I find it almost impossible to believe that this time next month I will be back in England. The next four weeks are the hottest, sweatiest, most gruelling of the year for me at work, the flight will be endless, Heathrow is hell, but D has come up with the brilliant idea of us just taking a taxi to Windsor, where we will rest and bathe and wake up in a beautiful white Georgian hotel, have breakfast, and be met by my family for lunch and a stroll around some stately gardens or other before being taken back up to the house.
The other day, in a new second hand perfume store I have discovered near one of my work places, there was a bottle of Penhaligon’s English Blackberry, which according to Fragrantica and the perfume house’s own website, doesn’t exist, but it does on other fora, and I also physically witnessed and held (and naughtily sprayed it, the fresh scent of blackberries – lovely – I would like to buy this) filling up the room, so I know full well that it does, and it immediately reminded me of the classic and originator of this type of eau fruitee, Mure Et Musc by L’Artisan Parfumeur, a full and established summer and autumn staple which I have on occasion been wearing of late, as I find it relaxing and easy and reminiscent of the reliable and elegant interiority of Christian Dior’s Eau Sauvage Extreme (1982).
In terms of this genre as a whole, there has been a vast oversaturation of fruit notes in perfumes in the last couple of decades; usually as part of truly over-egged scent pyramids that go through a grim peristalsis of diabetic flowers and ‘balsams’, and end up in turgid vanilla and fake ouds with nuclear levels of sickening sillage. Vile. On their own, though, ‘solifruits’ can be lovely; comforting, charming, particularly fragrances based on the concept of berries – we discussed the pleasures of blackcurrant and cassis perfumes recently, but blackberries and other deep coloured bramble fruit of that nature (recently I have been really enjoying just leaving my Boujee Bougie Queen Jam candle for an hour or so, and coming back into a heartwarming concoction of fruits based on a Finnish summer recipe of bilberries and raspberries with a rich heart of rose) — also have their own particular olfactive niche of the untroubled and the fun ; it all just makes me want to go out fruit picking.
As a child, I used to immensely enjoy the days out at the fruit picking farms, especially strawberries and gooseberries ( I found the texture of raspberries problematic, even if their taste and aroma were exquisite ) ; blackberries also especially exciting with the extricating of the thorns; their fragile squidginess, and delicious taste.
In more recent times, when back in Norfolk with Duncan’s parents, he and I were also sent out to pick wild blackberries that had accumulated in great profusion along some local hedgerows, taking a tupperware container and filling it up to the brim, while eating great handfuls along the way. I loved it, and hope that we can all go out and do it again this summer, in Warwickshire as well.
Sometimes in life, it is the simple things.
– by Seamus Heaney
Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full,
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s.
14 responses to “BLACKBERRY PICKING ….MURE ET MUSC EXTREME by L’ARTISAN PARFUMEUR (1993) + QUEEN JAM by BOUJEE BOUGIES (2020) + ENGLISH BLACKBERRY by PENHALIGONS (2017)”
You write beautifully. Like reading poetry.
You are probably mistaking me for the Seamus Heaney !
( but thankyou )
I chuckled at your description of Penhaligon’s English Blackberry that “doesn’t exist.” When I was a child living in Brussels, my mother used to get so irritated at Belgian shopkeepers who would bluntly tell her “Ca n’existe pas, Madame!”, when they didn’t carry an item she had requested, and which she knew very well did exist.
That would be totally maddening !
I missed the days of climbing up the mulberry tree when I was a child. I wonder why nobody picks mulberry here in New York. The fruits drop and stain the sidewalk in summer days. Yes, I know it’s a different berry. My friend just told me that it’s 40 in London. I hope it is not that terrible by the time you’re back to England.
Love blackberries. Queen Jam was my favorite Boujee Bougie. Mûre et Musc was too thin for me when I tried it (maybe the weather wasn’t hot enough) but I’m enjoying L’Ombre dans L’Eau (blackcurrant) even more in the summer.
I also remember an early summer’s morning trip to the “U-pick” to harvest blackberries. Although I was never fond of them, I miss those days.
The hedgerows are heaving with hard green blackberries here at the moment—should be blackening for you by the time you arrive! I have punnets of blackcurrants and redcurrants in my fridge, picked from a local fruit farm, but my favourite gooseberries were non-existent this year. My mother used to rave about her lakka (Finnish for cloudberries), a jammy orange type of blackberry (or raspberry)? I could never get on with Mure et Musc, however—made me quite nauseous. I’ve been avoiding any blackberry scents since then, while indulging heavily in blackberries themselves.
Probably I’ll be the absolutely, totally wet blanket here, and everyone will hate me for being OCD: but isn’t picking wild berries a bit of a no-go due to alveolar echinococcosis (fox tapeworm) which may pose a possible risk to humans?
Blackberry is such a fabulous note in fragrace, it is sweet, yet uplifting. I used to own MUre et Musc, but sadly sold it off years ago, you do remember my much maligned Marie Kondo phase, and just recently missed oiut on an auction for a vintage bottle.
I am always surprised how there are fragrances out there that technically “do not exist” in data bases, such as the Penhaligon’s you found. How many more are there out in the wild? Who knows?
This is lovely. Can’t wait to see you: there are blackberries at the bottom of our road. I think they will be perfectly ripe by the end of the month x
Let’s get some !
Where is Neil?