Tuesday, August 15, 2006

England, Part 4 - North Yorkshire/York

Friday morning, we woke up pretty early, ate breakfast, and gathered together our things. Time to leave the campground. Gina's parents were coming back to pick up the caravan. So we hit the road and decided that we would stop at the halfway point toward Retford, which just happened to be York.

On the way, we drove through part of North Yorkshire Moors National Park. Of course, we drove through it going there as well. But we stopped this time to take a few pictures, of Beck Hole, specifically, which is just a fairly large crater in the ground. I joked that it was the "Grand Canyon of Britain" because it's not even remotely close in scale and size.

After only an hour or so…maybe slightly more, we arrived in York. We found public parking near the Minster, which is the largest cathedral north of the Alps (making it even larger than the Cologne Dom, which is hard to imagine, if you've been there). So we spent some time walking around in there. Most of my pictures were taken inside the Minster. The outside was half covered in scaffolding, which didn't provide good photography opportunities.

After the Minster, we went to lunch at some cafeteria-type place in the shopping district. The shopping district was really nice. I was lured by a bookstore in particular that had really carefully preserved antique volumes. But we didn't stay in that area long. We wanted to see the Jorvik Viking Centre, which was on the other side of town, so we hopped back in the car and drove toward York Castle, where we could park for the Jorvik Viking Centre. On the way, I saw lots of amazing things, but being in the car, could not photograph any of it. *sigh*

So we got to Jorvik Viking Centre, which was in the middle of a posh shopping center, oddly enough, although Mike told me that the Viking Centre was there first. We had to wait in line for a long time. Finally, we got in.

The verdict: cheesy. I thought it was a waste of money. We were put in these little suspended cars that took us through a Viking village that was based on actual archaeological finds in York. There were fake animatronic Vikings all over this little village, and at one point, we got to see one grunting and moaning in a public latrine. Classy. I laughed most of the way through it, because it was so utterly ridiculous. Then we got out of our little cars and went into a room that had actual bones and stuff in it. That was pretty interesting, I must say. After that, we went up the stairs into the gift shop, where they sold plenty of cheesy Viking souvenirs. When we left, I was tempted to tell everyone standing in line to get in that they shouldn't waste their money.

We decided to go home at that point, so I stopped long enough to get pictures of York Castle and then we were on our way.


Saturday was another day off for me. Melissa, her neighbor Jennie, and I went to Sheffield to a huge shopping mall there called Meadowhall. So we spent a few hours there.

And then Sunday, I came home. Lots of drama at the airport, as you can imagine. My lip balm, throat drops, plastic comb, and plastic bandage were confiscated.


England, Part 3 - Whitby, Robin Hood's Bay and Fylingthorpe

I suppose I can say very quickly what happened on Monday, but it's barely worth noting. No sightseeing that day. Instead, Melissa drove me to an outlet mall in Doncaster, where I bought some adorable shoes at the Clarks outlet and got a few other things. On the way home from there, we stopped in the charming town of Bawtry and had lunch at a pub. Then we went home, dropped off our purchases, grabbed laundry, and went to the laundromat in Gainsborough, where I ran into a young woman who thought that the United States used Euros as their currency. Apparently, she is a scholar of geography. *smirk*

Fylingthorpe, Robin Hood's Bay, Whitby

We were supposed to find a caravan park outside of Fylingthorpe where the parents of Melissa's friend (Gina) were supposed to be staying. They had been staying in the caravan for a few days already, and they were going to abandon it and let us have it for a few days. We had a nice drive through North Yorkshire, past the moors, which were covered in fields of heather. Then we found ourselves driving through Whitby, and on the bridge going over the harbor, I got to gaze on the most spectacular site - the whole of the harbor with the ruined abbey above it. It was breathtaking, but unfortunately, I wasn't able to get to the bridge again on foot to take pictures.

A short while later, we found ourselves in the tiny village of Fylingthorpe, and followed the signs to our caravan park. We found the caravan pretty easily, and since we were the first ones there, Gina's parents came out to greet us and fussed over us ever so slightly. Gina's mum put the tea kettle on and proceeded to make us sandwiches (she made me a lovely sandwich of herbed cheddar, tomato, lettuce, and salad cream on brown bread) and tea, and she showed us where everything was in the caravan. She kept calling me "Petal". I truly loved it. Gina showed up a short while later. After they were satisfied that we had eaten and that we knew what to do, they left us. We got settled in…the caravan only sleeps two, and Gina and Carol (who would be joining us later) were sleeping in it. There was a tent that comes out from the caravan…generally used as an enclosed eating space, but a small tent was set up in it for Mike and Melissa to sleep in, and then I was sleeping in that space as well (just outside of their tent). After we figured things out, we decided to walk to the beach. To get there, we had to walk through several cow pastures (avoiding cow pats along the way), climb over fences, and take a walk in the woods. But we made it in about 15 minutes and found ourselves in Robin Hood's Bay, so named because Robin Hood apparently kept a fleet of boats here to make a quick escape.

