I don’t go all that often for lime, even if I have always loved the Sicilian citric thrill of the mandarin and lime opening accord of the classic Armani Pour Homme. I have never entirely taken to the ‘Gentleman’s Limes’ of the colonial tropics a la Penhaligons or Geo F Trumper for various reasons, one of them being that I don’t care for the darkgreenness of lime being combined with neroli, sandalwood or musk.


Lime on food is definitely blissful – with coriander on grilled swordfish, squeezed on Tom Yum Kun. It is also perfect in a cocktail. A slice of lemon is of course lovely in an iced gin and tonic but lime has the edge : cooler, more vitalizing.






On Monday night I met D after work outside The Bank in Kamakura, which we sometimes use as a rendezvous point : an old bank from the early twentieth century converted into a bar that is never open.


On this occasion it was, so we decided to go in for a quick G + T before dinner; the only ones in there, the shaded stone and the marble of the interior naturally cooling and quiet.










I actually happened to be wearing two lime perfumes, coincidentally, having one of those wonderful days where you are enjoying life tremendously and your perfume choices are just right; rocking the sillage as you walk along in the gorgeous afternoon sunlight counting your blessings and loving how you have decided to scent your person ( as I write this I am miserable on the train in the heavy rain on my way to the school in Yokohama, but let’s go back just two days).


Montale’s Aromatic Lime has become such an annual staple for me that I recently acquired another bottle, just as a reserve. Although the opening couple of minutes are a little on the ‘perhaps too much’ tip – almost chocolatey, like a lime infused ganache; soon this deep, multilayered perfume of effective performance becomes the most perfect chypric patchouli base that is enjoyable by itself, sprayed on clothes,  or on one or two wrists but even better layered with other, lighter fragrances. For those who love Sisley Eau Du Soir and the like, this dry, highly long lasting faithful accomplice is essential; on Monday I layered it with my home-doctored 500 ml bottle of L’Occitane’s Eau Captivante, a fresh, slightly ozonic citrus/mint/basil to which I added copious doses of vetiver, grapefruit and lime essential oils, creating a refreshing, very lime-centred cologne that I have been wearing on a daily basis and loving ( and look at the colour of it! You KNOW I have been messing  with it, greening it ; sometimes you have to, if you want a perfume to capture its name)











I am actually wearing Eau Captivante today as well, in my suit. Where I ordinarily would never have considered wearing anything sharp and zinging to the work place, one of the small advantages of this new Covid-19 pandemic era for the perfumist is that firstly, everyone is wearing masks, all the time (extraordinarily exhausting while teaching – at the weekends I am so depleted I can hardly move; all the exertion from trying to animate a sea of masked zombies with less oxygen than you actually need; I overcompensate by going overboard and arrive home a limp rag), but at least, with the windows open as well – even with the air conditioning on, not good for the environment I know but I vastly prefer it as air conditioning just truly doesn’t go with my physiognomy – I consider it the enemy; on the trains the breeze travels down the train so much better and comfortable than being openly refrigerated. As a result, I feel more free and easy about scent: whereas before I was always hyper aware of every last trace of base note or middle note left hanging in the air, now I am indifferent – and obviously it is the last thing that anyone is worrying about in the first place.






Here in Japan, people are still wary: you have to be. There has been a rise in cases in Tokyo and Yokohama with the full reopening of the country, though it is nothing like the situation in Europe and North and South America (David if you are reading this in São Paulo, I hope you and your loved ones are safe; I love a crushed ice, lime drenched Brazilian caipirinha too, while we are on the subject..,,,,,,would love to make it out there one day).






Compared to our long, dark but safe sequestration in Kamakura for three months, I must admit that I myself have generally been enjoying the return to the ‘real world’ over the last month, overall ; both exhausted and energized simultaneously. Yet obviously, a greater pall still hangs over much of the earth for so many geopolitical and social reasons, not even taking into account the damage wrought by what is increasingly being seen as a truly dangerous virus that ravages the human body in so many ways and will leave millions of people with compromised bodies and health systems, probably for many years to come. It is genuinely scary,  and we are still in the tunnel.





