There are more things in heaven and earth…

Image result for wisteria

We had moved to a little house up a valley, where we overlooked the glittering Firth up which Captain James Cook had sailed as he explored the new land he’d discovered, and where we also looked back and up into the misty mountains where clouds formed and dissolved in hot sunshine. A tumbling stream hurtled through the valley below the house, and the sound of the rushing water mingled with the sweet song of tuis and bellbirds, and later, a thrush warbling to the clear blue evening.

The house had a rambling garden, with beehives in one corner, and lemon, orange and grapefruit trees in the other; and everywhere flowers and shrubs… camellias and azaleas, and one glorious purple wisteria which had spread into the trees around the garden and which engulfed us in fragrant scent and a purple curtain in spring.

My husband worked in the city and came home at weekends, which I loved as it gave me time to write as much as I wanted, eat when I remembered, and dream and wander the valley with the little dogs. Then I became conscious that we had a ghost in the house.

In fact, I heard it every night, but just pushed the knowledge into the back of my mind. After several weeks, I suddenly realised that I’d been hearing these sounds every night after I’d gone to bed, and it was always the same – someone walking across the sitting room which was the original part of the house.

We knew the house had been built for an old lady called Amy, who lived alone in this valley then, though Ben and Flo, the Maori couple living at the gate to the private road up the valley remembered her. She had planted the camellias and apple trees and wisteria which made the garden so appealing, but finally, her health and her mind gave out. Her son took her away, and she died some time later in a mental home.

I knew the ghost would have to be Amy, who hadn’t wanted to leave, and still didn’t. I waited till the next night, and then as soon as I heard the footsteps, I sat up in bed, and called through to Amy. ” Amy, you’re alright now, you know. You feel better now, but there are all the people you love waiting for you. They’re all waiting for you in your new home.

“You could stay here, but they’d miss you, and you’d miss them. They’re waiting for you in your wonderful new home. So go to the light now, Amy, go towards the light, and you’ll find your loved ones and your new home. May you be happy in your new home Amy, may you be happy with all your loved ones. Turn to the light, and walk to the light and the love.” And then I settled down for the night and went to sleep. As I suspected, we never heard another sound.

Some people see ghosts, some people sense them, in this case I heard the unmistakable sounds of a person/ghost. But I don’t have that sixth sense that some do.

A few years later, having moved back to the city to be near our new grandchildren, I popped into my daughter’s house, to slip a tiny chocolate bar on each child’s pillow for them to find when they went to bed. (bad for their teeth I know, but good for their souls). The youngest was still at home at two and a half, with his nanny. She was quite upset when I walked in.

The playroom was upstairs at the other end of the big house and my little grandson loved playing up there. His nanny told me he’d just been down and told her he’d been playing with the black man again, and she’d rushed upstairs thinking she’d left the front door open, and an intruder had slipped in. My grandson followed her. There was no-one in the room, and she heaved a sigh of relief. And then was transfixed.

My grandson, pointed to a corner, and said, “there he is”. He picked up a book and walked over to the corner, and held the book open, showing the invisible figure the pages, and talking to him.

“What’s he like?” gasped his nanny. My grandson described a tall dark- skinned man, with patterns (tattoos) on his face, and said he was wearing a grass skirt. Persuading the little boy to come downstairs and have a snack, they left the room, and this was when I arrived. We agreed we had always felt some sort of presence up there.

I told her it was okay, and went upstairs. I walked up to the corner, and spoke to the invisible energy as I had talked to Amy, tailoring my words to a Maori warrior. When I felt complete, I went back downstairs, and the nanny and I agreed we wouldn’t discuss it with anyone else, and unsettle them. And that was the end of the story. Occasionally I’ve felt the presence of dead Maori warriors – several around our house by the sea, which was a perfect look-out point for warring tribes. I always say the same thing, and I always have a sense of peace when I’ve finished… imagination? Who knows.

What matters to me is that if there are puzzled, anxious trapped energies, they should be released. There are so many instances of haunted battle fields all over the world, that we can’t all be deluded. My father used to worry about soldiers killed with no time to prepare, fearing they would be stuck in the moment of death, unable to move on.

When I lived in Malaya, there was a notorious field in Ipoh, where apparently British soldiers had been chained and starved and tortured by the Japanese. Malayans who lived nearby, claimed they could hear voices praying in a foreign language, reciting poetry, singing … later the sounds were identified as being the Lord’s Prayer, Shakespeare, and hymns. Hauntings were quite a common phenomenon when I lived in Malaya… unquiet spirits, stuck in time it so often seemed.

It always bothers me every time I hear the report of teenage Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife, who was suspected of having affairs, and inevitably would be sentenced by her psychopathic husband to be beheaded, running along a corridor at Hampton Court shrieking in terror when she was arrested. She wrongly thought the King was in the Chapel, and wanted to beg for mercy.  Her ghost is said to still be seen or heard in this corridor, shrieking in terror. Why don’t those who do rescue work, or Deliverance as I’m told the phrase is, go and rescue her, I wonder?

