Family, Friends and the Smell of England


Post by Val the Cookie Queen


Family, Friends and the Smell of England


My parents came to visit me each year between 1992 and 2003. My children were always extremely excited and would hang over the balcony railings waiting to see their car arrive. It was a thousand miles door to door and they always drove. I begged them to fly but they always replied that they needed the car to bring all the stuff for us. My father would fall out of the car, a fair shade of grey having driven the whole way. My mother would be bouncing, the excitement of seeing the kids nearly too much to bear. And up they came, three flights of stairs, lugging suitcases and cardboard boxes full of England.
Weetabix, Ready Brek, Branston, spaghetti hoops, salt´n´vinegar crisps, twenty packs of Trebor Extra Strong Mints, extra strong Cheddar,
Marks´n´Sparks undies, Action Man, Barbie, newspapers, a bunch of roses out of the garden wrapped in wet paper towels, sprigs of rosemary and a bundle of English lavender from the from of their home.

My daughter gave them her room and it would become England, nestled in our Austrian apartment. When they left
for the long trip back home she would ask me to leave the bedding on because it smelled of Nana and Grandpa and that made her feel safe.
And then they passed away.

Union_Jack WikiMediaWikiMedia


Dear friends, K and B, slipped into the once a year visiting slot. They flew and brought crisps, cheese and the smell of England. Security, memories and love. And then B passed away.

England Funeral_gun_carriage WikipediaWikipedia


K still comes. He flies and brings newpapers, peppermints and the smell of England. He left a week ago. The kids are grown up and gone now.
I shut the windows, pulled the blinds down and closed the door. As each of my children have dropped in I have had them go into the room and inhale deeply. “England.” they say.

Smell of England Big_Ben WikiCommonsWikiCommons

Earth. Sage. Mint. Rain. Salt. Rose.
This is England.

St George Bussis

42 thoughts on “Family, Friends and the Smell of England

  1. Beautiful post Val. Sent your parcel today. I hope it arrives soon and in one piece.
    It’s full of love, and stuff.
    Portia xx


    • Hi Dionne! Since this was written I must mention that K has bought himself a bottle of Amouage Opus VI We are more linked than ever now. hahahahahaha. Love to you and your family. xxxxx


  2. One of the best things I’ve read in a long time. As a life-long Anglophile I found it very moving. Our dear ones live on because we remember them in just these kinds of ways. Thanks, Val.


    • Oh Fifi, thanks a lot. Gosh. 🙂 You are exactly right, they do live on because of such intense associations. Big British Hug. xxxxxxx


  3. This was so touching. Thank you for sharing with us. I keep telling my DH that if Drumpf gets elected this fall I want to move to England. He wants to move to Australia.


    • Hahahaha Tatiana! I aslo have American citizenship, but may find myself selling it in September ……….. Australia sounds good, it´s just so bloody far away. English politics are scary too. 😉 xxxxxxxx


    • Mariann, hello. 🙂 I think I now have to make some lemon curd, I have not done that in years. Home made lemon curd tarts. Yum. xxxx


  4. Thank you, dear Val, for letting us in on your beautiful scented memories. My eyes teared up but at the same time I’m smiling: it’s so wonderful to be able to widen the rich of our memories about our loved ones through the Internet, our blogs and our community.


    • Hello Undina. Totally nice to see you. 🙂 Our memories become stronger through scent, but we all know that huh? Hugs to you both and Rusty. xxxxx


  5. Thank you for this lovely, heartfelt post. It’s weird getting older and learning how to balance this process of grieving and letting go, and remembering and holding on. It’s all a muddle, but we have room for the whole shebang in our hearts.
    I lived in London for a few years, and there are many scents I associate with it. Funnily enough, the predominant one is of eggs frying in butter. That might be because my mom had discovered margarine and real butter was a novelty.

    Big hug,

    Holly xo


    • Hi Holly! Eggs frying remind me of England too. Egg butties are not native to Austria that is for sure. Oh dear, margarine, one of life`s evils. Getting older is not for the faint hearted, but I am thankful for it. The alternative ………. Hugs xxxxxxx


  6. Such heartfelt memories in such a bittersweet read. I loved imagining the excitement of your children’s faces to see Nana and Grandpa and the security of their scent and the smell of England. Thank you for sharing.


  7. Hi Sun Mi! Yep, they used to hang off of the balcony waiting for the car to come around the corner of where we live and park underneath. I awaited just as anxiously, but had the added burden of hoping that my father had not killed them both, driving for so many hours straight on the WRONG side of the road. (Indeed he nearly did several times. ) Big hug. xxxxxx


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