"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.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Anam Cara - Soul Mates

The Meeting on the Turret Stair

"In the ancient Celtic mystical tradition, it's believed that when two people born to cross paths, lives and hearts, do embrace each other, a third entity comes into being - a Spirit Companion that watches over the two souls to help them love each other into fullness..."
(from the book Something More by Sarah Ban Breathnach)

Oh, how I long for this to be true!  What a wonderful, beautiful concept it is, that when soul mates meet and hold onto one another, a special angel is assigned to watch over that relationship...to guide them as life rips them apart, as circumstances get in the way, as obstacles are thrown in their path to deliberately separate them...through all of this, an angel watches over the star-crossed lovers as they are repeatedly tested. Time ticks on and while they might not be getting any younger, it helps to think that an angel of love guides the lovers as they each find their way forwards, towards eventual reconciliation, in perfect love and perfect trust, keeping the faith that doing things the right way will lead to reunion, joy and fulfillment.

How many of us have wished that we had seen the truth when it was standing right before us, only to feel foolish when the penny finally drops much, much later?  I know I frequently feel this way as I fail, time and again, to recognize a soul mate when I see one.  For a woman who has an incredible and downright spooky sense of foresight when it comes to helping other people, I can be stupidly dense when it comes to trying to help myself.   In the past I have told expectant mothers they were expecting even before they knew themselves; I've given accurate warnings of infidelity and divorce up ahead; I have had fore-shadowing of bereavements to come...and yet when it comes to matters of the heart, I cannot seem to see past the end of my own nose.  

I am romantically blinkered and blind-sided and I am left to contemplate my anam cara driving away on a dark winters night in Oban, as I pressed my face against the glass of the hotel window to watch him go. Knowing him, he will understand my wary oversight, accept it as a challenge and keep on trying to get my attention.  Hopefully, one day the penny will drop in my mind while he is still standing right in front of me, rather than long after when he has driven off, blowing kisses to me as he goes!

But it is such a comfort to think that he and I might have our very own relationship angel looking out for us and that maybe, just maybe, my er...oversight, is all part of the cosmic plan because obstacles do still stand in our way. To everything its time and place; the love is constant and true; we won't fall out of love and anything worth having is worth fighting for, worth waiting for.  I know this. I believe this to be true.

The space between my forgetting and remembering is getting narrower - so I know things are coming right for me, slowly but surely.   It's not so long ago since I saw him last which means that things are coming right for us too, one chance meeting at a time.  At some point he and I are bound to find ourselves on the same page, at the same time and we will each be fully aware of who it is standing before us...
anam cara...soul mates x

Thursday, 15 January 2015

ONCE UPON A DREAM; On Meeting Philippa Gregory

A favourite novel by a favourite author
If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you will know that I am currently in a state of great excitement! Years ago, when I was a 17 year old groom working in a local stables, I met my favourite author Philippa Gregory, who lives in the same county as me. It wasn't a planned meeting.  She is a very horsey person and she had come to look at one of the hunters that the yard was selling.  I was  a YTS trainee there at the time and our paths crossed in one of those moments of pure serendipity.

I was already a fan of her work, having loved the Wideacre trilogy and I must confess to having a bit of a fan-girl moment when I heard she was coming to look at one of our horses.  Back then Ms Gregory was successful, but nothing like the household name author she has since become.  No-one else on the yard had read her books and I can recall trying to explain the sheer magnitude of her visit by saying "She's like the Harvey Smith of historical fiction!"  They still didn't get it.

Anyway, she duly arrived wearing jodhpurs, boots and a Puffa jacket, driving a 4x4 and looking every inch the Yorkshire horsewoman.  I was introduced to her by the owner of the stable yard, who explained that I was a fan and 'a little over-excited' - I was only 17 and completely star-struck.  After a few shy moments, common sense kicked in and I realized that my favourite living author (the Brontes being long dead) was standing right in front of me and I was never, ever going to get this opportunity again...so I plucked up the courage and said nervously "I really want to be a writer - it's what I've always dreamed of doing"  I expected to be laughed at, so it was a great relief when Ms Gregory actually took me seriously and gave me her advice.  This is what she said to me, 24 years ago;
"There are no guarantees; it's a lot of hard work; but if you want to write, then write." 

So of course I did and here I am, multiple books, columns, features, articles and an album later, having succeeded in my ambition.  I also remember Philippa telling me that she had been very lucky to get the kind of deal she had and that not everyone lands on their feet first time.  

