Sunday, 19 February 2017

Foxy and Cinders

Foxy and Cinders

Available now in paperback from Amazon and other good booksellers - Feb 2017

Foxy and Cinders

Foxy was born in a lovely warm den in the woods. He had brothers and sisters and they played a lot of games when they were pups. Foxy was a cunning wee chap, his coat was a beautiful red colour, as were all his brothers and sisters. Their mother hunted well for them, and every night she would go out and bring back something, a rabbit, sometimes even a chicken, and once she brought a goose. So there was plenty to eat.
The whole family grew well, but little Foxy was always a little bit smaller than his brothers and sisters, he was chubby and fluffy, and looked like a rust ball of fluff when he was asleep.
As they all grew, his brothers and sisters would call him names, they said he was ‘chubby’ and ‘short’, and not at all manly. But Foxy was a wise little cub and he simply let them carry on and never called them names back.
He would go off for long walks and come back having seen all kinds of things, while his brothers and sister would simply sleep or roll around the floor having play fights.
One day Foxy decided to take a walk up the mountain path, either side of him were the most beautiful purple thistles, such a lovely colour and Foxy got closer to take a better look. He never realised that thistles were prickly and he caught his fur in them. He struggled and struggled trying to free himself from the spiky thorns and as he did this he scratched his face and his paws. He tried and tried to free himself from the prickles but he couldn't get free. Suddenly he heard a great flapping sound and looked up and there above him flew a big dragon and a small dragon. The big dragon was teaching the smaller, younger, dragon how to fly.
Foxy called out and the little dragon turned her head and seeing him, swooped down towards him.
The young dragon was the colour of a red brick, a cross between brown and red, she had scales all over her body and on the top of her head and down to her shoulders she had a hard ridge, which looked like a line of triangles resting on her skin. She had a tail as long as her body, which she could swish from side to side, and her two front legs were much shorter than the two thicker and longer ones at the back. She used her front limbs rather like we use our arms. Her feet had long curly claws, which gave her a good grip on the ground. The dragon looked at him with her beautiful large eyes, fringed with long eyelashes.  She would have looked pretty if it wasn't for her long face, which gave her a scary look.
At first Foxy was afraid, but then the dragon smiled. ‘I’m Cinders,' she said. ‘I’ll get you out of there. Just close your eyes for a moment.’
Cinders let out a great roar and Foxy felt the fierce heat on his skin, followed by a horrible smell of burning fur. He opened his eyes and saw all the thistles around him had burnt away.  He looked down shocked at his singed fur.
‘I’m so sorry,’ Cinders said, and started to cry.
Foxy put his paw on her. ‘Don’t cry, Cinders, no one did anything like that before for me. I’d love to be your best friend if you let me.’
Cinders stopped crying and smiled at him. ‘I’ve never had a best friend before and I would love to be your best friend too.’

So the two friends see each other every day, they go on lots of adventures during the nice warm months. Everyone, especially the other fox cubs, has a great deal of respect for Foxy and Cinders now, and call him ‘Master Foxy’, and his dragon friend, ‘Mistress Cinders’.
They local folk leave fruit out for Cinders, she loves strawberries, blueberries and bananas, and they collect berries from the hedge for her, which she loves.
Foxy likes fruit and berries as well, but he is far fonder of meat, so he’s learning to go hunting for his own supper, which is the way of life for a small fox.
Naturally, Cinders is still learning to control her fire breath, it’s very difficult at first for a young dragon and she keeps leaving little piles of cinders all over the place. It’s fine if it’s a pile of rubbish, especially garden rubbish, but it can be terrible if it's not.
Foxy goes about happily now and no one calls him names any more, Cinders is never far away from him and she often looks around for places to practice her fire breathing, but she still manages to burn things to a cinder.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

The Boy Who Fell Through Time

The Old Library, chapter one.

The Boy Who Fell Through Time
1.   The Door in the Library.

