Hello, I’m late posting this week, I know…and I haven’t been very good at taking outfit shots but I thought I’d tell you all about the fragrance training I’ve been doing which, given the weather and the lack of opportunity to wear anything very Summery, is far more interesting. So, as you’ll remember, I had my ‘nose’ tested a few weeks ago and it transpired that I have a relatively good sense of smell. This means that I’ve been given the opportunity to start  training it a little better and this week I had my first session. I went with a few of my colleagues to one of Europe’s big fragrance houses. I hadn’t realised what a huge industry fragrance is – this manufacturer develops varying grades, from household products such as fabric conditioner through to everyday goods like shampoo  – all the way up to fine fragrance. A quick outfit first because I couldn’t get one in situ:


Vero Moda skirt; Betty Barclay white shirt; Boden cropped cardigan; Jigsaw Milly shoes; Schoolgatestyle necklace. I still maintain that Betty Barclay make the best fitted white shirts on the market and I know that a few of you have emailed me to agree after buying them.

The first half of the day involved understanding the process of developing a fragrance which was really helpful because I have been busy briefing unusual combinations for our products and now I understand just how difficult it is to make them come together. It begins with one of the 6 perfumers who spends a few days in his almost hermetically sealed booth, mixing up to 60 different notes together. This isn’t a very good photo but it all felt very secretive in there.

developing fragrance

Once the perfumer is happy with the options that he has developed, the ‘recipe’ goes to the next department to be made up in a larger amount. There were 8 ladies sitting in booths like this, all busy making up potions.

developing fragrance

developing fragrance

These are just some of the ingredients they use on a daily basis

developing fragrance

Once the fragrance has been created, it is made into a small sample to send out to the client in whatever medium they use so, for example, in this lab our fragrance would be added to our wax to be sent to us for fragrance approval.

developing fragrance

Then, when approval is received, the whole process is repeated in a more mechanised way on a larger scale to supply the fragrance in the bulk required so – a computerised system controls the recipe…

developing fragrance

…and sends instructions to huge bottles of fragrance so that the right amount is piped…

developing fragrance

…into these stainless steel canisters, ready for packing and delivery.

developing fragrance

They even have labs where they can unravel the recipes of other perfumes by evaporating them and measuring the point at which each ingredient turns to gas. They then take the graph to the perfumer who can narrow down which fragrances must be included (from a number that evaporate at that particular temperature). Using that information and his nose, he can then pinpoint the exact recipe. Fascinating – I’ve simplified things a bit so don’t shoot me if you’re a fragrance expert but it was very clever – apparently all fragrance houses operate in the same way but the equipment involved costs hundreds of thousands of pounds so there’s a high barrier to entry.

So, once we understood the process, it was time for us to work with the head nose to develop our fragrance ability. She had case after case of these core fragrance ingredients which we had to try to identify before she revealed them to us.

developing fragrance

They were given to us on fragrance strips – these are just a few of mine, the ones on the right are the ones I needed to work on, the ones on the left I had identified correctly

developing fragrance

This gives you an idea of how intense it was – some I’d already finished with…

developing fragrance

The final test was to use what we’d learned to identify the notes in these fragrances…

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I now have the certificate for my basic fragrance training and can’t wait for the next session. I brought home some of the notes I’d struggled with and, just to thrill the boys, I also wrapped up civet, the fragrance that historically came from a civet’s anal glands and castoreum which came from the ‘sacs’ of a beaver. It really is a strong odour but – amazingly – you can sense civet quite clearly in Chanel No 5. Once the boys had been suitably horrified, entertained and had enough material for Snapchat I put the strips outside the back door only to wonder why the cats were behaving so strangely later – it obviously had an animal effect on them as they couldn’t leave the strips alone!

So, I hope you’ve enjoyed that. Here’s a tip that I learned, don’t ‘sniff’ fragrance – you need to fully inhale it in the same way that you would if you were wine tasting. You only truly appreciate the full fragrance if you inhale deeply and sharply.

Now, I am in a small panic having realised that our summer holiday is alarmingly close (I thought I had a week longer than I do) and I’ve been too busy to do any wardrobe planning for it. Last year I had carefully thought through outfits that I’d been buying since May. This year, nada. I have to pack tonight because this is the last evening that I have in the two weeks before we go so it’s going to be an exercise in being creative with what I already have. Here are my pics from the weekend – yesterday, very dressed down for a walk and an ice cream which was an opportunity that I grabbed when all 3 boys decided over breakfast that they’d like to join us. This is why I’m very dressed down, I didn’t want to give them the chance to change their minds by going to get changed! It was such a joy, I so rarely get all 3 together without any grumbling.



Great Plains pompom trimmed t-shirt; Next relaxed skinny jeans; Zara ballet flats; Eternal Collection Murano glass necklace; Whistles sunglasses

And today in monotones for popping out to spend over £100 on sun cream at Boots – it’s always one of my favourite shopping trips of the year but when did it become so expensive, I suppose the boys have increasingly large bodies to cover!!!!

Nikki Garnett, Midlifechic

Zara breton; Boden super skinny jeans; Boden sixties slingbacks; Whistles Fleet Tote; Eternal Collection necklace

Just a warning that I may be late posting again next week. Next weekend I’m going down to London for the sad task of sorting through the possessions of my poor friend who died in March as it has proved too much for his parents to face. We’re trying to mix the sad with some happy so we’re dropping the boys off with some friends whilst we do it and I’m very grateful to Mr MC for coming with me to face what has to be done. Afterwards we’re having a bit of a get together with our old gang to say one last farewell to our friend. So I’m probably only going to manage one more post before we head off to very sunny climes – thank goodness for that! If all goes well I’ll be talking about packing for a holiday without taking anything new. However I do need a new bikini and have had a disaster with everything I’ve ordered so far – does anyone have any tips for great places to shop for swimwear. I need one that will suit a 40 plus body that has given birth to three 9lb plus babies (but I don’t want a one piece)!  Have a lovely week everyone and keep in touch…