Pia and Nick’s Smelly Cakey Perfume Day 2016

It was a day of contrasts

The Adventure

Dear readers, I am now back from what can only be described as an extravaganza of sniffage and olfactory wonder. Imagine a day spent in the most vibrant and beautiful capital city in the world (because I can’t fall out of love with London), add lots of like minded fume-heads, add perfumeries, boutiques and perfume halls, then stick afternoon tea on the end and fill your bag with samples ready to go home. You can see what I mean if I tell you it was as if all my birthdays had come at once.

The day was organised by Pia Long and Nick Gilbert, who you may know from social media where they have a strong and influential presence. Do try and visit their wonderful vlog : Love To Smell. What those two don’t know about scent, probably ain’t worth knowing.

You would be hard pressed to meet two lovelier, more generous people. The work that Pia and Nick put in to arrange this day, at no profit to themselves, goes some way to explaining what Good Eggs these two are. Also, Nick has a dirty laugh and gives good bear hugs.


We Begin

My dear friend Lisa Wordbird (who is how I got dragged into this heavenly mess) offered to drive. This is because A) I cannot and B) because she knows no fear and is actually willing to cheerfully tackle central London in a car on a Saturday. Mad. Good driver, but mad. We left Wales at 8.30am and hit the M4 seamlessly. “Look at us!” we thought,”We’re on time!” we thought, fitting in a sugar’n’caffeine stop at the services. London, however, had other plans for us and decided to hide all its parking spaces from Lisa’s tiny, nippy car. So our trip was: two hours of motorway and two hours of driving round central London, which despite our frustration, didn’t bring us down, since London is The World’s Best Place For People Watching ( a.k.a trying not run over very rich people with shopping bags in Knightsbridge).

The Smells of London Town

samup1We were due in Fenwicks’ at 11am but instead just about caught up with our group at 1pm. We were Moomins for the day, which meant our group was led by Pia. The other group were Flamingoes and led by Nick. We arrived at By Killian in Burlington Arcade and were given a talk by the beautiful Davina. Not only was she knowledgeable, but she let us sniff everything, whilst explaining the background and inspiration to the aromas that filled the little boutique. Funnily enough, the day was a bit like wedding dress shopping. I loved the first thing I tried on and even though I tried millions of others, I fell deeply in love with the first one. That scent was the first thing I smelled as I walked into the Killian Boutique: “Good Girl Gone Bad.” Nothing I smelled that day beat this and I left with a tiny sample in my sweaty paw.


There were all sorts of innovations going on in Killian: notably scented jewellery that means that people with sensitive skin can smell good all day. This involves a tiny unglazed ceramic disc that’s doused in scent and heats up with skin temperature. There were also home fragrance items: glorifiers, candles, scented paperweights and intriguing tasselled discs that you can hang anywhere, or if you’re Killian Hennessey himself, you can hang loads in your wardrobe. Because you made them. And your wardrobe is probably already very posh. There was some sniggering from me because I was standing next to the legend that is Val Cookie Queen Sperrer, who made some remark about tassels. I can’t remember the remark, but it gave me inappropriate mental images. #DitaVonTeese: that sort of image.

Lost in Fortnum and Mason

caronThere was a break in the timetable for lunch-on-the-go before the next talk at Miller Harris on Monmouth Street. Lisa went to move the car before the charges matched her mortgage payments, and I filtered towards Fortnums with a splinter gang. The Perfume Hall at Fortnums is a sight to behold. I could spend hours there and not even look at my watch. Even as a perfume blogger having guerlainwritten 730 reviews, there were brands and bottles I had never even heard of. However, from the corner of my eye, I saw the Clive Christian salesperson giving out samples so I sidled up and flashed hungry eyes at her. I can’t afford Clive Christian but I collect samples like a miser. The lovely Tamara gave me a long tour of the brand and I was indeed rewarded with some treats to take home at the end. Unfortunately when I looked up, the other fume-heads had gone.