Francis Patcham had been lucky, or maybe it was simply a matter of hard work, he had won himself a place, free of charge at a very good boarding school in Hampshire. At first it was very difficult to get used to sleeping with others in a room, having to live your life to a strict timetable, but bit by bit he had overcome the problems and was now into the winter term.

Francis was thirteen years old when he started at the School and was due to remain there, apart from school holidays until he was at least sixteen, maybe eighteen years old.

The different subjects were interesting, he'd not had a chance in his previous school to learn Latin or Greek, but now he was really enjoying the experience and looking through the school library to find books witch were written in the old languages.

Many of the oldest books were in a section next to the wall, away from the door, presumably to help keep them away from the changing temperatures as people came and went, often leaving the door wide open.

Francis had been working on his homework, during a study period in the library when he needed to find a book with more information about healing in times gone by, what early doctors used before the time of antibiotics, painkillers and before vaccinations.

He went back to the same section of the library and was taking a large leather bound book off the shelf when he lost his balance and leaned heavily into the bookcase.
There was a creek and the whole bookcase gave way and he found himself falling into darkness. A cold breeze blew across his face and he tried to find his footing, only to fall down onto a wooden floor with a bump.

For a moment he couldn't see a thing, it was all blackness and then gradually as his eyes became accustomed to the dim light he realised he had fallen into some kind of laboratory. There was a candle burning set into an old candle stick, the light sending smoky whirls up into the air.
A large old wooden table stood in the middle of the room and on it were several glass bottles, and a large marble bowl, a thick one with a thick wooden handle sticking out of it.
Over in the corner were piles of very old books, leather bound like the one that had fallen with him into the room. But other than the soft sound of the candle burning, all was very quiet.

Francis stood up and walked around the room, looking to see if anything would give him a clue as to where he was, which part of the school this strange door led to.

Then he heard footsteps and he hung back in the shadows and stood very still, in the hope that whoever was coming might not see him in the dark, he was fairly sure he was not permitted into this part of the school. Or was this still the school? Had he fallen into a part of the building now owned by the school?

The door on the other side of the room opened and light shone in, a man in his middle ages walked into the room carrying a three branched candlestick which lit up the room. He was tall, of medium build and had shoulder length dark hair with sprinkles of silver streaked through it. He was wearing a long robe of some kind, and around his neck hung a pendant with a strange symbol on it.

The man put the candlestick down on the table and looked around, spotting the dropped leather bound book on the floor that Francis had left in a rush to get back against the shadows, to hid as best he could. The man picked the book up, 'I've not seen this one for many a year and its just what I needed!' he said. 'But who brought it?'

He stood still for a moment and listened, 'come out from the shadows, I know you are there, I can hear your heart beating' said the man.

Not knowing what was going to become of him now, Francis moved slowly forward into the light and faced the man.

'Hello, and I'm guessing you came from the library, what's your name boy?' said the man.

'Francis Patcham sir, I'm sorry if I am in the wrong place, but the bookcase gave way and I fell through' he said.

'Did you by gove! And pray tell me, what year is it at the moment, from where you came?'
'Why sir its 1972,' answered Francis, knowing full well that if a master or teacher asks you a question, then you must answer it and answer it truthfully.

'Well son, I fear you are in a different time now and that's for sure' said the man.
'I don't understand, what year did you think it was sir?' answered Francis.

'I can tell you, its 1772 and you have fallen not only through the bookcase, but through time itself!'

There was an odd silence which seemed to go on for a very long time while neither man nor boy said a word. Both trying to come to terms with these facts.

It was quiet for a moment and then they both heard footsteps approaching.
'Quick, curl up in a ball and I can cover you with a cloth, quickly now! Said the Master.
The door flung open and a women came in, 'Have you got my medicine yet?' said the women in a very haughty voice.
'No Mam, it won't be ready until later this evening, but I promise that I will have it ready before bedtime', he said.

'Very well, send it to me as quickly as possible', said the women.

