Ever since I was little I have loved the idea of ghosts and anything paranormal! I have had two ghostly experiences in my life. One when I was a teenager and one after my Dad died.
I grew up in a little cottage built in 1790 called Hampton Cottage in Fittleworth, West Sussex. I lived there with my Mum, Dad and two sisters from 1996 - 2007. It was named after the original owner - Sir Francis Hampton and was just two rooms up and two rooms down until it was extended in the 60/70's. After I had written this my mum discovered this drawing I had done at about 7/8 years old! Yes! It was a boot-menders and it did once have a sweet shop in the garden. When my mum was gardening she used to find little toy soldiers children must of forgotten or dropped while waiting to buy sweets.
I loved growing up there but lots of strange things happened in it over the years. Spooky feelings of being watched, things going missing and turning up in random places. disembodied footsteps and our otherwise laid back family Labrador regularly barking at phantom intruders.
My bedroom was one of the oldest rooms in the house. It was freezing cold as I had no insulation in my roof so in winter I would lie in bed with three jumpers on and be able to see my breath. It used to have an ugly white shag carpet, yellow wallpaper and a tropical fish tank that was a 12th birthday present. I used to fall asleep with my fish tank light on as I was a bit frightened of the dark - with good reason it turned out! One night when I was around 16, I awoke in the night (facing the wall with my back to the room) and I noticed that my room was still light. I assumed my Dad had not come to bed yet, so hadn't turned off my fish tank and just tried to go back to sleep. But the light got brighter and brighter so I rolled over to see what it was. There was a person shaped light hovering across the floor in the corner of my room. It was a silhouette of a person about 5ft tall, in silvery glowing light. It hovered about 10cm off the floor, and I watched as it silently moved across my bedroom. I was completely petrified, I don't think I've ever been so scared. All I could think was any minute it would be right beside me, so I worked up the courage and sit bolt upright. Before I could even turn on the light, it disappeared as if it evaporated into the air. I realised later that it had come out of the cupboard, as if it was walked out from where the original staircase had been before the house was extended.
My second ghostly experience was more comforting than scary.
My dad died when I was 20 (over 7 years ago). He had passed away after a long battle with alcoholism. My Mum had separated from him several years before and I hadn't spoken to him in over a year. Despite knowing he had terrible problems, his death came as a surprise - we had distanced ourselves from him as being in contact was too painful. After he had died, we were going through his briefcase which was mainly just odd papers when my mum looked at me in shock and asked whether I could smell Aftershave. She said it was as if a man doused in it had just walked past. We both smelt the briefcase and it's entire contents but couldn't find anything which would explain the smell. My Dad used to drench himself in Aftershave to cover the smell of smoke and alcohol. We both thought it was odd but just put it down to it being a weird coincidence. The next day I was sitting alone in our front room and the exact same thing happened. I was looking through his phone, when I had the most overpowering waft of Aftershave, exactly like when a man on the street walks past who's been a bit heavy on the Cologne.
I think it's interesting as it happened on separate occasions to two different people. My dad had never lived in that house (had barely even visited) and no other man or person in the house would explain the smell. None of the items did either. I like to think that it was him, coming to let me and my mum know he was still there. However, it would be still be pretty amazing, if our brains could have the power to conjure up the smell just to comfort us.
If you're like me and you love a spooky story I thoroughly recommend the podcasts The Para-Pod and This Paranormal Life. My favourite podcast at the moment is 'Haunted' which is written and presented by Danny Robins. It questions if ghosts exists and if they don't, why we still see them? It interviews people who claim to of seen a ghost or have experienced a haunting and then explores their story in a little more depth in an effort to explain it. In the episode 'Death is not the end', it interviews people who believe they have been contacted by a loved one from beyond the grave. I was interested to find out from this episode that as high as 50-90% of bereaved people say they have had a paranormal experience.
I'm not sure if ghosts really are spirits from the dead, all I know is I experienced what I did and I have no clear explanation for what happened. I love that despite people seeing ghosts for centuries, they remain a mystery as we still don't have a definite explanation for why people see them. I would love to hear if you have had a spooky encounter! Share your story in the comments!