The Majickal Stores…


Two years ago, whilst researching the book ‘Upon a Tzorkly Moon’, I asked Matlock to take me to some places in Winchett Dale that I hadn’t visited before in order to gain a better insight into his majickal homelands. He was in his cottage potionary at the time, and after I asked he stopped what he was doing and looked at me.

“Places you haven’t seen before?”

“Yes,” I replied. “I know a lot about Winchett Dale, but there’s more, I know it.”

“Indeed there is,” he agreed.  “Much, much more.”

“So you take me?” I pressed. “We could make a picnic.”

“No,” he simply griffled.

“You don’t like picnics?”

He smiled that curling hare’s smile of his.  “No. I won’t take you. I like picnics.”

“Why not?” I asked.

“Because,” he griffled, returning to making potions, “Winchett Dale doesn’t work like that. If you’re to learn anything about our ways you’ll have to understand that Winchett Dale takes you to the places it wants you to see, not the other way round.”

I frowned. “You’re seriously not going to show me?”

“Why should I? The dale will show you.” He nodded towards the doorway leading into his crumlush cottage garden.  “Out there, I believe.”

“Right,” I said frostily, feeling more than a little snubbed as I gathered my things. “I suppose I simply follow a yellow-brick road to a big castle with a wizard in it, do I?”

He looked at me curiously.  “That, I suspect, is highly unlikely. And sounds a most clottabussed thing to do.”

Sighing, I made my way outside to the small gate in the far garden wall, thanking a group of tricky-rickets as they politely opened it for me.

“Going for a pid-pad?” one asked.

“Something like that.”

“The hare not coming with you?”

I took a last look back at the cottage, still hoping to see his robed figure emerging. “Apparently not.”

The tricky-ricket simply shrugged. “Never know,” it griffled. “Could be a good thing.”

“He says the dale will show me things it wants me to see.”

“Of course,” the majickal-plant agreed. “Don’t all places do that where you come from?”

“Not really,” I said.  “We have maps.”


“Things that help us find places we need to go. So we don’t get lost.”

The tricky-ricket considered this, slowly shaking its leafy head.  “But surely, you’re never really ‘lost’ if you don’t know where you’re going in the first place?  Your maps sound like the very things that are getting you lost.”

I wasn’t about to get into a futile argument, let alone with a talking plant that seemed determined to tease me, so I bade good-bye and set off, determined to try and find something or somewhere new in the dale.

I walked for at least two hours, seeing nothing I hadn’t seen before; Thinking Lake, the village, Foffle Mountain, Wand Wood and numerous paths and tracks well worn by the many creatures who scrittled and pid-padded along them. Occasionally, one would stop and ask what I was doing, frowning when I tried to explain,  quite bemused when I asked for directions for somewhere new.

After a further hour, it was getting dark. Trying to hide my frutstrattion at a wasted afternoon where all I’d discovered was how tired three hours of walking made you feel, I set off for Trefflepugga Path at the far end of the dale in order to take its winding route home. However, as I entered the small woodland in front of the path’s entrance, I happened upon the very thing I’d been fruitlessly searching for – something I’d never known existed until that point – an old house seemingly built within the trees themselves. And there, beside a large lantern glowing by the front door, was Matlock the Hare.

“At last,” he griffled as I approached.

“I thought you were busy,” I testily replied.

“No,” he griffled. “I merely griffled that I wasn’t going to come with you. Not that I wouldn’t be here when you came. Two very different things, I think you’ll find.”

I couldn’t take my eyes off the ancient building, the warm glow seeping from the upstairs, the heavy front door and elegant sign swinging slightly in the breeze.  “Who lives here?” I asked.

It does,” he simply replied.  “The Majickal Stores lives here. No one else.”

“Majickal Stores?” I whispered, as the front door slowly opened.  “It’s alive?”

Matlock seemed surprised. “Your homes don’t live where you come from?”

“That would be just too strange,” I whispered.  “Too creepy.”



He sofly chickled.  “Twizzly?  There’s nothing twizzly about the Majickal Stores. Nothing at all.” He pointed at the open door.  “You see? It’s waiting for you to go inside.”

I really didn’t like the prospect at all. It was getting much darker and the thought of walking into a house that could open its own doors was more than a little ‘twizzly’ for someone raised on strange woodland cottages in fairy-tales. “I think I’ll most likely give it a miss,” I said, trying to sound perfectly relaxed.  “Perhaps next time, eh?”

