Category Archives: Travels

Holiday Sun, Skin and Hair

After sharing a photo of the inside of my suitcase the other week, I thought I’d talk about some of the many products I took with me on holiday.

We spent a week in Majorca with temperatures of 27 to 30 degrees C. I brought enough lotions and potions to cover myself, my sister and niece.

 

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Cleanser

I got Pixi’s Double Cleanse by Caroline Hirons in the re-issued Cult Beauty Box, just in time for my trip. It was handy to have a cream and balm cleanser in one container. I used the cream in the morning and the balm in the evening to take off my SPF. I liked the texture of both a lot. The cream is, well creamy, and the balm is nice and solid.

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Vitamin C

After cleansing in the morning I applied a layer of Vitamin C serum. This powerful antioxidant is a good way to counteract the damaging effects of sun exposure.  I took two from both ends of the price spectrum.

At home, I normally apply DCL’s C Scape High Potency Night Booster 30 in the evening because of its grainy texture. It contains 30% vitamin C (L ascorbic acid) and gives a sharp tingle on application.

As my skin got drier through the week, I switched to The Ordinary’s Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% vitamin C because it’s in oil form. I’m extremely curious about the new Vitamin C 30% Suspension in Silicone from The Ordinary. I suspect it stings pretty intensely. Let me know if you’ve tried it.

 

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Facial Sunscreen

For a base layer in the morning, I applied Anthelios XL Ultra Light Fluid SPF 50 by La Roche-Posay. It was indeed very light and a pleasure to apply.

For re-application I took Bioderma Invisible Fresh Mist SPF 50 which was a revelation. The mist is so fine you barely feel it hit your skin. This makes topping up your sunscreen an absolute breeze.  I never broke out, even with my combination skin.

 

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Body Sunscreen

I knew we’d be spending a lot of time in the swimming pool so I looked for a sunscreen that would stick. I researched a lot of high-end brands and while most say they are “water resistant”, I went for Marks and Spencer Ultra Defense SPF 50 because it’s “very water resistant”.

I bought the cream for applying in the morning and the spray version for re-application. Not glamorous, but the best for our needs.

 

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Lip Protection

Lanolips Tinted Balm is very moisturing and contains SPF 30. I got it in Rhubarb which is a natural-looking pinky colour. Good for poolside or on the beach when you’re not not wearing lipstick.

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Body Moisturisers

I took my trusty La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume as well as the E45 Intense Recovery spray in case my skin got too over-heated from the sun.

I finished with a little Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse for the oil sheen and tropical scent (which my sister is now obsessed with). I didn’t wear any of the handful of decants I took in the end.

 

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Hair

I took travels sizes of Bumble and Bumble’s sulphate free shampoo and conditioner but the conditioner wasn’t mosituring enough after a day in the sun and pool. Luckily, I had brought along a small tube of Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask by Briogeo and that worked wonders. I honestly think my hair came home in better condition that when I went.

I’m still experimenting with styling my hair using Wave Spray by Quai, so the jury’s out on that one.  I shared my sister’s great smelling Sun Care Protective Hair Veil spray by Aveda for a UV filter and covered my hair as much as possible.

 

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At Duty Free on the return leg we tried a lot of perfumes to pass the time. Both my sister and niece have great noses. My sister spritzed Eau de Pamplemousse Rose by Hermes for the flight home while my niece said Angel Muse was her favourite. The reason being “It smells like Daddy’s Christmas cookies”.

 

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Do you have vacation sun, skin or hair care products to recommend?

 

 

 

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Summer Break

Just checking in to let you know there won’t be a post on the blog for a few weeks. It’s time to take a break. I’m off  to Majorca on Monday for a lazy holiday by the sea which is something I haven’t done in ages and feel I really need.

For the last few years I’ve done city breaks and traveled with hand luggage only. The result of suddenly not having a restriction on liquids is that I’ve started throwing whole bottles into the case with abandon. Hopefully I’ll be able to lift it. I haven’t even started on the perfume yet…

 

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If you’re heading off yourself, have a wonderful time and if you’re not, I hope you manage to do something fun for yourself before the end of August. We all need a break from the daily grind now and again.

Back soon!

 

 

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Italy, Friendship and Fornasetti

 

I know I said I wasn’t going to post this week but I couldn’t wait to share my recent trip.

It was wonderful, partly because Italy is such a fabulous place but mainly because of the people I was with. Ines, Asali and Natalie are all truly kind, supportive and inspiring women.  It was a real joy to finally meet Ines (read her lovely write-up here) and Asali (who designed my gorgeous blog header) and to get to know Natalie better.

We not only saw Bologna, where we were based, but also took the train to Parma for the day.

Sadly, Ines and Asali had to leave before our final expedition to Venice on Monday.