I used to live in London in the 90s so I have a fading muscle memory of routes,  which led  me vaguely towards Covent Garden Plaza. It wasn’t where I thought it was. Someone had moved it, surely? I ended up power walking around three miles through the throngs and masses. It was actually very liberating and a big change from my usual school run routine. I rang Lisa, who was somewhere completely different and she told me I was heading to the wrong Miller Harris branch. I eventually used an old fashioned method of navigation that you don’t see much these days- I looked at a map on the wall. I was back on track.


Meeting My She-roes

lizsamI reached Miller Harris out of puff, but not too late, and what joy! I finally got to meet someone that both Lisa and I had been looking forward to seeing for the first time. I met Liz Moores of Papillon Artisan Perfumes. We have been Facebook friends for a good while and it was a delight to meet her in person. She is tiny and witty and I like her enormously.

If you are reading this, you are most likely already a perfume fan, so you will know that to people like us, the perfumers are our pop stars.

As the group fondled their generous Miller Harris goody bags and moved to Bloom ruthsam3Perfumery, I also managed to meet another perfumer I admire and have reviewed: Ruth Mastenbroek. Unfortunately we missed Ruth’s talk in Fenwick, but she was wonderfully friendly. She is elegant and softly spoken with a reserve that I suspect may be a soupçon of shyness. Ruth was a pleasure to meet and very kindly completed my missing RM sample collection for me. I adored her third scent:Oxford but have yet to try her first signature: Ruth Mastenbroek so watch this space for a review of both soon. A fourth scent is currently in development.

I was also delighted to meet fellow blogger Vanessa Musson from Bonkers About Perfume. We have been Facebook friends for a long time now, and have a mutual friend in Lisa. Vanessa was immensely generous to me with samples, and not for the first time. She is responsible for much of the content in the photo of my swag. Vanessa and I also share a love of cats and I always enjoy seeing the photos of the Bonkerscat, Truffle on social media. You can read Vanessa’s beautifully written account of the day here

It was a pleasure to see the charming Thomas Dunckley again a.k.a The Candy Perfume Boy. Thomas is great company and deserves all his Jasmine Awards. Some days his writing is so good it makes me jealous.

My Swag

Bloom on, Bloom

Bloom is a fascinating perfumery that arranges it scents not by brand, but by family. So you’ll have all the sandalwoods, then all the leathers, then the spices and so on. It is fairly Spartan inside, which is refreshing after the opulence of the perfume halls and the bling, but this makes for more of a studio feel.

Shortly after Bloom, the group split into fragments again. Some of us were heading off to the afternoon tea which Pia had booked for us, and some were making their way home. Many fond goodbyes were said and many Facebook friendships began that day.

Food, Glorious Food

At B Bakery in Covent Garden, we were treated like VIPs with our own individual pots of caketea, (which were readily replenished) and a three tier cake stand. I had to compose myself when I saw it, rather than allow my greedy eyes to pop out on stalks. I am still fantasizing about that baby Lemon Meringue Pie. I have become firm friends with my two fellow diners who donated their pistachio macarons to me. Lisa didn’t give me hers, so that’s thirty years of friendship out the window. Her fault. Kirk and Nafia are my new best friends now. Hi guys!

Homeward Bound (small discreet burp)

Groaning with full tummies and sloshing with tea, we bade a reluctant farewell to a wonderful, but tiring day and headed back to Wales. The next morning when I woke up in bed in my house in South Wales (covered in sons who had missed me), I wondered if I had dreamed it all. And then I smelled my pillow. Tuberose, aldehydes, leather and incense. It was all true.