Which is why it is so lovely, if you can, and are lucky enough to live in a place where the situation is relatively under control, to just saunter along, and try to forget about all of this for just one selfish evening ( having just purchased a vintage eau de parfum of Rochas’s beautiful Mystere from an an antique shop with your last money before pay day), on the way to a date with your other half, easing contentedly into the aura you have created with your scent choice lingering gorgeously on the summer air, lightly spiced, aromatic,vetiver, grapefruit and lime, to cut through the grime and the misery temporarily :  fill the air around you with a moment of lung-fuelling freshness.










Filed under Flowers

19 responses to “lime

  1. Tara C

    Wow, I love this piece! This part struck me in particular:

    having one of those wonderful days where you are enjoying life tremendously and your perfume choices are just right; rocking the sillage as you walk along in the gorgeous afternoon sunlight counting your blessings and loving how you have decided to scent your person

    We who love perfume know this feeling and the elation of those moments. Unfortunately they are in short supply this year for me, but I’m hoping for better days to come.

    I feel the same way about air conditioning but can’t bring myself to run it with open windows. So instead I leave the windows open and swelter until it is utterly unbearable, then shut everything up and turn it on. The worst is sleeping with it on.

    Hadn’t heard of that Montale, it sounds great. Often dense vetiver smells chocolatey to me too. I am quite envious of your Mystère!

    • Mystere is divine, and one of those mystical and brilliant scents I make myself buy when I come across it as I know I will regret it if I don’t. Is there actually anything else remotely like it ? So odd. Dark and earthy and yet silverish and ambered : I don’t wear it so often but need to know it is there as when I am really in the mood for Mystere ( I am thinking extreme soapy bath; a touch of pure patchouli essential oil on the groin and armpit area; freshly laundered clothes and lashings of Rochas – I have it in edt, edp and parfum – for the next outing ( why TF did I edit this masterpiece out of my book ? Maybe I just wanted to keep her to myself….)

      Air conditioning is a necessary evil, the problem being for me personally that for the first thirty years of my life I never experienced it, so in bodily terms it wa forever utterly alien thereafter.

      Give me AIR

  2. Tora

    Oh! To go out to a bar for a gin and tonic with a loved one! I am way too afraid to go to a bar or restaurant, and still get mighty anxious gloving and masking up to go grocery shopping. I am in the high-risk group, age-wise, so I am super careful. But I would LOVE to go out again. I want to dress up, wear lots of makeup, even lipstick which is pointless now with masks. I want to drink wine and eat Thai food at our favorite restaurant with my hubby and get all tipsy and romantic.
    Thank you for taking me out, for a lime-scented evening. I need it, Neil. I just ordered a sample of the Montal Aromatic Lime on eBay. It sounds divine.

    • Glad I could at least provide some nightlife by proxy !

      This perfume is weird at first so hold your breath. I personally find the drydown exceptionally wearable (as does D’s mum, who has almost drained her bottle as well).

      Spray a little on freshly laundered jeans and see what happens, I love how it surrounds me.

      I know PRECISELY the gloved and masked terror you are talking about ; I still feel it.

      Our Asshole In Charge isn’t QUITE as hapless as the Chief Buffoon of the UK, or Orange Beelebub where you are ( Christ what a scourge on two stumps that peanut brained old Clementine is… it must be truly dreadful, with people refusing to wear masks etc ):I do praise Japan for its ultimately civilized way of life, precisely BECAUSE I was able to go to such a nice place and unwind with a nice G + T.

      We went to Thai afterwards actually ; I truly hope that you can soon too xxxx

  3. Nancysg

    I love bars like The Bank. Cool and classical. Plus, even though it is economically bad for the bar to be empty, being the only customers casts a special feeling to having a drink out.

    • It really did actually.

      We hadn’t been there in probably five years or so ; I remember when it first opened after being turned into The Bank it was slightly more rarified; the drinks a bit more ‘curated’ – it felt a bit more relaxed this time. Like you though I really appreciate nice surroundings like these – you can step out of yourself and the world for a moment.

      Plus they had Santa Maria Novella pot pourri in the bathroom which I always appreciate

  4. I love those “old institution turned bar” type of places, with a speakeasy feel. Wish I knew more of them. I JUST got some lime essential oil and it’s exactly like a squeeze of the fresh fruit.

