Scottish Heather

Heather grows freely and abundantly spreading it’s purple hues across around five million acres of Scottish moorland, glens and hills.  The color of wild Scottish heather usually ranges from lilac to purple.
You can also find white heather growing wild but it’s much less common.

 

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History & Traditional Uses

Heather has been plentiful in Scotland for as long as it’s history has been written (and probably before that too).
The Druids considered it a sacred plant. Even today some people consider it to have almost supernatural properties, sort of a ‘charm’, which is believed to offer protection from harm (especially rape or violent attack).
On a more mundane level it’s used in aromatherapy to relieve a host of different problems. Over thousands of years, the inventive, practical and resourceful Scots have found a whole host of uses for this natural bounty:

Construction

Especially on Scotland’s islands, heather played a major role in building construction. It was used in walls, thatched roofs, ropes, pegs and more. It also appeared in the thatched roofs of mainland houses.

Mattresses

Since ancient times dried Scottish heather was used as a sort of fragrant and bouncy mattress. Evidence of this has been found in a 4000 year old village on the island of Skara Brae in the Orkneys. Historically, heather beds were considered to be just as comfortable as feather beds because the dried stalks and flowers are so light and soft. A bed made from heather had the added extra of original aromatherapy, and the fragrant flower heads were usually placed towards the top of the mattress where the sleeper’s head would lie.

Household tools

Heather stems are tough, strong and resilient and were used in making a whole variety of implements including brooms, farming tools such as hoes or rakes and ropes.

To dye cloth 

Heather was perfect for dying roughspun cloth and wool. Depending on the type of heather used  it could produce muted yellow, gold, bronze, gray, green and purple colors.

As medicine

Heather was believed to have some amazing medicinal properties, and was used by ancient Scots to treat all sorts of conditions and ailments. These included nervousness and anxiety, coughs, consumption (now known as TB), digestive issues, poisoning, blindness, arthritis, rheumatism and more. It was made into a wide variety of different drinks, potions, ointments and salves. Today Heather is still used effectively in aromatherapy products to treat digestive upset, skin problems, coughs and insomnia. Also as an internal cleanser and detoxifier, due to it’s slightly diuretic properties.

And last, but not least, heather is used to create the most deliciously scented soaps, candles, perfumes and more.

Heather Ale

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The brewing of Scotland’s Heather Ale goes back thousands of years, and is thought to be one of the oldest types of ale in the world. On the tiny Isle of Rum, off the west coast of Scotland, 3000 year old shards of pottery have been found which contain traces of a fermented drink made from Heather!
It’s believed that the Picts developed a recipe for Ale that relied entirely on the Heather plant for its’ sweetness and fermentation. It was valued so highly that the recipe was kept a secret, with only the King and his first-born son knowing what went into it.
This ‘secret potion’ was then be passed on down through the generations.
This brew was immortalized in the poem entitled ‘HEATHER ALE : A Galloway Legend’ by Robert Louis Stevenson. It tells, in verse, the legend of the Pictish King who sacrificed both his life, and that of his son, to protect the secret recipe.
The first few lines of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem go like this…….
‘From the bonny bells of heather,
They brew a drink Langsyn
Was sweeter far than honey
Was stronger far than wine.’

Here’s a recipe, not the secret one but a recipe nonetheless.
http://beersmithrecipes.com/viewrecipe/2922/highland-heather-ale

 

The Last Pictish King & Heather Ale

One of the most well-known legends is centered around a confrontation between Viking raiders and the last surviving Pictish King.
Some accounts put it during the 4th Century AD, but as the Vikings didn’t actually appear on Scottish soil until the end of the 8th Century, this is unlikely….
After their army is defeated, the Pictish King and his son find themselves cornered on a cliff-top, where the Viking chief tortures them in an attempt to obtain the secret recipe for Heather Ale.
The King of the Picts is quick witted, but doubts that his son is strong enough to withstand the torture without giving up the recipe. So he makes a deal with the Viking Chief, saying that if his son is spared the torture and killed quickly, he himself will reveal the secret.
The young prince is then thrown off the cliff and into the sea where he drowns quickly. BUT, the Pictish King doesn’t uphold his end of the arrangement, and although it costs him his life he wins the battle and the recipe is safe.

In some variations of the tale the brave King takes the Viking over the edge of the cliff with him.

 

Heather Honey

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Bees work for months to collect enough pollen to produce this beautiful thick, golden Scottish Heather Honey with the unique and delicate taste of Scottish heather.
As well as being delicious, heather honey is rich in minerals and was traditionally used in medicinal drinks and potions.
I love this place for heather honey and various other uses of the heather.
http://www.heatherhills.co.uk/

 

 

White Heather

Legend has it that in the 3rd Century AD, Malvina (daughter of the legendary Scottish poet, Ossian), was betrothed to a Celtic warrior named Oscar. Tragically, Oscar died in battle, and when Malvina heard the news she was heartbroken. The messenger who delivered the bad news, also delivered a spray of purple heather that Oscar had sent as a final token of his undying love for her. It’s said that when Malvinas’ tears fell onto the flowers in her hand, they immediately turned white, and this magical occurrence prompted her to say

‘although it is the symbol of my sorrow, may the white heather bring good fortune to all who find it.’

