Saturday, 20 February 2021

 Despite the endless rain and cold, spring is at last making an appearance. Snowdrops have been pushing through the sodden earth ( what plucky little flowers!) and little green buds have been bursting from the stems and branches of the shrubs in the garden.

My thoughts  should be turning to seed brochures to plan this years vegetable plot but looking out the window at the pouring rain I can't just get enthusiastic...  so I will read my folklore books instead and dream of warm spring days.

So I am waiting for the Cuckoo to arrive, might have a bit of time to wait as it traditionally doesn't appear until April.

The cuckoo comes in April

Sings a song in May

Then in June another tune

And then she flies away

It is quite apt that the Snowdrop is also known as the Flower of Hope as we are all hoping; after the past months, for better times. 

Other names for Snowdrops: Candlemas Bells, February Fair Maids, Snowbells and Snowpiercers. On the Welsh borders they are gathered to purify the house but in some counties this is a no no as they are known as Death flowers, maybe because they grow in so many graveyards and recall the white clothes traditionally worn for the death of a child.

It is one of the first flowers to appear at this time of year. Its beauty symbolises purity.

'The snowdrop in purest white arraie, first rears its head on Candlemas daie'  Circa 1500

The second of February is Candlemas Day, St Mary's Feast of the Candles. Officially the Feast of Purification and the presentation of the Christ in the Temple. 

When Christ was presented to the aged Simeon, forty days after his birth, he prophesied that  Jesus would be a light to lighten the Gentiles. So hence the candlelit services and processions.

Back to gardening... it is on this day that we are supposed to plant beans...don't think so!

Just found this in The Perpetual Almanack of Folklore by Charles Kightley

One day in February in 1799 a passing farmer noticing a handkerchief hanging on a bush, rescued Elizabeth Woodcock of Impington, Cambridgshire from the snowy hole in which she had taken refuge from a blizzard eight days previously. Drifting snow had covered her to a depth of six feet and she had become to weak to climb out; during her confinement her only sustenance was two pinches of snuff!

So avoid travelling by night in snowy weather...

"For she was all froze in with frost

Eight days and nights poor soul

But when they gave her up for lost

They found her down the hole"

One has to wonder what was in the snuff??

Saturday, 13 February 2021

Queenie and Sybil, The Psychic Sisters. 

Ghosts, witches, hell hounds and all manner of paranormal mysteries to get your teeth into...

The whole series of their adventures is available on Amazon either as a kindle download or in paperback.

If you wish to just whet your appetite on the first in the series The Lavender Witch, it is available as a free download until the 16th of February.

Thursday, 22 October 2020

October Tales

 It's that time again, pumpkins, falling leaves, roaring fires and of course Halloween or Samhain

 as it was traditionally called. We all know the lore behind Halloween but there are 

many tales from this season that have been forgotten.

And here are just a few...

October 21st is the Feast of St Ursula and her eleven thousand Virgins.

St Ursula ( Latin for little female bear) was a British Princess who was ordered by her father King Dionotus of Domnonia from south west England to set sail to meet her future husband the pagan Governor Conan Meriadoc of Amorica. It is said that Dionotus received a request to supply wives for the settlers of the newly founded region of Amorica  (Brittany) from Conan himself., so he sent his daughter to become his wife and thousands more women for the men.    But on the way there a strange and miraculous storm carried them all the way across the sea in a single day to a Gaulish port. Wishing to give thanks for this strange miracle Ursula declared that she would make a pilgrimage  and headed to Rome with her followers where she persuaded the then current Pope to join them. Nearing Cologne, which at the time was besieged by Huns, the Princess and her companions were caught. Refusing to bed the soldiers or to become their wives the virgins as punishment were beheaded and Ursula was shot and killed by an arrow, 21st October 383.

The Basilica  of St Ursula in Cologne holds the alleged relics of Ursula and her companions.

October 25th is St Crispin and Crispinian's Day; Agincourt Day

Born to a noble Roman family in the 3rd century AD they fled persecution for their faith ending up in Soissons in France. Here they preached Christianity to the Gauls while making shoes by night to support themselves. This irked the Governor Rictus Varus who had them tortured and thrown into the river with millstones a round their necks. Miraculously they survived only to be beheaded by the Emperor.

So they became the Patron Saints of shoemakers and their day is the Cobblers Feast or 'Snobs' Holiday.

'The twenty fifth of October

Cursed be the Cobbler

That goes to bed sober'

And of course it is the anniversary of the great English Victory at Agincourt in 1415.

'This day is called the Feast of Crispian

And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by

From this day to the ending of the world

But we in it shall be remembered.'

Shakespeare....of course.

October 28th St Simon and St Jude's Day

Saints Simon and Jude were among Christ's Twelve Apostles, believed to be the shepherds to whom the angles announced Jesus's birth.                                                                                                          Simon who is supposed to have been martyred by being sawn in half is the patron saint of woodcutters while Jude is the patron of lost causes although the reason behind this is not known. It is always said to rain heavily on this day.

During the day if wishful to gain knowledge of your future spouse, peel an apple in one long strip turn round three times with the peel in your right hand repeating...

'St Simon and Jude, on you I intrude

By this paring I hold to discover

Without any delay, to tell me this day

The first letter of my own true love' 

Drop the peel over your left shoulder and it will form the initial of your future spouse's surname, if it breaks into many pieces you will probably never marry.

Okay now I am going to be irreverent, sorry...all this talk of saints!

To ward off evil spirits during Halloween according to a text written in 1688 the use of a spayed bitch was considered to be very wholesome in a house. Homeowners of that era had a strong belief that it it kept away evil spirits from haunting a house. At a haunted house in Cranborne in Dorset 1686 occupants were driven away by the strange happenings within. It didn't stop until the next tenant arrived with a spayed bitch in tow; according to reports all haunting activity stopped while the dog was in the house.