Once we got there, it was too windy to really do much of anything. We just spent a small amount of time looking at the beach and poking into a bookstore. Then we walked back to the caravan, where we met Carol, who was driving in. Once we got her settled, we walked into Flyingthorpe to the little grocers, where we got provisions for dinner that night - two frozen pizzas and some garlic bread. We spent the rest of the evening eating, having some drinks, and watching television.

It was quite cold when we went to bed that night, and since I had started developing a sinus infection and a cough at that point, sleeping outdoors really didn't help me too much. I woke up the following morning to light frost on the car windows.


Wednesday was the day we were to spend in Whitby. Melissa and Carol were hoping to actually swim, although since I thought it was quite cool and windy (but at least it was sunny), I was less than interested. But we piled into the car after breakfast (Sally Lunn Buns with jam) and drove into Whitby, where we stopped first at the large grocery store to get me some medicine and tissues, and then went to the visitor's center. After that, we began our walk toward the beach, stopping to look at anything that captured our interest. We finally made our way to the beach, where Mike proceeded to build a sand castle (Castle Every) and Gina and I stretched out on a blanket. Melissa and Carol ran off…later, they rang Mike's mobile and told him that we needed to meet them at another location on the beach. So Mike finished Castle Every and we walked…and walked…and walked, until we located them. We set up the blanket in the new spot, and Melissa and Carol went swimming. Gina and I put our shoes on and went up in search of food…seafood, as you can imagine, is prevalent there. I got cod and chips, and we got something for Mike, and Gina got some food for herself, and we made our way back down to the beach, where we spent a bit more time.

After Melissa and Carol were finished swimming, we packed up everything and went back up into town, where we stopped for ice cream and to get some candy at the confectionary…Whitby has all the typical seaside things near the beach: candy shops, restaurants, arcades, cheesy museums. Then we crossed the bridge over into the old part of town where the shops were - Gina wanted to look for jet jewelry, which is a specialty in Whitby. Jet washes up on the beach (I found some) and is made into really pretty brooches, necklaces, and rings. So we did that for awhile, and then headed back to the campground for dinner, where Melissa made a cheesy pasta bake thing. Our evening was again spent as the evening before…sitting around the telly, drinking, and eating Pringles.


Thursday was the day we decided to spend exploring Whitby Abbey. So after breakfast, we headed out there and spent a couple of hours. The Abbey was just beautiful…I think it will be fairly obvious when you see the pictures, because I think I photographed every square inch of it.

After that, we drove back toward Fylingthorpe, found a pub called The Hare and Hounds, and had a very nice lunch there. It was superb. I got ratatouille with goat cheese, which may seem like weird pub food, but it was really good. I had crusty bread and boiled, buttered potatoes with it. It was a huge meal and I was stuffed. Despite that, I noticed that they had Sticky Toffee Pudding on their dessert menu, which is my favorite British dessert (it's like a butterscotch cake with hot butterscotch sauce and custard), so I had to order some. We all had dessert. It was fantastic.

After that, we drove back into Whitby to go to the store for a few things, then went back to the campground. We sat around the caravan for awhile, but Melissa, Mike, and I were a bit restless, so the three of us went to Robin Hood's Bay again. We drove this time, because it was raining, but the rain only picked up once we got there, plus all the shops were closed, so we didn't stay long. We just went into a pub to get some shelter for awhile, and Melissa and I had some juice while Mike had a beer, and then we left. I also popped into a tiny internet kiosk and checked my email - bad news: my cousin Tami passed away. We weren't terribly close though, so it didn't ruin my trip. But it seems that every time I'm in England, something bad happens (my grandfather passed away during my study abroad program). It's a wonder I love England so.

I made dinner that night…used up the rest of the pasta with some tomato and mascarpone cheese sauce, crunchy breadsticks, olives, and cheese. Mike broiled some sausages too. Again, that night was the same as the previous nights…television, junk food, drinks.


