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The Scent of a Woman

My mother loved perfume and I have many memories of the various scents she wore. She was particularly fond of musky, masculine fragrances balanced with feminine notes. Such was her love of perfume that she carried several sprays with her in her handbag and never left the house without them.

My mam would have been 75 this month, and this post is a tribute to her...

One of the most difficult things to do after someone has passed away is to go through their personal belongings. The hardest of these for me was my mother’s handbag. The reason is not just because she carried it everywhere with her, or the personal items it held: her purse, hair brush, perfume and lip gloss, but the lingering scent that came from the bag and its contents, the unmistakable scent of Jennifer. Amongst the things I kept from my mother's handbag were her driving gloves, black leather with a cream woven cotton back. It's funny when I think of it now, why should I choose her driving gloves? My mother was a terrible driver and put the fear of God in me as a passenger! But these gloves were so personal, the sight, touch and, most recognisable, the scent of these were a symbol and powerful reminder of my mother.

I keep these gloves safe in a box stored away, and over time the scent has begun to fade, fifteen years after her death. It fascinates me how the power of scent has the capacity to transport us back in time, to people and places, events and memories long past. So, you can imagine my surprise when on lighting a scented candle recently the smell was unmistakably that of my mother’s driving gloves.

I found Handmade Candle Co. candles in a beautiful shop called Holy Water Apothecary in Beer, Devon last Christmas. The candle I bought was called Tobacco and Sweet Hay, and I loved it so much - the burn was clean with a smell that lasted long after the candle was out and it was made here in the UK - I wanted to buy more. So, I visited their website and after reading the various combinations of scents, decided on Rosewood and Moss - this had the perfect mix of my favourite fragrances: lemon, jasmine, musk, lavender, rosewood, patchouli and sandalwood. When I received the order, I lit the candle and straight away the smell was warm, comforting and familiar, but I couldn't put my finger on why. After several hours of burn time, the candle was a firm favourite - soft but sure, feminine and masculine, woodsy and floral - each time I smelt it and it filled the house, I felt a sense of harmony and home.

Then one evening, for some reason, it struck me. This fragrance reminded me of my mother and her handbag, and, more specifically, her driving gloves. The smell of warmth and the familiarity I recognised was hers, and it brought back to life something that time had taken away. Grief never leaves us, it only changes shape, and lighting this particular candle now brings more than just light and fragrance to our home, it brings memories and a sensory closeness to a woman taken from us all too soon.

I have been in touch with Charley, the founder and maker of Handmade Candle Co. to let her know I was writing about her candles and she has kindly let me use their images for this post and my Instagram. I love to support small businesses, ones that have started from a personal story and are keen to be sustainable. It makes me smile to know Rosewood and Moss is popular with both men and women, and I think my mother would have loved it.

To find out more about this wonderful company visit their site

As always, I am loving the community we are building here, so please add to the comments below if this post has struck a chord with you, I'd love to hear what fragrances are your favourites and how they remind you of people, places and times in your life. Also, please spread the word about this blog, share your favourite posts with family and friends and subscribe to receive a new post in your inbox each Monday.

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