Growlery #WritePhoto #AtoZChallenge

Growlery; a place of refuge or sanctuary for use while one is out sorts or in ill humour. 

Kip, loud music pumping in his headphones, made his way down to the tiny beach, taking care to step correctly on the massive stones which often had hidden slippy parts. Walking across the rough sand stone mix, he ignored the clusters of tourists that were admiring the views in the little cove area.

He went passed the high waterfall that rushed over the jagged cliff face then streamed along to the sea in a surprisingly deep trench. He head to the largest of the caves far to his right and stood just inside.

More tourists were walking the short distance through the cave to the other side which was blocked by large rocks and the sea waves crashing on them. Most of the people were talking photos and talking, making dim echos along the roof.

Kip sat on his favourite rock that was close to the arched cave opening and was shaped as close enough to a low backed chair as a rock could be. He slipped his headphones off, paused the heavy metal German band he had been listening too. He heard the sea, the waves rushing around and the chatter of voices.

He picked up a small smooth stone and rubbed his fingers across it. He looked around, taking in the rough walls and the patches of sunlight. He knew this place so well. It was nicknamed Merlin’s Cave because the great wizard was said to have lived here underneath Tintagel Castle where King Arthur was born.

Kip loved all those legends and myths, he had grown up surrounded by them. All those knights, princesses, dragons, heroes, monsters, castles and sea adventures, they flowed in his blood just like Cornwall did. As a child he had played at being a knight and now almost an adult he still daydreamed of being one.

Merlin’s Cave though, was where he came to calm down. It was his escape to place and he found a peace here, listening to the rasping sea waves, the waterfall and all the echos in the cave. The tourists he would gladly do without and that’s why he timed his trips here to avoid the bulk of them. Two or three hours before Tintagel Castle closed and making sure the tide wasn’t in was the best time to come.

Living in the town of Tintagel, made access easy for Kip. His parents ran a local pub that often bed and breakfast rooms above and the three of them lived in the attached landlord’s cottage at the back. Kip worked in the pub when he wasn’t at school and he would take over the business in the future. He could never leave Cornwall.

Kip took a few deep breaths and watched the flow of tourists, they reminded him of the sea; always coming and going. Luckily, there wasn’t much of a beach here and no one really sat around or played in the sea for long. There were better beaches to visit for that kind of thing further around the coast. They were all here for the castle really, which stood on the edge of the cliffs, high above, the remaining walls sticking up from the long grass, hinting at a history long lost.

The last of the tourists slowly left, making their way over the massive stones and up the wooden staircase along the side of the cliff. Kip watched them, glad he was alone at last. He knew eventually two staff members would come, checking that everyone was off the grounds and then Kip would have to leave but they all knew him well enough not to hurry him away.

Kip took a few deep breaths and let everything out. He shut his eyes and thought about being carried away by the sea. He was drifting and nothing mattered as everything that he was feeling was gone, carried away on the waves.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/04/04/thursday-photo-prompt-threshold-writephoto/ with thanks).

 

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Stone Circles (Part 4)

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It started to rain more and it turned into drizzle. The stone did not offer much shelter but I was too tried and growing scared to move. The deepening darkness made it harder for me to see and for some reason I began thinking about ghost stories governess had told me over the years. You could hear children crying on windy nights and women wailing when it rained, ghost horses pulling carriages during storms and also the howling of the devil’s dog.

‘Rosy! Rosy!’ I cried, ‘please come back to me! I want to go home!’

I started weeping, knowing it was not gentleman or boy like, but unable to stop myself. The wind began whistling around the stones and half thought I could make it whispering voices. Was that the neighing of a horse? I pushed back my head and got to my feet. It sounded like it could be but it was hard to tell where the sound was coming from.

I shouted for Rosy with the last of my strength then listened hard. There was more neighing and above the wind and rain, hoofs racing across the moors. I heard my breath and stared through the gloom. There was something brown coming towards me, was it Rosy or something else?

Leaving the stone circle, I cross the short grass and went towards the growing shape. It was a pony for sure but was it Rosy? I called her name again and made my way over. It was her! Galloping over, reins loose about her neck.

