The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Celia Lyttelton Headshot

The Manorbier Castle Chronicles

Posted: Updated:

This week's highlight was lunch, (albeit only canapes) at the new swanky Blain Southern Gallery on Hanover Square for Francesco Clemente. Clemente was one of the stars of the Trans Avantguardia in Italy and shot to fame, when his paintings were exhibited in the groundbreaking "New Spirit in Painting' at the Royal Academy in the early eighties.

While one of Italy's most acclaimed art critics and an inspired curator, Mario Codagnato has been wooed back to Blighty after a 16 year gap, to join Blain Southern as head curator and director of exhibitions and so the gallery is sure to go from strength to strength.

The sartorially savvy Clemente, still looks as young as ever and his paintings have not changed that much either. An Indiaphile, spending much of his time on the subcontinent painting, his show, titled 'Mandala for Crusoe' comprises of linen canvases, embellished with milk paint and verdigris , employing a rich melange of Dravidian motifs, Hindu mythology, Tantric mysticism fused with Freudian symbolism; and a scattering of glittering mica and silver pigment; so they are all sparkly. At best Clemente is a great visionary painter, at worst a little whimsical and I felt a twinge of disappointment looking at the latest oeuvre.

I feel like the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier pondering her fleeting youth as the clock chimes 13 times, because, my youth has flown and they say until you are 40 you get the face God gave you and after 40 the face you deserve. A little hard I think and I hardly dare look in mirrors unless under flattering light. My wrinkles are crevices and never mind foundation cream I need Polyfiller. So it is time to try some miracle wrinkle busters, which profess to 'visibly reduce the appearance of wrinkles' and some anti puffy gel for my eyes as my bags and dark circles are so dark, that I look like a Byzantine madonna. Not to mention looking rather green at the gills and a little jaundiced, even though I haven't got jaundice. It might help if I was not such a voracious smoker.

I am slathering on GreenPeople eye gel, Eternal Cosmeceutical under eye enhancer which says 'it instantly' reduces wrinkles, (but I am wary of the 'not always suitable for highly sensitive skins' bit) and StriVectin power serum, with plant cell stems, (what ever they are). I have taken a 'before photograph' and will take another one after the 8 week trial. I am also trying out a viscous 'Nip and Fab' moisturiser without any ill effects. And since I am on a natural organic trip here, the greenpeople creams are parabene free and therefore harmless.

I am also a great advocate of natural perfumes, not the celebrity hyped, highly synthetic, over-the- counter 'fragrances', containing about 5% or less, proper perfume or essential oil, which frankly are better deployed as air fresheners. Two natural scents have just come on the market, the mythically named Pegasus range, with not a single solitary chemical in them which have been dreamed up by the noses at the best bespoke perfumers in the country, Creative Perfumers, headed by the fragrant Anastasia Brosler.

The one I have anointed myself with is a classic Chypre, what its creator Coty in the 1920's, called his 'cotes bouillon' of fougere, oakmoss and patchouli. Made by a 'ne' in Grasse is Liz Earle's Botanical essence, that is 98%, directly derived from natural ingredients, is lighter and more complex, than the 'cotes bouillon' Pegasus one, with exotic tonka beans, that make you have vivid dreams if you fall asleep in a field of them, vetivert, a tough root grass harvested by Indian peasants, mandarin oil and high altitude lavender.

Penhaligons have a simplified bespoke perfume profile in the Burlington arcade and their formulas have 36% naturals, with have spicy peppery and heavy carnal floral notes, which you can layer for your own signature scent. And for the final effect, of seage and ambrosial clouds, a hefty di palomo Tuscan Rose candle, as candlelight eases the gloom in these long dark evenings. It is supposed to smell like the courtyard of a Tuscan Villa; well when I lived in a Tuscan villa as a child it did not smell of 'climbing roses and Linden trees'; I remember iris rhizomes being harvested for a fine fixative in perfume called orris butter, wilting jasmine, pine, sage, lemon trees and basil. According to Proust all our memories are stored away with the associated smells and tastes. Now I am starting to plagiarize my own book, the Scent Trail, so thats enuff scent.

Dame Emily appeared out of the blue, bearing flowers en route from a school reunion to see Tommy Steel as Scrouge; did I fancy coming? Well not really. Emily has now narrowed events at the castle down to weddings, where as, I would like to 'Hilary Mantelize' the place as a sort of multi sensory experience; so you feel, smell, taste and hear the medieval ages. And Gerald Of Wales, needs to be given more prominence, since he was born at Manorbier Castle in the 11th century; a man of the clothe he made sand churches and wrote 'Journey Round Wales'; his witty observations of medieval life need to be brought to the fore.