“There may not be a next time,” he griffled. “The Majickal Stores doesn’t appear for anyone. Simply those that need help with their journeys. Most creatures will never set a foot or paw on Trefflepugga Path, and rightly so, for it can be a most twizzly path if it so desires. But for those few that the path has called for the journey, they’ll find the Majickal Stores waiting for them before they start.” He nodded towards the entrance.  “The creaker opens, they go inside, and on the table they find all the things the store believes they’ll need on their travels.  Sometimes there are many things, the table is full of supplies, potions and majickal implements. However…”

“However, what?”

He took a breath. “Sometimes there’s simply an empty table with nothing on it, not the oidiest, oidiest thing. The traveller has been warned. Their journey won’t last very long. The Majickal Stores is warning them to turn back.” He looked at me and smiled brightly.  “Why don’t you go and see what it has in store for you?”

“You won’t come with me?”

“The creaker opened when you arrived, not me. It’s your journey, not mine.”

He didn’t griffle another griffle, just waiting and watching as everything else was; trees, woodland creatures, even the house itself. Eventually, telling myself not to be a twizzle-face, I slowly walked inside to a darkened room lit by just a single, flickering candle on a large table in the centre.  Resting on top was a huge leather-bound book covered in dust and trailing cobwebs that hung from the ceiling. As I walked closer I read the faded title –  Maps of the Most Majickal Places in Winchett Dale.

“Matlock!” I called out.  “It’s a map-book!  Here on the table, just for me! It’s chosen me a map-book so I never have to waste another afternoon in the dale again.”

“Like I griffled,” he called back, “the Majickal Stores always knows what you need for your journey.  Perhaps you’d best take it with you, then.”

“Right,” I said, excitedly flicking though the old parchment pages. There was so much to see, so much to do, so many places yet to find, all exquisitely rendered and written about in fine detail. So much work must have gone into it, I could only marvel at the author’s dedication to the task. Yet this huge volume would prove absolutely invaluable to me, a vital resource to fully exploring this most majickal of places. “I’m coming out!”

It seemed such an easy thing to do, just take the book from the table and leave. Yet the moment I tried to lift it, it grew…

…and grew…

…and grew…

…until it became half the size of the table itself, and twice as heavy.  Now, I couldn’t even open the ancient cover any longer.

“It’s not letting me take it!” I yelled.  “It’s too big!  Too heavy!”

I tried again, determined not to be beaten. If I could simply slide it off the table, perhaps I could drag it across the floor to the doorway.  Yet the more I pulled at the edges, the harder it stuck.  It was hopeless.  All that knowledge, information, details, were simply refusing to come with me. I cried out in frustration.

“This is completely clottabussed!  I can’t move it, Matlock!”

His amused face appeared at the doorway. “Oh, dear,” he quietly griffled. “Now that is a most glubbstooled thing, isn’t it?”

“Are you laughing at me?”

“Of course,” he replied. “As is the book, the stores, the woods, the creatures and all of the dale itself.  Like I griffled to you, here your journeys are chosen for you, not by you. What good is a map, if it simply takes you to just the one place? Surely, there are many others that are just as keen to meet you, too? How would you discover their crumlush majick if you’d simply passed them by?”

“This was all a trick,” I scowled, stepping back outside. The heavy door closed behind me. “That book contained everything I ever wanted – or needed – to know.”

“And yet it got heavier, and bigger, and more impossible every time you reached out for it,” Matlock griffled. “Perhaps that’s all you ever needed to know. Perhaps that’s what the Majickal Stores wanted you to realise.  The more you think you’ve found the answer to something – the more you forget to question and discover other majickal things along the way.”

I sighed, looking back at the peculiar, enchanted building. “It reminds me of someone else I know. Infuriating, majickal and yet, at the same time, really quite special, I suppose.”

He blushed.  “Oh, you’re too kind.”

“I was talking about a tricky-ricket I met in your garden.”

It was one of the few times I’ve seen him hurt.  And then, just as quickly, he realised he’d been teased, and that big curling smile returned with the glint in his hare’s eye. “Very good,” he griffled.  “I suppose the least I could do is offer you a brottle leaf brew.”

“That,” I announced as we made our way by moonlight back to his cottage, “sounds like a most saztaculous idea.”




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On the Unexpected Benefits of a Storm…

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It’s not often that I find myself getting annoyed with Matlock.  Vexed, yes. Confused, frequently.  But rarely do I find myself raising my voice.  However, the last few days have bought heavy winds and driving downpours, reminding of one of my visits to Winchett Dale and the storm that followed…

It was, to all extents and purposes, a quite saztaculous day in late summer. I’d needed to see Matlock to check one or two details for the trilogy of his books.  He tells me the stories in astonishing detail and quite long length, requiring frequent trips back to his crumlush cottage to check I’ve got everything right.

