Ghosts

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Ahhh, it is so nice to be tapping away here again! You’ve probably noticed that this blog has purely become a little hidey-hole of the internet that I only update when I know I will really enjoy scratching the itch and have a rare solo afternoon like today. Nick is wearily making his way back across the country from his stag do! And so, charged up on a millions cups (bowls) of tea and having completed all my wedmin / wedding crafty tasks I thought oh! Like a Skeleton Key! Let’s do this old friend. I stick mostly to posting about my travel adventures over on TwentySomething Burnouts and this really is a place for more intimate and ramshackle brain ramblings. However with the total-plot twist life change news that I am moving to LA (as in, this time next month I will be a fully fledged living-working resident of Los Angeles – woooah) I have a feeling that I will be recording my life a little more fully on the internet again. That said; I don’t know if it will be blogging. I LOVE it, don’t get me wrong, and having kept a diary since I learnt to write, and an online journal since I discovered Livejournal at the age of 17, I’ll always do this. That said, writing a blog entry takes quite a bit of brain power. Working in marketing I regularly write long form content (blogs, press releases, campaign round-ups, copy etc) all day long which means that in my downtime I am slightly more reluctant to sit at my laptop continuing to work. After quite a bit of thought I decided I’d like to document my move to LA a little more visually; so will be setting up some sort of home to post videos. I feel like since I’ll be on the other side of the world it might be an easier way to share my new life with friends and family than attempting to do it justice with fancy words. PLUS! I will find it much easier to sit and natter at a camera than typing away; although I have no editing skills so might need to sweet talk my husband (!!) for help there.

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But that’s enough of that, back to life right now. Well having said goodbye to London before; you’d think I’d be doing a better job of it this time but it seems to be a similar gut wrench of excitement to leave the pesky bits (tube traumas, grumpy folk, crazy creeping rent costs) and sadness to face the fact that realistically this may be the last time I live in the big smoke. Those pangs hit me at the funniest of moments. Don’t get me wrong, I know I am ridiculously blessed to be moving to a place that sounds like a dream to live in… but London has been my home for a decade. So I’m totally allowed a long goodbye! I even found myself gazing adoringly at Piccadilly Circus the other day – having spent 10 years desperately trying to avoid that particular patch. I think it boils down to the fact that I know who I am in London. I know I like to treat myself to a mocha from The Fields Beneath if it’s a dreary day. I know I like to wow visitors by taking them to Kings Cross Dishoom & nattering over pink drinks. I know I can pull on some trainers and be at the top of Primrose Hill in 15 minutes looking out over the whole of a toy-town skyline in the distance. I know that the cat who lives next door is called Thomas and where he likes his belly ruffled. I know Craig and I can go dancing at Archer Street at any given moment and they’ll play Taylor Swift and everything will feel ok again. I know I’m only a 3 hour train journey from Yorkshire and the wilderness when I need a brain break. I don’t know how to live my life in LA. Where will I go to make sense of myself?

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It’s ok though. Because I had all these feelings before I quit my life and backpacked around the place and they dissolved within about a day of me stepping foot off the plane. It’s hard to be all wistful and emo when a new culture and adventure is demanding every ounce of concentration! I’m also a bit over-whelmed and run-down from: a) leaving my job/downloading my work brain b) preparing for a new job c) planning a (very DIY) wedding and d) preparing to ship and move my life to another country. I’m sure all of these feature on a “most stressful life things” list somewhere and I’m a bit like a bingo card of THINGS TO THINK AND DO right now. I honestly don’t know how I would function without To Doist. Every second I spend my time right now feels like it’s been colour coded, tagged and categorised in that app right now (even writing this – cringe!) Luckily Nick has been on hand to save me from myself and make sure that I have downtime. This week he surprised me with tickets to see Empire Records at the Camden Market Backyard Cinema Film Festival! Let’s not talk about the fact that Empire Records is TWENTY years old this year (it’s ok though, Pretty Woman is 30 years old). Nick splurged on some sort of lux (so LA!) tickets that included a free whopping Honest Burger and a giant cider. We cosied up under blankets on deck chairs and not even a decent dose of British Summer rain could stop us bopping along to the soundtrack (which I used to have on tape cassette in my first car) and talking along with the unforgettable quotes that are taking up valuable GBs in my bee brain. Attention Rex Manning fans, to your left you will notice a shoplifter being chased by night manager, Lucas. This young man will be caught, deep fried in a vat of hot oil and served to our first hundred customers. Just another tasty treat from the gang at Empire Records! The festival is running for another couple of weeks, including the chance to see Amy in Camden which would be pretty fitting and a screening of Teen Wolf which sadly clashes with my work leaving shindig so please go and watch it on my behalf!

