books on its shelves represents an alternate life she could have lived had she made minutely different decisions. This way, she gets to go down various roads not travelled – the lives where she was an Olympic swimmer, a glaciologist, an academic, a rock star etc – to see if there is one she would like to stay in.

I can see that if you struggle with regret this book could be comforting but I would strongly advise against reading it if you’re actually depressed. The opening chapters are hard to read if you’ve been in that place and really, it offers no real solace if you’re in that situation (you’re far better off reading his non-fiction such as Reasons to Stay Alive or The Comfort Book). I found it overly simplistic and sentimental as well as boringly predictable. I knew exactly how these often daft parallel lives would turn out and how the story would end. It was all pretty trite and irritating. 2/5

Again, Rachel by Marian Keyes

“My personal brand was, ‘In recovery, but still great fun’.”

Marian Keyes is one of my favourite people. For me, the world is a better place for having her in it. She comes across as warm, funny, kind and compassionate. She is an addict in recovery and knows the depths of prolonged suicidal despair. I had a chance to meet her once but chickened out because I felt too emotional at the time.

A friend lent me a copy of Rachel’s Holiday when it was published in 1997. It was about an addict going to rehab in Ireland; an experience Marian went through herself. It’s beloved by Marian’s fans and Luke is definitely her best loved (lusted) male character. There was much excitement at the thought that there would be a sequel set two decades later. I re-read Rachel’s Holiday before I started Again, Rachel.

It was good to catch up with Rachel in her late 40s but obviously everything is not rosy. She is dealing with past trauma and life as an addict in long-term recovery. About half way through I guessed how the rest of the story would unfold but I still hugely enjoyed reading it. It was also a lot of fun to re-visit the raucous dynamics of the Walsh family – and to get more Luke! 4.5/5

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

“I would not let a man who knew the value of nothing make me doubt the value of myself.”

I was a narrator in a play about Ariadne and the Minotaur in middle school so I was particularly drawn to this, though I have a love of Greek myth re-tellings generally. This version focuses on Ariadne and her sister Phaedra, princesses of Crete who lives are overshadowed by the existence of their minotaur brother living in the labyrinth under the palace. Everything changes for them when Theseus arrives from Athens with the other tributes to be fed to the half-bull, half-human.

This book is sold as ‘gripping’ and while I thoroughly enjoyed the first half, the second half was indeed a real-page turner. As usual women are the pawns of men and gods in these tales but both Ariadne and Phaedra endeavour to make the best of their situations and the story is told from both of their perspectives. I highly recommend it but especially for fans of Circe by Madeline Miller. 5/5

Please let me know in the comments if you’ve read any of these or if you have any other books to recommend.

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Last Minute Change of Heart by Freddie Albrighton 

By Val

A Floral Woody Musk.  Rolls eyes. 

It’s the sweet floury coating on the long pack of Bazooka Joe – the one that divided into 5 chunks making it easier to break off the pieces.  I would shove it into my gob all in one go, chew until my jaw ached, and then blow thick bubbles, big enough to cover my whole face including bangs. 


As the blast of Hubba Bubba divineness softens – luckily it takes a long time, YUM – I get a gorgeous artificial blackcurrant creeping in through the gumpowder.  There’s a foamy pink sweet shrimp note somewhere in there. Fabulous.  (Do you get foamy pink shrimps outside of The Commonwealth, please stand up).

You can really spray it like a Bro.  Like all of Albrighton’s perfumes, it fades out beautifully until it disappears, leaving no long term chemical burn. 

It’s a brilliant fun wear (read that as joyful) because the last thing it is, is cheap or nasty.  It’s sweet, but kept from being thick and sticky, with a soft base of cashmere, spiced cedar, a sandalwood and musk. 


Freddie Albrighton will go far, you mark my unhinged words. 

Last Minute Change of Heart is expected mid-May 2022. There are a number of stockists. Check his website.

VAL

PSA. This is an experimental blog post.  I am still MIA – due to a trauma in my life that resulted in a nervous breakdown.  I will not answer questions but will accept all prayers.  It’s rough. 

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BRILLIANCE: Scent Semantics #7

Hey Crew. Scent Semantics?

We get a word, we get a date, we have to choose a single fragrance that fits the word and then have to explain how it fits together, in our way. As much or little as we feel the word/fragrance connection needs. We are going to probe a little into how each of us bloggers see the world, fragrance, ourselves. We get to see how one word can inspire different directions in connection. or not.

