If you didn’t know it was there you could have driven right past it. Totally hidden behind an effective screen of overgrown hedges and trees was the saddest house I had ever seen. It must have been deserted for years if the extent of the undergrowth was anything to go by.
It was a lovely sunny afternoon and it felt as though I had walked through a magical portal into a fairy tale world. The air was hot and eerily still; the whole place had a timeless air about it, as if it had been this way for a very long time. As I walked about, I had to be careful where I put my feet as it was hard to make out any paths or garden boundaries.
Everything seemed to be on the verge of falling down under the weight of Nature’s finest. She was doing her best to take back what was once hers and hers alone. It was a large house and must have been lovely once, now it seemed to be apologising for being here in the first place.
As I walked slowly around the impressively large garden, I was rendered speechless by the spread of vegetation that climbed, crawled and invaded everything in sight. Here and there were plants I vaguely recognised, like the overgrown Jasmine and Wisteria that were doing their level best to cover the house.
The garden sprawled all around the house and for some distance behind it. Everything I looked at was green, so many wonderful shades of green I felt privileged to be there. I was not invited but felt welcomed, much as an old pensioner would welcome a rare visitor.
I didn’t intend to look through any of the windows as that can sometimes be just too sad for words. I didn’t need to see a forgotten toy or piece of furniture to remind me of the life that once happened there. I didn’t want to see but felt compelled to look anyway. But the house was completely empty; nothing had been left behind and in a way that was sadder still.
As I took all of these photographs, I thought I caught sight of an old grey haired woman looking out of one of the windows at me. It was only later that I realised the woman was me, but for a moment there it felt as though I was in a magical place, and it was with a great deal of reverence that I walked away, leaving Mother Nature to her own devices…
After Tom and Michelle Cleveland move into their recently built, modern townhouse, their housewarming party is disrupted when a drunken game with an Ouija board goes wrong and summons a sinister poltergeist, Estelle, who died in 1904.
Estelle makes her presence known in a series of terrifying events, culminating in her attacking Tom in his sleep with a knife. But, Estelle isn’t alone. Who are the shadows lurking in the background – one in an old-fashioned slouch hat and the other, a soldier, carrying a rifle?
After discovering their house has been built on the site of one of the original farms in Irene, Michelle becomes convinced that the answer to her horrifying visions lie in the past. She must unravel the stories of the three phantoms’ lives, and the circumstances surrounding their untimely deaths during the Second Anglo Boer War, in order to understand how they are tied together and why they are trapped in the world of ghosts between life and death. As the reasons behind Estelle’s malevolent behaviour towards Tom unfold, Michelle’s marriage comes under severe pressure and both their lives are threatened.
Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a South African writer and poet specialising in historical, paranormal, and horror novels and short stories. She is an avid reader in these genres and her writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.
Roberta has short stories and poems in several anthologies and has 2 published novels, Through the Nethergate, a historical supernatural fantasy, and A Ghost and His Gold, a historical paranormal novel set in South Africa.
Roberta has 9 children’s books published under the name Robbie Cheadle.
Roberta was educated at the University of South Africa where she achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. She was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.
Roberta has worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and has written 7 publications relating to investing in Africa. She has won several awards over her 20-year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.
A Ghost and his Gold is based in South Africa.
I was expecting a jolly good ghost story, but I wasn’t disappointed, for this story is so much more than that.
An interesting combination of the paranormal entwined with history. History that had to be closely and accurately researched to ensure that all the details are portrayed sensitively.
In the beginning of the story, we learn about two ghosts, soldiers who fought and died on opposite sides of the second Boer war. We learn a lot about this war from these two ghosts. Robert, a British soldier, and a Boer called Pieter. Their heart-breaking duel story is brilliantly written, as is the sad story of Estelle, the third and very vengeful ghost and daughter of Pieter.
Far from ordinary, this story is a complicated tale of revenge.
I wish I could forget the horrors of the Boer War, but I will never forget these character’s.
Just remind me never to play with a Ouija board!
