Do you get transported into the past by sounds and smells?

If you ask anyone what their favourite smells are, you will always get the same answers. At the top of the list is always the smell of bacon frying and in close second the smell of newly baked bread.
The enticing smell of fish and chips at lunchtime was too much for these boys from Longcar Central School, Barnsley, in 1967The enticing smell of fish and chips at lunchtime was too much for these boys from Longcar Central School, Barnsley, in 1967
The enticing smell of fish and chips at lunchtime was too much for these boys from Longcar Central School, Barnsley, in 1967

It seems that our stomachs play a big part in this as the smell of fish and chips, as well as that of a Sunday roast, are also top favourites.

Do you get transported into the past by sounds and smells?

Sunday, when I was a child, was a good day for smells.

We were woken by the smell of bacon and expected to sit down as a family to eat breakfast before going to church.

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After that, we would play outside for much of the day with the smell of the Sunday roast wafting through the open kitchen window.

Not quite so enticing was the smell of sprouts or cabbage to go with the meat!

Those smells can take us straight back to a simpler time, when there were few cars to interrupt our games on the road.

In fact, the smell of mint reminds me that one of my father’s few household tasks was to chop mint, fresh from the garden, for the mint sauce, if it was lamb that we were having.

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He executed the job with the precision of a chemical experiment and I’m sure would have like a round of applause when he had finished.

The smell of leather takes me back to the pride I felt when I obtained my school satchel and if I ever smell ink, which is not something you smell very often these days when everything is written in biro, I remember my fountain pen and the bottles of Quink ink we all had on our school desks.

Once we had discovered how good it smelt it’s a wonder that we didn’t pass out during lessons!

The smell of coffee has always been a favourite smell of mine, although it wouldn’t have held any memories of childhood, as it wasn’t something that was usually a drink of choice in our household.

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In fact, the only coffee around was Camp Coffee which was in liquid form and in a slim bottle. My mother kept a bottle in case we had visitors, as it was considered a bit more sophisticated than a cup of tea.

In actual fact, my sister and I only tried it once and found it pretty revolting.

Christmas brought unique smells. A real Christmas tree with the smell of pine needles, the kitchen filled with the aroma of the Christmas cake and Christmas pudding mixes.

The smell of chocolate is always exciting, but the confectionery smell reminding me most of my childhood would have to be liquorice. We loved it in any shape or form. Liquorice comfits, shoelaces, Catherine wheels, Pontefract cakes, smoking sets complete with a liquorice pipe, and of course, the all-time favourite, Bassett’s Liquorice Allsorts.

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As children we loved a trip to Hillsborough as the smell of liquorice filled the air from the Bassett’s factory.

In fact, it was a good district for exciting smells with the minty smell coming from Simpkins confectionery factory in the middle of the shopping centre.

Castle Market was always good for a sniff, even if it was mostly fish that you smelt. But once outside you could get the smell of hops from the brewery on Exchange Street.

You don’t realise how many smells of your childhood are no longer there, do you?

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One of the most beautiful smells must be that of a baby straight from its bath and covered with baby talc.

Or freshly laundered clothes.

Do you remember the smell of the sheets on your mother’s washing line when you used to play in and out of them and get into trouble for it?

Sometimes you walk past someone and think ‘oh, that is the perfume my mother wore’ or smell an apple pie and remember her lifting one out of the oven complete with a red face from the heat.

The smell of a garden after rain, or after the grass has been freshly mowed.

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The smell of flowers like roses and of herbs like coriander.

Bonfires, and chestnuts roasting.

The smell of paint.

And the smell of new books. In fact, walking into a book shop is a sensory experience all its own. You don’t get that with an electronic device.

Sounds also bring nostalgic memories.

You can hear a piece of music from decades ago and be instantly transported back into that time, like a time machine.

People suffering from dementia, depression and the elderly are helped by listening to music from their younger years.

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Church bells are not something you hear very often these days, but were common when we were young.

Bacon sizzling in the frying pan.

Wine glugging out of the bottle into your glass.

Children playing and babies murmuring.

The sound of birds and of a cat purring.

A crackling log fire and raindrops pattering on windows.

Waves crashing on the shore.

Carol singers at your door heralding Christmas.

Listening to your favourite music.

A recent survey of favourite sounds had one person saying that the sound she loved most was the EastEnders theme. Each to their own, I say.

Memories sparked off by smells and sounds make us feel nostalgic and emotional and, in today's world, it’s not a bad idea to escape into the past for a while.

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