This month I’m writing something different and it’s rather long. It’s not about products or musings, it’s about life, business and change. Many of you will know that earlier in the year I moved to the Isle of Harris, a small island off the north west coast of Scotland. A group of islands known as the Western Isles. It was a radical move. A change on every level.
What is less clear to many is why I did it. So today I thought I’d write about that. 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
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’m sitting under a tree, on a bench, looking across the valley – drinking in the colours, the ochres, umbers, greens and browns of mountain, tree and plant. It’s a view I love, a deep valley rising on the far side to gentle peaks. The shape of the distant mountains resembles a sleeping giant and when the kids were small I’d tell them stories about the giant and when he might one day get up from his slumbers. I painted and drew that view repeatedly, never managing to capture it – the largeness of the landscape somehow escaping my feeble attempts. I think now that I should not have tried to paint the landscape but rather to have made the marks that capture its essence. Read More
The dust has settled, weeks have gone by and we have mostly forgotten about Yann Moix’s comments – except me. I’ve thought about them a lot and in this run up to International Women’s Day on the 8th March, I thought I’d write about them. 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
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. Read More
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. 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
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. Read More
Communal beauty rituals are something women have performed for centuries. The shared actions of cleansing, washing, grooming and nourishing served a deeper need than vanity or personal hygiene, they were a natural vehicle for intimacy, they helped women bond with one another, improved well being and strengthened and facilitated familial and community relationships. Read More
I’m sitting on a bench on the edge of a woodland. The sky is heavy with clouds in shades of grey, rain is threatening. The dandelions and daisies have curled themselves up tight – ‘refurled’ to keep cold and water at bay. In the wood there are saplings by the dozen hopefully pushing up through the soil, their first true leaves soft and green against the dark woodland floor. In stereo the birds sing an evensong from every tree, it is a harmonious dusk soundscape. Only one yellow wood anemone remains, all the others now returned to the earth for another year. The daffodils too are finished, the bright yellow flowers replaced by swollen green heads of seed. Read More
It’s 5.45am. I’m sitting in a little wooden hut looking out at a dawn breaking over miles of pristine golden sand with only the sound of the sea gently lapping at the shore. The cabin is basic but ideal for a couple of nights break at the end of a week of constant picking and distilling with my sister. It is my guilty pleasure. It is as far as one can travel on this island and one of the last places to remain truly unspoilt. Donkeys with extra big ears mosey along, birds chirrup joyfully, there is no traffic, no noise beyond the natural and, at this magical time of year, an abundance of endemic cyclamen strongly scented of honey and lily of the valley and wild flowers as far as the eye can see. Tourists have yet to arrive, the sea being cold and the temperature only around 22C. I love it. It makes me feel free. Read More
Today I was at the farm, it was a bright and beautiful day. The ground was muddy from days of rain, the sheep over in the field opposite the barn were munching on grass, heavy with lambs. In the beds by the door the daffodils were up, the fennel fronds emerging and the sage looking in need of a Mediterranean break after a long, damp winter.
At the farm we do all our plant work and distilling, it is a very special place. Even without racks of flowers enveloping the place in a rich scent, it is still lovely. We went today to make an order for the Isle of Harris Distillery. We produce an Aromatic Water from Sugar Kelp for them. During the distillations the barn smells of the sea – it was described today as the scent of a fresh sea breeze – and so it is. Read More
"When talking to other people about my blog, I am commonly asked how I got in to blogging and more specifically how I got in to beauty. For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in beauty products, the scents, the feel, the packaging and most importantly how they make us feel. As a teenager most of my pocket money would be spent on make up and skincare, I read glossy magazines, followed the trends with interest and coveted products I couldn’t afford.
In my twenties something happened that changed my outlook on beauty and my life forever. At the age of twenty five I had my first child, whilst pregnant I started to check the ingredients lists in my beauty products, previous favourites were discarded and I made fundamental changes to every aspect of my life. Although I wanted to minimise the chemicals my baby and I were exposed to, I wasn’t quite ready to give up my love affair with beauty and so my journey with natural, organic and artisan produced products began. Read More
We have completed our first week at the shop. It has been great. And what a journey.
From pencil sketches on the back of envelopes to work out storage with Catherine Cridland, deciding on what kind of oak for shelving and how to hang it without any visible fixings (huge metal pins and resin for your information) the hunt for the perfect chair with my sister, bashing up flowers to get pigments so that any colour applied in the shop would directly link back to our plants followed by the utterly joyful commissioning of pieces to use in the space. Read More
At this time of year we are normally sitting back to draw breath before the Christmas orders start arriving, but this year is slightly different. With our first A.S APOTHECARY shop about to open in Lewes we are clearing, sorting, painting, packing and making. It is rather more full on than we are used to, but the end and the beginning are within sight. Read More
At Asapoth, we love photography - we feel that unlike any other medium, through photographs we can invite you into the heart of our world. I asked Katie Vandyck, an excellent photographer and friend to write a little about her inspiration... Read More
I’ve been reading Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore, a wonderful Hindu writer and poet. At this time of year when the days are slowly lengthening and the seeding and planting intensifies at the workshop, I find one of his Song Offerings deeply soothing. I’m not religious at all but I love the idea that everything works out in the garden if we trust that it will. Read More
"Last week I was sent a plain, black box wrapped in tissue- just for me, all for myself. Inside were simple, perfectly placed vials and objects, a kit to cleanse and replenish my tired skin. I'd won the prize from A.S APOTHECARY, for my honest but sad response that I deserved to win because I did not own one skincare item. Read More