Monthly Archives: April 2015

Scented Snapshot- Day 7. Woodsmoke.

The final instalment of my intensive seven day blog challenge. It has been a brilliant exercise for both my memory and my nose, so much so that I’m thinking up ways in which to do another one! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing. 

  

Woodsmoke.

We used to live here. Can you believe it? I’m struck every time I look back at photos just how much of a dream cottage it was. 

We decided to get a little bit more peace and quiet after living right in the centre of Exeter in a rubbish flat for six years together. Recently married, we figured it was time to ‘move into the next phase’. After months of scouring the Internet, seeing dozens of properties that weren’t quite right with extortionate rent (that’s Devon for you) I finally came across the Coach House. It was a perfect late summer’s day when we went to view it and I think anyone would have fallen in love with the place there and then. 

We moved in November 2011. The cottage had a log burning stove, which was both a novelty and a neccessity, living on Dartmoor during winter months. The scent of woodsmoke was everywhere in the village, drifting from all the chimneys and cocooning our little idyll in warmth and fragrant fire. 

I can honestly say that we felt more still and peaceful during the 18 months that we lived there than we had ever felt before. It was truly magical. A nurturing, healing environment at the perfect time. Then along came a little baby girl and suddenly there weren’t enough rooms, only one car and an intermittent bus service to the nearest shop. We knew we’d have to move back to the city at some point, so we did it before we fell out of love with the cottage. The day we left I swear the house closed its eyes as we drove away. 

I’ve never felt so connected to a building before and there are times when I feel extremely nostalgic for those granite walls, with their little nooks for house sparrows and wisteria clinging in the crevices. Although our terraced house now is more suited to our current lifestyle, I often long for the soft stillness of the countryside and the warmth of a log fire. Every time I catch a drift of woodsmoke on the breeze, I’m carried straight back to our magic cottage.

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Scented Snapshot- Day 6. Ivy.


Here you will find the penultimate entry in my seven day blog challenge- to write every day about a place or a thing that is linked with a scent memory. 

  

Ivy.

It is really the wrong time of year to be photographing Hedera Helix at its most potent. English ivy flowers in September and October in the UK, so those are the months when my nose is most assaulted. I can recall the scent at any moment though, such is my hate/love for this dark and clingy creeper.

Ivy totally stinks. It smells fetid and dirty, like sheets left for days in the washing machine. It grew in abundance all over the high, red brick garden wall of my childhood home. When we first moved a big, ugly garage dominated the outdoor space, which my parents knocked down at the first opportunity, leaving behind a concrete slab perfect for riding a tricycle around on.

It must have been early autumn and I remember it had rained heavily. There were slugs and snails and fallen ivy blossom all over the concrete and I got in a right strop because I couldn’t ride my tricycle without squashing all the snails. I parked myself under the overhanging ivy and sulked. The smell under that canopy was intense and disgusting, I had never experienced anything like it. Damp, sweet, rotten, mulchy. Awful.

Even now the smells makes me feel a little angry. It’s just such an assault on the nose. As with everything scent related now though, I kind of love it because it smells so horrid.

Scented Snapshot- Day 5. Sweeties.

This series of seven daily blog posts explores the links between everyday places/things and the scent memories connected to them.

  

Sweeties.

I was a very idealistic kid. I read a lot of books, had an active imagination and often I would find myself disappointed that my internal pictures could not live up to reality. I remember having a collection of illustrated stories, in Enid Blyton style (although I can’t recall if it was actually her) about children learning lessons in morality through misguided actions.

The story I remember most was about a little girl who found a penny in the street. Instead of giving it to her mother she went to the sweet shop and bought some delicious, brightly coloured sweeties, ate every single one and had a tummy ache all night long. 

The illustration in the book depicted those tempting tooth rotters as Dolly Mixtures, a mix of tiny pastel coloured sugar paste and jelly sweets aimed at very young children. You can still (and I do) buy them now. Up until I read the story I hadn’t really had Dolly Mixtures, but suddenly I was overwhelmed with the need to sample these saccharin delights that had been so irresistible to the main character. So I took my pocket money to the corner shop and purchased a paper bag of them from the big glass jar behind the counter. I can remember quite clearly the sound of the metal scoop clanging inside the glass, and the sticky, sugary, slightly fruity aroma wafting from inside the bag as I carried them home.

I sat on the swing in the garden and ate them, enraptured by their colours and perfect miniature cuteness. They were possibly the best sweets ever at that moment in time and absolutely lived up to the dream. I remembered the moral of the tale and saved half the bag for the next day though, of course. 

They don’t smell the same anymore (or maybe that idealistic child still lingers within) but I still buy them, just for a little trip down memory lane.