‘Rosy! Where have you been!’ I cried and rushed to embrace her.

I wrapped my arms around her warm, damp neck and cried hard into her fur. Rosy nuzzled me and whined softly. The drizzle dripping off her. She seemed unhurt and just as glad to see me.

‘Do you know the way home from here?’ I asked her, ‘can you get us back?’

I stroked her and climbed up on her back. The saddle was still tight in place but wet with the rain. I clutched the reins and told her to go on. Rosy turned away from the stones and walked into the gathering darkness.

I had no idea where she was taking me but I had to trust her. She had come to find me, had she not? Surly, she would take me home now? I shivered with the cold and tried not think so much. I wonder if Molly had lit the fire in my room and what would be for supper instead.

Rosy sometimes walked or trotted and I let her go. The rain turned heavy, the wind stronger and the moors darker. I lay down against her mane, dozing on and off. The flickering of lights in the distance called my attention and I looked upwards. It was hard to tell what was growing ahead of us at first. Perhaps it was lightening?

I felt Rosy speed up under me and I held the reins and saddle tighter. Had she heard thunder? I could not hear anything and the yellow lights ahead were becoming more stable. Could it really be Trenworth Manor at last?

And then it was! I saw the manor looming against the darkness, a solid shape against the sky.

‘Go, Rosy! Go!’ I urged the pony.

Rosy stepped onto the narrow road which made it easier for her to gallop on. The archway door still stood open and we went through. Rosy tottered across the gardens and went towards a small cottage and a stables that stood in the shadows of the manor. Mr Marsh had left the stable doors open and Rosy went in.

There was no light inside, so I climbed off her in the dark and hurried to knock on the cottage’s door. I banged loudly on the wood, the door opened before I stopped. Mrs Marsh stood in the doorway, famed by the glow of fire and with the scent of hot food drifting out.

‘Master Dunnington! What an earth-‘

‘I got lost on the moors!’ I cried, ‘Rosy wondered off without me but then we found each other again and she brought me home.’

‘Oh well, now, we did wonder where you had gone…’

‘I’ll take him back to the house,’ Mr Marsh said coming to the door with a lit lantern.

‘Thank you!’ I said.

He walked ahead of me and I followed the lantern light to the back door of the manor. Mr Marsh had borrowed the key, so he let me in to the kitchen. There was still some warmth in the air from the dying fire.

‘I will go to see to Rosy. You should get to bed now,’ Mr Marsh said.

He lit me a candle then left. Locking the door behind him. I hurried through the dark quiet house to my rooms. Once there, I lit a few more of the candles and also the fire. It should have been Molly’s job to do this but she was not round and I was not use to calling upon her.

I got out of my wet clothes and into something else then warmed myself by the crackling fire. A linger of fear was still going through me but I put that down to being cold. Once I was feeling better, I got up and went into the next room, hoping that Molly had remembered to leave supper on the light table for me.

Lighting more candles, I saw there was something. It seemed to be soup but it had all ready gone cold. I ate it anyway and the bread because I was hungry. Tiredness wrapped itself around me and I barely blew out all the candles and crawled into bed before I fell into a deep sleep.

I dreamt of the moor and being lost. I kept calling for Rosy and for help. The wind howled around me, deafening me and the rain fell, blinding me. I could hear children and women crying and wailing, their fingers brushing me, trying to keep me back. I stumbled onward and almost walked into a tall stone. I felt my way around and realised I was inside one of the stone circles.

Was I still there now? Had my return home been the real dream?

I tried to leave the stone circle but I seemed unable to get out. The stones closed around me, blocking the moor off. They rose above my head, making a roof as they touched together. I think I scream and bashed my hands against the stones.

The sense of falling and spinning took me, I was flying and the stones were scrapping against me. I hit the floor of my bedroom hard and struggled to untangle myself from the bed clothes. Dim morning light crept around the room and somewhere I could hear a servant’s bell ringing.

I got up, looking around dazed. Was I really back? Had it all been a dream after all? I went to the window and looked out. The moors were still there, looking welcoming in the light. I watched a flock of sheep going past, chased by a dog and two men. I looked down at my hands and saw the faint scars left by the cane. Everything looked normal but I did not feel it.

