Perfumier and trained nose Nancy Meiland is a great friend of mine and, I’m lucky to say, one of my clients. At the tail end of last year she launched her beautiful, high-in-naturals perfume brand, Nancy Meiland Parfums, with a first collection called Paper Leaf.
In response to her careful and considered brief, I developed her brand’s tone of voice and wrote the descriptive words for her trio of scents: fresh green Illuminé; smoky, woodsy Aquilaria; and the spicily floral Rosier. I feel like all three are old friends now, and yet I never tire of their lyrically lovely scents. I wear Rosier, but Acquilaria is in my future for sure. All three are available at Paul Clark mens store in Lewes, or online at nancymeiland.com (time to drop those Mother’s Day hints!).
Nancy has been one of my sponsors (see her pretty button in the right bar) for a couple of months, and when I decided to take a break from writing here, I asked if she’d mind penning me a post about a sensory sniffing journey around Lewes for kids.
The results are better than I could have imagined – what a different way to experience our town! And if you’re not in Lewes or indeed anywhere nearby, there are still ideas here for you to tailor to your own place. After all, there are crumbly old churches all over Britain – nay, the world – and perhaps creating their own ‘scent collection’ in a little book is one of the nicer ways for kids to experience a place they know or are visiting. I’m certainly going to try it with my two.
Welcome Nancy, and thank you again for your delightful guest post. Over to you. x
Little Smell Collectors
The definition of a ‘trained nose’ is not so much a person who can smell more than the next, but someone who can identify the olfactory spectrum within an odour and then articulate its individual characteristics and varied interactions to others – coming to know the notes as intimately as one’s close friends at a dinner party.
Recent studies have revealed humans are capable of distinguishing between a trillion different odours – rather more than the 10,000 previously assumed – and they suspect that even this is an underestimate.
Some odour hotspots around Lewes will shriek out at your kids, while some will be but a tender whisper. Some might offend, where others will entice, enchant, evoke and inspire.
First up, the big hitter: that strong smell that pervades our olfactory landing strip when out and about in Lewes with little ones in tow. You guessed it, the unmistakeable smell of hops chugging from the chimney at Harveys Brewery. When it next seems to engulf our town, ask your little ones what it smells like.
If, like my double act, they say “it stinks” or “it smells bad”, offer them the idea that even seemingly bad smells have good smells within them and vice versa. They’re all a complex combination of smells or ‘notes’. Yes – even nappies!
Remind them that there are no right or wrong answers and that this really is the beauty of odour appreciation! Aside from being a bit of a giggle, this serves a purpose in helping them to begin to ‘objectify’ and make associations through smell, growing more aware of this underdog of the senses. Following one’s nose is after all, a pretty useful skill in life, and smell is a direct hot wire in the brain to both conscious and subconscious information.
We also get occasional wafts of salty sea air, so tune in to that as well as the brilliant waves of manure whenever there’s a fresh dumping on surrounding fields!
To help get them started ask your children the following:
* What fragrance family or group does the smell belong to? Is it floral, citrus, herbal, fruity, woody, gourmand (something you want to eat!) or agrestic (a barn yard-y smell e.g. hay, leather, peat and manure).
* Can they think of describing words for it? Is it heady, light, cloying, delicate, pretty, sunny, brambly, camphoracous (‘clearing’ like eucalyptus or frankincense), radiant, musty, catty, musky, rooty, earthy, mossy.
* What does it make you think of?
* What colour would it be if any?
* What sound would it make?
* How would it feel if you could touch it?
* Would it be hot or cold if it had a temperature?
* Would it be wet or dry?
See if you can get them to scribble down a few words in a notebook so they can build a collection of smells and their responses and descriptions of them. Maybe even to draw the smell in an abstract way.
Here’s a list of (not exhaustive) places around Lewes where you might find some interesting smells to ‘collect’:
- The Rose Garden in Southover Grange Gardens (even when not in bloom, the leaves and stem produce an odour)
- The lawn, trees and leaves, again in the Grange
- The toilets in the Grange (I dare you!)
- Blackberry bushes
- The Herb Garden in the Lewes Priory
- The Railway Land’s ponds
- The River Ouse
- Tesco or Waitrose
- Lewes Food Market at Market Tower on Fridays
- The Riverside – with its butchers, fishmonger, florists, chocolaterie and smoothie bar
- Cheese Please
- F. Richards & Sons butchers
- Flint Owl Bakery Café
- Lewesiana Florists
- Pestle & Mortar asian deli in The Needlemakers
- Mary’s sweet shop in The Needlemakers
- The duck pond in the Pells
- Caffé Nero
- Lewes Castle
- VRAC Tea Shop
- Anne of Cleves House
- Any petrol station
- The streets before, during and after Bonfire
- Any church
Hey presto! Your kids have begun a list of olfactory impressions – their very own imaginative scratch and sniff! I hope they enjoy following their little noses around Lewes, and anywhere else they go.
NANCY MEILAND PARFUMS – THE ESSENTIALS
Price: £85 for 100ml bottle; £4.95 for a 2ml sample
If you’d like to write a guest post for Little Lewes about something you like doing with your kids, food, craft or anything else relevant to the blog’s reason for being, please get in touch through the Contact page.
Disclosure: I asked Nancy to write me a guest post for this time while I’m not writing the blog myself, and she agreed. No compensation, financial or otherwise, was offered or exchanged for the writing of this post. Nancy is not currently paying for her advertising space on Little Lewes because, as stated in the ‘Work with Little Lewes‘ section titled ‘Editorial Policy and Planning‘, I won’t charge advertisers when I’m taking a scheduled break from the blog.
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One thought on “Guest Post: Nancy Meiland's 'Smell Collecting' Activity – or a Whiffy Wander Around Lewes”
Great idea! Our family is well aware of smells, but to distinguish smells in this way seems such a wonderful journey for the nose. Thanks Nancy. Lovely photographs, too. Can’t wait to visit Lewes again. It’s been a while. 🙂