Monthly Archives: November 2013

Cheerio ‘Old Smoke’! Hello eau… The Perfumed Dandy’s Almost Advent Getaway

Chers Amis,

‘Tis the time of year for The Dandy to take to waters… fashion dictates it!!!

Therefore I am headed for a few days to the splendid spa town of Bath, where facilities both ancient and modern allow one to ‘have a cure’.

From whence I will off to the former industrial powerhouse of the world

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Which apparently has more miles of canals than

 

 

Well, fact is often stranger than fiction!

I shall be posting some snaps of my travels over at the Facebook and keeping touch via twitter, with those who care to spend an idle moment in chatter.

I shall also be redoubling my efforts to have my gag removed by thoses darlings at WordPress, in order that I might possibly be able to respond to your comments at some point!!

Until my return therefore (which I hope will be all singing and dancing) around the middle of next week…

Au revoir!!

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

PS The splendid picture of the Grand Canal in Venice featured in this piece is by the estimable photographer Nico Trinkhaus. He makes his excellent images available via a Creative Commons license in return for a mention and a link to his website at www.Sumfinity.com, with which I am more than happy to oblige. Click on the link or photograph to visit this most noteworthy site.

The Perfumed Dandy

 

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Fanfare for the uncommon man… Coriolan by Guerlain The Perfumed Dandy’s Sunday Scent

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Sour, spare, spicy and indefatigably cerebral.

‘Male’ chypres are almost without exception contrary and intriguing creations.

Jean-Paul Guerlain‘s short-lived Coriolan does not disappoint: it is as conflicted and elusive as it is possible for a perfume to be.

Like Coriolanus, the warrior turned putative Consul unprepared to accept the will of the proletariat, from whom it takes its name, this is a difficult and daunting character.

The flacon with its fair approximation of mediaeval armoured headgear signals from the start that this is a fragrance without use for fun.

Classic bergamot-bought sharpness is brought to the point of a lethal blade by generous amounts of petit grain and a metallic sage at the opening.

The transition through to the spicy centre is uncomfortable, anxious and unsteady, like a journey into battle across blood sodden fields.

Nutmeg, coriander and fennel seed are never truly freed of the earth for it is the oak moss underscoring them that is the indisputable signature of the scent.

With time a fine vetiver and polished leather accord, again recalling an imaginary knight’s equipage, comes to the fore, slightly sweetened by benzoin then in the next instant made bitter by resurgent moss, supported with patchouli.

If the description sounds complicated, a series of checks and balances, then it should be made clear that in fact the sum of the parts is much less complex than the whole.

This is a mass of contradictions held perpetually in tension, conceived entirely without complacency or the desire to simply please.

Coriolan is a masterwork of stand-offish olfactory mixology.

A Renaissance Prince of a perfume based on an idea of an ideal of classical proportion.

Its high, honourable ambition and discernible hauteur were undoubtedly its undoing in the common market place, but should recommend it to fragrance heroes everywhere.

This is no perfume for the common man (or, indeed, woman…).

This is a fragrance for the uncommon man.

The Dandy, is in raptures and enrapt with Coriolan today as it guards him against blustery Autumn’s intruding winds and insidious rain.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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Never ever second class, always… First by Van Cleef & Arpels The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

Never mind the soap, she’ll take the opera.

Grand Opera.

Polyester is for the proletariat, she bathes herself in silk.

Her life is lived in velvet.

Let the little people fuss about the morality of fur, her mink comes by the metre.

She is a jewel and so must shine.

And if it requires a little chemical assistance to achieve that polished perfection so be it.

She owes it to her audience.

She owes it to herself.

And the poor fortunate interviewer who kneels by her feet to ask a few questions?

He will be overcome by her beauty and the floral abundance of her fragrance.

Bigger than the largest bouquet thrown to her on stage on an opening night.

Larger than the immense arrangements that adorn her dressing room.

Greater than all the displays that greeted her at her most recent final gala performance.

For this is how it should be.

For she is the prima amongst donnas.

Unique and without equal.

Sometimes foolishly dismissed as a facsimile fragrance by people who really ought to know better, First by Van Cleef & Arpels is no impersonator perfume, it is a magical work of jaw dropping, awe inspiring majesty.

A diva in the soprano style.

As opulent as an opera box, it is a high octane, top ‘c’, top drawer masterpiece in a class of its own.