I believe a filter for the brain should be available on the NHS
I have met a few people of late that could do with one
I must admit, I was right on this occasion
The monkey cage was filthy
I could sense their hunger as they huddled in the corner
Trying to get away from the cold
It is never normally like this
I left my complaint at the office
They are shorthanded and couldn’t deny
That some of the cages had fallen behind
I wish I could help tidy up
Before I could finish the sentence
She asked which days I could volunteer
We won’t let you stray, we will take care of you,
My mind said, like you have the cages.
That was unkind
Suddenly, I felt eager to start helping
I could try three days a week
I sat on the bench under the mulberry tree
Wondering what I had let myself in for
The next day I was shoved fully grown
from the womb Into the monkey cage.
Now I had to put my money where my mouth was…
© Anita Dawes 2021
My head, and house are in chaos, so I thought I would post something I wouldn’t have to think about. This is a post from 24th August 2020…
Freedom of the Road 2020
I read a post the other day where they were talking about the wonderful sense of freedom to be found behind the wheel of a car.
Immediately, I was transported back to my own independent, working woman days when I owned a car.
Learning to drive was a nightmare for me, as it takes me a while to learn anything new, but once mastered, the world became my oyster. Not only did I drive myself to work every day, my family found a newfound freedom with that car, as we visited so many interesting places.
Becoming an experienced driver opened a very different world for me, a world where I finally felt competent and capable, something I had never felt before.
It wasn’t all roses though, there were a few hair-raising experiences along the way.
Someone must have dropped something from the bridge, just as I drove underneath. The windscreen splintered into a million pieces, leaving me in a state of shock and unable to see anything in front of the car.
I had been travelling at about 65 mph and for a few seconds I froze. I had no memory of anyone behind me, but my instinct was to slam on the brakes in an emergency stop. The silence after the car stopped was deafening, and I sat there stunned, with my eyes shut.
I became aware of someone shouting, and when I opened my eyes, a furious man was standing beside the car, demanding to know what the hell I thought I was doing.
I couldn’t answer him. I was still in shock and confused but I remember thinking, what the hell did he think I was doing?
More to the point, I wonder what he would have done in the same situation?
He stomped back to his car and drove off. At that point, I desperately wanted to go home too, so somehow, I punched a hole in the splintered glass and drove away.
Another time, we were just leaving the garage in our car, feeling rather pleased that it had miraculously passed its MOT. It was a lovely sunny morning and our spirits were high. We were looking forward to a visit to the coast that afternoon.
We were waiting at the top of a narrow exit ramp, when we saw a rather large laundry van at the bottom of the ramp.
We wondered what the van was doing. Surely, he wasn’t going to reverse up the ramp?
Oh yes, he was, and he obviously hadn’t seen us waiting at the top. He continued to reverse, we expected him to stop at any minute and when he showed no sign of slowing down, we started thumping the horn like a pair of crazy people.
Because the ramp was narrow, we couldn’t get out of the car. We were being forced to watch the disaster unfolding.
The car needed a new bonnet and radiator after that, but our nerves took a while to mend!
To this day, every time we see a Sunlight Laundry van, we still want to scream!
I was a driver for more than 25 years before my hip put a stop to my fun, but all those years sitting in the driving seat were some of the best years of my life…
Has anyone else had any near misses when driving?
In an effort to ignore what’s going on all around me, both in the world and in our house, (Anita has an appointment next week at the hospital) I have been trying to bury my head in the computer, trying to catch up on all the things I haven’t managed to get around to lately. In my wildest dreams, I could never have dreamed what I would be getting up to in my advancing years. Just goes to show how far you can come if you let yourself dream big.
I have always hated anything to do with computers for they are illogical, slow and complicated. I firmly believe they were sent by the devil to drive us all mad. At least, that’s what happens in our house!
But it wasn’t always this way.
There was a time when the idea of a machine with such amazing capabilities did seem like a fantastic advantage. But my first encounter with one, some thirty years ago, probably ruined me for life. This was when it was in its infancy, and you had to upload or input reams of data to do even the simplest thing. My son was playing chess on this strange looking box and I wanted to have a go. What he forgot to mention, was if you made even a small mistake in entering this data (which seemed to take hours) you would get a big fat nothing. Stubbornly, I tried and tried but failed to get it to work.