Something had changed and if it was due to that nightmare or my time being lost on the moors, I was never sure. Maybe, it had something to do with the stone circles? But I always felt less confident after that and I never wander Bodmin Moor alone again.

Stone Circles (Part 3)

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I rode Rosy the pony across Bodmin Moor. The breeze in my hair and in her mane and tail. I let her go where she wanted. Rosy had been born on the moor and found as a foal by Mr Marsh. He had taken her in, like he did with any young or hurt creature he found. She was fully tamed but also spent nearly all of her time out here, so she knew her way around better then I did. She was also more sure-footed then I ever could be.

We passed sheep, cows and other ponies – wild and tame- that roamed the land. Only once or twice did I see another person; a farmer rounding up sheep and a gentleman riding a big black horse. We heard the sounds of the quarries and saw the tall stone towers rising upwards, wheels turning. Rosy kept her distant and I agreed with her, those places were not for a gentleman to visit, unless he had urgent business there.

Some time a lot later, Rosy found a small stream and lowered her head to drink. I slipped off her back, feeling aches in my legs, back and arms. I stretched and knelt down beside the stream. The water was so clear! I cupped some in my hand and took a few sips. It was pleasant and refreshing. I drink some more then settled down to eat what Mrs Marsh and Margret had given me for lunch.

There was a hunk of fresh bread, slightly warm to the touch still, a lump of cheese, cut offs of the cooked ham, two apples, a sweet cake and a carrot. As if they had know that Rosy would be with me! I give her the carrot and one of the apples. The pony seemed grateful then wandered off to nibble at the moor grasses.

I ate everything, the moor air making me extremely hungry. I drink from the stream with I needed too. Rosy came over once more and I give her the rest of my apple. After, I folded the cloth carefully away and splashed water on my hands and face. It was a warm in the sun and waves of tiredness floated over me.

I laid down, watching the clouds going by. Rosy nudged me then carried on grazing. She would not wander far whilst I slept, she was a loyal friend, the only one I had in Cornwall. I shut my eyes, breathed in the moor deeply and let it carry me away.

It was hard to till how much time had passed when I woke up. There were more clouds in the sky and some of them had turned dark grey. The air had got chiller and the sun was struggling to get around the clouds. The weather had turned as it often does on the moors.

I rubbed sleep away, drank some more cool stream water and splashed some on my face. I climbed to my feet and looked around for Rosy.  The chestnut moor pony was no where to be seen.

‘Rosy! Rosy!’ I shouted.

Scanning the rolling landscape, I expected at any moment for her to reappear, trotting over to me. The only thing that moved through was the heather and rough grasses. I gathered my things, thinking that she had started home with it me. Perhaps, if I kept calling, she would come back?

Shouting as loud as I could, I set off in the direction I thought we had come from. After a few minutes though, I was not sure. Stopping, I looked around, trying to recall anything that would be familiar but the moor all looked the same. I felt fear growing in the bottom of my belly.

I looked back towards the stream, trying to think if Rosy had walked in a straight line towards it. There was a good possibility. Walking off again, I tried to look for anything that might be pony shaped or house shaped or even person shaped. Convincing myself, I was going the right way, I quickened my pace.

Above the blue sky was turning dark with grey clouds. The idea of being lost out here in the dark made the fear grow. I tried not to think about it. I would find Rosy again and she would take me home, she knew the way well. I felt a rain drop splatter on my hand.

‘Rosy! Rosy! Come here, girl! Rosy!’ I screamed.

I was not a young gentleman any more but a lost child. I ran, half tripping over spiky bushes and long plants. I prayed that Trenworth Manor would appear over the next rise but every time there was just more moorland.

How far had Rosy and I travelled? Why hadn’t I paid more attention to where she was going? Why hadn’t I tied her up before I fell asleep? Because I had not thought she would wander away from me, she had never done before. What if she was hurt?

I stopped, my body aching and my breath painful. I tried to gather my thoughts. It was not likely that Rosy had tripped or got tangled in something, she was so surefooted and built for being on the moors. Maybe, she had heard some wild ponies and gone to see them?  Or perhaps, sensing the change of weather and not being able to wake me, she had trotted off home.