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Something else that’s been making me happy is flowers! When Blossoming Gifts emailed me to ask if I’d like to sample their delivery flower service I obviously said yes please and then swooned over the fact they had a bouquet of Apricot Rose & Hydrangea. I am having hydrangeas for my bridal flowers so the thought of having some in the house whilst I did the final bits and bobs of wedding planning felt really special. And no I haven’t walked up and down the side of my bed holding the vase as if it was my bouquet and smiling sweetly at the walls pretending they were guests. Nope, no siree. I was super impressed with the delivery bouquet options; it felt like they had some really unusual colour and flower combinations and are clearly experts in what works well together. The flowers arrived in a very sturdy box and lasted a whole week without wilting, even in the tropical London smog we had lately. In fact the apricot dalidas are still going strong so I’ve transferred them into a little glass vase that Nick bought me which is actually a wine carafe that is given to Italian army officers as standard kit (snazzy!) which he picked up at the local Army Surplus Store.

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Blossoming Gifts have kindly passed on a discount of 33% off if you’d like to treat yourself! I’d definitely rate them and the ease of being able to pick a bunch online and know they will be delivered safely and swiftly is so easy. No more scuttling around a service station hunting out a crummy old carnation creation when in need of thanking someone! You just need to enter the code BGIFTS33. You can check out their flowers by post here and their cheap flower selection (which don’t look cheap – score!) here. I’m already desperate to order myself the orangery selection – those giant daisies are cute as a button.

One thing that is also concerning me greatly about the upcoming move is WOE I will not be in the UK for the Great British Bake Off final. And apparently there isn’t a Great American Bake Off to fill the (cake) hole so I am going to need to work out how to use Tunnel Bear properly and work out the time zone different for watching it as soon as possible and hope it doesn’t involve being awake at 4am or something. Everybody without exception in my team at work is GBBO mad; so for the last couple of years I have helped to organise a team bake off where a different person bakes every Wednesday. Last year I burnt my arm so badly whilst making a Chocolate & Yorkshire Ale cake that I had to go to A&E when it made my veins turn red and angry! This year I managed to avoid any hospitalisation and also managed to make a random thought that had popped into my head a baked good reality. I had wondered if I could make a cake that looked like a watermelon using some kind of mystical food colouring / dark chocolate drop combo. And well… it kind of worked!

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Before I sign off I just want to share a few final things that are currently floating my boat, since I have been absent for a while. Mainly – PODCASTS. Serial was my gateway drug, which led onto podcasts about that podcast (still totally hooked on Undisclosed, Serial Dynasty, Serially Obsessed and Crime Writers on Serial) and about the same time I discovered Welcome to Night Vale and This American Life which tend to also be the big gateway podcast pathways for the less crime oriented types. Oh and I loved listening to Grantland’s Watch the Thrones almost more than watching this season of Game of Thrones. Podcasts have completely revolutionised my life in terms of how much more fun any sort of travel or chores now are. Whereas previously I might have put a few tunes on to motivate myself to do the washing up or my commute; now I honestly track my walk to work against how many episodes of podcasts I have to get through and get extremely excited about that time alone in a totally immersive world of audio. I feel embarrassed, as an audio book lover, why it took me so long to figure out that podcasts were swiftly going to become my favourite form of entertainment.

