Whether or not you believe in the paranormal - and I do not - one often experiences strange happenings.
Have you ever been certain that you know exactly what is about to happen at a particular point? Do you understand what I mean?
Sometimes I've been having a conversation and I know precisely what is going to be said, just before it is said. The surroundings are exactly the same, everything is just as I know it will be. It's as though I'd experienced this whole scene and conversation some time in the past. Déjá vu is, I think, the term we use.
I cannot understand this phenomenon; I just know I've experienced it more than once.
Well, certain other inexplicable things happen all the time. Not all the time to me, but occasionally - especially since I came to live in Mellerstain House. This is just one of those 'strange things'.
It's now about six months since my wife and I came to Mellerstain House. I've studied the history of the place, its origins and inhabitants over almost three centuries. Fascinating stuff too. I need to know all about its history so that visitors touring the house can get answers to their questions.
Easter, 1996, and we are open to the public. I have a group of 20 Dutch tourists to take on a conducted tour. Most of the group speak perfect English; they put we Brits to shame!
Mellerstain has a strong connection with Holland. Lady Grisell Baillie, the eldest of 18 children of Sir Patrick Hume, were in exile in Utrecht, Holland, for some time, owing to Sir Patrick's alleged involvement in the Rye House Plot. Grisel took care of all the family whilst in hiding in Holland. She is one of Scotland's great heroines.
During this conducted tour I took the group of tourists into the Rose Bedroom. This is the only north facing bedroom in the house. Although it is a pretty room it always has a chill feel to it. One could possibly expect this, after all it does face north.
After a brief chat about the room and its original hand-printed rose-pattern wall-paper, the group filed out of the room heading for the first of the south-facing bedrooms, the Manchineel Bedroom. As the final member of the group entered the Manchineel room I looked back towards the Rose Bedroom. I just caught sight of a woman entering the Rose Bedroom. I asked the group leader to stay with the group whilst I nipped swiftly back to the Rose Bedroom.
As I approached the door I called out "Excuse me madam, but we've been in this room already ..." No reply. There was nobody in the room. I looked behind the black Chinese screen - nothing. I opened the door to the en suite bathroom; nothing, nobody there either. There is only one way in and out of the bedroom and the bathroom. Both were completely empty.
Yet I was certain of what I'd seen. Strange, but the tour had to go on.
Later that day Lord Haddington asked me how I'd got on with the house visitors. It was most enjoyable I said. I also mentioned that I thought I'd seen somebody go into the Rose Bedroom but found nobody there.
"Oh, that's Lady Grisell doing her rounds I suppose." he said. "Was she dressed in grey?"
"Yes, I think so - but it must have been a shadow or something; there was definitely nobody in the room or the bathroom." I replied.
The Earl said: "You're not the first who have seen her. She's our resident ghost!"
Lord Haddington has a great interest in the paranormal. He was, until a couple of years ago, president of a Crop Circle group and still likes to investigate new occurrences of these things. He is a most interesting and knowledgeable chap in many areas.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy ... (to quote the Bard's Hamlet).