“Oh, I’m Going to Barbados…”

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.

Mum likes her coffee in the Alps

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.

A lovely smell by the front door

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…?

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12 responses to ““Oh, I’m Going to Barbados…”

  1. Smells are so nostalgic. I’ve talked about that on my blog this week too! Lily of the valley remind me of my Auntie Eva, lavender of my Auntie Lena and I now have a bed of delphiniums blue and geraniums red, the poem my late mother told me as she took me to my first school.

  2. Lovely post, Kit. I always think of my beloved gran when I smell night-scented stocks and am transported back to her beautiful garden where I spent wonderful hours helping her tend her patch. Freshly sawn wood puts me back in my grandad’s garden shed. He had this old contraption which used to hold the wood ready for sawing and had to be screwed tight. He always let me do that. And Old Holborn? My dad used to smoke that. Like you, bittersweet to remember, because it makes me miss him so much.

    Thanks for the memory prompt back to very happy times!

    • Fresh sawn wood – never thought of that one but yes, another memory evoked of the times my father used to take me to his firm’s workshop where they made wooden cigarette machines – all by hand too in those days. Thanks for reminding me of that one.

  3. Good morning, Tricia. Well, it’s morning my time. What a wonderful, nostalgic post. I love how the scent of something can instantly transport us to wonderful (hopefully) memories. I, too, am a lavender fiend, and it’s the one scent that calms me. 🙂 By the way, I looked. Dr. Oetker has a website. You can order Vanilla sugar! I might just have to try some of that. It sounds really good! 🙂
    http://droetker.elsstore.com/view/category/1006-baking-ingredients/

    • Hi Laurie. I have to admit lavender is one of my favourite smells. I have three large pots of them by my front door and several bushes in scattered around the garden. The bees love them and so do the sparrows – they rip off the leaves to line their nests. Very clever little birds. Just thinking of vanilla sugar has made my mouth water! Well worth getting some.

  4. I seldom consciously think of scents but I have a keen one and share some of your favorites. Coffee, fresh mown grass or a newly mown hay field and there is always a distinct smell of fall in September.

    • Fresh mown grass is a beautiful smell. I also love the smell of bonfires of an autumn evening too. A lot of times I don’t think twice about aromas but occasionally one will catch me out and pull me off somewhere. I think smells can be more evocative than music. Hope you’ve had a good week and thanks for RT today re the auction. 🙂

  5. Love this post about all the smells that bring back memories. There are some that take me right back just like yours do. It’s so cool how that happens. AND yeah, German Pizza sounds awesome. Different, but awesome- although my son still swears the best pizza he ever ate was from a gas station in Switzerland. LOL!

    I’m going to dig out my passport and go with you!

  6. Yes, it’s nice when it happens. I’m thinking all sorts of toppings for a German pizza – you have given me an idea. PS: there’s a queue forming for Barbados. Mind, with this lousy summer we’re having think I might just take myself off there, don’t think I can wait until August for my holiday. Never thought I’d be still be wearing winter clothes in July!

  7. Valerie J. Patterson

    An excellent post, Kit! I have many aromas that are able to transport me far away with just one whiff! I just love how the scent of something can trigger a memory that fills your heart with warmth…and sometimes sadness because of those that are gone that played a large part in the memory itself.

    As for the weather, please take ours! Temps over 100 with humidity that puts it well over 100, and no rain in sight. Everything that was lush and green this spring is stiff and brown now. 😦

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