My childhood holidays were mainly spent on boats – in France or the Norfolk Broads – and redolent of boat-y smells: my mother’s Ambre Solaire suntan-oil, swampy water, diesel and an all-pervading hint of damp – a heady combination that just spells ‘summer’, for me! Along with the smell of my dad’s ale, baskets of lavender, grassy shores and one memorable occasion of cow’s breath (stuck its head through the boat window and licked my face while I slept).
The strongest memory I have is of the first perfume I ever sniffed on one such holiday – a fragrance marketed at children (quite usual in France) that I’ve long since forgotten the name of. The juice was green, I think it had a plastic leaf top, and it smelled divine. Thinking of it after all these years, I can smell it right now… such is the power of #ScentMemories.
After the lady in the shop sold it to me (all of my pocket money, but she wrapped it very carefully in brown paper and string), I sat with it on the scratchy blanket of my bed, smelling tomato leaves, blackcurrants, shady woods, wet grass and sky – my mind utterly blown by how someone had managed to cram a whole garden – a whole world! – in a small glass bottle that fitted (just) into the palm of my hand. It still blows my mind, to be honest, and led to a lifetime fascination with fragrance I’ve been lucky enough to make a career of.