Fast forward to just a few years ago, when Indie publishing started making headlines.
Despite my earlier disappointment, I felt myself warming to the idea. I wouldn’t have to input masses of data like before, so maybe it would be easier to use. We all know the answer to that supposition, don’t we?
I still hate computers with a passion, but I do appreciate just how wonderful they are if you can learn the ropes. I still have days when I could beat mine to death with a mallet, but this is more to do with my stubborn brain than anything else. Because they can sometimes do so many amazing things, it encourages us mortals to reach for the stars.
Way back at the beginning of my blogging career, I can remember wondering if I would ever write a book, and now I have written four, well, six if you count the non-fiction ones and am close to finishing another. At the time, I was happily editing Anita’s books. I never thought a muse would bother me.
When it did, I was astonished by just how addictive writing can become. The most surprising thing was the behaviour of my characters. They became like old friends, and I enjoyed their company so much, the first book turned into a series. Even now, they are nagging me to let them loose again!
It has been an amazing and often terrifying journey, from that first ever blog post to eventually formatting e-books, paperback copies and book trailers. Learning how to publish a book was hard, but the writing was the best part, once I convinced myself that it was something I could do, after all.
None of which was easy for the biggest technophobe this side of Microsoft, someone who battles technology every single day for that magical moment when realisation dawns and I finally understands how things work.
I am well past retiring age now, but I am busier than ever and have no intentions of slowing down or stopping, for where would the fun be in that?
This journey still has some mileage, however, for there are a few things I haven’t attempted yet, and several that need improving. So I won’t be putting away my thinking cap just yet.
As they said when I was at school, “There is always room for improvement…”
“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.”
Intentions are weird things, aren’t they?
But between making up your mind and getting around to doing anything, a whole world can and usually does, interfere. Leaving us wondering why we bother in the first place.
So many jobs (or at least the intention) have fallen by the wayside lately. Most can wait and the sky won’t fall on your head, but there is usually at least one that if not done, will have dire consequences.
Cutting the grass in our jungle of a garden is one of these. If I allow the grass to grow unchecked, it could be waist high before I know it and my ancient mower won’t be able to cope.
With this knowledge foremost in my mind, I intended to cut it last night once the sun had set, and coolness had returned. Not only didn’t the sun set, the heat showed no sign of abating either. I was already suffering from the heat and the thought of all that hard work nearly sent me into a proper meltdown.
That’s when Anita (the voice of reason) had a brilliant idea.
‘Why don’t you cut it in the morning before the heat builds up?’
So, that’s what I did.
By nine thirty this morning, I had finished, cool as a cucumber and considerably smug. Even the sight of all the new bramble growth couldn’t dampen my spirits.
Now, where is that list of intentions?
These beautiful whale sharks are my
favourite creatures in the ocean, bar none
I am 75, and before I leave this earth,
I will swim with them
Whenever I see them on TV
They look as though they are made of velvet,
another of my favourite things, soft, sensual
I hope to cross this off my bucket list soon
I will say no more, or I will go on for days
About their gentle beauty…
© Anita Dawes 2021
Detective Josephine Naylor receives an email telling her where to find the last body. The messenger tells her “only you can stop this madness”. Discovering a shattered figurine on the corpse, she’s overwhelmed by the possibility it might be the one she sold in a yard sale. If so, she knows who the killer could be. She prays that she’s wrong…
The opening chapter presents the detective, Jo Naylor, with a very important question. One she didn’t really want to answer but knows she must.
The next chapter, one year later, hits you square in the face with full on complicated and violent action as we discover what this story is all about.
Shattered Figurines is a surprisingly unusual detective story in that it doesn’t follow the usual plotline for this genre and the characters aren’t run of the mill either. The author has captured a very real element in both the story and the characters and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
I love a good detective mystery story and Shattered Figurines is one of the best I have read this year. I shall be first in the queue when the author writes another one in this series.