I wiped my face, not realising I had been crying. A few more drops of rain fell. Trying to stay calm, I carried on walking. Perhaps, I would find the road back to the manor or something else that would set me on the right path? If it got darker and wetter before though, I could find a hollow somewhere and rest there.

Something that was not a normal part of the moor was growing in the distance. It did not look like a pony or a house though, it was something tall and grey. Hurrying over, I got closer and saw it a large stone. Then there was more, a number of them making a circle, no, three stone circles almost touching each other. They stood in a huge patch of moorland that had been cleared away so there was only light green grass around.

I stopped on the edge, starting in wonder. What where they doing here and who had put them like that? Stones do not stand naturally in a circle. Had they once been enclosures for animals? Maybe the layout for houses of the past? I went forward and looked closely. The stones were old, weathered with some moss growing at the base. The circles were incomplete; some stones had fallen over and there were gaps were some should have been.

I had no memory of the stones and surely, if Rosy had brought me this way I would have seen them in the distance? I walked around the outside of them, looking this way and that. I called Rosy a few times but all I heard was the gathering wind and sheep bleating somewhere.

Getting cold, I stepped inside the first stone circle and rested against the biggest stone. Too many thoughts ran through my mind so that I could not think clearly. I kept coming back to the same problem though; how was I going to get home?

To be Continued…

Stone Circles (Part 2)

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Early morning light woke me. I rolled over, rubbing my eyes then sat up. Someone had undressed me, leaving me in just shirt and underwear. I paused, a strange tuneful humming coming from the next room. I got up, saw fresh clothes laid out on the bedding box, my trunk open and half unpacked.

I dressed then went to the corner and moved the faded tapestry there to reveal a small door. Opening this, I entered a room that was trying to be too many things at once. There was a circle tea table under the window with two chairs, a small writing desk in the corner next to it. Along the next wall was a fireplace, another hidden door to the left and a bookcase to the right.

The other side of the room was a nursery; a large wooden trunk sat closed against the wall, there was another bookcase holding a few toys; a wooden boat, balls, tennis rackets, dolls. There was a dolls house, a tiny table laid with a tea set and in the corner, my favourite thing of all; a dappled grey rocking horse. His mane and tail were real grey horse hair, his black eyes were wide and his mouth open showing teeth and red lips around the metal bit.

I was not alone in the room. A young woman, dressed in black with a white pinafore and cap was by the first bookcase, putting away books that she had taken out of my trunk.  I could see bright red hair poking out of the caps edges and a hint of flat black shoes under her skirts. She was humming loudly and had not heard me enter.

‘Hello,’ I said.

She jumped, a book flying from her hand and spun around to me. More loose strands of red hair framed her flushed pink face which had a covering of freckles. Her nose was upturned, her eyebrows raised in shock and her bright blue eyes fixed on me.

‘Sir! You startled me!’ she cried.

‘Sorry…’

She bent, picked the book up and shoved it on to the shelf, ‘I was worried you would not awake,’ she said, her voice sounding very Cornish, ‘I came up after Mrs Bennett told me too but you were all ready sleeping. The trip from London was tiring?’

I nodded.

‘I have never left the village. My cousin works here as the gardener’s hand, he recommended me when Mrs Whitley enquired. This is my first job, would sir please be understanding of that?’

I was use to that being the case at Trenworth Manor. Seemed my aunt found it hard to hire more experienced servants. Or perhaps, she was more understanding of the younger ones now having me in her life.

‘How old are you?’ I asked.

‘Seventeen,’ the maid replied.

‘And you name?’

‘Molly Pickworth, sir,’ she answered and give a little curtsy.

‘I am Master William Dunnington.’

‘I know,’ she uttered, her cheeks flushing deeper red.

I looked away from her as was gentleman like to save her more blushing. My glance ended over at the table and I saw it was set out for a meal. There was a silver tray with a covered dish, milk jug, sugar bowl, jam pot, a teapot and tea cup on a saucer. My stomach growled loudly, breaking the silence that was growing.