Opening with an aldehyde accord vast enough to fill la Scala, it then rolls out a civet note so luxurious and expansive one would think the auditorium’s plush had been replaced with pure sable upholstery.

What follows is a carefully arranged architecture of flowers, principally jasmine, hyacinth, narcissus, carnation and rose, impressive enough not to look out of place in a salon at the Palais Garnier.

As we near the finale, the fragrance takes a turn towards Covent Garden: the florals gain an indolic air, something of decay and sex and death, a history of flower and human meat markets resides here.

Throughout, eccentrically, a note of honey and bumble bees, as though perfume took etherised specimens of these most industrious of insects for a walk on the end of cotton thread leads.

Sublime, stupendously sexy, sensationally enormous this is a scent in a grand manner rarely if ever seen these days.

It doesn’t really matter if one likes it, that’s quite irrelevant.

Like all great art it demands to be appreciated and admired.

A First without equals.

For the record The Dandy doesn’t like First, he adores it.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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Of peacocks, palaces and pagodas… Incredible Kew Gardens The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Day Out: Part II

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Dearest All

As you may well know by now, The Dandy was at The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew on Sunday, trying his best to ignore the winter weather and concentrate on the wonderful feast for the senses these 300 acres afford.

Today, some more images that left a lasting impression on me and the fragrant thoughts they inspired…

1. Hydrangea Failing to Hide in The Gloom

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Its Impure White Will Out

2. Cedar Above The Torrents

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Comforting Against Black Clouds

3. A Strawberry Tree?

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Who knew such fruity fantasies existed?

4. Temple of Remembrance

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Private Reflection

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The Dandy has considered Estee Lauder’s Private Collection before.

5. Better…

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Than…

Find out more about The Dandy’s thoughts on Mitsouko and this connection.

6. Glacial Beauty

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Containing Continents

Why does Ma Griffe make The Dandy think of icy botanists? The review tells all.

7. Unusual Grasses

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Flowering For Many Seasons

8. The Pagoda

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A Chinese Pavilion All Her Own

Discover a schoolteacher’s Beijing adventure in Cinnabar’s Story.

That’s all from magical Kew for now.

We return to the real world tomorrow, well almost.. we’re off to the opera!

I almost forgot, don’t you forget to take a peak at Part I of the visit.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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Of peacocks, palaces and pagodas… Incredible Kew Gardens The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Day Out: Part I

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Dear Friends

This Sunday The Dandy undertook a winter outing to The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew to blow away the cobwebs and insert some colour into his day.

Here are some snaps, and, as ever, a few scents to match…

1. A Petite Palace

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Last Empress

2. Sweet Carnivorous Plants

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Bitter Cannibalistic Honey

3. Extraordinary Domed Home

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Containing Warmer Climes

4. Scientifically Shaded Berries

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Meet their maker

Why not peruse The Dandy’s review of Balmain de Balmain?

5. Sowing the Seeds

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And Gathering Them In

6. Unseasonal Orchids, Particularly Awesome

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Indelicate Flowers

The Dandy‘s had some thoughts on Amarige too.

7. Winter at The Orangery

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The Whole Tree

8. Blanched Eucalyptus

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Whiter Than White?

Oh yes, and That Peacock?

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Of course!!

Part II tomorrow.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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Chic Sheikh and Hollywood Fashion… Mitzah by Dior The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

From Asia Minor via Adriatic, Alps, Old Amsterdam, Atlantic, Old New Amsterdam and trans-continental railroad he has arrived to seek his silver screen stardom in the golden sun shining state.

He has brought with him the bare essentials: the shirt on his back, two more in his bag, dancing shoes and  feet, a way with women and smouldering good looks.

His arrival is announced with something, and some things, of the souk.

His shirts, though small in number are fine Egyptian cotton and laundered in the French style with flower scented water.

Meals, though frugal, are spiced with the savour of the Levant. Wholesome pulses and nutty grains come with cinnamon, coriander and cardamom: all conceived to convey the Arabian sub-continent.

His words, though few in English, are chosen exquisitely: notes in a minimal symphony.

Movement is tiny too and exact.

Here is a man who can turn walking across a room into a three act tragedy.

Oh, and the eyes.

Eyes, in first glance ordinary, that are in the gaze sublimely glowing orbs in pools of the heavy dark dust they call kohl.

