Category Archives: perfume

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune: Right Through To The Bitter End

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A small patch of blue sky was spotted for at least twenty the minutes the other day. I don’t care what anyone says, I’m calling it Spring. I am making excuses to get my Spring and Summer Scents out, if not my cooler clothes. In the world of fragrance, you’d be hard pushed to find anything more refreshing than a sharp citrus note on a hot day. And if we’re talking citrus, we have to talk about Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune.

This is a slippery customer, old Pamplelune. Wearing it on two previous occasions, it has gone sour and bad on me, like a hard shrivelled Clementine that I removed from my fruit bowl recently. Looking at reviews all over the Internet, it would seem I am not alone.  Today, I can report that Pamplelune is behaving itself, and I have not yet reached the sour rotten note, nor the famous “cat pee” so often mentioned by disappointed wearers.

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When this is first applied, it is pretty much agreed that the Grapefruit top note is sharp, refreshing and unbeatable in the Citrus Category. It’s the aftermath that creates problems. Like a beauty Queen with a sleazy past, positive first impressions are soon pricked like a bubble.

Today, Pamplelune is better than it was last time I tried it for a day. Maybe this is because my skin is warmer, or maybe because the more perfumes that take me out of my comfort zone, the more my tastes are changing.  In any case, when the delightful and sparkling Grapefruit notes softened down and drifted away today, the drydown was better than I remembered.  It’s green rather than bitter, with Petitgrain and Cassia Leaf providing a fresh spicy accord,  and I detected a bit of unsweetened Vanilla smoothing out the edges. The Grapefruit is still there but instead of being juicy and tart, it’s more like a palate soothing sorbet now.

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This is hit and miss, depending on your skin, the weather and what your personal perfume tastes are. There seem to be an equal number of brickbats and bouquets for Pamplelune. I have a foot in both camps. I have had the sour rind smell before now on two occasions, yet today I have a unique and grown up citrus fragrance that has made itself at home.

Pamplelune was created in 1999, and like many fourteen year olds, it’s difficult and capricious. I implore you, no matter how much you like Citrus and Grapefruit, do not buy this blind, unless it’s a very small bottle.  You can love it from afar, but until you meet, you won’t know if there’s chemistry.

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Cartier Baiser Du Dragon: My Retro Friend with The Futuristic Price Tag


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Trying Cartier’s Baiser du Dragon today gave me two immediate reactions. Firstly: this is a glorious contrast to yesterday’s airy Lavendar, and Secondly: Why does this make me think of the 1970s?

This has a boozy start that I recall from my olfactory memories as a child in the 70s. My mother would often spray a perfume that would have the same high alcohol starting note before settling down to something more sophisticated.  This smells like many perfumes I have known from that era, but none that I can name. If I went to an old fashioned chemist in the back of beyond, maybe I could buy a bottle of something similar from a dusty shelf.

So why was I sent back to the 1970s? Was it just the Hai Karate style bottle with the plastic dipper? Or maybe it was the slight powderiness about it that smells a little retro, almost a Imagelittle like Charlie Blue (don’t shoot me, I don’t like Charlie, I’m just talking about the genre).  Just as the booze and the powder merge and fade, I am left with Patchouli. In fact, this reminded me a little of Borneo 1834, except that it lacks the Oompa Oompa of Borneo.

Now either my hayfever is playing tricks on me, or Dragon sillage isn’t very loud. I was testing the Parfum, no less, which you would expect to have impact, but sadly, this is no Lanvin Arpege when it comes to super strength. With Arpege, three dabs lasts me twelve hours and it just gets better and better. Baiser du Dragon seems to have been sucked up and absorbed into my skin within two hours flat, leaving a faint ghost of almonds and Patchouli in its wake before going “pouf” and disappearing.

I like this enough to wear again, but I secretly wish I was trying an Eau de Toilette just so I can upgrade to a stronger version. Unfortunately, after the Parfum, there’s only extrait and I’m not sure I want it badly enough to start tracking it down.

