We live in a 2-bed flat… on the second floor, there’ll be no log fires ablaze this Winter and the only smoky smells will be drifting out of the toaster when I burn my muffins in the morning (not a euphemism). But I’m cool with that, I hate roasted chestnuts and to be fair, wood-smoke plays havoc with my sinuses… still, it’s not very Christmassy is it?
To make up for this lack of festivity, I plumped for a new Winter candle this weekend: Diptyque’s Feu de Bois. I was introduced to it just last week – massively behind the times of course – at an event I attended. It’s not so much that it’s a great rendition of a roaring log fire, but that it reminds me completely and utterly of my parent’s house in La Vendee… a place I have a huge love/hate relationship with. The house was a wreck in 1987 when my parent’s bought it and I had to spend every school holiday sitting in the ruins of this 500-yr old farmhouse while my friends holidayed on the beaches of Benidorm. I know, first world problems and all that and I probably got off lightly, really… but still… it kinda sucked for a 12yr old to spend all. bloody. summer. so far away from real civilisation.
Some days, I only had the scare-o-pods to keep me company (don’t click that link, I mean it).
So anyway, Feu de Bois in all it’s unashamed smokiness (are you over that link yet?) has the most incredible, guttural quality of a good rip-roaring fire. Not the sedate kind that posh people have in their petite chimineas… we’re talking full-blown inglenook with a pyromaniac 15yr-old (me) chucking on the spitting horse-chestnut logs while everyone else in the room kippers. Delicious. And when I’ve got the pennies, I’m going back in for the biggest size they do. Although, having said that… Baies also made me go a little weak at the knees when I sniffed it…
Houston bank manager, we have a problem.
Whilst I’m on the subject of Diptyque, a quick mention for their Christmas “Holiday Collection” which features a beautifully ornate trio of Arabian Nights-inspired candles that capture the festive spirit wonderfully. I lucked out on the goody bag and took home a mini-version of the one that appealed to me the most on the evening: Sapin Doré – an artful representation of, what is basically, a freshly dug Christmas tree (without the foisty decorations). It’s so beautifully green, with warming resinous qualities that neither detract from nor soften the freshness – usually, I’d actually want them to, but in the case of Sapin Doré, it needs that prickling camphor to bolster the absolute authenticity that I take from this scent.
The Holiday Collection, from left to right: Oliban, Amber Oud, Sapin Doré (priced from £25.00, available online)
The other candle that I’ve been burning like a heretic on a stake (and the award for most tasteless simile goes to…) is an outstanding creation from one of my favourite niche brands: Ancienne Ambiance. Their Phoenicia (cedar) candle bears all the hallmarks of a scented masterpiece. Funnily enough, my favourite tree (everyone has a favourite tree right?) is the candle’s inspiration, the Cedar of Lebanon, with it’s sprawling umbrella-like branches that used to protect me from the rain as I waited at the school gates for my friends to arrive. If you don’t know it by name, google it… you’ll be like “ohhhh thoooose trees, yeah – they’re cool!”
Anyway, back to the candle… Phoenicia is a more aromatic take on the woody genre, less pine and more resin… the kind that you inhale deeply in an attempt to warm your soul as well as your nostrils. Tempering the richness is a light herbal quality that injects a medicinal characteristic in the manner of an old apothecary. Phoenicia is the ultimate “I’m warm and cosy in here… while outside, it’s shit” scent and whenever I light it, I come to the conclusion that Winter is no bad thing afterall. Priced at £36, there’s also a rather striking Limited Edition black glass version currently available for a little more.
p.s. – incase you’re curious – the full lineup of wintery candles on display in the above images are: Ancienne Ambiance Romana, OCCO Raiya No6, Diptyque Feu de Bois, Ancienne Ambiance Phoenicia*, Annick Goutal La Rose, Diptyque Sapin Doré*
* press sample