The dust of three thousand years weighs heavy as settled incense on his every limb and make him languorous to the point of inspiring near universal lust.

That this reality: this exotic, erotic, feeling man should be loved by the camera and women in equal measure is, the producer will years later remark, “the greatest coincidence of the early cinema”.

On set, unaware of his own ambiguous attractiveness to practically all, he sips rose tea sweetened with honey and waits patiently for artistry to occur.

It inevitably does.

If a perfume ever felt it had a divine right to be considered beautiful it could be Mitzah from La Collection Couturier Parfumeur by Dior.

Formed with the easy precision of a skilled pattern cutter’s hand, it is an apparently simple composition that only assumes its true form when worn.

From the start it is mainly smoke in the couturiers’ mirrors. Billowing clouds of incense take their time to clear. Clouds that come from cones heavily flavoured with coriander, cinnamon and cardamom, rich and spiced in their swirling.

When the dust does finally settle our newly dressed gentleman lacks only one thing: a floral buttonhole. A mistake rectified with the quick provision of a rose, one that continues to emanate its Damascene scent the rest of the day.

Only one element now remains: a sweetness to add humour to this show of the dark arts.

Here come the bees in their honeyed hoards to bring a sepia tint to the scene.

An icon is an icon and exudes sexuality rather merely having a sex.

Mitzah is a fragrant icon of the silent olfactory screen.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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A culinary fit… Theorema by Fendi The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

Once the clocks went back, late October, she started to worry.

Well, in truth, she started to pretend to worry and purely for public consumption.

Inside her heart excitement welled.

It was good to let them think the whole thing an enormous, daunting chore as that gave her all the alibi required for the grand ritual she secretly adored.

For soon the occasion would arise to bring down the rosewood mixing bowl from atop the Welsh dresser where it sat all year round.

To endlessly soak dried fruit in sexy spirits and splurge pounds on expensive spices and strange otherwise unused oddities: suet, mincemeat, Muscovado sugar, candied peel and plums pickled in kirsch.

It is Christmas pudding making time.

When the earmarked weekend comes, for this extraordinary event is two whole days long, she will channel Julia, Delia, Nigella. 

Though, happily, as her hapless adoring husband will whisper, “Mainly she is  Fanny Craddock”.

Dressed in an exquisite orange all in one, she picked up vintage so is careful not to get too close to naked flames, she is a vision in billowing blouson sleeves, flared trouser legs and oversized amber jewellery, a gift from her brother from an unremembered Baltic state where such things are cheap.

Thus, attired like a factory worker from soviet era sexual fantasy she is ready to undertake her industrial operation.

Almost.

Just two last things.

First, to instil an air of Buddhist calm over the proceedings, a prodigious quantity of joss sticks are lit with the necessary surfeit of ceremony.

Second, she moves the flower arrangement from the sitting room to the kitchen.

‘One can’t cook without flowers’ she hears in her head, and wonders if it might be Elizabeth David’s voice.

Surrounded by winter roses, a little jasmine and stem upon stem of peppery carnations she is ready….

Very nearly.

A third and final last thing… music.

And what could be better, ‘quite a lot actually’, her spouse will, once more under his breath remark, than Mike Oldfield.

So as sultanas, currants and raisins mellow back to being soft fruits in a rather pricey rum and blackest stout, she is elbow deep in sifted flour, breadcrumbs and all that suet: hand mixing them in a baby’s disused bathtub, kept back for this annual purpose.

Next come the spices, cinnamon and nutmeg in the greatest degree, but also blade mace, cardamom and the candied peel.

The atmosphere is thick enough, with scent and her soaring off key contralto, to stir with a wooden spoon.

“Four am in the morning
Carried away by a moonlight shadow…”

Flecked in flour and aromatic golden dust she turns her attentions to the liquid part and in a punchbowl mixes barley wine with yet more rum and adds large eggs to give body to this potent beast.

A thought occurs, “Is this an ‘eggnog’? That mysterious alcoholic brew so beloved of black and white Hollywood renderings of the Yule.”

She sprinkles the slop with spice and slurps back a mouthful or two, ‘not bad, a little bitter’ she adds an amount of the Muscovado sugar.

‘Definitely passable’. Another punch cup’s worth or two passes her lips and then the realisation: she has drained the batch.

She makes double the amount, half for the pudding mix, half reserved for her.

