The Neal James Website


Holly and the Ivy

Holly Palmer fell in love with the old public house as soon as she saw it.

All of her instincts should have told her of the mistake that she was about to make.

They didn't.



It had been a year to the day since the fire at the Ivy. The public house stands on the A169 between Pickering and Whitby in Yorkshire, and Holly Palmer fell in love with the place from the moment she first set eyes upon it.

      She and her husband, Dave, had been on holiday and travelling across the North Yorkshire Moors, when a wrong turning had them scratching their heads in a lay-by with a map spread across the bonnet of their Audi. All had been going swimmingly until the satnav packed up ten miles down the road, and now they found themselves in the middle of nowhere. Holly looked up in exasperation and caught sight of the roof timbers further down the hill. She wandered off, leaving her husband to come up with a solution to their dilemma.
      “Dave!” She shouted, suddenly. “Come and look at this!”
      Her long-suffering partner sighed, folded up the map, and trudged down the road; he stopped abruptly when he saw where she was pointing.
      “This is it!” She exclaimed, pointing excitedly at the ruin standing across the road. “This is just what we’ve been looking for!”
      The Ivy stood before the couple, majestic in its dereliction, and Holly decided that this part of the North Yorkshire Moors was precisely where she wanted to live. Making a note of the estate agent’s address and telephone number from the ‘For Sale’ board, they made an appointment to view as much of the property as was safe on the following day. Returning to their car, Dave quickly worked out the route back to Pickering, and they booked in at the Black Swan on Birdgate.
      It was later that evening that the first inklings of trouble began to creep into the mind of Dave Palmer. They were in the pub’s bar when one of the locals overheard Holly’s conversation with the landlord, Mike Proctor.