' I certainly will for sure' said the master with a little bow of the head. The women turned around and swept out of the door, her long skirts sweeping the floor as she went and as the door closed all went quiet again.

'You can come out now, let me have a look at you young Francis and we had better find you something to wear other than your uniform'.

Francis came out from under the cloth and stretched,' Who was that, she was very rude to you?' he said.

'Let me introduce myself, my name is, Edward Langley and I am the  Duke's Doctor.'

'Where am I?' asked Francis.
'You are in the home of the Duke of Sutton, and I can only imagine that in years to come this house is going to be turned into a school and part of the old house remains, especially the library.'

'Can I get back the same way?' asked Francis.

'I would imagine that we would need to try when the Moon is full, the magical atmosphere is strongest then and perhaps we can find a way. ' said Edward. 'But for the time being, I shall have to find you something to wear and take you on as my apprentice, that will solve the problem for now', he said.

Edward went to the other end of the room where a large wardrobe stood, and opened the door and looked through the contents, 'Here we are, this should fit you and I will find you something softer to wear underneath' he said.

'Shall I keep my underpants on sir?' asked Francis.
'You’re underwhat? ' replied Edward.

'You know sir, the things I wear underneath my trousers' and Francis pulled the waist of his trousers down enough to show the waistband of his underpants.'

'My goodness no! These have not been invented as yet, we don't wear anything under our robes, no one does! What we can do is to fold all your modern clothes up and tie them into a parcel and hide them in this wardrobe, then when the full moon comes and we can have a try at sending you back to your own time, you can take the modern clothes with you. Now hurry up and get changed before anyone else comes. Said Edward.

As he changed into a long brown robe with a hood and cord belt, he took his shoes off and was handed a pair of sandals by Edward, the Doctor, and they then packed all his modern clothes up and tied them in a parcel with a small rug.

It was agreed that he would remain Francis Patcham and that he would be Dr. Edward Langley's apprentice and help him with the lotions and potions which were needed by both the family and members of the staff.

His first task was to chop up mint leaves and add a small amount of brandy to them in order to make a medicine for indigestion.

The room took on a hive of activity as both master and pupil went to work chopping, blending and mixing.

'I shall take you down to the kitchens later and make sure you have something to eat, but first let us get these tasks finished' said Edward.
'Very good sir' came the reply and Francis put an effort into chopping the mint leaves.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Life in the Garden

Here's a tale to share with your children, its been buzzing around my head for weeks now so here we go:-

Life in the Garden.
Crash, bang and the noise could be heard for several miles, the potting shed was just a pile of planks of wood and shattered flowerpots and earth. Rodger the small gardener wriggled free from one of the planks and dusted down his leather apron. ‘Bother, bother, and bother again!’ he said to himself.

There was a bright light, a sound like a firework going off and into the garden, through the flash of light came Ashley, she was not pleased, but nothing could really make her cross, she was charm and calm itself.

‘What’s happened here Rodger?’ she asked.

‘I’m very sorry Ashley but I was trying to put some more nails into the back of the shed, and I was standing on a piece of wood that was jutting out and all of a sudden it broke, the whole shed went down and left me at the bottom’.

‘Are you hurt at all?’ asked Ashley.

‘It’s only my pride’ smiled Rodger.

Ashley took out a small pad of paper and a pencil from her pocket, she was a lovely looking young women, long blond hair and clear blue eyes and moved with all the grace you would imaging such a person to have. She walked around the pile of wood and what was now rubbish.

‘Now then, we shall need: wooden planks, main uprights, more roofing material, nails, and a new door by the look of it, I think perhaps we had better leave a note for the house owner?’

‘Is that wise?’ asked Rodger.

Ashley smiled and nodded and disappeared the same way she had come, through a bright light which sounded like a ‘pop’.

Rodger started to pick up all the fallen pieces of the old shed and checked each plank of wood for faults and then put the best wood on one side and the broken pieces on the other side. He went off and came back with a wheel barrow and finished clearing all the broken bits away and walked down the garden and through an old door at the end.