I was alarmed, gaspingly so, at the hefty price tag on this: on Amazon it was £116.99 for 50ml Eau de Toilette. I thought I must have got it wrong. To me this is a a pretty good Oriental with poor lasting power, (at least on me), and a definite 70s vibe. It’s good, but it’s not THAT good. Is it just me?

I looked this up in Perfumes the Guide to see what the Emperor of Scent had to say about. My puzzlement was vindicated. I give him the last word:

I handed a smelling strip to my colleague Ian Smith, an analyst of thirty years’ standing…he passed a judgment that has so far not been appealed:

That’s nineteen-bloody-seventy-two Old Spice, that is’”

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Yardley Lavender Eau de Toilette: Sometimes Simple Is What You Need

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It’s no coincidence that aromatherapists and masseurs use Lavender as a therapeutic scent, nor that it is a sleep inducing pillow spray. To me, it is also no coincidence that Yardley Lavender (along with or instead of Eau de Cartier) is the perfect hangover fragrance.

When you’re full of toxins and feel nauseous with overindulgence, Lavender steps in like a pure Angel come to visit and carry away those troubles like an open window in a stuffy room.

Lavender is also regarded as an “old lady” scent and this would be a good time to debunk that myth. The old ladies of today were the glamourpusses of yesteryear, and we have them to thank for being unswayed by modern trends and for keeping the market alive for the classic scents that are still being made to meet the demand of  “old ladies”.

These matriarchs are to be respected, as not only were they young once, but some day we will be the old ladies buying the Lavender and the good perfumes that are wasted on the youth. And maybe it was Oscar Wilde who once said “Youth is wasted on the young,”? Or maybe it was me the other day muttering at today’s modern teens? In any case,  calling a scent “old lady” is, to my mind, another way of saying “Classic”, and nowhere is this term more apt than  when used to describe Lavender.

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So what makes Yardley Lavender so special? Well for a start, the price is right at less than 10GBP a bottle on the High Street, and even cheaper online.  However, as well as Lavender (and I can promise you it smells authentic), I can also pick out Geranium and Clary Sage, making this a very green, slightly hippy Hesperide.  Sillage is arm’s length but pleasant. I think people will notice this simply because it will arouse nostalgia, and because it is so simple that it will stand out from today’s commuter trains of fruitchoulis and fake vanilla.

This is a soothing blast of cool summer which, along with it’s slightly  prickly and spicy Geranium, will be ideal as a summer time cleavage cooler straight from the fridge.   I have spoken before about layering and I think this will go very well will other scents: Just go with the flow, don’t let me boss you around!

As much as I love fragrances in all its forms and complexity, sometimes I like to go back to basics.  A Lavender fragrance in a scent wardrobe is akin to a walk in the country after a year in a city.  Sometimes we need that, no matter how beautiful the city.

 

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Good Perfumes Under Ten Pounds: Is it Possible?

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Today will be post number One Hundred on IScentYouADay.  I would like to thank my readers, followers and commenters from all over the world (there’s a little World Map on my Dashboard, I can see what countries are tuning in!). It has given me genuine cheer to know that you are there. I wonder if you would indulge me then, by allowing me to go slightly off tangent today? In the interests of inclusiveness, I want to write about my frugal finds. When the Money Tree is tightly budded, is it still possible to smell good, or great even?

Back in my twenties, I had a huge perfume habit, but once I settled on Chanel Cristalle, I pretty much stayed loyal to it until three years ago. It was during  a period of penury that, ironically, my perfume obsession came to the fore again. Realising that Cristalle was out of my league, I began to explore other, less expensive options. Three years later and I blush at the number of inexpensive bottles on my dressing table (and lucky me, I had a bottle of Cristalle for my birthday this year).

