'It's not a ghost, it's mum watching me'
WHEN Nicola Ford's television inexplicably turned on in the middle of the night she admits she was terrified.
Yet now the strange happenings in her Brentwood home have become a source of comfort for her rather than terror.
Besides the bizarre TV incident – which has echoes of the 1982 horror film Poltergeist – white feathers have been found dotted around Nicola's house and the smell of a perfume that she does not use often fills the air.
A candle once fell over mysteriously, despite being firmly wedged into its candlestick, while on more than one occasion a pair of glass angels in her bedroom have been rotated during the course of the day – despite the door being locked.
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She also sees strange shadows out of the corner of her eye.
Yet despite the spooky goings-on, Nicola does not believe her house is haunted by a malevolent spirit – rather she thinks it's just her late mum Hazel watching over her.
"Ghosts to me are poltergeists, they are horrible and malicious," the 36-year-old said.
"I just think I've got mum just letting me know she is about.
"The fact that mum was very spiritual and believed in spirits herself makes me think it is her."
Nicola, who lives off Hutton Drive in Hutton, added: "I find it comforting. It isn't malicious – it isn't as if I have things flying across the room trying to hit me.
"It is just things being moved.
"If it's not mum then it's just someone else trying to let me know that they are about."
Nicola, a student social worker, has lived in her two-bed home for almost nine years but her paranormal experiences only began following the death of her mother, who died, aged 63, in July 2008.
Strange things have also happened to her son Robbie, 16, and her six-year-old white and ginger cat Fifi.
"When mum died Robbie had some quite negative experiences," said Nicola, who also works part-time at the French Quarter furniture boutique in Crown Street.
"He saw some quite nasty things in his bedroom like nan's face coming towards him and then turning into a scary face.
"As for the cat, she's always looking at or following something that we cannot see."
She added: "What is happening here is paranormal.
"I can't explain how these things are happening."
In a further spooky twist, when our photographer turned up to take Nicola's picture he could not get his flash to work.
Reflecting on her views about the spirit world, Nicola concluded: "I believe there is an afterlife but I don't know how people get to that point."
Have you had a paranormal experience? Is your house haunted? Do you believe in the afterlife? Call Chris Richards on 01245 603337 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org