The Grey Causeway To Brierwell Manor (Part 2)

st-michaels-mount-4394648_1920

We arrived at  the proper driveway to the manor. The Grey Causeway turning from rough stone to flat smooth bricks as it led up towards the gates. King launched into a tot, happy to have a solid road to go on when though it was still damp.

The sea was still on either side of us but I could see it was only three inches or so high. Other rocks stuck out like tiny islands and a seagull had landed on one and was busy eating a dead crab. Waves broke on the rocky low cliffs just ahead of us, the tide didn’t go out further then this.

I slowed down King as we reached some fallen wire fencing. The grass was quickly cover it up and worried that more wire could lay hidden which he might step on. There was loads of fencing around, fallen or cast aside. Half hidden metal signs poked out of a bushes and the grass, rust splashed through the white paint.

Last time, the signs had read things like; keep out, guards on duty, beware loose dogs,  CCTV and private property. I could remember seeing them scattered around the down fencing, abandoned like the manor once more. 

King went up to two towering stone pillars that had been the original gate posts and keep to a nervous stop. I saw, picked out on the stone faded words which read; Brierwell Manor. The name of the Victorian family who had built and lived in the manor. Seaweed wrapped around the bottoms of the pillars whilst climbing plants and moss covered the rest of the stones. There was nothing left of the fancy gates that must have once been here.

‘Good boy, King,’ I said gently.

King flicked his ears back to show he was listening.

‘Walk on then,’ I added.

He hesitated, taking a step back and flicking his tail. His muscles bunched and he turned his head to the side. He went to turn around.

I squeezed my legs against into his side and tightened my grip on the reins., ‘go on!’ I encouraged.

King snorted and tossed his head but he stepped forward.

Pushing again, I got King to walk on. We passed under tall trees and bushes, spring flowering plants filled the air was a heavy scent, it was like entering a secret garden. The ground was all soil and grass from now on. The plants were wild and King had to watch his step.

We had been here before but it looked so different each time. Where once there had been clean and neat front garden there was nothing but a tangle of nature. I had seen a photo of a fountain in a circle driveway before the manor but you couldn’t see anything of that. It was all soil with plants pushing their way up.

Abandoned building materials lay scattered about; huge bags of sand, an orange mixer machine, rusting tools, a ladder half buried in a tangle of vines. There had been builders preparing to work on the manor but their job of turning the place into a hotel had fallen though because it was going to cost too much.

Brierwell Manor now rose up before us. A flight of four deep stone steps led up to a porch area with thick Roman columns and also two broken stone lions lay on either side. The house was a square shape and there only two floors. Most of the windows had been board up but a few were open and broken glass clung to the frames. There was double front door made out of heavy oak and one of the doors was half open in an inviting way.  

King stopped, sniffing and snorting. Coming here always made him quiet as if he sensed it wasn’t a good place to be. I had to agree with him, their was an unnatural sense to the place. No birds sung, no animals moved in the scrub and the wind moved through the trees in such a quiet manner that it seemed as if it was trying not to disturb anything.

Without any prompting, King started walking along the edge of the driveway. I let him go where he was more comfortable. He brushed passed all the nature. Sure-footed on the damp soil ground. I knew where he was heading, around the side of the house and down towards the small church and graveyard where sweet grass grew.

I admired the view from King’s back and took the time to further calm myself after our run. I knew some history of the manor and something of the Brierwell family. In 1856 the building of the manor had started and after some difficult years, Lord Brierwell, his second wife, three daughters and baby son moved in.

The manor had been passed down through the family until 1902 when a massive storm caused the sea to flood the island. The lower floor and cellar were swept out, the gardens destroyed and the spring where the manor got fresh water from was contaminated by salt water. The damage was too much for Lord Brierwell’s descendants, so they sold up.

The new owners fixed up the manor and stayed until the end of the second world war. After that, an investor did things up again and rented out the rooms but there were rumours about the manor becoming a drug den and a brothel. A girl was said to have been kidnapped and murdered in the cellar. That started a train of ghost sights and stories. What Victorian manor wasn’t haunted?