    • I was going to say actually precisely the opposite ; I find lemon and grapefruit to be very close,,but lime often too sweet – probably why I don’t often go for it as a perfume note. I was just using MUJI’s, which is fine even if I would like it sharper and more lime-like. What kind of essential oil have you got ? How do you use it ?

      • Interesting. I have cold pressed lime essential oil sourced from Mexico, that I bought from a company called Liberty Natural in the US. My intention is to use it in an attempt to make perfume at some point (I’ve used bergamot and yuzu before in different blends, but never really gotten grapefruit to work as it ends up giving a bitter off note, though it smells nice on its own).

      • Such fun experimenting though !

        I just looked at this while applying my divine grapefruit hand balm ( essential oil in Vaseline ): SO uplifting, though I agree it generally doesn’t work so well in perfume. I think lime and grapefruit balance each other out quite well.

  5. Robin

    Really cool building, cool bar. I couldn’t be happier for you, to be able to experience a date like that, Thai after, and not be in a state of trepidation. We are good here in the wilds of coastal BC, virus-wise — trepidation-free — but the cool building/cool bar thing is something we don’t have. I miss living in a big city for that kind of atmosphere (although not for much else).

    “. . . to cut through the grime and the misery temporarily : fill the air around you with a moment of lung-fuelling freshness.” Do I ever relate. Even here with fresh ocean air and meadows and forests around, I like the extra dimension that catching whiffs of a fragrance adds.

    Mystere is so damn good, isn’t it? The name fits. It’s a shape-shifter for me in the same alchemic way that Vol de Nuit is. Ah, probably more so. VdN is a bit more solid and predictable. I liked Mystere — admired, more like — in my early twenties but never owned it. The memory of it started to haunt me a couple of years ago and I tracked some down. The memory of it was really strong, strong enough to conjure up a complete imagining of it in my mind. I’ve only really had that with two other perfumes I was intrigued by but never bought in the seventies and eighties: Must de Cartier and Jean-Louis Scherrer. Powerful, all three, but fascinatingly abstract, somewhat intellectual while being strange, aloof and moody. My vintage edp isn’t quite exactly the perfect Mystere experience I was hoping for; it is in 90% great shape, but there is just something incomplete about it, one note or accord, a dry, thick, earthy wood, that isn’t there to the degree sufficient to bring back the entire 3-D sensation. I always have my eye out for Mystere but it’s a rare bird.

    • You freak me out.

      This morning I was mulling it over in my mind :

      Am I right in thinking that Mystere is somehow relevant to Vol De Nuit in its murky abstractions and ambered bass ? I was lost in contemplation on this point and you READ MY MIND!

      I love Must and Scherrer: Must is highly wearable for me; Scherrer I admire from afar. Mystere WORKS. I know exactly what you mean about not quite perfect incarnations : this one’s top notes are not 100% there, but the mid section and drydown are to die for, mystery intact x

      • Robin

        I like all this. Amazing how, when we each have years and years of experiencing the classics, how so much dovetails. Feels good.

  6. Loved all the photos in this. The Bank looks like such an interesting place, we will have to go when I visit Japan.
    Ah, Mystere de Rochas, one of Mama’s favorite fragrances and one of mine as well. It is truly a magical scent, filled with such shadows and mist. I really need it in an extrait. So glad you found another bottle. It is outrageously priced on eBay.

    • Is it ?

      I sensed that somehow. Even though I didn’t think I was in the mood for it actually for thirty dollars ( but she only asked for twenty as she gives me a discount ) I thought it needed to be rescued and housed in my collection. It IS filled with shadows and mist, isn’t it ?

  7. Aida

    I got your book a couple weeks ago, and I’m so so happy I have it. It’s been so vivid, so helpful, so artfully written. It’s been a wonderful companion and traveled with me to many locations and beautiful spots – the river, the ocean, some trails across LA. And to be following your blog now is such a treasure. I’m always so inspired by your writing and storytelling.

    I wanted to know if I can get your recommendation. I’m beginning perfumery after a lifelong fascination and a long time reflecting on these curiosities. I’m trying my best to figure out a study/research path on my own and I’m looking to get a kit of single fragrance notes to further my studies. I’m not sure where to get such a kit of good quality. I want to ask you if you know of anywhere or anyone that has a good kit like this. I’d really appreciate your help!

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