Even today, white Heather is considered to be lucky, especially for brides, and adding a spray of it to your bouquet, on table decorations and so on is popular.
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Other myths surrounding the magical properties of white Scottish Heather include:
• The belief that it grows only on ground where blood has not been shed in battle
•Also, more enchantingly, that it grows over the final resting place of Faeries.
•White heather is closely associated with battles and conflict, and is said to bring good luck to whoever wears it.
In 1884 even Queen Victoria commented on this character trait during a visit to the Scottish Highlands. Describing an incident which involved one of her personal servants, she said …..

‘… he espied a piece of white heather, and jumped off to pick it. No Hihglander would pass by it without picking it, for it was considered to bring good luck.’

 

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In memory of Jazz

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Yesterday (Sunday 17th May) I lost my beloved dachshund, Jazz. And then this morning I woke for the first time without her.
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My little Jazz is with me all day, every day. We spend every minute together. Literally!

Early on we found she was sensitive to my epilepsy and changing moods.  She became my constant companion and so the prospect of being without her hurts.

A lot.

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So now I need to learn to be without her. And i need to find a way to remember that she’s no longer in pain. Wherever it is they go she’s happy there.

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So whilst I spend a while in my thoughts of my happy little doggy I leave you with some pictures of her.
To make you smile.

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Grief

Unfortunately loss has touched our lifes again. Grief and bereavement touch each person in a different way but it must be felt, it must be experienced.

 

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Bereavement Quotes and Sayings

“While we are mourning the loss of our friend, others are rejoicing to meet him behind the veil.” – John Taylor.
“Heaven is a place nearby, so there’s no need to say goodbye.” – Lene Marlin
“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” – Thomas Campbell
“Bereavement is a darkness impenetrable to the imagination of the unbereaved.” – Jane Welsh Carlyle
“Bereavement is the deepest initiation into the mysteries of human life, an initiation more searching and profound than even happy love.” – William Ralph Inge
“Never does one feel oneself so utterly helpless as in trying to speak comfort for great bereavement.” – Jane Welsh Carlyle
“Peace, peace! he is not dead, he doth not sleep — he hath awakened from the dream of life — ‘Tis we, who lost in stormy visions, keep with phantoms an unprofitable strife.” – Percy Bysshe Shelley
“If, as I can’t help suspecting, the dead also feel the pains of separation (and this may be one of their purgatorial sufferings), then for both lovers, and for all pairs of lovers without exception, bereavement is a universal and integral part of our experience of love.” – C. S. Lewis
“For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night.” – William Shakespeare
“We feel at first as if some opportunities of kindness and sympathy were lost, but learn afterward that any pure grief is ample recompense for all. That is, if we are faithful; — for a spent grief is but sympathy with the soul that disposes events, and is as natural as the resin of Arabian trees. — Only nature has a right to grieve perpetually, for she only is innocent. Soon the ice will melt, and the blackbirds sing along the river which he frequented, as pleasantly as ever. The same everlasting serenity will appear in this face of God, and we will not be sorrowful, if he is not.” – Henry David Thoreau
“Bereavement is the sharpest challenge to our trust in God; if faith can overcome this, there is no mountain which it cannot remove.” – Dean Inge
“The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing… not healing, not curing… that is a friend who cares.” – Henri Nouwen
“Never does one feel oneself so utterly helpless as in trying to speak comfort for great bereavement. I will not try it. Time is the only comforter for the loss of a mother.” – Jules Renard
“Those we love don’t go away, They walk beside us every day. Unseen, unheard, but always near, Still loved, still missed and very dear. …Wishing you hope in the midst of sorrow, Comfort in the midst of pain.” – Anonymous
“We pray God will Comfort you, And send Angels from above, Giving sweet peace within your heart, Surrounding you with Eternal Love. We are sorry for your deep loss, There’s so little we can find to say, You are in our thoughts and prayers, As we grieve with you today. With Our Heartfelt Sympathy. – Leona Miller
“Although no words can really help to ease the loss you bear, Just know that you are very close in every thought and prayer. To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” – Thomas Campbell
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Death and Bereavement Quotes