The things is, perfume needn’t be expensive. There are many ways in which you can dabble without having to smash your piggy bank. Ebay has a vast range of sellers who are disappointed with their birthday present or their blind buy, and eager to sell their brand new bottle that has maybe been sprayed once or twice. This is where you swoop in and buy a favourite for a song. I have bought several used bottles on eBay and never once had a problem with authenticity. In fact, when I have been disappointed with a blind buy, I re-list it and very often make my money back.

Alternatively, you can buy decants and smaller bottles of niche scents from eBay or even  by trawling  sites  such as Basenotes or Fragrantica for like minded perfume junkies who may want to swap something or sell you 10mls of a Serge Lutens.

Then of course, there are cheap perfumes. There are certainly good ones out there as I found out when big budget perfumes were out of my reach. I have had many a cheap perfume for under ten pounds and have indeed also had some howlers during my scented voyage. It pays to buy online from sites such as Allbeauty.com or Amazon. Buying from the High Street means paying a premium for rent, rates, staffing costs, heating etc. Believe me, I’ve shopped around. Even High Street fragrance Sales are often terrible value compared to online prices.

I have made a list below of ten perfumes under ten pounds (at the moment!) that I consider to be a good bet. I have listed a variety too, rather than one single genre. Many of these have already been listed and reviewed on my site, although  I cannot give you the links as my computer really doesn’t like it when I link to my site on my site. I guess it disapproves of Narcissism. In fact there are only three fragrances below that I have yet to review (Yardley Lavender, Little Black Dress and Green Tea), and they will be along soon. All the others can be found earlier on in my site.

I hope this list gives you hope that when all’s spent, there might, just might, be enough in the kitty to buy yourself something pretty.

  1. Dana Tabu– Spicy, Oriental; A classic.
  2. JLo Deseo, Tropical notes and White Flowers. Stock up for summer. Gorgeous  jewel like bottle.
  3. Gres Cabotine,  A Zingy Green, perfect for Summer. NB This is the original with the green lid, not one of the many flankers.
  4. Coty L’Aimant Fleur de Rose, Floral, Rose. A Baby Powder Floral. Currently £7.45 for a gift set containing a 30ml EDT on Amazon. Stock up, it’s discontinued but still around.
  5. Avon Little Black Dress– Floral. Just bought a half price bottle for £6.50 from this month’s Avon brochure. Although it’s usually £13.00, there are almost always offers on such as buy one, get one half price, or buy one, get a second for £2.
  6. Cabochard–  A classic Leather. Currently £8.99 for 100ml in my local Bodycare shop.
  7. Ambre de Cabochard– Oriental Amber: Recently spotted in Savers Chemist and online on Amazon. I’m on my second bottle.
  8. Body Shop White Musk– Musk. A small 15ml bottle is currently £7.00 in my local store,  and a large 30ml bottle is £11 instore. The oil goes much further than the spray. One 30ml bottle of oil lasts me a year!
  9. Yardley Lavender– Lavender: Good alone or in layers. I just bought 50ml in Boots for £9.99
  10. Elizabeth Arden Green Tea: a refreshing summer classic. I don’t like Green Tea personally, but I have to admit that this is done very well and for an excellent price. Currently under 10GBP, but prices change often.

Do you agree or disagree with the list above? Do let me know your perfume bargains and discoveries. I would love to hear about them.

Hypnotic Poison: If This Ain’t Love, Why Does it Feel So Good?

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I may have acted too quickly. I try and keep an open mind about perfume. I am always happy to try new things, and as you know, dear reader, I will wear something horrible all day just to be sure I hate it.

Mention Dior Poison to me and it elicits a shudder. This was the Eighties’ answer to smoke bombs. Walk into a room wearing this, and it would empty. The able bodied would run and the feeble would sink to the floor and get trampled in the rush to flee, wailing “it’s too late for me, just save yourselves!”

Over the years, I have pointedly ignored the fact that Poison has started breeding. Little flankers everywhere, popping up on the perfume shelves.  I blanked them like a bothersome in-law at a wedding.

