Originally a pomander was a hollow sphere that had holes punctured in it. Inside the sphere were spices and herbs or ambergris, things which smelled both beautiful and strong. If you were rich, they would be made of gold or silver and they would hang on a chain from your belt, or be made very tiny to fit onto a ring. The idea of course, was to have something to hold beneath your nose or waft delicately around you to keep at bay the smells of sewage and dirt that were all around.

Nowadays, they are most often little china ornaments filled with lavender that you put in clothes drawers to make things smell fresh. But at Christmas they are something else again: an orange with cloves studded all over it in patterns and hanging from a tree or sitting on a shelf, not to keep bad smells away, but to bring beautiful festive scents into your room.

Oranges are fairly affordable now, and you can buy large bags of cloves in lots of our corner shops here in Tower Hamlets for a couple of pounds. This is a lovely thing to make in the darker winters days, the bright colours of oranges is always magical and the smell of the zest and the tang of the cloves combined are a joy. You may end up making some just for the pleasure of it, if so, they make lovely little gifts for neighbours and friends.

Despite everything, enjoy the days.

About Mudchute

Mudchute Park & Farm. One of the largest city farms in London with 32 acres of countryside in the middle of the Isle of Dogs.

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