Death is the mother of Beauty; hence from her, Alone, shall come fulfillment to our dreams. And our desires.” – Wallace Stevens
“Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.” – Isaac Asimov
“Death is simply a shedding of the physical body like the butterfly shedding its cocoon. It is a transition to a higher state of consciousness where you continue to perceive, to understand, to laugh, and to be able to grow.” – Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
“The timing of death, like the ending of a story, gives a changed meaning to what preceded it.” – Mary Catherine Bateson
“To live in hearts we leave behind
Is not to die. – Thomas Campbell, “Hallowed Ground”
“Life is eternal, and love is immortal, and death is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight. – Rossiter Worthington Raymond
“When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.” – Author Unknown
“Although it’s difficult today to see beyond the sorrow, May looking back in memory help comfort you tomorrow.” – Author Unknown
“For death is no more than a turning of us over from time to eternity.” – William Penn
Grief

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there, I do not sleep
I am a 1,000 winds that blow
I am the diamond glints on snow
I am the sun on ripened grain
I am the gentle autumn rain
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled light
I am the soft star that shines at night
Do not stand at my grave and cry
I am not there; I did not die.
~by Mary Frye (1932)

Vonda Sinclair

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Today is the wonderful Vonda Sinclair’s birthday and I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing her a very happy day.

 

 

But wishing her a happy birthday this year I’m sure is tinged with sadness, you see, towards the end of last month I learnt that this glorious woman lost her beloved husband of 20+ years. No funeral for my family has ever been complete without a hymn that means a lot to me personally, and so I dedicate this video to what must have been a truly wonderful and inspiring man.
Vonda, my thoughts are with you.

Now I wish to to inrtoduce you or refamiliarise you with the wonderful works that inspire so many.
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All the books in the Highland Adventure Series by Vonda Sinclair are standalone books, but they are also interrelated. I hope you enjoy them!

My Fierce Highlander (Book 1)

http://www.amazon.com/My-Fierce-Highlander-Vonda-Sinclair/dp/1469941082/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1411371763&sr=8-5&keywords=vonda+sinclair
Gwyneth Carswell, an English lady banished by her father to the harsh Scottish Highlands, wants nothing more than to take her young son away from the violence of two fighting clans–her own distant kin, the MacIrwins, and their enemies, the MacGraths. She risks everything to rescue the fierce MacGrath warrior from the battlefield where he’s left for dead by her clan. She only knows she is inexplicably drawn to him and he wants peace as she does. When her clan learns of her betrayal, they seek vengeance. Dare she trust the enemy more than her own family?

Laird Alasdair MacGrath is driven to end two-hundred years of feuding with the MacIrwins. But by taking in and protecting Lady Gwyneth and her son, he provokes more attacks from his mortal enemy. As the danger and conflict surrounding them escalate, Alasdair and Gwyneth discover an explosive passion neither of them expected. With the arrival of a powerful man from her past, a horrible decision confronts her–give up her son or the man she loves.

Wonderfully packed with stunning love and wild adventures, Vonda Sinclair’s first book in the Highland Adventure series is just what an exciting Scottish historic romance should be.
Possibly sporting my all time favourite first line of any book I have EVER read, “A stiff breeze carried the scent of bruised grass and blood on its icy breath.” This line, for me, is instantly evocative of the battle that had took place and the harshness of the Highland weather. I am also thrilled with the first meeting, even if Alasdair is unconscious and therefore unaware of being hidden beneath the lady’s skirts.
Gwyneth’ s character is instantly likeable, within the first few pages you learn of her strength and bravery as she helps an unknown member of an enemy clan. You instantly know of her deep love for her small son and her aims for a better life for him.
McIrwin and Southwicke are obvious in their deplorable characters and yet at the same time Vonda Sinclair gives even them in-depth personalities explaining the horrid nature of their motives.
I love how Alasdair and Gwyneth both try so desperately to not give into their growing regard for each other. This book portrays the beauty of a love not understood and fought against only to be ultimately conceded to, set admist the beautiful highland backdrop of Kintalon this tale is extraordinarily stunning.
My favourite part of this book is probably the image of Alasdair standing before his fireplace and telling Gwyneth that he didn’t want her to leave. A swoon worthy moment if there ever was one!!!
So all in all I absolutely love this book, and the entire Highland Adventure series, this story also comes with a wonderful introduction to the character of Lachlan who is easily my favourite of all of Vonda Sinclair’s characters.
I truly believe that the very talented Vonda Sinclair gives you a little bit of magic in her creations and I would urge anyone who hasn’t experienced the delights of this author to do so now.

