"FUIMUS - We Have Been"

"FUIMUS - We Have Been!" motto of Clan Bruce

All material on SHIMMERCASTDREAMS copyright of Marie Bruce and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.

Friday, 28 September 2012

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Autumn Scents, Home Comforts

My candle addiction! I love filling my home with Yankee scents.

Photo from; www.yankeedirect.com

Yesterday I went candle shopping in the local shopping center.  I had so much fun, just sniffing everything like a little puppy, getting excited by the new autumn and winter fragrances.  Shopping for home fragrance goodies is one of my  annual autumn rituals; every September I stock pile spicy candles and scented tea-lights, festive oils and woody incense sticks...all the warm scents that evoke the spirits of autumn and winter.
It is one of the ways in which I welcome in the new season.  I have done it for years, even when I was strapped for cash I would still make sure I bought a couple of packs of incense sticks in fine autumnal scents such as cinnamon and spiced apple.  Incense is certainly one of the least expensive ways to invest in the scents of autumn if you are feeling the pinch.

Yesterday I enjoyed the thrill of a Yankee candle shopping spree.  I bought all my favorite autumn fragrances; Cinnamon Sticks, Sparkling Cinnamon, Kitchen Spice, Black Cherry and Honey & Spice from their new collection. I also picked up a Mandarin Cranberry wall plug-in and a couple of Cinnamon Sticks refills as this is my favorite autumn/winter scent.  I have the plug-in on now and it is filling the house with a beautiful fragrance.

I got a new oil burner too; I had been looking for one for a long time as I wanted a burner with a separate well, rather than a single fixed unit. I also do not like the burner's with a shallow glass dish balanced precariously on top - they crack and break far too easily.  The burner I bought is Yankee's Petal Bowl Burner in pink, with an ironwork stand and a pottery bowl.  This is for my bedroom, as I already have a lovely mermaid burner in my kitchen and a fairy one in the living room.  I then bought a range of burner oils from Marks & Spencer's in fabulous scents such as Frosted Christmas, Mandarin, Cinnamon & Clove, Apple & Elder-flower etc.  I love their oils as they are inexpensive and they do last for ages.  Again if you are strapped for cash and want to fill your home with the scents of autumn and winter, these oils are a wonderful way to do so without breaking the bank.  M&S room sprays are also beautiful; my current favorite being Mandarin, Cinnamon and Clove.

Yankee products can be a bit on the pricey side, but they are designed to be a treat, an everyday indulgence; and the tarts and scented tea-lights are at the cheaper end of the price range so there is something everyone can afford.  It certainly felt like an indulgence to me yesterday walking out of the shopping center with a couple of bags of Yankee goodies, the fragrances wafting around me as I walked to my car.  When I got home I had more fun just sniffing and trying the new oils and so on.

Today it's back to the grindstone and I have been tucked away in my library working on some editorial copy that I need to get in to one of my editors early next week.  I love being in my own little study, surrounded by the home comfort of my books - I missed it so much when I was away in the Highlands.  Pyewackett is curled up asleep in his basket beneath the escritoire; the wind-chime is tinkling softly in the breeze from the open window; the sun is shining through the faceted crystal hung in the window, casting sunlight and rainbows upon the spines of the books.  I am burning one of my new candles Honey & Spice.  It smells warm and comforting, mingling in with the scent that drifts from the mug of Options Turkish Delight hot chocolate, with marshmallows, that sits on a Bruce coaster beside me. It is the scent of a home-coming.  I gaze around the study in wonder...this is my job...I am working right now...I know how very fortunate I am... but I also know how hard I worked to get here.  There is no such creature as an over-night success.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

WRITER'S DREAM; HUSH, Its Story-time

It's no secret that I adore Hush clothes...their stylish dresses, snoods and wrist warmers suit my lifestyle perfectly.  I can wear the same Sloppy Joe dresses to the ice rink, the stables and the dance studio before coming home to my real job as a writer.  The picture above sums up my cosy life in a nutshell.  I enjoy the versatility of the Hush collections and I look forward to the arrival of each new season brochure, which is more like a glossy fashion magazine than a catalogue.  I especially love the autumn/winter collections and I recently purchased quite a few of their winter dresses for my holiday in the Highlands.  As a writer I need clothes that are comfortable, as I am sitting at a desk all day long (and sometimes all night too!) I find their cashmere wrist warmers protect my wrists from the heat of an overworked laptop and I am tempted to buy the lovely deep wine red mittens in the winter collection for the same purpose!

As I am a fan of the Hush brand and their ethic of enjoying your downtime in style I was intrigued to see that they are currently running a short story competition and I thought it would be of interest to some of you who are pursuing your own writing ambitions.  Simply write a 2000 word short story around the theme of the word HUSH and email it to info@londonwritersclub.com by 31st October 2012.  Send for a Hush catalogue or check out their website for further details www.hush-uk.com  or follow the brand on Twitter @hushhomewear

So take some time this week to curl up in something cosy with your laptop and write your entry :-)
Good Luck!
Marie x

DISCLAIMER; This is not a sponsored post, I just thought I'd pass on info of a writing contest.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

ONCE UPON A DREAM; There's No Place Like Home

The comfort of one's own bed after travelling is perfect bliss.

