I am halfway through a sublime beef brisket with pickled red chilli, coal-roasted aubergine, miso and cashews at Smokestak, the latest hipster barbecue restaurant to grace the graffitied backstreets of Shoreditch. This is messy eating at its best. Techno fills the room and the excellent quince and thyme bourbon cocktail helps create a convivial atmosphere. But it is on a trip to the bathroom that I discover an unexpected herb-infused delight: a hand cream richly scented with bergamot and rosemary – the perfect way to perfume my hands after my carnivorous feast. I note the name: Honest, which I soon find out is a small Birmingham-based brand handcrafting alluring all-natural products in biodegradable packaging.
I encounter these lovely products again at a couple of brilliant independent boutiques – Ryder & Hope in the pretty Dorset town of Lyme Regis (which stocks a range alongside handwhittled spoons from Hatchet + Bear and Alex Monroe necklaces) and plant-based paradise Botany nearer to home in east London. It’s all the persuasion I need to log on to the Honest website and buy up a stock of the Bergamot & Rosemary Hand Balm (£24 for 250ml), even though my bathroom cabinets are already groaning with bottles (and half-used hotel miniatures) picked up on my travels.
The online Honest boutique reveals other tempting potions too: Lemongrass & Black Pepper Hand Wash (£20 for 250ml); Calming Cleansing Cream (£35 for 120ml), made with sweet almond oil and beeswax; and candles (£25) scented with herbs or Japanese yuzu. But for now the hand balm is my night-time treat; not only do my hands feel fantastically soft, but I fancy the herbaceous, Earl Grey-infused aroma helps me fall into a sweet-scented slumber.