A Fragrant Foray
I have a penchant for smells, anything delightful will tickle my olfactory senses and have me in raptures. Those who know me well, will, if all inspiration fails, buy me scented gifts. Scented candles, room fragrance, reed diffusers, incense sticks… you name it, as long as it smells delicious, I’m in heaven. That is why I was particularly excited when I found out about Parterre Fragrances at Keyneston Mill.
As much as I hate advertising, they actually came up in my Facebook feed and I was glad that they did. The one time that Facebook targeted adverts worked. They were having a Christmas drinks and meal at their newly constructed eatery The Scented Botanist. I pinged the advert over to my friend Emma to see if she wanted to go. Unfortunately, busy lady that she is, she had other plans. So, without another friend who I felt would appreciate it as much as I, I didn’t bother.
I followed them on Facebook and also found them on Instagram. Based literally 10 miles down the road from me, they have created a small and exclusive selection of fragrances. So successful is their signature perfume A Tribute to Edith that it is showcased in Fortnum and Mason. I was literally itching to take a sniff.
So on Saturday morning I took myself off to find them, I dutifully punched in the postcode and set off in earnest. Yes, well, postcodes and sat navs have a rocky relationship at best and when I arrived at my ‘destination’ I was sat on a country road with fields either side. That said, Keyneston Mill does boast a 50 acre estate growing around 1000 fragrant plants for their distillery, so I may well have ‘been there’ but I wasn’t ‘there’. After 20 minutes of driving up and down roads I found the very understated gates to the driveway which led to the car park.
Having parked and followed the signs for the cafe I was greeted with a door I couldn’t open. Feeling a little stupid it took me a second to work out that it slid and didn’t swing, but anyone watching would have noticed that second where I fumbled and looked dumbfounded. Having said that, once inside I was welcomed eagerly and warmly by the staff.
The cafe itself is simplicity but with a very botanical edge. Decorated with white tables and white walls, it is embellished with comfy sofas, a library of themed books and a selection of plants. On each table sits a lovely fragrant pot plant and the menu is themed to match. I was very privileged to meet with the chef, a young and enthusiastic soul eager to share his inspired food. As they had only just re-opened after the Christmas holiday I was one of only three people in there, so I probably got a little more attention than is normal.
Sorely tempted by the butternut squash soup, in the end I plumped for a venison sausage roll and a coffee. The sausage roll was served warm with an onion chutney and a sprinkle of Iranian spice blend, all topped with an edible flower (well of course). The food was utterly delicious and I can see that this place will become a firm favourite for a Sunday jaunt for many a local foodie.
As I was waiting on my food I spied the fragrances in the corner of the room and rushed over to try.
A Tribute to Edith – is just that, a tribute to Edith Piaf’s La Vie en Rose. A very floral scent with a heady mix of Rose, Geranium and Yarrow. Not to my taste, as floral is just not me, but beautifully constructed and balanced.
Root of all Goodness – a very earthy smell, very musky, I thought this would be my favourite as it is much more in keeping with my preferences. Bergamot, hissop and vetiver create quite a male fragrance, but did seem to soften over time.
Run of the River – This turned out to be my favourite, which was a surprise to me. Light and citrus, again featuring bergamot but this time with mint and lemon thyme layered on clary sage and orange flower. At first squirt it is reminiscent of soap, but on warm skin it slowly matured and developed a lovely complex smell with the floral undertones coming through.
I am 100% committed to my fragrance of choice Jour d’Hermes and have been for years. However as a change for maybe the summer months I would wholeheartedly purchase Run of the River.
Unlike other fragrances, because each year produces a limited amount of the nest oils that form the key notes, Parterre fragrances are limited with a finite number of of bottles of each perfume being created from each “Extraction”. So don’t get too attached!