Ask Freda – A Love Spell, please.

Published March 20, 2014 by Annie Oliver


Well my dearies, if I had a piece of tack for every letter I get asking for a love spell then I would never have to peddle false teeth again. So this is for all of you lovelorn ninnies who are waiting for true love’s kiss to come your way. Here’s one I received earlier…

Dear Freda,

Freda there’s someone I really like but he doesn’t like me. I think about him all the time and last week I plucked up the courage to ask him out. He said he thought I was a nice girl but he’d rather be friends. I feel like my life is over! I’m so heartbroken. Do you have a spell to change his mind?

Jen, 12.

Dear me, ducky.  Unrequited love is worse than a weeping boil curse in my opinion. Well, the first bit of advice I can give you is to give your head a good shake. Stand in front of a mirror (magic, if you have one but if not, one from Argos will do just as well) and shake it vigorously for at least five minutes. Then give yourself a good Glare and scare the lovelorn-ness out of yourself. It worked for my sister Edna when she had her head turned by a dark wizard. He turned out to be trying to steal our precious spell book. We soon sorted him out with a bit of well-worded hexing. Wizards are no match for fairy godmothers, although they like to think that they are.

There is a spell to make someone love you but I would never repeat it here. ‘Tis dark magic indeed and usually results  in injury, obsession, death, or even worse, an unhappy marriage. Ask Cinderella how she felt about her godmother’s interference once Prince Charming started following her about the palace constantly with a stupid doe-eyed face and always asking a-where she was going and could he come with her? She soon got sick of that.

The point I’m trying to make, dearie, is that you wouldn’t want to be with someone who was charmed into loving you. You should want a sweetheart who sees magic in your eyes and spell dust in your smile without a charm ever having been cast. That is what is known as True Love, and – while it makes me a little vomitous to say this – ’tis a magic far more powerful than any spell this old Godmother could cast.

Don’t settle for anything less and if I find out you have I shall have to put a pox upon your house!

All the best, dearie,

Freda x


Freda’s Almanac

Published March 9, 2014 by Annie Oliver


Once again, ‘tis the time of the week to offer some good advice from my trusty Godmother’s Almanac. Ignore it, and you’ll likely end up in peril, begging me to unhex you from a deadly sleeping curse or such like.

–          ‘Tis a young moon this eve. An excellent evening for casting spells and granting wishes. If I may make a suggestion, though…when sending me your wishes please try to at least be original. Should I see one more letter for true love or a fancy ball gown – I swear – I’ll develop the galloping vomits.

–          Do not, under any circumstances walk under a low stone bridge on Tuesday while wearing a red hat, lest you wake the Grimblestone troll. He is a terrible bore and you will be there until Thursday listening to his tales and trying not to yawn.

–          Friday is an auspicious day to make a truth brew. If you suspect that the one you love is not true, simply take a handful of cobwebs and brew in a cauldron (a decent blender will do) with some ground newt’s dung and rose water. Infuse for one hour with some hair of ferret and nail of rabbit. Stir clockwise, thricely, in the light of the moon. Whisper into the cauldron ‘The truth will do, do you be true?’  The resulting potion is now the liquid form of a lie…and only a liar can swallow a lie. Add three drops to your beloved’s drink. If they seem happy and well then they are most certainly a rotten cheat and liar. If they vomit incessantly for three hours, then they are true and you need not worry.

Good days for Glaring – Sunday, Wednesday

Good days for Grimacing – Monday, Tuesday.

Hexing and Spells are best cast on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday.

Once again, let me remind you that today is an excellent day for wishing. Anything wished today with a pure and open heart will undoubtedly come to you.

Happy wishing,

Freda x

The Book – Chapter Two

Published March 6, 2014 by Annie Oliver


Well it’s about time you had a little taster of some more of my friend Annie’s book, it being World Book Day and all. You’ve met Scarlett and me, of course in the first chapter but the book isn’t all about us. Oh no, dearies, there’s another girl who is most important to the tale I had to tell and you may not like her very much at first, readers. Yes, when I first met her she was quite the spoilt brat. However, her story is our story too and ’tis how Scarlett deals with her bullying antics that really gives the tale some meat…


Chapter TwoThe Bully.


Jemima Bloom was certain that Scarlett Winter had head lice. Living in Bramble Towers, you caught them from the walls and the toilets. Everyone knew that. It was her public duty to warn everyone, or else there was sure to be an epidemic. She put the finishing touches to her artwork and then stepped back to admire it. It was an artfully drawn skull and crossbones, with the words, ‘NIT INFESTED AREA’ emblazoned across the top. She decided to add some lightening-bolts for extra effect and as she scribbled, she thought of cunning ways to attach it to Scarlett’s back.