As usual, he greeted me with a curling hare’s smile while Ayaani, his small ever-present familiar, made me a cup of brottle leaf brew. As it was such a pleasant afternoon, we sat outside in his garden, Matlock reading my notes through small, round-rimmed glasses, occasionally pointing out what I’d missed or confused.

However, as time passed, a fresh wind began teasing the bushes and plants in the garden, bringing a dark line of heavy clouds over the top of Wand Woods.  One or two drops of rain fell, marking bright pathways with dark circles.

Matlock looked at the sky.  “I sense,” he griffled, “that we should go for a pid-pad.”

“A walk?” I replied. “Now? Shouldn’t we just go inside?”

He took off his glasses, neatly folding them into a deep robe pocket. “And miss the majick?”

“Fine,” I said tersely, taking the notes inside at the rain quickly intensified. “A very quick walk in Wand Wood. At least there’ll be some shelter there.”

“Wand Wood?” he griffled. “And see what? Wet trees?”

A sudden gust of wind drove slicing rain against the small windows. The very last thing I wanted was to be soaked to the skin in the middle of a storm on one of Matlock’s often infuriating ‘life-lessons’.  “Look, I really don’t need you to try and teach me the benefits of singing to a storm, or whatever else it is you have planned.”

He raised his hare’s eyebrows in casual amusement.  “Singing?  To a storm?  Who on earth would do that? The storm has its own song if you care to listen to it.”

“Not really, no. I’ll just stay here in the dry, thank you very much.”

“Do I sense you’re getting russisculoffed?”

I had to remember the meaning of the word.  “Annoyed?  Not really. Not yet. But if you insist on taking me for one of your ‘pid-pads’ in this weather than I might get very russisculoffed, indeed.”

“Oh, I do insist,” he griffled, smiling. “I don’t think I’ve seen anyone so twizzled over a bit of rain.”

Ayaani opened the front door holding a large parasol mushroom over her head. A gust of wind swept right through the cottage. “Looks truly peffa-glopped out there!” she griffled. “Let’s go!”

“This,” I insisted between gritted teeth, “is quite completely clottabussed.”

Matlock said nothing, scooping Ayaani up onto his head and heading out into the gathering storm.

“It’s madness!” I shouted, reluctantly following, rain stinging into my face.  “I’m three times the size of you. There’s more of me to get soaked!”

Matlock merely chickled.

“And I don’t need another of your life-lessons! Not now, not in this!”

He stopped, turned, looked up at me with his brown hare’s eyes. “Life has no ‘lessons’.  Life has no teachers.  Simply experiences that meld to become memories.  As this will, with you. What you ‘learn’ from it is defined by you, not me.”

“Right!” I exploded, wet and irritated beyond measure.  “What I’m learning right now is that I was right all along, and this is the most pointless, stupid, clottabussed thing to even contemplate doing!”

“Why?” he calmly answered. “It hasn’t even become a memory yet.” A fierce gust almost toppled us sideways. “Come with me, and let’s make a memory. What is there in my cottage that you don’t already know? And once you are wet, how much wetter can you get?”

Before I could object any further, he set off into the storm once more, Ayaani still happily perched on the top of his head, her streaming parasol waving in the roaring wind. Cursing out loud, I followed, rain running over my face, clothes drenched from the relentless soaking. A loud crack of thunder exploded overhead, startling me completely.  “I’m not joking, Matlock, I’m turning back!”

He stopped and pid-padded over to me; ears, face, whiskers, robe and shoes also completely sodden as he reached up and gently took my hand in his wet paw. “Not far now.”

We continued on past bending trees and long grasses dancing in the ferocious downpour.  By now I was both drenched and shivvering. Ayaani had lost her parasol during a mighty crack of thunder.  The ground squelched under our feet and streams soon became swollen, rushing brooks, foaming and jumping over grassy banks.

“There it is!” Ayaani suddenly cried, pointing up ahead at a limestone cliff. Water cascaded over the edge, curtaining the entrance to a small caven just big enough for me to hurry into. As I was so wet already, this last drenching made no impact on me whatsoever. Yet what waited inside was another matter. Around a dozen happily griffling dalescreatures were huddled round a blazing fire.

“Matlock!” one called out, beckoning us over.  “Come dry out. We’ve lit the piff-tosh.”