In 1960, Brierwell Manor was abandoned and despite the place passing through many hands and people trying to turn it into a number of different things like; an artists’ retreat, a bed and breakfast, a museum and finally the idea of a hotel, nothing had developed and now the manor had been empty for sixty years.

The nature began to clear as I felt King start to go down hill. We passed the moss covered, tumble down stone wall then we were into something like a clearing. Tall grass some of which had open into wheat like heads of seeds lay thick in a field dotted with headstones with a small stone church at the end.

King went to a stack of stones which I had placed there myself, four or five years back when we had discovered this area. I had never known there was a church and graveyard till I had seen a photo of it in a local history book I had found in the newly opened museum shop. Since then, this had become a favourite place of ours. 

‘You like it here, don’t you, King?’ I said.

I dismounted. Using the stone stack like a ladder to get down. I tied the reins to the saddle so they wouldn’t get in King’s way then he moved off to eat the grass. I watched him as I sat down on the stones and began taking off my helmet and protection vest. 

I took in deep breaths, feeling lighter and it easier to fill my lungs all the way. A breeze blew through my hair and I saw flashing of purple out of the corner of my eyes. I took off my body warmer next then my fleece jacket but it was too cold to sit for long without it back on. 

‘Don’t wander too far,’ I called after King’s moving form.

Sitting down on the grass, I looked at the headstones and church whilst rubbing my chest. I had a feeling of tingles of pain around my heart, like the start of pains and needles. These would passed soon, they came and went, sometimes I just thought the pain was in my mind, like a physical memory of what I had been through. 

I pulled off my long sleeved thermal top and moved my vest top around to check the scars along my torso. Some of them were fine and faded, others rises and white outline. I looked like Frankenstein’s Monster. None of them should ache but sometimes they did.

I was a mirror twin and whilst my sister, Pearl, had been born normally, I, Paige, had been born with backwards organs. Most things could work fine but I’d had a few operations as a baby and child to insure that. Then around the age of ten, I had developed heart complications and from then until now; eight years later, I had been in and out of hospital, on bed rest and home schooled. 

That’s why I craved freedom and normality and also why I had connected with King. He’d been born soon after my complications and having such a pretty foal to focus on had helped me. I had always wished he wasn’t strong headed with a wild streak and dangerous recorded. My family had wanted to me to pick a calmer horse – a mare that was King’s older step-sister but totally the opposite of him. 

I just couldn’t though. I helped to hand rear King when his mother abandoned him a month later. He was my goal to get better, to ride and be free, my best friend who made me feel wild and not in pain for a time.     

I put my fleece back on and lay down in the grass. It felt damp and smelled so sweetly of hot summer days. The grass hide me and I felt protected here. The sky was masking over with rolling grey clouds and I knew soon we’d have to head back. I shut my eyes and felt the tiredness that never seemed to leave me.

Just a few minutes of resting then I’ll feel better.

To Be Continued…

 

 

 

The Grey Causeway To Brierwell Manor (Part 1)

st-michaels-mount-4394648_1920

We were flying across the beach, girl and horse, with the wind rushing through us. The coolness of the spring afternoon air chilled my skin despite the layers of clothes I had brought on. The waves breaking on the sand were nothing but a blur of colour like a melting painting.

The sense of freedom beat into me and the thrill tingled in my blood. My heart was thudding in my chest the rhythm controlled by the pacemaker. This was my escape from all of that pain, treatment and medication. All of my heart problems were gone in the hurricane of wind and the excitement of sitting on the back of a running horse.

I could feel every movement made by King, my massive black stallion I was riding, as he raced on wards. King was all powerful muscle and sped thanks to him being a strange mix of mighty shire horse and fast racehorse. Shires were well known for their calm and gentle nature, but King was the opposite of that and acted untameable.

King was pure black all over, with a long mane and tail which I loved to braid. Today, his hair was flying free and adding to the magnificent sight he made racing along the soft sand. King was well over six feet high. I was five-seven and he seemed to dwarf me.

