I’ve been taking a lot of walks recently. To me, there’s no better antidote to a head cluttered with thoughts than an aimless ramble around a scenic area. With each step the mind clears, allowing one to appreciate the things outside themselves; the trees, the wildlife, the biting embrace of a crisp March breeze and of course, the many smells that add that extra layer of feeling to the experience. I’ve often said that smells are the unseen textures and colours of the world. They add the fourth dimension to what we see, touch and hear, leaving stamps in our memory that can be drawn upon years later, to allow any experience to be relived in vivid detail.
It was on one of my recent walks that I came across a familiar smell. It was an odour that I instantly recognised but hadn’t smelled in such a long time: the smell of chimney smoke. First things first, some context for you. I grew up in a tudor cottage in a small village in the middle of buttfucknowhere. The house is what I would call ‘shabby chic’ but with little chic and an extra helping of the shabby. As pretty as it may have been from the outside it was well-lived-in from the inside, but the most important thing to note was the lack of central heating, with only a wood burner to be relied on to provide warmth. Now, there were a few of downsides to this, but none more notable than the fact that it was cold most of the time, and when I say cold, I mean real cold, like the Clinton bedroom after the Lewinsky scandal cold.
Downsides aside, the best part of having a wood burner is the smell, but it’s not the smell inside the house that really gets you, it’s the smell outside when rich plumes of black smoke rise up from the chimney stack and clash with the cold air. To me, the smell isn’t rich in tar, smoke or wood (like you would find in a ‘smoky’ fragrance), it’s a white smell – a mineral odour that has a brick-like tang to it. For me, it’s the smell of walking in a village during winter time and the smell of icy cold air.
So whilst walking through my new village the other day (I was heading to Co-Op for supplies and by ‘supplies’ I mean French Fancies, you understand) I caught a whiff of a nearby chimney sending up soft plumes of white smoke. In that moment I felt both the cold and the warmth of this smell, and was reminded of long walks with the family after a hearty Sunday roast. Just like walking off those calories, a leisurely amble accompanied by the familiar smells of childhood feels like total and utter comfort. Suddenly I felt so at peace the rest of the world fell silent.
Join the Discussion
Over the coming weeks I’ll be sharing other smells that I love and I’d love to hear yours. Either leave a comment below or tweet me @candyperfumeb0y using the hashtag #SmellsILove, letting me know what worldly smells you enjoy.
Image one via cheshirefire.gov.uk. Image two is my own.