‘Excuse me,’ I said.

‘I believe it is porridge, sir,’ Molly voiced, ‘Mrs Marsh sent it up an hour or so ago. It should still be warm.’

Nodding, I went over to the table and helped myself. Molly carried on unpacking, trying to be as quiet as possible. The porridge was good, still warm and nice with sugar and jam. The tea was also nice and comforting. I felt better after eating and drinking it all and turned to look out of the window whilst I rested.

Surprising, it was nice day outside. Sunlight was pouring across Bodmin Moor from a really blue sky, the grass and bushes were a wash of green and I could just see little colours of flowers. Bird song was drifting through the air and I could just hear the calling of cows from a nearby farmer’s field.

‘Have you finished, sir?’ Molly asked.

I nodded and stretched out as she gathered everything up.

‘I think I’ll go outside,’ I spoke.

‘As you wish, sir. If there is anything else….’

‘No, that’ll be all,’ I said as if I was the lord of the manor.

I got up off the chair and went back into my bedroom. I went out the door and back the way I had come last night. I should have sought Mrs Bennett and asked her if my aunt wished to see me, but I knew my aunt would not want too, she rarely give me an audience.

The smell of freshly baked bread and something sweet, hint my nose at the bottom of the main staircase and I walked towards the kitchen. Opening the door, I saw the back of the elderly cook, Mrs Marsh removing bread from the oven. Her granddaughter assistant, Margret who was almost twice my age was at the sink washing something. There was a fire burning in the stove and a kettle boiling on top. The scrubbed, wooden table was piled with a mixture of different foods and the back door was half open, suggesting a delivery of things from the village had just arrived.

I coughed and walked in, making sure I was heard, Mrs Marsh was partly deaf.

‘Oh, it’s the young master,’ Margret said, turning around.

She was tall and curvy, wearing a simple dark green dress with a peek of white underskirt showing at the bottom. Her arms were going thick with muscles from carrying and working hard in the kitchen. Her face was pleasing with rounded cheeks, plump lips, blue eyes and dusty blonde hair poking out of a too small white cap. I noticed too the gold band on her ring finger and the growing bump of her stomach.

‘I sent his porridge up,’ Mrs Marsh half shouted as she tipped a loaf of bread out on the counter.

Steam curled upwards, trying to mix with Mrs Marsh’s white hair that was held back in a tight bun under her cap. The old woman had dark blue eyes which were slowly failing her and her face was all wrinkled and worn. Her skin was darkened by the sun and I recalled she liked to doze outside. She was wearing a dark blue dress, covered in flour and other stains.

‘Thank you for that, it was most needed,’ I said.

I walked in and inspected the items on the table; there were fresh fruits and vegetables, cooked ham, cheese, butter, two dead chickens, three dead rabbits, a pot of jam and another of sugar. There was also a jug of milk, a bottle of sherry and larger bottle of Cornish cider.  My aunt had ordered Mrs Bennett and Mrs Marsh to buy more food in as usual during my stay.

‘I’m going out to the moors. Can I take some of this with me?’ I asked.

‘Boys, always hungry,’ Mrs Marsh said with a hint of a smile.

A few minutes later, I was handed a cloth wrapped package of food and sent out the kitchen door. Unable to keep the excitement within me down, I broke into a small run and dashed through the little patches of gardens. There was a tall wall with an arched doorway at the back which led out onto a small road. I took this way to the moors.

There is nothing like the sense of freedom you get from the moors. There’s this vast spread of rough land as far as the eye can see and it’s empty of people. The smell of the heather and wild flowers flooded me and a realisation that I had truly missed this hit me hard.

I was about to run and spend the day explore the moor when the clop clop of hoofs and the stomping of boots from behind stopped me. I turned and saw the old gardener, Mr Marsh – Mrs Marsh’s husband- coming towards me leading a stoat chestnut moor pony, her mane and tail a mixture of dark brown turning black.

‘Hello, young master!’ he called to me with a wave.