Recently, I was offered a test of Hypnotic Poison (thanks LW yet again!) and thought I may as well try it, since I do have to write about 365 scents before my work here is done. I can’t afford to be fussy. Thus I accepted a little loan of Hypnotic Poison. It was not as I expected.

With nary a nod to its sister Poison, I found myself in a tasty mist of Playdoh and Vanilla with thick squishy Coconut in there too. On paper, I am not supposed to like it at all. In actual fact, it was rather lovely.

There is definite Vanilla and oily crushed Almonds to the power of a hundred. I don’t usually like Gourmands, since they remind of hot, flustered baking sessions in the kitchen where I find myself too often some weeks. However, this Marzipan wonder took me back in time to the days when The Body Shop had a Perfume Bar, which I have mentioned before. They did a great oil called Vanilla. It was heady and smelt of Marzipan and had liquor like intensity. And here it is again in Hypnotic Poison. The Body Shop still does a Vanilla fragrance, but it’s not the same.

I am testing the EDT of Hypnotic Poison, rather than the EDP and lasting power is good, despite my hayfever. Strangely, I can’t help liking this nutty, bitter Almond (Arsenic?) scent. The only similarity it has with Poison is the cute round bottle. And thank Heavens for that.

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Dana Tabu: A Tart With a Heart

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Created in 1932 by  Jean Carles  with the remit to create a fragrance “for a prostitute”, Dana Tabu has stuck around and has been a favourite of millions over the years. Tabu is regarded as a Drugstore Classic: that is to say affordable, ubiquitous, and an acceptably good blast from the past. Wearing this today elicits nostalgic memories from people in their 40s and 50s who remember their Mother or Aunts smelling of this. However, Tabu has a lot to offer the modern perfume wearer too and wearing it today has been nothing less than pleasurable.

Needless to say, this fragrance has been through numerous reformulations. Ingredients increase in cost, yet prices need to remain affordable. I do not pretend to be an expert on all the changes made over the years, so I cannot hope to list them here. However, you will always find those who prefer the original, the vintage, the one from the 80s, the new one …and so it goes on. What I have in front of me is the non violin shaped Eau de Toilette (like the one pictured above). It’s not strong and the sillage wouldn’t bother a fellow commuter. Lasting power isn’t more than three hours on me, but, as I explain later,  you can often “secure” a fleeting scent by pinning it down with another. Alternatively, spraying clothes and hair makes a scent less flyaway.

However the fragrance itself immediately reminds me of my room as a student. I was always burning Patchouli joss sticks and the dried smoke from the spent sticks would smell just like this. Smoky, spicy and with a whiff of Patchouli. Tabu is like a watered down poor relation of Youth Dew and this could be down to the heavy note of Cloves. I smelt Oranges too, and a  hint of Vetiver and Oakmoss (though I doubt it’s the real thing). Civet is listed as a note, but I didn’t get anything animalic from this. In fact, it smells clean, like lemon washing up liquid, albeit for a few seconds, before settling down to its smoky aromas.

Tabu is widely available for less than ten pounds (UK) and is an excellent addition to any scent wardrobe. It’s good for winter especially, although it does make me laugh that it is described rather formally as “recommended for romantic wear”. But I would happily wear it in the day without making eyes at my husband. It’s light enough for daytime and wouldn’t knock anyone out.

It’s an inexpensive spicy, peppery treat of a perfume, despite lacking good longevity. I often find with thinner, inexpensive perfumes that they make excellent layering scents.  In fact I tried this over Yves Rocher Rose Absolue and it was fabulous. The Rose was made complex and spicy, and Tabu seemed to last longer for being pinned down.

I have a great deal of affection for cheap and cheerful scents that do the job. If you’d told me a few years back that I’d have a big bottle of cheap prostitute perfume on my dressing table,  and that I’d be pleased about it, I never would have believed you. But then I never would have believed that perfume from Lidl is worth buying too, but it is.

The rules with perfume:

Rule One: There are no rules

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You can buy Dana Tabu from allbeauty.com and from Perfume Click.  Prices are usually less than £12 a bottle You can also try eBay, of course.

