A small trip to Reading – Wokefield Mansion

Hello my little Demons! I’m back with another travel post!

Between the 6th and 8th of December I took a trip down to Reading for a job assessment, but rather than booking a cheap Premier Inn hotel, I decided to book somewhere a little different; The Wokefield Mansion, and make a little trip of it.

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Photography by Penny Hooper (c) Please do not copy / reuse without written permission from myself.

Wokefield Mansion

History

Wokefield Estate has been around since 1560 when the first house was built by Sir Edmund Plowden (1518-1585), an English lawyer, scholar and theorist. However, back then it was known as Oakfield Park.

Unfortuatenly the estate has seen many change of hands over the years, unlike many estates which have been passed down through the family over the generations.

It had also seen many changes, with renovations, gardens, new mansions and buildings being built, and even occupations, from being a family estate to a business (and not just a hotel!)

It had only been passed down through the Plowden family until 1627 when it was sold by Edmund’s grandson Francis and sold to the Weaver family.

In late 17th century it was sold again and went to the Pearces, and in the late 18th century it went to the Parry family.

It was Charles Parry who rebuilt the house in 1720 to the Mansion now seen (the Mansion in which I stayed the night). It is said that it was built to look much like Kinlet Hall in Shropshire (although I personally like the look of Wokefield Mansion).

In 1742 it was sold to the 1st Earl of Uxbridge, Henry Paget. But the 2nd Earl of Uxbridge (who’s name was also Henry Paget) sold the estate to Bernard Brocas (who owned the nearby Beaurepaire).

It is estimated that around this time, the estate was landscaped with avenues, woodlands and water, which can be seen on an old map of Berkshire made by John Rocque (a surveyor and cartographer).

Although Bernard Brocas passed away not long after he aquired the estate, the Brocas family enlisted Sir John Soane to make some ‘alterations’, although I cannot find what alterations were made in this time.

In 1839 the estate was put up for sale again, and went to Robert Allfrey.

In the early 1900s it was sold again (along with the rest of Allfrey’s fortune) to Alfred Palmer, of Huntley & Palmers, a british biscuit maker based in Reading.

Palmer undertook a complete renovation of the house’s interior which included Adamesque plasterwork and a wooden staircase screened by columns.

In 1936 the house was again sold to the De La Salle brothers, The Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, and of course, became a school called St. Benedict’s Approved School.

In 1967 the house becomes a grade II* listed building.

The estate (totally the mansion and 35 acres) was then sold to Style Conference Limited, a leading corporate training centre operator. The mansion house was converted into a 60 bed conference and hospitility venue and opened mid 1986, the outwer buildings also being converted to provide a further 41 en suite rooms.

In the early 1990s the farm and a further 140 acres were purchased to redevelop the site, where a 18-hole golf course and driving range where constructed, along with two gyms (one small and one large), swimming pool and sauna where house in the mansion house, and other outdoor activities such as archery, climbing and ropes course.

In 1998 there were a few buildings and extensions demolished and redeveloped, and a new building built specifically for BMW.

In the 21st century it appears the history of the estate and the company that owns it becomes a little fuzzy, with companies changing and new companies being generated, but somewhere along the line the estate followed a more hotel orientated occupation.

In 2015, the Executive Centre building was damanaged by fire, which affected 100 of the hotel’s 222 total rooms, though the fire was contained within a newer part rather than the historic house.

My Review

I stayed two nights in a single room in the Mansion house, it was a small room, with a large single bed with a beautiful picture of a map of Berkshire hanging above the headboard, a large modern flatscreen TV on the wall, a lovely large ceiling window with single-pain glass, complete with very long and thick curtains that reached all the way up to the ceiling, there was a handy desk over by the window with details of the services the hotel offers, two bedside tables, one sporting a vintage style radio and the other a vintage style telephone. Although the vintage style of the room, it was also very well updated with USB charging points in the walls.

The room was also equiped with a large wardrope with a safe, mini fridge, tea and coffee with real ornate mugs, extra quilt and pillow and ironing equipment and the decorating was fabulous, with unique pictures of plant and flower diagrams, golf pictures, and old prints.

The bathroom was a huge shock, being nearly the same size as the main area, which was very mordern inside. A large bath with a shower over it, and large and clean sink and toilet, complete with large fluffy towels, bottles of shampoo, shower gel, soaps and a cute little De Vere Duck and more plant diagrams in frames.

The bed was extremely comfortable, probably one of the best night sleeps I’ve had in a while, and was very happy with the service I received both checking in and checking out a few days later.

Due to my long drive there, my very busy day the next day at my Assessment Day and the long drive back the next, I didn’t spend much time exporing the grounds or facilities, but I did have a small wander around on the last day before setting off early for the long trek back to Scotland. I was surprised to see there was a gentleman on a golf buggie collecting rubbish from the grounds and bins, and was very happy to see a little bug hotel near the carpark next to the Mansion house. The grounds looked excellently kept, all clean, well kept and beautiful and it was beautiful both inside and out, especially in the evening when the front was lit up with beautiful and tasteful lights.