I walked back through the arch and towards him. Mr Marsh looked like a gardener should; large boots covering his lower legs, baggy trousers and a loose dirty white shirt with rolled up sleeves. He had white hair, kind green eyes and a less wrinkled face then his wife. Soil was ingrained to his hands and other places. His skin was dark – the sign he spent all his time outside and his back was bent forward, another sign of all his hard work.

My eyes fixed on the pony beside him.

‘Rosy!’ I shouted and dashed over. I threw my arms around the pony’s neck and hugged her tightly. She smelt of fresh hay and warm fur.

Mr Marsh chuckled, ‘heard you were back, Master William. Thought I’d get her ready for you to ride.’

‘Thank you,’ I said, my voice muffled.

‘There you go, then,’ Mr Marsh said and handed me the reins.

A little spark of fear quivered in my stomach. I had not ridden a horse in a year, what if I had forgotten? Rosy nudged me with her pink nose and I patted her. She had always been a quiet and patient pony, unlike her wild cousins that roamed the moor.

I climbed into the saddle with only a little help from Mr Marsh, who then walked us to the arched door.

‘Looks a good day for it,’ Mr Marsh spoke and he give me the reins again.

I nodded, seeing the blue of the sky against the greens of the moor. Then Rosy was walking on, sure footed across uneven ground that was half hidden by the heather, mosses and grasses.

To Be Continued…

Stone Circles (Part 1)

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Every summer, I travelled from boarding school in London back to my aunt’s house, Trenworth Manor in Cornwall. My parents had died when I was a baby, leaving me a fortune and placing me in the care of my mother’s childless and widowed twin sister. My aunt, not knowing what to do with a boy had always put me in the care of others.

I was thirteen that year and growing into a gentleman all ready. I had short brown hair, that curled at the ends, light brown eyes and my face, though still  rounded with child-likeness was becoming more strong and defined. I was tall for my age but thin as I had yet to fill out. I also had some faded scars on my palms, the results of being caned too hard a few months back.

Looking out of the small, two horse drawn carriage’s window, I saw the scene around me began to change. After travelling many hours by a few different horse drawn coaches, I was pleased to see Bodmin Moor growing wild all around the road as it meant I was almost at my aunt’s house. She lived in a small manor house, left to her by her husband, on the edge of the moors and overlooking a tiny village.

The two brown horses clopped through the half open gates, the carriages wheels crunching over stones then we were there at the front door of Trenworth Manor. The driver let me out and I looked around at the house. It hadn’t changed in a year, it never really seemed too. The huge grey stones and plan front loomed over me, the handful of windows seemed to be judging me like eyes and the door was a closed mouth, keeping it’s secrets inside.

I went up the steps whilst the driver lowered my trunk. The door open as I got there and the housekeeper, Mrs Bennett, peered out of the gap. She was a short, stocky woman, with a huge bosom that her practical black and white frilled dress seemed unable to keep in. Her face was worn and wrinkled more then her years but she must have been in her mid-fifties that year. She had small, unhappy brown eyes. Her dark brown and grey hair was to her shoulders and plaited back.

‘Good day, Mrs Bennett. Please inform my aunt Mrs Whitley that I have arrived,’ I announced.

Mrs Bennett grunted at me like an old dog, opened the door wider and walked off. None of my aunt’s servants had ever had the time for me either. I walked in, hung my hat on the stand and went into the parlour to await my aunt or Mrs Bennett’s return.

I heard the driver drag my trunk into the hallway and stop to catch his breath. I had all ready paid him and we had known each other for a few years now. He should also remember that he wouldn’t get any hospitably here.

After a few moments, he left, closing the door behind him. I heard him urging the horses on and the coach wheels starting up. I went to the window and watched them leave down the short driveway and out onto the moors.

Turning, I took the parlour in; a few chairs were dotted around, two low tables placed between them, a small fireplace in the far wall and on the mantle a ticking brass carriage clock. My aunt never had visitors. Expect her solicitor and sometimes people looking for work.

I didn’t sit but walked around the room, stopping sometimes at the window or the fire place. I was tried and hungry, wanting to eat and go to bed. The minutes passed and Mrs Bennett came bustling back, tutting over my abandoned trunk in the hallway before coming into the room.

