Since we first sniffed out the fragrant talents of Haeckels and heard them wax lyrical over their home town – their slogan proudly declares ‘Made Of Margate‘ – we have been desperate to dive in to the whole range in-situ, and perhaps breathe in a few lungfuls of sea air along with the perfumes themselves. Since we first met them, their star has risen rapidly, and along with a pop-up shop at Shoreditch’s Ace Hotel, they are now bringing the Margate love to London’s prestigious Selfridges store.
So for a jolly jaunt – and inspired by our ‘Scents of Place’ edition of The Scented Letter – we thought it was time to take a few of our favourite summer-themed fragrances out of their usual stuffy city confines, and take them along on our day trip: beside the seaside (beside the sea)…
Our first stop was the magnificent Turner Contemporary art gallery – a strikingly modern building that juts out audaciously from the seafront and nestles an ever-changing selection of exhibitions. We were thrilled to find Grayson Perry’s Provincial Punk was on the day we arrived (and is open until September 13th – free admission). A mind-blowing tour through Perry’s chronicles of modern life, we were left in doubt the man’s a modern-day storytelling genius.
On leaving the gallery, we valiantly fought off seagulls and made our way to the sand. Having considered a paddle for about half a second, we banished the thought by conjuring the image of sizzling holidays past by spritzing a bit of our first summertime must-have fragrance of the day. Join us for our #ScentsOnTour…
As the thunder rumbled and the waves crashed, the air was filled with the salty brine that makes you feel energised and glad to be alive, and so it was the perfect time to revel in the delights of our second scent on tour: Heeley Sel Marin. To us, this is like licking someone’s sun-warmed salty skin (someone ruggedly handsome, we think) having just sucked a lemon drop, while walking along a clifftop while the wind whips your hair into the briny breeze. It sounds like an interesting way to spend the afternoon, though we didn’t attempt to recreate the scent sensation on this occasion. A bestseller since it launched, this is the spirit of the British coastline, bottled.
Haeckels say: ‘This location is one that is close to our hearts, an uninhabited bay with remnants of beach use in times gone by and only a raw natural beauty left behind to enjoy. A man made bathing pool bridges the gap between the sea and land, an iconic reminder of a past popularity and a link between man and effects on the nature of the landscape. Walk along the sandy beach with sand and salt on your skin and take in the aromas of fresh seaweed, the chalk reef and seawater. Listen to the sound of the wind blowing through the long cliff top grasses, black lovage and distinctive white flowers.’
When embarking on our #ScentsOnTour grand day out, we had expected rain (for what is a British Summer holiday by the sea without a bit of extra water falling from the skies?) but had not quite expected a full-on monsoon-like opening of the heavens. Have a quick shufty at our Instagram video for proof! We are nothing if not plucky at The Perfume Society, and sauntered on regardless – arriving at Haekels cliff-top shop-cum-laboratory soaked to the skin and laughing hysterically.
Goodness knows what Dom Bridges (one of the founders) thought of us, but he welcomed us in nonetheless (as we dripped on his floor), and we proceeded to gawk in wonderment at the antique cabinets – sourced from The Natural History Museum who were throwing them out! – harbouring all manner of natural ingredients and a selection of the Haeckels products. Of course, we lingered longest over the perfumes – a fabulous showcase of local flora named for the GPS coordinates that inspired the scents themselves.
We flashed Dom a glimpse of our brand new printed edition of The Scented Letter, which features their Haeckel’s GPS 23’ 5”N perfume, and he went a bit red because ‘… it’s suddenly dawned on me all this is real, seeing Haeckels name on the page with the big guys of perfumery!’
Next, we wet-footed it to Peter’s Fish Factory – absolutely determined to have fish and chips, come what may. By the time we got there, things had dried out a little, and we scoffed large portions of whitebait (or cod) all round. While at the counter, we couldn’t resist adding a bit of extra salt to the scene… Created to help you escape the everyday along the windswept shore (we certainly were!) and reminisent of waves breaking against the rocks, completely alive with a mineral scented tang that mingles with the woody earthiness of sage. Joyfully effervescent!
Now sated, and with sun shining once again, on the promenade we spied a large plastic ice cream cone, that was just perfect for our third holiday scent. Smelling exactly like a huge fresh scoop of strawberry ice cream, this is as literal as it gets – but it put us in mind of the finest there is (in our humble opinion), made by Angela Hartnett at Murano London. We may have drooled a little at the very thought…
Having been joined by a friend who lives locally, he tipped us off about somewhere we should visit. ‘Oh you simply must come and see Madam Popoff‘ he said nonchalantly – and so off we popped. Her lair revealed itself as a vintage emporium, and as we cooed over clothes from the 1900s onwards, we discovered Madam Popoff was also a loyal lover of Haeckels.
‘They made a perfume for me,’ she explained ‘and asked what I wanted it to smell like. I said it had to be my favourite things – dog paws and old ladies faces!’ In fact, it was named ‘Dog Paws‘, and we had to admit it sounded a bit… well. Doggy. But when she let us have a sniff we were converted – it’s a cosily powdered Chypre that smelled like the inside of an extremely expensive handbag, full of vintage makeup and swansdown puffs rather than old tissues or dogs. And we’re officially jealous.
As we’d not eaten for approximately half an hour, it seemed only right to stuff ourselves with ice cream before heading to the rock shop and glorying in the fact so many sweets were exactly the same as those in childhood seaside trips of yore. The minty rock put us in mind of another of our favourites…
Possibly the most refined, elegant (and deeply sexy) interpretation of a minty classic Cologne. ‘For the gentleman who experiences life with passion, and wishes to indulge in the freshness of this fragrance anytime’ they say. The gentleman who wears this can take us to Margate anytime he likes (maybe a quick stop in Italy, afterwards?) we say… And he’d better be prepared to share this freshly aromatic scent, too!
From the rock shop it was a hop, skip and a jump to the amusement arcades – the sounds of which took us right back to so many holidays we adored, when all you needed was a pocketful of change, a candyfloss bigger than your head and slowly deflating lilo. Luckily, our next hot pick for summer is rather more sophisticated than that, but still harks back to innocent pleasures. A scented story of a day at the seaside: ‘somewhere with an amusement arcade, mint rock shop and a candy floss stand’ they suggest. Well where could be more perfect than Margate, we ask you? We think it’s a good-looking chypre type woman who’s flirted with a gourmand, had a few cocktails, let her hair down, rolled her trousers up, and is ready for a paddle, too…
Margate’s ultimate attraction is the recently rebuilt amusement park, Dreamland. Currently undergoing extensive refurbishment, this is a project that has brought the community together. Seventeen rides are now open, and we went on most of them – in the rain, as the sky had darkened ominously – but cared not a jot. From the elegant Victorian style merry-go-round to the pirate ships and switch-back, we loved every minute and squealed like over-excited children the whole time we were there!
Needless to say, we offically heart Margate and highly recommend you pay a visit – why not take some of your favourite holiday #ScentsOnTour and Tweet us the results?
Further fun and frolics in from our day in Margate can be seen on our Instagram feed (look out for the squished-in-photobooth hilarity…)
For more information about things to do in Margate, take a look at visitthanet.co.uk