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Ciao, where mascara reviews can be longer than the laptop ones ** Mostly here to record my fragrance addiction but already sliding into other things. **I rate around more than rate back. I try to R/R all perfume, film and travel reviews.

Reviews written

since 17/01/2017


Atelier Cologne Bois Blonds Cologne Absolue 22/02/2017

Pretty pleasant (Atelier Cologne Bois Blonds)

Atelier Cologne Bois Blonds Cologne Absolue I'm going through my package of random samples one scent and one day at the time, as one does. Several of the vials were from Atelier Cologne, a company I didn't hear of before. They are, apparently, a new niche perfume house. It's difficult to work out if they are based in France or the US, but the fragrance style and the website copy style are very mid-Atlantic. Apparently, the creators of Atelier Cologne met in New York and fell in love over their shared passion for Eau de Cologne. Atelier Cologne, and the series of Cologne Absolues is a result of that love and passion. In the words of the website copy, creation of all Colognes Absolues starts with a story or powerful memory and an image. All Colognes Absolues are a moment in a bottle. They also officially retail at around 180 GBP per 200ml (this size implies a lot of splashing), and over 100 GBP per 50ml bottle. This is in the same price class for a fancy cologne (the lowest fragrance concentration) than, let's say, EDPs the genuine luxury products of the Omani fragrance house Amouage and or the dadaistic and whimsical but undoubtedly interesting creations of my favourite niche house Etat Libre d'Orange. So, the concept is pleasant. The prices are high. The individual context for each fragrance is provided by notes, by close-up mood-board type imagery and by a short written vignette. Now for the juice. One fun game the website offers is composing my fragrance wardrobe based on answers to mood-board type ...

Versace Oud Oriental Eau de Parfum 22/02/2017

Sadly better on paper (Versace Oud Oriental)

Versace Oud Oriental Eau de Parfum This came in a pice of fairly random samples which I bought because they seemed interesting and at least a few were of fragrance houses, never mind fragrances, that I have never heard of. THE GIST It doesn't quite work on my skin, but it's interesting and not bad at all, warm, woody but soft, with very noticeable oud and leather. Very worth testing. The rest From all this marketing gold I expected a sweet, heavy oriental, but the bitter oud notes and the tarry smoke of leather mask these well. I was also hoping for saffron, but alas no noticeable saffron for me in this composition. But in order. The perfumer's notes are: Top Notes: Rose Saffron Freesia Middle Notes: Patchouli Violet Heliotrope Base Notes: Agarwood (Oud) Leather Sandalwood Vanilla My actual experience was a bit different. On paper, this starts fresh but substantial and just a little flowery. However, I got none of that fresh flower on my skin where the fragrance settled immediately into a deep, slightly bitter oud/leather/woody accord with something that I would call a faint fenugreek note to avoid calling it a faint stockcube note. An hour later, the fenugreek bit is still not completely gone from my skin, while the paper strip is smelling lovely and etheral which must be the heliotrope/violet part kicking into action. Later on, the drydown proves to be the best part of the scent, as it probably should be with oud-ish orientals. On my skin it's pillowy, warm and velvety, with just a ...

Yves Rocher Quelques Notes d'Amour Eau de Parfum 21/02/2017

Inoffensively sweet (Quelques Notes d'Amour Yves Rocher)

Yves Rocher Quelques Notes d'Amour Eau de Parfum I am Skylightsmoke and I am a Yves Rocher addict. The whole process of ordering, the monthly-changing gifts, ''gifts'', offers and ''offers'', the waiting, the style of the whole thing so different from the equivalent Anglo brands - I don't even KNOW what an equivalent Anglo brand is, maybe Body Shop is close though Yves Rocher is bigger, older and doesn't have the pseudo-hippie roots. Price wise and because of the mail order/running-on-special-offers aspect it's close to Avon but while Avon makes me think of American soccer moms with wavy blonde hair, secretly downing Valium while counting carbs, Yves Rocher evokes a picture of a French maman only a little fixated on organic foods for the bebe and homoeopathic remedies for cellulite but overall much less unhinged. I do love Yves Rocher's shower gels though, while their skincare, when bought on offer, is very decent. But the best thing about Yves Rocher is its absolute unpredictability and the quality and style that varies from Boots' own brand to nearly-top. Before you rate this as off-topic, bear with me, I promise I am getting to the point. Fragrance wise, their offer varies from cheap fruity/flowery body sprays to proper perfumes. Historically, Yves Rocher were responsible for some impressive scents, with Venise (1986) and Ispahan (1977) among the memorable and affordable orientals, and the more recent Secrets d’Essences series offering some pretty decent attempts at fine fragrance. So, one never knows what one is ...