My Wild Highlander (Book 2)

http://www.amazon.com/My-Wild-Highlander-Vonda-Sinclair/dp/147833763X/ref=pd_sim_b_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=1E0P8CYEZ3NRHMB4MSTG
Lady Angelique Drummagan, a half-Scottish, half-French countess, has suffered much pain and betrayal in her past. She wants nothing to do with the sensual Scottish warrior that the king has ordered her to marry because the rogue could never be a faithful husband, but she has little choice in the matter. Dangerous, greedy enemies threaten her from all sides and she’s in dire need of his protection. Sir Lachlan MacGrath, known as Seducer of the Highlands, possesses a charming wickedness and canny wit which has earned him much popularity. After the king decrees that he wed the fiery hellion, Lachlan discovers there is one woman who can resist him–Angelique. Can he break through her icy façade and melt her heart, or will the dark secrets lurking in her past not only cost them their future together, but their very lives?

What can I say? Again Vonda Sinclair has managed a completely unforgettable tale that refuses to allow you to put it down.
(I must admit to some bias being that Lachlan is my absolute favourite character.)
Who doesn’t secretly long fora sensual, wild Scottish highland warrior like Lachlan? He is easily one of my favourite characters created by the very talented Vonda Sinclair. I was half way towards being in love with him as he featured in his brothers tale, (My Fierce Highlander, Highland Adventure book one). Now after being fully introduced to him in his own tale I defy you to not swoon over his well thought out character.
The multiple layers of his personality shine through, easily highlighting this author’s superb talent and imagination. We see his passionate side, his gentle and caring side especially when it comes to his two small sons, we witness his fiercely protective side and his unerring loyalty and bravery. We watch as this complex character undergoes a complete transformation, going from an irresponsible and wildly womanizing man to the fierce chief and dedicated husband.
A wonderfully descriptive beginning shows how Lady Angelique Drummagan, certain that she despises all men, is an unwitting witness to Lachlan’ s more carnal desires. Naturally she believes herself to be immune to Lachlan’s charm and yet when offered a selection of three possible grooms it seems he is the best choice, not to mention the King’ s choice and so they wed. The wedding is a nice twist as we witness a night wedding with the bride barefoot and in disarray.
The disagreement over the next in line when the only heir is female is a central point to this tale and raises questions that are dealt with superbly.
Off course the absolute central of this is the unwitting love between Lachlan and Angelique. We watch as the couple argue ceaselessly, their behaviours and thoughts becoming entwined as a love that neither expected or wanted develops between the passionate couple. Angelique is the perfect heroine in this, her fiery and independent nature is exactly right.
Yet again Vonda Sinclair gives her gift to us all wrapped up in suspense, passion and intrigue. This author truly is a master of the written word and I look forward to reading her work for many years to come.

My Brave Highlander (Book 3)

http://www.amazon.com/My-Brave-Highlander-Vonda-Sinclair/dp/1478342773/ref=pd_sim_b_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=0KZCMAJTXJ59C5QHX4Z4
Battle-hardened warrior Dirk MacLerie isn’t who everyone thinks he is. He’s Dirk MacKay, heir apparent to the MacKay chiefdom and Dunnakeil Castle on the far north coast of Scotland. When he returns home after a long absence, will his clan know him and will the duplicitous enemy who tried to murder him twelve years ago kill him in truth this time? Lady Isobel MacKenzie is a beautiful young widow betrothed to yet another Highland chief by her brother’s order. But when her future brother-in-law accosts her and threatens to kill her, she is forced to flee into a Highland snowstorm. When she runs into a rugged and imposing man she thought dead, she wonders if he will turn her over to her enemy or take her to safety. Dirk remembers the enchanting, dark-eyed Isobel from when he was a lad, but now she is bound to another man by legal contract—an important detail she would prefer to forget. She wishes to choose her own husband and has her sights set on Dirk. But he would never steal another man’s bride… would he? The tantalizing lady fires up his passions, testing his willpower and honor at every turn, even as some of his own treacherous clansmen plot his downfall.

Every book I read and reread by Vonda Sinclair reminds me again what a talented author she is. I absolutely love the Highland Adventure series, it is absolutely the best highland romance series I have had the pleasure to read.
I had almost forgotten the delights of Dirk and Isobel’s story. It truly is a tale of overcoming adversity. Poor Isobel, widowed already is forced to defend herself against her future brother in law and flee the home of her betrothed. It is by chance that herself and her faithful maid cross paths with Dirk, Rebbie and a man servant. Dirk is returning to his home after a long absence after his step mother repeatedly tried to kill him when he was a child.
Both have so much to overcome and whilst Dirk is certain he should honour Isobel and not take her as he wishes eventually they come together.
Theirs is a love match and they both seem so very suited to one another.
I truly hope the series continues, there are characters that stir me that I would love to see more of.
Again I am recommending these books to EVERYONE!! I promise you will not be disappointed!