It was also believed if the dog started growling and the owner could see nothing, it would be possible to see the ghost by looking through the dog's ears!

I was going to stop there but then I found a strange story of a bridge in Scotland where locals mutts go to commit suicide! A Victorian bridge built in  1895 spans the Overtoun Burn, it is here that reportedly hundreds of dogs have thrown themselves to their death. Locals, who say that the area has a strange atmosphere, believe that they driven to it by the ghost  'The White Lady of Overtoun'

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Kindle Countdown Deal for The Doll

 The Doll #4 in The Psychic Sisters series is now on a Kindle Countdown Deal.

The elderly sisters have their hands full this time with a mysterious doll, a centuries old curse and a vengeful witch, and all before they have their second cup of tea!

Each book is a stand alone story so don't worry if you haven't read any of Queenie and Sybil's previous hair raising adventures!

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Locations featured in The Haunting of Stoke Water, # 3 in the Psychic Sisters series


A strange evil lurks within the old building; to some it appears an innocent  child 

but Queenie and Sybil see the truth, that it is pure evil.

They soon realise that it has a sinister motive in befriending the child: to steal her soul.

Using their occult knowledge they begin to uncover the truth  surrounding the old Victorian building

 and the significance of a murder that happened 150 years earlier.

In the book Queenie and Sybil visit the church at Stoke Abbott 

in an effort to track down the grave of the murdered girl.

This fresh water spring runs directly out of the hillside and can be drunk, hence the cup. Many years ago when I was just a nipper the water became polluted so was not safe to use. In times past the villagers would gather here at the lions head to collect their water for the day.

The yew in the churchyard where the ghosts of the children appear.
( Visited the graveyard just last week and the iron railings have been removed)

Gerrards Hill Stoke Abbott. The murderer runs from the scene of the crime up Anchor Lane, which we show on the video, ( link below) across Waddon Hill,  a Roman  hill fort, ( it has been more than half a century since I played as a child amongst the ramparts  and ditches on the hill)
and across to Gerrards Hill, down Wood Lane and back to Stoke Water House.

Wood lane, incredibly steep sided. Many years ago we kept cattle in the field on the right. The livestock was checked every day but on one occasion we had one cow go missing. It was found eventually; it had fallen off the edge and was suspended in one of the large trees growing from the side of the lane. Needless to say the animal was dead so that just shows how steep the sides were.

An Old photo of the workhouse; a grim place!
It is here that the hauntings take place.
See below for the link to the book on Amazon

And here...drum roll! is the link for our video!


Tuesday, 25 February 2020

The Three Spinsters Stone

The name drives from the local  legend of three spinsters living nearby, not spinsters 
as we know the term but 'spinsters' in the woollen sense...wool spinners. 

The tale goes that one morning the three women set out to take their baskets of spun 
wool to the local wool trader and stopped for a rest in the lane bordering 
the 'Three Stones' field. 
For some reason they decided to re-erect the three granite slabs then replace 
the huge capstone on top, hence the name Spinsters Rock!
Although in 1848 Samuel Rowe suggested the theory that the Three Spinsters is a link 
with the three Fatal Sisters, Urd, Verdani and Skuld of Norse Mythology  who lived 
at the base of Yggdrasil, The World Tree. 
They were said to weave the destiny of the world and would visit any newborn to 
determine its destiny.

The Spinsters Rock is a Neolithic chambered tomb, kown as a Dolmen or Cromlech, found on Dartmoor near Drewsteighton and  is the best surviving example in the county.
The word Dolmen is derived from the Celtic words daul, a table, and maen, a stone.
Originally covered by a mound of earth or stones. The capstone alone wighs 16 tons and is 3.65m long by 2.7 wide.

The tomb collapsed in 1862 after the surrounding field was ploughed during a very wet season prior to planting a crop of winter wheat, yes they had bad weather then as well! In fact the summer of 1860 and 1862 was recorded as being  the wettest and coldest across England since their records began.
There is divided opinion who was responsible for its restoration either local Vicar Rev W. Ponsford or a Mrs Bragg of Fulford.

We visited this site a few weeks ago , it quite an impressive Dolmen and the picture does not do it justice. It was being guarded by three malevolent sheep and later that night a fierce storm blew up, the wind howled and shrieked and I could hear 'fell voices on the wind' so I think we might have disturbed the three spinsters in some way!

Saturday, 15 February 2020

The Doll-Elizabeth Andrews- Review

The Doll is the fourth in the Psychic Sisters series - Queenie and Sybil, the tea guzzling sisters who also happen to be witches.

Queenie has her peaceful Sunday afternoon interrupted by the arrival of the 
local Vicar, Paul Goodfellow. 
He has recently come into possession of a strange doll, the previous owner, a young women committed suicide in a most horrific way and her mother is convinced that the
 doll was in some part responsible. 
She begs the Vicar to perform an exorcism on the doll before leaving it with him. 
Paul, although he is very sceptical, agrees to take the doll. But the doll begins to 
affect his three young daughters and following the advice of one of his parishioners 
he decides to consult the local witch...Queenie.
What she finds worries her enormously; it is no ordinary doll, it has a killing 
curse attached to it. 
One that was never completed.
When the original owner of the doll, a powerful witch forces her way into 
Queenie's house in search of the doll so that she can complete the curse and wreak 
vengeance of the intended victim, Queenie realises that she is facing the 
most formidable adversary that she has ever met.
Although she has the help of her sister, Sybil and Paul to thwart the witch, her coven 
and the Hell Hounds that she sets against them Queenie has to dig deep and
 summon up all her knowledge of the occult to defeat this evil women.