Snap Around…

“Well, how did we ever fit into one of those?”

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The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp…

Episode 73… The Return of Herbert Marks… (Part One)

It was late that following morning when Charles awoke, he glanced wearily at the unwound clock, its alarm had retreated some hours earlier. Esme lay gently sleeping beside him, it seemed little had disturbed her through the night. Downstairs he could hear the faint sounds of Toby or Barney moving around, perhaps even dealing with a client. He smiled to himself, perhaps they were tiding up for once. Lunch saw them all in the Parlour and enjoying a chicken casserole with some fresh crusty bread, all procured, cooked and provided by the brothers.

‘We thought, after your traumatic and welcoming night. You might both like a square and fulfilling meal.’ Toby looked at the others around the table and Barney nodded agreement.

‘But, how did you know?’ inquired Charles.

‘My dear friend’ replied Toby. ‘I have an insight into these things, or perhaps you are not so quiet as you think you are, when you move around at night.’ he winked and then smiled. ‘Please enjoy the chicken and vegetables.’

There were a few customers to the shop that day, they occupied Toby with studio portrait bookings and an occasional wedding appointment. It was around 4 o’clock when Barney took a telephone call from a man who gave his name as ‘Er’bert Marks and insisted on speaking to “Charlie or H’esme”

Charles had forbade disturbance that afternoon, had closed the door to the small middle floor studio and sunk his mind into doing the monthly accounts for the business, therefore when Barney tapped gently on the door and announced that an “Er’bert Marks” was on the phone it came as a sheer release for him. He almost tumbled down the stairs to the shop with anticipation, this was a man who in the past had offered him the most fascinating of picture endeavours.

‘Herby’ he claimed with enthusiasm, almost dropping the receiver. ‘How are you, it’s been a while.’

‘Charlie my boy it’s you.’ The fractured voice of Herbert Marks was unmistakable. ‘O’ws that lovely Es’me of yourn. It’s good to talk to yer. Here listen, I’s want you to do something for me Charlie, just for you O’l mate, do yer understand, for ol times sake.’

‘Esme is fine Herby, just fine, of course I will help you. What is it I can do for you?’

‘Well, Charlie, I got me self in a bit of a pickle, you might say, and I need your ‘elp. I knows you’ll understand. You got a really kind nature.’

‘Herby! What is it. Spit it out?’

Well, if I ain’t gone and got me self in a bit o’ bother, Charlie me boy.’ Herbert’s voice paused for a moment as if unsure what to say next. ‘ Its a woman yer see. A blooming woman Charlie! You’ll have to come and sort it out for me. She’s gone and talked me into a binding, would yer believe. A blooming binding Charlie.’

Charles could tell he was clearly upset and asked gently. ‘Do you mean Marriage?

‘Yea, yea… Marriage! You gotta sort this out Charlie. You gotta sort this out for me. I can’t be tethered to no woman.’

‘Ok, you can tell me all about when I get there and don’t worry Herby, it’s probably just some misunderstanding.’ Charles looked at his watch, he could be there in fifteen minutes. He would ask Esme to accompany him. She would have a woman’s perspective on dear Herb’s predicament.

Intrigued thoughts now crowded Charles mind “What on earth had Herbert got himself into this time?”

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In The Deep Mid Winter…

Ok, the fun continues, here’s another shot. Those guy’s on the Chiltern Hills really knocking themselves out!…

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In The Deep Mid Winter…

Well, I guess it’s time to put up my “Favourite Snow Picture” once again. It’s that time of year. Ok, the weather out there is getting freaky, so it’s time to wear those Ice Traction Slip-ons and have a couple of drams of Scotland’s finest and feed the small guy’s in my garden. It seems that Peanut Butter sandwiches, chopped raw Beef and cooked Chicken is on the menu! Now, that sorts the Foxes and Badgers, whilst the birds enjoy a selection from the hanging feeders…

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Author’s Note…

I recently featured the Art Work of my granddaughter Shana and felt I also wanted to share this ‘Thank You’ message from her on Facebook… 

To all the people who have supported me recently thank you I’m truly greatful to have a brilliant family, friends and I know I have been a pain sometimes but I truly mean it. It’s been a rough rollercoaster since Elijah was born for me and my whole family. But to have them pushing me through and also just being there means the world to me.
Elijah will be 16 months old tomorrow and I still can hardly believe how much he has grown and I am proud of how far he has came, especially for how strong he really is.