My Daring Highlander (Book 4)

http://www.amazon.com/Daring-Highlander-Highland-Adventure-Volume/dp/1492995851/ref=pd_sim_b_4?ie=UTF8&refRID=10NV84CM79C975WZP8NT
Beautiful and fiercely protective of those she loves, Lady Seona Murray captured Keegan MacKay’s attention when she first set foot in Dunnakeil Castle. Though she is a chief’s daughter and forbidden, Keegan has fallen in love with her from afar and burns to possess her. But so does the clan traitor, Haldane, an obsessive outlaw bent on murder and kidnapping. Sinfully handsome, Keegan MacKay is a fearsome guard as well as the chief’s cousin, but Seona’s father would never consider him a worthy husband for her because he is not a titled laird. Seona has secretly watched the sensual, tawny-haired warrior from across the crowded great hall for months, but when he is tasked with escorting her across Scotland, back to her home, their simmering attraction flames into sizzling passion with just one kiss. Though she fears she is endangering Keegan’s life, Seona cannot resist his seductive charm or his spellbinding kisses. Keegan sets fire to the memories of her sad past and shows her what it means to truly live. But her father has other plans. He’s arranged for her to marry a wealthy Lowland laird. Is Keegan daring enough to steal her away? Or will the vindictive Haldane snatch her first?

Keegan and Seona deserve happiness so much and in this story you’ll get to watch and feel with them as they fight obstacles to be true to themselves and claim each other as their own.
We see more of Haldane and McMurdo as they attempt time and again to kill Dirk and kidnap Seona. We’re witness to Haldane’s attempts becoming more and more desperate as he tries to take by force what he believes is his right to be laird, and the woman he believes he loves to be his wife.
Keegan and Seona’s love story is sweet and chaste and Keegan tries to woo Seona knowing her father will never agree to the match but loving her so much he knows he has to try. We meet Seona’ s younger sister and learn of their abuse at their fathers hands.
Again Vonda Sinclair’s tempting tales of love and adventure in the highlands will have you laughing, crying and loving right along with characters both new and old.
The Highland Adventure series is just what a highland romance should be. I am certain that I am not the only one who prays for more…..
If youre reading this review and wandering if you should try these books then the answer is a resounding yes, give this series a go you won’t regret this series, ever.

My Notorious Highlander (Book 5)

http://www.amazon.com/Notorious-Highlander-Highland-Adventure-Volume/dp/1493505394/ref=pd_sim_b_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=02VJFVD99QB17XGQ8E71
Chief Torrin MacLeod vows to possess and wed the spirited lady who stole his heart the previous winter. But Lady Jessie MacKay wants naught to do with the dangerous warrior, no matter how devilishly handsome and charming he is. When Torrin arrives unexpectedly at Jessie’s home, along with Gregor MacBain, a man Jessie was formerly handfasted to, she is thrown off-kilter. She never wanted to see either man again, but now they are vying for her hand. Torrin promises to protect her from the devious MacBain, but how can she trust Torrin when she has witnessed how lethal he is? The more time Torrin spends with the strong and independent Jessie, the more determined he is to win her heart. Once she allows him a kiss, he feels her passion flame as hot as his own. After she knows Torrin better, Jessie finds herself falling for the fearsome Highlander. But the odds are stacked against them. The sinister MacBain is bent on kidnapping Jessie, making her his bride and killing Torrin, while Jessie’s conniving younger brother, Haldane, is determined to use Jessie to take over the castle in his older brother’s absence. Jessie fears she can never be with the man she loves, while Torrin will do everything in his power to ensure they are together forever. In his heart, she is the only lady for him.

What more can I say? What a treat the Highland Adventure series is, in book 5, we find the end f Haldane and peace comes to the highlands bringing babies!!!!
It’s refreshing to see the man the one certain of his feelings. It is Torrin who knows that he will do anything to have Jessie as his wife, and he really does have to work hard to convince her.
Give me this series of books any day, with handsome warriors and courageous heroines. Time we’ll spent!
Further congratulations to the wonderful Vonda Sinclair who continues to delight with her amazing work.
Now I just have to wait for the next book, I’m excited to learn Rebbie’s story, I’m developing as big a soft spot for him as I have for Lachlan.
I’m tempted now to simply return to the beginning and read the whole series again!!!

My Rebel Highlander (Book 6)