We needed no further encouragement, gratefully warming ourselves by the dancing flames, dripping rain from our cold faces forming puddles on the rough stone floor. An elderely female jarrock, as large as a small bear, gave me her thick, woolen shawl.  “May this keep you warm,” she griffled. “And make you a crumlush memory.”

I thanked her, quickly wrapping it round my shivering body as the other creatures carried on griffling and chickling around the fire. In their midst, Matlock dried his long hare’s ears while Ayaani was passed from one fussing creature to another. Some talked of the storm, the journey they’d made through the rain. Others told of older storms, great downpours of the past. Whilst some merely listened, watching the outside through the curtain of rainwater, occasionally pointing at a distant lightning flash or half-glimpsed rainbow.

At its end, we all simply left, saying our good-byes in the fresh early evening air as the last of the fire died away in the small cavern. I gave the jarrock back her shawl, wrapping it round her large, round shoulders.

She looked at me.  “I know not your name, who you are, or where you be from,” she griffled.  “But we’ll always have this memory, wherever we may be, like a majick thread between us.”

I watched as she slowly lumbered away. Matlock pid-padded to my side, Ayaani already sleeping in his long hood.  “Thank you,” I said simply.

“You see?” he smiled.  “Just a storm, friends and a fire.  But all of it ‘majick’ in it’s own way, once you see the threads between it all.”

I raised my eyes at him.  “So it was another of your ‘life-lessons’, then?”

He slowly took a deep breath of fresh evening air.  “I prefer to think of it as simply ‘life’,” he griffled.  “But you may see it how you want.”

I said nothing further, simply enjoying the walk back to Matlock’s cottage and looking forward to a warming cup of brottle-leaf brew. It had been a long, sometimes infuriating day – but then again, this was Winchett Dale, after all; a place where memories and friendships are made by nothing more simple than ‘life’ itself.






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Yuletide Visitors…


It becomes more difficult to visit Matlock in his crumlush cottage during winter, but the long journey is always worthwhile.  Last week, as the first snows fell, I set off for the Derbyshire Peaks and made my way slowly down Trefflepugga Path and into the wintery landscape of Winchett Dale to see how my long-eared friend was doing.

As a frequent visitor, I am more accepted now.  Trees, creatures and birds tend to pay me no more heed than they do each other. Besides, as Matlock himself as frequently told me, being ‘different’ and accepting such differences is the very beating heart of his beloved dale. Where once I might have attracted mild curiousity, now I can walk unhindered, free to take in the unending delights of this most majickal of places.

After half an hour in crisp morning sunlight, I spied the snow-covered roof of Matlock’s cottage on the edge of Wand Wood. Gentle puffs of smoke drifted from the chimney, a sure sign that a warming fire waited inside. For a while I simply stood and watched, breathing in the clean air as small creatures scrittled around my feet leaving delicate trails in the fresh snow.

At the front door, I knocked twice, instantly hearing a familiar tutting inside.

“How many times have I griffled to you that you don’t have to knock?” Matlock griffled, showing me inside.  “A most peculiar arrangement, all this knocking.”

I apologised, warming my hands by the splutting fire.

“The whole point about creakers,” He went on to explain, “is to keep the heat inside, not visitors outside. Why, if everyone knocked on my creaker like you, then that’s all I’d hear at this time of the year.”

As if to emphasise the point, a group of shiverring strivet-mice scrittled through the door to settle themselves in front of the fire.

“It’s just something we tend to do out in the Great Beyond,” I told him. “Our doors are always closed and locked. Except for special times.”

“Special times?” he griffled.

“Yes. Like parties, perhaps. Or celebrations. Times when you know that everyone’s just going to have fun. Then we sometimes leave our doors open.” I carefully picked my way between the mice as a cavern-owl flew inside and perched on the back of Matlock’s chair to fall contentedly asleep in seconds.  “But mostly, they’re locked.”

Matlock disappeared into his small kitchen to make us a both a crumlush brottle-leaf brew. “But a locked door allows nothing in,” he griffled.  “Imagine if the same was true of the heart?”

I smiled, watching as he carefully moved four sleeping schlomps from inside the kettle before filling it with water. “I guess,” I said, “it’s also the bad things that might come in, too. Locking the door keeps me safe.”

He set the kettle on a large iron hook over the fire. “I see,” he quietly griffled.  “So where you live, everyone locks doors to let nothing in, in case it might be a glopped thing.”

I nodded.