‘Your aunt is not feeling well today. She’s employed a new maid to wait on you,’ Mrs Bennett replied in a clipped voice.

‘Oh. Has my governess not arrived yet?’ I said.

It was normal for my aunt to employ someone to teach and keep an eye on me over the summer. For the last few years, my governess had also been the teacher of Bodmin town’s girl school. Before that, there had been a string of young women in their first appointments as governesses. I could not really remember them all.

‘No,’ Mrs Bennett sniffed, ‘your aunt has decided you are too old for one now. You should be able to take care of yourself.’

I was taken back by this and didn’t know what to say.

‘I disagree,’ Mrs Bennett said in a low voice almost as if she didn’t want me to hear but could not help speak her thoughts, ‘boy should not be left to wander around and idle away!’

‘Idle?’ I uttered, horrified.

Mrs Bennett rose to her short, full height, holding her head high and staring down her nose at me as if I was something disgusting that shouldn’t be inside the parlour.

‘I have too much do. You know where your room is,’ she added then turning on heel, stormed off.

Unsure what to do, I walked slowly to the connecting rooms I always stayed in. Trenworth Manor seemed un-decorated and half empty of furniture. The wallpaper and paint were badly faded, where there were small paintings on the walls they were dusty, the rugs and floorboard, though clean were threadbare and scuffed. The staircases’ banisters had been polished so much, they had turned dull.

The furniture that did dot the hallways and gathered in rooms was old, some tables and chairs going back generations – family heirlooms. The fabric on the curtains, chairs and cushions were so faded you could no longer see the colours or patterns. There were perhaps only a few ornaments – vases that stood empty in on window sills, animal and people figurines on mantles and bookcases.

The manor give the impression it had not been lived in for years but someone was trying to keep up appearances. There was a pressure of silence, broken only by the ticking of clocks that echoed around and the creak of wood. There was a faint musty, damp smell masked by the scent of lilies and fire smoke. I also recalled the smell of dried fruit and green leaves from Christmas.

I climbed two staircases, down a short corridor and arrived at the first of the three doors. Opening the door, I entered the bedroom and found someone had recently aired it out. The window was open, the breezy moving the curtain across the plush window box seat. Taking up a whole wall and most of the room, was a large double four poster bed with dark red velvet curtains swept around the wooden poles. At the head, two small tables guarded either side and at the bottom there was a worn bedding box.

In the opposite wall, was a white marble fireplace. Coal, firewood and kindling stacked neatly and waiting to be lit. On the mantel, was a small sliver joint picture frame containing paintings of my parents looking at each other. There was also a small blue vase and two china dogs. On the wall above was one of my favourite paintings; Bodmin moor in all it’s summer glory was the ruins of castle in the distant. To the right of the fireplace was a small dark wardrobe.

Smiling at the familiarity and glad not be be travelling anymore, I relaxed. Taking off my shoes, I climbed up onto the bed. Laying down, the pillow felt soft on my head and the blankets warm underneath me. I yawed then shut my eyes, feeling sleep hushing me away.

To be Continued…

Postcard #47

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Hi Grandma,

Hope you are okay. The weather here is really sunny. Cornwall is a nice place! Mum and Dad took us to a castle and we learnt about King Arthur. We went to the beach and I built a big sandcastle but then Laura knocked it down! Tomorrow we are going horse riding!

Wish you were here, love, Chloe.

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My great-grandfather, Bill, told me this story and tonight I want to tell you it.

In his time, the mines were all over Cornwall and almost all the men worked in one. They did long hard shifts, digging underground in small, dimly light tunnels. The sounds of pickaxes, shovels and carts filled the air so loudly they could hardly hear each other. And the coal dust! It got everywhere and clogged the air right up. They said if you cut a miner up the only thing inside of him would be black coal dust.

Now one day, great-grandfather Bill was down in a new tunnel having a quick walk through to make sure the wooden support beams had been put in place before any real digging started. He had with him an old friend called Tom and as they stood in the middle of the tunnel, they heard a loud sharp knock.

Puzzled they listened harder. They were far from the other miners and the noise couldn’t have travelled that long and clear as it had been. They looked at each other and listened again. There was another knock then no more.

