The winters in South Wales are unforgiving. Rain doesn’t just fall on the Valley folk; it engulfs them. It often feels like all the vapour gathered across the skies of the UK is somehow pulled towards the Welsh Valleys where it makes it’s home. And after making it’s home over Merthyr, Maesteg and Mountain Ash, the rain shows it’s appreciation by sticking around, for what feels like a millennium.
But when asked about the rain in South Wales, and how 18 years of it affected me in later life, I don’t mention human gills, underwater skills or whale song. For me, the copious amount of precipitation evoked in me an unorthodox ability; my immense sense of smell. Scientists state that the pleasant smell we notice after a rain shower is actually caused by Actinomycetes, a type of filamentous bacteria that grows in soil when conditions are damp and warm.
I believe I’ve spent so much of my life in the rain that I now have an army of Actinomycetes following me around. Whenever there’s the slightest scent of anything unusual in the air, everything slows down for me, like the Matrix. And that is exactly why I love the autumn and winter seasons. Is there a better smell than when you walk passed a bakery on a brisk, blue morning? The aroma of the bread, rising like the dawn, seeps into the soul.
A good hotel should cater for those with an acute sense of smell. And on my travels, I’ve sniffed out these little beauties…
Fresh bread – Kinloch Hotel, the Isle of Arran
English white wine – Leigh Park Country House Hotel & Vineyard
Homemade chocolate – Mount Pleasant Hotel
Fruit cake Cwrt Bleddin Hotel