With the icy fingers of Halloween knocking on the door, what better read could there be for fireside browsing than Roy Palmer's Folklore of Gloucestershire?

The 297-page tome has been out of print for three years but has just been republished in a revised edition by Tempus of Stroud.

The Dymock-based author, the compiler of the Book of British Ballads is a well-known folklorist, lecturer and folk singer, and he has dug deep into his knowledge to recount "tales inspired by landscape, village lore, legends, superstitions, stories of devils, fairies, witches and ghosts..."

At this time of year, when the veil between this and the next world is said to be thin, who could doubt the accounts of ghosts "that populate the county" even to this day?

For the ghoulish or fey minded, the key chapter is the aptly named, Out of this World.

We hear of a Churchdown man who, early in the last century, saw headless fairies on Chosen Hill, and an Amberley man called "Cold Water Jesse", who also saw the little people and gave up his favourite brew of strong cider, hence his subsequent nickname.

Closer to Ledbury, the tale of the "Dymock curse" can still chill us, not least because a blight on Sarah Ellis can still be seen on its original plaque in the Gloucester Folk Museum, still listing its litany of demons.

The plaque came to light in Wilton Place, Dymock, in 1892 but dates from the seventeenth century. Why someone wished Sarah ill is not known.

Near Newent, in the B4221, a cloaked figure in the road has been blamed for causing a fatal car accident, and a house by nearby Woeful Hill appears to be haunted by the ghost of a pig, of all creatures.

This book is fun, well researched and well presented, and worth the asking price of £14.99, (ISBN 0-7524-2246-4).

Gary Bills-Geddes