Tag Archives: Belgium

In getting a dog…

We’ve both been internet-peeking at tons of dogs all over the place off and on for over a year. Mostly the search has been in the Netherlands and Germany…at rescue organizations and shelters. Sometimes it was just looking, but M knew that ‘looking’ to me meant possibly ‘getting’, so he quelled the search a bit. Tee hee.

I’ve had two dogs in the past: Our family dog, Sheba, the Samoyed, beautiful girl; and a German Shepherd cross that was stolen from me after I had him for only two years. That was one of the most devastating things that has ever happened to me.

Since then I have worked as a part-time pet-sitter-dog-walker for over five years and have taken care of friends’ dogs. I wanted a dog so bad, but circumstances did not allow for me to have my own (work and such), so I lived a vicarious life through those who already had dogs and I loved it! But since I arrived in the Netherlands, 19 months ago, getting a dog has been forefront in my mind. Perhaps making M a bit crazy sometimes. *shrug*

Ripley —my sweet, old cat, made the journey to the Netherlands with me, but passed away only a few months after I arrived. I was broken.

We live in the country. I’ve never lived in farmland before. It’s beautiful here —don’t get me wrong— and we have a huge yard, garden and a big house (for two people, it’s big). M works and I was here by myself. It was too quiet, it lacked fur. We got Rudy and Lois, two cats that have immense characters and love being here…they have the huge house and they roam around outside. Having them saved my sanity. I love them with all my heart. Once I taught myself how to knit (after some excellent tutelage from my friend, Shelley, back home), I was on my way to busying myself into a new company that I started and subsequently, taught myself how to crochet and sew. (Thanks internet!) I was a lot less crazy once I could be busy.

But there was still a little hole in my heart…just big enough for a dog to squish into. Hence, the dog-peeking.

I found a very sweet German Shepherd cross with Rottweiler mix in Belgium and she’s just adorable and started off with a pretty crappy life in Turkey. Fortunately, the mother-daughter team of Sos Straathonden Turkije found her, her sister and their mom and then transported them to Belgium for adoption. The woman who is fostering them now is a very nice person and she knows what she’s doing. Between the Turkish shelter and the foster home, we spoke a lot about the young dog. While we were looking for dogs, M pointed out that we could look at the dogs in the shelter we stumbled upon during a bike ride earlier in the year, across the border in Germany. While I wasn’t looking, M called me to the computer and said: “I’ve found the perfect dog for you!” It was this little adorable girl.

We visited her at the shelter. She was ADORABLE!! Super happy and playful. A bit on the skinny side, but she is healthy. Someone had dumped her at the shelter one night while it was closed. Sad, but a much better situation for her than a million other horrible things I could imagine. So, fortunately, the people who had her were actually kind and did a good thing for her. And for me!! There was another, older dog, there that captured our hearts too. We’ll ask more about her/him tomorrow.

We get to go back tomorrow for walkies, then she might have a sleepover another night!!!

UPDATE: I didn’t have the information right about her life before getting to the shelter: She was with a man who became very ill and had to go to the hospital, so he brought her to the shelter. Very sad for him to have to give her up, I’m sure, but at least he did the right thing and wasn’t selfish. He gave her a better life. : )

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Decades of trying to find a very elusive smell

When I was quite young, I had a small bottle of perfume that I could not get enough of…I loved the scent. I won it in the children’s section of the Calgary Stampede —where kids could play games, win tokens and then spend the tokens in a tent filled with all sorts of items. I acquired this little bottle of joy in the early 70s, so the perfume had to have been made then or prior to the 70s.

I loved the smell. Loved. Sometimes I’d just open the bottle and smell it, not to apply any…just to get a whiff and close the cap. Saving it.

I used it sparingly until I was in my late 20s. I have no idea what the scent was or what delicious aromas comprised its smell. It was very floral, very light and pretty smelling. I have a very good nose for smells (except for the finer intricate ingredients, I guess), so I knew I’d remember it, if I ever smelled it again. Smells can haunt me years later and take me back to a place, a time, certain people…events that have been tattooed into my brain by their smells. I think a lot of people can be jarred by certain smells from their past, perfume or other.

I took the tiny bottle (now mostly just the last few fumes clinging to the sides of the bottle) to perfume counters in department stores, to super, fancy shops and to people who mixed essential oils. I never found out what it was. And by now, I don’t even remember where the bottle ended up. And that pretty much ended my search, as I no longer had the bottle and its precious contents.

Until a month ago, in French-speaking Belgium. I didn’t find the perfume, but I had an ice cream cone with the flavour of  violette. It tasted like the perfume smelled!!! So, since then I have been searching for a violet/violette perfume, so I can reclaim this fragrance from my youth!

