What is your favourite smell?

I asked this question on Twitter this morning because it struck me as I walked into the bathroom that I love the smell of bleach.   I had attacked the shower the night before and smell was still lingering (not to mention it had ruined a pair of black trousers that now have an orange knee)

I got inundated with responses.   Probably 30 replies in ten minutes.

Smells for me are so important and I do think I have a very strong sense of smell.   I have often smell something long before anybody else.  Though it is normally that the gas has been left on, which is a useful thing.   Not so much fun when you say “Oh X’s nappy needs changing” and realise you are going to have to do it.

I have a real weak spot for expensive smelly candles.  Particularly Jo Malone’s.  If I won the lottery this weekend I would buy a lorry load of them and have one burning everyday.

What struck me from my quick straw poll this morning is the number of “normal” smells that people have ranked their favourite.   Such as these:

pine forest in spring sunshine /  Christmas dinner just before it’s served / my daughter’s hair

Freshly laid tar / Petrol / Mown grass

Coal fires / petrol /  blown out candles / freshly struck matches / bonfires

Jet fuel on a clear sunny morning (probably need to be a skydiver to get that one)

my dogs ears

Beer tent on cut grass

Old books /  New books /  Paperbacks / Hardbacks.   They all smell different. Kindles don’t.

Woodsmoke / Play Doh /  proper putty with linseed oil and a good gin and tonic

Real fires /  frankincense / after it’s rained!

I LOVE hot vinegar. #chipfetish


How often is petrol appearing?!!  Or fresh grass.   I have to admit that I have a bit of a thing for fresh grass after it has rained.

Or leather jackets.

And new cars.

All of those can really make me inhale and stop me in my tracks.

Interestingly nobody said “Chanel No5” or Brut.   Hmmm I can understand the second one.   Mr B bought me a bottle of No5 for our wedding because he said that he wanted me to wear it afterwards and then when he smells it in years to come it will remind him of our wedding day.

Can any other sense do that?  Can we be transported back in time by the sense touch or hearing?  No doubt foodies can be with taste but I am not sure I can.   For me it is definitely smell.  Seems I am not alone:

That’s easy, creosote. Whenever I smell it I just know summer has arrived

Cut grass brings back walking to school in summer

the smell in the morning of November 6th, bonfires, fireworks and misty morning – lovely, reminds me of childhood.

hyacinths remind me of starting primary school all those years ago.

freshly baked bread, cause it reminds me of home. Bakery behind my parent’s house


Actually I can agree with the hyacinth one.  My mum used to visit Covent Garden Flower Market in the run up to Christmas and buy hundreds of them.   That smell always reminds me of a house they lived in.

The smell of pear drops always makes me think about being a kid.

Conversely I cannot use lemon scented cleaning products because it takes me back to a job I had as a live in nanny and they insisted on everywhere being cleaned with the stuff everyday.  I hated the job and was miserable there for a year.   So the smell of Lemon Jif takes me right back to deepest Essex.

No doubt for many people the smell of boiled cabbage reminds them of school.

Interesting that Heston’s “thing” this year, along with the hidden orange pudding again is mince pies with pine needle dusting.   Making us want to smell Christmas as we eat them.

Right if you will excuse me, the tumble drier has finished and I need to go and shove my head in the towels to get the full waft of Lenor


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  • Wintergreen ointment because it takes me back to my football playing days, cold mornings and and a packed changing room full of freezing cold bodies. Break out the Wintergreen, rub it into your legs, and your fit to go!

    Sea spray because the smell, especially when caught on a strong gust of wind with the sound of Sea Gulls, takes me back to my ‘wonder’ years when, between the ages of 2-13, I grew up on Portland in Dorset. The cliffs at the back of our house, in a Naval Estate on the highest point, were probably at least 200 feet high and myself and my brother used to go out to play with the sound of our mum’s warning ” don’t go near the cliffs!!! ” ringing in our ears.
    Of course we scaled the fence and went straight to our ‘den’ on the cliff face behind our house. My mum never truly found out, but I’m sure she knew.

    Freshly ground coffee because it makes me feel safe, warm and relaxed. It’s my own comfort blanket and will remain so until the day I die.

    Lately – My son’s hair. He is almost 21 now, just 4 weeks to go, and lives near Norwich with his fiancee so, being over 200 miles away, I don’t get to see him as often as I would like. But the smell of his hair, and just ‘him’ really, reminds me of when he was a young boy and we used to go to the sea wall together and just rummage and explore. Not only that but, as he has got older….and this may not make sense at all, with the hair gel he wears, and his aftershave and just his general scent – all mixed together – it smells of hope, excitement, opportunities not yet explored and LIFE. It smells of everything I want for him and expect him to be.

  • You’re so right about associating smells with memories Mummy B. The smell of my dads shed. Full of oil, grease, overalls… Sadly dad died 10 years ago, the shed with him. But if i smell that smell in another shed it feels like he’s still there 🙂
    Great post xx
    Kim x

  • Lovely detailed post containing many of my favourite smells.
    I used to have a thing about the smell of pig poo until I moved to the country where there is far too much of that particular odour.
    Mine would include dogs especially when wet, children’s hair, flowers, woodburner, baking bread.
    Just asked my 6 year old who surprised me by saying lavender.
    Good post

  • What a lovely post. Actually so many of those smells remind me of happy times; fresh cut grass, fresh bread, real fires. The smell of an open fire particularly reminds me of my Grandma and the many times I stayed at her house when I was young. I am going to ask my children the same question. I hope they have memories like that too.