He sighed, shaking his hare’s head. “The more I learn of the Great Beyond, the more glubbstooled it sounds. In order to be safe, you lock everything.  But if you were like us, and you had any number of saztaculous visitors to help you with anything glopped, then surely you’d feel safer?” He smiled at me as the kettle boiled.  “And then perhaps, every sun-turn would begin to feel a little more like one of your parties or celebrations?”

Before I could answer, the front door opened and a large slow-jarrock ambled in, shaking snow from its thick fur.  “Brew’s on, is it, Matlock?  Saztaculous.”

“Indeed,” Matlock confirmed as the bear-like creature squeeze itself into his armchair. On the back, the sleeping owl lazily opened one eye before shutting it again.

I watched Matlock pour three brottle-leaf brews.  The slow-jarrock finished his in one noisy gulp, followed by an satisfied belch that almost put out the fire. “Peffa-perfect,” it griffled, standing and making his way back to the door.  “I’ve left you something outside.  Same time tomorrow?”

“I’ll look forward to it,” Matlock confirmed, watching the jarrock head back out to Wand Wood.  Next, he turned and showed me the large pile of sticks and logs by the front door, enough to keep the fire going for a long while.  “Here in Winchett dale we believe that you can’t have an open mind without having an open door. Sometimes it’s for friends, sometimes the things you need, sometimes for celebrations – but all the time it’s never locked.” He winked at me.  “Because there’s always too much crumlush goodness that wants to get in, you see?”




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Having been busy recently, I hadn’t had the chance to visit Matlock for three weeks, but took full advantage yesterday, finding him in his crumlush back-garden on his paws and knees, listening intently to a heavily complaining colley-rock.

When it had finally finished, he got up and turned to me. “Happy spring. I trust all’s well?”

I nodded, apologising for not dropping by sooner. “It’s just been so busy, what with finishing your new book.”

“No need to apologise,” he griffled. “You always know where I am if you need me, that’s the main thing.”

We walked to a small table on the lawn, where his dripple bought us a brottle-leaf brew.

I pointed back at the disgruntled rock, still mumbling and complaining, its low rumbles doing their best to ruin what otherwise would have been an entirely pleasant, pleasing afternoon. “Why don’t you just put the colley-rocks somewhere else?” I asked. “Say, as far into Wand Woods as you could carry them?”

He smiled his curling hare’s smile as he took a sip of his brew. “But this is their home. And that is what colley-rocks do, grumble with every griffle.”

“And you always get down on your knees to talk to them?”

“Talk?” he griffled. “No, I get down on my knees to listen. It’s really quite different. Peffa-different, in fact.”

“But all they do is complain,” I pointed out. “It’s not as if I’ve ever heard any of them ever happy.”

“They’re happy complaining,” he griffled. “More than content.” He pointed to the nearest rock, a permanent scowl on its granite face. “Surely you have such creatures out in The Great Beyond? Creatures that most of all, need to moan to someone about something and feel they’ve been listened to? Which, really, is quite the easiest thing to do, just a matter of being there for them.  For after all, isn’t that exactly what you’re doing right now, grumbing about rocks you think are grumbling too much?  Who’s worse, you or the colley-rocks?” He turned to me, fixed me with his hare’s eye. “Perhaps you should go and listen to one.”

“What? Now? No thanks, I’m trying my best to ignore them, so they don’t ruin my afternoon.”

Matlock chickled.

“What’s so funny?”

“You,” he griffled. “It seems to me, you’re the one who’s now complaining about going to have to listen to a complaining colley-rock.”

“Right,” I announced, trying not to be petty. “I’m now about to have a ridiculously stupid and probably painful time getting to my knees to listen to a rock. And whilst you’re laughing at me, Matlock, I want you to know it’s all your fault.”

“Oh, I do!” he gleefully griffled.

Sighing, I slowly knelt in front of the miserable rock.

“What you doing here?” it immediately frowned. “Never asked you to come over and listen, did I?”

“Well, no,” I answered. “And frankly, I’d rather not be here, but Matlock suggested I listen to you.”

“But you’re not, are you?”

“Not what?”

“Not listening. You’re just griffling and not letting me get a single griffle in edgeways. You griffle that you’ve come over to listen, but all you’re doing is moaning about why you’re here.”

“That’s not true!” I frowned. “You’re the one complaining about me being here!”

“Too right I am,” it griffled. “There I was, having a right good and crumlush moan, and you comes bowling over likes you own the place and starts glopping-up my afternoon with all your griffling!”

