The Scent Of A City – Bristol Bluebells

As a mum of two young children, my sanity in the midst of the madness, is being able to carve out some ‘me time’ at the end of busy day. When they are both FINALLY down, the dishes are done & I’ve managed to tie up a few loose ends, I like nothing more than to sit down and relax. Or, as my good friend Michael would say – ‘re arrange the lighting’. A few strategically placed lamps, a select well lit candle and suddenly there’s a bit of calm.

So when I was introduced to Scarlet and Nell with their beautiful hand-poured candles, I had to find out more. They’re fragrant candles with a differences, with individual scent designed to capture the personality of British counties and cities – starting with Bristol & Bath.

As a child growing up in Bristol, I think one of the resounding memories of smell, was the brewers yeast, around the centre – a pungent memory, as it filled the air. I was quite convinced that Helen Arthur, the founder of Scarlet and Nell, wasn’t going to reproduce that, as Bristol’s signature scent, but was intrigued to find out what our city’s fragrance would be.

Bluebells – Bristol Bluebells is in fact the name of the candle, designed to capture and reflect the bluebell woods in the midst of our West Country city. There is something about the smell, which instantly takes you back to a time and a place you can almost visualize the bluebells woods as you light it.

I’m not alone in my thinking, Helen was recently contacted by a customer who wanted to let her know that he’d bought the Bristol Bluebells candle for his wife and he sister, as their mum had recently died and they had always enjoyed walking through the bluebells in Leigh Woods together. They were so overwhelmed with the candle, which instantly brought back so many happy memories – they almost couldn’t bear to light it!

So how do you decide the scent of a city?

It’s a question that Helen frequently gets asked and often receives lots of comedy suggestions! For Helen, her starting point is often a well known landmark, so whether you live in the city – or you if you’re visiting, it would be somewhere you’re likely to visit. For Bristol, she wanted to reflect the Avon Gorge, but the distinctive flowers that grow around the area, don’t have a fragrance. Whereas the bluebell woods, just above the gorge and around Leigh Woods, had a light and delicate fragrance.

It’s clearly a well thought out and carefully researched business. As an avid candle buyer herself, Helen wanted hers to be a bit different. It was two years ago she started out, beginning work with the University Graduate Project Team, who helped her define her market – before the finished product made it to the shops. The quality of the candle is beautiful. From the moment you open the box, to lighting the candle, it feels decadent. With each box having a little local legend that links the fragrance to the city, there feels like an instant connection.

As proud Bristolian, born and bred, it didn’t take much to convince me, when it came to experiencing Bristol’s signature scent. Once the girls are asleep, the room doesn’t feel the same without one lit – ‘candle O clock’ is time for me.

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