Any excuse to escape!

 Having completed The Katherine Wheel Series in August of 2020, just before my first grandchild was born (huge joy), I\’ve now embarked on a new story and I wanted to tell you about my recent research trip to the beautiful Welsh island of Anglesey (all within Covid regulations, of course!). The book (its working title is Apple Island) is a sequel to The Rose Trail and features Fay and Percy\’s first paid gig as professional ghostbusters. Readers may remember they created their website, \’Spirit Level\’, in a mad moment of abandon and hubris, after escaping the clutches of the ghosts of Meadowsweet Manor.

The drive through Wales (I live on the south coast and Anglesey is right at the very top of the north) was spectacular and it just got better. 

Just like Percy and Fay, we drove through the mountains of Snowdonia through to Caernarfon but we had much better weather. They had to endure rain, hail, and wind but, for us, the weather was glorious and remained so on our trip.

Caernarfon boasts a magnificent castle bordering its harbour in a typically defensive position. However, it\’s unusual in that it wasn\’t destroyed through the centuries by civil wars or invaders.

You can see one of the many towers of Caernarfon castle here, with renovators working at ground level. It is run by Cadw, the Welsh equivalent of National Heritage and here is the link to their site if you would like to learn more about this impressive and ancient pile:

https://cadw.gov.wales/visit/places-to-visit/caernarfon-castle

Attached to the other side of this castle tower is the old prison, seen here at right angles to the old Custom House, which is now a public house called the Anglesey Arms. The pub is perfectly placed to view the atmospheric stretch of water called the Menai Straits, which separate Anglesey from the mainland of Wales.

This hostelry has the reputation, even today, of being haunted and Percy and Fay stay there overnight, with creepy consequences. Being still under Covid restrictions we forewent such delights and crossed over the Menai Straits to Anglesey the same day.

This is the Menai Straits viewed from the sea wall in front of the Anglesey Arms. I stood there many years ago when on holiday and the vision I saw then is the inspiration for this book. 

What I saw chilled me to the bone for, standing on the beach in the distance, stood some women dressed in long, black robes holding flaming torches which they waved wildly to fend off the attackers wading towards them in the cold, swirling currents. Their long hair streamed behind them in the wind. These women were furiously angry and screaming in an eerie loud wail of distress. I felt them call to me, as if they could see me too, but it has taken me very many years to get around to responding, but as their tale is around 2000 years old, I hope they will forgive me.

Imagine my astonishment when I researched the history of Anglesey and discovered that the island was the headquarters of the Druids who were revered and respected by all Britons at the time. However, partly due to the fertility of its soil making it rich in grain, partly due to the fact that it was a hub for the gold trade between Ireland and Europe but mostly, I think, because of the threat the powerful Druids presented, the Roman army invaded Anglesey on this very spot in AD 61 and massacred them all. 
This tragedy provides the historical backbone to the contemporary part of the tale as Fay and Percy embark on solving the mystery of the spooky events haunting their destination.

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