WHAT IS THE BEST SMELL?

For our latest Big Question, we sniff the air and ask, what is the best smell? Six writers have followed their noses from homes to hedgerows and over the next two weeks we will be publishing their views. But now we want your choices too. 

Ann Wroe, obituaries editor of The Economist, hunts down the delicate wild rose, its scent "a dreaming distillation of gardens, hedges and sunlight across the centuries." While the novelist Rose Tremain credits the smell of new-mown hay with her decision to become a writer, it was "so perfect, so life-affirming, that the idea of its inevitable transience (it was, after all, only the frail and final outbreath of a fallen crop) felt crushing...I couldn’t capture the smell; what I could capture was the power of my experience of the smell in words." 

Another novelist, Philip Pullman, picks frying bacon, "spitting with glee, letting the fat molecules...carry the news of the ongoing savoury-umami-salty-Maillard orgy to every corner of the house." 

Edward Carr, editorial director of Intelligent Life, chooses a second house-filling aroma, the smell of baking bread, "rising dough, tingling with the first hint of crust, and then a crescendo of deep, toasty notes filling the air as the loaf browns." 

We were surprised to discover that two of the writers we asked had lost their sense of smell, so called on memory. The Guardian columnist Ian Jack recalls an Indian train platform, ruefully concluding that "when a person can’t smell India he knows his nose is really in trouble." 

And finally, the poet Robin Robertson recalls the rain, "which is no smell at all but only a washing-away, a cleanness and yet another chance to start again." 

Which smell gets your vote? Have your say in our poll, below, and please let us know why you chose the smell that you did. Or, if you feel there's one that's just as beautiful and evocative, please let us know. 