Thank you everyone for all the support 💞

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Author’s Note…

Back to Back catch-up episodes of ‘The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp’ are available @

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Shana Callaghan…

Well, I just gotta say I love this one too! Ok I promised some more of Shana’s work and I’m so pleased to air one of her latest. She can really turn a pen and paper. Well done Darling xxx

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Granddaughter Shana…

You know, there are times when you just gotta hoot a whistle and there are times when you gotta be proud. My Granddaughter Shana can run a pen thru a simple idea that just turns out to be completely beautiful. I guess I hope to show more of her talent to you on the weblog. Wonderful, thank you sweetheart xxx

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The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp…

Episode 72… Charles and Bayswater

There could have been a number of reasons why Charles had lifted his tired body from an uncomfortable bed and slowly dragged himself down the two narrow stairways and into the shop. Could it have been the thoughts of Esme that had given him such a sleepless night, yes it must be that, he told himself. He fumbled for the flashlight that he knew must be somewhere on the counter, then, its beam picking out the light switch in the far corner. ‘Must get that moved’ he groaned. He flipped the switch and yellow light entered the dark corners of the room. Bleary eyes told him Toby needed to tidy before retiring.

Perhaps, just maybe, he thought he could hear a faint sound, as if shoes on pavement, slow and apprehensive, as if unsure of movement. He moved to the window blind, but could see nothing without disturbing it. The door blind was also down. The sounds were directly outside the shop, he felt they must be just the other side of the door now. He knew that anyone outside would see the cracks of light around the door blind. Could this be an intruder, a burglar perhaps. A thought to reach the light switch and turn it off began his body movement, when a steady knocking on the door became more and more insistent.

He froze for a few seconds reassuring himself that burglars did not announce their presence. “It could be someone in trouble” he told himself, “It could even be Esme, I’ve been so worried since her disappearance two days ago.”  

His trembling fingers hastily pushed back the sliding bolts and a turn of the key in the Mortise lock released the door from its frame, opening it wide to the cold night air that rushed to fill the room.

She stood there in the dim light of the doorway. The cold night air made her shiver. She looked pale. For a moment she said nothing and just looked into his face.

‘Esme, where have you been. I’ve been going out of my mind. I woke and you were gone. No message… No nothing! What has happened? Come in, you must be froze.’

Slowly she stepped into the shop, the door seemed to close behind her. She walked quietly to the chair by the counter, she sat and looked up at him.

‘I’ve been away,’ she said. ‘On a strange journey. Back to my school days. Rebecca was there in my head, I’m sure. She showed me images of my friends and people quite different from my true memories. Very lovely and very real. You were there, Celia and Bridget and Toby and Barney. We were all there. We were all very young. We were all very happy and carefree.’

‘Dreams can be different to reality Esme, of that, we both know. Come on,’ he took her arm. ‘Lets go into the Parlour. I’ll light a fire and make some tea with a drop of whisky in it. That should warm you up.’

‘Is Rebecca here?’ she asked suddenly.

‘No. What makes you ask.’ He looked directly at her. ‘I think she has returned to the darkness. Perhaps to visit Toby and Barney for a last time.’ He smiled. ‘She did say she wanted to thank all of us.’

‘What will happen to her… in the end, do you suppose.’

‘I guess she will return to her own time,’ he said thoughtfully.

‘And to her fate!’

‘Look Esme, I know what your thinking, but we only gave her a portal in time, a window of things that might have been. She knew it and that’s why she gave it to us. An alternate world. A world in which pain did not penetrate. Why do you think she wanted to thank us. We gave her some happiness for a time and in return she gave us that too.’ He looked lovingly at her. ‘Come-on lets have that tea and get you to bed.’