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Recently I have got deep in to three podcasts that I wanted to share; given that basically all my podcast discoveries have come via recommendations. They all have something in common and have unearthed a part of my tastes, likes and interests that had somehow become dampened as I have grown into an adult. That thing is… MYSTERY! As a child I was absolutely obsessive about mysteries. My sister and I would count down the excruciating seconds for Strange but True with Michael Aspel to come on each week. We had various books of unsolved mysteries including the classics like the Bermuda Triangle, Jack the Ripper and Mary Celeste and I would paw over them every night after lights out using the old torch-under-the-duvet trick. I can remember the giddy-terrified sensation of hearing about a new spooky story or unsolved mystery and laying awake for hours trying to unpick the details and try to solve it; not for the good of humanity but in order to not be totally freaked out and need to do the shameful climb into bed with my sister! As I’ve got older I have developed a more control-freak-ish personality and therefore all things mysterious have slightly gone out of the window. That said I have still always had a curiosity for true crime (mainly in the form of an addiction to Erik Larson’s Devil in the White City and always reading the headlines of Chat magazine when lurking at the supermarket checkout) and maintained a love for zombies and b-movies. All of these long lost loves have been re-ignited through my three top podcasts; hooray! Childhood me is so happy to feel that spooky goosebump skin once more!

  1. Lore : Sometimes the truth is more frightening than fiction. This bi-weekly podcast explores topics such as real life zombies, folklore, mysterious beasts, asylums, cabins in the woods and haunted hotels. I almost squealed when I saw episode 9 pop-up in my feed as it covers the story of the Devil on the Roof; the story I remember terrifying me into a near catatonic state when I first read about it with sweaty palms at a stupidly young age (blame having elder siblings!) It’s hosted by Aaron Mahnke who has the worlds most soothing voice and is also a supernatural thriller author and resident of Boston (known for the Salem trials and being Lovecraft heartland; so a pretty good place to start) and I can’t recommend it enough. Just make sure you have an Ovaltine lined up for bedtime after listening.
  2. Generation Why : Murders, myths, monsters and miscarriages of justice. I have come to this cult podcast at a shamefully late date considering how much it’s my cup of tea. That said; it now means I could binge on about 50 incredible episodes in the space of 3 weeks – covering everything from the disappearance of Madeline McCann, the case of D B Cooper, the Zodiac Killer and Robert Durst. Amongst these more contemporary cases though are sprinkled a ton of old classics from my reading-by-torchlight days which I have gleefully revisited with an adult brain – Loch Ness Monster, Bermuda Triangle, Big Foot and the Bermuda Triangle! The podcast is so well produced and presented by Aaron and Justin that you soon feel like you are sitting down with a couple of old chums for a natter about the weird and wonderful. I like the fact that the more grizzly / grim cases (multiple homicides or violence against kids/women) often focus far more on education around the legal implications or the culture surrounding the circumstances than just fear-mongering or focussing on the gory details. For example I listened to the podcast about Lucie Blackman; a story I felt really affected by at the time when it was all over the news, and was relieved that the podcast was super respectful and featured a real expert in Japanese culture and lifestyle to explain the context of the case.
  3. The Mystery ShowA podcast where Starlee Kine solves mysteries. This podcast is a ridiculously simple concept – Starlee Kine investigates mysteries that cannot be solved by the power of Google. On the journey to solve the mysteries however; it’s the people and the places that Starlee is taken that create a rollercoaster of emotions, unexpected forks in the road and twists & turns that become so unexpected you almost forget what the original mystery way (for example the SPECTACULAR Phil Spector story that is revealed whilst looking for the source of Welcome Back, Kotter lunch pail artwork) it’s adorable, it’s engaging and it’s a must-listen.

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Ah that was nice. See you again sooner; I promise.

 

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Ok, I lied. I said I had finished writing everything up from my USA tour, but there was one last thing I wanted to share. Everyone goes to New York and takes photographs of Times Square, Lady Liberty, Empire State, bridges & brownstones. I did the exact same, because all these things are so photogenic and exciting to see “in the flesh”. However getting to spend longer in the city, and working there, helped me discover a new side of New York that I’d never noticed before.

