Call me intolerant, (and those who know me often do) but I find it very difficult to relax in a dimly lit room not twinkling with at least one candle, whether it be a tiny tea-light dancing in a teacup or an entire mantle-piece laden with creamy white cathedral candles. To me candles represent the switch off hour. They are associated with pleasure, with ritual, and with the marking and passage of time and they have been the focus of one of my most enduring collections for more than fifteen years so essential are they to my emotional well-being.
One of my most loved domestic treasures is a large scented paper lined wooden hinged box full of my candley accouterments and when the work is done, when the house is spick and span and the kitchen is swaying in tune to the hum of the washing machine, I putter about with my box under my arm, replacing burnt out candles, scraping wax off candlesticks, trimming wicks, and sprinkling aromatherapy oil into the base of candlesticks and holders for the blessed gift of my signature scent, before collapsing into my dilapidated red armchair with a cup of cherry cinnamon tea, and letting my frankly harassed little mind do nothing more taxing than fire-gaze on a miniature scale…
In my candle box?
Tiny little scissors, a blunt knife, small wads of newspaper, tea-lights, household candles, matches, a long handled lighter, a little leopardskin salt cellar, a bar of white baby soap, candle snuffer, aromatherapy oil, and a little scrap of dusting cloth…
And the Brocante guide to making the most of your candles?
* Don't burn individual candles for longer than three hours each.
* Sprinkling a little household salt around the top of each candle before lighting will prevent it dripping as will swiping a bar of soap up and down the long surface of the candle.
* Keeping candle wicks trimmed to 1/4 of an inch will guarantee an even flame, reduce smoke and extend the life of your candle.
* Put scratched or tired looking pillar candles into the leg of a nylon stocking and roll it about to reduce scratches and revive scent.
* Fitting an elastic band around the neck of a candle will mean that it will extinguish itself when it reaches it.
* Candles spoilt by soot can be cleaned with a soft cloth dipped into methylated spirits.
* In the absence of long matches, awkward to reach candles can be lit with a long piece of uncooked spaghetti.
* Wax can be removed from glass candle-holders by washing them in a solution of warm water and ammonia.
* Coating the wax of a candle with clear varnish will mean it will last last twice as long.
* Leftover remnants of candles can be melted down, then rolled newspaper dipped into the molten wax and allowed to dry for use as firestarters...