I sat low on his back, almost bent over so that I was aiding him to gain speed, which was an achievement in the black, bulky, protective body suit I was wearing. On impact with the ground the whole thing would inflate like a car airbag, hopefully save me from more broken bones due to falling off King. My hard riding helmet felt like it was glued to my head and shoulder length, purple dyed stuck out from underneath it. The helmet was another life safer in riding a dangerous horse.

King’s mane tickled my face and in a few snatched moments, it seemed we were one. I breathed in his thick, sweaty horse smell and felt the rocking of his body echoing through my own. I watched sand and sea zooming by then in the distance I spotted something out at sea.

I raised myself up and slowed King down which took a good few minutes because he didn’t want to and I didn’t want to anger him. He stepped first into a canter then into a trot. King clearer didn’t want to stop and it took me a lot to make him get into a walk.

By that time, we were coming upon something that looked like an avalanche of cliff. Lots of rocks and rubble worn smooth by the constant touch of the sea were jumbled over the sand. This maze continued into the distance, raising up out of the waves as it went.

The reinforced rock sides were slowly tumbling away and exposing more of the flattened stones. In some parts there seemed nothing left to support the stones and the sea was happily consuming them. Sand, crushed shells and dead sea creatures lay thick on what, a hundred years or so ago, had been a straight road towards a distant island.

King, unhappy his run had ended nodded his large head forward and snorted. He tried to pick up pace again, his muscles rippling underneath me and his huge hooves kicking up sand. King loved to run and could probably go on forever.

Breathing hard to get my breath back, I held the reins tighter, said gentle words and patted his long neck. King came to a stop but his towering, thick legs jigged about. King had so much pent in energy after the winter months because I had been unwell and winter conditions weren’t good to ride in.

Now, spring was here and the best place to let King run was the beach which stretched for miles. Hardly anyone came here because was this the middle of nowhere and access wasn’t easy because of cliffs and sand dunes. Also, the beaches around here with private, owned by the people who’s lone houses stood like dead giants on the edges of the cliffs.

The Grey Causeway, for that was the name of the remains of the road before me, only became visible at low tide on a calm day. The sea waves swept aside and dropped whilst red crabs scuttled over the exposed rocks. Seaweed and moss started to dry out but were still slimy to the touch. Pools of water lingered in between the stones, trapping fish until the tide rose again.

The afternoon sun was half covered by white and grey clouds growing heavy with rain. A few birds wheeled in the sky searching for fish to take back to their nests on the cliffs. The waves were lapping quietly for a change as it was known to all ways been rough here. There was little breeze and the air was cool with the lingering of winter.

‘Let’s do some exploring,’ I said and directed King to turn onto the remains of the road.

King refused with a stamp of his right hoof and a loud neigh. He tossed his head right up, his black mane almost whipping against me and the reins tugging hard. His shoulders bunched and the rest of his body began to fall back on itself. His tail hit the back of his legs in anger, setting loose sand that had become caught. He was getting ready to rear.

King was stubborn and hated to feel like he wasn’t in control all the time. It was his way or no way at all which made riding him difficult. He was well known for throwing riders off and causing other horse to join him in a stampede. No one trusted King and he would have been moved on from my family’s riding school and breeding stables, if I hadn’t taken a liking to him.

I had lost count of the number of times I had fallen off King. Mostly it had be because he had reared and or bucked. Others, it had been because he had refused to jump a gate or go through a gap. A few times, he had moved whilst I was mounting and thrown me off balance. Once, King had physical pulled me off his back by biting into my leather boot and yanking me down from the saddle.

Still though, I couldn’t give him up. We had a strange bond; both craving a freedom that was hard to get.

I eased my grip on the reins and lowered them against his broad shoulders. I took my feet out of the stirrups and relaxed myself as much as possible. I shut my eyes and breathed in the sea salt and sandy air. I counted to ten and tried not to let myself tense up as I felt King’s back doing so underneath me.

It was an unusual tacit but letting King know he had control was the best way to deal with his anger. To try and push him now and be hard on him would result in him rebelling. His mighty body would rear and buck, he would throw me and race off, gaining the freedom he was all ways craving.

‘Hey there, King,’ I whispered, ‘it’s okay. Good boy, King. You’re all right.’

