6 Months in the Highlands – Thanks, COVID-19!

In one of my previous posts (here’s the link), I talk about moving to the Highlands. It was just a small ‘travel’ post really, with a few pictures, intended to be a precursor to future travel posts.

But it didn’t quite work out the way I planned.

And… I *might* be moving again!

Pre-Covid-19

On Feburary 24th, I had my first day at my new job – but it was in London. I travelled down to London from the southern part of Scotland where I had been temporarily living. I got to the hotel, realised it was the wrong one, so ordered a taxi to the correct one, and the next day was my induction training.

My induction training lasted two days; Monday and Tuesday, although I didn’t see much of London in that time, so no cool photos to show you guys (sorry!). By Tuesday evening, I was on a flight to Inverness.

Wednesday morning, I started my first day in the office.

I took with me, one medium/large suitcase, my laptop bag and a work laptop bag (which I collected from the induction day).

I have been living out of that suitcase for 6 months!

For the first few weeks, I had planned to get settled at work and get a feel for the area. Once I knew the best area to live, public transport routes (currently car/bike-less, don’t judge!) and how much I could possible afford, I was going to find a nice place to rent.

A few weeks in, I started looking at places, I viewed two flats, and contacted a lot more for other potentials…

Then Covid-19 hit.

Post-Covid-19

For the first few weeks before the UK was put into official lockdown, I was given the option to work from home, the last week before lockdown, I did. I found it cool and novel – I’ve always wanted a remotely working job!

Then lockdown officially started 23rd March. Shops started to shut (except for essential shops). People weren’t allowed out except for 1 hour exercise (this wasn’t set in stone, apparently, but it was ‘advised’ to limit to an hour). We had to have letters to say we were keyworkers if we got stopped by police.

I was classed as a keyworker, but was lucky that I had a company laptop so I could work from ‘home’. And, I was equally lucky that the host of the Airbnb I had booked was more than happy for me to stay with her until lockdown lifted. I pay her a small fee a month, instead of booking continuously through Airbnb – and it works out a lot cheaper.

The novelty of working from home wore off quickly. Especially since I couldn’t go anywhere! I was inside for work. I was inside on days off. Summer came, and I was inside for that too. The only time I could go out was for walks/exercise or shopping. That was the only time I could see bits of Inverness; the area I was really looking forward to exploring! When lockdown restrictions eased a little, I started to go a little further afield. Which is the next section…

University of the Highlands and Islands

This is something that is pretty close to where I have been living for the past six months. When I first moved, pre-Covid-19, I would walk through the grounds to get to the office. Post-Covid-19, I would either walk through to get to Tesco to do my shopping, or just go for a walk to get my hourly exercise.

Although it’s not exactly a destination to pack your bags to go see (unless you’re starting a course there!), it certainly is a lovely place to walk around when the sun is shining!

Culloden Woods and Battlefield

I went to Culloden Woods/Forest a few times, it was suggested to me by a colleague from work. I had no idea what to expect, I couldn’t find any information on it. But, to do something different to my usual walk around the University grounds, I went here on a day off instead.

First time I went, I was happily exploring; following the path, taking in the sights, smells and sounds, and I came across a sign that said ‘Culloden Battlefield Trail’. It didn’t tell me how far it was to the Culloden Battlefield, but I at least figured the walk might be intersting, even if I didn’t walk all the way there. But, I did end up walking all the way to the battlefield!

And, I was glad I went, as although I was only there for a little bit, it was a really interesting site. It’s the site where the Jacobite Rising came to and end in 1745. There is a visitor centre (which was closed due to the lockdown) which holds a cafe, museum and shop, there is an old cottage (Leanach Cottage), clan gravestones and memorial cairn (be careful not to walk on the grass on this bit, there are real remains there – I found that out afterwards and felt really guilty!) and then there is the battlefield itself with the different flags to represent the two sides of the battle, and there are markers dotted around with more information.

Second time I went, I visited more of the woods and forest, this time around it was really foggy and I got some really interesting shots in the fog.

Long walk to North Kessock

I add emphasis on the ‘long walk’ here, because I was out for six hours! I walked all the way from Cradlehall/Westhill, through Inverness City Centre, over the Kessock Bridge and into North Kessock and Craigton… then back again. I was sore for a few days afterwards.

Again, I got some really interesting shots. North Kessock is a lovely little place, right on the edge of Beauly Firth, I found a lovely little swing seat on the edge by some woods, there was a fog coming in which hid part of the Kessock Bridge. I saw a few sights walking through Inverness too.

Inverness Castle and the Islands

When lockdown started to ease, and the shops started to open, I decided to go back into Inverness to do some shopping. But the main part of my walk into Inverness was to see Inverness Castle! No trip to Inverness is complete without at least seeing the Castle!

Unfortunately, the Castle was closed, but not because of Covid, but because it’s undergoing some renovations, so I wasn’t able to go inside. When I get back to the UK after my contract abroad, and if I get my old job back in Inverness, I am looking forward to seeing it again, hopefully go inside this time!

As well as Inverness Castle, I also had a wander along the River Ness. A little further down is what’s called ‘The Islands’ or ‘Ness Islands’, which, as the name suggests, is a colletion of islands on the River Ness. There are a few bridges across them so you can walk along them, and they have a few trees and lights up along them (which I can only imagine look nice in the evening).

Motorbike Ride to Nairnshire

One day, I had the pleasure of catching up with an old friend from college. He was coming up for a tour of Scotland on his motorbike and decided to pop in to see me. He brought his spare motorbike helmet and we took a trip out to see Nairn, an area I had hoped to see when I first moved up, pre-Covid-19. And yes, I am aware there is still a Covid risk, but luckily he had already had Covid and had the anti-bodies. There was no risk of spreading.

We went to Fort George to begin with, it was closed, but we were still able to walk on the pebble beach and around the old Fort. We then got back on the bike and headed to Nairn Beach, where we wandered about, sat and caught up, had lunch and then headed back. We stopped at Sueno’s Stone – a 9th Century Picto-Scottish standing stone, Clava cairns and the viaduct close by.