BRILLIANCE: Scent Semantics #7

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Hera by Papillon Perfumes

Notes: Jasmine, Orange Blossom, Ambrette, Rose de Mai, Turkish Rose, Orris, Narcissus, Ylang, Heliotrope, Clary Sage, Bergamot, Vanilla, Labdanum and Musk

I have a love of Papillon’s perfumes and the Greek myths, so while I feel the will to write about fragrance ebbing, the forthcoming release of the artisan brand’s eighth perfume, Hera, pulled me back.

All the fragrances created and hand-crafted by Liz Moores have a distinctive character. While being unmistakably modern there is usually a nod to the past. My personal favourite is Dryad which I have been wearing consistently this spring and have now used up half my bottle. If you are reading this blog, you’ll know that says a lot.

Hera was composed by Liz specially for her daughter Jasmine to wear on her wedding day. In Greek mythology, Hera is the Queen of the Olympians, protector of women and goddess of marriage and birth. Jasmine has now kindly agreed for her very personal perfume to be shared with the rest of us. It will be released in the U.K. on 16th May.

On spraying, I initially get a mix of shimmering bergamot and fizzing ambrette seed, which makes for a fittingly celebratory opening. The bergamot swiftly dissipates but the ambrette is immediately joined by a cloud of creamy orris butter. With the association of a wedding scent, I can’t help picturing layer upon layer of airy white tulle.

From looking at the notes, I had expected a lush white floral with orange blossom – the traditional wedding flower – front and centre, along with prominent jasmine and ylang. Instead, the flowers combine with a touch of heliotope to create a haze of abstract floral sweetness. This brings levity and prettiness to the orris which is the core of Hera, setting it off beautifully. This is a sophisticated bride but she also has wildflowers threaded through her hair.

The base is clean, velvety musk with traces of what has gone before. Happily, the orris is present throughout.

The retro side of Hera comes in the form of a ‘boudoir’ facet. One of my favourite types of fragrance, boudoir scents are evocative of 1940s dressing rooms with a mélange of waxy lipstick, face powder and a hint of warm skin. This aspect adds an element of sensuality and self-possession to the composition.

Hera feels like a glimpse behind the scenes as the bride is getting ready for her big day, rather than the public spectacle of her walking down the aisle. It has an intimacy that makes it much more alluring as a result.

This is the kind of perfume that unfurls on the skin rather than one that develops in a distinctly linear fashion. It is seamlessly blended with a rounded feel and a lovely soft, downy texture.

Being Extrait de Parfum strength, it wears extremely well while staying relatively close to the body.

I very much appreciate (though am not surprised) that Liz hasn’t gone down the road of a completely naive bridal bouquet. Hera is an elegant balance between refinement and free-spiritedness.

Let me know if you are eager to try Hera in the comments.

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Vernal: Scent Semantics #6

Hey Crew. Scent Semantics?

We get a word, we get a date, we have to choose a single fragrance that fits the word and then have to explain how it fits together, in our way. As much or little as we feel the word/fragrance connection needs. We are going to probe a little into how each of us bloggers see the world, fragrance, ourselves. We get to see how one word can inspire different directions in connection. or not.

Vernal: Scent Semantics #6

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Skincare Mini Reviews

I have been feeling like the blogging muse has left me. When I mentioned this to my friend Undina, she encouraged me to try a post about skincare, especially as she enjoys reading them. As you will see from this post, Undina is unlikely to be reading frivolous blog posts at the moment, but I wanted to write this for her. Even if she doesn’t read it right now, the thought is there.

As it happens, I have had the chance to try a range of high-end products over the last few months thanks to a Caroline Hirons Hall of Fame kit and the SpaceNK Beauty Advent Calendar. Below are my thoughts on some of them.

Votary Rose Geranium & Apricot Cleansing Oil

This is a top quality product and smelled pleasantly of earthy geranium. However, I’ve decided cleansing oils just aren’t for me. It was nice to use during winter mornings because it felt nourishing but I didn’t particularly enjoy the feeling of it on my skin and I prefer something that feels more cleansing in the evening.