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New York is full of ghosts. Old shop fronts and vintage painted advertising stretching up towards the sky. In a city that’s so modern and bustling, I found it comforting to stumble across the odd piece of forgotten about history. The brilliant blogging belle Kate recently wrote about how important it is to look up when visiting a new city. Luckily (or unluckily) I’m one of life’s natural looker-uppers. I constantly stumble, trip and scitter my way around my London life, as I’ll be absorbed in some amazing tiling on a building or ornate stone gargoyle teetering over a rooftop. I am one of those annoying people who you end up rugby-tackling out of the way as I am so pre-occupied with gazing skywards. But up is where the secrets lie, the forgotten things and the treasures that go un-noticed by passing people glued to their iPhones or staring at their shoes.

Dresses

Pharmacy

Bicycle

My personal favourite, I wonder who last flew with “Sea Air” to Mexico?

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This time last week I thought I would be in London this weekend, pottering around a market or watching Django Unchained and zooming about on the tube. Actually, I am back home in Yorkshire! During the week I spoke to my Mum and had a sudden urge to pay her a post-birthday visit. I started scrabbling through the pages of my already-scrappy 2013 paper diary and with a heady combination of Morocco holiday, NY & LA working weeks, a 30th, an engagement party and two hen do’s (suddenly realising that I am so that age!) I wouldn’t have been able to get back to Yorkshire until April at the earliest, so quickly booked myself a ticket for this weekend and here I am.

It is never a hardship for me to come back home. I’m fortunate enough to remain extremely close to my parents so any real-life time (rather than Skype time) is always much appreciated and only a 3 hour train ride away. I also still get massively homesick for the village, the city, the country and the NORTH that I grew up in and feel like I breathe easier the second I walk through the door to the home I have lived in my whole life. I’m sure nowadays it’s quite unusual to have only had one family home and I appreciate that I’m very fortunate to still be able to bluster in full of London stories and tense work shoulder stresses and dump myself on the sofa and be in the first and only proper home I have ever known. Now that I visit at the age of 28, being well and truly moved out for approaching a decade, it’s sometimes almost like going to a museum of memories. In every part of every room I have existed as a baby, a toddler, a child, a teenager… and sometimes the ghosts of yourself in days gone past creep upon you when you least expect it. I’m a nostalgia sucker anyway and constantly pick the scabs of good and sad times gone by, but the anonymity and scale of London makes it far easier to avoid triggers of past times and constantly recreate yourself and your life. Once you are back in a land of everything familiar and covered in layer after layer of people and moments and heartaches and experiences it’s like opening the floodgates to everything that’s ever happened to you.

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So I seem to have transformed myself into a SNOW HUNTER! This time last week my whole weekend revolved around snow, and this weekend… despite London swooning away in positively balmy sunshine, I have been back out in the snow as about 7 inches fell overnight here. It was my mum who suggested taking the sledge (!) so we bundled up with some serious knitwear (and showing her increased intelligence, my mum opted for waterproofs too, whereas I typically had to slope home with a soggy bottom and jeans dripping in thawing snow). The amazing thing about this snow day was the bright blue sky overhead. I’ve got used to the claustrophobic low mushroomy London sky this week, so it felt like we were somewhere far more exotic and piste-like than Bradford. The snow was so incredibly deep that my first attempt at sledging involved me sitting on the snow, moving about a foot, and then sinking. Clearly my weekly 5k run/pilates/swimming regime has not shifted enough of those Christmas pounds yet!  We had to adopt a very scientific approach to creating a proper sledge route which involved compacting the snow down with our wellies and then sledging over and over again until it was super-speedy and slick. I am definitely a far worse driver than my mum though, as I kept nosediving into snow banks and twice the sledge stopped and I carried on going, getting some classy derrière friction burning.