http://www.amazon.com/Rebel-Highlander-Highland-Adventure-Volume/dp/149956175X/ref=pd_sim_b_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=0R5EBZAK5KNV1SWD6W94
Known for his wicked wit, fierce loyalty, and skills in battle, Robert “Rebbie” MacInnis, the Earl of Rebbinglen, loves freedom and has no plans of marrying anytime soon. But when his father, a powerful Scottish marquess, signs a contract betrothing Rebbie to an earl’s young daughter, he is furious. If he has to marry, he’s determined to choose his own bride, though he has no inkling who he would wish to wed until fate intervenes to remind him of one fair-haired, nameless beauty and the passionate night they spent together years ago. A night forever etched in his memory. Lady Calla Ferguson, a penniless widow with a young son, is forced to seek employment as her cousin’s companion in order to pay her late husband’s massive gambling debt. Having been ignored or mistreated most of her life, Calla has become a resourceful survivor who will stop at nothing to get what she wants—safety and security for her son and herself. Wealthy merchant, Claybourne cares little for the money the Earl of Stanbury owed him; he simply wants the earl’s beautiful, voluptuous widow and he’ll do whatever it takes to get his hands on her, even kidnapping and blackmail. When Rebbie happens upon Claybourne abducting Calla, he rescues her and hides her in a secluded castle deep in the wild Scottish Highlands. Calla conceals her passionate spirit beneath reserve and duty, along with closely-guarded secrets which, if exposed, could ruin both her life and her son’s. Years ago, she lost her heart to a dark-eyed stranger she never thought to see again, but now he’s her protector. Rebbie craves another pleasurable night like the one they shared in the past, and she cannot resist the fiery passion that echoes deep in her heart and soul. Soft but strong, Calla sparks within Rebbie a desperate hunger and a need to protect her. But will her secrets tear them apart?

I have not yet reviewed this book yet, I refuse to do so on the first reading but if you stay tuned I’ll get round to reviewing. First I want to reread the entire series in order. Vonda’s books just make you want to sink into their oages again and again and again….

Amazon Bio below..

05e2fd8157030ad8986c1d_L__V364970336_SX200_ Vonda Sinclair’s favorite indulgent pastime is exploring Scotland, from Edinburgh to the untamed and windblown north coast. She also enjoys creating hot, Highland heroes and spirited lasses to drive them mad. Her historical romance novels have won an EPIC Award and a National Readers’ Choice Award. She lives in the mountains of North Carolina where she is no doubt creating another Scottish story. Please visit her website at http://www.vondasinclair.com

http://www.vondasinclair.com/#!

Rest in Peace Robin Williams 1951-2014

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It seems my Thursday thought has taken on an even deeper meaning as this morning the world reels from the news of beloved comedian, Robin Williams, being found dead.

You can’t tell what goes on inside people. Sometime it becomes to hard to place that ‘I’m OK’ mask on every day.
So here’s my thoughts heading for the ones he left behind, my hopes that peace has finally found him, my secret yearning that he cocks a leg up the pearly gates whilst yelling ‘mine’ (if you dont get the reference you need to watch his stand up more).
And heres my hope for you. Share a hug. Even if they say they’re ok, some aren’t.

Robin Williams 1951-2014. I defy you to ever forget this man!

 

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Thursday 07 August 2014

You can barely move nowadays without running into someone campaining for something. Adopt a dog, run for cancer… The list goes on and on. Now don’t get me wrong, all of these things are necessary and good things but when I have someone knocking on my door, and its always as you’ve just sat down to eat, then just once I want it to be a person telling me of a new initiative for Epilepsy research or a new program to help with Depression and Mental Health Illnesses..

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I’ve suffered from Mental Health Illnesses since I was a teenager and for years have been up and down, and on and off medication.

DEPRESSION-SYMPTOMS

Sitting in the doctors office at 27 years old and being told that the four visits to the neurologists in the previous five years had all been wrong was unreal. To have the neurologist explain to me that without a full scan, she couldn’t be certain but that she was convinced that not only did I have epilepsy but that I had probably had in one form or another for my entire life and that I took three separate types of seizures… well it was surreal to say the least.

My shocked expression had her calling my husband in from the waiting room where she proceeded to explain to us the various tests that would be upcoming, the appointments I’d have to go to and the tablets that she wanted me to take starting that day I was lucky to have my husband there. He listened and took it all in. I just sat.

Now it shouldn’t have been a surprise. My father had epilepsy, two of my half sisters, both from opposite sides of the family also had it as did many of my extended family.

It had been suspected a number of occasions over the years, but hearing it confirmed made it all seem that much scarier.

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So what had landed me in that office? The previous week I returned home on my lunch break, the day was sweltering hot and splashing water on my face was the last thing I remembered. Becoming aware again, I realised I was on the floor and sporting a huge bump on my forehead from where I had hit the sink.

Not thinking it serious I called my boss, returned to work until she could get someone to cover me then went home. I din’t even see a doctor till two days later when my husband forced me to, worrying that maybe I had concussion as I just didn’t seem ‘myself.’

(Now we’d had a really rotten few years before this. My husband was just overcoming a battle with cancer. 4 yrs cancer free now, yay!!!)

The following weeks were a nightmare. The amount of times I found myself on the floor, or walking with no idea how I had got there. The uneasy sensation of being almost seasick, the prickling painful pins and needles that ran across my hands and face and the smell of burning had me constantly living on edge.

