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And then things began to get weird..

I don't know exactly when we got new next door neighbours, but at some point I answered the door, and an older woman thrust her hand at me to shake. She introduced herself as Jackie, and said she lived next door, her back garden fence running adjacent to my driveway. I mumbled my name, taken aback by her arrogant overfriendliness. I was from Nottingham, a rough city, people just didn't do this where we came from. I was enjoying the welcome we had received from East Yorkshire people, but this felt different, something about her just didn't feel friendly. I shook it off, and thought nothing more of it.

We'd survived the big storm, and got through our first Christmas, and we started to settle in. The cold of winter started to thaw, and spring was arriving. I was still driving 140 miles each day that R went to college, so we looked into public transport. There was no way of R getting to college in the morning, but he could try to get home. It was 3 buses. The first time he attempted this, wasn't a great success. After nearly 3 hours of travelling he'd alighted from the bus in Patrington, and wasn't sure what to do now, so he was going to walk back. It was getting dark. While Patrington to Easington was only a 10 minute drive, due to variable speed limits, it was still well over 6 miles and would have taken R about 2 hours to walk. R had completely misjudged the distance as we always drove. I told him to stay where he was, I would drive to get him. We decided after this, I'd continue to collect him from college, but the hours of driving, planning and teaching home education, and running a home twice the size of my last house with 4 growing boys all with complex needs, was taking a toll. Some nights I'd barely get 4 hours sleep before I was up again, setting the breakfast table and getting clothes for everyone. I took the boys on educational trips as often as possible, but this involved even more driving. I was determined to do it all, and equally determined to prove I didn't need help. I didn't trust anyone anyway.

K struggled with visiting places, he would hide, cover his ears, and zone out. We used ear defenders where we could, and I offered comfort and support, but he was clearly traumatised by his past experiences.



In early spring 2014, I went out to my car on the drive, to find a massive amount of Japanese knotweed had been dumped between my car and my garage door. I never parked in my garage, I pulled onto my driveway and parked nose forward, on my driveway in front of the garage.

I looked around the street, if someone had dragged this huge amount of foliage to dump in front of my car, there would be a trail from where it came from. But there was nothing. Except the huge load dumped in front of my car. It was like it fell out of the sky. Baffled, I called R outside. We both scanned the street, completely stumped at where this could have come from. There was just too much to not leave any trail. The only logical explanation, the only possible explanation, was that it had been hoisted straight over the fence adjacent to my driveway. The new neighbours. Jackie.

I wondered what her problem was. I had to admit to myself I had neglected the garden over the winter, maybe it was a 'message' to sort my garden out. I told R to clean up the mass of tangled weeds into our garden bin, and vowed to sort ours out.

We went to Withernsea and got some hanging baskets and plants, and some cute wooden ornamental planters for the front of the house. We got blue glass pebbles for the wishing well, and the boys enjoyed making the baskets and planter, and making the wishing well. We also did a big clear up in the back garden, and with the spare plants we had left from the baskets, we planted the window box on the climbing frame 'house'. I hoped we had redeemed ourselves to whoever had dumped the knotweed. It was beautiful.



It didn't last long though. Within 10 days, the wishing well had been smashed up, and the plants in the hanging baskets and wheelbarrow went jet black, as if they had suffered a mini napalm. Disappointed, we removed the display into the back garden out of sight. I suggested it might just be some local naughty kids, that we were probably being a bit daft putting stuff out on an open front garden.

But the weird thing was, the spare plants that we'd planted in the climbing frame in the back garden, thrived.

Something was going on, but we were new to the area, and I didn't want to cause a fuss, so I just stayed extra vigilant.

On Easter Sunday 2014, Trix the dog took seriously ill. She was lethargic, refusing to eat or drink, with some unexplainable discharge from her rear. She seemed so unwell I rang the emergency vet at the PDSA in Hull, and I warned the boys she may be kept in. I was worried sick as we rushed to the vet.



The vet did a thorough check of Trix, but couldn't find anything medically wrong. She gave us advice on monitoring her, how to gently encourage water, and food like cooked chicken, and to contact her straight away if she deteriorated. Accidental poisoning was suggested as a possible cause.

We watched her closely, and she quickly recovered. She was soon back to her smiley self, and we were relieved. But that niggling suggestion, poisoning, kept floating back into my thoughts. Poisoned with what? Things didn't add up. But we were happy Trix was ok.



I decided to stay vigilant, something wasn't right, but I didn't want to upset the boys so I brushed things off.

In July 2014 we celebrated our first year in Easington with a little tea party. A good friend from Nottingham came over to celebrate with us, I was paranoid of my unknown neighbours, so didn't want to invite anyone local round, and it was good to see a friendly face that we knew and trusted. We'd made it here through the first year, despite several difficulties, I was sure it would get easier from now on. Teething troubles I reassured myself. Little did I know, this was only the start of the troubles...



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