Monday, September 5, 2011

Ashleigh & Burwood

Those of you who read my blog on a regular basis know that there are some genuinely kind people in the world, precisely because you all are exactly such people! But in the rush and push of everyday, it can be all too easy to focus on the negative, la galère, the struggle. This I find is especially true in pessimistic France.

So how lovely to be given a gentle reminder of how present goodness is. 

The other day I opened up one of the last of the moving boxes and immediately was enveloped by a familiar perfume--a forgotten box of "The Ocean" incense by the exceptional firm Ashleigh & Burwood out of London. It had been given to us as a gift and we had used it sparingly as it is our favorite. Only three cones were left. I lit one and as the gentle veil of smoke wafted over me, I set about trying to find more of this delightful fragrance.

Ah, my disappointment surged when I saw on their website that they don't seem to make it anymore! Just in case I wasn't seeing it (their range is quite impressive), I sent off an inquiry to their Customer Service department. To my delight, a charming gentleman named Alex responded promptly. No, they had stopped making that fragrance some time ago, but along with his managing director, he had found a deluxe gift set and a box of incense sticks and would he happy to send them to me pronto! He believed they were the last in existence! Wouldn't he prefer to keep them "for posterity"? No, he felt that it was better that they go where they would be appreciated. And so, just like that, a box arrived at my door this morning.

Isn't that fantastic? And what made the gift even more special was the delightful exchange between Alex and myself. I tried to explain why this particular fragrance was so special for us. That Remi and I are a team of photographer and travel writer (Alex later perused Remi's websites) and "The Ocean" took us to some of our favorite destinations quicker than the crunch of a Proustian madeleine. Especially as we are not taking the plane as often as we would like these days, we are so grateful to be transported to, say Bora Bora...

Or Bali...

Actually, the description on the box is a perfect way to describe its appeal: "borne on the wind, the calm open scent of freedom with a touch of fine ocean spray under an endless blue sky"...yes, please. La liberté!

That the scent of "The Ocean" had not wavered or faded over the years attests to Ashleigh & Burwood's commitment to quality. We already know that their customer service is exceptional but the prices are very reasonable to boot. To discover their products, please see their websites in London and in France:

Wishing all of you in the States an excellent Labor Day! I am sending out gratitude and respect to all of our workers and for those that have come before us as well.


  1. Hello Heather:
    It is always a thrill to receive a parcel in the post but, how doubly delightful to have the gift of such a marvellous box of perfumed goodies.

    It is so strange how certain scents can transport one into another time or place and clearly 'The Ocean' can perform this magical trick for you both. We loved your photographs of Bali and Bora Bora, such faraway lands of mystery to us, probably quite like the perfume of Ashleigh-Burwood.

    Enjoy your gift sparingly in the oceans of your mind.......until, perhaps, you can return to those special places in reality once more!!!!

    Hoping that you have a wonderful week!!

  2. Perfect!Will look into ASAP!As I have a little dog SIR WINSTON who loves to "mark" about LA CASA!!!!!!!!!!!!
    PS.Salad looks divine will try and make tonight!Millie Grazie!

  3. So lovely to read a good customer service story for a change!! And just that sort of service makes me a customer for life!! I believe someone doing their job well should be rewarded!! Perhaps I'll have time to search them out when I'm in London later this month!

  4. Ok I want some of those incenses if they transport you to all these wonderful places! What a kind man to have gone in search of the last box of incenses for you and even better you made a new friend. People are really wonderful sometimes and I’m glad you could be on the receiving end of that kindness.

  5. Kindness is fundamental to happiness as are positive memories. Thank you for sharing your experience - it is a reminder that goodness is alive and well in our fast-paced western world.

  6. Such a deliciously British thing to do - to be so helpful and courteous to boot. The very best of the British spirit - and most encouraging to see that it has not be diluted too much by modern lifestyles to have been lost forever.

    Interesting how scents are such a powerful memory provoker. My daughter Henrietta is studying year 12 (final school year) psychology this year, and one of the interesting things she has learnt, is that scent is the quickest of our senses to recall a memory. Which is brilliant when it is a lovely scent such as this, and it recalls such glorious parts of the world.

    Now lastly, when you say the pessimism in France, what do you mean? Is this an ongoing trait, or a current one because of the economy?

  7. Oops - I mean "smell" is the quickest not "scent"! I am rewriting physiology!!! VB xx

  8. Thank you so much everyone. I really was happy to share about this experience--I found it to be so special and I am delighted to have the wonderful smell of the ocean here with me in Arles as well.

    Jane and Lance, I think that you would be absolutely fascinated by Bali. The customs, the beauty, the kindness--it really is one of our favorite spots on Earth!

    And Virginia, well, I don't wish to insult any of my French readers but I think that even they will admit that the French love to complain--it is a national privilege! ;)

  9. Hi Heather,
    what a lovely story to so glad you found your fragrance again...and your photos are absolutely stunning-some of the best ive ever seen..compliments to you.
    Quite right about A&B also-after 2 years of searching almost everywhere, for violet, ive found it at Ashleigh & Burwood and its it on now, along with Hier Encore
    best wishes to you :)

  10. I want some of that Ocean incense immediately, Oh no, you've got the last box! A lovely evocative piece. I hope we can meet up some time soon, Julie and I were talking about doing a local blog tea. Would be fun to meet up.

  11. Hello you two, somehow I didn't get my normal notification of these responses! And they were lovely ones! Blogger gone bad...

    J9, thank you so much for very kind compliment! Not sure that I deserve such fine praise, but I will take it!

    And Angela, I would love to meet you and Julie! When you want!


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