“Jem, what on earth are you doing? I’ve got a leg wax at nine and your dad’s off to Mexico with his golf friends. I’ve got so much to do, never mind get you to school and you’re sitting here, scribbling and daydreaming.” Julia Bloom tottered through the door, her auburn hair piled high on her head.

“Mum!” moaned Jemima. “How am I ever supposed to get a career in design if you call it scribbling?”

“CAREER?” boomed a strong, Yorkshire accent as Frank Bloom, her father and the managing director of ‘Blooming Lovely Crisps’ strode forcefully through the door. “What do you want a career for?” He smoothed down a large swatch of hair, which had tilted slightly over one eye with all the striding, leaving a big pink bald patch. Every morning, he carefully and meticulously cultivated the long strand of hair which grew from the side of his left ear, manipulating it, backcombing and faffing with it until it resembled a hairline. Jemima and Julia both averted their eyes, for the comb-over was the thing Not To Be Mentioned. Frank was incredibly proud of his ‘full head of hair.’

Here we go, thought Jemima, rolling her eyes. “Well, maybe not a career, Dad, but I’d like to go to university one day, even if just for the experience.”

“What do you want to go to university for?” he said, his face turning a disgusting puce. “I didn’t get where I am today by reading hoity-toity books and dying my hair funny colours. You’ll be better off marrying well. Look at me and your Mum. Not an exam between us but we’ve got a Jacuzzi in the bathroom and a private box at Grimsfield United. I’ve got a full head of hair and a gold membership to the Golf club. There aren’t many professors at that posh university got that, eh?”

“No, Dad,” said Jemima, her lip twitching with amusement as the comb-over wobbled precariously during the rant.

“Aw look at her,” he said, “she looks like she’s going to cry. Diddums. I tell you what, sweetheart, you want to go to university, go ahead and fill your boots. Go to any university you like.”

“You mean it dad?” said Jemima, hopeful.

“Course I do,” he said, “as long as you ruddy well pay for it yourself! FNARR FNARR!” He laughed, clutching his round belly. Jemima’s heart sank back down again. “Don’t you forget who bankrolls this family,” Frank continued. “The sooner I can get another poor sap to pay for your shoes and handbags the better. Now stop moping about and get ready. I’m off now. Your mum will be in the car, don’t keep her waiting.”

“Yeah I’ll miss you too. Have a great holiday,” she said to his departing bottom. She stuck her tongue out at the door and sighed. There was no point arguing with him. He was a bully. It was his way or no way at all.

She was in mid-straighten, when she stopped, catching sight of an all-too familiar worry in the mirror. There it was again. She was shimmering. She looked closer. It was definitely there, a strange shine to her skin.

“Come on, Jemima!”  her mum bellowed up the stairs.

“Coming,” she replied, stuffing the picture in her school bag. She looked back up into the mirror. It was gone. The face that stared back at her was just a normal, dull, face again. Maybe she was imagining it. She shook her head, grabbed her schoolbag and ran down the stairs.

“Mu-um?” she said in the car.

“What?” said Julia, snappily. “What now, Jemima? I’ve got a hundred things to do for your sister’s wedding so don’t start.”

“Doesn’t matter,” said Jemima, slumping back in the leather seat.

“Well you’ve said it now. Spit it out. Tell me,” Julia barked, while looking as uninterested as possible in the opposite direction.

“It’s just…have you noticed anything funny about me lately?” Jemima nervously twirled a strand of hair around her finger.

“Funny? No.” Julia fiddled with the radio absent-mindedly and Jemima took a deep breath in. Julia wasn’t the easiest person to have a mother-daughter talk with.

“No…I mean…have you noticed me twinkling or shining at all lately?”

Julia stopped the car, pulling over into a bus stop, much to the fury of a bus driver who was now blocked in. He beeped furiously and waved his hands in the air. “Hold your horses!” screamed Julia. “My car’s worth more than your ruddy bus so I’ve got more right to park here than you!” The bus driver shook his head and Julia turned to face Jemima, eyes small and beady. “Have you been drinking?” she snarled, “without telling me?”

“No, Mum,” sighed Jemima. This was hopeless.

“If you have, I’m very disappointed in you. If you want a drink, you can have a martini, I told you that. Bring your friends round. They can all have a ruddy martini. Just do it in the house love.”

“That’s not very sensible Mum, given that I’m only twelve, and no, I haven’t been drinking.”

“Then what are you blathering on about?” said Julia, swinging out of the bus stop.