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We even tried once going down together in the sledge and recreating Cool Runnings. Luckily there weren’t too many people around to see two fully grown women trying to fit onto a tiny piece of plastic and whooping down the hill! Can you see how hideous my wellies are? They are bright neon pink with yellow Mr-Blobby spots and I can very clearly remember buying them when I was 15, so its a good job my feet haven’t grown. That’s another thing I love about my family home, there’s always the odd old item around for emergency weather. After haring up and down our sledge track for a good half an hour, I was scampering about like an idiot and DROPPED my iPhone in the snow! The snow was so deep that it instantly covered the spot where my phone had fallen in, like a vortex. I am ashamed to say that I think I reacted with the speed and fear of a parent who’s child has just fallen in a lake or something! I dove head first and dug dug dug until I found my (white – helpful) phone and ripped the cover off, trying to get the melting snow to stop creeping into all the nooks and electricity ports. After giving it a big wipe with my jumper and blowing on it a bit,  it miraculously seems completely fine? I am aware that after 5 minutes buried in melting snow this should not be the case… so really hope that in a few days it doesn’t die a death, but its charging away and sending messages and happily posting my 1000th photo to instagram, so perhaps I got really lucky.

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As we were leaving there was a mum with two toddlers setting about a sledging session herself, and I was really tempted to point out to her that she could very well still be doing this in her sixties with her grown up kids if she was anything like us! Considering I had no idea or plans to be here this weekend, it’s definitely turned into a memory I’ll always treasure and never forget. I better go retrieve my clothes that are drying in various places all over the house and go get an afternoon bath (such a guilty pleasure) and attempt to finish my current book. I’m reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern which fits well and truly into the modern fairy tale genre that am a total fiend for (if you haven’t read any I’d recommend Of Bee’s & Mist, The Man Who Rained & The Snow Child). Sometimes a book comes along that just captures your attention and heart immediately, and The Night Circus is definitely one of them for me. The writing style is incredibly evocative and uses every sense to ensure you feel that you not just reading about the circus, but that you’re actually a part of it too. It so vivid that I’ve had three dreams about being at the circus from the book now, and quite like the way it’s dominating my sub concious slumbering (way more fun than dreaming about keynote presentations and VFX job jargon). I’ll be quite sad when I finish the book but I have to stop dawdling as I am falling way behind in my pesky 51 book challenge.

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Rubbishtober

Today I was lazily browsing my inbox when I spotted a boring looking wordpress admin email creeping around under nice messages from friends and Amazon. I’m glad I opened it because it was a massively overdue reminder to cough up the $ to own my little slice of the internet, my likeaskeletonkey domain. Having paid up, it was a harsh reminder that perhaps I should add something a little shiny and new over here and get my moneys worth!

I guess I have never really settled myself on what my blog is exactly. It started off as a fashion blog until I got camera shy. Then it turned into a higgeldypiggely list of film & bookworm reviews. Then it just turned into a mix of all of these things with a few rants about Yorkshire Tea, Grandparents & Kindles vs Books chucked in. Funnily enough, my most viewed post EVER is this little nugget about The Tragic Demise of the Point Horror as it still racks up a good 100 hits a week; maybe I should accept my niche? The one thing I haven’t ever done is get particularly personal on here, despite the fact every element of my life has changed unrecognisably since I started writing here and now. So forgive me for skirting over the gory details but I do have to get a little bit personal to get past the last month… and onto writing about cheeseburgers and ghost stories and big collars again.

In mid September London had a day of fake-summer. I trotted into town and got my hair done, happily reuniting myself with my fringezille before Autumn crept in. I came home, and my boyfriend took this photograph of me in his garden, and at the time I had no idea I’d look back after a month of  lost-life and think it was the last time I was truly happy and healthy. The following Monday I went to the doctors for a standard check-up, and made an off-the-cuff comment about some pain that had been niggling me, which I followed up with but I’ve googled it and I know its absolutely normal and nothing to worry about. It turns out, it was something to worry about after all. I had a week of blood tests, other tests and aLOT of people using the C word that no one ever wants to be told is what they are beetling around looking for in your previously pretty healthy body. Fortunately it wasn’t that, but I was eventually diagnosed with a cyst that had been quietly growing inside me for long enough to be the size of a satsuma, caused by endometriosis.