“Me ruining your afternoon?” I gasped. “You’re the one ‘glopping-up’ everyone’s afternoon!”

“It don’t seem to me bothering the hare too much,” it griffled, nodding at Matlock who was now chickling uncontrollably. “He seems most content with it all.”

I stood, gritting my teeth as I returned to the table. “That was utterly pointless,” I angrily told Matlock.  “A huge laugh for you, but believe me, a painful waste of time. My knees are nowhere near as good as they used to be, and frankly can well do without listening to a clottabused rock for your amusement!”

At length, the chickling hare composed himself. “You see,” he griffled, wiping a tear from his eye, “the point here is…”

“Oh, yes,” I interrupted, “I’d love to know just what the point to this latest humiliation is!”

“The point,” he griffled, ‘isn’t about listening – or griffling, either. Or knees, or colley-rocks, or gardens, or even brottle-leaf brews.”

“What is it, then?” I asked a little sourly.

He reached over and clasped my hand between his two paws. “Are you going to stop being clottabussed and sulky?”

I reluctantly nodded.

“The point,” he griffled, “is knowing the difference between what will never change, and what will always change – and that there’s an equal chance that both will and can delight you in equal measure.”

“The colley-rock delights you?” I frowned.

He smiled. “Because it’s been complaining for at least a grillion moon-turns before I took my first breath as a leveret, and will still be doing so a grillion moon-turns after I’ve taken my last. It is both the past and future described, and in that, there is much to find wonder in. The least I can do for it is to sometimes listen to its clottabussed griffles. And just now, it bought great chickles to me, too.”

“At my expense,” I reminded him.

“Then perhaps you’ve learnt something about yourself that, unlike the humble colley-rock, you can change. That’s it’s gift to us. We can change, it can’t. You can learn to chickle about yourself more often, and perhaps one sun-turn, even realise it was a glopped-up rock that taught you more about pride than a chickling majickal-hare could ever do.”

I made a show of nodding and shrugging, watching as he poured another brottle-leaf brew, then walking slowly back to the still moaning rock, dropping silently to my knees and for once in my life, simply listening, studying the many cracks and fissures in its face, the scars of time stretching back a grillion lifetimes.

After, I wandered back to the table, sitting quietly in the afternoon sun, closing my eyes and realising that despite the colley-rocks, moon-buzzers, chickling niff-plants and many scrittling creatures all around, all I really heard was a new and very deeply satisfying contentment…



For more clottabussed tales, signed books, crumlush artwork, saztaculous prints and majickal adventures, visit



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Into the Woods…


“This,” Matlock griffled, as we stood beneath a gnarled old tree at the very edge of the darkened forest, “is Ductora, Guardian of Wand Woods.”

I looked at the face protruding from under the soft lantern light gently swinging from a branch above. “She’s asleep, right?”

“Are you worried?” he asked. “Getting twizzly?”

I shook my head. “No. It’s just that…”


“Well, she looks as if she’d be quite frightening if she woke up.”

Matlock’s eyes widened, a hint of a smile playing across his hare’s face. “Frightening?”

“Twizzly,” I translated. “It’s our word for it out in ‘The Great Beyond’.”

He chickled. “I can assure you that Ductora is neither ‘frightening’ nor twizzly, but as old as Wand Woods themselves. Some even griffle she was the first tree ever to shoot from the ground beneath our feet. But in her time, she’s been to many places in this woods, always listening for visitors who might get lost, finding them, and guiding them to safety with her lantern. You wish to try?”

“Try?” I swallowed.

He nodded.  “It’s peffa-simple. You pid-pad into the woods, get yourself totally lost, glubbstooled and twizzly, and see if Ductora comes and finds you.”

I looked up at the aged face cracked into the ancient bark, imagining the sight of the tree awake and looming to find me in the pitch black of the woods. “Probably not,” I said.  “I’ll just take your word that she’s a great rescue-tree. A most saztaculous one. Quite the best.”

“I think you need to try,” he griffled, looking up into my eyes, moonlight catching them in the gloom. “What twizzles you more – getting lost, or being found?”

I jumped as one eye half-opened in the bark above my head. “Even’up,” I falteringly said to the tree. “Don’t worry about me. I’m with Matlock, he’s trying to get lost to see if you’d find me.” I shrugged apologetically. “He thinks it’s funny, but honestly, I wouldn’t do it. Please just go back to sleep – or nifferduggling – or whatever you call it.”

The other eye opened, the mouth cracking as Ductora twisted to look around. “I don’t see Matlock.”