“It doesn’t matter, just forget I spoke,” Jemima replied, despondently. They spent the rest of the journey in silence, Jemima’s mood getting fouler the closer they got to school. None of the other people on her select estate went to stinky Grimsfield High. They all went to posh boarding schools and girls colleges, something her dad wouldn’t see fit to spend his precious money on.

They pulled up outside just as Scarlett was arriving in some kind of custard-coloured sad-mobile with those scary old bints, Freda and Edna in tow and a man who looked like he’d come straight out of a Star Trek convention. Jemima grinned, took a deep breath and put her school-face on. She skipped over to Scarlett. “Morning, Mrs Winter,”

Maggie Winter beamed, her whole face lighting up. “It’s Maggie, Jemima,” she said. “I was going to walk Scarlett to the gate but now that you’re here you can walk in together.” Scarlett scowled at Jemima, as did the two old biddies, but Jemima kept a bright smile on her face. “Well done with the science award, Jemima” Maggie said. “Your parents must have been really proud.”At this, the skinny one, Freda, snorted.

“Yes,” said Jemima, a bit more quietly than usual. She turned and looked at Scarlett, taking in everything about what she was wearing for ammunition to use later. “It’s nice to see that Jasmine’s old uniform fits, Scarlett.”

“What do you mean?” Scarlett said, her eyes widening. Jemima stood back, arms folded smugly, having hit the target.

“Didn’t your Mum tell you? My Mum sent a parcel over in the summer with all our old clothes. That uniform used to be my sister’s.” Jemima smiled at Scarlett in a way to indicate that she wouldn’t be hearing the last of this. She had saved this information for a special day. Today was the day.

“Is that right, Mum? All those clothes you got me, they were from…from…”

Maggie suddenly looked very subdued. “Well you love those black jeans, Scarlett.”

Jemima grinned, looking up and down at Scarlett’s curvaceous shape, which was so different to her own flat-chest and skinny frame. “Oh those old things,” she said, “I wasn’t sure if they’d fit.”

“Oh, they didn’t,” said Maggie, “but I added some elastic to the waist and we squeezed you into them, didn’t we Scarlett…Scarlett?” Scarlett was no longer there. She was furiously storming towards the school, her wiry curls flying out behind her in even more of a frizz than usual.

“Don’t worry” said Jemima, patting her bag, which contained the offending artwork, “I’ll catch up with her.” She hurried towards the school gates, but just as she was about to go through them, a bony hand grabbed her shoulder. It was the skinny one, Freda, and she had a grip like a boa constrictor.

“Hold your horses, little madam,” Freda said, squaring her wizened face up to meet Jemima’s. “I’ve got a verucca on my big toe that’s older than you and I’ve dealt with your sort before.” She leaned closer, fresh spit gleaming around the corners of her mouth, slowly flicking a crooked forefinger towards Jemima. “You mark my words girl. Leave her alone or you’ll be sorry.” She wagged the crooked finger, still glaring furiously.

“Ooh, I’m scared,” said Jemima bravely, backing up a little. “What are you gonna do? Gum me to death?”

“Mark my words,” said the crone again, wagging that gnarled finger in front of her face.

Jemima laughed, backing away and running into school. She didn’t stop until she reached the safety of the yard, where she promptly forgot about the old woman, and started putting today’s dastardly plans into action.




Freda was rattled. That girl was so flaming fierce and the finger-wagging hadn’t even touched her – not even a single boil or weeping scab had sprouted. In another situation Freda would have said she showed a lot of promise for a young ‘un, but it wasn’t just that. Any fool who knew what they were talking about could see that the girl had a shine about her. Oh, she had taken on a glow, alright. Not so much as you would see if you didn’t know what you were looking for but a definite shimmer.

Freda walked back to the car solemnly, remembering an old nursery rhyme that the kids used to chant, back in the day. It couldn’t be… could it? She shook her head and tried to push the thought away but it wouldn’t budge. If what she thought was right, there was a whole load of trouble ahead, and that meant she’d better get her best girdle ironed, because there was nothing like a good girdle for firing you up for battle.

Freda’s Journal

Published February 28, 2014 by Annie Oliver

old diary

Today I have mostly been gadding about and tending to my garden. My garden is most important because ’tis there I grow the herbs and plants that I need for my spells and hexes. Let me tell you a little about the garden of Thistle Cottage…

A creaking gate leads to a twisted path which is surrounded by the largest, pinkest thistles you ever saw. They wave in the wind as though to greet you, which is quite pleasant when you return from a busy day godmothering to spoilt brats. However, just lately they have been taking liberties and creeping out over the path. Growing like wildfire, they are. So, this morning I simply took out the garden shears and waved them at the Thistles while Glaring. By tea time they were in their rightful place again. Even gardening can be done with the right kind of Glare and a threat.