Azzaro pour Homme Eau de Toilette 17/02/2017

Barbershop classic (Azzaro pour Homme)

Azzaro pour Homme Eau de Toilette I don't care much for the masculine/feminine designations of fragrance and as many classic masculines are relatively cheap, I do try and use them now and then. This one came as a 7ml vintage(ish) mini and I found myself actually using it few times on days when I couldn't decide on any of the feminines. THE GIST An archetypal masculine barbershop fragrance, with citrus, lavender and assorted greenery on a mossy bed of amber and musk. Wear ironically and with delight. The longer story Fougère is a name for a fragrance style - one that's usually considered to be and sold as a masculine - which combines lavender and the hay/tobacco notes of coumarin. These come in a vast array of specific flavours, particularly as armoatic fougères with added depth, interest and spice. The name means roughly fernish in French and fougères are always pretty green indeed. They don't (usually) smell of ferns, but evoke the idea of the verdant undergrowth. And in the vast kingdom of Aromatic Fougères, Azzaro Pour Homme, launched all the way back in 1978 and still extant, is one of the indubitable crown princes, probably the Jack of Spades, perhaps past his first flush of youth but still exuding easy confidence and slightly brooding charm, all brown eyes, chiselled features, long stride, the shirt half-undone. The official notes here are as follows: Top Notes Lavender, Geranium, Anise, Petitgrain Heart Notes Vetiver, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Oakmoss, Cardamom, Basil, Lemon Base notes Musk, ...

Caron Yatagan Eau de Toilette 17/02/2017

Split logs and smoke (Caron Yatagan)

Caron Yatagan Eau de Toilette Caron's Yatagan is a somewhat legendary masculine, launched in 1978 and one that apparently has escaped any major reformulations. I became interested in this scent after reading reviews that called it a hissing oriental and another one that claimed it should have been called Yukon instead. I ordered a generous 5ml sample and used it over few days. The short of it Clear, extremely woody, green masculine with an awful lot of pine layered with some animalic and incense notes. Very outdoorsy. A classy thing for not much money and miles above all the modern insipid "sports" masculines. To even consider this, you MUST like pine. The longer of it The notes are supposed to be as follows: Top: Lavender, Wormwood, Petitgrain, Artemisia Heart: Geranium, Pine Needles, Vetiver, Patchouli Base: Leather, Castoreum, Styrax I am not sure how much and at what stages I get of all that is listed above. What I do get is green and woody: most of all pine, where 'pine' stands for all kinds of balsamic, resinous, tarry conifers, and quite high-pitched herbal notes. I don't get any obvious whiffs lavender, though it's probably there, as is the rest in some form or another because the conifers themselves wouldn't be enough to create what feels like a surprisingly complex scent. All that forestry is generously interwoven with some animalic and incense notes. The whole thing feels very outdoorsy indeed, and I think the guy who made the Yukon comment was spot on: it's oriental but only ...

Hermes D'Orange Verte Eau de Cologne 10/02/2017

Passing blast of green (Hermes D'Orange Verte)

Hermes D'Orange Verte Eau de Cologne Among all the edible things that I like the smell of yet don't necessarily want to feature in my perfumes, citruses evoke the most ambivalence. I know I don't want to smell of cake, honey, vanilla as such, chocolate or red berries (even though I rather like all of these). I know that I don't mind spice accords in my orientals, especially cinnamon. But citrus, citrus confuses me. I love the smell of freshly opened oranges or tangerines. I like fresh lemon scent too. And I also love neroli, orange blossom, petitgrain and bergamot notes in bath products and ambient room scents. But so many perfumes based on citrus notes dissolve into insipid, aquatic or, gods forbid, SPORTS fragrances. I did have a great accidental experience with Hermes' Gentiane cologne, so when a quarter-bottle (like the most oversized sample!) of the Eau d’orange verte became mine for the last-seconds bid of less than a fiver together with a dragon's kiss , I was more than happy to give it a whirr. THE GIST A very fresh cologne indeed, citrussy in a very green way, with nearly zero staying power. The longer story They claim: Figurative and generous expressions of instant pleasure, the Hermès Colognes offer a series of material-based olfactive vignettes. This implies a simpler, linear scent, one that doesn't develop through a sequence of top, middle and base notes but stays the same throughout its brief life. The very first in this series, Eau d’orange verte, was created by Françoise Caron in 1979 ...