My next adventure

I can’t talk too much about my next adventure. I have mentioned it a few times, so it’s not exactly a secret. But I don’t want to dedicate a whole blog post to it just yet, as it hasn’t been officially confirmed.

However, I will say; I was recently given the opportunity to go to anther country, with the company I work for!

At the moment there are a few issues with Covid-19; the borders being closed and, I have a few issues with my visa. But when things have been sorted, if I am still able to go, I will give you more updates!

~~~

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You can check out my other photos on my Instagram, see the link below.

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Goodbye Goldi-locks

Well, they’re not gold, my locks, but it’s catchy, don’t you think?

…Yes, hello, my little demons! 😈

You might be following me on social media and have already seen that I have had my hair cut off! …It’s short!

….Is it suddenly cold or is it me?

I had the intention of getting my hair cut short anyway as I am moving to a hot country in the next few months (thats another story, watch this space!), I had booked myself into The Hair Chair in Lanark, after going down to see my parents, and it was the salon’s suggestion to donate my hair to charity!

What a fantastic idea!

So, I got the two ladies to photograph the progress (thanks, girls!) and then style it into something cool (in both senses of the word!)

As I don’t live in the area anymore, having moved to Inverness for work (yes, I have a full-time job that I love as well as writing!), I had to take my locks with me and post them from there.

… I must admit, it was a little weird having a little paper bag with hair in it!

When I got back to Inverness, I got in touch with The Little Princess Trust to ask about the process (I don’t currently have access to a printer, so I had to put a hand-written note in with my hair!) and they were extremely lovely to speak to.

So, I wrote them a letter, wrapped up my hair in a plastic bag to keep dry and popped the plaits into a padded envelope.

Yes, the envelope is being reused, I had the intention of buying a brand new envelope when I went shopping last, but after forgetting to pick one up (although, I seemed to remember to pick up a motorcycle magazine!) I decided to reuse one I already had – I figured it was more environmentally friendly and I saved my pennies (ha!)

A few days later (unfortunately I couldn’t get to the post office while working – awkward hours!) I decided to venture out into the outside world, taking a trek down to the local Tesco’s where the nearest post office is located.

Okay, I cheated taking that photo of my legs, the first one came out blurry and awkward, so I had to stand still on the pavement… I must have looked a right idiot standing like that while I photographed my legs.

I know, why take a photo at all? Well, then I wouldn’t have this funny thing to tell you… and brain decided it would be a good idea… I’m still not convinced! But you all get to see my cool boots!

Anyway… back to my hike… trek… okay, short walk… to the post office! It was touch and go for a while, when it started to rain…

This photo is not sponsored by Cranfield University… don’t look at the logo! Stop it!

But I finally made it to Tesco’s!

I did a little bit of shopping to get myself some dinner (and a little treat for myself). Running up and down the shop like a mad woman… this way to the chicken… this way to the tea bags… oh I need… better go this way… ooo, what about cake….? Is this way to the… nope… okay, screw it… ooo…. what about if I got some decent instant coffee… HOW much?! Okay, tills…

When shopping was done. I was free to continue on my quest… to the post office!

And alas!… posted my hair off to The Little Princess Trust!

After weighing the parcel and seeing if it fits the “large envelope” sizing (it didn’t!), the conversation with the lady on the desk was funny:

Her: “Is there anything flammable in this?”
Me: “No, it’s just hair.” 😊
Her: ….
Her: *puts the stamp on the parcel*
Me: ….
Her: *finally reads the address*
Her: Oh! *points to the lable*
Me: Just clicked, has it?

Hahaha!

She then proceeds to ask me how long it was before and praises the charity.

I leave feeling pretty good about myself. Even though it’s raining again – and harder this time.

BUT, this happened…

Look closely, you can just about make out the rainbow.

taste the rainbow

…..I think it’s a sign.

… that it had been raining while sunny….

Anyway, when I got back, I made a well deserved cup of tea and sat down with my cup cake I bought from Tescos.

My little adventure to Tesco’s complete.
Now I can relax.

Oh, and I’ll be keeping a close eye on my email inbox over the next week or so, as they apparently will be sending me a certificate! Win!

Update 18/09/2020: I received my certificate yesterday, check it out at the end of the blog! 🙂

Thanks for coming on this little journey with me! I’m really glad my long hair, that had been annoying me for ages, will light up a little girls face one day, when it’s finally made into a wig!

And I love my new hairstyle… so, big shout out to the girls at The Hair Chair in Lanark, Scotland!

~~~

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I’m moving to the Highlands!

Hello my little demons,

Some of you may know that I have been looking for work, and it’s been a tough few months trying to get back on the career ladder. But this week, all my hard work has paid off!

And, what better place to move to? The Highlands!

81682024_2912592225633718_7654147362360655872_n
(c) All photos are my own. Copyrighted to myself, Penny Hooper. Photo above: somewhere in the Cairngorms, Scotland.

I took a little trip up there for an interview, and from where I currently am, it was a long train journey, yet I managed to do it within a day. But what a long day that was!

I set off early in the morning, got on the train, headed for Edinburgh first, had a quick train transfer and then up through the Highlands, arriving just before lunch time.

82453141_2912592158967058_2641919286683107328_n(c) All photos are my own. Copyrighted to myself, Penny Hooper. Photo above: inside the train, somewhere in the Cairngorms, Scotland.

The train took overall just over 4 hours to get to Inverness, where my interview was. I took some sandwhiches I pre-bought the day before, and a load of sweets to keep me entertained. I forgot my magazine I bought as I rushed out of the door to get my first train but luckily took my charger for my phone, so I could prepare on the train for the interview and just watching the world go by.

82220002_2912592265633714_4537422305847934976_n(c) All photos are my own. Copyrighted to myself, Penny Hooper. Photo above: Dalwhinnie Train Station, Scotland.