 Travelling for miles to various hospitals was a nightmare. The endless poking and sticking and machines drove me to distraction. I felt certain that if I had to sit through one more exam I would loose the plot completely.

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And so I refused the last test, the one that would have me hooked to machines, in the hospital, for three days. I will not lie and tell you that the epilepsy nurse, neurologist and GP appreciated my choice but they all understood it.

Diagnosed with stress and anxiety I soon fell into a depressive state that was hard to deal with. Sinking lower and lower as the seizures continued I ended up unable to eat, sleep or even leave the house.

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Signed of work I only plummeted deeper when I realised the only social life I had surrounded work mates. And that the previous 5 years of training to be a preschool teacher were worthless. Who would hire me now, who would trust me around small children. I certainly didn’t.

Sitting home every day only caused my depression and anxiety to spiral further which in turn had a knock-on effect with my sleep and all had a knock on effect with the epilepsy. Trying to get a handle on all three is something that even now I have still not managed to do. Despite knowing that, stress, depression and lack of sleep can bring on my seizures, they are not things I can control.

I had never wanted to be on daily medications so had always shyed away from antidepressants but I figured that now I had to take epilepsy meds every day another set of tablets couldn’t hurt so I agreed to the antidepressants.

It can take a lot of swapping and changing but the only way to find the best one for you is trial and error. I have the added bonus that many counter act the benefits of the epilepsy medication.
Finding the correct balance of medication is ongoing.

Along with the epilepsy medications I also now take antidepressants and I have sleeping tablets for when things are just too crazy with my sleeping pattern. Since I’ve done these my seizures have altered. Instead of suffering multiple seizures every day I now find myself having weeks with none. Now I’m not saying that everything is fine and perfect, it’s not. I still have seizures and they’re still bad. I still have very low moods and there are still times when I could just scream with the feelings elicited within me.

The significant problem for me has always been the lack of control over my own body. Not knowing when a seizure will strike, how it will be, who will witness it.. they are all worries, but I found that you can either let them get you down or you can move past it.

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Now the worry is still there but it no longer controls my life. I refuse to be a victim to epilepsy, I refuse to allow it to keep me a prisoner in my own home. Again this wasn’t something that happened overnight. It took two years of moping around the house before I realised I could help myself.

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Again this isn’t something that happened at once, it is ongoing. I gave in and saw the mental health nurse and together with my other doctors I’m improving every day.
There is no miracle cure, no wonder day when everything is fixed. You just have to hope that today will be a bit better.

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The other hard part was the loss of my wage. There are benefits out there, it’s just complicated to work them all out. Luckily I found https://www.epilepsy.org.uk/info/help-support. They were really helpful.

Epilepsy is part of who I am, but it is not the only part. Depression is a part of who I am, but it is not the only part.

It may take time, but persevere, it doesn’t have to be all you are either.

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I now have one book published, this active website and more books to come. Epilepsy and Depression don’t have to ruin your life, let them be your new start.

 

Famous People who had/have epilepsy.
Vincent van Gogh
Sir Isaac Newton
Napoleon Bonaparte
Agatha Christie
Charles Dickens
Leonardo Da Vinci
Theodore Roosevelt
George Frederick Handel
Lord Byron
Peter Tchaikovsky
Sir Walter Scott

There are many, check out this site.. http://www.disabled-world.com/artman/publish/epilepsy-famous.shtml for more names and more information about the ones listed above.

Always report any incidents, changes, seizures etc to your GP, neurologist, epilepsy nurse.

 

Famous people who had/have Depression or a Mental Health Illness. Depression is hard to catergorize as there are so many types, ie, postpartum depression, bipolar disorder etc.

Owen Wilson
Heath Ledger
Demi Lovato
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Princess Diana

(info from here http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20526304,00.html)

 

 On a serious note, there are people to listen. If you are struggling and feel you have no one to talk to try here,

http://www.suicide-prevention.org.uk/

Breathing Space 0800 83 85 87

Samaritans 08457 90 90 90

 

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I saw this, and thought it was a lovely way to pass on a message…

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Thursday 31 July 2014

So today I had plans on a piece I had written about Epilepsy and then my computer went a bit funny on Facebook, it kept flicking pages and consistently took me to one that I hadn’t been on in a while. Uncle Bush, who was in fact my dad’s cousin, Hugh Gracie died on the 16th June 2013 at only 51. He left behind his wife and two teenage sons. Not to mention the rest of his family and many many friends. His funeral hosted an amount of people in one place that I have not been witness to before. The cemetery was packed…
Now call it what you want but a little bit of me wants to think it wasn’t just a fault that kept pulling me to his page..
I won’t get into a life after death debate, I see points from both sides but my own personal belief, more of a want is that there is something beyond. That my loved ones who have passed on aren’t just gone. I believe their spirit lives on…
Anyway.. It had me thinking of the people I have lost. These last few years have been particularly hard and a lot of loved ones have been prematurely taken.
I don’t want to sink into depression with thoughts of death. I make no secret of the fact that I suffer from depression and are medicated for this. What I thought instead was that I’d look at the good. At the memories no one can take from you and the ones that make you laugh and smile and cry.
So this is my remembrance for a few of the people I have been unfortunate enough to loose.