Monday, August 14, 2006

England, Part 2 - Revisiting Bath

Note (July 15, 2007): I did my summer study abroad program in Bath in 1999 - one of the greatest experiences of my life. I was an undergraduate in the Department of English at Ohio State University, and it was their annual summer program in partnership with Bath Spa University College. Sadly, the program ended last year, and Ohio State is now doing a program with the University of Greenwich. I can't imagine a better place than Bath to spend a summer studying Renaissance and contemporary British & Irish literature. Bath will always hold a very special place in my heart.



Sunday, August 6 ended up being the warmest and sunniest day of my entire time in England. Melissa and I got up early…we had a 3.5 hour drive to Bath, and we were supposed to meet my friends Corry and Ronda there at around noon. Getting there was not a problem at all. Other than there being a lot of traffic, the drive was relatively smooth and uneventful. Corry texted Melissa's mobile at one point to tell us that they were running a bit late, but we weren't expecting to get there right at noon anyway.

Once we arrived in Bath proper, we had to find a place to park. The Sports Centre was the first place we found with public parking, so we grabbed a spot in their parking garage and then I had to get my bearings. Of course, I did my study abroad program in Bath 7 summers ago, and got intimately acquainted with the city. Would I remember my way around after all these years?

Miraculously, I did. We found our way to the Tourist Information Center without any problem at all, and proceeded to get a map of the city and then wait for Corry and Ronda to show up. They eventually did, and we made our way to Sally Lunn's for lunch. That was absolutely non-negotiable for me…we WERE eating lunch there. Fortunately, everyone else could see why I was so insistent on this point. Their bread is just awesome. I had Scottish smoked salmon, cream cheese, lemon, and dill on a toasted Sally Lunn Bun. It was so good. But of course…I waited 7 years for this. Corry ate my chips, since I didn't want them (crisps…not French fries). I also had fizzy lemonade, which was refreshing on such a hot day. Anyway, Sally Lunn's is housed in the oldest building in Bath, and there is a small museum in the basement with Sally Lunn's original kitchen (circa 1680) and the older foundations of the house. So we went down there and decided to come back later to get Sally Lunn Buns to take away.

Next stop: Bath Abbey. I had been in the abbey before, of course, but I was afraid to take pictures then. I'm not sure why. I thought I would be disrespectful somehow. But I had my camera poised to take photos this time and capture all that I didn't seven years ago. The sun was shining brightly in all the stained glass windows, and a choir was practicing for the upcoming service, so I was deeply moved. I took a video of the choir performing, but it's really terrible, so I'm not sure I'm going to upload it.

After being in the abbey for a little while, we decided to do a city tour of Bath, since none of my friends would be able to spend longer than a day there. The City Tour bus was just loading up, so we paid our admission and hopped on. It was nice to see some of the places I frequented 7 years ago. After the City Tour ended, our ticket got us on the Skyline Tour, which took us in the hills above Bath. That was also very nice.

After that tour, Melissa, Ronda, and Corry decided that they wanted to see the Roman Baths. I had already been there 7 years ago and didn't see the need to do it again, so I waited for them in the Abbey Square while they were inside. I enjoyed some nice music that was being performed in the square and I browsed some of the shops. After about 45 minutes or so, they came back out, and Melissa and I decided that it was time to head back to Retford. We said goodbye to Corry and Ronda, grabbed a bite to go at Burger King, and headed off toward home. Only, we didn't exactly. Melissa got on the motorway heading in the right direction, but we actually had to head in the wrong direction for a bit to get the motorway that we needed to get home. So our 3.5 hour return trip ended up being 5 hours. Oh well. We got acquainted with more of England…what we could see from the motorway, anyway.

After we finally got home, we met up with Melissa's husband, Mike, and a couple of her friends, at a local pub, where everyone but me proceeded to do karaoke. Yes, I'm a wimp. But I didn't feel like making people suffer that night.

Pictures of my beloved Bath

England, Part 1 - Warwick & Lincoln (Aug. 4 & 5, 2006)

Yes, so my last post was about the ghost hunt at Warwick Castle. Obviously, I will not go on about that here. This is everything else but that, and photos.