As the stops when by, I wondered what the areas were like, and wondered about the possibility of one day getting off at one of them to go explore. Aviemore is high on my list of stops, and Dalwhinnie was certainly a possibility, being a fan of the whisky.

When I finally arrived at my destination, I was there a little early. Giving myself enough time to get off, stretch my legs, have a quick look around if the weather was kind to me, have a tea-break and then find the bus to my interview.

81752257_2912592322300375_7767083402854924288_n(c) All photos are my own. Copyrighted to myself, Penny Hooper. Photo above: Victorian Market, Inverness, Scotland.

I headed straight to the Victorian Market opposite the train station, after doing a small bit of research into the area before hand. I figured that was the best place to find a range of cafe’s and it was indoors so I could escape the cold and/or rain when I get off the train.

It was smaller inside than I was expecting, but it was a cute little place. There were a few cafe’s inside, I found one where I sat upstairs in a little section and relaxed on a comfortable sofa for a few minutes with a pot of tea while googling where to get the bus from.

81877693_2912592472300360_8765863633629478912_n(c) All photos are my own. Copyrighted to myself, Penny Hooper. Photo above: Pot of tea at a Cafe in the Victorian Market, Inverness, Scotland.

After a long break warming up with a pot of tea and finding where the street is to get my bus, I decided to get up a few minutes early and go for a wander around Inverness, at least down to the River Ness as it wasn’t that far from where I was.

But as soon as I got out of the safety of the covered market, I realised it was raining – was a little difficult to know that where I was sat!

But I decided I had already made the decision to go, so I was going!

82181985_2912592582300349_1512224243658522624_n(c) All photos are my own. Copyrighted to myself, Penny Hooper. Photo above: River Ness, Inverness, Scotland.

The weather was terrible, it was freezing with a bitterly cold wind going through the town and it was raining. But I still managed to get to the river to have a very quick look and snap a few photos.

I didn’t stay there long though, as I decided to go back, see if there was an earlier bus or find somewhere else to go get a drink and sit down, or at least find somewhere warmer!

In the end I decided to just get on the bus and head to my interview.

I didn’t see much else of Inverness, I literally had my interview, got back on the bus and was lucky to get on the next train back home. I didn’t even stop to have dinner (I had a left over sandwhich I ate on the train!)

But, my hard work paid off… the long train journey and the cold Highland weather was worth it… I got a call the next Monday saying they’d like to offer me a position.

Now I’m just waiting for my start date so I can book temporary accommodation.