I also spent a few minutes at check out speaking to the staff at the reception, after the guy found out about my profession and was thus very enthusiastic to chat and wished me a safe journey home.

Of course, there were a few bad points about the hotel, such that, when travelling down at night when it was cold and foggy, it was a little difficult to find the main entrance, and even on the estate, it was a little difficult reading the signposts and locating the car park. The hotel room was a little difficult to locate, the room was cold one day because the only heating was a large radiator which was tucked behind the large curtains and was left on low. The room was a little on the small side, having to squeeze past the bed and the TV on the wall, knocking it a few times by accident. I also wasn’t told where the bar, resturant or other services on the hotel’s estate were, even if I wanted to or had the time to experience.

A few other issues, such as the thin walls where I could hear my next-door-neighbour cough, the noise from the bar downstairs and the single-glazed glass window where all small negatives but easily acceptable given both the age of the house and the fact it is a listed building.

Despite the negatives, I would happily return to Wokefield Estate and stay again, aside from the fact I stayed because I had an Assessment Day to attend in the area, I felt like I had a little mini holiday and would recommend others too! Especially when my stay was only £71 a night!

All above photos are copywrited to Penny Hooper (c).
Please do not copy/share without prior written permission from myself.

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Also, I’ve noticed I’ve been getting comments from an outside source, this original post is from WordPress, original website: thegirlwhowhisperedblog.wordpress.com if you are reading this from outside of WordPress, please do let me know, I would love to know how far and wide my blog posts are getting and thank you everyone who has commented already.

If you liked this post, please do give it a like! And feel free to leave a comment!
~Penny (Aka The Girl Who Whispered).

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

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

Social Media:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/thegirlwhowhispered

Twitter: twitter.com/penny_hoops

Instagram: www.instagram.com/thegirlwhowhispered_author/

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Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

Warning: Strong language!

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Chapter 1

“Oh, for fuck sake!” I grumbled, as a passing car drove through a puddle and splashed me. I looked down at myself, just as a fellow walker on the path shot me a disgusted look. Probably at my language. I didn’t care. I was instantly hurdled into a bad mood. But I was glad to see I wasn’t that wet; the water had mostly got my boots and—

“Shit!” I exclaimed. The reason I was mostly spared from the dirty puddle water was because the majority had splashed on my laptop bag. I had been carrying it in my hand as it had moments ago been hurting my shoulder. But I didn’t hold much hope that the bag was waterproof.

I wiped it down as much as I could with my bare hands and hoped and prayed to a God that I wasn’t even sure I believed in that the laptop tucked safely inside hadn’t gotten wet itself.

I sighed and looked up to see a bar just a few feet away, right next to a rather lovely Mediterranean restaurant with a few bamboo plants outside. I made a mental note to check it out one day. The bar itself was just as elegant—just lacking the plant-life—with a lovely bold black and red sign which read; Da Vinci’s, which looked quite new. I huffed and decided to go get a well-deserved drink and check my laptop was still working.

The door was a little too heavy, but I tried not to show how heavy I found it. I didn’t want any men to think I was weak and could take advantage. I then trudged up to the bar confidently. Fake it ‘til you make it, I had heard once. It was my new motto in life.

“Excuse me,” I said to the barman. He was quite a good-looking guy, with dark brown hair, a small stubble of a beard, and wearing a white shirt, black trousers with a black waist-coat. Although a little too young for me, so I tried my hardest not to smile or stare too much and give him the wrong impression. I had a habit of attracting men who got the wrong impression.

But just as he moved to wander over to me, I saw a guy behind him that instantly caught my attention. He was handsome. Very handsome. Much more my type. Although, he was undoubtedly way out of my league. His black raven hair short and slightly standing up, a little ruffled as if he’d run his hands through it in frustration, a strong masculine hand resting on his handsome clean-shaven jaw, propping himself up as his elbow rested on the bar top. He appeared to be frowning at the laptop in front of him.

It suddenly felt a lot warmer in this bar than the first two seconds of walking in.

My attention went straight to his hand. It was a habit I had started doing lately. I was looking for a wedding ring. Nothing. That didn’t mean he was single though. Not that he’d ever be interested in me.

“Hi doll,” replied the barman, breaking my attention away from the devilish handsome man behind him. I was trying to will him to look up at me; I hoped if he looked up, I’d might be able to find out if he found me even slightly attractive or not. Maybe find that strange spark I hear about in films and romance books. I had a short-lived dream that our eyes would meet across the bar and an instant spark come between us, my world slowing down as he came over to introduce himself. But he was too engrossed in his laptop to even notice me.

“Hi,” I said, smiling at the barman suddenly, feeling my voice getting a little louder as if I subconsciously wanted to attract the attention of the other guy, but being as nice as possible to the barman, so if he did look up, he’d see I was friendly at least. Although, deep down, I hoped the barman hadn’t caught me goggling at his only other customer in his bar.