Picture from; www.google.com
Late last night I returned from my working holiday in the Highlands and if you have been following my blog recently you will know why I was so much looking forward to the break.  I spent my time based in a tiny Victorian spa town called Strathpeffer which really hasn't changed a bit since its heyday in the 19th century; it is very easy to imagine ladies in long gowns wandering around the little town to 'take the waters'.  I have been to Strathpeffer before and the area and the locals are familiar to me.  I like to travel alone so I have no-one else to please and I can just wander and ponder and do my own thing.

My first visit to the town was eleven years ago and although I love all things Victoriana,  it made me realize just how much of a city girl I actually am. Even though I love the countryside and the Highlands, it was still a bit of a culture shock that the town does not boast a single jukebox... nor is there a village pub, just the hotel bars...or a takeaway -  the locals have to order pizza from Inverness and it takes 40 minutes to arrive and then it needs to be warmed in the oven.  This all seemed very strange to a 20-something girl used to having everything she could possibly want right on her doorstep at all hours of the day and night.  On my recent visits over the last couple of years however, it is the very peace and tranquility of Strathpeffer that has drawn me back there - it is like spending a few days in a time capsule. It is the closest I have ever come to time travelling!

Staying in a hotel has its perks; no washing up, all meals are cooked for you and there is no housework to do.  But it also has its drawbacks...I missed my home comforts, my cat Pyewackett, my privacy.  I did get lots of writing done, but missed the comfort of my own study.  As I was up in the mountains the internet and phone network coverage are somewhat sketchy so I left my laptop at home and carried a notebook and my diary instead.  Again this allowed me to absorb the peace of a much simpler time and I was offline for more than a week, which for a writer is a very long time.

On my last evening I said a fond farewell to the town, the Pictish Eagle Stone, the memories and the timeless mountains;  I will be back again one day, but in the meantime there are other parts of Scotland I want to explore. I am already planning a new trip to Wester Ross for next year.  I always find coming home after travelling in Scotland somewhat bitter-sweet.  I am happy to have my space and privacy again; but I miss the fresh mountain air, the big landscapes, the glens, the stags, the scent of pine trees, the pipes and kilts and the beautiful accent of the Scots with their romantic way of expressing themselves.  I never feel so free as when I am in Scotland. But these are some of the things which make my return home a true homecoming;

The comfort of my own lovely four poster bed
A hot bath with a range of lovely bath products to chose from
A cosy study in which to write
My big screen TV and DVD collection
My car just waiting for a midnight drive to see if the local barn owl is hunting
The lure of the shopping center!
The fragrance of scented candles burning in the evenings
My cat Pyewackett
Family and friends and their 'Welcome Home' smiles
Ordering pizza for supper and it arrives inside 10 minutes, piping hot!
Enjoying breakfast in bed and a lazy lie-abed morning
The knowledge that Yorkshire is home, Scotland is hame and I will always have a foot in each country.  I could never choose between the two. I am a Bruce and I belong to both places.

It was wonderful to be in Scotland; it's great to be back in Yorkshire.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012


A Perfect Example of A Time Spiral

Photo from angelslightworldwide.com  .
In the winter of 2002 I watched helplessly as my grandmother died of cancer.  Now exactly ten years on, I am watching my step-father go through the same process.  It is heart-breaking. He is the latest of my family to be struck down with the disease...every other member of my close family has either died, or survived cancer...but since the late '90's it has always been there,  an ominous dark shadow hovering over us.

It is very upsetting and distressing but it got me thinking about time spirals and how they affect our lives. I have never believed that the passing of time is a linear process; I believe it is more of a spiral which we traverse in an ascending direction, moving ever on-wards and upwards.  At certain significant periods in our lives we pass by the same bend in the spiral, re-experiencing something, drawing out old emotions and regurgitating memories.  This explains why we sometimes feel as if we are going round in circles and getting no-where fast because in effect, we are going round in circles!  But we are still moving forwards and ascending the spiral.

Of course I have had the understandable gut reaction of  "I can't believe we are here again; that my mother has to go through this...again; that my step-father has to experience it at all".  It is a real struggle to try and find any kind of silver lining in my life at the moment and I must confess that my positive attitude has taken a significant knock-back. Any positive vibes I have must be given to my mother, step-father and to my work. Even so, I am trying to come to terms with the hand that life has dealt us.  It's not easy, but knowing that it is just the same old bend in my personal life spiral is strangely comforting.

It is not only the family illness which tells me I am traveling the same bend, although that is the most significant evidence; but other things have also occurred in recent months which have brought the past back into the present... for example, last autumn I had an unexpected meeting with the doctor who cared for my grandmother when she was dying and whom I've not seen for years.  I have found myself pondering on the past quite a bit too, especially my grandmothers funeral which is an event my mind had blanked out...but now I remember.  I have found myself drawn back to the same destination in the Highlands that I first visited a decade ago.  These are all signs that I am passing by a landmark on my time spiral...the past has come back and taken up temporary residence in my present.

The good thing about time spirals is that they can help us to navigate the most difficult bends in the road; I have been here before so I know what to expect.  In the decade that has passed since my grandmother died I have grown older, wiser and stronger.  Nothing knocks me down that I can't bounce back from.  It's just a bend in the spiral and this too shall pass.  I am also aware that something good must be waiting for me and mine round the next bend because life is about balance...to get there I just have to keep plodding on-wards and upwards.

I share this personal story because other people might also have experience of a difficult time spiral.  No-one's life is perfect and we all have rocky roads to navigate at times.  If you do ever feel that you are running round in circles, or wonder how you can find yourself in the same old place after a decade has passed...take the time to think back over your own personal life spiral...it could simply be that you really are just... going round the bend! :-)
Blesses Be x