Category Archives: paranormal

Two go exploring in Appleby

For a complete change on Saturday we headed to the east of Cumbria, to a small town we’d never been to before – Appleby, or Appleby-in-Westmorland to give it its full name.

Appleby lies on the River Eden not far from the Pennine heights of Cross Fell, Great Dun Fell and the like. It’s famous for a number of reasons – being the only town to retain the original county name of Westmorland in its title; holding an annual horse fair which attracts hundreds of travellers and horse traders, many in colourful traditional caravans; and flooding with monotonous regularity. It flooded during Storm Desmond, and the effects are still being felt. Indeed, there was a massive earth-mover trundling around in the river bed while we were walking around, no doubt carrying out dredging or restructuring of some sort.

Appleby is also a very ancient settlement, with a Norman church and a castle that dates back to around 1100, and many beautiful old houses surrounding the market place, the main street up the hill towards the castle, and the river crossing. It’s surprisingly small, though, with a population of only around 3,000.  We were both expecting something a little larger, with more streets, more shops, more cafes, more, well, everything really!

We had a good potter round anyway and took lots of photos. But there was a keen wind blowing off the river, the temperature was only about 11c, there’s an admission charge to go in the castle (even though it’s a hotel?!), and we sort of ran out of things to do. I was particularly annoyed about the castle, as it’s reputed to be haunted and holds regular paranormal tours and events, but the main bit was closed on Saturday anyway. So we hopped in the car and headed back to the pretty village of Orton, in the moors a few miles to the south, where we had an excellent home-made lunch at the Orton Scar café and came away with a neat little wooden cabinet for the kitchen wall.

It was lovely to see Appleby; it’s old and full of character and interesting nooks and crannies, and on a warmer day we’d have been tempted to do a long walk along the banks of the river. As it is, we’ll almost certainly go back some day for another look. As long as it isn’t under water!

Here’s a handful of photos of the church, the castle and the main street.  Oh, and that digger in the river, which suddenly decided to drive straight at me while I was taking the photo!

P1020928

P1020935

P1020934

P1020930

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Architecture, History, Local stuff, paranormal

Noises Off

chairThis is the title of my latest short story, a spooky little tale told in exactly 75 words, which is appearing at Paragraph Planet today.

Telling a whole story in so few words isn’t easy – I often find that even when I think I’ve achieved the target I’m actually two words short, or three over.  After much fiddling, pen-sucking and head-scratching (not to mention swearing and banging of head against the nearest wall), I managed to convince this story that it really, really wanted to be told in those 75 words, and ‘Noises Off’ is the result.

It’s available to read free at Paragraph Planet today so head on over and check it out. And don’t forget the magazine is always open to submissions if you want to have a go at your own tiny tale.

Leave a comment

Filed under fiction, paranormal, short stories, Writing

Got Ghosts? You will have!

Terrific news in the last few days – my new book ‘Got Ghosts?’ is due out from Fox Spirit in October, all set to coincide with Halloween!

The book is a complete romp, very loosely based on the hit TV show ‘Most Haunted’, and features a haunted English manor house, and all the things that go wrong when the film crew of (entirely fictional) television series ‘Got Ghosts?’ come for a weekend to make a programme there.

Greystone Hall’s owner Emily has far too much to deal with, including a plethora of ghosts, an arrogant producer, happy and unhappy mediums, a set of missing paintings, and yet more ghosts, not to mention a burgeoning romance with someone she doesn’t expect.

More details to come, but then if you’re good psychics you’ll know that already…

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, News, paranormal, Writing

The Conjuring 2

Conjuring_2Last night we spotted that Sky Movies were showing The Conjuring 2, based on the true events of the ‘Enfield Hauntings’ in north London in the 1970s.

In the case, an ordinary family appeared to be targeted by ghostly and/or poltergeist activity in their home, and called in help in the shape of ghost-hunter Maurice Grosse and some specialist paranormal investigators from America.  The whole thing was made into a TV series (starring Timothy Spall) a couple of years ago, so whether or not you believe the events were genuine or a massive hoax, it was interesting to compare and contrast the series with the film.  (There’s a fascinating article, by Will Storr who was researching a book on the case, on the possibilities of fakery, if you’re interested.)

For starters, where the TV series concentrated on Mr Grosse’s efforts to help the family, the movie focussed on the American couple, Ed and Lorraine Warren, who’d helped investigate the Amityville horror.  Presumably this was so that the film could be more easily marketed in the USA, with an obvious American link, and it was interesting to see the haunting through the eyes of other, different people.  However, there were times when it took the focus away from the actual events of Enfield, and may have contributed to a more formulaic, ‘horror movie’ approach.

Where the tv series took a more balanced, down-to-earth view (that the hauntings could, just possibly, have been faked), the film plunged in with a more stereotypical approach: that the paranormal elements were genuine, and that anyone who didn’t believe them was either foolish or controlled by demons.  As a horror movie, it worked well enough.  You rooted for the family who were being demonised (in more ways than one) and wanted everyone to believe their story.  However, as a portrayal of true events it was less successful, because it was so sensationalised that you assumed it was all just movie gloss and special effects.  The real-life story of real (and very frightened) people got lost in the noise, sometimes literally.

The ending of the TV series also worked better, with the revelation that Janet, the child most associated with the paranormal activity, had quite possibly been faking some of the effects.  Maurice Grosse was left with the unshakeable belief that there was something unexplainable going on, but he couldn’t prove it, and ended up having to walk away.  In other words, exactly as it would be in real life.

The movie, however, went off into full scale standard horror film hysteria about twenty minutes from the end, with characters rushing about and screaming, people insisting on going into dangerous situations without so much as a torch, and the demon attacking people willy-nilly, often in different places at the same time.  In other words, it was all very frantic and rather silly, and I found myself chuckling at the overdone, even hackneyed effects.

This is a shame, because the rest of the movie is unsettling, genuinely scary and a good re-telling of the Enfield case.  It’s perhaps just a shame that they bolted on too much of a cut-and-dried Amityville ending to what was otherwise an intriguing and insoluble mystery.

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies, paranormal, reviews

Ghostly pictures

Just in time fspiritphotograph3-720x1119or Halloween, there’s a fascinatingly creepy but ultimately common-sense article about the Victorian practice of photographing ghosts on the Hyperallergic blog here.

The article debunks some of the old myths surrounding ghostly photographs and is illustrated with some really good examples, as well as some that wouldn’t fool anyone these days.  But when the technology was new and people had no understanding of how it worked, it must have been only too easy to believe that the camera never lied.

Reminiscent of the perils of air-brushing and Photo-shopping these days!

Leave a comment

Filed under History, paranormal

Halloween hauntings

There’s an amusing piece in The Guardian today about the world’s most haunted cities.  They list about a dozen from around the world, all supposedly haunted or beset by strange phenomena.  There are also some nice atmospheric photos – although none showing the ghosts.  Perhaps they wouldn’t stand still long enough?

If I’m honest the ‘most haunted’ label seems to be pretty generous since some of them seem to be remarkably free from restless spirits.  One pub with ghostly sightings or a beach where people hear screams at night hardly counts as a ‘nightmare on every street’.  Nevertheless it’s a bit of harmless (or should that be ‘armless?) fun for Halloween… and I love the line about the demons leaking out!

Leave a comment

Filed under News, paranormal