And then it ruptured (make a promise to me right now, NEVER google ruptured cyst however curious you may be, as I can never unsee the horror) causing internal bleeding and me to be unable to do anything for 3 weeks except stay as still & horizontal as possible until my surgery date. I’d never had surgery or anaesthetic before, in fact all my knowledge of that area came purely from the boardgame Operation (I honestly occasionally ponder whether humans actually have a breadbox?) so it was pretty scary. The operation itself went smoothly, but everything else didn’t. From lost notes, to lost scans, to general confusion, to crumbling falling down hospitals, to low blood pressure, to blood clots, I collected quite a lot of harrowing medical memories… but all that matters really is that I’m feeling healthier now than I have for years, which makes them all worthwhile.

I think the reason I wanted to record something about this here, is that I have learnt a huge lesson which I think it’s important enough to share on the internet. Listen to your BODY. If I’m honest I had known something wasn’t quite right for ages, and if I hadn’t had a very thorough doctor it’s unlikely I’d have been diagnosed yet. Spending 6 weeks incapable of going into work, socialising, and my only trips out being to the hospital… it’s made me have such a new perspective on what is important in life and your health is something that you should be prepared to do anything to protect. My body may now be a little franken-girl-y but I’m determined to appreciate it every day and be far more attentive to any questionable goings-on in future.

I also need to use the most public place I can to thank my world-greatest boyfriend (who deserves an entire blog post in itself), parents, family and amazing friends; who barely gave me opportunity to feel glum as they ensured I was constantly bombarded with reassurance, cards, love and best wishes. Oh and even a homemade pork pie!

I had my operation in St Bart’s hospital, which it the oldest hospital in London. It was founded in 1123 and is also the oldest hospital in the whole of the United Kingdom to still exist on it’s original site, having survived the Great Fire of London and the Blitz. St Bart’s also has a museum, which I’m very much looking forward to visiting in order to spend time in the grounds as a curious guest and not a squirming-in-pain patient. A final fact that heartened me to the hospital is that Bart’s is  the location for the first ever meeting of Sherlock Holmes & Dr Watson in A Study in Scarlet. Given it’s rich historical and cultural offerings, I can’t resist sharing my own personal addition! Following my surgery, I was taking my sweet time recovering from the whole ordeal, so was admitted to a cardiac ward overnight. The ward was in one of the oldest sections of the hospital with vast windows, church bell chimes every hour and trees tapping the walls with bony autumn fingers. I’d already slept for 5 hours when I woke up at midnight and could tell the anaesthetic had mostly left my system as I could now easily snaffle two shortbreads and a cup of sugary tea, that the nurse stealth-snuck to my bed whilst the rest of the ward slept. When I fell back to ‘sleep’ I had the most paranormal experience of my entire life!

For the rest of the night various medical staff came to visit me in my bed, it felt relentless. Constantly checking my pulse, temperature, tucking me in, bringing blankets, and most frequently – gathering at the end of my bed and staring at me, occasionally whispering to each other. But these were no ordinary modern-day doctors and nurses. They were all dressed in old fashioned medical dress from various eras. I wouldn’t bet that I had the imagination or knowledge to invent these in my (at the time) drug-addled mind, and there were so many different faces and uniforms and hats and even the equipment had transformed into archaic looking items. Make of it what you will, but I was so relieved for my night in the past to be over once the sun came up. I’m looking forward to scouring the portraits that cover the museum walls and seeing if I recognise any familiar faces…

During my time in my ‘bedroom prison’ I did sneak out occasionally to breathe in a bit of Autumn, and to be honest I probably saw more than if I’d been crouched over my desk in the office. Safe to say I can’t wait to get back out there and into the world again, and enjoy what November has to offer (and hopefully blog a little more about it), as October 2012 will forever be written off as rubbishtober.                                                            .