The house owner was not of the same ‘tribe’ as the people who came and went in the hidden garden, she was a ‘muggle’ but her dog Cellen was very different, he was certainly a magical hound. But having actually met the folks that came and went in the garden, and got over the shock, she never told a soul, never whispered a word to anyone about the friends she went to share cakes and wine with at the Full Moon. However as an artist, Claire was allowed to sketch and paint in the garden and had produced some fine work which she sold via her website and the income certainly helped with the upkeep of the house.

Claire and the dog Cellen had been walking only a short while when she spotted a note pinned to a tree and the dog started barking and jumped up and down.

‘That’s got to be from one of your friends, it’s very unusual I had better read it’ she said to Cellen and the dog made a noise which sounded like ‘yuss’.

She opened the note and read it, this is what it said:
‘There has been a happening in the garden and the potting shed is no longer! Rodger was not badly hurt but we need some help,

Knowing what she did of the folks who worked in the garden Claire knew she needed to hurry, and that’s exactly what she did with Cellen bounding on by her side back to the old hidden garden. They went in by the old wooden door and closed it behind them, the greenery sprung back into place and you would never have seen the door, had you been walking in the woods that day.

As soon as Claire walked into the garden there was a flash, a pop and Ashley was in the garden walking towards her.

‘Thank you for coming, I don’t think we can sort all of this out without some outside help’ said Ashley.

Then Rodger came walking up the garden from the far end, looking a bit battered, but otherwise he seemed well enough.

‘It’s the old potting shed, I’m sorry to say that although its stood for 150 years, it’s now fallen and we don’t have enough wood to replace it,’ said Rodger.
‘That should not be too much of a problem, although I can’t have anyone find this garden, I will need to have the wood delivered and we will need to do the rest’, said Claire.

‘There is a carpenter in the village who would be safe, he comes from an old family and he walks a healing path, his family have been different from the others for generations and I think he would be safe enough to work with. I will give you his name and address and I suggest you go and see him face to face, he will understand.’ Ashley said.

So about half an hour later Claire was knocking on a door in the village, at the home of the village carpenter. The door had celtic knotwork carved into it, and the knocker was a green man, weathered with age. A middle aged man came to the door and looked Claire up and down, then he stood aside and simply said,
‘You had better come in and tell me what you are here for’.

Claire cleared her throat and wished her mouth had not suddenly dried up…..’I understand that you can be trusted not to repeat anything you hear or talk about anything you may see while on a job?’

The carpenter stood still for a moment and then looked knowingly at her ‘You are living in the house with the hidden garden aren’t you? Under these circumstances it will be an honour to assist in any way I can.’ he said and Claire nodded her head and handed him the list of things Ashley had written down on the piece of paper. As he read the list, little flowers started to appear around the edge of the paper and little curly lines, stars and butterflies. The carpenter’s eyes lit up with pleasure and a smile filled his face, ‘I have only once before had such a note and then I was a small boy, but I never forgot the note or the people I once met when taking some cut wood to the garden, I would be delighted to be of assistance and I can cut this and bring it to the house tomorrow’.
‘Let me give you some money for the wood’ said Claire.

‘Certainly not’, said the carpenter, ‘I would not dream of taking money for this, if I do a good job then I know good will come out of it’.

And with that, they parted company, Claire walked back home and the carpenter went into his yard and started to saw the wood, whistling all the time a happy little song.

The next morning Cellen jumped onto Claire’s bed and nuzzled her face lovingly, he kept doing it until she woke up, stretched and opened her eyes.

The sun was streaming through the window and birds were singing outside, you could hear cows calling in the fields, and some sheep but everything else was quiet. No traffic, no radio’s, it was absolute bliss thought Claire as she swung her legs over the side of her bed and stood up.