 

Here are some of my memories of them.
Aunt Anne (my great aunt, sister of my papa Roy)) – Aunt Anne once had a little dog called Katie, when I would visit she would have me walk the dog on the field opposite her house with bribes of a glass of Irn Bru. I remember getting back, pouring rain and she told me the dog wasn’t walked enough and sent me out to do it again!
Aunt Ann (Brownlee, my gran’s sister.) – Aunt Ann used to watch us from time to time, she bought Aladdin when it first came out for us to watch, I can’t believe how excited it made us. Even today when I see something from Aladdin I picture her face and smile.
Papa (Tommy, my gran’s second husband.) – Papa was sly! Gran had gone to the shop and asked that he not go out. I went to the bathroom and Mark was talking to him. I swear I was only in there for a couple of minutes, come out, Mark’s alone. I asked him where papa was, old bugger had snuck out to the bookies!!! (Should point out he was in his 80’s at this point and we were meant to be going for lunch, we didn’t just tell him he couldn’t go out.)
Uncle Jim (Gracie. I just don’t know how to explain the relationships, if we dont know how they often just become aunt or uncle. I think was related like this, his mother in law was the sister of my grans dad. Work that out!!) – Always in these blue overalls, smelling of a mixture of oil and mechanical stuff and cigarette smoke. I don’t remember him without a cigarette in his mouth but I do remember him flicking his ash into his pocket instead of the floor or an ashtray.
Uncle Bush (Bush is Jim from above’s son) – Bush had a finger missing, many stories filled my childhood of how he told a lie so it fell of, he picked his nose and it got stuck up there.. and many, many more. His knuckles had had love and hate tattooed on them, without the finger it ended up as love and hat. I will never forget the jokes of how ‘someone had to love hats’.
(Mark has the same finger missing, Bush was desperate for him to have matching tattoos.)
Nanna Orange (Mark’s nan.) – Nana Orange was hilarious, the first day I met her I had gone to pick up a magazine rack that she was binning. After receiving every detail about the piece of furniture from the time she owned it she then pressed £25 into my hand to thank me for taking it!
Nan Cockell (My husband, Mark’s nan) – I never really had a chance to really know Nan Cockell but she insisted each time that I visited on bringing out this same bottle of lemonade so I could have a glass (I dont drink tea or coffee but really just wanted water). The lemonade was as old as time and sooo flat, but she’d watch you drink every last drop and then put it away for next time!
I also want to point out two others. My Grandad, Gordon was great. I remember fondly the time I spent sat on his lap in front of his massive tropical fish tank while he told me all about them. And Uncle Geordie (Uncle Jim’s brother) once the tallest man in Scotland he’s in record books and everything, at 7ft4 he really was a gentle giant. Another lap I spent time on he was just a great big teddy to cuddle with. The smell of a pipe always puts me in my mind of snuggling up on his specially made chair and listenin to stories.

 

Then there’s something else, the animals that made a really strong impact in your life. I have been blessed to have owned many animals, my whole family are animal lovers and so we have always been surrounded and unfortunately they pass on.
Her are some that really touched my life.

 

Chelsea – Chelsea was my best friend. She slept in my bed, I walked her, fed her and I even still have the scar on my thumb from wrestling a tin of dog food to feed her! Chelsea was my ‘get out of being grounded’. I’d just take her for a walk, for five hours and in the company of my friends!
Joey (Joe Louis) – To begin with his mum was a rescue and only six months old. She had to have an emergency c-section and he was the only surviving kitten. We were only allowed to take our cats home because the vet advised that both mother and kitten wouldn’t survive. I was only 17, Mark and I were a couple but I lived alone with my cats. Well he made it, hand reared, getting up for bottles every couple of hours! He was really daft. My favourite memory was this: I never closed my window, they could just come and go onto the balcony, one day a bird hit the patio door so I closed this window for the first time. Joey didn’t get that and he proceeded to run, full speed into the room and jump straight into the glass. Hmm, reading it back sounds a little mean but it really was funny and he wasn’t hurt just incredibly confused as to why he couldn’t get out the window.

 

Not everyone has been mentioned here but I’m sharing with you the ones that affected me most.
I don’t have many pictures on my computer and the ones I do have are blurry and not great but they are all I have. (I do have some printed but I don’t have a scanner or anything.)

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Anyway, thanks for reading and keep strong for your own losses.
Next week I’ll upload the piece I wrote on Epilepsy.
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