For Halloween I thought I would tell you a ghost story – and this one is true! I have changed the name of my stepdaughter (I will call her ‘Sarah’) and I am not including the exact location of her house – or of any photos of it as it is currently up for sale and I don’t want to spoil her chances of selling it. Besides she is a very private person and would not want any unwelcome attention – whatsoever!

So draw the curtains, light the pumpkin and invite the black cat on your knee…and prepare to be scared!

Sarah lives alone in an old house just a mile or so from the beautiful little village of Spofforth in North Yorkshire. Spofforth boasts a medieval castle and I will include a few photos of it here for you – if nothing else it is a great place to explore or have a picnic if you are in the area. Sarah’s house has a lovely large back garden and it catches the summer sun all day long. We have had many barbecues and family get-togethers there. It has always been something to look forward to.

But just occasionally, when the sun is getting low or evening approaches, there can be a feeling that something isn’t ‘quite right’ about the place. You don’t often notice it – but just now and again you do. We are all aware of it but you can’t quite put your finger on what it is. Sometimes, if you look at the house from the fields at the back – something is a bit ‘out of place’ if you know what I mean.

Ever since Sarah moved into the house there was a fishy smell. Faint at first but getting progressively stronger. At first it was just a whiff, a faint scent – but eventually it got so bad that it almost choked you and you had to go outside to escape it. It overwhelmed you – and you felt that it was getting in your clothes and your throat and you couldn’t breathe. It was putrid – like something had died and was decomposing in a warm room – only it was fishy. It would last about 20 minutes or so, and then just as suddenly as it started it would disappear leaving no trace at all. We have arrived at the house before now to find Sarah outside in the rain because she couldn’t face the stench. None of the other neighbours smelled it – except in her house – and it wasn’t the farmers’ ‘muk spreading’ – it happened all year round. I live in the country and I know what ‘country smells’ are..it wasn’t any of these.

And then the cigarettes. I remember sitting next to Sarah one evening in her house and we could smell cigarettes. As none of us smoked this was odd..I wondered if she had taken up smoking, but she said she hadn’t. This smell wasn’t as strong as the fishy smell, but it was definitely there. I know some plants can smell like tobacco (lilies for instance) but there were no plants in the room – and the smell disappeared after several minutes. It comes back occasionally but not very often.

Ever since she moved in there have been strange footsteps and tapping sounds, mostly upstairs. Sarah used to nervously joke about them and said it was ‘Eddy’ the friendly ghost. I once asked her how she managed to live in the house with the tapping and she said she didn’t feel that frightened – just curious – she said that Eddie would never really scare here – he was friendly!

All this was about to change.

Sarah had gone on holiday one winter and had given us a spare key and asked us to ‘keep an eye’ on the house. The day before before she was due to come home we bought her a nice fresh bunch of flowers from the local florists and put the heating on and ‘freshened up’ the house. The downstairs living room door was closed which was odd because Sarah always left the doors open – just a habit she had (strange I know but a habit nonetheless). When we opened the door we noticed lots of dead beetles on the window sill and on the carpet. Not hundreds, maybe a couple of dozen or so, but odd just the same – especially in November. We thought maybe a small animal had got in and had decomposed but we couldn’t find any trace of one and there didn’t appear to be anyway they could have got there.

Sarah arrived back on the Thursday and invited us to lunch on Sunday as a way of saying ‘thank you’ for looking after the house and just to talk about her trip away. When we got there we noticed the flowers were missing – so we asked her if she liked them and in which room had she put them in. She said she thought it strange that we would leave her dying flowers and she threw them away. Intrigued, we found them in the bin and examined them. They weren’t completely dead but they were certainly ‘well passed their best’ and couldn’t be revived. They were like this when she arrived home so they must have gone from being very fresh to almost dead in the space of a day or so!

Nothing too much untoward happened after that for a few months, even the footsteps and tapping stopped – and Sarah had a quiet Christmas and New Year. In fact very little happened until Spring when the footsteps started again. Quite faint at first but as the days progressed they started to get louder and seemed to move into the spare bedroom whereas previously they seemed to be in the main bedroom. It was about this time that we saw the ‘bedroom shadow’. We were all outside playing cricket in the fields at the back of the house and Sarah had gone to the shop for some food for a barbecue we were planning. One of the kids had hit the ball into the long grass near the house and had gone to retrieve it, and then she started waving frantically at us. We went over and watched in disbelief as a shadowy figure was moving around in the bedroom. We watched for at least 5 minutes all the while trying to come up with explanations. Convinced Sarah was away at the shops, I plucked up all the courage I had and entered the house shouting ‘Sarah’ all the while – but there was no sign of her and she arrived back while I was in the house. I discovered nothing at all that I could see would make the shadow. Nothing was ever said to Sarah as we didn’t want to frighten her. To my knowledge no one has seen the ‘bedroom shadow’ since.

Then one morning about 3 am we got a phone call from a very distressed Sarah. She had woken up during the night (she thinks maybe it was because it was so light – it was June), and she lay awake for some time trying to get back to sleep but not being able to. Anyway, after a few minutes her eyes rested on the half opened bedroom door and the black dressing gown draped over it. As she watched it she noticed it moving very slowly (‘crawling’ she said) down the door and towards the floor – then she realised her black dressing gown was in the wash basket! Snapping on the light she ran out of the house in terror and walked the half a mile to the nearest phone box to ring us – her mobile phone was in the house and she wasn’t going back in there! Eventually I picked her up and got her belongings from the house and she stayed with us for a couple of days. I know it is easy to say she had fallen asleep and was imagining it but she is adamant she wasn’t – and quite frankly I believe her. We have all imagined things when dropping off to sleep or in the early hours but she was insistent there was something in her bedroom. And knowing the house as I do I have absolutely no doubt what she said she saw was real.

Sarah reluctantly went back home after a couple of days stay with us, and since she has returned home very little paranormal happenings have occurred. However she has now got a male lodger living with her and she hasn’t told him about Eddie. But one day she arrived home and the lodger looked quite surprised to see her. He had only arrived a few minutes earlier and had thought she was upstairs because he heard someone walking about. Sarah has now put the house on the market and has a potential buyer – lets hope they don’t meet Eddy!

Have a nice Halloween!