Keep an eye out for future travel posts from the Highlands!

~~~

If you liked this blog post, please do check out my others:

Living in Australia – Part 2: My first Christmas away from my parents (Christmas Special!)

A small trip to Reading – Wokefield Mansion

Douglas, South Lanarkshire – A Hidden Gem

Living in Australia – Part 1: Breakup from hell and Brisvegas

Best places to visit in South Lanarkshire

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Chapter 5

Happy Birthday! But why do we celebrate?

Remember, Remember, the 5th of November…

The HALO Trust: Safe Steps – Challenge Complete!

I won! I came first in the Earnesty Writer’s Awards 2018 Paranormal Genre!

Website: thegirlwhowhisperedblog.wordpress.com

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Samhain, All Hallows Eve and Ghost Stories – Halloween Special!

Some of my close friends will know, Halloween is my favourite holiday! It’s the one time of year that the majority of people dress up as something ‘scary’ and in a way celebrate the dead and all things weird yet wonderful. Why do I like this? Well, only a select few will know that not only have I got a few ghost stories of my own, as well as been able to predict a few things, but I have a fascination with parapsychology.

For those who don’t know, or probably think they know but are a little misinformed, parapsychology is a study of paranormal psychological phenomena (such as telephathy, psychokinesis and clairvoyance). It’s not to be confused with paranormal investigators! (But ghosts and spirits can be a part of it). And, as far as I am concerned, parapsychology is a little more ‘science’ based than paranormal investigators. There are even legitimate research laboratories set up around the world for the study, one of my favourites is the Koestler Parapsychology Unit based here in Scotland, at Edinburgh University (link at the bottom of the blog post). I am interested in one day completing at least the online course for interest, but have also been considering a PhD and conducting real research (plus, wouldn’t it be a cool talking point to say that my PhD was in parapsychology? I’ll call myself Dr Spooks!)

Continue reading and there might be a few spooky stories of my own!

Where did Halloween Originate from?

Halloween is an annual holiday celebrated each year on October 31st. This year it falls on a Thursday. Many people around the world celebrate it; United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, United States, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Greece, even China and Japan.

Some people believe Halloween originated from the pagan religious festival ‘Samhain’, others, however, believe that Halloween is a solely Christian celebration.

Samhain

Let’s start with Samhain.

the-festival-of-samhain-is-celebrated-in-glastonbury

Photo from: https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/samhain

Samhain (pronouced “sow-in”), is a Gaelic word for “summer’s end”. It is a typically ancient Celtic spiritual tradition, possibly originating in Ireland 2,000 years ago (the Celts also lived all over the United Kingdom and parts of northern France), celebrated from the 31st October to 1st November (the mid point between autumn equinox and winter solstice) to usher the “dark half of the year” and to welcome the harvest. The Celtic New Year was November 1.

After the harvest, the community began celebrations around a wheel that, due to friction, would create sparks and flames. This is said to represent the sun. Cattle were sacrificed and people would take a flame back to relight their fire in their own homes.

The Celts also believed that a barrier between worlds was breachable during Samhain, believing that this time of year was associated with death and also believed the dead would cross over during this time.

By 43 A.D., the Celtic territories were conquered by the Roman Empire, and over 400 years, two Roman festivals (Feralia, a day in late October for commemorating the dead and day to honor Pomona, the goddess of fruit and trees – probably where the tradition of bobbing for apples came from) were combined with Samhain.

It’s possible that Samhain was merged with these two days to eradicate the original pagan festival, as there was a Persecution of paganism under Theodosius I in 381 A.D., who reigned as co-emperor of the Roman Empire. Theodosian created “Theodosian decrees” which meant practicing paganism was banned, visits to temples forbidden, and remaining pagan holidays were abolished, among others. He also declared that pagan feasts that had not yet been rendered Christian ones to now be workdays.

Christian Halloween

The name “Halloween” comes from “All Hallows’ eve”, which, “hallows” means saints. November the 1st was a day to celebrate all the saints and martyrs, originally called All Saints’ Day. October the 31st just so happened to be the eve, which, of course, was also important day of celebration.

But, All Saints’ Day was originally on the 13th of May, originally to celebrate Martyrs, but Pope Boniface IV changed it to the 1st of November and incorporated a celebration for all saints.

In 1000 A.D. the church also made November the 2nd “All Souls’ Day” a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain.

All three days are collectively called Allhallowtide.

Pumpkin Carving

On Halloween, pumpkin carving is a tradition, sometimes called Jack O’Lanterns in America. This is where a pumpkin is hollowed out, a face calved into it’s side and then a candle being placed inside to light it up.

This tradition originated from Ireland, but it wasn’t pumpkins that were originally used, as they weren’t native. Originally turnips, potatoes and other root vegetables were used, it wasn’t until Halloween made it’s way to America that pumpkins were used, as it was found they were easier to calve than root vegetables.

images

Original Jack O’Lantern, Turnip Carving.
https://www.irishcentral.com/roots/history/jack-o-lantern-turnips-ireland

The name ‘Jack O’Lantern’ is also from an Irish folktale. According to the story, a man called Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him, but Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin so Jack could use to buy their drinks. But Jack decided to keep the money and put it in his pocket, next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing.

The Devil was eventually freed, under the condition he would leave Jack alone for one year, and should Jack die, he would not claim his soul.

The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing a tree, Jack carved a cross into the tree so the Devil could not come down until he promised Jack he would not bother him for another ten years.

When Jack died, God didn’t allow Jack into heaven for his actions, but the Devil also didn’t allow him into Hell. Instead, Jack was sentenced to roam Earth with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved out turnip and became a ghostly figure called ‘Jack of the Lantern’, which eventually was shortened to ‘Jack O’Lantern’.

Trick or Treating

It is suggested that the practice of trick or treating originated from the custom of “Souling”, baking and sharing soul cakes for all christened souls. Groups of poor people, often children, would go door-to-door during Allhallowtide, collect soul cakes in return for a prayer for the dead.

Soul cakes, or soulmass cakes, were often market with a cross, much like the Easter/Lenten hot cross buns.

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Picture from: https://www.instructables.com/id/A-Witchs-Afternoon-Tea-Celtic-Style/
(includes a receipe if you’d like to recreate them yourself!)

Of course, the phrase ‘Trick or treat’ wasn’t used back then, the first mention of this phrase can be dated back to 1951 from a Peanut Comic Strip, but the actual origins are unclear.

Now, trick or treating has become a tradition for children to go knocking on local doors in exchange for sweets, usually dressed up as something scary!

