Fun in London with Val the Cookie Queen

After looking forward to their visit for weeks, fellow blogger and dear friend Val the Cookie Queen and her wonderful daughter landed in London on Tuesday afternoon. I met them straight off the train from Stansted, so they hit the ground running.

Following a curry pit stop at Dosa World just off Brick Lance, we made for the DECIEM store in Spitalfields. I recently wrote about budget skincare brand The Ordinary and  Val and Hannah were just as eager to check out the products.



I picked up the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% to help balance out my combination skin. I also wanted the Marula Oil but it was sold out. I have patches of dry skin at the moment so opted for the Multi Molecular Hyaluronic Complex from NIOD (also a DECIEM brand) because it has twelve different molecules of hyaluronic acid, as opposed to The Ordinary’s three.


Hannah & Val checking out The Ordinary’s make-up which has a huge waiting list.



After this, we headed to Debenhams on Oxford Street because I wanted to show Hannah the make-up line by tattooist, Kat Von D. The Everlasting Liquid Lipsticks are particularly popular and I purchased Double Dare, a rosy nude, for my holiday in Italy next month.


Don’t bother with Kat Von D make-up if you’re going for the natural look.


In the lanes around Carnaby Street we stopped at MAC and visited roll n’roll jewellery store The Great Frog . This was a very cool store which Val had bought a couple of rings from in her youth. We were rather taken with the skull and crossbones stud earrings.




After a M&S hummus run we called it a day.



Day 1 haul


The next morning we met at the perfume department (obvs) in Fortnum & Mason. This was with the sole purpose of checking out the Ormonde Jayne Exclusive, Jardin d’Ombre. It’s a dusty iris in a garden of soft florals which our pal Pia of Love To Smell is mad about.  We both committed it to skin because at £195 for a 125ml bottle, you have to love it from beginning to end.



Next we stepped into Santa Maria Novella, also on Piccadilly. It’s a tiny store but packed with the Italian pharmacy’s gorgeous bath and body products.  I was rather overwhelmed and should have done some research beforehand. I tried Iris eau de cologne, which was lovely, but it’s £90 for 100ml so I had to go away and give it some thought. It did actually last on the paper strip for a good while, so not bad value for a cologne.


When Hannah mentioned she liked the smell of petrol, the SA brought out Nostalgia. It’s a chewy birch tar leather with bergamot, rubber, sytrax and amber. Unfortunately It became more like aftershave when it settled.


Across the road at the Burlington Arcade, we went into the Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle stand-alone store. The lovely Pawel was incredibly helpful and even tried to get us to go away and think about our prospective purchases. He failed. I bought the brilliant 10ml travel bottles of Iris Poudre and the latest release, Superstitious (review to follow next week).



The Carnal Flower Hair Mist was amazing on Hannah


Pawel showed us the Coffret with 10ml bottles of each of the fragrances. It’s £450 which is actually good value for the number and quality of the perfume you’re getting. Frederic Malle is an exemplary line. Whether I would wear them all or not, I admire every single creation and as a niche collection, it’s hard to beat.




Superstitious by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle


Val had kindly booked us onto the Highgate Cemetery tour, for which Vanessa of Bonkers About Perfume was going to join us, but was poorly sadly. While the East Cemetery is open to the public for a fee at the gate, the West Cemetery can only be accessed via the tours, which are booked up weeks in advance.

This Victorian gothic Wast Cemetery has a really special atmosphere and you can see why a lot of famous people are buried here (most recently George Michael). The tour was a long wander around the pathways among the woods, which are packed with elegantly decaying graves. Highly recommended.



East Cemetery above, West Cemetery below.




The Sleeping Angel, my favourite.

Our last destination was Camden Market. It mainly appeals to younger people like Hannah, but I still enjoyed having a nose around and picked up a snake ring inspired by Undina.


On the way back to the station we stopped in at MAC again. Hannah works for the store in Salzburg and so I was able to benefit from her advice. She recommended the Cremeblend Blush in So Sweet So Easy and for a nude lip, Twig paired with Soar lip liner. I also took advantage of her youth to help me find a pair of trainers for spring/summer.

It was a fantastic day and a half. Happily, it felt much longer than that. We packed a lot in and it felt great to be in the company of these two fabulous females. I hope to visit them in Austria one year.

Keep an eye out for Val’s post covering her time in London on Australian Perfume Junkies in the near future.



Day 2 haul


Hannah, Val and I on our way to Highgate Cemetery


Have you tried any of the perfumes mentioned above? Do you have any recommendations for what to buy from Santa Maria Novella?



Filed under Perfume Friends, Perfume Shopping

36 responses to “Fun in London with Val the Cookie Queen

  1. I miss London! This was a fantastic tour that I so vicariously enjoyed. I love Malle, and that coffret is tempting. Thank you for sharing–especially the cemetary! Just beautiful and tranquil.