Shakespeare was right when he wrote in Hamlet: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy“. I haven’t used the word para-normal talking of these things, because who knows what is normal in our mysterious world? When we are open to possibilities, different layers of time, shadowy levels of existence, and other planes of being, we can admit that there really are more things in heaven and earth than most of us can even dream of.

Food for threadbare gourmets

Short cuts. As a lazy cook I’ve evolved a number of ways of producing food with as little effort as possible. Some people might find these short cuts useful.

  1. I love hot scones with strawberry jam, apple and other fruit crumbles, mince tarts, made from my own pastry. But what always puts me off, is the labour of crumbling the butter, and making breadcrumbs of the flour and butter, and getting the stuff under my nails. Hey presto – bring the butter out of the fridge – and grate it on a grater. It then mixes perfectly well with the flour and other ingredients without having to do any more…
  2. Chopping parsley with it jumping away from the knife bores me. I used to use Mrs Beeton’s tip – plunging the stalks into boiling water for a minute, and then chopping them. This turns the parsley a brilliant emerald green and looks spectacular. Nowadays I go for an easier way, I simply put a bunch of parsley in the deep freeze, and bring out whatever I need, still frozen. I crumble it with my fingers, as it breaks easily, and then end up chopping it finely – quick and easy.
  3. Now that I’ve mastered – or am mastering – using a micro-wave, I’m evolving short cuts here. Instead of frying onions for ages until soft, I simply put them in the micro-wave dotted with butter and covered, for four or five minutes… easy… and instead of laboriously re-heating minced beef in the oven for shepherd’s pie – in the micro-wave it goes, and then I spread the hot mashed potato on the hot minced beef, and brown it under the grill for a few mins.

Food for thought

Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man will not himself find peace. Albert Schweitzer.

He also said :

There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.


Filed under consciousness, cookery/recipes, history, life and death, philosophy, Thoughts on writing and life, uncategorised, Uncategorized

17 responses to “There are more things in heaven and earth…

  1. You have a very practical approach to ghosts. I haven’t personally encountered any (perhaps in my childhood but I am not sure) and don’t wish too. One thing which I have done since I lived in Nepal is have a house blessing. I think that is a settling influence.


    • Practical? I suppose so… I actually care about lost souls, so I don’t find them unsettling, and am happy to encounter them if I can help…. I ‘m sure that blessing a house is a blessing !!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I suppose I meant practical in the sense that you see that soul has a problem and you do something about it, rather than shiver in fear as I probably would. Caring and practical. 🙂


  2. Hi Valerie… I am enjoying your ghost stories.
    Please put me out of my misery (without having to consult Google)… what was the second thing Schweitzer thought were the two means of refuge from the miseries of life? It is missing from the bottom of your post. 🙂


  3. Dear Valerie,

    You’ve given me much to think about. Thank you.
    Ironically I posted a ghost story this week. Of course, mine is fiction.
    I agree with Schweitzer about music bringing peace…for me classical music…particularly the ethereal pieces by Chopin. As for cats, love them but they make me sneeze and my eyes itch. 😉




    • Hello Rochelle, thank you as ever for reading and commenting,.. I didn’l’ intend to reply until I had read your ghost story but alas, another good intention bites the dust… hope you had a satisfying birthday, and the next one doesn’t come round too soon !!! Mine are coming far too fast !
      Love Valerie


  4. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy“.
    Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man will not himself find peace. Albert Schweitzer.

    Like you I have always tried to help those left behind find their way to the other side….the most recent experiences concern our house our oldest daughter lives in—even Terry has heard his Aunt Benita calling to him.
    Uncle Harry, Benita’s husband used to walk the house continually…my oldest daughter and I tried to encourage him to go home…go to where Benita now is (we gave her permission to leave…and we promised to take care of her beloved property forever as long as we may live) BUT Harry just won’t go. Finally over time Shannon got her horse Romeo…it wasn’t long after Romeo came to live that Harry left the house. We don’t think he went to the other side ( he is a VERY stubborn person in life and in spirit) but is now with Romeo in the barn. Both Romeo and Harry (and Shannon) seem extremely content.
    I could go on and on…you understand.
    Love you!


  5. I’ve never lived anywhere where I felt the presence of someone I could not see. But wandering through old France I have on occasions shivered at the thought of the people who wandered the same streets hundreds of years before me. Or was it a shiver?
    I love your shortcut about butter as it is a pain to me too as a baker.
    And of course, the quote about music and cats resonate very much with me, a lover of both.


  6. Great stories Valerie, I would have loved to experience some of these things!


  7. Angela

    Ahh….music & cats….definitely soul essentials! No we haven’t actually met Valerie, but you’ve been in my life since the days of Signposts for Solo’s (doesn’t THAT just date us! )


  8. Oh Angela, what a gift your comment was.. to know that some of us have travelled together for so long, even though we haven;t been in contact. Tank you, I always enjoy your comments when you pop up, and will read them with even more relish now I know what a long history we have – very best wishes, Valerie”’
    PS would love to know how your life has shaped since Signposts…???


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