Once a year in June, when our Roses are in full bloom, I throw open the doors of the barn and welcome in the intrepid group of people who want to experience the absolute joy of wild perfumery. It's a day of immersion in scent, an invitation to try out the way I work myself and it’s utterly liberating.
Natural atrophy, gravity, exposure to sun, weather and toxins are factors that damage and age male and female skin equally. There are many misconceptions about how men and women age, but it is often more a case of how they are permitted to age. For too long myths have been propagated by a society and its media machine that is tolerant and supportive of male maturity while being intolerant and critical of the same natural processes in women…
Working with plants can be challenging. Seeds sown enthusiastically may not germinate. Sometimes the precious little seedlings put into the poly tunnel to grow on might be snacked on by mice. Small plants potted on and cared for so carefully if planted out too soon can fall prey to rabbits, slugs or snails. And then there’s the weather…a late frost, an early drought, too much rain at the wrong time, too much sun (very unlikely here), not enough sun (a familiar story) Farming/gardening is a roller coaster.
The lovely Tara Gould writes the newsletters for A.S Apothecary – they help to tell our story, make offers, introduce therapists and new products, plants and whatever combination of subjects we are interested in. Together we make plans for general areas it might be good for me to write about in the Journal – however, given my wayward character, I seem to write whatever comes to mind; often something seasonal, or arising from a journey or a book I’ve been reading or a plant or landscape that has particularly captivated me (orange blossom distilling in Cyprus next week by the way…)
For the April Journal we discussed writing about the milestones of women’s lives, and I’ve had a week that made me really muse on Menopause so it seems a logical place to start.
Here at A.S.APOTHECARY we don't see menopause as a negative event, or as a terrible thing to be endured, but rather as one of the many stages of being a woman that is ultimately a positive stepping stone from one phase to the next. As an all female team of women (mostly) of a certain seasoned maturity, we have a lot to share and discuss on the matter, and while we've found that certain characteristics may be similar, what is clear is that the menopause is different for everyone, and that this particular female transformation is as unique as every woman is.
Like pregnancy and childbirth, the menopause is one of those powerful and mysterious events in a woman's life that civilised society, and specifically the medical and scientific community, feels the need to control and define
We are newly into Spring, soon with a bit of luck, Winter will be a distant memory. Yesterday the first crop arrived on my desk picked by Emily and Miranda, our outgoing and incoming gardeners, handing over from one to another seamlessly as one season moves to the next. Their sharing was a pile of violets so purple and scented that it took my breath away. Violets are always a marker for me, the moment when fecundity returns to the earth and the wait for the other scented flowers feels within reach. I turned the petals in my hands relishing the velvety texture, it was pure joy.
Tree resins have an extensive history in certain parts of the world, and are often highly revered by the cultures that produce them. Frankincense and Myrrh have both been used in sacred rites, religious and mystical ceremony, beauty and health care for millennia and for good reason.
We harness the wonderful fragrances and beneficial properties of Myrrh and Frankincense in many of our skincare products. The oil we use is extracted from resin, which drips in a golden liquid from a tree or a shrub when it is wounded, and this is key to understanding their therapeutic properties.
The First Aid Kit Therapeutic Balms were developed and designed with the intention of providing a complete bathroom cabinet DIY kit for everyday ailments throughout the year. Here, Tara Gould looks at three that are really useful at treating a range of cold weather ailments.
This wonderfully fragrant plant with its earthy, spicy and pleasantly camphorous scent uplifts your spirit the moment it hits your nose. Rosemary is a member of the mint family and was traditionally used to help alleviate muscle pain, improve memory, boost the immune and circulatory system, and promote hair growth. But more recently scientists have been discovering other its other preventative and curative powers.
A few weeks ago we invited Alex Leith from Viva Lewes up to the shop for a facial. I read what he wrote with interest, particularly the first paragraph which typifies the attitude towards skincare for men: “People kind of smirked when I told them I was going for a facial, and I must say, it did feel a little, what… metrosexual? But then I figured that male skin is pretty much the same as female skin: if women get so much out of their moisturisers and suchlike, why can’t we?”
his super power herb has multiple therapeutic benefits and has been used for hundreds of years as a healing plant. It is historically associated with courage and banishing melancholy, and as a medicinal herb it relieves stress and speeds recovery. We use borage seed oil in a number of our products because it is a rich, health giving ingredient and excellent for nourishing and protecting dry skin on the face, and other delicate areas.
The long British winters take their toll on our skin. Many of us suffer from seasonal skin disorder when it comes to the complexion, which seems to lose its glow and bounce by the time January arrives and can become increasingly grey and dry as winter stretches on…and on. It's easy to incorporate a little self indulgence into your skincare regime in the form of a regular winter skincare routine. Here, we've put together some top tips for nourishing your skin and reducing dryness in winter.
It has barely stopped raining for days, odd glimpses of blue amidst a skyscape of unrelenting grey. Welcome 2018. The January of my childhood in Scotland, the cold wind that pierced even the stoutest clothing, the snow and ice, chilled face with rosy cheeks is a distant memory. Replaced with the grey of climate change. I listened to the rain fall from within my snug little house, heard the pitter patter change in rhythm to a heavier drip and looked out to see a drainpipe overflowing from roof to soil....
