Spring smells like salt, soil, devil’s dung, leather and old stockings in cellophane

Spring green cherry tomato

When I started writing this post in September the spring had just sprung on Sydney.  We sowed some seeds to see where these might lead. We have not had much luck with seeds here.

While my husband and I lived in Glasgow we had an allotment in Queen’s Park in Glasgow’s South Side, about 10 minutes walk from our flat.

Allotments, for the uninitiated, look a bit like this:

Me in our allotment circa 1998-ish.

Throughout Glasgow, allotments give tenement flat dwelling folk the opportunity to have vegetable and flower gardens. Our allotment cost us ten quid a year.

Allotments are open and communal and unpretentious, some might even  say grotty. People build ramshackle greenhouses fashioned from waste and recycleable materials.

Allotments are hard to come by. We managed to acquire ours by piggybacking on the back of a friend who let us use half of her allotment. She and her boyfriend then went to the USA for work and left the entire allotment in our care. As a result we jumped the usual waiting list by  watering the Allotment Secretary’s plots after sundown and blatantly uplifting the most persistent weeds from his prize cucumbers.

The India Cookbook (in bag)

This queue jumping lead to more than a little resentment among the other gardeners.  The only person who was pleasant to us from the start was our next-plot neighbour – a football obsessed guy called Ali. Ali was second generation migrant to Scotland from Pakistan with 5 children ranging in age from 8 to 22. His children all lived at home and he worked at three jobs – as an accountant during the day, as a taxi driver in the evenings and as a waiter at Mother India at the weekend. He and his dad grew all the onions, spinach and coriander for Mother India at Queens Park Allotments. In return for watering his vegetables during the warmer months while he was taxi-ing, Ali would leave us little care packages of Indian food – saag aloo paneer, vegetable karahi, samosas and haddock curry with tomatoes.

Plein Sud Leather Shell Top and Third Millennium Caramel Leather Pencil Skirt via eBay.

You may not have realised this, but Glasgow is the official Curry Capital of Britain.When we moved to Sydney we left our allotment and the wealth of flavours to be enjoyed in Glasgow’s curry restaurants behind. I’ve never yet managed to find Indian food as delicious in Sydney as we enjoyed in Glasgow.

So we have learned to cook what we need for ourselves.  It’s all about the ingredients – particularly the strong, garlicky, dung-like smell of asafoetida

Asafoetida/Devil's Dung

and the diva-esque use of garlic.

There was the time that we made garlic naan bread with way, WAY too many bulbs of garlic. It was in the recipe though:

Very Garlic-ky Naan Bread Recipe

One of my favourite breakfasts is cold garlic naan bread with just about anything I can find of a savoury nature on on top. Even without my glasses my nose could  have found this cold naan at a thousand paces. That makes my nose and my mind happy.

Spring and the time for growing new things has now passed us by for another year.

The torrential rain in New South Wales over the last wee while should prepare the way for moist soil if all the nutrients don’t leach off into the sea.

I look forward to the smell of growing things in the way that I look forward to the smell of good quality paper when I read the children bedtime stories.

Sometimes smells seduce me to the extent that I have to keep returning to the olfactory source to get my fix.

The smell of Mother India curry is one such pull. The other is the scent of old cellophane on nylon and silk stockings.

Tuderose Stockings box

There is a vintage stocking seller on eBay whom I buy from very frequently. Every time I open an envelope from her I pause, hover my nose over the envelope and take a deep restorative breath.

In each breath I am reminded of my elegant grandmother. I used to think that cigarette smoke was the one invocation that would conjure up her memory.

Little did I know that the smell of cellophane on 60s stockings would do the same.

Pale Green Gianmarco Lorenzi Snakeskin Stilettos

So it is here that I will leave you, for only a short period of time, to reflect on the smell of fresh curry, leather and stockings in cellophane.


The smell of anything that makes you feel happy and secure. Just breathe it in.

Shoeper Shoe Challenge 2011 – 12 : The Last Pair

Finally thank you all for staying with me to the very end of this year’s shoe challenge. I didn’t think that I would ever get the blog posts over the line:

105 of 105: Spring Green Snakeskin Stilettos – Gianmarco Lorenzi via eBay

Shoe Save 105 of 105 - Gianmarco Lorenzi Spring Green Stilettos

7 thoughts on “Spring smells like salt, soil, devil’s dung, leather and old stockings in cellophane

  1. Favourite smells:

    Roasting coffee as you are/were going over the Manhattan Bridge.

    Hops cooking as the train pulled into Haymarket Station, Edinburgh.

  2. It’s nice to end the day with a happy-cry like your post just caused x At the moment I miss the smell of my mum,

    Loved the pic of you in your plot… Have you read Anastasia? She talks a lot about communal gardens & says that if you pour your bathwater onto your veggies, they’ll end up w more of the vitamins your own body needs because they adapt to your sweat, breath & skin cells etc. Fascinating idea… And in France at the moment there are people selling happy veggies that have been grown with love – spoken & sung to daily, caressed etc. Something that once would have seemed crazy to me makes perfect sense now.

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