17 thoughts on “Pia and Nick’s Smelly Cakey Perfume Day 2016”

  1. How I LOVE to read about an event I attended. Samantha and Lisa. What brilliant team you are. I also have a partner-in-crime. Worth their weight in gold. I had no idea that you got left behind in Fortnum`s. Hahahahaha. Worse places to end up. But I love a good power walk, and would love to join you next time. I missed out on the fond goodbyes. I am back to being knee-deep in dough and wonder if it ever happened. I didn´t buy a thing, as I had nothing I wanted, BUT I did win a bottle of Ormonde Jayne Tolu in a FB draw whilst in the UK. I was so stunned I emailed them and asked if it was true. Lots of love, Val, xxxxxxxxxxx

    1. Dear Val,

      You are such a hoot to hang out with. I would never miss an opportunity to go a-sniffing with you. Fortnums was funny because I was being such a sample-hustler. I had never seen Clive Christian samples before and was hypnotised by greed. I did check for you all at the ice cream stand like last year, but as we say in Wales “there they were-Gone!”. No matter, it was all part of the happy chaos of the day. It’s because of you that I have images of Killian Hennessy playing with his tassels in his wardrobe. One day I hope to meet Portia too, but without going to Sydney. xxx

    1. Thank you Megan. Hope life is treating you well down there in your idyllic corner of the world. I am sure you would have enjoyed such a day and brought your valuable experience to the party. Thank you for liking the photos- I do feel a bit shy about that bit, but I have to run with the pack social-media wise! xx

  2. Hiya missus! How i loved reading about your adventures – i didn’t want you to stop! You have such a lovely way of describing things! 🙂 I’m so glad you had a wonderful day in London and to meet up with perfume friends old and new must have been fab. Loved all the photos of you, gorgeous lady. Patsi xo

    1. Thank you dear Patsi- you would have fitted right in-Warm hearted people who love perfume. My dear- the things I’ve seen! The scents I sniffed! It was like a fabulous holiday for a day. xx

  3. I was just heading to bed when I spotted your post on Facebook and had to have a read immediately. It had me chuckling in several places, especially at: “Lisa didn’t give me hers, so that’s thirty years of friendship out the window.” Clearly the concept of giving someone your last Rolo has been upgraded into ‘the last macaron’ in these gastronomically advanced times.

    I must say too that I was totally in awe of the fact that you and Lisa drove – not just in London – but right into the congestion charge zone! with all its bureaucratic complications. Unless it is free on a Saturday? Even so, that is a pretty daredevil stunt and you really are Thelma and Louise!

    Anyway, it was great you made it – I have witnesses who heard me inquire several times, in tones of rising plaintiveness as the morning wore on: ‘Where is the Welsh contingent? I am sure they said they were coming?’ Oh, and I have ‘lost my Welsh cake cherry’ now, microwaving them with Lurpak and homemade lemon curd. The amazing day may have been over in the blink of an eye, but at least I have Proustian baked goods to be going on with.

    Thanks also for the mention and linkage to Bonkers. I am wondering if I should worry about Truffle having all this early media exposure – it might come back to bite me like those child stars gone bad. I shan’t say ‘to the dogs’, obviously.

    1. My dear Vanessa,

      Driving in central London on a Saturday? If it had been up to me I would have been dull and over cautious, but Lisa is the bravest person I know and although we were dreadfully late, we had such adventures and a truly amazing tour of the throbbing heart of all the most expensive bits. In addition, having both spent part of our wasted youth in London (and spent time with several other wasted youths), we had some stories to tell as the awe inspiring scenery went by. On the way home we took a wrong turn and ended up going over Waterloo Bridge. The night time view of London all lit up blew me away. I said to Lisa that if we ever stop being able to feel that kind of wonder at something we see- then all is lost.

      I spent Saturday wishing, just for once, that there were more than twenty four hours in a day as I didn’t get round everyone and I would have loved to have spent some quality cafe time with you. I know that we will manage it one day.

      By the way- Welsh cakes are very more-ish with butter and jam on and a pot of tea. I had been eating them dry for many years before discovering their Pringle like addictive-ness when eaten this way.

      My warmest wishes to you and Truffle

      Nos da

      Sam xx

  4. Hi
    long time reader of this and other perfume blogs. Looks like a good day. Am I right thinking Ruth Masterbroek worked on one or some of the lovely Bath House scents?

    1. Hi Scentedcat and welcome! I’m not sure about Bath House specifically, but it’s very likely to have been Ruth. She has worked for Jo Malone, Kenneth Turner and Jigsaw so it’s entirely possible. She is very lovely in real life. xx

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