Dressing up

The act of dressing up on Halloween can probably be dated back to Samhain, where villagers would disguise themselves in costumes made of animal skins to drive away unwanted visitors/spirits.

It was also a tradition shared with Christians, who believed Allhallowtide was the last day for the dead to seek vengeance on their enemies before moving on. People would dress up to avoid being recognised from being a target of this vengeance.

Now, the act of dressing up is left to parties and children who take part in trick-or-treating.

My Own Spooky Experiences

Something doesn’t feel right

A few years ago, probably around 2013, I took a trip to Conwy, Northern Wales (home to the smallest house in Britain) with my partner at the time. We both lived in Warrington so getting to Northern Wales was easy.

It was a cold day, which made for a good day exploring as there weren’t many people about, and so we took a trip to have a look around Conwy Castle.

conwy01
Photograph from www.castlewales.com/conwy.html

At first, it was great, hardly any tourists, because it was the wrong time of year, it was cold but dry and I always love my little days out visiting new sites, so I’m happy exploring too. We had just seen the smallest house in Britain and now we were having a wander around the castle, I was snap happy with my camera. As always.

But as I got closer to one of the towers, I had a very unsettling feeling towards it. I hadn’t had that feeling anywhere else so far in the castle except that one tower. I told my partner I couldn’t go near it and he just looked at me oddly. He was a sceptic (I didn’t hold it against him, but I did hate the looks he used to give me). But he started to read out the board next to the tower, and told me why couldn’t go near…

…it was the prison tower.

Imaginary Friend

This is a story that I will be turning into a book eventually, so I won’t go into too much detail, but I will explain a little about it.

My experiences with all things paranormal started when I was a child. When I was very young, probably still at primary school (ages 5 to 7), my brother and I had an imaginary friend; Sammy.

I don’t remember much about this because I was still quite young, so most of my memories have gone, the only memories I do have was remembering telling my mum that my missing hairbands were probably lost because Sammy hid them.

My mum told me that this imaginary friend, Sammy, used to live in the corner of our ceiling and would hide things for fun.

My mother at the time was a sceptic, and she believed my brother and I were just blaming things going missing on an imaginary friend, not wanting us to get into trouble. My brother also had a very vivid imagination when he was young, mum would get teachers from school worried about some of the stories he used to tell. Mum still to this day remembers the story about the Tiger in the backgarden. I’m suprised my brother never followed in my footsteps and became a writer!

But her scepticism quickly vanished after what she thought my brother and I had outgrown our imaginary friend became a lot more than just an imaginary friend…

She used to work at the primary school my brother and I went to, and because of such, became friendly with a few of the other mothers. One lady had approached my mum asking her for advice, asking if my brother and I ever had imaginary friends. After my mum gave her advice that “don’t worry, they grow out of it.” The mother proceeded to tell my mum that her son had an imaginary friend…

…called Sammy…

…who lives in the ceiling…

…and hides things.

My mum told me this a few years ago, and I can’t say I was surprised, after all the other things that had happened to me over the years… she also explained that the other mother’s son told her that Sammy was looking for his parents. Somehow we figured out that Sammy had died in an accident, car accident or something similar.

But I have tried to search for information on such an accident in the area I grew up (near Laws Woods/Park, in Swindon, Wiltshire) and I couldn’t find anything in any records. Although, a lot of locals have had ghostly encounters in Lawns Woods, my mother and I have heard a few stories in the area, a woman in white searching for something, ghost animals, even amature ghost hunters went to the area and believe they saw a woman in white being carried.

Lawns Woods used to be home to the Goddard Family, with remains of an old church and graveyard apparently for the family’s pets, an old ice house up on the hill, remains of an old sunken garden, a site where Tutor Mansion used to sit, then an 18th Century Mansion, both no longer there. But with so much history in the area, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a few ghostly goings on in the area. Including the ghost of Sammy that used to haunt the children in the area. I just wish I could find more information about it.

References:

Here are a few links if you’re interested in reading more about some sites I mentioned in this blog post:

Koestler Parapschology Unit

Lawn Park

Goddards in Swindon

Paranormal activity in Lawns Park

History of Halloween

History of Samhain

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Keeping in theme of the spooky, check out these links below.

New Story idea! – Butterfly House
Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue
New Story Idea – “I fell in Love with a Psychopath”
My Normal – A Short Story by Penny Hooper

If you’re interested in my other travel/historical posts, check these out:

Remember, Remember, the 5th of November…
Douglas, South Lanarkshire – A Hidden Gem
Best places to visit in South Lanarkshire
Living in Australia – Part 1: Breakup from hell and Brisvegas

Don’t forget to like this post and follow me!
And feel free to comment with any of your spooky stories!

My Brother’s in Thailand, Blogging!

Hello my little Demons (it’s a new thing I’ve started, just roll with it…)

So, I was thinking about writing another blog post today, and I was wondering what to write about, Part 2 on my Australia blog? Blog about my books? Write a book review? Or maybe another chapter of one of my books?

But then I realised I should probably give my brother a helping hand. He’s recently set up a blog himself, a travel blog (he’s the reason why I decided to start a Travel Blog section myself) and I know how difficult it is to get traffic through on a website/blog/etc so this is a shout out to my brother!

Here’s the link to his blog:

A Krabi Life

Currently he’s blogged about best places to see in Krabi, religious sites, hidden gems and the best time of year to go, and I’m looking forward to seeing more soon!

He also has a Facebook page and an instagram account, both updating on blog posts and posting pictures of Thailand (I’m not jealous, honest!)

Facebook

Instagram

We both have a love of travelling, having been to Thailand a number of times with our parents, and my brother having going back a few times since we’ve outgrown our family holidays.

He has since met a lovely girl out there and has decided to move there!

Krabi is a beautiful area of Thailand. I’ve been to a few places in Thailand; Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya, and Krabi was definately the prettiest I’ve been too. I mean, just look at this photo (my brother’s photo):

hang nak hill pano

Also, if you’re in the area (Ao Nang, Krabi), check out the N-Joy Bar, it’s owned by my brother’s friends and currently managed by his girlfriend Khai, who also has a coffee shop just outside called “Khai’s Coffee”.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Cocktail-Bar/N-Joy-bar-662038240879513/

I’m looking forward to the day I can afford to go back out and visit my brother and Thailand again!

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Please don’t forget to check out my social media, website and other blog posts!

thegirlwhowhispered.com
Instagram
Twitter

Blog posts:

