For someone who is supposed to be writing a blog about fragrance, I have found myself doing something a little different recently. I am in awe of those who are constantly seeking out new perfumes to review because of late I have not felt inclined to go on ‘scented journeys’ in quite the same way.
I’m not entirely sure what has caused this shift. my fundamental love of perfume still remains. I still get emotionally transported by wonderful scents and I’m still constantly chattering away about perfume to anyone who will listen. But when the time comes for me to actually sit down and write about it, I encounter a rather large question mark.
Maybe this is what they call writer’s block; my style has always aired on the side of fiction, even with a very real product as the focus. Up until this point I’d always found that a huge bonus, I didn’t have to try and conjure a story from thin air; it was already filled with the scent of the characters. At the moment it’s like those performers won’t quite step into the imagined spotlight, instead remaining grounded in the shadow of reality. A bunch of molecules encased in a glass bottle with some excellent (or not so excellent) branding. It’s all feeling a little too controlled and contrived to bend to the will of my imagination.
I am at a point in my life where I am very much living in real time. My daughter is growing up so quickly, she’s definitely not a baby anymore and I can’t quite believe how fleeting the last 18 months now seem. As a family we are gradually shifting our lives to bring in more of what we hope will lead to lasting happiness and job satisfaction. It’s exciting and tough going so buying perfume samples has had to go right to the bottom of the shopping list. If it wasn’t for those people in perfume land who occasionally send me things I’d be pretty ignorant of what smells new and interesting right now.
I never intended for this to be a place where I just reviewed fragrances in a straight forward way, there is already a wonderful selection of blogs to go to for that. Truth be told, at the moment a lot of fragrances just aren’t doing it for me, with the exception of one or two that I hope to write about when I can find words for them. I think that when life gets stressful and change is shaking the foundations, it’s the everyday scents that I find the most soothing and comforting.
I’ve been craving vanilla to extreme levels. Not the complex, smokey, boozy vanillas available on the niche market, and not the creamy candy fluff from the designers and celebrities. I want real vanilla; ice cream, patisserie, a jar full of pods to bury my nose in. I want simple food; granary bread, salted butter, tomato soup. Cucumber in chunks with slices of strong cheddar. Asparagus with a little salt, lemon and olive oil. Food that smells wholesome and uncomplicated. I’ve cooked the same fish pie about five times in the last two weeks because the combination of smoked fish and fluffy mash is the ultimate comfort.
I would cover every surface in my home with flowers if I could. Summer is coming and the parks and roadsides are vibrant with colour and scent. I have been seriously tempted to pull onto the hard shoulder of the motorway and gather huge armfuls of the big white daisies that grow in abundance there. The simplicity of their smiley faces brings me untold joy. I would fill every vessel with fluttery sweetpeas and voluptuous lilacs, great sheaves of pink and purple scented stocks, cornflowers for their dazzling blue starbursts and peonies with their tumble of petticoat petals. I’d line up pots of lavender along the sunny garden wall for the bees to feast upon.
I’ve also been changing the bed sheets with unnecessary regularity, just so I can sink into that fresh scent every evening. Linen sprays don’t cut it. The smell has to be crisp and line dried. There is a flowering palm tree in our garden that smells incredible at the moment, it’s white flower scent lingers in the cloth and reminds me of sunshine.
There are only two perfumes that I’ve felt even half comfortable wearing over recent weeks. The first is Penhaligons Orange Blossom. It is smooth, full of golden light and it makes me feel pretty, with just enough projection to be complimentary. The other is Papillon Angelique, a quiet, almost savoury blend of iris with a comforting fennel note that I just adore. Everything else has seemed wrong. Either it’s too strong or too complex or too strange for my pared down mood. Most days I have been content to smell of the products I use on my skin; a cheap and cheerful gardenia shower cream and raw coconut oil. My husband wears The Voice of Reason from Gorilla and I find that scent deeply comforting. Sandalwood, coffee and tobacco blended into a smooth, smoky perfume that will eternally remind me of him.
I feel a little guilty admitting that I’m not loving perfume right now, after all, that’s supposed to be ‘what I do’. But life is full of scent and during times when I need my wits about me, perfume almost seems to mask the reality of my situation. I feel more at ease just appreciating the scent that I encounter all around me. I find it grounding, it makes me stop and wonder at this most powerful of senses. It brings me back to myself somehow. I have no doubt that in another few weeks I’ll be spritzing away with the best of them again. Something incredible will waft in my direction and my imagination will spark into excited flames. For today though, I’m going to go and climb the highest tor on Dartmoor with my little family, breathe in the fresh air and try to see what’s coming next. I can smell excitement on the breeze.
What’s your ultimate comfort when life gets crazy? Do you disappear in a cloud of your favourite perfume or do you feel the need to pare it back like me? I’d love to hear from you…