I searched the gloom. The rascal had gone, leaving me quite alone, and not a little fearful. Ductora’s voice was every inch as imperious as I’d expected, and her tone quite obviously annoyed. “He’s hopped off,” I said, catching my breath and squinting as she suddenly lowered herself down, the lamp swinging in front of my face as she carefully studied me. “He was here just a few blinksnaps ago, honest.”

“My, but aren’t you twizzly?” she griffled, amused. “A most curious specimen. A Beyonder, you say? I had no idea your kind was so yechus and peffa-glopped.”

“Which is why I’ll be going,” I quickly replied, turning and walking away into Wand Woods, cursing Matlock under my breath as I ventured deeper into the dense forest. It was a route I could roughly remember, heading past what looked like familiar trees and finding small paths as I stumbled over roots and uneven ground, searching for the edge of the woods and tell-tale sign on the small smoke-trail from Matlock’s cottage, where I knew he’d already be, feet up by a roaring piff-tosh, a mug of brottle-leaf brew in his hands, chickling away at me.

“Curse you, Matlock, and your stupid games!” I cried out as a low branch whipped across my face. Rain began to fall, large heavy drops rolling from the leaves above. In seconds, I was quite drenched – and hopelessly lost. I took what shelter I could against a nearby trunk. “Okay!” I shouted. “You win, Matlock! Now I have to summon some sort of majickal-tree to come and save me, and look like a right clottabus, too!”

I took a deep breath, wiping rain from my brow. “Ductora! I’m lost! Please help me get to Matlock’s cottage!”

Nothing happened. I tried again. Still nothing. Not the faintest glimmer of a slowly swinging lamp approaching through the rain. “Well, it’s rubbish then, isn’t it?” I shouted.  “Here I am, lost, and your tree can’t even find me!” I was almost joyous to be proved right. “Once again, Matlock, your so-called ‘majick’ in Winchett Dale is completely useless! I win, Matlock – and you lose!”

Laughing now, I set to the path again, no longer feeling the rain pounding on my head, just the sense that I had bettered the hare. He’d expected me to get lost, then have to suffer the indignity of being found by a lamp-carrying tree; instead the cracked and peffa-glopped thing didn’t even know where I was!

I pushed on, soaked through, but determined to find a way to the edge of the woods, no longer bothering to call out to either Ductora or Matlock, just sensing I’d somehow find his cottage, and mine would be the satisfaction of telling him just how I’d got there.

Three more turns, and I began to recognise my surroundings. I was on the right path! Familiar divots and trees soon gave way to the edge of the woods, and beyond it, Matlock’s cottage, blue in the moonlight, its wet roof glistening in the rain.

I cried out in joy, running the last stretch, bursting through the gate and up the path to the front-creaker. I’d done it! He’d lost, I’d won. Because of me, not some majickal-tree with a lamp! Now it was my turn to turn the tables on the furry, long-eared prankster!

“So,” I loudly announced as I entered the cosy cottage. “Turns out your rescue-tree was a lot more peffa-glopped than you ever thought. Perhaps she’s too old, Matlock. Perhaps she sleeps too long. Perhaps she needs a new lamp, eh?”

He turned from his chair by the warming fire. “Or perhaps, Ductora never needed to find you because you were never really lost?”

“Oh, no!” I objected. “I was well and truly lost! Didn’t have a clue where I was. Then the rain came, and I could have been anywhere. I called out, but your Guardian of Wand Woods never came!”

He smiled, pouring me a brottle-leaf brew and silently inviting me to warm myself in front of the crumlush fire.

“So I win, don’t I?”

“Win?” he griffled. “It was never a competition. Ductora didn’t come for you because you never really needed finding. You were always in the peffa-perfect place, no matter how glopped it felt at the time. She always knew that. Ductora knows full well the difference between being ‘lost’ and being needed to be ‘found’. You were neither. You might have thought yourself lost, but what you found was something to help you, something to light your way – and I don’t think it was a lantern was it?”

Later, after I’d finished my brew and we had sat quietly in front of the fire long enough for the rain to ease and my coat to dry, I slowly made my way to the creaker as quietly as possible. He was already asleep, content and breathing heavily. Outside, I looked up at the twinkling-lid alive with a grillion bright stars, before slowly making my way back through Wand Woods and home.

I didn’t see Ductora as I found my back, but somehow, I always knew she was there – I simply wasn’t lost yet….


