Having been married for quite a long time, my wife and I do everything together. We have even started smelling like each other. Because we use the same bath oil. There is no his and hers about us. Apart from bath-time itself. The bath is too small for sharing.
Personally, I have come a long way since Matey. I was the first person in my class at school to get a pumice stone. In those, days having a sponge was considered posh. Even having a nailbrush was pretentious. Let alone a loofah.
My wife and I are the first people down our road to smell like Pharaohs and biblical Magi. And to start wearing natural pesticides.
We do like a bath. And these days we bathe with a Mosel Valley winemaker who is much older than us. Germany was the cradle of aromatherapy during its renaissance in the 1920s. Franz Otto Klein and his wife Edith, a pharmacologist, were spa nuts and their favorite spa, long before the phrase “green wellness center” was a twinkle in an American’s eyes, was in Baden Baden.
They loved the house blend and were so distressed to learn that the slap-on organic gunge was going to be discontinued that they decided to make their own. As you do.
In the Monchhof family home, a former Cistercian monastery farmhouse on the Mosel riverfront with an old apothecary physic garden, they began blending their own invigorating “signature” bath-time tincture.
Their experiments tested their marriage. There were huge rows about aloe vera, sulky silence caused by patchouli, arguments over the ratio of sandalwood to Atlas cedarwood, and falling outs about vetiver. But, the first seven liters of the precious pioneering elixir appeared on July 31, 1931, in clay bottles. The response was universal rapture. Locally.
Neighbors raved about the bath oil’s silky smooth therapeutic attributes and rapid-action restorative qualities, and delightful scent. All their friends couldn’t wait to try it out and baths started running all around old Moser-Saar-Ruwer. At that time, it was hard to get a German out of a bath.
During the war, the oil was hidden in stoneware jars in the family wine cellar and the secret formula buried under the aromatic herbage of the old monastic garden. Herr Peter, the son, tweaked the formulation naming it Olverum, from the Latin oleum Verum, “true oil”.
Then a gentleman named Michael Hawksley discovered the irresistible cleanliness of the oil at his Mayfair hairdresser, Truefitt & Hill, barbers by royal appointment. Apparently, the British royal family had discovered it before anyone else and kept it to themselves.
With his wife, Betty, founder of the perfumery “Les Senteurs”, Hawksley bought the UK distribution rights and then, in 2014, the whole fragrant revivifying concern. Son Dominic is now head of the luxury self-care business. Also available are pillow mist, body polish, and body firming oil.
Everyone’s definition of bliss is different. For me, it’s that feeling you get when someone remarks how nice you smell and enquires what the smell is. And I can tell them it’s Siberian fir needles mainly.
From the forested banks of the River Volga and densely wooded taiga where for centuries native wise women used it in a balm to soothe aching limbs and minor wounds. And shamans venerated the tree as the tutelary Spirit of the Forest, the link between heaven and earth, a sustainer of life and source of cosmic energies.
The eucalyptus, lavender, geranium, rosemary, bergamot, lemongrass, rock rose, lime, and Zang Dynasty orange absolute stuff is all a bit mundane and obvious.
I leave my wife, who is one for sublime odors, likes a good soak to ease away the tension and stress of her latest make-up catastrophe and the chance to speak about her sumptuous, non-greasy indulgence and only—half-a-cupful-per bath unrestrained decadence, to deal with the price (£36.50-£65.00) and other queries.
Such as how she ever manages to smell so voluptuous all the time and come over as if immortalized in the Song of Solomon, the ancient poetic paean to human sensuality.
This is largely due to the olibanum, Bhutanese palmarosa soul tonic, ho wood oil (Cinnamomum camphora), a favorite of the ninth-century Arab philosopher-scientist al-Kindi, the founder of pharmacology, and helichrysum otherwise called immortelle or everlasting flower and, more prosaically, the curry plant.
January 8th might be National Bubble Bath Day and a long way off, but for many of us, every day is bubble bath day. Every day is Olvrrum day.