A good product and a keen sense of smell is all you need to evoke happy memories, writes Hilly Janes
Looking back over the year, I asked my 12-year-old daughter what the highlights of 2012 have been for her. “Going to Finland in the February half term,” she answered like a shot, when her daredevil spirit was at full throttle on her first ever skiing holiday.
But for me it was a very different time of year that came to mind; the week in August when our friends in the north (only Wirral, not the Arctic circle) came to stay during the Olympics. And now I have a delicious reminder of it in a bottle.
It was a week of sunshine, late breakfasts around the garden table, get-togethers with our mutual oldest friends and their children - many of them now adults themselves - not to mention the thrill of the Games and drinking up the joyous, generous spirit of London 2012.
One morning the most delicious scent of roses wafted down the stairs after Deborah had taken a shower. It was her Weleda Wild Rose Body Oil ( www.weleda.co.uk ), and she promised to buy me some. A couple of months later, she did. At £19.95 for a 100ml bottle it’s not the cheapest moisturiser, but my thirsty winter skin absorbs it really quickly and the scent always conjures up that lovely week.
Add to that the fact that Weleda is a long-established company, founded in 1921 by scientists and philosophers including Rudolph Steiner (who also founded the schools named after him), and renowned for its natural, organic ingredients and sustainable production methods, and using it makes me feel even better.
The close link between smell and memory is thought to be because the parts of our brains that deal with both are close to each other. One study by Swedish researchers suggested smell seems to trigger the earliest childhood memories, while those prompted by sounds and sights tend to be later ones.
A Dutch experiment this year which involved showing participants film footage of violence while they were exposed to either a smell, a colour or a sound, found that smell later evoked the film more powerfully than the other sensory triggers. Of course, if a smell has unpleasant associations it’s not going to trigger happy memories.
For me, the scent of roses has always taken me back to the gardens of my childhood, and now it also reminds me of one of the happiest times of this year.