In the plastic infant bath, fruit, flour, eggs, spices and eggnog come together and, with a seaside plastic spade and incredible effort, she begins to stir.

The work is hard, soon she breaks a sweat and is forced to draw heavily on her hearty cocktail to keep production going.

The music lifts her, In dulci jubilo… “In Sweet Rejoicing”

Powered on by eggnog and festive excitement she fashions the mix into great greased paper and foil wrapped orbs.

Then collapses.

She is discovered later in a heap, the too merry, grating tune still playing on a loop.

The second day she views through two mists, one metaphorical the other literal: as puddings are steamed for a dozen hours, transforming kitchen to Chinese laundry.

She watches the second act of the culinary adventure, overseen today by her other half, as she fades in an out of consciousness on a day bed brought to the cuisine so she might still feel part of the Christmas scene.

Draped in a tan towelling dressing gown, she holds her amber gems to her temples like amulets, having read somewhere of their crystalline healing powers.

She speaks little and sings not at all.

Now and again through her husband’s Mozart though she can be heard to frailly wail…

“I knew it would be too much, it always is… next year though, no eggnog.”

Fendi’s Theorema is a fantastically festive , vintagely vulgar figgy pudding of a fragrance.

Big, bold, spicy, spiky, sloshed and yes, after a fashion, rather sexy.

For all its apparent sweetness and amber this is a meaty, bordering on the muscular smell.

Sinuous ripples of wood strengthened spices straining beneath a soft fleshy surface of florals and semi-precious whale spew.

It’s all about orange at the opening, blossom and the fruit itself (not listed, but if it is lemon it’s certainly the most orange-like citron I’ve smelt). Oh, and nutmeg, very freshly ground, a true kitchen smell, unlike so many of today’s ghastly artificial gourmands.

Then come the other spices, cinnamon, of course, but also a cardamom that is the first reminiscence here of spirits, a hint perhaps of sloe gin, that over time becomes rum. The alcoholic suggestion never really becomes more than that, a suggestion, but it is there nevertheless.

Equally as present, but also very much in a supporting role, are the florals, a jasmine that adds a little firmness then some rose for expanse and a little pepper from carnations to match the black pepper that is independently in the scent.

As the dry down proceeds it is amber, as rich and warm as light shone through the decorative gem-like variety that comes to dominate. Only golden toasted almonds are allowed, pleasantly, to intrude.

In this stage the fragrance truly glows, like the cheeks of beautiful hostess guilty of a minor intentionally saucy indiscretion.

All of which brings us to the fact that Theorema may be retro but it hasn’t been left behind when it comes to being alluring.

This is a seriously sensuous scent.

Being a Scorpio as you all now know, The Dandy’s all for a little sensuality and so this aroma seems most attractive to him.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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Memories stored away… Coromondel by Chanel The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

A small city surrounded by wild countryside and coasts.

Outside the music store Autumn turns to Winter.

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In its window the all year around promise of prospective presents massed within.

I am eight, perhaps nine, it is an indeterminate Saturday in the interminably long weeks between a birthday and Christmas, a day about to be made distinct in memory.

I have been brought to peruse the selection at this specialist supplier of stringed instruments.

We have arrived, after an apparently epic journey, on a day as wet and unwanted as a discarded handkerchief, cool but not cold enough for snow. Our old car’s windows are misted by hot breath and my mother’s rose perfume.

We park just across the street so that everything can be seen as we wait for the rain to stop.

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With my sleeve I swab away the condensation from the glass pane on the passenger’s side and perceive the name: Polge & Co. and the words that ring excitement out of my slight still-young spine: violins, violas, cellos, double bass.

We make a run for it.

The door rings open with a high melodious chime.

Inside, I am in a rhapsody.

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Rails and rails of naked unstrung maple and spruce bodies await my passionate gaze..

Too soon though my open-mouthed awe is disturbed.

The owner: sharp featured despite his age, grey hair down to the shoulders and a black polo neck up to his chin, raises a mug emblazoned with an engraving of Beethoven I recognise from text books.

‘Welcome’ he half sings half shrugs.

I catch a draft of the medical citrus and honey of the hot cold remedy he is sipping, and something else that smells a little like a spirit cabinet.

The doors to this other sense now opened a swathe of scent descends on me.

Everywhere the smell of wood, the spice of bright varnish and most of all the resinous sweetness of treatments for bows: blocks and blocks of near transparent rosin lined up in row upon row grace a glass cabinet.