It's wise to go into the holidays with your eyes wide open and carve out time to look after yourself and replenish those drained reserves. Here's a list of six self-care tips that will help you stay grounded, enjoy, and cherish time with loved ones.
For a small town Lewes boasts a wealth of unique and superb independent traders and businesses, making for a rich and inspiring Christmas shopping experience. Sustainability sits hand in hand with supporting community and championing local business, values that have always been central to our philosophy here at A.S.APOTHECARY. To this end, we wanted to showcase the wonderful work of some of our favourite local traders and makers...
“I found three things: a silver mirror, a silk handkerchief, and a glass flask of ointment. These items will help you on your journey, use them when need be. If you ever lose faith in yourself, the mirror will show your inner beauty. In case your reputation is stained, the handkerchief will remind you of how pure your heart is. As for the balm, it will heal your wounds, both inside and outside.” Elif Shafak 40 Rules of Love.
Our shop has been open for almost a year and it seems a good moment to reflect on what we have learned and where we are heading, what drives us forward and what obstacles have threatened to trip us up. Those moments when I’ve needed the mirror, the handkerchief and definitely the balm.
The process of creating a new skincare product is a fine art, it takes a plant expert with a deep and thorough understanding of botanicals and their therapeutics to design an exceptional, natural product that is both effective and beautifully scented.
Last night I listened to a talk by Elif Shafak on the revolutionary power of diverse thought. She is a Turkish writer, a Sufi, a feminist and a most beautiful weaver of stories. She is reviled by the conservative right in Turkey and to some extent dismissed by the left, but for me she speaks a truth that resonates with many of my own thoughts. She talked about a world increasingly polarised, fractured, tribal, nationalist and fearful. She discussed the prevalence of simplistic duality of discussion, the ‘with us or against us’ mentality, the loss of ambiguity, complexity and nuance...
Our recent community event was a huge success and we’d like to thank everyone who came along and everyone who was involved, particularly our wonderful therapists, Wendy, Sarah, Charlie, and Bel, who gave so much love and care and energy, offering mini treatments to our guests for the entire evening.
Sarah Lomax and Rachel Skinner have been making hats for over 20 years since serving their apprenticeships together with Frederick Fox, the Queen’s milliner. Their Lewes based bespoke millinery continues to thrive, and the recent publication of their beautiful book, published by GMC is a fitting milestone in their careers. Here, Tara Gould talks to them about their love of hats.
In our window this month are four large glass jars filled with liquid, which on close inspection are tinged ruby red; we are infusing Hypericum perforatum in oil, a powerful therapeutic that will be used in many of our products. The skill of the Apothecary is not just to know which plant is therapeutic and which part yields the healing properties but when is the moment to collect it
Autumn is here. My nightly need for fresh air with windows flung open, suddenly tempered by the realisation last night that I was not cool but cold. It’s curious the small cues that mark the seasonal change long before the leaves are turning and the plants begin their full on retreat back into the earth for a season or two of hibernation and regeneration. It starts with the air. A change in the scent and an almost perceptible thickening of its texture so apparent at dawn.
Lewes Priory promises to be a fitting setting for the sale of traditionally distilled spirits, created using an apothecary's art, and it is here that A.S. Apothecary’s Sussex Rose & Blue Spruce Tonic will make its debut
Although nettles are often regarded as an annoyance and something to root out in your garden, they have multiple benefits both for you and for the environment. Nettles are a magnet for wildlife, and according to the RSPB, attract 40 kinds of insects. Certain moths and butterflies such as Peacock, Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Comma and Painted Lady lay their eggs under the stinging leaves – a natural protection from grazing animals.
In a world where rampant competition and the relentless pursuit of profit seem to predominate, we like to think that we do things a little more gently. A.S Apothecary is a venture with collaboration and sharing at its heart. We don’t have investors or commercially borrowed capital because we are fiercely independent and we want to do business on our own terms, in our own way.
There is a wealth of talent in Lewes, and we love to support and promote the exceptional work of local artists and makers that we feel sit well with our own brand in terms of aesthetics and values. It is such a pleasure to offer these pieces for sale in the shop, alongside our own skincare and other beautiful and useful products that Amanda picks up on her travels. Here you can see the full list of our collaborators:
It’s dawn at the cottage, in the Highlands of Scotland it gently glides into morning, light slowly emerging – much as everything here it works on its own timetable – Scottish time, Highland time and finally Island time, the slowest of all.
Last night the sun finally went down at 10pm after a three hour dusk where the sky gradually darkened casting tones of inky blue across loch, hill and tree. I love both ends of the day here – it is so unlike our home in Sussex where the day seems to begin quickly, urgently and closes after a brief but beautiful flurry of colour.
It is small wonder that Chloris, the nymph of Spring, and goddess of flowers, named the rose the Queen of Flowers. In touch, fragrance and aesthetic its floral qualities are unmatched. On a warm Summer’s day, who hasn’t plunged their face into the silken, cool layered petals for an airy draught of sweet-scented bliss, so sensual, refreshing and beguiling no words can do it justice.