From the front path, Thistle Cottage gives you a crooked smile, with its oversized front door and lopsided windows. It is made of stone which Edna and I collected ourselves from the Enchanted Mountains of Aurelia. ‘Tis no normal stone, as it moves and changes according to the mood of the house. You see, my dearies, Thistle Cottage is as alive as you or I. But more of that later…

Around the back of Thistle Cottage the garden really comes alive. The garden is not a wide one; rather it winds and turns like a crack in the Earth which has been filled with flowers and grass. A tunnel of whispering trees leads to stifling darkness. Beyond the tunnel has never yet been explored. ‘Tis rumoured that dark enchantments lie there. Folks that have journeyed there have never returned and ’tis rumoured that one tree grows for every person that has been lost there. If you look closely at the trees they do appear to have faces, and they do seem to sigh a little… All I know is that standing at the edge is like facing a dark abyss. It makes my head itchy. There are some secrets that even Thistle Cottage cannot share and I am not about to start being all nosey about them. That would be asking for trouble.

Mind, I can’t keep my goddaughter Scarlett away from the tunnel of trees lately. What with the night-time whispering I am hearing from her room and the strange atmosphere around Thistle Cottage I am fair worried about her. I have told her to stay away from the trees but something keeps drawing her there. Three times this week I found her at the bottom of the garden, staring into the darkness. I shall have to watch out for her. One day I might have to find out what lies beyond, but for now I have far too much to do to be ending up a tree if it doesn’t work out.  I don’t trust Edna to unhex me, either. She couldn’t even unhex her way out of  the mobile phone contract that some smarmy salesman signed her up to. There are worse hexes in this world than in mine and they are called ‘contracts’. From what I have seen, they are used to perform great evils and place people in never-ending binds.

To the left side lies my snail farm, which I have to feed with leaves once a day. Snails are a rare creature in my homeland of the Shade so imagine my delight when I came here and saw all the snails slithering around in broad daylight. ‘Tis wondrous for trade and I often slip into the secret portal that lies beside the snail farm to my own land, to barter the precious snail silk I collect.  You call them snail trails and find them fairly worthless, but they are an essential ingredient in many potent spells.

We also have a spider farm in an old lean-to. Cobwebs are most useful for spinning into a fabric we in The Shade call spingleweb. ‘Tis the fabric used in many a magic cloak or fancy ball gown but it only lasts a few hours before turning to dust. This is why a certain spoilt princess should have listened to her fairy godmother when she told her to be home by midnight…

Well, I’ve rambled quite enough for today and the frogs feet won’t pickle themselves…

Freda x

Ask Freda – Is my Stepmother Wicked?

Published February 23, 2014 by Annie Oliver


Another letter from a Freda fan seeking my no-nonsense advice…

“Hi Freda,

I hope you can help. My dad got married last week after being on his own with me for a long time. I really think that my stepmother might be evil. She has a thin mouth, beady eyes and she has this habit of sneaking up on you when you least expect it. She is always trying to be my ‘friend’ and cooking me big tasty dinners. You may think this is nice, but I suspect she is fattening me up to be eaten.

She must be some kind of witch, as my dad seems bewitched and is constantly walking around with a soppy smile on his face. I just want it to be me and my dad again. Can you tell me how to find out if she is evil so that I can tell my dad and we can both be rid of her?

Rebecca, 11.”

Well, Rebecca. This is quite easily solved with a ferret, some moondust, newt’s spittle and a yard of twine. Most people think ferrets are only good for sniffing out rabbits but ferrets are excellent at sniffing out anything at all, particularly evil stepmothers and bad intentions.

Infuse the newts spittle for three days with a hair from your stepmother and a dash of her ear wax. Catch a wild ferret by the tail and sprinkle it with the moondust. Wrap the twine around the ferret’s ankle – taking care not to let the teeth near you – and recite thricely thus:

‘Ferret’s nose, remove my doubt; Ferret sniff the badness out; Is she wicked, is she wise? Ferret, clear my clouded eyes’

Then wait until your dad is sleeping. A-creep upon him and dab him on the nose and trouser hem with the newts spittle. Then loosen the twine and release the ferret. If the ferret clings to his face, he is bewitched and your stepmother is evil. If it runs up his trouser leg and around three times, you can rest easy.

