Jean Goodhind

Apr 142013
 

So that was it. We moved into Fern Cottage. The walls in the hall were lined with pine planks stained a ideous dark brown. A single lightbul – 15watts would you believe – hung from the ceiling. The wall was not original, constructed in Victorian times to form a passageway on one side of the wall, a small room on the other. There was another far larger room off of that. Two wall mounted gas lights – beautiful things of copper with cut glass shades – were still in situ above the fireplace.
There were two other rooms on the other side of that passageway; the first one we planned to make into a dining room. The one beyond that had plans of its own;
Upstairs bedrooms also had gas lights as did the crooked landing. You could almost miss the door half way along. Opening it led to a narrow staircase that wound up into the attic. Apprehensive, I opened that door, looked at those narrow stairs and took a deep breath. Up I went, jumping out of my skin when the door slammed shut behind me. The cause of this was a huge spring, The two attic bedrooms were painted a dark green. There was a funny curtained wardrobe in the corner; obviously servants weren’t meant to own too many clothes! What at first appeared to be wooden crates turned out to be water tanks, one of which was lead lined and one made from huge slabs of slate. (I’ve actually described these tankis in Blood and Broomsticks. Like Mary Jane, my professor of the paranormal, they really existed.
What was I wondered, that made the lampshade whirl around in the room at the end of the landing? The room with the high wood lined ceiling and shallow wardrobes set into the wall on either side of the fireplace? Why did I feel that there was somebody watching, though each time I turned round, there was nobody there? And how about the footsteps? And how come that things I put down in one place turned up elsewhere?
Fearful of being ridiculed, I said nothing to either my daughter or my husband. I did drop a hint to the cat, but she appeared unfazed by my comments. Fern Cottage had hidden secrets and it wasn’t long before we were sharing them.

Apr 082013
 

The idea was good; buy an old place to renovate and make it pay for itself; open it as a guest house. Paying guests will help pay for the renovations. Right. Now where would this place be? Where was there roundabout that attracted tourists in their droves? Bath. It had to be Bath. The search was on.
The first property we looked at was in Cavendish Crescent. It was five storeys and had a basement that stretched out under the road. But no parking. And it was uphill. Not all tourists hired cars.
Property number two was at Northend, a village three miles from Bath. Fern Cottage was a seven bedroomed building dating from 1740. It also had a mansard roof plus a separate detached coach house. The main house hadn’t been renovated since the electricity was installed in the thirties but only piecemeal. Most of the house was still gas lit; lovely but spooky. The coach house wasn’t lit by anything and a family of rats had made their home where the coach and horse used to live.
We were in doubt that we were taking on a mammoth task; the old place was dusty, gloomy and had odd corners and quirky corridors, but we placed in an offer. £64,500. To our amazement it was accepted. We would be taking possession in January, this was in 1984. Possession was the optimum word, though we didn’t know it then, or at least my other half didn’t, but me? I kept having these odd dreams about the place; spooky dreams, like premonitions of what was to come – what oddities we would meet – and that was just the guests! As for the ghosts, well, I’ll take you a step further tomorrow perhaps, or the day after. Just wait a bit while I look over my shoulder, just in case I’ve been followed….

Apr 012013
 

Isn’t it fun? today I swapped dresses with Lizzie on the next boat; she’s the one with the Cos’s orange pippins and I’m the one with the grapefruits. I was going to say melons, but that’s taking it too far.
We’ve both been having a clearout only when we get down to it, she accepts stuff that I’m about to throw out, and I end up with stuff she’s getting rid of. Then on top of that we’re hanging out washing because the sun’s out and the wind is warm.
I tried on the dress she gave me; halter neck, perfect for a grapefruit girl. She tried on the top I swapped which turned out great for a pair of orange pippins. Isn’t nature grand? There’s something for everyone.
The great thing about today is that I finally finished editing Blood and Broomsticks. Had great fun with the last chapters. Couldn’t stop lingering over them. Leave it alone, I told myself. So I pressed send and got out a bottle of red wine. I shall now leave it to breathe. Anything is best matured – including me.
Looking forward to flying back at the end of the month for the Bristol Libraries Lizzie Lane event. Looking forward even more to the 10th of July and the official launch of the Honey Driver paperback at Toppings in Bath and seeing friends.
The washing’s dry which means that wine is just about right too. I know it’s an odd logic, but it’s my logic – and my wine! xlol