Friday, 29 May 2009

City scents - or, just for the smell of it

1. There are those who contend, with some justification, that London stinks but there are some scents that make up for it. Probably my favourite London smell is produced by the Costa Coffee Roastery just outside Waterloo – exactly what you need to brace yourself on a gloomy journey into work.

2. When I lived in Battersea, I was often met by a warming malty smell as I left home in the morning, presumably from the Young’s brewery in Wandsworth.

3. The hot food at BLT Deli on the corner of Great Eastern Street and Curtain Road always smells lovely although, oddly, I’ve never eaten there. I think I was put off by the idea of a roast beef and Yorkshire pudding wrap – with all the trimmings! That can’t be good for you.

4. A popular one, I think, is the scent after a summer rain shower. Similarly, there’s the slightly fuggy damp smell of the wettened paths along Richmond riverside when the tide goes out.

5. Certain London Underground stations – notably the corridors to the Central line at Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Circus, strangely – smell as if someone’s cutting plywood with a jigsaw (perhaps it’s the brakes). I have to admit, I really only like this one because it reminds me of the Paris Métro.

6. The smell of laundry from the B&Bs between my flat and the station, and the dry cleaner's next to work.

7. When you can smell the sea at the South Bank.


  1. Mmmm. I love the smell of the river - rotten leaves and slightly stagnant water. The river here smells like raw sewage.

  2. I used to go to BLT (the shame!) some of the choices are unbelivable, it does however tastes as nice as it smells. You should check it out at 1pm to see how frantic it gets.

    I agree with your Paris Metro observation too, to me it smells like tramps half smoked cigarettes and dampness with a touch of sweetness/warmth - christ that sounds horrendous!

    I'm actually looking at your blog to let you know about the Cuban Film Festival at The Barbican and see if you want to check it out.