If you cannot catch a wild ferret, or have no moondust, then try talking to your dad. It may just be difficult to have someone new in the house, and if she is not an evil witch fattening you for the cauldron, chances are she could just be trying to be a good mother to you. Give her the benefit of the doubt, but if she does turn out to be evil let me know and I shall send an unhexing charm and a witch-slayer at the earliest opportunity. For a small fee.

Freda x

Freda’s Almanac

Published February 22, 2014 by Annie Oliver

I have consulted my Almanac today and feel led to share the pitfalls and promises that the week ahead may bring…

– Never sweep your front path in the week in which March begins, unless you wish to lose a tooth and gain a wart.

– Do not buy oranges from a woman in a silver shawl on Tuesday. She is a disguised witch who will entrap you as her familiar and then you will have to spend the rest of your life as a cat, parrot, or some other such animal. Consider this a most serious warning and don’t dare come scuttling to me to unhex you when you are a newt.

– For unrequited love, Wednesday eve is a fortuitous day to cast the following spell;

Make an ointment by grinding together the following –  two parts boiled turnip, one part caster oil and ten inches of freshly harvested snail silk (you call it slime, I believe). Wash your hair thricely in the light of the moon using a rinse of rainwater infused with peppermint leaves. Retire to bed, placing the turnip skin in the shape of your beloved’s initial beneath your pillow. By morning, the object of your affections will not like you any better,  but they will  certainly have a nasty ear fungus and the foul breath of a sea witch, which should at least make you feel better and also ensure that your competitors in love do not find them desirous. (Do not, as my sister Edna did, ‘accidentally’ eat the turnip skin as a tasty midnight snack lest you want the hex to come back on you at three times the potency).

– For good luck, wink four times and shake the paw of every one-eyed black and white cat you see, for chances are it is a famous witch’s familiar. It has escaped from her to this land by great magic, and it will be bound to grant you a wish lest the magic be undone and the furious witch find it.

Good days for Glaring – Sunday, Tuesday, Friday.

Good days for Grimacing – Monday, Saturday.

Excellent days for Spell casting and Hexing – Wednesday, Saturday.

Freda x

Freda’s Journal

Published February 19, 2014 by Annie Oliver

Yesterday, my God-daughter Scarlett took me out to the cinema. My sister Edna had to be left at home, for she is greatly a-feared of the giant screens, believing them to be bewitched by real Giants. There is no use telling her otherwise. Edna is a bit of a sop at times. You should have seen her the first time she used a telephone to speak to Scarlett – as soon as Edna heard her voice, she began a-hooting and a-hollering that a dark wizard had shrunken Scarlett and entrapped her in the telephone.  It took me two hours and ten cups of nettle tea to calm her down.

We went to see Disney’s Frozen and it was fantastic! I had to remind myself it wasn’t real. I was so incensed at the twist at the end that my poor old wand was twitching in my handbag to unleash spells onto the screen.  I’m not a popcorn fan so I took my own snacks – some crispy dried newt skin and a few dandelion bon-bons. The weasely ferret of a manager tried to take them off me, telling this wizened and wise Godmother that she wasn’t allowed to take her own snacks in. How rude! A sharp Glare soon put paid to that. Likely he has woken up this morning with unexplained warts and terrible flatulence and doesn’t quite know why…

In the evening, I spent some time back at Thistle Cottage with some good wizards who were a-visiting from my homeland, The Shade. I cooked them a nice nettle and grub stew and showed them Emmerdale and Eastenders. They were quite impressed with the televisual machine, although I kept them away from Jeremy Kyle, who Edna calls ‘the Dark One.’ I returned yesterday to find her counter-hexing the screen every time he said ‘wind your neck in’, which she believes to be a curse of the highest potency. I also managed to sell the wizards a fair few jars of peanut butter, which has revolutionised nut-eating in a land where a full set of teeth is detrimental to any self-respecting witch or wizards reputation.

I am still worried about my Goddaughter Scarlett, though. She is in my care and I may be over-anxious with her, but after everything that has happened in our little family, I need to keep an eye on things. She has dark blood running through her veins, you know. We thought we had it under control but just lately I see that glint appear in her eye and then I hear her whispering late at night. Is she whispering curses, or even worse…talking with a Soul Thief again? I consulted with the Magic Mirror but all was cloudy – although his allegiance is to Scarlett anyway he would not tell me what she is up to. Even the cat is keeping quiet.

Hmmm…I’m going to need help. Time for a trip to The Silver Jug to see my old frenemies Septicus and Lavinia Newt, I think, and I’m going to need lots of false teeth and cheese ‘n onion crisps for bartering…