True North - Francis Gavin 08/02/2017

Northern Grace (True North - Gavin Francis)

True North - Francis Gavin Gavin Francis' Empire Antarctica was awarded the Scottish Book of the Year 2013 prize and shortlisted for Costa, Banff, Saltire & Ondaatje Awards, and his 2015 Adventures in Human Being also made it onto a few distinguished lists. I haven't read those but if they are anything like this one, I am in for two treats some time soon. THE VERDICT A tale of a trip to the European Arctic which combines the modern travelogue with a huge dose of personally but elegantly presented history, ''True North'' is a thing of wonder and comes highly recommended for fans of travel writing, social history or just all things cold and beautiful. The longer version ‘’True North’’, while very much a travel book in the grand tradition of the best travel writing that combines the trip report with the so-called background information is classified by Amazon in Cultural History and this not as much of a mis-classification as it could initially appear. Francis, a Scottish GP who divides his time between writing and doctoring, starts the body proper of ''True North'' with one of the best opening lines I have read recently: I began to dream of the North in a stinking African hospital ward. What comes after that line is a thing of wonder: an account of the journey Francis' made one Northern summer in the Arctic Europe, the lands under the Great Bear, stretching from the northernmost reaches of his native Scotland to the Russian borders of Lapland. The travelogue is interwoven, seamlessly and ...

Crabtree & Evelyn Caribbean Island Wild Flowers Eau de Toilette 06/02/2017

Clean floral that doesn't shriek (Caribbean Island Wild Flowers)

Crabtree & Evelyn Caribbean Island Wild Flowers Eau de Toilette Crabtree & Evelyn is like a British version of L'Occitane, isn't it? Very wholesome and refreshing in the John Lewis/Sainsbury's shopping, Laura Ashley wedding, rose-bush-pruning, cycling-holiday-in-the-Dordogne kind of way. Or anyway, this is the vibe I get every time I visit one of their shops. It often happens after I have my nails done in a shopping mall no-appointments nail bar, and having spent the best part of an hour staring at my rapidly ageing hands I am usually overcome with the need to slather the parchment-like skin with thick layers of something that would at least promise redemption. I usually make a beeline for the C&E or Bodyshop store and while helping myself to the hand cream testers I often try the fragrances too. As much as their bodycare (those hand creams!!) and bath products are delightful if on an expensive side, the fragrance part of the C & E offer appears a little off for me, aiming perhaps a bit above their station with what essentially seems to me a range of more or less glorified colognes at prices that vary from very reasonable (around 30-40 GBP/100ml) to definitely aspirational (140 GBP/100ml). Occasionally I do end up buying something. Such are the risks of sampling. This particular time I bought Leather Musk but was given a small bottle of Caribbean Island Wild Flowers as a free gift, and I am not someone to say no to a bottle of fragrance, unless it's a candyfloss and berry monstrosity whose primary target market consist of Justin ...

Gres Cabaret Eau de Parfum 03/02/2017

Very decent woody & floral oriental (Gres Cabaret)

Gres Cabaret Eau de Parfum I used to wear Cabaret around ten years ago (the fragrance came out in 2002) and as it's an affordable one, the current relapse of my fragrance habit prompted me to buy a bottle for my re-emerging collection. My taste have evolved since, but I'm happy to say that I still like this one. The short of it Woody, softly luminous floral/rose oriental (though Fragrantica lists it as a chypre), slightly old fashioned but not in a granny-scent kind of way. Comforting, warm and quite soft without melting into a puddle or being boring. The longer of it I often buy decants and normally don't care about bottles much, but this one is quite striking in not a necessarily good way. I am not sure what it's supposed to evoke by design, but it makes me think of circus rather than cabaret. Not a bad thing in itself, though I don't feel it really suits the character of the fragrance inside. It's bottom heavy and especially in the 100 ml version needs two hands to operate. Nothing hideous, but nothing great either and the two-hand part is a problem. I like the gold-red colour scheme though, I feel that this aspect does evoke the warm character of the fragrance well. My (EDP) bottle is clear, lacking the red at the top and I feel it suits the actual fragrance better. But to the important stuff. The official notes are: Top: rose, lily-of-the-valley and peony; Middle: violet, blue orchid and incense, Base: patchouli, oleander, Indian sandalwood, amber and musk I am not at all sure if what ...