It was one of those conversations that just happens, but that proves to be significant.  It was one of those moments that feels magical and guided.  They do say in magical circles that when you are ready to learn the mentor will turn up.  Now I am by no means saying that Philippa Gregory was my personal mentor - she's far too busy for that! - but her words stuck in my head and it was what I needed to hear.  I have all her novels and she continues to be my favourite author.  So I posted a quick message to her on Facebook last night, reminding her of our meeting and thanking her for the tip.  Again, I didn't expect her to really read it and again her graciousness shone through when she posted a lovely reply, congratulating me on my achievements and saying "Well done."  It is like getting a gold star in school!  You can see the post and Philippa's reply here in the Link 

So yes, it's safe to say that I am thrilled and delighted right now.  Magical moments happen in the midst of an ordinary day, but their effects can stay with you for a lifetime. I hope, in some small way, to inspire my readers as much as Philippa Gregory inspired me. 
Marie x

Monday, 12 January 2015

BOOK NOOK; Snow White and the Huntsman by Lily Blake

"So who will you be when faced with the end?
When the vultures start circling
And the shadows descend.
Will you cower?
Or will you fight?
Is your heart made of glass?
Or a pure Snow White?"

I love the film Snow White and the Huntsman so when I saw this book of the movie in the supermarket I had to get it.  I don't own many film tie-in books and those I do have are of films I absolutely adore, such as First Knight and Braveheart.   I bought this one because it's a novel length version of the fairytale and just like the film, this Snow White is much more than a pretty maid who keeps house for a few little men.

This is a nice novel; a classic tale told with simplicity and which has remained true to the spirit of traditional fairytales in style.  It is an aesthetically pleasing book, with pretty imagery throughout and charming poetry that you just don't get at all in the film, so that's an added bonus.  The quotation above is from the novel, not the film.  It's a nice touch which keeps the novel in the style of traditional storytelling.

There are no great surprises - the novel doesn't deviate from the film at all, except in one area where Snow White befriends a white horse, rather than the magical white hart as shown in the movie and in that respect I prefer the film, but only due to the personal memories that scene evokes for me.  The authorial voice is skilled and entertaining, while the short chapters make this a good book for busy days or for bedtime reading.  There is also a small fold out, double-sided poster in the back of the book that would make a nice print for an older child's bedroom wall.  If you, or someone you know, enjoyed the film, then you will probably enjoy this novel version too and it was a steal at about £3.00.  I have enjoyed reading it and I'm very glad it landed in my shopping trolley. 

Thursday, 8 January 2015

BOOK NOOK; The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman is quite simply one of the most beautiful books I have ever owned.  The cover art alone is worth the price.  It is a reworking of a classic fairytale, cleverly told and nicely illustrated.  Initially I was drawn to this book by the way in which the cover is set up - the hard back book depicts a line drawn image of a girl sleeping, which is then overlaid by a semi-transparent dust cover, decorated with gold leaves and black flowers.  The overall effect is one of looking through an enchanted mist to a vision that lies beyond.  If you have ever wondered what a witch sees when scrying then this book cover is a great example of a scrying experience- it is an image which lies just beneath the surface of the water, crystal or mirror, so close you can almost touch it, yet it remains just out of reach.

The Sleeper and the Spindle is of course about the Sleeping Beauty, but there is more than one twist in this tale.  There is no prince for a start - yet a white charger still rides to the rescue.  The evil fairy is present throughout - though she is not quite what she seems. And the hero of the story is someone readers will already be very familiar with - yet not as previously known to them.  It is one of those books which takes everything you know about the fairytale world and turns it on its head.  Neil Gaiman is also brave enough to pose the question "Love or Freedom?" and is smart enough to turn it into a choice, for rarely do women achieve both at the same time and even a queen must choose between the two.  

The book is illustrated throughout by artist Chris Riddell and the images remind me of the works of Arthur Rackham who was one of the leading fairytale book illustrators of the 20th century.  The Sleeper and the Spindle certainly has the feel of a luxury book and one that will be treasured.  It is far too beautiful to shelve away in one of my bookcases and I think I'm going to place it on the lectern in the study instead, so I can see it whenever I'm working.  It's such an enchanting book it makes me smile just to look at it and it makes a stunning addition to my fairytale collection. 

Sunday, 4 January 2015

ONCE UPON A DREAM; If it's meant to be...

"Whatever way my days decline,
I felt and feel, tho' left alone,
His being working in mine own,
The footsteps of his life in mine"
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Every so often you make a connection so deep that it lasts a lifetime; even if you don't see each other in person, you feel their pain, you share their experiences in your dreams, you are inspired by them, you really can feel their footsteps in your own. It is magical and beautiful and heart-rending but you need to trust and have faith, that if it's meant to be,  it will be; that you will find one another once more and this time, the planets will have aligned and the timing will be perfect. In the lonely hours, trust that he will find a way to reach you.  Keep the faith. Even star-crossed lovers get there in the end. 

Friday, 2 January 2015


"Don't believe the things you tell yourself so late at night;
You are your own worst enemy, you'll never win the fight;
Just hold onto me, I'll hold onto you,
It's you and me up against the world..."

Maybe 2015 is the year my parachute will open up, come find me and I'll fall straight into his arms and live happily ever after.
A girl can dream.