“I, err—” I’d suddenly forgotten what I was going to ask for. My mind drew a blank.

Wet laptop, that was right!

“Do you have any paper towels? Some inconsiderate buggar just drove through a large puddle and got me wet.” I felt myself flush at my own comment. I had too many male friends who would have heard that comment and found a hidden sexual innuendo in it. I just hoped neither men at the bar; the one behind the bar and the stupidly handsome one still staring intently at his laptop with his frown creating a rather curious line on his forehead, would have noticed.

I had also noticed with a slight twinge of embarrassment that my voice not only was a little too loud, but my stupidly southern English accent had accentuated the way I said buggar.

“Oh, damn,” said the barman, looking genuinely remorseful. “Sure, let me get you some!” He suddenly took two steps away and drew out some green paper towels before he brought them over to me. I just tried to keep my eyes on him and not the guy behind him who was now typing away at something with an indifferent look on his face.

“You know, you can always use the hand-dryers in the ladies,” the barman continued, after passing me the towels, “my girlfriend is always spilling drinks on herself, she says using the hand-dryers is better.”

I mentally found myself sighing in relief at the thought of this guy already having a girlfriend—although hoping it wasn’t too evident on my face. An ex-boyfriend had once told me my face was expressive. He didn’t mean it in a nice way either. At least there was less chance of the barman trying to hit on me; the one man in the bar I didn’t want to hit on me.

Although, a small part of me wanted to challenge myself to that unspoken agreement I had with myself only a few days ago. I had told myself that it shouldn’t be up to the men to make the first move. Women should make the first move. More importantly, I should make the first move.

“Oh, thanks, but it’s for my laptop, not me.” I smiled, but I suddenly felt myself blush, as the handsome man staring at his laptop suddenly looked up. Our eyes met only briefly as he took a sip of a drink that looked a lot like whiskey. His eyes were back down on the laptop in mere milliseconds. It was over so quickly that I could have just imagined it. I didn’t even manage to get what colour they were.

I suddenly felt deflated. He didn’t even smile at me. His eyes didn’t even linger enough to suggest he was attracted. There was no Hollywood spark. Nothing. Well, there goes the idea that he might even be in to me.

“Oh, sure!” the barman smiled. I looked back at him, trying to keep my eyes fixed on this man instead, as well as trying to keep my face straight and not frown in my disappointment. He didn’t seem to have noticed, and he certainly didn’t seem interested in hearing my story about how my laptop got wet. “Do you want a drink?”

“Yeah, might as well!” I nodded and sighed, feeling tired and sore now that I thought about it. Well, I had just trudged from university with my laptop over my shoulder, heading towards my bus stop before I got splashed. “Do you have Dalwhinnie?” I asked, feeling a little defiant and wanting to drink something that might impress. I didn’t want either of the men thinking I was just a silly woman who also was a bit accident prone. Although, I didn’t really want a glass of Dalwhinnie, I actually just fancied a glass of coke. I felt a little thirsty after trudging out of my class and carrying around my laptop everywhere. A glass of whisky wasn’t going to quench that thirst. But I had somehow convinced myself whisky was the better choice in my situation.

I noticed the barman lifted a curious eyebrow at me and I felt a small inward triumph. Although for a split second, doubt creeped through me that that eyebrow signalled something other than being impressed. “Of course. You want a glass of that?”

“Please.” I nodded and smiled sweetly as I started to unzip my leather jacket and loosen my small black scarf around my neck. It wasn’t that cold outside. It was spring. Nearly summer. But it was the Scottish weather; it was a little cold for me. I preferred warmer weather.

“Ice?” the barman asked as he wandered over to the glasses and picked up a glass very similar to what the handsome man had. I noticed then that the handsome man was looking up at me again and I felt my cheeks flush again. My hopes skyrocketed, but my self-doubts kept them from going too high.

I just gave him a raised eyebrow and smiled at him before deliberately cutting off the eye contact myself this time and looked back at the barman, who I playfully frowned at and said, “And risk diluting it with water? No, thanks.”

The barman looked up at me curiously again but smiled when he noticed I was smiling at him. He nodded. “Good point. That’s three-ninety, please.”

After the barman placed the whisky on the bar top, I shifted my laptop shoulder strap over my shoulder and reached into my pocket of my leather jacket, bringing out my bank card to pay for it. “Thanks,” I muttered politely and was about to hand him my card when he spoke, and I stopped in my tracks.

“We only accept payments over five-pound, love, sorry.”

“Oh!” I felt panic rise in me. I felt instantly stupid. I should have asked that they take card first. As soon as my face fell into sheer shock, I noticed the handsome man was back to looking at me again, a small wicked smile on his face. I felt a little small compared to him as if he was mocking me. But I suddenly had a brilliant idea. “In that case, make it two Dalwhinnies.” I smiled triumphantly.