Etat Libre d'Orange Rossy de Palma Eau de Protection Eau de Parfum 01/02/2017

Battle rose ( Rossy de Palma Eau de Protection)

Etat Libre d'Orange Rossy de Palma Eau de Protection Eau de Parfum I was reluctant to buy this as I have a thing (a Bad Kind of Thing) about celebrity fragrances but Rossy de Palma ain't Paris Hilton or even that horselike woman from that TV series, after all. So after a sample vial made its way to me somehow, I bought more, and used it, and decided that just as the Tilda Swinton ELdO one, this is a clear winner and as for now probably my favourite "proper fragrance" (ie not a plain one-note soliflore) rose. The short of it Aromatic rose with fresh spices. Lovely but not in a particularly sweet way. Try it if you like rose scents at all. Actually, try it even if you don't like florals unless you hate rose because it might offer a moment of epiphanic (epiphaneous?) conversion. The little bit longer of it The official notes are as follows: Top: ginger, bergamot, pepper Middle: geranium, jasmine, rose Base: frankincense, patchouli, cocoa and benzoin For a change, the official notes reflect what I can smell pretty well, though the rose is present throughout, not just in the middle. But it starts truly gloriously, in some dry and warm place where citrussy green of bergamot meets a small roadside rose bush and they roll on a ginger bed for a while. So it's all lovely, but after few minutes geranium raises its weird, cloying head. Luckily, not for long and what happens next, and what remains for the next ten hours (I did apply LOADS, though, because I couldn't get enough of that first accord) is an aromatic, not-at-all sweet yet ...

Raasay And Applecross, Loch Torridon And Plockton - Ordnance Survey 28/01/2017

Better options than this map (Landranger 24 Raasay & Applecross)

Raasay And Applecross, Loch Torridon And Plockton - Ordnance Survey Raasay And Applecross, Loch Torridon And Plockton is one of the Ordnance Survey Landranger sheets, the standard issue series of pink-cover all-purpose maps with tourist information that cover the whole of Great Britain with 204 sheets in 1:50 000 (2cm to 1km or 1.25 inch to 1 mile) scale, starting with 1 ( Shetland – Yell, Unst and Fetlar) and ending with 204 (Truro & Falmouth, Roseland Peninsula). Although OS claim that the Explorer series (1: 25 000) is the map for walking and other seriously outdoor activities, in many cases the Landranger maps provide all the information that's needed as half the price (or double the land covered), although there is less detail. Still, these are topographical maps with landscape features, the lay and shape of the land, contour lines, many of the existing footpaths and are eminently suitable for less complex and demanding walks, cycle rides that use roads and tracks and planning of trips - or just to inspire and provide planning tools. And all of this applies to the map in question. However, as always in the case of attempting to cover an irregular area of land with not-excessively-overlapping series of rectangular sheets, some of those sheets will make more sense than others as far as the area depicted goes. And this particular one makes less rather than more sense, considering the alternative. Landranger 24 covers an area of Wester Ross including Loch Torridon, the Applecross peninsula all the way to Plockton as well as the island ...

Bvlgari (Bulgari) Black for Women Eau de Toilette 27/01/2017

Smoking rubber (Bvlgari Black)

Bvlgari (Bulgari) Black for Women Eau de Toilette Luca Turin gives Black five stars in his (famous, controversial, inspiring) guide, but as these ratings are given as much for the concept and the artistry of execution as for actual olfactory appeal, I wasn't quite sure about this one. On the other hand: LT's review also summarised Black as hot rubber so I was understandably intrigued. The short of it Unique and interesting unisex fragrance. A woody oriental with a strong note of smoke up top that lingers throughout the life of the scent: maybe smoked tea, maybe wood smoke, maybe burnt rubber and a big, warm amber in the middle. The long of it Hot rubber then - but the notes given by Bvlgari are thus: Top: Lapsang souchang tea, Bergamot, Jasmine Heart: Cedar, Sandalwood, Leather Base: Amber, Musk, Vanilla No mention of rubber, alas. Yet, rubber it is, and not just up top, but for quite a while. In fact, rubber notes remain noticeable all the way through the first hour and linger on further down too. But before you start imagining some sort of medical (or kinky) latex-and-talcum-powder scent, let me reassure (or disappoint) you: the rubber here is decidedly outdoor one, dry and hot, even slightly burnt, perhaps when performing a handbrake turn. It's the rubber of tyres, with a bit of hot tramac, just like the flat, round and black packaging of this fragrance suggests. Or maybe it is simply the smokiness of Lapsang Souchong. Maybe the posh acquired-taste tea actually smells of burnt tyres? Fancifulness aside, I ...

