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I have been married for thirty years and the saddest sight in the world for me is my wife’s face.

There is something heart-breakingly tragic when she realizes she is nearly out of her Noble Isle. Her face pales, her mouth droops at both corner and she becomes very quiet. She got like that when Paul Newman died.  It is close to melancholy as she ever gets.

Although my wife is Irish, she is the most sweet and British-smelling woman I know.  She leaves behind her a wake of Perthshire bees, Cornish hedgerows and Gloucestershire orchards. As well as Scots whisky.  Sometimes she smells of old trees.


Wherever she goes, wherever she has been, drifting in the air behind is a mist of the most fragrant home-grown spores. The smell of English rhubarb, Irish sea oaks, Scottish malted barley and even occasionally, when she gives in to her Celtic side, a hint of Welsh beets. Yellow, white and red.

My wife wears her “Coat of Balms” with pride. She has just discovered “Noble Isle” bath products. All twenty-seven of them. She buys and bathes British. And swears by “Britain In A Bottle.”

I am the same.  No traitor to my roots. When it comes to toiletries. Intensely patriotic when it comes the smellies I choose to wear.

I am into my complimentary cruelty-free and resolutely nationalistic, anti-ageing free skin care. But mine is a more traditionalist and conservative sensual persuasion. I like to smell historic, mature and well-established. I like to have a five-star musk.  I like to give off the impression of pedigree. And nobility.  I am a “Penhaligon’s” man.


I like to reek of  “Cunard” cruises and expensive hotels like the “Belmond Cipriati” and “Le Meurice”.

I like to smell of good hotels like Le Meurice and the Belmond Cipriati in Venice. I like to smell like Cunard cruises rather than tart orchards.  There is cachet in smelling like you go back to 1870.

My chosen body odour is just as bespoke as my wife’s. But less Johnny-come-lately.  I re-discovered  “Penhaligon’s”  and  became a born-again “Penhaligon’s man in the Llangoed Hall in south Wales while my wife was converted to being a new traditionalist and to the “Noble Isle” range ( est. 2011) on  the road to Cheltenham, on a romantic break at Ellenborough Park Hotel.

“Noble Isle” is the preferred choice of the Savoy Hotel house-keeping staff too.  And I believe its face wash and hand lotion uis  in the Upper Class restroom on board all “Virgin Atlantic” flights.

So it reeks of class and privilege and airborne one-upmanship. Heads turn.


Soon planes will go the way of hotels. We shall be choosing  with whom we fly just by what they have in their loos. We like to board and disembark a plane smelling as Business Class as we can.

When choosing hotels, my wife and I  don’t really care much now for the bone china, the croquet lawns, the Wi-Fi, the oak panelling, the oriel and lancet windows, flickering hearths, flagstone floors, Grand Halls, stone staircases and inglenooks.  We are not much fussed any more about four-poster beds.

For us, toiletries are the key. The Acid Test. We’d rather fight free radicals than a Nautilus machine. Wed never use “Best Western” again after what we found in one of their bathroom.

Nowadays, we judge a hotel largely on its potions. We have become very choosey. About our mouthwashes. And pillow mists.  My wife has become rather particular about her exfoliating scrubs and I suppose I am a bit of a conditioner snob. But it sends out the wrong message  when a man’s hair smells of bluebell woods. Noble Isle is my wife’s chosen territory.

Noble Isle’s  bottled Britain range uses natural “artisanal” ingredients from all around the country. The kitchen garden at the Bell Inn at Skenfrith, Monmouthshire provides the beets for the body gel. Scotland’s Heather Hills Honey Farm provides the mono-floral base  and healthy anti-oxidants for the hand wash. Bark from the “Lighting Oak” at Haileybury College , Hertfordshire is responsible for room-accenting home fragrance , the Lost Gardens of Heligan for the gooseberries and elderflower which go into the shower gel,   Gloucester Yellow Huffcap pears are used in the shampoo and Dalvenie, Dufftown is the reason out house smells like a distillery.

And E.Oldroyd & Sons rhubarb the reason why my wife often smells of  the outskirts of Leeds.

She is so smitten with and addicted to Noble Isle that she not only has bottles of the stuff on her bedside table but also a framed photo of its founder, Katy Simpson, too.


But it keeps us happy. Whenever we are away, we stock up with the en- suite giveaways and, just before checking  out and as we trundle our luggage past the chambermaid’s trolley, we help ourselves to more.

Our collection is quite extensive now.  We have collected over 500 soaps from various parts of the world. From Ferragamo’a “Tuscan Soul”, “Laura Mercier”, “Aesop”,  “Versace”, “Bvgalris”, “Hermes”,  “Voya” hand cleanser, Geneva Guild vegetable soap,  Floris Ceforo  luxury soap,  some very collectible Gilchrist & Soames Spa Therapy aloe vera , Temple Spa “Aaahh!” soothing balm for aching feet and limbs to assorted bath bombs, bath fizzs and  Penhaligon’s Quercus soap.

Each an unerasable memory of holidays and breaks. the rarest are a lion’s paw print soap from a safari lodge in Zimbabwe , a pumice stone from a kibbutz in Galilee  and some Ayarwaddy River View Lodge bath foam from Mandalay, Myanmar.

We may be kleptomaniac bit we are very hygienic and fragrant ones.

They say it starts with the parents. My mother was a “Body Shop” addict. And Dad a compulsive “Brut”. Never “Fairy”.