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The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp…

Episode 71… Rebecca’s Spell… (Part Five)… Sisters of Heaven

‘Are you the Mother Superior?’ began Toby as they left the table. ‘I think you could be.’

‘No, my young friend’, replied Sister Ann. ‘She is away from us at present, attending to some pressing matters in the North of England.’

‘Pressing matters?’ inquired Celia. She felt she wanted to lend support to Toby’s opening conversation, and after all, she rather liked this young man.

‘Nothing too serious.’ Sister Ann answered sharply, then gave Celia a gentle smile. ‘Just business at another order that must be attended on.’

Celia blushed with slight embarrassment. Perhaps she had been a little forward, she told herself.

Further along the corridor they were ushered into what looked like a small workshop, where several nuns were seated at intervals and busy with their hands in what seemed to be the hand sewing of garments.

‘A number of our Sisters are engaged in reclaiming clothes for the local poor,’ explained Sister Ann, ‘these are donated by better-off families, given some repair and handed to any needy person on the first Sunday of each month in the market square. Bread that we bake ourselves, is also taken there and given free. Our sisters have to be skilled in all matters concerning the need of the human soul.’

She led them out into the fresh open air and to a small garden edged by some low growing shrubbery. Here squatted close to the ground were eight white Bee Hives all busy with their inhabitants.

‘I guessed you made your own honey.’ remarked Barney, feeling a little pleased with himself.

‘ You are the boy who commented on the porridge aren’t you. Oh, yes I know.’ Sister Ann replied, ‘we may have a code of silence, in particular amongst our Novices. But we also have the joy of sign language.’

At that instance Barney could detect a twinkle in Sister Ann’s eye. ‘The Honey goes off to local shops,’ she continued, ‘and in that endeavour we make a small profit in order to provide our humble needs.’

Beyond the Bee Hives they were shown a large cultivated area, set out for growing a variety of vegetables. Here again Sisters were at work, handling barrows, turning over the soil or simply attending to the many bordering fruit trees and berry bushes.

‘Everything we eat here, we produce ourselves,’ explained Sister Ann. ‘We are quite self sufficient in our own way.’

Before we knocked your door, asked Celia curiously. ‘We watched a man come out for a minute or two, then go back inside. Is he a member of your Convent?’

‘You must have seen Fredrick. He is a member of our small congregation of helpers, those that are not of the order but have turned to God. He does odd jobs for us. A very kind and gentle man. He’s been with us for a number of years,’ Sister Ann then added; ‘He came to us after his wife and child had died in the Spanish influenza epidemic in the 1920s.’ At that point a certain sadness came into the face of Sister Ann, its thoughtfulness not being lost on the others.

Having watched some clay pottery being made, and with no appearance of Fredrick, the group gave their farewells and headed back through the woods. They found their paths easily and on returning to the road, became full of gossip once more.

A sudden feeling of being lost entered Esme’s mind, just if a light had suddenly been switched off. Her mind began to re-assimilate and a kind of comfortable awareness began to emerge.

In a despaired cry, she looked at her friends and said: ‘I am not real,’  You can’t be real. This must be a dream. You are part of the past and yet you are all part of my future. This isn’t right. Something is very wrong!’

It was then Rebecca’s voice spoke once again inside her mind. “Esme, do not be fearful, it is simply time for you to return to your present time. I have given you images and feelings of a different past, one that could have been”

Esme looked upon the faces of her friends and as she watched, their images began to dissolve and then were gone and lost in time.  For some moment her mind was just black. The stone road on which she was standing grew dark and faded from her sight. She felt change was all around her. Then she stood on another road, a very silent, different road, covered by a sheet of darkness, only a slim dagger of yellow light penetrated from a distant street lamp. Somehow, she could recall the outline of a familiar building and the realisation took hold of her. “This isn’t another dream” she told herself. “I am home. I am, where I want to be!. This is Charles.”


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