On opening a new tin of golden syrup this week to make flapjacks, the sweet smell escaping from the tin immediately transported me back 14 years ago to a holiday in Barbados, for that is what I will always remember Barbados smelling of: sugar – from the cane fields and rum factories. A beautiful island, full of exotic fruit and flowers and humming birds, and it made me think about all the other memories that are evoked by certain smells and perfumes. And they really did play that song on the aeroplane as we boarded to take off.
A newly opened jar of coffee, better still the aroma of fresh brewed coffee, takes me straight back to my childhood, especially the time spent in Germany. Our house always had that delicious smell wafting along the corridor to greet you upon entering. That, and the smell of newly baked bread to me means home. Even now, whenever I visit my mother, the first thing she asks is if I want a coffee and “Shall I make a proper one?” Oh yes please! And just talking about it now reminds me with mid morning coffee in our house always came cake. If ever I am feeling low or nostalgic, I just pop on the percolator.
Lily of the Valley always reminds me of my English grandmother – not from perfume she wore, but her garden was filled with them come the springtime, masses and masses of sweet-smelling little white bells against dark thick leaves. I grow them in my garden now and every spring remember my Gran with lovely fond memories.
Lavender takes me to my German grandmother’s house, for Oma always hung bundles of dried lavender in the wardrobes and inside drawers, always a small sprig in pillowcases on the bed. I do the same. It’s said to help you sleep I’m but afraid it doesn’t work with me, I get by on only 4 hours a night. Perhaps I should infuse the flowers and drink the tea. Mmm, I might give that a try tonight.
The smell of someone smoking a pipe really hits the heart, for my father always smoked a pipe. Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake or Old Holborn especially. Warm memories but also the bittersweet heartache that follows. Nice feelings, but sad too.
Not only do I love the smell of methylated spirit, it reminds me of my first proper job when I left school, working in an office. The typewriters were manual and every week we had to clean the typebars and printheads, polishing until they shone to remove the build up of ink from the black and red ribbons.
Vanilla again sends me back to my childhood. When we came to England, Oma used to send over parcels of food, treats and things you couldn’t then buy in the UK, and there were always bundles of yellow sachets of Dr Oetker’s Vanilla Sugar, used mainly for sprinkling on top of cakes and sponges. Dr Oetker is a very old German company going back to the 1890s and still going strong but I’ve yet to find the sugar sachets in the supermarkets here yet their pizzas are one of the most popular in the UK – I find that strange, Italian food from a German company, or is it just me?
Despite these wonderful scents and aromas, I can never return to my childhood or first job but there is one place I can still go back to: Barbados. I hope I do get the chance to go there again. Now, … where did I put that passport…?