First, a crazy photo I took at Warwick. It was dark, and the original photo is mostly black, except for the faint outline of the castle. I played with the "Auto Smart Fix" and the "Auto Contrast" features in PhotoShop Elements, and got these two interesting results:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket (Auto Smart Fix)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket (Auto Contrast)

Anyway, Melissa (my friend who lives near Lincoln, England) and I left Friday morning for Warwick. We arrived around lunchtime. I had reservations at the Days Inn somewhere in Warwick, and as we discovered, it was located at a Welcome Break, which is one of those massive roadside rests boasting several eating establishments, a gas station, a hotel, and shops. It was too early to check-in, as it was about 1 pm, so we ate lunch at the Welcome Break - Kentucky Fried Chicken. Then we wandered over to the Days Inn to check in, only to find out that the one where we had reservations was actually on the other side of the motorway. Ah well. We went up to the next exit and turned around and went to the other (identical) Welcome Break, and checked into our hotel. I wanted to get some sleep, since I was going to be up all night. Melissa went to the castle, where they are having their medieval days demonstrations everyday this summer. She got to see jousting, hand to hand combat, trebuchet, and other things. I figured that since I had just recently been to a similar event in Germany, I wasn't going to miss much anyway. I gave her my camera, and she took pictures (which are included in the link below).

Melissa came back to the room about 6…I had about 3.5 hours of sleep, more or less. I had showered and changed, so we drove back into Warwick in search of dinner. It's a rather small town, so it wasn't particularly hard to find the main drag. We decided on an Indian restaurant, since I haven't had much experience with Indian food. I ordered chicken korma, since it's a mild dish, and it was very good. I had rice on the side. Melissa had chicken tikka masala with garlic naan on the side, so we shared the rice and the naan. We had poppadams as an appetizer with mango chutney, onion relish, and a garlic yogurt spread. Tasty.

After dinner, Melissa and I had to run back to the hotel, since I realized that I forgot my flashlight for the ghost hunt. Then she dropped me off. If you haven't read about what happened after that, see the post below this one.

The following morning, at 5 am, Melissa picked me up from the castle and we went back to the hotel. I slept a little, but I was too wired from the events overnight. Melissa did a much better job of sleeping than I did. Melissa woke up about 10:30. By that time, I had already written out notes about the ghost hunt, and had moved on to a book. We checked out of our hotel at 11 and then had breakfast at the coffee shop inside the Welcome Break. I had a croissant and tea.

Then the trip back to Retford. It took a little over 2 hours. We went into the market square, where the Saturday market was being held. Melissa bought some marinated olives for our dinner that night. Mike (Melissa's husband) met up with us there and we went out to lunch somewhere locally…I forget the name of the place. Then we went back to Melissa's place and she headed off to the store to buy some cheese, crackers, strawberries, and wine for our dinner that night.

Melissa and I planned to attend the Lincoln Shakespeare Company's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream that night, which was performed outdoors at the medieval Bishop's Palace, right in the shadow of the cathedral. We packed up our picnic beforehand of all the foodstuffs mentioned previously, and enjoyed a "dead posh" meal out on the grass before the show ("dead posh" is Melissa's term...gotta love that English slang!). The play was wonderful. It was so hilarious and the setting could not have been more beautiful. The only problem I had was that a wedding was going on nearby and the music was very loud - jazz music - which didn't quite go with the ambience of the play. But otherwise, it was an amazing time. Afterwards, we walked down (aptly named) Steep Hill, back to Melissa's car, which was parked in a garage by the riverfront…a pretty good distance away. It was a nice walk though. A beautiful evening, and everything lit up all over Lincoln. Lovely.

Pictures (all mine, except where noted)

Monday, August 7, 2006

Ghost Hunting at Warwick Castle

Note (July 15, 2007): I used to be the English Culture editor at BellaOnline, a position I held from Feb. 2006 to April 2007, and then left when I was offered a steady and challenging long-term writing project. Although being an editor there is mostly a labor of love (and hence, another reason why I left...I'm actually making money now), it did have some perks. I was invited to preview a ghost hunt at Warwick Castle, which was hosted by Fright Nights, a paranormal tour company in the UK. It was their first hunt in Warwick Castle, and I was among a team of journalists who attended. I was the only American there, and I was welcomed with open arms and some curiosity.

I felt that since this experience was such a departure from anything else I have ever done, it deserved its own post. I wrote about it for BellaOnline, as that was my "payment" for the free ticket (something that usually costs around $200, by the way), but that article was very condensed, since my limit was 400-600 words. The post I made below was transcribed from the rough notes I took at my hotel immediately after the experience. I believe that I remembered everything, even though I was trying to recall the entire night without having any sleep.

Fright Nights – Warwick Castle
August 4/5 2006 9 pm – 5am

The small group participating in the ghost hunts met in the castle’s cafeteria. We were introduced to the Fright Nights team and got an explanation of what they do, and what we should expect from the ghost hunt.

After this brief introduction, we got a tour of Warwick Castle – the grounds, Gate House, Dungeon, and the Ghost Tower. During this tour, the history of the castle was explained to us. At certain points, the Fright Nights guides paused to tell us that they were feeling certain spirits around, but most of the participants couldn’t see/feel/hear anything, except for one particular person in the group who had a very strong sense of the ghosts that were in each room.