Living in Australia – Part 1: Breakup from hell and Brisvegas
Both my books are currently 99c!
Best places to visit in South Lanarkshire
Ender’s Love – Chapter 1
My RAF Cranwell experience – It’s beginning!
The HALO Trust: Safe Steps – Challenge Complete!
New Full Book Trailer! For Rose Garden Sanatorium

Living in Australia – Part 1: Breakup from hell and Brisvegas

Back in 2009, when I had only just turned 21, I decided to do something big. Something I had never done before… I went to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa. Sun, sea and surfing (well, I probably won’t be doing the surfing bit!)

But it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows… I went with an ex boyfriend, who made my life hell, had a falling out with my family out there and suffered with mental health issues.

The journey there was awful, 25 hours flying, leaving on the 4th of December 2009. I was lucky that the flights were cheap, even though it was a few weeks before Christmas, it was too early for people to be flying out to see family for the holidays. I had a layover at Singapore, but not long enough to escape the airport, and a connecting flight from Melbourne to Brisbane, where I will be staying with family in Burpengary.

I stayed with an Aunt and her husband, and for a little bit of my stay I was in the company of my step-cousin and a couple of his friends. And of course, my ex, but that quickly turned nasty just before Christmas. In fact, I had a falling out with my Aunt and her husband and ended up moving in with a Australian family.

My Aunt lived in a town called Burpengary, just North of Brisbane City, in the state of Queensland. It wasn’t a bad place to live, quiet, local amenities, a train station to get into Brisbane. Although it got boring pretty quickly.

The Ex

Day three (7th Dec) into to the year (hopefully) spending in Australia, my ex decided he was going to spend a good chunk of his money on a bike. Now, my ex was a bike enthusiast, although I didn’t share his enthusiasm, but I do like my cars, so I appreciated his enthusiasm and supported his dream to buy a bike.

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Even if it was day three.

And the majority of his money was going on this bike.

And I had to spend my own money helping him out with other things, like new clothes for work (we’ll get to that).

Day Five (9th Dec). My ex got a job (well, he at least went for a job interview). We hadn’t even been in Australia a week and he was getting work! I mean, it was good that he was proactive at getting a job, but this became un-fun very quickly. I was hoping to explore and experience Australia for at least a little bit first. He had other ideas. And it was equally painful when I had to help my ex buy clothes for his new job! New shirts, trousers, even new shoes. The little bit of money I had saved up before getting to Australia was getting smaller.

Day Seven (11th Dec). My ex was sending the bike off to get repaired. Yeah, he bought a new bike… which needs repairs. Even more money being spent.

Now, this is where it gets interesting…

I don’t know what day it was exactly, but it was between Day 13 (17th Dec) and Day 20 (24th Dec – Christmas Eve!) that I decided to throw my ex’s things on the front lawn. I’ve told this story to a few people, and it’s still a really interesting story to tell. But basically, I had been feeling low for a while, I felt like no one cared and no one really understood me, not even the boyfriend. On top of it (which I now realised as I didn’t at the time) he was gaslighting me, making me feel like I was the paranoid one, when he clearly was seeing other women.

He wasn’t really being secretive about it either, he was obviously talking to other women, on this dating site “Plenty of fish”, but he made me think he was only looking for ‘friends’. The website had the option to look for friendships, to tell other people you were in a relationship. I had seen his profile, it did say he was just looking for friends, but no where did it say he was in a relationship.

I joined him on it, as I was naive (yet suspicious, I wasn’t completely stupid) and I did meet a few people on there, it was through this website that I met the friend I eventually went to stay with after an issue with my Aunt and Uncle. But, the general feel of the website was for relationships and hookups.

But one day, when it got to the point that I had to look through his history on his laptop (I know, cliche psycho girlfriend thing to do! But I needed a reason!) and I found exactly what he was doing, and decided I had enough. Long story short, I tried to contact him at work and he refused to talk to me, so I decided that if he wasn’t going to talk to me, I was going to put his things outside.

I did. But he didn’t make it easy for me. He literally got so angry that he threatened mine and my Aunt’s life. It was just us two at the time, my Uncle was out at work and my step-cousin and his friends had gone off on an adventure somewhere.

Needless to say I was scared. My aunt and I locked doors and windows, closed curtains, all after shoving his things onto the lawn. We threatened him with the police, after he was being abusive, and the funniest thing was, when he came round with a truck to get his things, moments before, a police traffic patrol car came and sat right outside the house as if karma was on our side. He had no idea that we never called them, and he parked up and walked straight up to them. I wonder sometimes how things would have gone if the police weren’t there.

That wasn’t the last time I heard from him. The break had a huge affect on me, I was still quite young, having only had my 21st birthday (which was pretty shit, but that’s another story), so I was still in touch with him. I can’t remember the order, but I remember a few things happening around Christmas with him. One thing I remember was that I had his friend (who I knew too) ask me why I was being a bitch and bribing him, holding his passport and refusing to give it back to him until I got the money he owed me – I had no idea I still had his passport, all of this was made up, it’s scary how easy it was for him to lie to people, not just me. Although I was asking him for the money he owed me, not only the money from which I paid for his clothes, but I also paid for our travel insurance, he owed me for that too. I also remember him messaging me on New Years drunk and sending some really creepy messages, and I think it was from then on that I decided to cut all contant.

But, moving on, I still managed to see a few places while I was there, throughout my whole stay I saw Brisbane City Centre, Gold Coast / Surfer’s Paradise, Australia Zoo, Glasshouse Mountains, Stradbroke Island, Noosa, Moranbah and even took a trip to Sydney.

Brisbane City Centre

I visisted Brisbane City Centre in the first week I was in Australia, my Aunt and Uncle had taken us in to show me about. It was a pretty interesting city, a bubbly business district mainly, but it had a few interesting things for torists to do. From the man-made beach, the markets and a casino (I heard it called Bris-vegas once, but thought it was funny as there was apparently only one casino at the time).

Although I wasn’t hugely impressed with it as a tourist destination. At the end of the day, it is just a business city. Large buildings, a river running through it. There wasn’t much to see once you’d seen the River, the few Museums (there was a Natural History Museum if I remember rightly), the beach and the casino. It was a place you’d go for just a day out. It was just like any other city, large buildings that people work in, shops that you get in other cities like Starbucks and H&M and yes as it’s a city you get the big brands like Chanel and Gucci. It didn’t really have anything different to other cities.