The barman raised his eyebrow at me again but held a strange frown on his face. This time I was sure he wasn’t impressed. Maybe he was worried I was going to get too drunk and needed to be escorted out of the bar. But I wasn’t going to explain and ruin the idea I had.

He seemed to reluctantly make me another Dalwhinnie and placed it on the bar top while watching my face curiously. It was as if he was waiting for the answer to appear on my forehead. But he finally passed me the card reader so I could pay for the drinks. I was grateful to pick up the two glasses, the paper towels shoved into my jacket pocket carelessly and walk passed the bar towards the back of the room.

I had deliberately aimed for the large booths at the back. There were three large booths with large built in seats. The deep red leather looked inviting and comfortable. Plus, more importantly, it meant having to walk passed that exceptionally handsome customer at the bar.

As I walked past him, smelling a wonderful masculine yet probably expensive fragrance, I stopped and placed one of the Dalwhinnies next to his hand. “That one’s for you,” I said, with the sweetest smile I could muster. He looked round at me in surprise, just as I caught a glimpse of an email account open on his laptop with what looked like a lot of unread business emails. But he frowned as if I had just invaded his personal space and I added quickly: “With that frown on your face earlier, you look like you need one just as much as me.”

I then wandered off while taking a sip of my own glass, without even waiting for him to say anything. I was sure I could feel his eyes staring at the back of my head in amazement. I didn’t want to give him chance to brush me off; I wanted him to know that I was just being polite and friendly, not coming onto him. I imagined a lot of women hitting on him, being as handsome as he was, and that was the last thing he wanted if he was busy with work stuff. But at the same time, I wanted him to take notice of me and not as the silly girl who didn’t carry change around with her.

It’s not like I was expecting him to be interested, I just wanted to feel a little in control. I knew a guy like that wouldn’t be interested in me. I was short, looked young for my age and always seemed to look like I was scowling at everyone. I didn’t even think I was that attractive. Not like most of the girls I’d seen in bars. Plus, guys seemed to like the girls with thick make-up and blonde hair. My hair was a dark shade of red—natural of course—one side would flick out while the other flicked in, and if it was too wet outside it would go frizzy. I had stopped dying or bleaching my hair a long time ago, realising that I should just love who I was, my unruly red hair, stupid button nose and all. I was a bit of a rocker-chick too, with my dark eye make-up and leather jacket, rather than a sweet girly-girl, and I was proud of that.

I had also made a promise to myself. After having terrible luck with men; having dated what seemed like only manipulative men or desperate men who just didn’t want to be alone. Then I had a deliberate two-year single spell. I realised that not only was I worth more than the low-life men I had dated in the past, but I wasn’t going to settle for a guy just for the hell of being in a relationship. I wanted a decent relationship. Hell, I wanted a best friend to spend my life with. If I couldn’t find that person, then I was happy enough just being single and making the most of life.

But in those two years, I had a lot of time to realise that I hadn’t really had chance to meet any decent men. I wasn’t sure why it was. Maybe it was because I was unattractive? Maybe it was because I looked too young? Maybe it was because I prefer to wear jeans and t-shirts instead of wearing a dress and getting uncomfortable and cold? I moved to Scotland, it was a little cooler than England. But I also thought that there was another possibility; after speaking to my male friends, a lot of them had admitted they don’t like to approach attractive women in fear of being rejected. So, somewhere in my head I decided that, why should it be men that approach women first? More importantly, why didn’t I approach men first? Rather than waiting for them to approach me? Not that I thought I was attractive! That was another problem; I was sure it was because I was unattractive that men didn’t approach me. But I was going to fake confidence and test it out.

That handsome guy at the bar; he was just a test to see if I could do it. Seems I could. Although, with a ridiculously fast beating heart, stupidly sweaty palms, the thoughts of doubt quickly creeped into my head as I settled into the seat.

Why did I just give a guy a glass of Dalwhinnie? What if he didn’t want it? What if he didn’t like Dalwhinnie? What if he thought I was stupid? Oh god!

Click here to read the next chapter!

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Don’t forget to check out my other works!

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

New Story Idea – “I fell in Love with a Psychopath”

Update! This might be my last post for a while…

So, tomorrow I drive to the South West of England to start my next chapter… a Master’s Degree!

I nearly didn’t, mostly because I got a phone call from the car hire company and I found out that I ‘failed’ a house check… long story, but it’s sorted now! Managed to book another car, although it’s slightly more expensive, and it was all rather stressful as this all happened last minute! But panic over… for now.

As a result of this move, this new chapter, I may not be online as much. I have enlisted the help of a friend to be my Marketing Manager, who will (hopefully) take care of Twitter, my Facebook Page, my Website and Instagram at some point.

My book ‘I fell in Love with a Psychopath’ is still going to be released 29th of September. The e-book is on a pre-release, so it’ll release automatically on the 29th, and I will be releasing the paperback myself on the 29th, if all goes to plan!