 

Bologna

 

 

Parma

 

 

Venice

 

 

I came home feeling extremely fortunate, but also with something I’ve wanted to own for a while now.

 

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Fornaetti is an iconic Italian homewares brand, producing room fragrances, plates, cushions etc.

You may have seen their scented candles, even you didn’t know the name. The images are very striking and usually quirky. I guess they are something that you either find  appealing or you don’t. For me, they are actually much more about the ceramic holders than the scent of the candle inside. They are a thing of beauty and wit – a winning combination.

What had put me off until now was the price. The smaller 300g ones are generally £140. However, visiting Italy gave me the perfect excuse. We were browsing a clothes shop in Parma when I noticed the candles. There were about 8-10 of them and I thought they would make the perfect souvenir of this awesome experience.

 

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The shop offered a little money off and when Natalie worked out the conversion rate (£113), that swung the deal.

I took a little while to make up my mind but I went with the image that spoke to me the most.  This one of soprano Lina Cavalieri dressed as a medieval knight – called “Armatura” –  fits me to a T. As Natalie said “It’s dark and empowering”.

 

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The candle’s scent is called ‘Otto’ which was created in collaboration with perfumer Olivier Polge, who in recent years has composed Misia and Boy for Chanel.  The fragrance was inspired by the Mediterranean herbs found in and around the Fornasetti home in Milan. It has notes of thyme, lavender, cedarwood and incense and was created in Grasse, France, while the porcelain holders are made and hand-decorated in Italy.

 

 

I’ve been piecing together my own metaphysical suit of armour for a couple of years now and the idea of a fighter with femininity resonates greatly with me. It will be a nice reminder of the strong women that are my friends and for who I will travel the earth to see, as well as my own inner warrior.

 

 

Do you like Fornasetti or scented candles in general? Is there a decorative object that you’ve long lusted after?

 

 

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Italy and Instagram

Hello All,

There won’t be a blog post next week as I’m off to Italy for a few days. Tangentially, it’s a perfume-related trip, as I’ll be meeting up with three friends I’ve found through blogging.

These are, Natalie of Another Perfume Blog (which is sadly no longer extant), Ines of All I am – a redhead and Asali of The Sounds of Scent. I’ve never met Asali or Ines in real life so I’m super excited to see them for the first time and it will be beyond wonderful to spend time with Natalie again after she’s been such a great support to me over the last few months.

Add this to finally meeting Undina  a couple of weeks ago and I feel really lucky to be meeting so many women I’ve known online since the beginning of my adventure down the fragrant rabbit-hole, some six or seven years ago  As Vanessa says, we come for the perfume but stay for the friendships.

We will be travelling to Bologna from four different countries which is pretty cool. Bologna looks like a fabulous medieval city and a good base for seeing other parts of the country. It also helps that the region is known as ‘The Stomach of Italy’ because I plan on eating all the food.

I intend to post some pics on Instagram which I’ve joined recently (@abottledrose). I never thought Instagram was the place for someone with a sight impairment but I was encouraged to try it by Val the Cookie Queen and she never steers me wrong.

I’m giving it a go and enjoying it so far. The photos on Facebook have long been my favourite part and the Insta Stories are a lot of fun. I post the odd Scent of the Day pic and other bits and pieces. As I have recently become skincare obsessed there’s some of that too.

Although I did wonder at first if I should be cutting down on my social media, not adding to it, Instagram feels more carefree than other virtual hangouts.

 

 

Have you been to Bologna? Are you on Instagram? What are you thoughts about social media?

 

 

 

 

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Damn Rebel Bitches by Urban Reivers

Notes: Pink Peppercorn, Blood Orange, Malt, Clary Sage nad Hazelnut

 

The week before last, I went up Edinburgh to stay with my fab friend Davina during the Fringe Festival. I’d never visited the city before and was totally won over by it. The centre is compact enough to get around comfortably on foot and as my eloquent and observant pal Vanessa put it, Edinburgh is “uniquely characterful”. The architecture had me captivated and I felt right at home. I rarely visit a city and imagine myself living there, but I did with Edinburgh.

As for the Festival, thanks to Davina, I was lucky enough to see a great range of fascinating acts from a solo performance artist in a pub basement to a drag/circus/burlesque extravaganza in front of several thousand. I loved every minute and can see why people go back year after year.

 

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Edinburgh Castle and Prince’s Street Gardens

During our time wandering the city, we dropped into the Urban Reivers (“Urban Raiders”) pop-up shop on George Street which was there for the duration of the Festival. Urban Reivers is a brand-new online venture which portrays Scottish heritage in a cool and creative way. Their products include scarves, candles, cocktail boxes and perfume, which are all intended to be ideal for gifting.

