I have a secret. One that haunts me at night, and means that my soul can never rest. Well, OK, that’s a slight exaggeration, but it does trouble my conscience on occasion.
Whenever we travel anywhere, my first port of call after airport security – well, the one that everyone is funneled into – lurks on the shelves of the duty free shop.
It isn’t the gigantic bars of chocolate that you could buy everyday in less artery-narrowing sizes that call to me, it isn’t the cheesy souvenir tat that calls from every imaginable kind stand that sets out a silent siren, it isn’t even the makeup displayed by the immaculately presented sales people hoping to tally up their commission/targets at the end of the day.
My secret indulgence is usually displayed in dazzling pyramids of pastel boxes, gilded script and sparkling, faceted delicate glass bottles of every size imaginable. Let’s be clear here, there is a bottle of my own favourite scent in the bottom of my carry on (in a sexy clear plastic bag for security procedures of course) and usually another one in my suitcase if checked in. But there is some sense of sizzling excitement in an illicit spray here or there of a new discovery whilst the backs of the
security sales people are turned – usually towards another possible customer who is playing by the rules and softly spritzing the tiny pieces of cardboard. Fools.
My justification is always that once a perfume touches your skin it gives off another new bouquet of aroma unique to you and the top notes of the fragrance. How will you ever know if it suits you from a tiny wand of paper?
Instead, I start off and end each trip with a signature perfume. In a more general way, I also seem to associate some of my favourite trips with certain essences of flavour; New Zealand is always vanilla based – my favourite scent of all time but with a hint of sea salt, Portugal was the strong, richly fruited aroma of tawny port, Italy is a strong, spicy frankincense of soaring church spires, Bratislava is the warm hug of liquid chocolate and Germany is the piquancy of hops – a distinctly peppery aroma.
Morocco is a bouquet of fresh mint pressed into our hands by the kind tour guide, Japan is the soft cherry blossom (stereotypical, sorry), France is softly powdery Lavender with the soft undertone of boulangerie and Amsterdam is a fresh bright citrus. (St Pancras is the smell of fake oranges. Yuck.) Mornings are only ever freshly brewed coffee (again a stereotype, but the world is not ready for an un-caffeinated Emma in the morning, trust me.) When I get home, part of my morning routine includes one of two perfumes
and they bring me back to normal. Scent is such a wonderfully personal
sense isn’t it?
Quite honestly, my general sense of smell is terrible. Some days I
wish I could appreciate the nuances of subtle scents drifting along the breeze
but there are moments that I’m so very glad that my nose is odor-impaired. Occasionally there are crisp days that the fragrance gods smile upon
me, and I walk the pavements with a loopy grin on my face as a bouquet appears.
In the meantime I’ll keep sneaking off to the duty free counter for a little spritz of something lively. Just a little one you understand?
Do you have a particular scent that takes you to another place?