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
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
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.
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 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
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
Wanting to get away a little from the ‘jobs to do in the garden’ type monthly blog, I found my thoughts turning instead to what provides moments of pleasure and indulgence, realizing that for me these things are equally important to achieve, helping provide balance in approach and inspiration for the growing year.Read More
It’s nearly 9pm, I’m sitting outside the workshop on an old bench, it’s still warm and the scent from the workshop is suffusing the air all around me. Val, the big Alembic is gently bubbling away filled with roses from our distilling garden and Glyndebourne Opera House picked over 2 sunny days. It has been a long day, up at 5am to get everything ready, out to the workshop to scrub the Alembic clean, lashings of boiling water and a final wipe down with alcohol to ensure it’s as clean as a new pin.Read More
I was reading an article about responsibility by Philip Pullman yesterday “Writing is despotism but reading is democracy” published in the New Humanist (https://newhumanist.org.uk/4799/writing-is-despotism-but-reading-is-democracy) It is a discussion of creativity and responsibility in relation to the craft of writing. It is brilliant. It made me stop and think.Read More