 

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Damn Rebel Bitches was created in partnership with Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays. The name comes from a book of the same name by Maggie Craig about the rebellious Jacobite women. These “daredevils in tweed” helped the rebels to flee during the 18th century Scottish uprisings, with one hiding a soldier under her large hooped skirt as the English army searched her house (women didn’t wear knickers back then, you know). Lady Nithsdale even broke her husband out of the Tower of London and conveyed him to France dressed in drag. They were hated by the English press which branded them ‘rebel bitches and damned Jacobites.’

 

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You may expect that with a name like Damn Rebel Bitches, the EdP would be challenging but it’s actually very easy to like It incorporates ingredients that would have been available to the women at the time. Clary sage was used as a medicinal herb while hazelnuts were a significant part of their diet.

In Damn Rebel Bitches the blood orange is the star of the show. It starts off tart and green but quickly becomes rich and syrupy. I love this material so really enjoy how it forms the substance of this fragrance and how long it lasts.The malty aspect is there, combining really nicely with the orange. The hazelnut makes for a soft, nutty/orange gourmand base. For the record, I don’t pick up on the clary sage.

All in all, Damn Rebel Bitches has a surprisingly sunny disposition which makes it very wearable, although I should mention it is on the quiet side.

 

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Is there a perfume that is inspired by your part of the world?

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Barcelona – Photo Essay

No perfume post today I’m afraid as I’ve been been away for a long weekend in Barcelona. So I’m sharing a few holiday pics instead. As with my trip to Venice earlier in the year, I took some decants but didn’t wear a single one. I did spray on some Nuxe Huile Prodigieux one evening and the scent from that was perfect.

I’ve long been dreaming of visiting Barcelona so this year I decided to make it happen. The main draw for me was the architecture of Antonio Gaudi. His style is often polarising but I love it. He was a genius and a visionary. Not only is his work stunning but thoughtful, functional and imbued with symbolic meaning.

The top of my list was his basilica, La Sagrada Familia or “Church of the Holy Family”. Construction commenced in 1882 and is expected to be completed in 2026. I’m happy to report that it totally surpassed my high expectations. The use of colour is way ahead of its time and the inspiration taken from nature makes it seem as if it grew out of the ground after a scattering of magic beans.

 

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La Sagrada Familia

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The colours! 

 

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The columns are inspired by trees so lean at an angle.

I knew of Casa Batllo’s striking facade but I had no idea how beautiful it was inside, with so many breathtaking features. You can only imagine what it must have been like to live in a house as unique this with such attention to detail.

 

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The stunning tiled light-well at Casa Batllo

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The cute mushroom fireplace at Casa Batllo

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Casa Batllo’s main room overlooking the street

 

 

Park Guell was another item on my Gaudi hit list. I particularly wanted to walk along the colonnaded pathway which showcase his organic style.

 

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The view from Park Guell with the two pavilions in the foreground

We strolled along Las Ramblas and the beachfront, but my favourite part of the city was the Gothic Quarter. Like Venice, you feel like you are looking back in time.

 

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The Bridge of Sighs in the Gothic Quarter

On our last night we saw a flamenco show which I thought might be a touristy “castanets” version. I was wrong. This was the real deal and so intense I was on the edge of my seat and cheering. I thought the women would be the stars of the show but the men danced with such passion – hitting their chests and thighs and stamping their feet with amazing power and speed – they were mesmerising.

 

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Tablao Flamenco Cordobes

 

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Las Ramblas

 

Have you been to Barcelona? Which is your favourite European city?

 

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Venice Photo Essay

First I should say that this post contains no perfume. I packed just one decant of Cuir de Russie for the trip but it felt like too much sensory overload first thing in the morning. We only walked into one perfumerie but I wasn’t in the mood for testing anything and I’m not sure Portia was either.

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I thought I’d love Venice but it totally surpassed even my high expectations. I totally fell over heels in love with the place. Looking at the buildings from the water buses was like staring back in time. I’ve never been anywhere with such a vivid sense of history.

 

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Of course I knew the city was on the water but it was seeing a police boat speeding along the waterways with its siren blaring that made it really hit home how these canals are its streets. It’s mainly backstreets, alleyways and squares apart from that. It’s like walking through a beautiful maze. Anywhere else I’d feel uneasy but even late at night I felt safe and it was surprisingly clean considering the number of visitors.

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We arrived on Monday afternoon and checked-in at the gorgeous and ideally located Hotel Boscolo Bellini. Soon we headed off to St. Mark’s Square which is something else in real life. Television and photographs just don’t do it justice. Even at night and/or in the rain, it is stunning. We went inside St. Mark’s Basilica at one end of the square which is a majestic Italo-Byzantine cathedral.

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St. Mark’s Basilica in the background and Anna Maria in St. Mark’s Square in the foreground

We then had tea at a place in the colonnades that Portia and Jin had been to before,. Caffe Florian dates back to 1720 and while rather steamy that night, was a great experience. The tea was fit for a (drag) queen as you can see.