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Ava Luxe Madeline: Milk and Whisky in Front of A Log Fire

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Ava Luxe is a growing fragrance brand founded by Serena Ava Franco and is based on Rhode Island, USA.  This is a new kid on the block compared to many long standing big brands and it’s always interesting to see what passionate individuals come up with, rather than a board room, a focus group and a marketing department.

Serena is inspired by the exotic, the mystical and the arts. She is no boring wallflower. All products are completely cruelty free and are made to order. I’m not the only fan over here, but it is a bit tricky to get hold of Ava Luxe in the UK. The momentum is growing however, so watch this space, or look out for decants and bottles on eBay, Basenotes and Fragrantica.

So today I have in my hands a bottle of Ava Luxe Madeline. I accidentally got a smear on my hands and it was oily and unctuous, rather than watery and alcoholic. In my experience, this usually means a perfume has the clinging power of a barnacle after a round the world cruise. I was right. Madeline was still there about nine hours later, showing no signs of leaving.

But would you want Madeline as a house guest? I would say yes, especially in winter. I couldn’t shake the idea that there are Oranges in here somewhere. Orange is not listed as a note, but it could be down to the fact that this smells a little like Christmas baking, so maybe that’s where visions of Clementines came from. There is a delicate smokiness permeating the thick Vanilla Bourbon, as if I am smelling the ashes form a Vanilla joss stick. It adds an ingeniously clever hint of a crackling log fire. Madeline also has a flicker of Licorice and a splash of Milk. This would make a ghastly drink, but in a fragrance, the Licorice smells spicy and adds a little mystery to the spell. The Milk is comforting and soft.

Overwhelmingly, this is smoky Vanilla: Good vanilla, like the real beans and flecks that you see in expensive ice cream. There is no Vanilla essence here, this is the real thing, to the point of glorious headiness.

My only qualm about Madeline is that it may be too rich, like eating half a whisky soused Christmas Cake in one sitting. It sounds like a good idea, it’s nice at the time, but at the end you might need some fresh air.

Ava Luxe is definitely worth a second look. And a third. And a fourth…

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L’Instant de Guerlain: Nice to Meet You, Iris

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 From yesterday’s High Street fluff back to majestic Guerlain, and L’Instant de Guerlain to be precise.  I have on loan the Parfum itself, in its tiny glass bottle (see photo) and enormous box.  By the time I opened the box, removed the inner sleeve,  and removed the 7.5ml bottle from its little case, it seemed like a tiny Queen on a huge throne  Using the glass stopper as a dabber, I wore this on my throat and forearms (putting a scent on my wrists means it gets washed off many times over the day).

I was amazed to see that L’Instant de Guerlain does not contain violets. My very first thought was violets and then iris. In fact, after a few moments I decided this was a little like smelling Apres L’Ondee through several layers of musk daubed white chiffon.  It’s warmed up with a little honey and some magnolia. It’s classy and timeless: you could wear this as a teen and as a 90 year old Grand Dame. There is powder too, but it’s a mere velvety muffler, rather than an old lady’s make up case. It’s a muted Iris/Violet with the light musk softening any sharpness or earthiness

Now I feel that at this point I should pause for thought on the matter of iris. I love iris the flower, and my much beloved late grandmother was called Iris, so I have always associated it with love and beauty. However, in the world of fragrance, I have not got on with it at all. I have been encouraged to persevere, despite the fact that Malle’s Iris Poudre utterly repels me and even suffocates me. I recently tried Maitre Parfumeur et GantierFleur D’Iris and didn’t like that either. I also tried Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile and didn’t much care for that either (although it did defrost me somewhat with it’s prettiness).

