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Dean Wood is a HGV driver by trade, and can often be found

chugging around the Derbyshire countryside. He lives with his

wife Julie, step daughter Chloe and Charlie their collie dog.
His sister Sharon Wood does the wonderful illustrations that go
with his story.
o sis, whose pictures give !y story life.
De a n Wo o d
Copyright Dean Wood
he right of Dean Wood to be identified as author of this wor"
has been asserted by hi! in accordance with section ## and #$ of
the Copyright, Designs and %atents &ct '($$.
&ll rights reserved. )o part of this publication !ay be
reproduced, stored in a retrieval syste!, or trans!itted in any
for! or by any !eans, electronic, !echanical, photocopying,
recording, or otherwise, without the prior per!ission of the
&ny person who co!!its any unauthori*ed act in relation to this
publication !ay be liable to cri!inal prosecution and civil clai!s
for da!ages.
& C+% catalogue record for this title is available fro! the ,ritish
+S,) (#$ '$.(/0 1'/ 1
2irst %ublished 345'.6
&ustin 7acauley %ublishers -td.
41 Canada S8uare
Canary Wharf
9'. 1-,
%rinted and bound in Great ,ritain
Chapter One
Uncle Eds Cottage
7ichael sat !iserably loo"ing down at his new shoes. Great
big ugly clo!ping things they were, but no !atter how !uch
he protested to his !other about wearing the!, the answer she
gave hi! was always the sa!e.
:-oo", stop !oaning about the! 7ic"ey, + "now you li"e
your old trainers better but where we;re going they <ust won;t
be good enough, you;ll need good sturdy shoes li"e these.=
>hey;re not sturdy, they;re clo!py,; thought 7ichael
sul"ily. He loo"ed across to his baby sister ?i**y who was
bolted snugly in her child seat ne@t to hi!. Her real na!e was
?atherine but everyone had ta"en to calling her ?i**y. She <ust
sat there, eyes closed as she suc"ed and chewed !errily on her
du!!y. She didn;t see! upset at all that they were !oving to
the country. Anli"e 7ichael, he was very upset about having to
!ove ho!e, away fro! his friends and his school and the city,
where there were loads of shops and things to do. )ow they
were having to !ove <ust because Dad had got a stupid new
<ob. 7ichael sighed, he was going to be stuc" in a cottage in
the !iddle of nowhere, with no friends and nothing to do and,
worse still, the countryside s!ells funny too.
7ichael felt very bitter and angry, particularly toward his
Ancle 9d it was all his stupid fault. +t was hi! that had given
Dad the <ob as !anager at his factory that !ade tractors.
7ichael couldn;t understand why Ancle 9d had given Dad his
<ob, because he had always lived for his tractor factory. +t was
all he ever tal"ed about, even to the children. So when all of a
sudden 7ichael;s dad received a phone call fro! hi! saying
that he had won the lottery, !et a nice young girlfriend and
was !oving to 7onte Carlo, wherever that was, they were all
shoc"ed. hey were even !ore surprised when he told the!
that they could have his country cottage and that Dad would be
ta"ing over his precious factory.
7ichael sighed deeply, he;d tried to tal" Dad out of
!oving to Ancle 9d;s house, but all he said was, :-oo"
7ichael, + "now you don;t want to !ove, but this is the chance
of a life ti!e for us, it;s not every day you get to own a factory
and a lovely country cottage for nothing.=
So that was that, he was <ust going to have to get used to it.
:Dad, are we nearly there yetB=
:)early,= replied Dad.
:We;ll be there in about twenty !inutes 7ic"ey,= said
Just then, upon hearing her favourite na!e, ?i**y wo"e
up, giggled and roared at the top of her voice, :799?C
7u! and Dad burst out with laughter. 7ichael on the
other hand wasn;t a!used.
:How !any ti!es have + got to tell you, you stupid little
girl, !y na!e is 7ic"ey 7oonE=
?i**y <ust stared at hi! for a few !o!ents, her big brown
eyes twin"ling. hen she re!oved her du!!y fro! her !outh,
pointed it straight at 7ichael and boo!ed, :799?C
,y now 7u! was laughing so !uch she had tears rolling
down her face.
:Fight that;s it, +;! not tal"ing to any of you any!oreE=
said 7ichael angrily, and with that, he folded his ar!s, turned
to loo" out of the window and sul"ed for the rest of the
he weather was lovely and sunny as they approached the
tiny village of Clayton on the 7eadows. Dad drove down the
!ain street that consisted of a village store, a post office, a
village green with a statue in the !iddle and a pub. Just after
the post office, dad turned left on to 2o@wood -ane. +t was a
bu!py little trac" at the botto! of which lay their new ho!e,
2o@wood Cottage.
Dad pulled the car on to the gravel drive and par"ed
outside the garage door.
:What do you thin" of it thenB= said Dad as they all
cli!bed out of the car.
7ichael loo"ed at the stone cottage. +t was the first ti!e he
had been to Ancle 9d;s house. +t was !uch bigger than he had
e@pected, !uch bigger than their s8uashed up little house in
the city. his one had a front garden with a s!all lawn and a
hedge that went all around it. he hedge was covered in lots of
different coloured flowers. he garage was big too, big enough
for two cars thought 7ichael.
:+t;s 8uite nice Dad, + li"e the garden.=
:Ces, well <ust wait till you see the one around the bac",=
said 7u!.
She led the! through a little gate which too" the! on to a
path that went down the side of the cottage and on to the bac"
:Wow, it;s !assiveE= said 7ichael.
he bac" garden was the biggest he;d ever seenG its lawn
was nearly as big as a football pitch. & little stepping stone
path led fro! the bac" door of the cottage right down the
