Archive for July, 2011

July 26, 2011

Fragrant memories.

My darling daughter taught me a valuable lesson recently. Not on purpose, you understand. Like many things that happen to me, it started with an accident.

To begin the tale, I need to backtrack a bit to this Spring. In Paris, on Rue Cambon stands the original Chanel boutique. I’ve spoken before of my love for Chanel, but this year was only the second time I’ve stepped inside the hallowed store and this time, I was shopping.

To shop in the Chanel boutique here is a wonderful experience. For those of us not fortunate enough for it to be a regular occurance, it truly is a thing of excitement. Above the store is the famous appartment of Mademoiselle Chanel herself, not to mention where the white-coated staff of Chanel work their magic each collection. For a very special glimpse into this world, take a look at the documentary series: Signe Chanel – Haute Couture Collection [DVD]: Amazon.co.uk: Signe Chanel: Film & TV. This Spring, I particularly coveted a black dress with deep pink camellias on it, which I subsequently saw Anna Wintour wearing, so I am pretty confident that I made a great (although imaginary) choice!

Anyway, one of the many things I am passionate about is fragrance, and I was fortunate enough on this occasion to purchase two wonderful new ones, from Les Exclusifs de Chanel, which are only available in a handful of places across Europe.

I’d spent a considerable amount of time, in a state of what can only be described as giddiness (so sophisticated) making my choices, ably assisted by the staff at Chanel, who clearly understood that this was not an everyday shopping trip for me (my outfit alone gave the game away) and were patient, kind and liberal with the free samples. Once I’d made my choice, I was then taken to a separate room to make my payment. There is nothing as crass as a cash desk in the Chanel store!

The wonderful fragrances (Bois des Iles and Cuir de Russie, for those fragrance fans out there) were safely taken home and worn on special occasions, or quite frankly whenever I needed a lift. Both heady, warm and very grown up, they offer the emotional reassurances you need to take on the world. If Bois des Iles were a person, she’d be a glamourous great aunt, who still smoked, wore cashmere and called everyone ‘darling’. I love it. Cuir de Russie feels like a more dangerous character, leathery, smoky and somehow dirty, but in a great way. If you are interested in fragrance, you need to seek these out, they’re incredible.

That is, they were incredible. Until my darling daughter smashed one of the bottles all over the wooden floor boards in my bedroom. After the initial upset, which I have to admit was very tearful, my husband was able to help me come to terms with it. Ok, I’m being melodramatic, I admit, but I have precious few luxury items these days, and loads of lesser perfumes all over the bathroom but it just had to be this one that was lost. Isn’t life just like that?

He reminded me that, although the fragrance was so very special, part of what had made it so was the memory of its purchase. A memory which I remember every detail of. A memory which still makes me smile, brings back that giddiness and which I will have forever. It helps of course, that the bedroom now has the scent of that memory soaked into it, so I get a reminder each time I walk in. It helps that I still have a teeny, tiny amount of the perfume left for when I really need that grown up help. And it helps that I am going to make a new memory by saving for a replacement bottle to buy next year in Rome. But what is really important is that I was given a little reminder that memories are more important than material goods, however beautiful they may be.

July 8, 2011

Let’s get physical!

Hello folks.

It’s been a while since I posted anything here. Life is pretty hectic, although truthfully, I’ve spent much of the last couple of weeks sitting on the sofa watching other people expend energy – at Wimbledon and now the Tour De France.

Watching incredible sports people at the peak of physical fitness and determination, and even after witnessing today’s sad accident that has just befallen Bradley Wiggins of the Team Sky Pro-cycling team, my interest has been fuelled in undertaking more physical challenges and seeing what my body can achieve. Even clearly lots of pain after breaking a collar bone, Wiggins was already talking about when he would be fit enough to start training. What amazing dedication. He was in such great shape, with a chance of the yellow jersey this year and now we’ll never know. I wish him a speedy recovery.

My relationship with my body changed so much after having children, especially the first time around when my baby daughter and I nearly died. The fundamental shift in my thinking happened after this, as many of the things which I had been self critical about really ceased to have the same power over me.

I can have children. This is the biggest and most amazing thing my body has achieved, for which I will be eternally grateful. I cannot get into a pair of size ten jeans (although for a brief shining period of last summer, I could) but it doesn’t matter. Nor do I have the greatest skin, having both a few spots and now wrinkles. Who knew you got both at once? I thought I’d move seamlessly from one skin problem into another, not that they’d just pile up on top of each other! But anyway, although I do have a weakness for lovely skincare products, it doesn’t bother me in the way it once did. After two emergency c- sections, I have tram line scars across a stomach which on a bad day resembles pink blancmange anyway, so a couple of wrinkles are really neither here nor there. What matters more, is not what my body looks like, but what it can DO.

I can walk, run, dance, swim, ride a horse. I can dig my allotment. I can sing (terribly, but with gusto) while I’m in the shower. I can carry my kids around on my shoulders. One at a time, you understand, I’m not the Hulk. I can cuddle them both at once though, which is lovely. I also seem to be popular for sitting on, whilst watching TV together,  and I can also watch films, read books, listen to music, play games. I can eat, drink and be merry. I can explore the world and climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

But what interests me now, is what else could I do? Could  I run a marathon? Get back on a bicycle, for the first time since a childhood accident put me off for life? Climb a mountain? Where are my limits? It would be great to know what I can achieve with this one body, with its scars and wrinkles!

Well, I’ve decided to take some inspiration from the sports people I have been watching. The bike has been taken out of storage ( thanks to my lovely friend Hannah who left it with me after she emigrated) and is being prepared for my first wobbly trial. The running has increased to three times a week in preparation for the Yorkshire 3 Peaks challenge to raise money for Bliss (the premature baby charity) which is now in the diary for September and I am even contemplating Cycletta in October – which is a women-only 40k cycle ride on closed roads for charity. Assuming that I make it past those first rides and find someone willing enough to be my team mate, that is!

So, 35:35 Challenge has taken on a distinctly physical feel to it. For now, anyway. Other things are still in progress, including the flying and music. More on which another day…