  

  

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Lately I needed to plan a special surprise for someone I had already used up all my best ideas on the previous birthdays, festive times and other celebrations and was totally STUCK. I thought about our shared interests and settled on ghosts, scary things, being scared… things that go bump in the night. I thought about ghost walks in creaky old towns or spending the night at a haunted inn. Then I stumbled across Dusk Till Dawn Events and it was a no brainer. The description was vague: 8.30pm – 4am in an allegedly very haunted stately home (now museum) Bolling Hall doing all manners of ghost hunting. A few clicks and gulp when I entered my visa details and we were booked on….. and then I started to get THE FEAR. I have to admit to a few sleepless nights running up to the event on Saturday, as I have been known to get so scared in my own flat that I’ve slept in the bath (why that is somehow safer I dont know?)

We rocked up at 8.30pm and were met by an instantly smiley, bubbly girl Jo – our host for the evening – who showed us to our base room the room where we could return any time for teas, coffees, biscuits and inbetween vigials to gossip about what we’d seen and heard.  The fact the base room had severed deer and boar heads on the wall… well, just slightly un-nerving. But hey at least they weren’t the heads of previous ghost hunters who met sticky ends.

There were about 25 other people on the ghost hunt, mostly fellow newbies to the whole thing. Various ages, backgrounds and from all over the UK but all equally friendly. Jo was joined by Joanne, our medium for the night. I instantly warmed to her as she was quick to alliviate any silly fears that had prickled my brain  eg. NO a spirit will not follow you home, NO you will not be possessed, NO the idea is not for you to spend the night so paralysed with fear that you cannot enjoy yourself! She also educated us on the difference between Residual Hauntings (where a ghost is played over and over almost like a video projection) and Intellegent Spirits who are aware of the living world and therefore can communicate – through noise, moving objects etc. The first spooky moment of the night happened when Joanne was mid explanation of Residual Spirits and said …so they definitely cannot communicate with you which was promptly followed by a large, rattling knock, knock that exploded into the hall! Cue lots of nervous laughter and a sign that we were in for a very active night. After our introduction a nice chap from the Bolling Hall staff team gave us a tour of the museum, including usually closed to the public areas – making a museum geek like me very chuffed.

Rather than dry historical facts he told us tale after about the ghosts and spirits that were reported in each room through history, along with a few first hand sightings and recent reports by staff and local dog walkers! It was about an hour long and definitely geared us up to hunt out some of the nicer sounding ghouls (the 8ft tall angry Victorian man with a huge butchers knife however, I was very much hoping not to bump into..)

We then were given various ghost hunting tools (dousing rods, temperature gages, laser guns, electronic frequency recorders, crystals…) and allowed to scamper off on our own in pitch black museum with just our torches for company. I definitely got some interesting readings and close encounters with things that then turned out to be part of the museum decour (stuffed dogs?!) . This was followed by three hours of vigils. We went into various rooms where for an hour Joanne or Jo would attempt to contact the spirits and encourage them to communicate. The scariest of these was in the Red Room where mid vigil, the door FLEW open and I had a real scooby doo moment of jumping on whoever was closest! There was also a huge amount of knocks, flickering lights and spooky goings on.. and just a few “WHAT WAS THAT?!” … “Sorry, just my belly grumbling” to lighten the mood.

After the vigils there was just another hour left to go off using the hunting equipment again and then it was home at 4am where I had the best nights sleep of my life (no bumps in the night followed me home obviously!)

I would absolutely recommend this experience to anyone. I had previously thought I might be paralysed with fear and unable to even get in the building. But actually it was just really interesting and exciting and only a tiny bit good-scary. The staff make you feel so comfortable that you just relax and throw yourself into it Ghostbuster style! Running around an empty museum at 3am is going to be a novel experience to anyone anyway, and the added creaks and knocks and eerie goings on just added to it. I wouldn’t say it has made me come away more of a believer or more of a sceptic… just feeling a little bit smug with my own bravery and desperate to go on another one.

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