|Five years ago I purchased a couple of 18th century houses built next to each other and surrounded by a lovely mature garden. The houses are on the outskirts of a picturesque village called St Dizier Leyrenne, which is located in the Limousin region of France.
I purchased the houses with the intention of letting out as rural holiday homes (gites) and this is exactly what I have done.
Soon after making my purchase, I spent some considerable time over one summer, renovating both the properties, and it is during this time that I first had a rather strange thing happen. Whilst fitting a new window overlooking the garden, I noticed a man in overalls and a straw hat, he was apparently tending to the flowers and shrubs, being intrigued, I promptly decided to go outside in order to ask what he was doing in my garden. But by the time I made my way through the cottage to the door, I could not see him anymore, I then walked around the perimeter of my garden, but there was nobody there.
I did not think too much of this, and put the experience down to the possibility of a trick of the light, and the fact that I was quite fatigued working for many weeks without much rest.
Some more weeks passed and I needed the help of a local tradesman, a friend gave me the telephone number of a tradesman she had recently hired and could recommend him for doing a good job. So I telephoned him and arranged for him to call round on a Tuesday morning.
I woke up on the arranged date to the sound of song birds in the garden, just as many other mornings, I looked out of one of the newly installed windows, but this time I saw what looked like a man in overalls and a straw hat again, I was not sure if this could be the tradesman or not, so I opened the window and called out to him, but with no success, he did not respond to me, I then went to my door and opened it, but yet again he had disappeared.
I began to remember the similarity to the previous sighting of the man in the garden, and just at that moment my telephone rang, it was the tradesman calling to say he would be arriving soon, so I then realised the man I saw in the garden could not have been him. At this point I was feeling a little hungry and decided to pop out the local bakery to get a baguette. I was only gone for maybe ten minutes, and on my return resumed my work for the morning, anticipating the arrival of the tradesman, but by mid day he had not turned up.
The rest of the day went well and I finished my work, but still the tradesman had not turned up. So I decided to call him and ask why? When he answered the telephone, he sounded a little confused, he said that he had called round and had spoken to me in the garden, I replied no way! I was at home all day other than for briefly going out to the bakery at 10am, he then promptly replied that he had definitely spoken to me at approximately 10am, in my garden. This left me very puzzled, and because we had never met before, I asked him to describe who he had spoken to, he then went on to describe a man in overalls and a straw hat tending to the garden, at this point I got a shiver down my spine! I asked did he speak to this man? he said yes! the man in overalls and hat said he was the owner of the property and did not require the services of a tradesman! This left me a little distressed and rather concerned as to what was going on. I asked the tradesman to come round the next day in order to get to the bottom of all this.
Next day the tradesman did indeed arrive, and when I greeted him he was rather shocked, and said to me… “you are not the man I spoke to yesterday” I replied to him “obviously not” and informed him that I was the owner of the properties, and that I had previously sighted the figure of a man in overalls and straw hat in my garden. Both I and the tradesman shrugged our shoulders, and did not know what to make of it all.
Nevertheless I hired the tradesman to help install a modern bathroom in one of my cottages, we worked well together and struck up a friendship. After working together for a few days we had to move an old box out of the attic in the cottage, we noticed it had some contents, so looked inside, amongst various articles we spotted an old straw hat and a sepia photo of the man we had both seen, on the reverse of the photo there was an inscription stating a date (1899) We both then realised we had seen a ghost in my garden!! It was a chilling feeling, but also a realisation that we had solved the mystery, the man had obviously been a previous owner of the properties.
Eventually after all the renovations had been completed, I began to successfully let out the houses as holiday accommodation. But to my surprise more than one or two of my guests have asked me about the mysterious gardener? (man in overalls and straw hat tending to the garden)
Submitted by Pierre
Photo – Straw Hat by Randen Pedersen
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