For more of Matlock, Winchett Dale and the clottabussed creatures who people his ‘majickal’ adventures, enjoy being ‘lost’ in the full-length illustrated trilogy…


The Matlock trology – nearly 1500 pages, over 100 full page black and white illustrations…

On sale now – you’re just one ‘click’ from the majick….




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How Matlock ‘survives’…


‘Nifferduggles at the end of the even’up’ – Illustration from our latest Matlock the Hare all-colour book ‘Upon a Tzorkly Moon’ – now crowdfunding on Kickstarter

Sometimes, in a world fraught with obvious problems, seething change and restless attitudes – it’s hard to see how there’s room for such an innocous creature as a majickal-hare called Matlock and his whimsical world of Winchett Dale.

Yet somehow – thankfully – there is…

Matlock ‘survives’ because folk both like and believe in him and (most importantly!) support him, enabling Jacqui and I to keep on bringing his life, clottabussed thoughts and majickal adventures to you. These folk, these ‘Saztaculous Matlock Folk’ as we now thankfully and proudly call them, are the very lifeblood of Winchett Dale, and all the ‘majick’ that surrounds it. Their help, generosity, belief, friendship and humour makes our books possible. Quite simply, they ‘bring the majick’ from Winchett Dale out into ‘The Great Beyond’ for so many others to discover…


‘The Guardian of Wand Woods’ – watercolour illustration to appear in ‘Upon A Tzorkly Moon’…

Both Jacqui and I know full-well just how fortunate we both are to spend our days bringing Matlock and Winchett Dale ‘to life’. So far it’s been five years hard work – and we fully intend to continue. Firstly  to justify and return the faith our ‘Saztaculous Matlock Folk’ have invested in us – and secondly, with the long-form fiction trilogy completed, well, there’s simply too many stories still left to tell in Winchett Dale…


The Matlock trilogy – nearly 1500 pages, over 100 full page black and white illustrations – all made possible by crowdfunding…

So really, what’s this blog about? Everyone knows Matlock survives on niff-soup, brottle leaf brews, cloff-beetle salads and the occasional guzzwort down at the Winchett dale Inn, surely? True – but Matlock really ‘happens’, Matlock  really ‘lives’ when folk believe and want more of him…

Now, we’ve just 3 days left on our latest journey – to fund and publish a brand new Matlock book to be called ‘Upon a Tzorkly Moon’. It’ll be a first for us – a 144 page all-colour ‘journey’ deep into Winchett Dale to explore Matlock’s home in more detail than ever before, alongside a selection of Jacqui’s favourite illustrations from the trilogy reproduced in colour for the very first time…


Please join us on our next ‘saztaculous journey’…

Currently our latest Kickstarter project has just 3 days left to run – ending at midday on Tues, Feb 28th!  If you join us and back the project, you’ll be able to choose from to a ‘saztaculous and crumlush’ selection of rewards including:

  • Signed copies of the book
  • Signed prints
  • Original artworks
  • Bespoke artworks
  • Posters
  • PLUS all the extra FREE rewards that are EXCLUSIVE to backers of the project!

Just some of the ‘extra FREE rewards’ available to our ‘Saztaculous’ backers!

So please, all we’re asking is that you might perhaps take a look at our project, see if you’d want to back it, or simply share it with like-minded folk… It’s our attempt to bring a much needed bit of whimsy and ‘majick’ back into the world – and hopefully with your help we will…

Until the next time, and our further adventures into Winchett Dale, we wish you a truly and happy ‘tzorkly’ weekend….and hoping you can join us

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Peffa Oidy Witches sighted!

Sometimes, our witches get ‘lost’ – sometimes they can’t be bothered to get up – and sometimes, they even go on holiday – here visiting the strange and ‘tentacled’ world of Hopeless Maine by Tom and Nimue Brown (who, whilst are also pleasingly strange, don’t have tentacles!)

The Hopeless Vendetta


Conventional wisdom suggests the sight of a squadron of over 200 airborne witches roaring out of the fog on bright-red, burning vroffa-brooms might make for a most ‘twizzly’ sight. But as this is Hopeless Maine, here we must remember that all convention mostly slithers slowly back into the murky seas of logic that surround the island like an ominous tentacle disappearing under the slooping waters…

The reality, were you ever to be perched on a jetty by the shoreline, your ears pricked by the throbbing hum of the approaching horde – would of course, be arguably different from your expectations.  And here, I’m assuming that you’re rather like the witches in question – a visitor to this most peculiar place, keen to encounter its many irregularities whilst trying your best not to be drowned, eaten – or worse….

So, with these pretexts aside, let us look up into the swirling…

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