Summer trips to Nottingham were always fun; usually two weeks spent at my grandparents with endless scoops of ice cream, exciting excursions to the White Post Farm and the Butterfly Park followed by evenings sat on the patio playing cards watching the occasional hot air balloon saunter by.
It also meant one thing; the annual trip to Wollaton Park. This was my favourite as not only was there a Museum within the hall, but it was surrounded by gardens and parkland that housed deer, a beautiful lake and a secret garden. The grounds also contained a childrens play park, inclusive of the famous Tarzen slide.
On this particular sunny day, my sisters and I skipped our way around the museum with my parents and grandparents in tow; browsing the bird room, inspecting the insect gallery, exploring the extinct species, giggling and asking persistent questions to our exhausted family members.
I was gazing up at the Antler’s head mounted on the wall, highlighted by the bright sunshine that poured through the window. Out of curiosity, I danced over to the window to take a look out at the gardens, hoping to catch a glimpse of a deer, my eye catching the glistening lake that sprawled out to the rear of the Hall, “Ooh, can we go out and look at the lake afterwards?” I squealed excitedly. No matter how many times I had seen it before, I wanted to see it again.
As my mother nodded her head in agreement, I noticed a lady dressed all in black, walking slowly towards the lake. I remember what struck me the most was that her clothing was so dark, dated and thick for such a lovely summer day. Victorian in her appearance, her black corset was drawn in tightly, her curves accentuated with a voluminous flowing skirt that touched her shoes. Her hair was chestnut brown and curled, pinned to perfection her head.
The Lady turned around and I caught a glimpse of her porcelain skin and bright red lips and remember thinking she was like something out of a fairy tale, “Mummy, come and look at this lady! Do you think she works here?” I asked, my young mind assuming she was in costume, working for the museum.
As I waved my mum over, I didn’t let my eyes leave the lady, “I want a dress like that,” I demanded, the lady’s eyes continuing to stare straight back at me. “Can I get one purlleeease,” images of myself twirling in that lovely black costume swirling through my mind.
As I heard my mother’s footsteps behind me, the lady slowly turned back towards the lake, continuing to walk at her slow pace….before vanishing completely. She hadn’t fallen in the lake, she hadn’t gone behind a tree or taken a turning, she had simply faded away.
“She’s gone!” I gasped.
My mum patted my shoulder, “Never mind, you might see her later.”
“No, you don’t understand, she disappeared, just like that. Poof! Into thin air!”
“Don’t be silly, now. Honestly you and your overactive imagination,” my mother’s tone was laced with impatience now.
I stomped my foot in protest. I knew what I had seen; and that Lady In Black had been real, and she had disappeared, evaporated from sight without an explanation.
This story is based on a family members sighting of the lady in black in similar circumstances and has been adapted as my own fiction.
(Photo featured from: http://www.nottshistory.org.uk/articles/wollaton/wollaton1.htm )
Gemma Wilford lives in Cramlington, Northumberland with her husband and is author of the children’s adventure story The Ruby of Egypt. She blogs at Missuswolf.wordpress.com, where you can follow her current Work In Progress, Miss Pooshoe, a recession based Chick-Lit novel.
Synopsis for The Ruby of Egypt
Ruby finds herself being dragged by her over excited and rather embarrassing parents on a sight-seeing holiday to Egypt. Viewing the pyramids is the last thing a fourteen year old girl wants to be doing when she could be basking in the glorious sunshine by the pool instead. Her disappointment soon turns to delight when she curiously follows a black cat inside the Great Pyramid of Giza, where upon entering she is mysteriously transported back in time to Ancient Egypt. Aided by a talking feline. Guided by a dragonfly. Protected by a Falcon headed God. Ruby must embrace an important mission that will not only challenge her ability to amend her stroppy attitude, but will change the purpose of her life forever.