Scotland the Best - Peter Irvine 27/01/2017

Unique, list based guide, useful and reliable (Scotland the Best)

Scotland the Best - Peter Irvine The short of it A guide like no other This book advertises itself as The true Scot's insider's guide to the very best Scotland has to offer. and has throughout its many years of existence became a bit of an institution. And no wonder. Format It doesn't follow any of the normal guide formats, but consists entirely of lists of the best - the bests is question starting with the fairly normal categories of travel-guide things, such as tourists attractions, hotels and other places to stay, restaurants in various price and style brackets and so on. Everything that is listed in STB is a place, a destination, a location you can identify on a map and travel to. No faffing about with language info, weather warnings, food, history outlines and the like. In this sense it really is a local's or a frequent visitor's guide. Or one for savvy travellers who get other data from other sources, bought or free, and utilise this collection of lists to guide their further selections. Peter Irvine, or whoever aided him in developing the concept, is obviously fond of lists and rankings, and STB makes an art form of compiling lists. The items are only listed if they can be really considered the best and truly worth recommending in their category - STB claims that it will not list something just because there is nothing better, so for example if a location doesn't offer a good hotel, it won't list anything. You can see both the advantages and the limits of this approach, can't ...

Inverness (Scotland) 24/01/2017

Highland Hub (Inverness itself)

Inverness (Scotland) Lukewarm intro Inverness is a really a bit of a dump. No, honestly. For a place whose known history goes more than a millenium back and which is a county town and a centre of pretty much everything for a vast area of exceptional beauty and heritage (aka the Scottish Highlands), this "city" (granted this status officially a few years ago) of around 50,000 people really is a bit of a disappointment. Admittedly, this might be more of an impression of someone who travels here few times a month for practical purposes, and on some occasions that practical purpose involves spending several hours in a court room watching the less-than-lucky and not-so-good and gosh-I-guess-a-poor-sod-but-still citizens of Inverness present themselves in front of the sheriffs and justices of the peace than a tourist or a traveller. So I will try to be fair. Having said all that, Inverness isn't by any means a terrible place and it has its charms and a few excellent saving graces. But it is a bit disappointing in itself and when giving advice to visitors I always tell them that there is no reason to go there just to visit. However, it must be said that if you are touring the Highlands, and especially if you are travelling by public transport, you are very likely to end up in Inverness whether you like it or not. It is a major regional hub and a centre of provision for pretty much anything that can't be organised at the community level in a large, sparsely populated rural area. Big box DIY and ...

AEG T65170AV 23/01/2017

Vende, Vented (AEG T65170AV)

AEG T65170AV Why I bought this when my old Whirlpool tumble drier gave up the ghost rather spectacularly (though there was no flames involved, somewhat sadly, but it made up for it with twisted sheets of sharp steel) but after 10 years of heavy use it had every right to. I wanted a vented drier as they tend to perform better and fail less and I wanted a cheap one from a reasonably reputable brand sold by a supplier that would deliver to this postcode some time this century. Originally my plan was to get a simple drier with a timer, but as these only seemed to come from disreputable/cheapie brands, and as Which? reviews (I actually got myself a free trial specifically for this purpose) always end up recommending Miele appliances or something similar in price, I just used that venerable (if very middle class) publication to reject the obvious duds and settled on this. Four months on, it's still working so things are looking fairly good so far. What AEG T65170AV is a vented drier with a 7 kg capacity and a C energy rating. This is pretty typical for vented tumble driers (or in fact any tumble driers without a heat exchanger). The main spec looks like this: Drying type Vented Drying capacity 7 kg Energy efficiency class C Annual energy consumption 271.4 kWh Energy consumption per cycle 3.9 kWh Noise level 64 dB(A) Controls The interface here extends beyond a basic timer and a gentle/normal switch I was used to -- although there IS a simple on/off 30 min timer function on the ...
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