The 50% off for the e-book version of ‘It’s My Mistake’ is also still running, if you subscribe to my newsletter on my website you will be automatically given the code:
https://thegirlwhowhispered.wixsite.com/pennyhooper

You can also buy the paperback version here:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Its-My-Mistake-Penny-Hooper/dp/1985376709

This is the e-book version here (currently at 35% off on the website, but if you sign up to the newsletter, you can get 50% off!): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/744287

That’s it for now! I will try to blog, as I will be trying to keep my writing going, but I can’t imagine much exciting happening! I will try to keep WattPad up-to-date, but I’m not keen on investing too much time on WattPad these days! Too much time goes into it for such a little return!

But in a years time, I am hoping to push it hard! I will look into opening my own business, getting my books printed by a third party company, attend events (book signing events) and invest in real advertising/ marketing!

All the best!
~Penny.

Coming 29th September!

P.S. Don’t forget I’m on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Feel free to connect here:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

13 days to go!

The count-down begins!… Well, it began the moment I got a release date, but I haven’t used that line yet…

13 days left until I fell in Love with a Psychopath is released!

E-book will be available here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/893044

If you would like a paperback copy, watch this space! 🙂

Coming 29th September!

Coming 29th September!

It’s true! I Fell in Love with a Psychopath is coming out on the 29th of September!

Coming 29th September!

If you’re an e-book fan, you can pre-order your e-copy here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/893044

Otherwise, watch this space for the paperback version!

Don’t forget to check out my new Teaser Trailer for Rose Garden Sanatorium here!

Rose Garden Sanatorium Top 10 in the Cryptic Awards 2018!

… But I need your help to get to #1!

Yesterday I got a little notification from WattPad… how I love to see that little red dot on my WattPad account to tell me I have another notification!

And when I opened it up yesterday, I found my story; Rose Garden Sanatorium, had made the Top 10 in the Cryptic Awards 2018!

*Gasp*

I have a LOT of faith in that story, so I know it will do well, I just need people to give it the chance. ❤ And seeing it make the Top 10 really made my day yesterday (especially since I had a slightly crash because of my Fibromyalgia too, feeling better today though!)

WattPad has a lot of readers (and writers, like me) who love to read stories, but I see a general pattern with the *type* of stories that get read the most on there… they’re mostly romance. Now, I don’t mind, I write romance too, but for the stories like Rose Garden Sanatorium which doesn’t focus heavily around romance, they are harder to get seen. Well, to be honest, getting recognised on WattPad is hard enough as it is! So, Rose Garden Sanatorium, although it’s been my main project since January 2017, hasn’t been as popular on there.

I have submitted it to the Watty Awards, I have sent it to a literary agent, I have even sent it to WattPad Studios as I have faith it is a good story (the whole series is). And winning Top 10 in the Cryptic Awards is (hopefully) the first step into getting more momentum on the story!

HOWEVER… it seems that to win top spot on the Cryptic Awards means I need people to vote for it, so I am writing this in a plea to people to go on WattPad (it’s free to set up, if you don’t have an account) and vote for Rose Garden Sanatorium to be Number 1 and Best Dark Adventure!

Here’s the link to where you can vote: https://www.wattpad.com/616298631-the-cryptic-awards-closed-%E2%99%A6-the-choosing-%E2%99%A6

Voting closes on the 15th September 2018.

And here’s the link to the story if you’d like to read it before then:

https://www.wattpad.com/story/124077410-rose-garden-sanatorium

1. Rose Garden Sanatorium NEW (2)

Rose Garden Sanatorium made it to Top 30 in an Award!

If you’ve been following what I do on WattPad, you may have noticed that I have submitted to a few awards recently (as well as WattPad studios, which is another story!)

One of the awards I submitted was to the Earnesty Writer’s Awards 2018 – two books have been submitted, ‘Rose Garden Sanatorium’ and ‘I fell in Love with a Psychopath’ into two very different genres.

Today, I got a notification to say they’ve got the results for the Top 30 Paranormal and Horror/ Mystery/ Thriller genre, and my book ‘Rose Garden Sanatorium’ got through! 😀

Check out the results here: https://www.wattpad.com/612140018-earnesty-writer%27s-awards-2018-top-30-paranormal

I’m super exciting, because that one is my favourite and it would be absolutely amazing if I won something!

If I don’t, it’ll still be brilliant that I get a few new people reading my work, and hopefully build up my popularity. 🙂

If you want to see what all the fuss is about, check it out here: https://www.wattpad.com/story/124077410-rose-garden-sanatorium

Looking forward to find out if the other one does any good on the Earnesty Writer’s Awards, as well as the other Awards I submitted to… Including the famous Watty Awards! 😀

1. Rose Garden Sanatorium NEW (2)

Butterfly House – Chapter 2

Note: If you’d like to read the Prologue and Chapter 1, please find them here:
Prologue
Chapter 1


Chapter 2

The sound of music filled the air as a red Aston Martin Vantage convertible drove down a relatively busy road in the city centre of London, its roof down. The owner of the car, a young pretty woman with long brown hair tied back into pony tail, sunglasses and a large smile on her face, tapped to the beat of the song on her car door as she rested her arm out the window.