‘It’s the Knockers,’ Tom whispered.

Bill shot Tom a look and replied, ‘it’s just the echos of someone digging. This beam is fine. On to the next.’

The moved on and inspected a few more beams before they heard another knock. The sound travelled through the tunnel and it was much like heavy knuckles rapping at a wooden door. No way could that have been the sound of someone mining coal.

‘Hello!’ Bill shouted.

His voice echoed but there was no reply. He flashed his lantern round and the candle flame flickered then became still. Bill couldn’t make anything out and it didn’t help that the light was only a small pool.

‘Let’s go,’ Tom muttered and started to head back.

‘No. We need to finish this…’

‘I’m going back! When a Knocker starts a knocking you get out!’ Tom stated.

Bill watched him walk away in the glow of the candle light. My great-granddad wasn’t afraid of the little folk who lived underground. He carried on with his work, taking the time to check each beam would hold the tunnel roof up.

A shuffling of footsteps drew his attention and he shone his light down. There was nothing in front or behind him on the solid rock ground he could see. A chuckling noise snapped Bill’s head right up and he spun around, knowing now he wasn’t alone.

‘Tom that you! Come on, show yourself!’ Bill shouted.

A spot of light glowed against the tunnel wall and Bill started to track it. The flames was ahead of him. Thinking that his men were playing a trick on him, Bill decided to ignore it. They weren’t going to get the satisfaction from scaring him.

Bill walked towards the light, but it seemed to fade and move away the closer he got. Growling, he stopped and wiped the sweat from his head. He was tried, hot and wanting to go home to his wife.

He swore and turned around to head back.

The tinkling of metal and the sound of someone hammering with a pickaxe made Bill turn back. He saw there before him, in the gloomy light, a small figure no bigger then a very small child. The figure, appeared to be a male and wearing a miner’s clothes. His face was that of an old man with wrinkles and a long grey beard. He had a lantern in one hand and pickaxe in the other.

‘Are you a Knocker?’ Bill asked in shock.

The figure nodded, ‘aye.’

‘What do you want?’ Bill demanded.

‘You didn’t seem to get our warning about this tunnel. It’s not safe. So I thought I’d come and tell you myself. Since you are alone now,’ the Knocker replied in a gravelly voice.

Now, Bill wasn’t sure what else to say and he was trying hard to remember what people said about Knockers. They were little folk who liked to cause mischief, steal tools and food. Some of the men tossed their pasty crusts to them in the hopes it would keep them away.

‘You should go,’ the Knocker said sharply.

Bill nodded and turned around, he walked a few steps then twisted about again. The tunnel before him was empty. He walked out and a few moments later a giant rumble echoed through the tunnel. Bill turned and saw the entrance clouded in thick smoke. When it cleared, the tunnel had collapsed.

When he came up from the mine that evening, Bill went straight home and didn’t tell anyone what had happened.

It was only when I was a kid and he liked telling tales that one day that story slipped out of him. I asked him many times to tell me about it, but he only told it one other time and that was right before he died.

You see, it was just too unbelievable for him to deal with what he saw and now he’s taken the full story to his grave.

 

(Inspired from a prompt by; https://scvincent.com/2017/06/01/thursday-photo-prompt-knock-writephoto/ with thanks).

Eden

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There was just something about The Eden Project in Cornwall that spoke my soul. Breathing in the warm flower scented air, I watched a school group going by. The children were all chatting loudly whilst their teachers and helpers were trying to point out things to them.

One boy pulled a flower up, glee on his face. A female teacher swooped down behind him and even though I couldn’t hear them the child was clearly being told off. The boy placed the flower back and the teacher marched him off with the tail end of the group.

I shook my head. How do teachers cope?

I paused in my water hosing of the bushes and went to see if anything could be done to save the poor flower. Searching through the bedding boarder, I found it and saw that it had been plucked from the stem. Nestling it against the greenery, I went back to watering.

(Inspired by; https://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2017/02/12/sunday-photo-fiction-february-12th-2017/)

(And you can find out more about The Eden Project here; http://www.edenproject.com/)

Postcard #12

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