Five things: Valentine’s Day

It’s Valentine’s Day soon – February 14th, as always – and as I have, in the past, written stuff about it for various publications, I get asked semi-regularly for ideas (by one person a month, maybe, on average, I don’t know, I’m not counting). I also occasionally, all year round, get sent things and asked to cover them in some way and while I can’t do that for everything I get, I do sometimes post on socials about them, but only if I like them.

Anyway, this is all a very long-winded way of saying if you want some inspo for what to buy someone for Valentine’s, here are some things I have liked over the last few weeks. If I got a free sample, I will say so. On the affordability stakes, I’d say you would have to like this person a GREAT DEAL. If you’ve only just started going out, a card and cocktails will do. Flowers if they insist. If you’re angling for a breakup, buy them a cactus and mark the card out to the wrong name.

Anyway, five things:

Tom Ford Beau de Jour

As longtime readers of the blog and sufferers of my drivel will know, I have a kink for smelling good and my favourite scents come from Tom Ford. Latest cab out the rank is Beau de Jour –  which was one of the early working titles for this very blog, actually, but it was too on-the-nose even for me – which was originally part of the very expensive Private Blend collection, but has now gone mainstream and added to the regular range of fragrances with a new (nicer) bottle. After dousing myself in it rather too liberally at the Tom Ford counter earlier today – I smell amazing btw, people are dropping to their knees and proposing as I pass them – I was talking to one of the nice women who worked there and she said the formula was unchanged, so you’re essentially getting a very high-end fragrance for a medium-end price. Medium-ish. Just don’t tell your parents how much it cost. It’s heavy on the lavender and quite musky and woody and generally stunning. Honestly, if I didn’t already know my own phone number, I’d ask myself for it. Beau de PHWOAR.

Beau de Jour, by Tom Ford. 50 ml – £83, 100ml – £117.

Ekster smart wallet

I have a few bad habits, most of them sexy, quirky, and endearing, I’m sure, but my least favourite of all is misplacing things. Not losing them, I generally look after my stuff, but mislaying objects around the house is my Olympic sport. Keys, trainers, gloves, scarves, and especially my wallet. So I’ve been trying out the Parliament wallet from Ekster which has a little tracker in it so you can find it, by calling it from your phone from a special app. The little tracker is solar-powered and lasts ages and, excitingly, is also a remote device for taking selfies. Hooked. The wallet itself is nice too. I would probably have gone for one of the cardholders had I not been sent the wallet as a sample, as I like as slim a silhouette as possible in my trousers, but it’s not actually that bulky. It also has a little button that makes all the cards pop out, lined up and waiting to be hammered in the shops. Anyway, I liked it. There’s a Valentine’s Day sale at the moment, running until Wed 12th. Use code VDAY20. (Sample received.)

Parliament wallet – €79, Senate cardholder – €66, Secretary cardholder – €39

Bulldog face mask

Sheet masking is big, and one of the fastest growing trends in male beauty, which we have to call “grooming” because it’s more manly or something zzzzz. There are growing concerns about sheet masks’ environmental impact, as few masks are biodegradable and packaging is often not recyclable. Men’s skincare brand Bulldog hope their Energising sheet mask is the solution. The masks themselves are made of bamboo, and packaging is minimised because the masks are compressed and only become full-size when you pour what they are calling the “essence” on them – the slimy stuff, basically. It takes a bit of getting used to; on my first attempt, I didn’t use enough liquid and the mask hung off my face like my skin was melting, but I got there in the end. The masks have a tear-off section at the bottom if you’re persevering with the whole beard trend, and there are eight in a pack, so if you balls-up the first one, you can have another go. (Sample received.)

Bulldog Energising Sheet Mask – £12

Kiehl’s Creme with Silk Groom

I love my hair, on the whole, but it is a wilful, unruly nightmare that, as I age and thus go grey, is starting to feel and look like coconut matting. For years I have used Kiehl’s Creme with Silk Groom before blow-drying to help knock it into shape. I use too much tbh, same with fragrance, but it tends to do the trick. I have spent decades looking for the perfect styling wax or pomade or clay or gel (never gel, yuck) and I am still working on it, but I always come back to this one to use alongside whatever I’m experimenting with at the time.

Kiehl’s Creme with Silk Groom – from £20

Extra: Hair styling stuff I have tried recently from samples – and liked – are Ruffians’ new Styling Paste (£18) and Harry’s Texturising Putty (£9). I also liked American Crew Fiber (£15) but I got that in a goody bag, I think, although I did buy some more recently.


I wrote recently for Huffington Post about the marvels of having your own mandoline – not the Captain Corelli kind, but the vegetable-slicing, finger-savaging kind. Seriously, get one. I own the OXO one, as detailed in the piece, , but secretly covet this mandoline from Zyliss, because it juliennes as well. This would be a romantic gift for the foodie in your life, or a good way of indirectly inflicting pain on a partner you’re rapidly tiring of.

Oh, and we might as well have a book while we’re here, given I’m an author and all that. Six things instead of five, which is fitting really as it’s…

Daisy Jones and The Six

Am halfway through this (very successful already, but I’m sure this is the promo they’ve been waiting for) novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid and really enjoying it. My to-be-read pile is huge and scary but happily I am whizzing through this fictional tale of a ’70s rock band and the charismatic singer who joins and turns their world upside down. It’s hugely evocative of the era, with brilliant, lively characters and generally just really really great. Paperback has just come out. More info


Note: I wasn’t paid to write this piece, nor to include any products. I only chose things I actually like and reviewed them honestly.

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