I’ve had a delightful two days. After late nights and early mornings listening to the news, it was with some relief that I went to meet three Frenchmen who were over visiting the Isle of Harris Distillery. They were making a short film including a bit of cocktail mixing en plein air, which involved a walk out onto the machair meadow with a little table, a bag of bottles, glasses, spoons and a handful of herbs. The flowers were still blooming, the turquoise sea formed the backdrop and Ceapabhal hill rose rather majestically in the background – it is a glorious spot. I met them the evening before the shoot and showed them a few of the things I’ve been working on. We tasted, chatted and then the photographer asked if he could take some photos of me talking with Max the mixologist.Read More
A few months ago I had a meeting, it was very interesting. As is my way I arrived with a rucksack of bottles and various twigs, leaves, resins and petals. I always find meetings go well when I surround myself with the tools of my trade, they somehow offer an explanation of what I do far better than a document or even a verbal description. I lay them out on the table and as I start to talk, picking each up in turn, I feel the connection, as if I am a bridge between the client and the landscape. Without them, I feel hopelessly lost.Read More
I’m having a moment. I’m looking at the weather forecast in Lewes, East Sussex today and its 26C meanwhile here on Harris it’s a cool 13C. Thus far this Summer on this beautiful island, I’ve taken my vest off twice, immersed myself, in frankly icy water, twice and broken out my sandals three times. Last night I lit the fire and today I’m itching to light it again. This is a tale of two parts, south coast and far north, warm and chilly, over populated and scarcely inhabited.Read More
As visitors to our Lewes shop will know, we have a therapy room. It’s a small and perfectly intimate space for a treatment. We painted the walls a rich pinky terracotta and the ceiling copper. The heating is good, the bed comfortable and the towels fluffy and soft. The walls are decorated with a tryptic of our plants which Julia White painted and adorned sparingly with gold leaf to bring out the opulence of the plants. It is different and it is bespoke, along with everything in the shop.
So I began to think of our offering in that space and how every therapy we offer should be as carefully thought through as the products that are applied. I wanted something that really reflected what we do – the minutiae, the essence and the philosophy.Read More
I want to write about moving to Harris (oh yes I have) but I’ve decided instead to write about ingredients and sneakily talk about the Isle of Harris by way of an example. This month we’re highlighting the Wild Beauty Balm – in part because it is such a brilliant product and I would never travel, even down the road without it in my bag, but also because it illustrates a wonderful truth about our ingredients.Read More
I love builder’s tea - the familiar dark orange brew, strong enough to stand a spoon up - i have fond memories of my grandmother asking my grandfather to ‘mash the tea’ and mashed it was, not for the fainthearted tea drinker. Tea, along with coffee, serves as the backdrop to my daily life. For many years I’ve tried to like herbal tea, picking up box after box of beautifully packaged teas to add to a cupboard full of once drunk, not repeated brews. The scent is often reasonable but the flavour is dull, the attention to taste minimal. The contents of the teabags resembling the dust of harvests long passed, of grey plants tired and lacking in vitality.Read More
We admit that we are biased, influenced by our daily contact with this splendid flower, but our love affair with the rose here at A.S.APOTHECARY shows no signs of fading. And to celebrate this Queen of flowers in November is a case in point. The harvest this year was abundant and unusually long, with the extended summer and hot days stretching all the way into mid October, so we found ourselves still in the fields with our baskets until only a few weeks ago.Read More
The skin on your lips is thinner than other places on your body, only three layers compared to 16 on your face, which is why it is so crucially important that they are cared for, protected and not covered with noxious substances. In this article, Tara Gould looks at how your trusted lip balm could be a danger to your health.Read More
Some years ago I was approached by a very popular women’s magazine, it was a title I had read with interest from time to time, and I was pleased to be talking to a very pleasant young woman about my work. She was very enthusiastic about what we do, the fact that our team are all women, the provenance of the products etc. It was going well. She explained that this was exactly the kind of story they wanted. As the chat drew to a close she said to me ‘oh I forgot to ask, one last question, how old are you?’ Without a moment’s hesitation I said I was 49. The silence that followed was deafening. Within a minute she made her excuses and rang off and I didn’t hear from them again.Read More
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.
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.Read More
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.Read More
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....Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
Unexpectedly I find myself sitting – this is unheard of through the Summer when the flowers are reaching their peak and the distilling, drying and plant work flows like an unstoppable tide of greenery to rejoice over and manage. However, having fallen over rather badly whist dashing to the farm last week, I’m now directing operations rather than doing them. It is a very strange sensation.
It is a bright sunny day here, the scent from the jasmine by our door wafts in and roses from the farm brought by Emily our guardian of the garden, offer a reminder of the sheer abundance of this time of year.Read More
It is that glorious time, the point in the year when the hedgerows are bursting with flowers and plants full of healing and taste. About a week ago the wonderful A.S Apothecary team headed out on our annual hunt for Elderflower. This has become something of a ritual for us, a moment in the year to come together and celebrate the sheer abundance of the Elder and to marvel at how it grows in the least hospitable places, often on the far side of deep ditches surrounded by thickets of the largest healthiest nettles to be found anywhere.Read More
The barn at the farm is both sanctuary and plant space. It houses our Alembic Stills, the drying racks, shelves of jars and bottles filled with any number of experiments, flowers and herbs. It is the heart of A.S APOTHECARY. The place where ideas and ingredients come together in alchemical harmony. It is the place I retreat to when I need to think through an idea or reflect on some troubling aspect of life or business.Read More
We like to think of our aromatic waters as ‘the perfect plant elixir’, and for good reason. The therapeutic and beauty benefits of these wonderful aromatics are manifold, they are powerfully healing, yet gentle enough to use on the most sensitive skin. Using them is a sensual delight.
A.S.APOTHECARY flower waters are special. They are a world apart from commercial equivalents because we distil using time honoured methods, and we are fastidious about ingredients and quality. As an artisanal distillery our processes differ hugely from large commercial distilleries, whose focus is on profit and quantity, over quality and purity.