The car gave a bit of life to the street for a few minutes, the happy song filling everyone with joy, and the bright beautiful car turning most men’s heads, even a few of the women who either appreciated the car too, or were hoping to see a hot rich guy in the seat instead.

The woman grinned as a set of pedestrian lights turned red, signalling her to stop. She grinned because stopping the car was sometimes the best bit, being able to concentrate on the people around her and not the road, taking in their looks and agape faces as they stared. She winked at a young lad, no older than eighteen, but realised he probably couldn’t see her eyes behind her glasses so gave him a cheeky grin instead.

But just as the lad stumbled across the road, his cheeks going red, the music dulled and her car speakers were filled with a ringing sound instead. She sighed, looked down at her mobile which was on the passenger seat, recognising the caller ID, she pressed the answer button on her steering wheel.

“Hello, beautiful,” she said, making a balding middle-aged man look round in shock as he walked passed the car, and suddenly looking embarrassed when he heard another voice come from the speakers, knowing instantly that that hot woman in the expensive car wasn’t talking to him.

“Al, next Saturday!” said a woman’s voice.

The woman in the car, just as she started to drive off now the lights were green, gasped and said, “Have you realised you love me, so you’re leaving Dillon and running away with me?”

The woman in the speakers laughed. “Lunch, babe.”

“Ah, that’s the next best thing I suppose.”

“Is twelve okay?”

“Midnight?”

Another laugh. “Lunch at midnight?”

“You know me, I like to live life on the edge, thought maybe you were taking a leaf out of my book?”

“I’m in bed by nine these days!”

“That’s usually the same time I get up!”

“At night, babe.”

“Exactly!”

Another laugh. “Then what are you doing up this early?”

The woman in the car looked round at the time on the screen in her car, it read nine-thirty in the morning. “Haven’t gone to bed yet.”

Another laugh. “I can’t tell if you’re joking or not!”

“Sometimes I can’t tell either.” She laughed.

“So, you free next Saturday?”

“Will Dillon be there?”

“No, he’s working, just you and me.”

“That’s a shame, I’d quite like a threesome.”

“Allison!” her friend groaned, and she could almost see her friend going red from embarrassment.

The woman called Allison laughed, just as she saw a disgusted look from an old lady who was walking down the street as she drove past, clearly having overheard Allison. “I’m kidding!” she said, and gave a small pause before saying; “It’s all about foursomes now! Much more fun and no risk of someone missing out.”

Her friend groaned loudly. “I’m regretting booking this place now.”

“Where have you booked?”

“It’s that new place the other side of the city, beautiful willow trees in the gardens.”

“My house?”

“No.” Her friend sighed. “I can’t remember the name of the place.”

“Sounds exciting.”

“So, you free?”

“I’m always free for you, baby,” Allison replied. “I’ll even wear my kinky outfit.”

“I wonder why we’re friends sometimes, you know.”

“I pay you well.”

The woman on the phone laughed again, and then was cut off by sirens as an ambulance drove past.

“Where are you?” her friend asked.

“Victoria Street.”

“Oh god, you’re talking to me on hands free through the speakers with your top down again, aren’t you?”

“Yep,” Allison said, a huge grin on her face, as she stopped by another set of traffic lights. She glanced to her side as another car rolled up next to her. A rather plump looking couple in a beat up Volvo glared at her from within, the passenger; a woman with greying hair and a large mole on her chin, had her window down in the sun. “Oh, toats hot couple right next to me in traffic!” Allison yelled deliberately loud. “Shall I ask them if they want to have a foursome with us?”

“What?” said her friend on the phone, she must have not heard her or was momentarily distracted at work.

“Hot couple, three o’clock, say hi, Kathy!”

Just at the same time as Kathy groaned on the phone, the woman in the passenger seat of the Volvo went red and rolled her window up. Allison just burst out laughing.

“I have to go,” Kathy said, her voice sounding absolutely horrified.

“Don’t worry, you can have the guy, I’ll have the hot chick. Her mole is a strange turn on.”

“Allison,” Kathy groaned. “I have a meeting in five minutes, I’ll ring you later or something to give you the details for next Saturday.”

“Bollox do you have a meeting, you have an awful lot of them when you’re on the phone to me.”

“I was being polite.”

“Don’t be,” Allison said, as she started to drive off again. “Just tell me to fuck off, I don’t mind.”

“Alright, fuck off.”

“Well, I say!”

“Bye, Allison.”

“Love you, sexy.”

There was another groan before the line went dead and the music started to run back up, Allison just drove, singing along without a care in the world, as she drove towards the Wellington Arch.

***

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Thanks for reading!
If you like what you read, please check out my other works.

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

I also have a book published, “It’s My Mistake” with 5-star reviews!

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1 – UPDATED

It’s also out in paperback where you can get a physical copy here!