She let Cellen out into the grounds briefly and promised to take him for a walk later that morning and she checked the back door step. There, as usual was a brown earthenware bowl with the meat left for her very special dog. It was left most mornings and she knew that was the only food her very special hound was allowed to eat, that and any piece of food she herself had already taken a bite out of. That was the arrangement between her and the family who looked after the hidden garden, for it was them that provided the food for her dog.

 Bang, bang, bang went the knocker on her front door a little while later and she went through the house to open the door. There stood the carpenter and behind him a cart on wheels piled high with cut planks of wood, he was wearing a clean shirt, trousers and on his head a hat with a little feather tucked into the band.

‘I like your hat’ smiled Claire.

‘I’ve had this feather since I was a little boy, it was given me by one of the folks that tends the garden here and I wouldn’t go anywhere without it’, said the carpenter.

‘Can you bring the wood around the back and wait for a moment while I put my shoes on and we can go straight down now’.

Cellen bounded up to the carpenter and put his paws onto the man’s shoulders and gave his face a lick. ‘Hello to you too!’ said the carpenter and gently lifted the dogs paws off his shoulders.

‘Be careful of my dog, he’s staying with me for a while, I don’t own him, he belongs to those that work in the garden’.

The carpenter looked again at the dog and back to Claire, ‘Congratulations! ‘ he said.
‘I’m very grateful for the loan of Cellen, I don’t know what I would do without him’ said Claire and the carpenter simply smiled and nodded.

As they walked down to the garden they talked of nothing special, the weather, the comings and goings in the village, the price of a pint of milk, village chitter chatter really.

As they approached the thick line of bushes there was a rustle and before them the bushes moved aside and they were facing the old wooden door, Claire knocked three times and opened the door.

They pulled the cart inside between them and the door closed itself very quietly.
All at once it seemed as if fireworks were going off in the middle of the garden, several bright flashes, a few cracks and some smoke filled the space and there was Ashley, Rodger and soon followed by Eva and Jedkin, Ashley’s parents.

The carpenter went very white and looked as if he was about to pass out, but Claire put her hand on his arm and reassured him.

‘Thank you for bringing all the wood’ said Ashley, ‘we knew that you were the only one in this area who could help us’.

‘It’s my pleasure’ said the carpenter.

It took a while for the group of them, working together to unload the cart and make a neat pile of all the wood, and all the while Cellen bounded around trying to help by picking up pieces of the wood in his mouth. Once they were finished Ashley turned to the carpenter.

‘Mr Wood, David we would like to thank you for all you have done and because we know how alone you feel at times, we have brought you this little dog’ said Eva, Ashley’s mother.

Out from the outskirts of the garden came a pretty little bitch, she had red hair, soft curly fur and a very full tail. She had huge eyes and looked up at the carpenter, who’s name was ‘David Wood’.

‘David this is Sophie and she is to come and live with you for a year and a day, you will have her food left at your back door for her each morning and she must not eat any other food, apart from tiny bits of anything you have already eaten yourself’ said Eva.
‘I am overwhelmed, I just don’t know what to say, I will keep her very close to me and promise to take very good care of her’ said the carpenter.

After a while he left with his new little lady dog, Claire stayed to help build the new potting shed and before the day was out they all had a little ceremony to bless the new shed and shared some mead, which is honey wine and some biscuits, here is the little blessing they used.

‘Spirits of nature, of the elements, magical beings we ask you to assist us now. Bless each and every one person of this World and those of the fay that come to use this shed. Bless every living creature that comes into this shelter and indeed into this garden. And in return we offer any muggle who cames into this shed a feeling of warmth and calm, let this be a safe place where two Worlds can meet in friendship.’
‘So mote it be!’ said Rodger the small gardener and everyone repeated…..’So Mote it be!’

Have you never wondered why those who garden, spend hours in a potting shed working away come out full of happiness and with a calm surrounding them? Well now you know…….they have all been blessed by the fay, the magical people who also use our gardens.

The End. 

Siusaidh Ceanadach copywrite 2012.

Please contact me if you wish to use this story or part of it!