Rosey and I recently went down to Dorset to visit our friends Chas and his girlfriend Charley. Before they met each other, Chas was always known as Charlie. So when they got together one of them was going to have to take on new name! Chas hated his real name Charles, and Charlotte detested the name her parents had bestowed on her. A toss of a coin was deemed the fairest way to determine which one of them was to hang on to their name, and I had been asked to officiate over the proceedings. Hence our trip to their cottage in the West Country.
The cottage was so sweet; small, whitewashed and criss-crossed with ancient black beams. After we’d settled ourselves into our little rooms upstairs, we went down to join our friends for a glass of champagne in front of an inglenook fireplace. I knew it would only be a matter of time before Rosey asked if the cottage was haunted! After being told that three hundred years ago an old lady had died under mysterious circumstances in Rosey’s bedroom, I reluctantly agreed to swap rooms.
It was decided that we should adjourn to the Duck and Drake to carry out the battle of the names. It wasn’t far away, just up the lane, so we thought it best to walk. It was cold outside, very cold. Everything around had a coating of glistening white frost. It was such a relief to push open the creaking door of the pub to be greeted by a rush of warm air and the welcoming smell of beer!
We sank a round of drinks before getting down to the task in hand. I went to the bar to get another round and whilst I was doing so, Rosey went off to the loo. I took the drinks to the table and we waited for Rosey to return. On her way back she passed the bar just as the landlord was filling a glass from a bottle of chardonnay. Rosey called out a thank you, plucked the glass from the bar and took her place with us at our table. Just as she realised that she now had two glasses of wine in front of her, her eye was drawn to the bar where an elderly lay was asking the landlord where her glass of chardonnay had gone! I agreed to get the lady a replacement drink, then we got down to business. Charlie lost the toss and was duly renamed Chas, and Charley hung on to the name she loved!
After a few rounds we left the pub for our freezing walk back. Rosey spotted what she thought was an elaborate dog kennel in the pub garden and decided she wanted a closer look. We slowed down to allow her to investigate the little wooden building and she ran across the grass. Suddenly there was a splash, and there was Rosey up to knees in water with a couple of ducks paddling around her quacking loudly. It was an easy mistake to have made. It was dark and the pond was covered in green algae which made it look like grass. She looked back at us, giggled, and told us that it was not a kennel but a duck house!
We set off again, Rosey’s shoes squelching, and our breath white in winter air. As we were passing the churchyard, Rosey decided she needed a pee and could wait until we got back to the cottage. I pointed out that we were only a minute or so away, but she wouldn't wait; she just stood there with her legs crossed bobbing up and down. Better to be be safe than sorry she said. She stumbled through the gate and headed for the nearest gravestone to allow herself some privacy. Chas laughingly called out that last time he’d walked past the church he’d seen a ghost wandering between the graves. Rosey laughed and told him not to try and frighten her. A second later she screamed. Charley went rushing into the churchyard to find out what had happened – she thought Rosey had probably sat on a thistle or something.
She found Rosy, still squatting, chuckling to herself. It seems she’d just started relieving herself when she thought she saw a ghost out of the corner of her eye. She’d looked over her shoulder and realized it was steam!
The rest of the weekend was fun but uneventful. We left Chas( nee Charlie) and Charley (still Charley), and headed off back home to Eastbourne. I was determined not to tease her about her sighting in the churchyard; I thought I’d save it for when a bunch of us were together! I made do with a joke. I asked her what ghosts have for dinner. She gave me a funny look as if to say don’t be stupid, ghosts don’t eat. Then she sighed, and asked me what ghosts have for dinner. I told her ghoul-ash! She didn’t laugh.