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Chapter 4

Note: If you’re new to the story please read the Prologue here!

Chapter 4

Carlos Hayek

In another time zone, half-way across the world, Carlos Hayek had been flicking his stress-ball up in the air when that little, daunting light came on. He hadn’t noticed it first, not only was his attention on the little ball, but he was extremely tired and not much usually ever happened in that room. Although, he knew his job was important. He knew it was a matter of national security. Even if he wasn’t allowed to ask questions about it.

He was content not to ask questions too. He got paid pretty well not to. He had enough money to live in the city and send money back to his distant family in Mexico, and New York City certainly wasn’t the cheapest city to live in. He probably would have been happy even if the work wasn’t moral. He was that sort of person. He didn’t know if it was or not, but he couldn’t promise the thought hadn’t crossed his mind once or twice.

The room he was in was modern. It was windowless, with lights bright enough to simulate day even if it was just past two in the morning. There were a mixture of mostly warm light colours of earthy tones on the walls, yet with sharp lines. There were sounds playing through speakers to simulate the outside world; birds, wind, running water, leaves rustling, sometimes it changed too, depending on the time of year. Although it was a huge contrast to what was outside, as the building itself faced East River with the bottom of Roosevelt Island could just be seen. As soon as Hayek stepped outside he was greeted with the sounds of beeping horns from the traffic, distant sirens, chatter from passing walkers and traffic lights. The room was specifically designed to be both warm and inviting, yet stimulating. They wanted those employed inside the walls to be alert yet comfortable.

It was well equipped, with a coffee machine—although it was currently out of order and Hayek and his other colleagues who did the other shifts had been emailing and emailing to get it fixed—there was fridge full of different drinks; water, cola, lemonade, orange juice to name a few, that was stocked daily—of course, alcohol was categorically forbidden—cookies and other assortment of candies were always stocked in the fridge too, there was also a wooden fruit bowl on top of it, stocked with apples, bananas, oranges and pears, to encourage workers to stay healthy. As well as foods and drinks, there was a modern desk with a modern touch-sensitive light probably only for decoration, a basic computer, functional for only his role and a simple black chair.

On the wall in front of him there was a large board with one hundred and ninety-three various LED lights, all next to a corresponding label. When one of those lights started to flash, the computer would pick up on it and display the category it corresponds to. It was a simple system, there wasn’t any need to over-complicated it. It, and the room in general, had one function; report which label or labels were flashing.

Other than the fridge, the desk, the fruit bowl and the wall with LEDS, the room was considered bare. There was no TV, radio, not even a telephone, no electronics were allowed inside the room. No magazines, newspapers, books, or writing equipment were even allowed. Hayek and his colleagues who worked solely within the room were only allowed to bring in a limited amount of items in with them; their clothes on their backs, reading glasses and medication. Other items were seen as a distraction from the important role they had. Even windows were seen as a distraction; the possibility of seeing a bird, a butterfly, a leaf, even a cloud was too much. The items inside the room were of course a distraction, but when they designed the room, they knew it was impossible to remove all distractions, especially if you wanted to keep your employees happy. So, it was designed to limit the risks of distractions and this was their best effort to not only keep the employee happy and effectively disseminate their important role. The only reason why Hayek had been allowed a take-away coffee cup was because he had pressured his boss into it after the automatic coffee machine had decided to give up on life—probably from the overuse—and his ball he was currently throwing up in the air was deemed as a stress reliever and was unfortunately allowed. Of course, his boss was reluctant to allow both, the ball more so, and Hayek clearly demonstrated the reason why his boss was reluctant.

Hayek had a personal competition with himself, to see how high he could get the ball. At first, he wanted to see how small the ball would look before the forces of gravity—which Hayek wouldn’t admit, he never understood—would hurl it back, sometimes smacking him in the face. He then tested how high the ball could go by lining it up with certain points in the room, how high up the LED board could he get it—without touching the board of course, he did that once, the ball smacked the board nearly knocking out the LED light for a label he couldn’t even pronounce, he got threatened with being fired—how high up past the curving lines to his left could he get it. He also tested both hands, he was left-handed, and wanted to know if he could get the ball as high with his right.

Before his variety of vertical-ball competitions, he had another competition to see how much pressure he could assert on the ball before it broke. He tried with his right hand first to test his right-handed strength. But the competition was short-lived when he accidentally got too confident and did the hand strength test with his left hand and split it, which was why he changed to the vertical challenge, he had of course sewn it up when he got home that day.

Before that, his competition was to see if he could get the ball to rotate in the air and land in his hand with a certain colour facing upwards. His little stress-ball had six sides; two were red, two were blue and the last two were yellow. It was old and faded as he’d had it since before he could remember. He had a small fascination with the yellow colour as it wasn’t that far off the yellow that was on the lamp shade; a dull yellow or daffodil.

