When asked whether I believe in ghosts, I have had to say that I do, at least since 1998, when we bought a haunted house. I didn't realise until after we moved in, and the FH always refused to believe, but my gut feeling was corroborated by some one else later on....
We bought a three storey house, just two doors away from the house we lived in. With the help of a loan from my dad and a mortgage, we bought the new house before we actually sold the one we owned, in which all our money was tied up. We bought the new house on 1st August, and it was the autumn before we agreed a sale on the other house, with an entry date in January. In Scotland, the entry date was part of the offer process, so we knew we had a definite deadline to make the other house habitable. It was an old house, over 200 years old, built for the Tullis Russell papermaking family of Glenrothes.
Now, the other house, Lynwood, had indeed been inhabited by a family with several [four or even five] daughters but they had all grown up and moved away, and the couple had split up, so the lady of the house was there on her own. They had lived there for over 40 years, and a lot of work was needed to bring it up to what we expect today, or even expected in 2000!
Since we and two boys lodging with us would be moving in, we needed to focus on the kitchen/dining arrangements in the basement, and the bedrooms under the eaves. In the basement, the FH ripped everything out and took the house back to bare stone walls, replasterboarding everything, installing a new central heating system, new cooker, a new kitchen, the works! He worked long hours on it, with only amateur help from local "old boys" both well into their seventies, but both very hard working. My dad came up from England and spent time helping too, encouraged by my mother, who was worried to death by the enormity of the restoration project we had taken on.
In the attic space, we created a master en-suite bedroom, two single bedrooms and a family bathroom from a space which had previously just been two large bedrooms and a boxroom. We had to install a fireman's window in one of the rooms which was a Velux in which a fireman wearing breathing apparatus could enter, such were the building regs. It gave us amazing views across the town , taking in the spires of the churches.
We just about got all this done in time to move, and we just left the middle floor, where there was a big sitting room, a study, a smaller sitting room and a family bathroom. We moved in and piled boxes and building equipment into those rooms, as there was no outside storage sheds or garage at all. The FH would build a garage in the months ahead but for now, it was all stored inside the house!
That middle floor was where I felt incredibly uneasy. I would scoot around the corner from the stairs up from the basement and breath a sigh of relief when I gained the top landing where the bedrooms were, because it was usually on the corner that I would glimpse her, out of the corner of my eye. As one came up from the basement, the big sitting room was to the right, and there was a window in one's eyeline, to the right of the fireplace. Glancing into the room as one went past, it was there that I would "see" her, an old woman, sitting in a rocking chair, shawl about her shoulders, patiently rocking herself.
As we began to work on that floor, we changed things, we took up floorboards and we moved out forty years of accumulated dust and cobwebs, and the amazing thing was that as we disturbed the settled energy of forty years, we seem to have dislodged her. As the house was renewed, revitalised and refreshed, she went, completely went.
And to prove that I was not totally daft, later in 1999, after I had given birth to the YFG and the FH had had his transplant, a neighbour brought round a young lady who had known the previous family and had spent many summers staying there with them. The neighbour wanted to show the lady the transformation that we had wrought on the house, but I sat breastfeeding the YFG and the FH was asleep one afternoon, so I asked the neighbour to show the woman around herself, before they came back to the room where we were. The young lady was pleased with what we had done and marvelled at the transformation, and then she said, "And the ghost has gone!" to which I calmly replied that I thought we had moved her on, quite unintentionally and unwittingly, with all the renovation work - that the house had changed so much that there was no energy left for her to cling on to any longer.
I talked to that house, quite the most sentimental thing I have ever felt, but on the morning we left it in 2000, I walked around and told it how much it meant to me, how sorry I was to be leaving it, and how I wished it well. It seemed to thank us for revitalising it, and I confess that leaving that house destroyed any feeling for houses that I had - a house to me now is just somewhere to live, and I haven't yet found another one I have loved with that kind of passion.
What We Ate - 14/11 - 20/11
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