I touched him gently and give him a small pat. King nodded his head, the reins shaking as he did so. He give a grumbling sound that I felt vibrating into me.

‘I know you want to run and we shall. But the tide is low today and I want to go on The Grey Causeway and see what’s left on the island.’

King grinded his teeth against the metal bit and turned his head towards the causeway.

I took my chance, pulling the reins to the right side and giving King a small kick with my left foot, I told him, ‘walk on’ and clicked my tongue.

King obeyed and walked on to the remains of the road. I let the reins and my legs relax again. It had to seem like King had made the choice, not me. It wasn’t safe for him to run along the tumbled, slippy rocks, so I let him pick his own way.

The Grey Causeway was about a mile long and led to an island. Once, it might have been taller and bigger but now it was medium size rocky outcrop and at high tide the sea flooded the lowest parts. Greenery crowded the island and as we got closer the structure of a manor house could be made out clearly against the sky.

To Be Continued….

 

 

(Please note; this story was originally inspired by https://scvincent.com/2020/05/07/thursday-photo-prompt-causeway-writephoto. I made the choice to not use this story for my submission to this prompt because I wanted to further explore where this story was going and spend time creating a more polished narrative.

I decided not to use the imagine that came with the prompt but to find my own from a free to use photo site; https://pixabay.com/photos/st-michael-s-mount-cornwall-causeway-4394648.

I have actually visited St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall on holiday and have on past holidays gone horse riding on beaches and coastal tracks which further inspired this setting of this story. 

The photographs below are some I took of my visit to St. Michael’s Mount in 2012. All these photos are copyright to me. To find out more about the history go to https://www.stmichaelsmount.co.uk/).

 

 

Lycanthropy #AtoZChallenge

wolf-3022813_1920

Lycanthropy – supernatural transformation of a person into a wolf

The full moon was rising in a squid ink sky. Dakota could sense it, his skin was crawling and the creature shifted his muscles and bones as it got ready to realise.

Dakota drove out to the forest were rain still dripped off the spring tree leaves. He followed an old hunters’ track and parked in front of the long abandoned cabin. He got out, took his clothes off and left everything in the truck.

Dakota walked deep into the forest, not worried about getting lost as his keen smell would led him back to the truck. The creature was always with him and he could use its’ supernatural senses anytime Dakota wanted. Unfortunately, there was a price to pay and that was what the creature always demanded – freedom.

He didn’t know what it was about the cycle of the moon that the creature seemed to follow. He guessed it was part of the curse. Dakota had tried everything to keep the creature in but every full moon the creature took total control and there was nothing he could do.

Out here in the forest was the safest place to be. There was space for the creature to roam and to not come across anybody. Dakota felt a twist in his gut, he remembered everything about these nights like he was watching a live movie. So far he hadn’t killed a person but he dreaded doing so.

Pain raced through his body and Dakota dropped to the ground. Everything in his body was on fire. He gritted his teeth and tried not to cry out in pain as the transformation happened. He felt his spine changing first then his limbs and head. It took seconds but it felt like years.

Dakota slummed on the damp soil, breathing deeply and felt the numbness kicking in. It was a relief. Darkness cover his sight and he feel unconscious.

When he stirred, he had fully changed. The creature’s eyes were sharp and able to see in the dark. His tall ears pricked to all sounds of the forest which had the same volume as a heavy metal concert. The creature’s nose sniffed deeply the so many wonderful smells of live. The creature shook it’s body and felt the mass covering of fur fly then settle back into place.

The creature shifted soil beneath its paws. The urge to hunt and kill growing. Throwing a massive head back, the creature let rip a monster’s howl.

It was free once more.

(Inspired by; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com)

Insouciant #FridayFictioneers #AtoZChallenge

Insouciant; free from worry, concern or anxiety.

Knowing my attacker was locked away in jail meant I could take my nightly walks in peace. I hadn’t realised how fully the event had effected me and how much I had missed being able to take my dogs for a walk without having to look over my shoulder all the time.

I took a deep breath of spring evening air and felt for the first time in a year free from worry. It was like I had my freedom back and I hadn’t even realised that he had taken that as well as my body that night.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/04/03/5-april-2019/ with thanks).