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That’s how to serve tea the Caffe Florian way.

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My buddy Jin and I at Caffe Florian

On Day 2 poorly Jin needed some rest, so Portia, Anna Maria and I went back to St. Mark’s Square to visit the Doge’s Palace. This was fantastic and as usual the audio guide really helped get the most out of it. Anna Maria and I crossed the Bridge of Sighs into the prison where we promptly got lost, leading us to agree that even if you managed the impossible and escaped from your cell, you’d never find the exit.

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The Doge’s Palace

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The Bridge of Sighs where we tunefully sang Madonna’s “Like A Virgin”

One room that took our breath away was the Chamber of the Great Council which is apparently the longest room in Europe without pillars. They only managed to construct it because of their immense expertise at ship building.

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The Chamber of the Grand Council

Across the south side of St. Mark’s Square was the Museo Correr which was once the House of Hapsburg, so this was great to see after experiencing the Hofburg in Vienna last year. After viewing the state apartments, it was amazing to see the rooms crammed with artefacts up to the 16th century, very few of which were behind glass, roped off or with someone watching over them.  It was as if Venice has more treasures than it knows what to do with.

In the afternoon we went with Jin to the Rialto bridge, which I didn’t actually realise had shops on it. Just over one side was Rialto 79, a little shop selling Murano glass jewellery where I picked up a small black and silver pendant. Portia got some striking earrings made from 1950s green Murano glass, while Anna Maria got a bracelet made to her specification right there and then.

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Jin, Anna Maria and me on the Rialto Bridge

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The Rialto Bridge

Thanks to recommendations from Antonio Gardoni and Lady Jane Grey, after dinner we went to Harry’s Bar which opened in 1931. We timed it just right because there was no one at the counter when we arrived. The Bar was frequented by the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, Orson Welles and Charlie Chaplin. It was where the Bellini was invented, so although I don’t normally drink wine, it had to be done.

The dapper barman gave us his spiel and we lapped it up. I love how everything has been kept the same, even down to where the bottles are positioned on the shelves. I must say, that Bellini was delicious and went down incredibly easily.  The whole experience had us buzzing.

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Lining up those Bellinis at Harry’s Bar

On our last full day we took the water bus out across the lagoon to the island of Murano. We eventually found the shop owned by the family of the hotel receptionist, Patrick. His borther  made a glass ladybird (ladybug in the US) while we watched and his mother showed us some of her own creations in their shop next door.

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Anna Maria bought a striking black glass ring while Portia picked up some earrings and a necklace. I settled on what Portia described as “The Bluebird of Happiness” which is exactly why I picked it .

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My Murano glass Bluebird of Happiness at home in London

In the afternoon we went to see the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and oh my goodness did this blow me away. So much fabulous art packed into one space, inside the beautiful palazzo and outside in the garden. You name a great modern artist and chances are they are represented at the Collection. From Picasso, Paul Klee, Kandinsky and Francis Bacon to Rothko, Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollock and Magritte.

Portia had said how she was told off for blowing on the Alexander Calder mobile during a previous visit so I was surprised to see her do it again AND get told off again. Undeterred she did it again when we found another one and I must say that seeing it swing into action really made it come alive. In the future, I need to think “What Would Portia Do?” and do it. That shouldn’t get me into too much trouble.

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Portia breathing life into an Alexander Calder mobile

We had our last supper at a place recommended to us by staff at the hotel and id didn’t disappoint. Anna Maria has Italian heritage so went for Baccala done three ways, Portia and I both had Lasagne and Jin went for Spaghetti Bolognese. We shared a tiramisu and cheesecake was a very good decision on our part. After some shopping for family and friends back home, we ended our day and our truly wonderful time in Venice.

Heartfelt thanks to the wonderful Portia, gentleman Jin and the awesome Anna Maria for letting me tag along on this leg of their European tour.

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It was a trip I will never forget.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m In Venice!

As you read this I am in Venice pinching myself because I can’t believe my luck. It will be cold in February but hopefully that will reduce the “aroma” from the canals and keep the number of other tourists down to minimum.

Venice-(Italy)

I’ve always wanted to visit Venice and mentioned this to Portia during our Skype chat over Christmas. She generously invited me to join her, the lovely Jin and their fellow Aussie mate, during their time there. They are on a European trip comprising 11 cities in 7 countries over about 5 weeks. I had just been on an expensive transatlantic trip but I’ve learnt that when an opportunity comes up in life I need to grab it with both hands.

If you missed it, you can catch up on some photos from Portia’s triumph at Perfume Lovers London last month here.

Portia and me

I won’t be around to answer comments until the weekend but feel free to share a destination that’s on your bucket-list or your own experience of Venice.

Ciao!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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