These semi-precious pre-stones glow in the soft tungsten light but are a barrier between me and the ultimate objects of my fantasy.

A hand upon my shoulder. The shopkeeper is knelt by my side.

‘And what are we looking for today, Sir?‘ I hear the smile in his voice and breathing in partake his prickly dark perfume, that now, in age, I know to have been patchouli.

‘He wants a fiddle!’ my mother laughs, gently mocking my absent grandfather’s turn of phrase and, unintentionally, her own innocence.

The next minutes, maybe ten, maybe twenty, forty an hour even, pass by as if a single moment. A symphony of sincere salesmanship and the faltering first steps of an eager nascent connoisseur.

The deal is done before the negotiations have even begun. I turn around with a flourish and hold the instrument first aloft then tight to my chest.

My mother is at the counter, sipping coffee with the ‘&Co.’ owner who has emerged , from the secrets of the backroom beyond.

Even my child”s eyes see he is young and handsome, all dishevelled in a cloud of incense and what I’ll learn at college is cannabis smoke.

He calls me over, winking above my head at his long haired lover.

He hands me a mug, this one has Mozart on and is filled with milk and honey.

He smiles and reveals from behind his back a conjurer’s clenched fist.

He turns and unravels it to reveal a white chocolate mouse and raises his eyebrows in silent invitation.

I look up and my mother nods happy consent.

I taste the creamed vanilla in the air before the morsel arrives in my mouth.

Then another fist appears.

It unwraps itself and unveils a second sweet rodent.

With aplomb and a tiny splash that sounds ‘plop’ it drops into my drink.

I wait for it to sink and melt before I take a swig.

I sit and drink and smell, small and observant.

Three Magi, first with warm musky felt, then fuchsia tissue and finally waxed brown paper wrap my new musical joy.

A freshly minted case must wait for another winter.

Drawing up ready for our departure I inflate my lungs and fill them with the last breaths of the owners’ and the store’s aromas.

The door opens with the same tuneful peel. My brown paper package in hand I ache anxiously for Christmas morning so that I may open my prize and play this scented song again.

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I feel no cold, no rain, though the weather has not changed.

Chanel’s Coromandel is as melodious and soft as sweet music.

A swift and citrus allegro opening of orange and neroli quickly negotiates into a second movement mostly played andante.

Here sweeping string section notes of vanilla, benzoin and incense are prevented from becoming sickly by brief interludes of a pizzicato patchouli, an accord that will eventually form part of a darkly honeyed harmony.

And whilst in dry down this smells more of imaginary bitter white hot chocolate than anything else, the quality of the ingredients, a strong backbone of hardwood and the skill of the their blending ensures that this is more refined music emporium than corner shop or candy store.

Two parts gourmand, three resin, tree and herb this is a nostalgic, near-edible memory made scent.

Yes, something of a white chocolate madeleine moment.

Unisex? Undoubtedly.

Wearable? Oh yes. On high days and holidays to make up for a warmth the weather lacks and when in the mood to remember.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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Of birthday gifts and wishes… Mahon Leather by Floris The Perfumed Dandy Says “Thank You!” 

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Dearest Friends

A quick note to say thank you all for your wonderful birthday wishes of yesterday.

And well done too to Miss Misty and Eva MG who correctly guessed the mystery perfume as Floris’ Mahon Leather.

It’s a soft, sophisticated finely floral leather with heaps of balsam and a touch of powder.

Anyone who likes their hide dressed in irises and with just a dab of vintage Guerlain powder would love this… The Dandy most certainly did, it was gift received with grace (one hopes) and much gratitude.

Now, on with Autumn.

With heartfelt thanks.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

Post script…

The Dandy is still without the facility to comment here or on others’ blogs, a result, I am informed, of an ‘update’. 

I am still avidly reading and mentally corresponding and hope it will not be too long before I can do so ‘for real’ once again too.

Pray forgiveness for my ongoing and involuntary ignorance.

TPD.

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Can you guess….? The Perfumed Dandy’s Birthday Scent

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A splendid gift this morning… glorious sunshine and something rather special in a bottle…

Any ideas what it might be?

Answer tomorrow as I’m off out already to enjoy the weather and being spoilt, so no more words from me aujourd’hui!

Yours ever (older but still youthful)

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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