The Chestnut Mare

woman-3432069_1920

To Penny there was nothing like being on the back of a running horse. The power of the mare under her, the wind whipping her hair, the warmth of the summer evening. It was the escape that really made Penny happy. Here there was no technology, no stresses, she could be alone and herself.

The horse ran on, the short grass and soft soil making it easier for her. Penny thought she was enjoying the run too. The weather had been far too hot later for such activities and the mare wasn’t one to be fenced up for days. They could be free together in the wilderness.

Advice #1linerweds

arrangement-2794696_1920

My advice to anybody who asks me; to get out and be free from everything once in awhile.

(Inspired by; https://willowdot21.wordpress.com/2018/05/23/one-liner-wednesday-advice/ with thanks).

Spider

spider-2321169_1920

This morning whilst on the loo, I looked into the bathtub and saw a spider. It was struggling to get out; every time it slipped back down it would scramble back up again. I thought about turning on the tap and washing him away. Though that seemed to me I   a total waste of his efforts to escape. Instead, once I was finished, I used an empty loo roll to scoop him out with and setting him free. A thought came to me; weren’t we all trapped like the spider waiting for someone or something to set us free?

Ukiyo #atozchallenge

pexels-photo-55711

Ukiyo; ‘the floating world’, living in the moment, detached from the bothers of life. 

It was a taste of freedom to be floating so high without a care.

Empty #writephoto

When the moors were empty, it made them far better to walk upon, Wish decided. There weren’t noisy children running around or dogs barking or horses clopping everywhere. There was just the wind blowing through the dry grasses and heather. The sweet smell of just flowering plants and spring. Birds singing off in the distance and nothing more.

Wish came to a stop and looked around. She spread her arms out and threw back her head. The sky above was a lovely pale morning blue. Not a cloud insight, she noticed. Smiling, Wish dropped her head and arms, she got back to walking, feeling totally calm and satisfied.

 

(Prompt from: https://scvincent.com/2017/03/23/thursday-photo-prompt-empty-writephoto/ With thanks).

Horizon #writephoto

horizon

The horizon didn’t look like anything Peaches had imagined it to be. She had thought it was going to bright and colourful, like in the old photos and film reals she had seen, instead though it was a dull blue-grey.

‘Not the promises I was led to believe,’ she muttered.

She lent her too thin body forward and rested her chin on her knees. Her arms were tightly wrapped behind her knees, keeping the long wool skirt in place and stopping the strong breeze from getting in.

Around her all the children and some of the adults from the Church Of The Redeemed Evangelists were splashing in the salty water or playing in the sand or exploring the rocks and caves. Cries of delight but also screams of pain could be heard amongst the babble of voices.

Peaches ignored them all, feeling tried and empty of the hope she had been holding in for so long.

‘What’s wrong with you?’ a sharp female voice asked.

With only moving her eyes, Peaches looked up and realised she wasn’t the one being addressed. Before her was a small woman, wearing the clothes of a Senior Sister; a long black dress which completely covered her body and a black head dress with a grey trim. Next to her was a small girl with blonde hair in a blue wool dress who was crying and rubbing her face.

‘My eyes hurt!’ the girl cried.

‘I knew this trip to the surface world would bring nothing but troubles,’ the Senior Sister spoke loudly, ‘and what have you learnt out here? Nothing. It would have been better to remain in the Temple. Come along, child. We shall wash your face.’

Peaches watched the Senior Sister taking the girl’s hand and leading her away to the little camp set up in a sheltered spot. There were two other Sisters sat there and from their clothes Peaches could tell they were Mothers, the highest of the female order.

‘I don’t want that to be my fate,’ Peaches whispered.

She looked at the horizon again, it still seemed bleak. However, there could only be freedom on the other side.

Peaches cast a long look around then slowly got up. She made as if she was just walking along the rough sand. Finally, though she was out of sight and trying to figure out how she could reach her horizon.

 

 

(Inspired by a prompt from; https://scvincent.com/2017/03/09/thursday-photo-prompt-horizon-writephoto. With thanks).