Before he was allowed his stress-ball, he had made the most of the contents of the room, being amused by the touch-sensitive daffodil-coloured lamp, seeing how quick the lamp’s reactions were, counting the ceramic diamond shapes on the body. He amused himself with the label off the bottles in the fridge, the chocolate bars—it was in that room he realised Reece’s had an apostrophe in it, he’d never even cared to notice before—even the half-peeling sticker on the bottom of the fruit bowl. He amused himself with the light in the little fridge, the strange dent on the fridge’s left side, and the small kink in the seal it had, which he was very pleased with himself the day he fixed it.

And of course, he amused himself with the LED board. He counted the LEDs, almost always counting one hundred and ninety-three. He counted the labels he recognised, then counted the labels he didn’t. He attempted to find patterns in it, or inspecting the LEDs and wondering if the damn board even worked.

He noticed the red flickering LED when he stopped his little competition to take a drink of his coffee. Unbeknown to himself it had been flickering for a whole two minutes before he noticed. When he did, he nearly coughed it back into the cup. He sat, with the take-away paper cup to his lips, staring at the red blinking light for a few seconds trying to work out whether he had finally cracked, the room making him go mad, or if that little red light really was blinking. After what felt like years getting paid a small fortune to amuse himself in the strange room, he almost forgot what he was actually in there for.

But then he remembered the procedure. He bolted upright, his stress-ball that was originally on his lap where it was resting and momentarily forgotten was catapulted up onto the desk and knocked the lamp, making it wobble. He had also slammed the paper cup on the desk, the contents having sloshed over the desk and trickled over it, and now dripped onto the floor.

***

Deputy Secretary-General Editha Kalumuna

“Your Excellency…” said the voice on the other end of the phone. It sounded nervous and slightly hesitant.

The Deputy Secretary-General Kalumuna had been fast asleep only moments ago before the phone rang, she rolled over in bed to answer it as quickly as possible before it disturbed her husband. She wasn’t necessarily expecting a phone call, but it wasn’t out of the usual to receive a call this early in the morning, considering her position. But, when the phone rang, she was expecting a different voice on the other end, one from her boss, not the one she heard. She knew the voice of course. She dreaded hearing that voice.

“Hayek?” Kalumuna asked, nervous of the answer.

“Yes, your Excellency,” Hayek said. “I’m sorry, but… a light has come on.”

Kalumuna suddenly sat bolt upright, very awake. “A light?”

“Yes.”

“Who?” she asked.

“United Kingdom, ma’am.”

“Why in the hell are you telling me?” she snapped before she realised what she was doing.

“I… err…” Hayek wavered. “I cannot get hold of the Secretary General, ma’am.”

Kalumuna frowned slightly, a wave of different emotions went through her. She’d admit that annoyance was her first emotion, the fact the Secretary General wasn’t answering his phone and she had to be the second in line to take it, then worry that something had happened to him, considering what this phone call represented, then finally guilt when she remembered where the Secretary General was; he was on holiday.

The Secretary General was half-way into his annual holiday to Hawaii, he went every year to the same spot. Kalumuna never understood his interest in going every year, she preferred to try new places or visit her hometown, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to visit relatives. But the Secretary General, although his ancestors were Ghanaian decent, he had been born and grew up in Boston, USA and was a typical American who liked his usual holiday spots. It wasn’t his only holiday spot either, he was also frequent to Fiji, Thailand and St Andrews, Scotland for the golfing.

It was, however, unusual that the Secretary General wasn’t answering his phone. He always had his phone on him, in case of an emergency. It didn’t happen often, of course, ringing him and disturbing him for an emergency. Normally Kalumuna could deal with it herself. But then, this was a particular type of emergency. She just hoped the Secretary General was busy and missed the call, it was about nine in the evening in Hawaii.

“Sorry, Hayek,” Kalumuna said, and sighed. “I’ll deal with it. Keep an eye on that board. Call me if anything changes.”

“Yes, ma’am!” Hayek said almost military-like, making her wonder for a moment if he had been drafted at some point in his past, but couldn’t remember, and then hung up on her.            

Without hesitation—and ignoring her husband’s half-awake questions—she got out of bed, slipped on her night robe and rushed into her home office to make some very important calls.

Click here to read the next chapter!


If you liked this story, please check out my other works!

New Story Idea – “I fell in Love with a Psychopath”

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

Check out these other posts about Rose Garden Sanatorium!

New Full Book Trailer! For Rose Garden Sanatorium

Rose Garden Sanatorium Top 10 in the Cryptic Awards 2018!

My Book ‘It’s My Mistake’ available in paperback!

Hey guys,

So, I’ve been a little busy lately, what with my degree coming to an end, applying for graduate jobs and, just in case I can’t get a graduate job, Master’s degrees. I’ve been stressing about it all.

But… just a quick post so you are aware… my first paperback is now available in paperback!

If you’d like a copy, here are the links below.

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Its-My-Mistake-Penny-Hooper/dp/1985376709/

USA: https://www.amazon.com/Its-My-Mistake-Penny-Hooper/dp/1985376709/