I happened upon a website dedicated to the odiferous delights found in eau de parfum, eau de cologne, eau de toilette,etc. In one of their forums, I told a similar story about the bottle, the smell and the ice cream that awakened my nose-senses.I gleaned the names of several perfumes containing violets and even violet candies!:

  • Penhaligon has a very nice, straightforward, satisfying violet perfume called Violetta, which could work as a substitute. In Italy, a traditional violet perfume is called Violetta di Parma Borsari.
    Meanwhile, you can partly satifsy your cravings for violet by eating things like Flavigny violette mints or, even more so, Choward’s mints (which you can find in candy stores or the like). If you leave the Chowards mints in your bag, the bag will soon smell deliciously of violet.
  • Violettes de Toulouse L’Originale Berdoues
  • Second vote for Violettes de Toulouse by Henri Berdoues, smells just like them little violet flavored pastilles they sell in both Netherlands and Belgium. Given a choice, aim for EdP, the one that comes with a cute lavender colored bulb atomizer — and do not forget NOT to use it as it ages the fragrance very fast.
  • It may have been Devon Violets. That one has been around a long time, I urge you to try Annick Goutal La Violette.

“What did the bottle look like?” Me: “Good question! It was in a small, spherical, glass bottle. It was about 5 cm (2in) high and it had a little woven basket about one third of the way up from the bottom. The color of the perfume itself was either a light green or a light purple. Funny how I can’t remember that detail anymore.”

I had a handful of excellent replies and one person sent me a link of images of bottles! I had never even thought of that before! I started to recognize a thing or two, someone else asked another question, there more suggestions and eventually this entry from another great site. And the very bottle itself —in the little wicker basket. Eureka!

Devon Violets by Lownds Pateman Ltd 
Devon Violets by Lownds Pateman LtdDevon Violets by Lownds Pateman Ltd
Year Introduced : 1920’s
Fragrance Type : Perfume
Pictured Size : 12 ml
Dimensions : 4.3 cm h x 3.5 cm w
Bottle Design : Lownds Pateman began manufacturing natural perfumes during the 1920’s and was situated in Torquay Devon, England.’Devon Violets’ is presented in a ball shaped miniature bottle with a white screw on cap. The bottle, from the 1950’s, sits inside a pretty little woven basket. There is a gold paper label on the base with ‘Made in UK‘ printed on in black.Pictured on the right, is a 3 sided rounded miniature with the two sides at the back ‘pinched’. The bottle is 5.8cm high and holds 15ml. There is a curly ‘V’ glass mark at the base and a gold paper label with ‘Made in UK’ printed on. This miniature, that holds a lime green fragrance, is from the 1960’s.

I tracked down an apothecary in the UK still carrying Devon Violets and placed an order. I. can. not. wait.

So, once again, Internet, you have managed to amaze me and help me get in touch with other people who, like me, thrive on having good scents around me. : )


On getting to the Tour de France

…or on almost getting there, having to avoid Liège because of a huge amount of cars trying to do the same thing as us, making aU-turn into about 45 minutes of traffic and knowing it was useless to try to then going on a little Belgian adventure instead.

It was a gorgeous day, so we drove around aimlessly —as we are wont to do in trying to discover new areas— made a few stops, saw some stuff, walked around the completely unexpected pleasantness of Visé and I ate some remarkable ice cream that reminded me of a perfume I loved from my childhood.


In trying to find the Tour de France festivities

There was SO much traffic on the way to Liège we decided to abort the mission and head off to a new direction away from the hubbub. I love it when we just say, “go left!” or “let’s try this way”. It always ends up with some type of reward: Be it a spectacular view, delicious food, strange encounters and always some pleasant surprises.

We drove around the hilly bits between Liège and Visé and made a few stops along the way. Visé was one of those nice surprises…very pretty town and it was all decked out in Tour de France trappings with a lot of people and cyclists spread throughout the streets. We even caught a glimpse of a TDF cycling team on the road as we were leaving. So, we did get a bit of the TDF spirit without actually getting to our original destination!

We grabbed some ice cream too and I was completely knocked over by the rush of memories I had after tasting my violette-flavoured ice cream [pictured below]. When I was quite young, the Calgary Stampede had a small section just for kids —with rides and games. After winning so many points from the games you could go into this big tent and spend your points. I bought a tiny bottle of purple perfume. I was so enchanted by the smell that I kept the perfume ~sparingly~ for many, many years so I could dab it on or pass the open bottle under my nose to take in the mysterious smells. I think I had the bottle until my 20s. I had taken it to perfume counters a few times to find out what it was, without ever getting any clues. Until I had this ice cream! The flavour tasted like the perfume smelled!! The olfactory senses sure are intense!!! Crazy. Needless to say, I tried to find some parfum or essential oils of violette online when we got home. I’m still searching. But if we had ended up going to Liège, I never would have discovered that elusive childhood memory (and smell!).

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