Recently my friend and co blogger Lisa Wordbird, whose writing you will now be familiar with, gave me a curious experiment which cured me of Iris phobia. Spraying Guerlain Apres L’Ondee on one arm and Frederic Malle L’Eau D’Hiver on the other, I do believe I finally saw the light. Sniffing one then in the other in rotation brought out the best in both of them and made L’Eau D’Hiver (one of my earliest reviews), much more floral and prettier than it was when I first encountered it. So as my esteemed fellow blogger The Perfumed Dandy told me recently “Never give up on a note”.  Sometimes I guess you just have to look at it from a different angle.

So could I accuse L’Instant de Guerlain with its honeyed, musky Iris notes to have converted me into an Iris fan? I almost think I can.

Disclaimer: I still can’t bloody stand Iris Poudre though!

Beyonce Midnight Heat: Explosion in Tropical Candy Floss Factory

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 After being spoilt like a spoilt thing in recent weeks, with achingly high quality scents to die for, I decided to dip my toe into a fragrance that I have seen everywhere recently from Duty Free to my local Asda. One of many samples I have blagged lately, this generous 2ml dabber is wrapped in purple cellophane like a Quality Street sweetie. No less than 3 members of my household tried to disrobe it hopefully, including one of the cats who is kinky for cellophane.

It is entirely appropriate that this was mistaken for a sweet because Wow! Is this sugary! Take some candy floss, add some sugar, preferably vanilla sugar, then sweeten it up with some caramel, preferably vanilla caramel, then add loads of concentrated Tropical cordial, the stuff that’s so thick and gloopy it sticks to the inside of the bottle. Shake it all about and Bingo! Beyonce Midnight Heat.

It has some similarities with JLo Deseo, However, Deseo keeps it clean and floral, and although it has similar Tropical notes, it is a fresher, brighter fragrance.

Beyonce Midnight Heat is too sticky and hot. The sweetness is overpowering. I should imagine it could be used as an aid to weight loss since once sniffing this, you would find the idea of ingesting sugar completely repellent. In fact, that’s why I might keep this. Those leftover Easter Eggs are still in the house, calling my name. This might be just what I need.

Serge Lutens Clair de Musc: Petticoats and Good Shoes

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 Clair de Musc is much warmer and friendlier than yesterday’s sombre La Fille de Berlin, but then Musk is often a friendly sort of warmer-upper. Despite this being a product of Uncle Serge and his gang, I’m afraid I have something rather facile to say about it. My first and unshakable thought on smelling this was Impulse Hint of Musk. I tried to shake it off, really I did, but even in the basenotes I was still thinking the same thing.

To try and get a handle on Clair de Musc, I wore Body Shop White Musk on the other arm and compared the two.  I needed to find out what makes Clair de Musc different. What’s Clair got that other musks haven’t? Let’s face it, if you’re going to spend in the region of £80 on a bottle of perfume, you need to know why it’s worth  forking out.

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On first spray, it was , as I said, Impulse Hint of Musk. Nothing wrong with that, it’s the best Impulse there is (is that damning with faint praise?). However there were also yellow flowers or honey in Clair de Musc. Interestingly, my interpretation did not match the notes listed on Fragrantica at all. For instance, where Fragrantica had bergamot, iris and lily of the valley listed as notes, I had honey, honeysuckle and yellow flowers.  There is a whisper of iris, almost as if she opened the wrong door, glanced in and left again, leaving a Will O’ the Wisp waft. The Body Shop White Musk smelled sharp compared to this, which gives you an indication of Clair’s feathery softness.

 Clair de Musc is warm, kind and pleasant. I don’t feel that it brings anything dramatically different  to the Musk Party. In fact, I only really got interested when I layered it over Cabochard. Then I really perked up and began to take notice. However, I often layer my trusty  (and cheap) bottle of Jovan White Musk over other items in my scent wardrobe to similar effect.

 Clair de Musc has low sillage, (often a blessing), and average lasting power on me, say two hours. I would probably not wear it alone, and it’s pricey as a layering scent: a bit like spending more on your petticoat than you would on a pair of good shoes.

Cheaper Musks do the job. This is good, but is it worth £85? You may disagree. Samples are the way forward, my friends. The Jury’s out.

 

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