    • The cemetery was indeed beautiful and tranquil.
      I don’t mean to enable but when you think the travels bottles are £45 each and you get 20 in the Coffret for £450, it’s not a bad buy at all.


  2. Seems like you had an amazing time. 🙂 And I see you’re already prepared for Italy. 😉


  3. Sandra

    Dear Tara, Sounds like you all had a marvelous time. I am getting excited to come and visit. You have me very curious about Superstitious. Have a wonderful week and see you soon. Sandra xoxo


  4. So much to enjoy in this post, from the ‘M & S hummus run’ to the KT von D makeup not being for those who like a ‘natural look’. And the company of Val and Hannah! And lots of famous dead people in fetchingly root-strangled tombs. That line from The Ordinary sounds like what every budget-conscious skincare enthusiast has been waiting for.

    So gutted to miss the latter part of your get together. One week on, I could have made it, but instead have thoroughly enjoyed the write up and photos!

    PS If it is no trouble, I would like to see your rosy nude when we meet – in the bullet is fine, or on its owner.


  5. So you got your snake ring! That’s great. And a special holiday lipstick. Can’t wait to see it all.
    It sounds like you had a wonderful time, good to also see b. londeswunder 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • I did! It’s not vintage like yours and it’s not intricate like Undina’s but I like it. Yay for Italy next month!
      b.londeswunder is a blonde wonder 🙂


  6. Yay! What a fab trip & fun had by all by the sounds of it. Lovely! I’ve got Santa Maria Novella Nostalgia and Muschio. Muschio is great, a fab comfort scent. Also try the Violet one if you get a chance, its on my want list.
    Yay again! 🙂
    Tina G xx


    • Oooh I really want to try the Violet now. I’ve been looking for the right violet perfume since forever.
      Perfume pal get-togethers are always awesome.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think it is Violetta?? It’s a clean fresh floral violet – really great. 🙂 I’ve really got a soft spot for Santa Maria Novella, always reminds me of South Korea (yea, there’s a link there!)

        xx Tina


        • Okay, thanks. I’ll look it up. Not sure if I want a fresh floral violet or something with a bit of powder. You’ll have to tell me the connection with South Korea some time!


  7. Sounds like a great day and a half out. Cool post!


  8. Maya

    Lovely post. Sounds like you all had a marvelous time!


  9. AAAAARGGHHH! Love the post but so sad we live on the other side of the world.
    GAWD! You guys really covered some ground.
    Portia xx


  10. Such great photos Tara. Gosh. That will get me a bollocking from Portia. Hahahahaha. I never take enough. I will have to dig deep. I think Hannah has some. Wonderful post. We really did a lot of things, but so chilled. It made the time go by slowly. It was like being in a perfect bubble! I will return for more. And yes, we look forward to you coming over here and showing you our edelweiss. Bussis. Ich hab dich lieb! xxxx


  11. Lady Jane Grey

    Ah, the lovely Iris Poudre – it’s going to be the SotD tomorrow (but I hate Superstitious with my whole heart!)
    Sounds like a lovely day and a half – and you guys look gorgeous on the photo !!!


  12. blondeswunder

    got some sneaking pictures there 😛
    I really enjoyed spending time with you and not running around in stupid shops like crazy!!! Thanks for making time and coming out to see you two nutheads. You are great. And you smell good too.

    Lot of Love. Hope to see you soon whereever. (Next time I come we will hit a Pub or Nightclub without my Mother :P)

    xoxox Blondeswunder


    • It looks crazy from the post but it didn’t feel like that even though we did a lot. It was perfect. I’m so happy you came along this time. You’re the best and you smell good too! Hope you’re enjoying your sample of Lipstick Rose. It was amazing on you.
      Much love and can’t wait till you come back and we can visit that pub 🙂


  13. I loved reading about your shared adventures! And it was such fun to see photos of people whose blogs I follow. I haven’t been (yet) to F&M’s fragrance department or to Santa Maria Novella. Spent hours in Burlington Arcade with my own daughter last fall, when the other daughter was spending a semester at LAMDA and we went over for a visit. I think Pawel was also our SA at Frederic Malle, and yes, he was very nice, knowledgeable and helpful. I’m feeling nostalgic about my trip, reading about your excursions! Can’t wait to get back to London. Thank you for the vicarious trip!


    • Oh yes, I could easily spend hours in Burlington Arcade alone. I’d love to visit the home of Santa Maria Novella in Florence. It looks amazing.
      Pawel was as knowledgeable as he was helpful. He’s a real asset to Frederic Malle. The opposite of a pushy salesperson.
      Hope you get back to London before too long!

      Liked by 1 person

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