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An Extra-ordinary Orkney Holiday – Part Four

Continuing the tales:


By  Bernie Bell

The  tales told so far, lead me to mention a general feeling among the ladies of the house.  ‘Robert Staðrson’ was very put-out that the house was no longer in his name, but there was also a general feeling among the women of the house, that they didn’t like all the comings and goings.  They wanted it to be a home again, with a family living there.  They didn’t like it, or understand it.  I explained the idea of a holiday cottage to them, which they still didn’t ‘get’, as that idea was alien to them.  Why did people not stay put, in their own homes?  As farmers wives and daughters, of their time, they didn’t see why people would be traipsing around the country, instead of staying put – as with the Orkney question, on meeting someone –  “Where do you stay?”

My discussions about this, were based around the fact that holiday cottages rarely stay as such for all that long.  Usually, there’s a change in family circumstances, and the house might be lived in permanently again, either by the family that own it, or by someone who buys it.

I also pointed out that, to these wives, time means less than it does to us.  Fifty years, isn’t much to them, and what might have happened in ‘Langhoose’ by then?  They listened to these ideas, but I’m not sure how much they were mollified by them! I think they felt a bit better about it, as they now could see what the situation was, and realised that it might change – in their view, for the better!

They didn’t mind us being there, because they liked us, me and Mike and Ben-The-Dog.  We made the place homely.  However short a time we’re staying somewhere – we arrive, and I place my bits & pieces about the place.  We put Ben’s rug down in the living room, and his dishes in the kitchen.  Also, of course they liked having someone to connect with and talk with.

They liked Ben, particularly the men-folk.  Ben should, really have been a working dog. To us, he was a pet, and I didn’t like him killing things, but, he was a dog, and, what’s more – a terrier!  A killing machine.  He was a good ratter. They approved of Ben, and of us.

As I mentioned, when we first arrived, there was a tension in the air, and the feeling in the house wasn’t very comfortable. But, we’d not been there long, when we would actually feel a welcome when we got home.  If we’d been out for the day, we’d get back, open the door, and actually feel welcomed!

The rest is bits and pieces, really.  One thing is…. animals are said to be afraid of the spirit-people – Ben never was.  We called him The Mystic Mutt!  He was very happy in ‘Langhoose’.  One night, Mike and I were in bed, when we heard someone walking down the corridor, whistling ‘Greensleeves’. This person, I would say, was male, quite heavy and slow-footed.  That was all we heard of him! But, if an incarnate person had come into the house, and tried to walk down the corridor leading to where we were sleeping, Ben would have had ‘em!

He didn’t mind the spirit-folk at all, and the ones in ‘Langhoose’, liked him.

While I’m mentioning that corridor…. Just off the corridor, there was a room with a box–bed, and a wardrobe.  The wardrobe would have been useful, as there wasn’t one in the room we slept in, but – that was the one place in the house that I couldn’t go.  When we arrived, I went to put my clothes the wardrobe there, but just hated the feel of the place. I didn’t put any clothes in there, and we just left that room alone.  Some years later, I was told that someone hung themselves in that room.

Now, I was fine with the other ‘dead’ folk in the house. It was a bit exhausting dealing with them and their troubles, but no-one was nasty to us, or made us feel particularly uncomfortable.

All I could feel in that room, was an awful coldness and darkness.  I wonder that the person who hung himself, didn’t make contact.

I might have been able to help him, talk him through things. But, it’s his choice – just because I’m there, doesn’t mean he has to make contact. It’s up to him. I help if I can, but, as with the ‘living’, you can only help someone, if they want help and/or recognize that they need help.

All I knew at the time was, that I didn’t want to go into that room!!! Now, I have some idea of why that unhappiness is still there, in the air.

He mustn’t have wanted me to help.  Maybe he’s not ready yet.

And with that final tale, it just remains to say that we very much enjoyed our stay at ‘Langhooose’.  It’s a lovely house, in a lovely position.  It was exhausting  to deal with so many people, repeatedly, over two weeks.  I wouldn’t want to live there, and I wouldn’t particularly choose to stay there again, until it settles down a bit.

I hope and I believe, that our stay did help to settle the people, and the house, to some extent.

The Langhoose view from window Bell

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