During this time of Covid, I’ve been diligent in preparing my shopping lists, thinking at least two or three months in advance. Having said that, I messed up. The granddaughter, visiting before Christmas, needed deodorant. Because I have a prepper mentality, I always have extra on hand. However, after giving her my spare stick, I forgot to add it to my shopping list. I’ve had to stretch out the last measly bit of my deodorant until my next shopping expedition.
I tried going a few days without and felt strangely ‘bare’ in the underarm area. We don’t realize what a comforting barrier that slick swipe of the stick brings us and although faint, I detected an odor. It was unappealing. This made me wonder about the Regency era when bathing was not that popular and they had no air conditioning and sometimes those ballrooms were mighty crowded and hot… Obviously, there wasn’t any Secret, Dove, or Old Spice, so what DID they do to stave off odeur corporelle désagréable?
Basin and Pitcher. The standard wash equipment of the period. Washing with a pitcher of water was part of the morning routine, or undertaken again after a long day of work or play. It was something you’d expect to find waiting for you in a decent inn. This was the normal way folks got clean.
The use of perfumes was also widely popular. Oils from flowers, alongside herbs and spices, created the kind of pleasant smells that both men and women indulged in. The very wealthy bathed with scented soaps.
Another way to avoid the whiff of unpleasant scents was to carry a nosegay. They could either be a small bouquet of flowers, a sachet of dried flowers and herbs, an orange studded with cloves, (wouldn’t that be spicy!), or a sprig of herbs. Most often, people would hold them up to their noses as they walked among large crowds. And they would have been needed. All that raw body moisture hidden beneath caking powders and oils from plants. Makes me rethink the romantic notion of traveling back in time to that period or earlier. Don’t get me started on bad breath. That’s a whole ‘nuther post.
On the bright side, during Regency times, bathhouses and sea bathing were becoming popular. This was an activity mainly enjoyed by the wealthy, who also could afford copper tubs lined with linen. Some journals reveal that children of the wealthy and their parents bathed daily, and during the summer even twice a day. For the poor, a weekly bath the whole family shared was more common and usually in a wooden barrel.
It is rumored that George ‘Beau’ Brummel (1778-1840) bathed every day, which made this a more accepted practice among the aristocrats. That, and intricate cravats… He believed all men should smell clean, without the use of perfumes. For that alone, women are eternally thankful.
I have since braved our altered world and bought necessary supplies. I am no longer sticky or stinky (hubby’s Old Spice just wasn’t doing it for me) and am eternally grateful I live in a time where, with the twist of a wrist, I can fill a tub with water and feel blessedly clean! Now, to finish this post, I give you our favorite hero…. #TeamDarcy
Oh! I’m sorry… did you think I was done?
I’m going to be a naughty author and add an excerpt from a non #JAFF WIP (Craven Desires). It’s a bathing scene and I absolutely love excerpts. Especially when they’re steamy and this scene fits my topic.
Lady Evelyn entered her bed chamber and froze at the disturbing sight before her. Directly in front of her fireplace stood a giant wooden tub, and within that tub was her betrothed, Laird Craven.
“What are you doing here?” She demanded, her voice tight with fury.
Craven tilted his head and rested it against the tub’s high back. “I’m not sure what ye call it in England, but we ‘heathen’ Scots call it a bath.”
She regretted calling him a heathen, but now he was being deliberately obtuse. “That’s not what–” She stomped her foot. “These are my private chambers. Why are you in this room?”
“I sleep here, as do ye.”
“You do not…”
The protest died on her lips as Craven rose from the tub, his lean, muscular body gleaming from the warm light cast by the fireplace. His very naked, muscular body. With a gasp, she scrunched her eyes tight, heat winging across her cheeks. For an agonizing minute, all she heard was the sloshing of water and then there was silence. She gave a start when he whispered into her ear. “An toir thu dhomh pòg”
She didn’t dare open her eyes or speak.
“No kiss? Aye, I ken ye’d be leery, so, I’ll set yer mind at ease.”
Unless he was miraculously dressed, her mind would most definitely NOT be at ease. His breath feathered across her cheek as he spoke. “Do ye remember when the old priest came out to welcome us?”
Taking small shallow breaths, she nodded. He prowled around her, smelling fresh, clean, and… Male. Most definitely male. She stepped back and bumped against the wall. Trapped, with the realization she had nowhere to go, her breath quickened
“As ye ken, poor Father Cleirigh canna speak a word of English and relied on me to translate.”
Evelyn’s mind hearkened back to earlier in the day when a contingent of Craven’s men met them a few miles from his keep. The aged priest, with barely any teeth and even less hair, had been part of the welcoming party. Both she and Craven had listened to him babble in Gaelic for at least ten minutes. Why would Craven bring this up now, when he should be leaving her room for his own?
“Ye’ll also remember I told ye the good Father asked if ye were in want of a good night’s rest and warm food.”
She’d been so weary, she’d nodded and smiled, but all the while she yearned to dismount her horse and climb into a soft bed She also remembered his men chuckling and Craven giving them a dark scowl. In deference to the priest’s mother tongue, she’d replied ‘Aye’, strangely pleased when he smiled a broad, almost toothless grin.
“What ye dinna realize, Lady Evelyn, the good Father had just recited marriage vows and ye most readily said ‘Aye’ to being me wife.”
Evelyn’s eyes snapped open and she gasped, then sucked that breath back in. Craven’s handsome face was mere inches from hers. Strong arms were braced against the wall, on either side of her shoulders, effectively boxing her in. He had the look of a hunter and she the prey. He lowered his head and captured her mouth with his. She arched as far from him as possible. Work roughened palms skimmed down her arms before curving around her waist. The hard ridge of his arousal pressed against her silk dress and she struggled to maintain her composure. Struggled to breathe. Struggled to curb the molten lava flowing through her veins.
I’m a bad author…. Sweet dreams!