Although, I do remember going to a Dessert Restaurant with a friend once, a restaurant specifically for desserts. That was one thing that I liked about the place; if you wanted to go out for a decent night out, something different to the usual pub-grub meal, to a decent bar or restaurant maybe (I’m not a clubber myself), then yeah, Brisbane was a little up there.

I will admit, I didn’t really get the chance to explore Brisbane City. My view of the city was a quick stop tour, a hop on the CityCat across the river, walk through the markets and a few pubs/bars stops. I’d be interested to go back to actually see more of the place, do a bit more research, be a bit more adventurous, have a bit more money to spend in unique bars and restaurants.

But I know I wouldn’t be upset if I never went back, there are other places I’d be more interested in seeing first. And that includes places inside Australia.

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If you liked this post, please do press that like button and follow! I’ll be writing a few more travel blogs in the future! More adventures in Australia, Scotland, England, Egypt and hopefully other places when I get travelling again!

Click here to read my post on Best places to visit in South Lanarkshire

Also, please do check out my other posts, such as my written works:

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1
New Story idea!
Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

Also, check out my other adventures:

The HALO Trust: Safe Steps – Challenge Complete!

Best places to visit in South Lanarkshire

I’ve had the lovely experience living in South Lanarkshire for a while, also recently having to move back to the area, and I figured I’d write about what the best places are in the area.

New Lanark

New Lanark is definately one of my favourites. A UNESCO World Heritage Site because of it’s 18th-century village built up around an old cotton mill and next to the River Clyde. Definitely a lovely place to go if you’re a keen photographer.

If you’re a history buff too, or just generally like a day out, it’s not a bad site, not only can you walk around the area and soak up the buildings and the working old mill, but there is also a number of attractions to see, from the roof garden, Robert Owen’s School for children, Millworker’s House and Robert Owen’s House to name a few.

There is also a cafe and shop on site, the New Lanark Mill Shop. Although the cafe isn’t exactly the most comfortable, as it looks more functional than anything, it still does some half-decent hot foods, cold foods and drinks. During the summer months, they also have New Lanark Ice Cream in the usual flavours, but some not to usual, such as Irn Bru (I’d recommend!)

The shop is also large and has a variety of items being sold, of course there is a huge section dedicated to Wool and Textiles, but they also sell clothes, books, jewelry, home wear and foods!

New Lanark also has it’s own Hotel, the New Lanark Mill Hotel, if you’d like to stay in the area, which also has it’s own bar and restaurant. I’ve had the pleasure of both eating and drinking there, it has a beautiful bar area, although it can get busy during the summer months as it doesn’t have a lot of seating. And I can’t comment on the dining, as I went there for Christmas dinner one year, and unfortunately wasn’t that impressed, hopefully a typical evening meal would be more enjoyable.

But aside from the odd negatives, I still enjoy going back frequently.

(c) Photographs by Penny Hooper. No sharing/copying without permission.

Falls of Clyde

If you visit New Lanark, I’d also recommend the walk along the river to see the Falls of Clyde. Autumn is my favourite time of year to go, as the leaves on the trees are turning all types of beautiful colours and if you go just after a decent rain fall, the falls will be spectacular! Remember to charge up your camera!

It’s a bit of a walk, so it’s not ideal for those who aren’t very able-bodied, and there are a few steps. It can also get a little muddy in places, so I’d take some shoes you don’t mind getting a little dirty and take a decent coat with you just in case the weather turns. It is roughly about an hour and a half to Corra Linn and back.

There are four Linns in total. Corra Linn (Linn is Scottish Gaelic for Waterfall) is the tallest, and I’d recommend seeing this one at least. But you also have Bonnington Linn, Dundaff Linn (closest to New Lanark) and Stonebyres Linn (lower falls).

If you’re adventurous enough, like I am, I’d recommend walking all the way to the bridge/Weir (Bonnington Weir) and walk across the other side and along to the right, following the river. Here you can see Bonnington Linn. You can even walk as far as Corra Castle, although it’s not a huge castle, it is hidden away in the undergrowth (apparently home to some rare bats!)

If you’re even more adventurous than I am, the walk along the river can take you all the way into Glasgow! Have a look at the South Lanarkshire Council website for the maps: https://www.southlanarkshire.gov.uk/downloads/download/258/clyde_walkway

Alongside the Falls, if you’re an animal and/or nature fan, the Falls of Clyde have a Wildlife Reserve. They have regular evening badger watches, wildlife themed events and even interactive toys and games for children. For more information check out the Scottish Wildlife Trust website: https://scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk/reserve/falls-of-clyde/ They claim to have a Peregrine watch site a third of the way up, but I have a feeling there are no Peregrine Falcons nesting in the area anymore.

(c) Photographs by Penny Hooper. No sharing/copying without permission.

Biggar

Going the other way, towards the Scottish Borders, is a little town called Biggar (ironically). It’s a medival town built in 1451 and has a wealth of attractions for such a small town. The only downside I can personally comment, is unlike it’s cousins towns and villages in the Scottish Borders, it doesn’t have the beautiful backdrop of hills and mountains around it.

However, there are lots of things to do. From the world famous Victorian puppet theatre, Biggar & Upper Clydesdale Museum and Biggar Gasworks Museum (the only preserved gas works in Scotland).

Biggar is also home to a number of festivals and events, with the famous Biggar Little Festival which is held in October each year, which celebrates arts, dance, crafts, drama and literature. If you stay around until New Year, you may also catch the Hogmanay bonfire and torch-lit procession through the town. It also hosts argricultural shows and vintage car rallies.

Chatelherault Country Park

Going away from The Scottish Borders and past Lanark and New Lanark, closer to Glasgow is a town called Hamilton and just on the outskirts is Chaterherault Country Park.

A 18th century hunting lodge with 500 acres of countryside and woodland. In the summer it’s a great place to go with children, with picnic facilities and a large adventure play ground. Also a great place to go for dog walkers and adventurers alike.

The house and grounds are all free admission, which makes a great cheap day out, with a few of the rooms being open to the public to see, and a small museum inside of what life used to be like there. There is a Cafe inside and a Gift Shop and it is even a great place to hold a Wedding or Private Event.

The grounds offer many trails, the main reason why I go there, as the trails take you through a varity of walks, through woods, across/under bridges (i.e. The Duke’s Bridge) and along a river (River Avon). There is even a small castle ruins called Cadzow Castle (although the last time I saw it, the small castle was trapped within a maze of scaffolding!) and keep your eyes out for the Cadzow Cattle or White Park Cattle a rare breed of ancient horned cattle that live in a field right next to the lodge.

(c) Photographs by Penny Hooper. No sharing/copying without permission.

Bothwell Castle

On the other side of Hamilton, if Cadzow Castle wasn’t enough castle for you, there is 13th Century Bothwell Castle. Another cheap day out, at £3.00 each for an adult, £2.40 concession, £1.80 child (free for Children until 5) or if you’re a Young Scot Card Holder, it’s only £1.00!

