Welcome to The Dip Project blog – a place to record my enthusiastic experiments with handmade bath and beauty. There’ll be recipes, ideas and reflections on here. But before all this, I want to share the roots beneath The Dip Project – a project that one day may become a business.
Natural beauty is my thing; it always has been. From an early age, my parents, in particular Dad – a watercolour artist, musician and all round creative synesthete – encouraged my love for it. I remember stargazing with him in the back garden (deck chairs, hot tea and blankets on our knees), marvelling as he mapped out the heavens. Orion. Andromeda. Ursa Major. I remember our visits to shops along the Dorset coast, researching and building up a collection of semi-precious gemstones to fill the box my Grandpa Harold made especially. The purity of diamonds, rubies and sapphires paled in comparison to the delights of rutilated quartz, iron pyrites, hematite, amethyst or moss agate. They still do.
And I remember the moment when I first became interested in natural health, beauty and cosmetics. On a family camping trip to the Dordogne – I was perhaps twelve or thirteen years old – we got caught in a particularly impressive thunderstorm. After digging ditches around the tent, we took cover and waited for it to pass. When we emerged, the forest was suddenly ripe with the aroma of saturated pine – sap and needle, giving up the freshest aroma I’d known. We took deep breaths. It was a magical day. But strangely, what I remember most was the softening effect the rain water had had on our hair, and how I enlisted my sisters to help me collect it from the trees. I wanted to bottle it.
One of my first jobs was for the now extinct Culpeper, the high street herbalist. This was where my interest became a passion. As I restocked the shops’ drawers with dried medicinal herbs – eyebright, comfrey, senna, valerian, hops – and the old wooden shelves with apothecary bottles of essential oil – neroli, vetivert, sandalwood, jasmine and bergamot, a magical, fragrant world of possibilities opened up. The line between mind and body began to blur. I dealt with a wide range of customer queries there, from people seeking natural treatments for the complexion and hair, but also for anxiety, insomnia and impotence. I dabbled with aromatherapy, made messy tomato and oatmeal face masks in the kitchen and contemplated a degree in medicinal herbalism.
And while the path I chose meant I wouldn’t make a living this way – not at this point, anyway – the seed had been well and truly sown. The interest never faded, it just moved aside for the serious business of building a career, home and family to happen. But in recent years it has become stronger again – to the point where I feel the need to really indulge it. Explore it. And blog about it.
This is the story behind what I am calling The Dip Project. Feel free to join me as I fumble my way. Try the recipes. Send comments. I’d love to hear from you.