Visiting the Castle

I’ve been re-reading the first’ proper’ novel I wrote and the first one I published on Amazon as an e-book; I am going to be republishing all my books as paperbacks which will make them more accessible for everyone! This first book is ‘Farholm’ and it takes place over two weeks on a small off-shore island, the eponymous Farholm.

Without giving any surprises away, Deke has gone to the island for two weeks – a break from her normal life, but not necessarily a break from the heart-ache which has cast a desperate pall over her. She has come on a mission to the island, there’s a specific purpose for her visit which is only gradually revealed. On the first night she is there, a huge search is organised because a seventeen year-old girl has gone missing. The police have become involved because a couple of years ago another girl disappeared and was found murdered.

In this except, Deke phones her sister Blaine, who is justifiably anxious about her:

Deke rang Blaine again. They both tried to be upbeat, Deke trying to make a joke of her situation staying with the stranger in Wellihole Cottage. Blaine tried to curb her concern and anxiety, pretending to think that Deke had found herself some comfort with a new bloke. Deke did not mention Rachel.
She said goodbye to Blaine, promising to send a postcard. She wondered what on earth she was doing here.
Being a tourist, being on holiday, that’s what she was doing. She stuffed her camera into her pocket and decided to go and look at the castle. She had only an impression of a curtain wall and a towering keep in the lights of the car last night.

She made her slow way down to the beach road. From the map she knew it continued a short way round the headland the east lighthouse. There was a concrete slipway down across the beach although there were no boats at this end. Walking down the slipway was the nearest she could get to the sea with crutches. She stood on the tide line as the waves lapped gently, looking across to the mainland, she felt mild claustrophobia, slightly trapped on the island.
It was a short but hard pull up to the entrance of the castle.
The walls had long tumbled or been tumbled and a tarmacced path wide enough for a vehicle lead through the meagre ruins of the gatehouse into what would have been the bailey. There was a wooden hut completely shuttered but there was a money-box slot for an entrance fee of £1. She dug in her pocket, found a coin and dropped it into the box. By the sound it was on its own. There were half a dozen faded postcards 25p each stuck to the window and a couple of guides, a leaflet and a larger colour brochure. She glanced at her watch, 3:30. She would return for a brochure another day if someone hadn’t arrived by the time she had finished pottering about.

The grass was short enough, the ground beneath hard and dry enough for her to wander about wherever she wanted, reading the notice boards which gave information on the castle and its history. There was not much left to see except in the imagination, only one of the three towers remained but there was a locked wooden door and no access at any time. She went to the keep but did not attempt to climb up into it, and to the roofless great hall behind it. It was pleasant and peaceful and it kept her thoughts at bay. She sat in a window, leaning against the rails that stopped the adventurous leaning out to far, and gazed across the water. She took out the island guide and read the chapter on the castle. Celtic remains, souterrain, Roman fort, Saxon camp, Norman castle, the Civil War, Napoleonic…
Maybe she dozed, the muted roar of the sea soothing, maybe she merely dreamed. There was a dove calling from the trees, all other birds seemed mute in the Indian summer sun.

© Lois Elsden 2018

Here’s a link to my book, at present an e-book but soon to be a real book!

My featured image is of Rye castle



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