Japanfusion Pure Transforming Cleanser, Beauty Pie

I’d heard a lot of hype about this cleanser so when subscription service Beauty Pie did a month’s free trial it was top of my list. I must say it has a lovely creamy texture and feels very soft on the skin. It is the furthest thing from a harsh, stripping cleanser. It’s nice but I didn’t feel the love I expected. The scent is a bit too subtle for my taste. OSKIA Renaissance Cleansing Gel is still my favourite.

NMF Lactic Toner, Pestle & Mortar

Last summer when I was taking a break from tretinoin, I would use this exfoliating acid toner after cleansing. I love the dispenser which means you just have to press down your cotton wood pad on the top to saturate it. It left my skin increasingly glowy with regular use and did not irritate. Lactic acid is more hydrating than glycolic or salicylic acid. I’ll continue with this or the MediK8 Press and Glow Daily Exfoliating PHA Tonic each summer or whenever I have a stubborn dry patch of skin.

Hydrating Accelerator, Josh Rosebrook

Caroline Hirons calls this ‘Jesus Juice’ and it’s far and away the best mist I’ve tried. Nobody needs a facial spritz in their routine but I like them and tret dries out my skin. I use one every morning after cleansing but I particularly like using them after an acid (like the one above) as a kind of neutraliser. This has an aloe vera juice base infused with a range of vitamins and nutrients. It is hard to find a facial mist which isn’t like a fire hose but Hydrating Accelerator dispenses the finest mist I’ve come across. It also has a lovely vanillic natural fragrance. It’s expensive (£35) but I will repurchase when I run out and can get a discount.

Hyaluronic Serum, Dr Barbara Sturm

Talking of Caroline, if there is a brand that is likely to make her blood boil it’s the one by celebrity dermatologist Dr Barbara Sturm. I can see why. Charging £235 for a 35ml bottle of hyaluronic acid is eyebrow raising to say the least as HA is not a super expensive ingredient. I always apply a hyaluronic acid after my spritz to rehydrate the skin after cleansing. This one worked well and a little went a long way, but I would not dream of spending that much on a hydrating step. I’ll stick with Hada Labo.

CEO Glow Vitamin C and Tumeric Facial Oil, Sunday Riley

Once my hyaluronic acid has sunk in, I use a vitamin C serum. My holy grail is the CEO 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum by Sunday Riley but I got the oil version in the calendar. I think it’s a good option for sensitive, dull skin but I’ve come to the conclusion I’m just not a fan of facial oils generally.

The Rich Cream, Augustinus Bader

Another super spendy brand, the 15ml mini I got of this moisturiser was worth £69. I hate to say it, but it’s good. It’s not the overly heavy cream I expected it to be. It has a substantial texture but didn’t feel heavy on the skin and sank in pretty much straight away. I wouldn’t blame anyone who had the money for buying this, but it’s still ‘just’ a really nice moisturiser. I prefer to put most of my money into my actives. My current moisturiser of choice is Drunk Elephant’s Protini Polypeptide Cream.

The Blue Cocoon, May Lindstrom

Now this is my kind of luxury skincare product. Completely organic and made by hand, its quality and ethical production is unquestionable. What I love about it though is the sensorial experience. I adore the glorious blue colour, the chocolatey smell and the way it melts into a oil as I massage it into my skin. I use it on weekends when I take two nights off from tret and it’s a real treat. I’ve heard it can be a game-changer for all sorts of skin conditions but luckily I don’t currently have any those concerns. It gives me a nice glow in the morning but I can get that from an acid. If money were no object, I’d never be without a jar for the pure joy of it.

Have you tried any of these or found something new to add to your skincare routine? Please let us know in the comment.

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NOSTALGIA Scent Semantics #5

Hey Crew. Scent Semantics?

We get a word, we get a date, we have to choose a single fragrance that fits the word and then have to explain how it fits together, in our way. As much or little as we feel the word/fragrance connection needs. We are going to probe a little into how each of us bloggers see the world, fragrance, ourselves. We get to see how one word can inspire different directions in connection. or not.

NOSTALGIA Scent Semantics #5

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TASTE Scent Semantics #4

Hey Crew. Scent Semantics?

We get a word, we get a date, we have to choose a single fragrance that fits the word and then have to explain how it fits together, in our way. As much or little as we feel the word/fragrance connection needs. We are going to probe a little into how each of us bloggers see the world, fragrance, ourselves. We get to see how one word can inspire different directions in connection. or not.

TASTE Scent Semantics #4

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