There is a fair amount of Bothwell Castle still standing, but what is striking about the Castle is it’s reddish colour and the large tower (or donjon).

The land originally was owned by Walter of Moray who began the construction of the castle in the mid 1200s. But by the late 1200s, was the start of the Wars of Scottish Independence, and Bothwell was unfortunately in the line of fire.

There is a lot of history around Bothwell, more than a simple Blog post can explain, and which I will leave you guys to find out. But one last thing I will note is that Bothwell passed to the Black Douglases, which pops up again later in this blog post, so keep your eye out!

(c) Photographs by Penny Hooper. No sharing/copying without permission.

Douglas

Heading away from Glasgow and Hamilton, back past New Lanark, but the other side of the motorway from Biggar, is a little village called Douglas.

This is a little village hidden away, not many people know of, mainly because there aren’t many attractions here, yet it is steeped in history!

Douglas is where the Douglas family took their name, originally where the stronghold; Douglas Castle was built, as early as the 13th century. The original castle was destroyed and replaced a number of times, until the last building to stand on the site was a large 18th century mansion. Unfortunately this too was demolished in 1938 due to mining in the area, but a single 17th century corner tower still remains.

Douglas and Douglas Castle was also in the line of fire from the Wars of Scottish Independence in the early 1300s, having been captured by Lord Clifford, but Sir James Douglas, Robert the Bruce’s friend, recaptured his family seat. It was because of this, and the loyalty of the Douglases, Robert the Bruce rewarded the Douglases by creating the title Earl of Douglas.

For any literacy fans, like myself, the Castle itself was also where Walter Scott got his inspiration for his novel “Castle Dangerous”.

Although the remaining Castle tower is 17th century, this isn’t the oldest building in the village. St. Bride’s Church is 14th century and became the mausoleum of the Douglases. The church yard and a part of the old church is free to wander, to gain access inside you need prior arrangement.

There is a long story about Robert the Bruce, his heart and James Douglas, one that will require a seperate blog post, but a long story short, Robert the Bruce wished to go on a crusade, but Robert was unfortunately dying. He entrusted James Douglas to take his heart on a crusade. Douglas died in battle, his bones taken back to St. Bride’s Church and Bruce’s heart was eventually buried at Melrose Abbey (his body was buried in Dunfermline Abbey close to his wife’s).

There is a small museum (The Douglas Heritage Museum) which originally was St Sophia’s Chapel, located next to the church yard, but only opens at the weekends between 14:00 and 17:00 (although I am sure it’s usually during the summer months) or by special arrangement.

Douglas has a small claim to fame in recent years too, having been a site for filming of Agatha Christie’s Ordeal By Innocence. If you’re a fan of Agatha Christie, or have seen the series, you might recognise “The Cross Keys”, located on the High Street.

There are also lots of hidden places to walk around Douglas, up in the wooded hills around the area.

(c) Photographs by Penny Hooper. No sharing/copying without permission.

To read more about Douglas, places of interest, and the history, I’ve recently created a new blog: Douglas, South Lanarkshire – A Hidden Gem

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Please check out my other blog posts:

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

The HALO Trust: Safe Steps – Challenge Complete!

New Full Book Trailer! For Rose Garden Sanatorium

I won! I came first in the Earnesty Writer’s Awards 2018 Paranormal Genre!

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

I’m abseiling 165ft for Barnardos!

Let’s get back on track!

Hi guys!

Dusting off the cobwebs on my blog (and website, and Twitter, and… everything, really!)

So, as I explained, I am currently completing a Master’s Degree and… wow, is it difficult! It’s been taking up so much of my time that I haven’t had chance to do anything in terms of writing, editing, marketing, etc. It’s crazy!

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But today I had my viva, and although I haven’t yet finished, hopefully I have freed up some time to get back to blogging, writing, editing, and updating everything!

It’s good to see that I’m still getting royalties, even though I have done next to no marketing what so ever. And come onto my WordPress in what feels like a few months to see I’m getting traffic through – even if it’s a little, it feels like it’s actually improved, even though I haven’t been blogging frequently.

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As I’m nearly the end of my Masters I’ve been really thinking about getting my own business up and running, selling my own work (see below for links to my two published books), doing a bit more freelance work.

I have also wanted to do a vlog or something similar… maybe branch out a little from writing, getting back into photoraphy, both landscape and architecture as well as modelling photography (I have plans of making a room into a photography room!)

And… I have plans for a new instagram account.. but this one will be a bit of fun.

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Of course, get back into writing and editing my two last books; Ender’s Love and Rose Garden Sanatorium!

Rose Garden Sanatorium(1)

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Here are the links to my books (in paperback):

It’s My Mistake

I fell in Love with a Psychopath

Here are the links to the e-book versions:

It’s My Mistake

I fell in Love with a Psychopath

Here are links to my social media:

Twitter

Instagram (going to have a revamp soon!)

Summer work in Portree, Isle of Skye!

So, nearly a week ago, I took a 7 hour coach trip to Portree, Isle of Skye, Scotland. I’m here working over the summer to gather the funds for my Master’s Degree in October!

I must admit, it’s a big struggle!! A few days ago I was in tears because a) my back was killing me, and b) it is really long hours manual work! (Cooking, cleaning, ironing, etc).

But, I’m hoping I can stick it out for the whole 3 months, until mid-September, not only will I get a fat paycheck for my work here, but I can explore Isle of Skye AND gain hotel experience so I can do it again if I want to.

I haven’t seen much of the Island yet, only the sights on the coach trip, and Portree itself. Here are some photos:

Steemit – Blog and Earn!

I wrote a post about Steemit a while ago, probably months ago now, and I was really excited about it.

That fizzled out a few months ago, back in the summer, because although I became popular quite quickly on it, I had no way of cashing out.

Steemit uses cryptocurrencies, and although I was 100% committed to giving it a go and trying to learn a thing or two at least to cash out and earn some money writing, I was faced with lots of issues.

But since I have finally managed to get a cryptocurrency style account sorted (CoinBase) I can now cashout on my well-earned Steem Dollars!

Steemit

Here is a view of my Steemit account. It takes some time getting your head around it, but as a blogger, you can blog and earn money by people upvoting!

You too can contributing by upvoting other works. Even comment and interact. So come meet me, follow me, and I will certainly help upvote any writers, poets, photographers and artists alike, I only ask you help out in return!

Find me here: https://steemit.com/@penny-rose

(If you need any advice on setting up a Steemit account or a cryptocurrency account, don’t hesitate to ask!)