centre of the lawn and stopped half way, where it !et a
wishing well.
:+s that a real one Dad, with water at the botto!B=
:Ces it is, and it;s very deep, so + don;t want you to go too
near to it. +f you fall down we !ay not be able to get you bac"
up, and besides, people around here say there is a troll that
lives at the botto! of it,= said Dad trying to hide the s!ir" on
his face.
:Ceah, whatever Dad,= said 7ichael.
He didn;t believe hi! for one !inute, but all the sa!e he
thought he;d better not go too near to it <ust in case.
he lawn continued to spread out beyond the well until it
reached a little fence with an archway that led into an area full
of apple trees.
:WowE &re they real apple treesB=
:Ces, that;s our orchard,= said 7u!.
:Can + cli!b up and get so!e pleaseB=
:Ces, but be careful, + don;t want you hurting yourself, and
don;t eat the! either, they;re for coo"ing. Cou;ll get an upset
tu!!y if you try to eat the!.=
&t this, ?i**y started giggling again. :7e" 7ee"y tru!p
7ichael was too interested in what he could get up to in
the orchard to be annoyed with ?i**y. He sprinted down the
lawn leaving 7u!, Dad and ?i**y to go inside and e@plore
their new ho!e. He ran pass the well and through the little gate
into the orchard. here were loads of apples on the floor, and
so!e were really big.
>,igger than cric"et balls,; thought 7ichael. He searched
for a !o!ent or two to find a tree with a branch low enough
for hi! to cli!b on to. 9ventually he spotted one near the bac"
of the orchard and cla!bered up it. He didn;t stop cli!bing
until he reached the top where he popped his head out of the
branches and loo"ed around. What he saw nearly !ade hi!
drop out of the tree.
:his is a!a*ing,= 7ichael said to hi!selfG he could see
for !iles around.
&t the bac" of the orchard there was another s!all fence
with a gate. Just beyond that there was a wide strea!, and best
of all, it had a proper rope bridge crossing it. Dver to his left
where the strea! was a little narrower, there was a large tree
with a rope swing hanging fro! it. 7ichael;s heart began to
race when he thought of all the fun he was going to have
e@ploring his new ho!e. He loo"ed over to his right and could
see into ne@t door;s garden. +ts bac" lawn loo"ed e8ually as
big as their own and, better still, it had a couple of goalposts
set up on it. here was a football left on the lawn. 7ichael
guessed that a little boy !ust live thereG he hoped he could
!eet hi! soon and perhaps they could beco!e friends too.
,eyond their neighbour;s garden was a large field full of
golden barley corn which swayed and shi!!ered gently in the
bree*e. >hat would be a great place to play hide and see",;
7ichael thought to hi!self. here were no neighbours to
7ichael;s left, <ust several gentle rolling !eadows, at the far
end of which lay a large grassy hill. Dn top of the hill stood
what loo"ed li"e an ancient castle with turrets and battle!ents
<ust li"e the ones he;d seen in the history boo"s at school.
7ichael scra!bled down the tree as fast as he could, he
couldn;t wait to tell his parents about the swing, the rope
bridge and best of all the !edieval castle.
&s soon as his feet touched the ground he was sprinting
through the orchard. 7aybe if there was ti!e his dad could
ta"e hi! to see the castle today. Suddenly 7ichael;s foot
struc" so!ething in the long grass, it went with a loud bongEE
that sent hi! tu!bling head over heels.
:DuchE= said 7ichael as he landed a!ongst the fallen
apples with a thu!p. He sat up and !assaged his throbbing big
toe as he loo"ed all around hi! to see what he had tripped on.
here in the long grass, <ust a couple of feet in front of hi!,
lay a large dirty old copper pot, the type you !ight use for
coo"ing with.
:Grr, stupid thing, where did that co!e fro!B=
He couldn;t re!e!ber seeing it when he ran through the
orchard the first ti!e, but then again he;d probably been too
interested in finding a tree to cli!b to notice anything else.
7ichael pic"ed hi!self bac" up and ran bac" to the house,
this ti!e being a little !ore careful where he put his feet.
7ichael burst through the bac" door into the "itchen and
e@citedly told his parents everything he had seen.
His Dad s!iled to hi!self and said, :So you !ight get to
li"e it here after all thenB=
:Ceah, + thin" it loo"s really cool around here and + thin"
there !ay be a little boy living ne@t door too.=
:here is, his na!e;s ony and he;s nine years old, the
sa!e as you. +n fact you will probably be in the sa!e class at
school,= replied Dad.
:Can we go and visit the castle please DadB=
:)o +;! afraid not. We;ve got loads of unpac"ing to do,
you included 7ic"ey.=
?i**y opened her !outh ready to roar out her favourite
na!e, but 7u! <ust too" the opportunity to shovel in the for"
full of baby food that she;d been trying to persuade her to ta"e
for the last ten !inutes.
:%lease Dad,= begged 7ic"ey.
:+ said no, get off upstairs to your new roo! and unpac"
your things, we;ve ta"en your case up for you already.=
7ichael <ust stood there loo"ing a little disappointed. His
Dad noticed and said, :+;ll tell you what, when you have done
your unpac"ing and your roo! is tidy +;ll go and get us so!e
fish and chips for supper, dealB=
:D" Dad, deal.=
7ichael would have li"ed to have gone to the castle today,
but it was only 2riday and he;d have the rest of the wee"end to
e@plore. ,esides, the thought of fish and chips was !a"ing
hi! hungry. So he did as he was told, went upstairs and
unpac"ed his things, all the while drea!ing of all the fun and
!ischief he could get up to to!orrow.

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