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Summer on Birkenlund
'In that big red house down by the river, that's where Madita lives. Mom and Dad and their little sister Elisabet, a black poodle called Sasso, and the kitten Gosan also live there. And then there's Alva. Madita and Elisabet live in the children's room, Alva in the girls' room, Sasso in a basket in the hallway and Gosan in front of the stove in the kitchen. But mummy lives almost everywhere in the house and daddy also lives when he's not in town and writes for his newspaper so that people have something to read there.'
Thus begins the writer Astrid Lindgren, who has so lovingly created so many idyllic Swedish children in her books, her story of the spirited Madita who lives on Birkenlund. Where the pious Linus-Ida helps with the laundry and next door on Waldesruh her friend Abbe bakes his sugar curls. Where in winter good-natured horses pull the sleigh through forests covered in deep snow, and in spring behind the house the liver flowers bloom. But most adventures of Madita play in summer.
This summer - the poppies on the meadow behind the house, which reaches down to the river, where Linus-Ida wringes out the wet sheets on the jetty, and the violets blooming under the birch trees in the light of the Swedish sun - you think you can almost smell Lindgren's clear and beautiful words when you read them. Where the currants grow very close to Nilsson's fence next to the shed, and the barley swings golden behind the hedge. And in Jo Malone's English Fields - Poppy & Barley you can actually smell him.
Poppy & Barley is one of only two fragrances from this year's limited English Fields series dedicated to the illustration of a wild garden or field (the second is Green Wheat & Meadowsweet, the other three are gourmands despite their relatives by name). It does this authentically and very beautifully: sun-drenched and full of lively flowers - even if the flowering poppy and the barley field in front of my inner eye do not sway in the English summer wind but in the Swedish one.
Conclusion, as Madita would probably say: 'Around the house there are lots of birches, I climb around inside. (...) But the most beautiful thing is by the river. We can play on the jetty, because the water's not deep there. But a little further out, it's getting deep. On the other side of the house is the street. There's a lilac hedge so no one can watch us. But we can lie behind the hedge, and then we hear everything that the people who pass by talk, and that's fantastic, isn't it?