THE RAIN
30% (129 votes)
BAKING BREAD
22% (97 votes)
NEW-MOWN HAY
8% (35 votes)
WILD ROSES
6% (29 votes)
BACON
5% (25 votes)
AN INDIAN RAILWAY PLATFORM
4% (18 votes)
WALKING IN A MAPLE AND OAK FOREST IN AUTUMN SMELLING THE FALLEN LEAVES WHICH ARE JUST STARTING TO TURN TO COMPOST (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
WASHED BED LINEN WITH TRADITIONAL SOAP MADE OF OLIVE OIL. IF YOU GO TO BED IN THE AFTERNOON AFTER LUNCH THE SMELL IS EVEN BETTER (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
THE ONE I LOVE (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
FRESHLY LAUNDERED & STARCHED LINEN. REBIRTH (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
DAPHNE (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
ROASTED COFFEE (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
THE SMELL OF WARM BUS TYRES. (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
SALT BREEZE LIBERATED BY AN EBULLIENT OCEAN. (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
SANDALWOOD (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
FIREPLACE (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
LILAC (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
FRESH MINT COMBINED WITH LILAC AT THE EDGE OF A SMALL MAN-MADE LAKE (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
FRESH CUT LEMONS (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
FRESH GROUND COFFEE (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
THE SMELL OF CLEAN, FRESHLY DRIED LINEN- SO PEACEFUL! (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
THAT AREA OF HER NECK, ABOVE THE CLAVICLE AND BELOW HER EAR (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
HORSE MANURE (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
CHRISTMAS (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
RAIN ON WARM ASPHALT OR TAR SEAL (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
THE SMELL OF THE EART (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
LEMON (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
LITTLE BABY INMEDIATELY AFTER BATH (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
TRUFFLE BUTTER (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
THE SEA (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
ORANGE, FRESHLY CUT (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
JAZMIN (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
PUPPY BREATH (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
NEW-MOWN GRASS (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
A FRESHLY DIAPERED BABY. REALLY, THIS NEEDS EXPLANATION?! (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
I WOULD HAVE VOTD FOR NEW MOWN HAY EXCEPT THAT AFTER READING TH JOHN BLACKBURN NOVEL "A SCENT OF NEW MOWN HAY (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
WOODY SMELL OF FOREST (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
AGE 61. IN MY RESTAURANT. NO, NOT FOOD. BROWN PAPER SACK LEFT IN BOOTH. LOOK INSIDE. SQUARE OF FOLDED VIRGIN LEATHER. TH (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
NEW AUTO INTERIOR. NEW LEATHER, CARPET, PLASTICS AND DYES ALL PRODUCT IN PERFECT HARMONY AN AROMA OF A FRESH START TO EACH DAY. (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
A GLASS OF BRUNELLO DI MONTELCINO. THE SCENT CONJURES A WARM TERRACE ON A SUMMER'S EVENING WITH GOOD FRIENDS (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
SMELL OF RAIN ON DRY SOIL (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
HOME (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
THE SEA AT STORM - HUMIDITY MIXED WITH SEAGRASS, FISH AND GINGER IN USE AGAINST SEASICKNESS (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
THE PACIFIC OCEAN MIXED WITH SAN FRANCISCO FOG--SALT, URBAN LIFE, EUCALYPTUS, REDWOODS, ADVENTURE (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
SEX (SORRY BUT SOMEBODY HAD TO SAY IT) (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
RAIN ON A HOT TAR ROAD - THE BEST SMELL IN AFRICA! (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
A FINE BORDEAUX RED (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
BURNT CASTOR OIL (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
FRESHLY BREWED COFFEE AND BAKED MUFFINS! (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
A FOREST FLOOR OF PINE NEEDLES (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
roasting chestnuts reminding me of the Paris streets (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Newborn babies (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
coffee (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Coffee (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
a lover's skin (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
varnish/furniture stain (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
the smell of a baby's skin (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
crepes (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Fresh Cut Grass (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Africa: woodsmoke and dust (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
the warm, light scent of a loved one's skin, made of the pheromones that linger on clothing or in your hair (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Coffee in the morning (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
the morning smell in summer (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Vetiver (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Sandalwood (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Brazilian Arroz e Feijão (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
freshly-ground coffee (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Coffee because it usually means sharing time with friends. (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
baby (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
the sun (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
A woman's scarf (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
A newborn baby (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Wild thyme (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Lilacs (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
PINE FOREST A LOVELY FRESH SMELL, AND IF YOU CAN SMELL A PINE FOREST YOU ARE WALKING IN IT, PERHAPS ON THE WAY UP A MOUNTAIN. (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
ROASTING TURKEY (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
A LOVER'S BITS. (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
PUPPY BREATH......HOPE, INNOCENCE, SOFTNESS AND LOVE ALL IN A SWEET, WARM SNIFF (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
VANILLA SOAP (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
MOM COOKING MY FAVOURITE DISH (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
BONFIRE NIGHT (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
HE SMELL OF THE SUN IN EARLY SPRING (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
PETRICHOR, AS ROBIN ROBERTSON MAY HAVE BEEN REFERING TO. (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
JACK DANIELS; THIS SMELL REMINDS ME THAT THE WORK DAY IS OVER! (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
A LOVER'S SKIN (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
FRESH CUT GRASS (NO HAY WHERE WE ARE!). A DEEP BREATH OF IT AND YOU SEE A GLIMMER OF HOPE (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
FRESH BREWED COFFEE ON A COLD DAY (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
FRESHLY CUT GRASS (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
FOR ME, THE BEST SMELL OF ALL IS THE SMELL OF FRESHLY IRONED BED-SHEETS DRIED IN THE BLAZING GREEK SUMMER SUN. (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
petrichor, after a dry spell the first rain that starts to fall (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
FRESHLY-BREWED ESPRESSO COFFEE (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
1961 CHATEAU LATOUR (CAN'T EXPLAIN, YOU'LL JUST HAVE TO TRY IT YOURSELF) (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
PINEWOOD AFTER RAIN (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
ONE'S LOVER (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
RAIN DROPS OF FIRST RAIN OF THE SEASON FALL ON EARTH, IT'S HAVEN FEELING AND IT'S HAPPEN ONLY IN INDIA. (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
MUM'S SCENT - BABY SCENT (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
FRESH LINEN (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
VANILLA (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
PUSSY (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
THE SMELL OF A HORSE (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
PETRICHOR (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
PETROL (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
THE SMELL OF EARTH AFTER A RAIN, SMELLS FRESH, CLEAN, EARTHLY AND DIVINE (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
COFFEE (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
VANILLA (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
VANILLA (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
THE SMELL OF A HORSE (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
I WOULD HAVE VOTD FOR NEW MOWN HAY EXCEPT THAT AFTER READING TH JOHN BLACKBURN NOVEL "A SCENT OF NEW MOWN HAY (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
coffee (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
coffee (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
coffee (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Coffee (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Coffee (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Coffee (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Coffee (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Coffee (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Total votes: 424