After the initial orientation of the castle, we met back at our base of operations – the café. The tour leaders pass out ghost hunting equipment: various thermometers and electro-magnetic field detectors, and give us all a brief tutorial on how to use them. Then we are allowed to go off on our own private tour of the castle. Being reluctant to do this on my own, I paired up with another woman who was also there on her own. I had a thermometer and she had an electro-magnetic reader. We decided to explore the Gate House, but our equipment detected nothing. Supposedly, the Gate House contains the spirits of dead soldiers who tried to invade the castle, as well as a witch, and various other spirits.

After this, we all reconvened at the café to meet up with our medium, Michael. We all start introducing ourselves to each other, and two men (a gay couple…this will be important later, which is why I’m mentioning it) strike up a conversation with me, and I pretty much stick with them the rest of the evening.

As a group, we go out with Michael to tour the castle again. Immediately, he picked up the presence of ghosts: Roman soldiers marching in the courtyard, a man who had been trampled after being pushed to the ground, a drummer boy standing by a doorway who was sad because he lost his drum, a mother carrying a baby who is standing outside the castle gates, begging to be let in. Inside the dungeon, he sees the torture master, who doesn’t want us there. On the ceiling hangs an Iron Maiden. He sees a woman hanging in it. In the Gate House, he sees various other ghosts. At one point, he sees a ghost named Guy, a member of the Knights Templar, who was standing right next to me. The room was hot and stuffy, but my right side, next to where he is standing, is freezing cold.

In various rooms, depending on how spirits had died in them, people were complaining of correlating body aches: terrible headaches if the person died of a stroke, stomach aches if the ghost died from being stabbed in the stomach, etc. There was one room in particular where the air kept getting sucked out of my lungs and I was gasping for breath, and it happened to other people at the same time. There were also a few rooms where we smelled random scents like lavender or mint, when there was nothing in the room that should have been causing that scent.

In the Ghost Tower, which was left pretty much the way it was when its resident, Sir Greville, lived there, Michael picks up on a ghost in the first room named Brooke (last name), who tells him that he’s Sir G’s servant. Michael starts feeling a heavy pressure in his body, and he said it was due to the pervasive sadness in the room. Brooke was not just Sir G’s servant, but also his lover, and he stabbed Sir G. to death in a fit of passion, and then killed himself. Michael was relating all this to us, as he was communicating with Brooke, and it was consistent with the history of the castle, which Michael said he did not study prior to coming.

In Sir G’s bedroom, Michael describes Sir G’s ghost, and then begins to feel very uneasy. The other men in the room note some odd sensations, but the women didn’t feel anything. We were all standing in the dark, and we were told beforehand that if we felt like we were in imminent danger, we should turn on our flashlights and run. Well, one of the men did…he suddenly panicked, the flashlight came on, and he ran down the stairs out of Sir G’s room, followed by one of the paranormal experts who was leading the tour. They were down there for several minutes (they apparently picked up on another ghost at the bottom of the stairs) and those of us remaining in Sir G’s bedroom stood very still and quiet, and we heard footsteps actually walking around in the middle of the room. The men downstairs also heard them.

We eventually followed the men that were already downstairs, which led into a very narrow room. This is where the medium started panicking and freaking out. There was the presence of what is called an elemental, or animal spirit, and several people picked up on it being a wolf or a dog. At any rate, Michael, who has had contact with ghosts his entire life, told us that he had never felt more scared and freaked out in his life, and we had to strongly convince him not to flee from the building. At this point, for me personally, I had heard the footsteps, but besides that, had no convincing case that ghosts existed. I didn’t feel this panicky/dangerous vibe that several other people were picking up on.

After this intense scene in the Ghost Tower, we head back to the café, where we are split up into two teams. One team went with Michael to the Gate House and Dungeon to do a vigil for ghosts. My team joined the two other guides to go into the Ghost Tower. We started out on the first floor…one of the ladies in the group said that she felt a very playful spirit in the room, something akin to a court jester. We stood in a circle, holding hands. People were saying that they could feel the presence of the ghost behind them as it was walking around the room…it would lightly touch people. One of the guides said that she’s feeling that the ghost was walking in a very comical manner. One lady in the room gets a random fit of the giggles. I still feel/hear/see nothing.

We go up one floor, back to Sir G’s bedroom. All flashlights off, and we stand in a circle holding hands. Suddenly, we hear hissing sounds coming from various parts of the room. Some people say that the hissing is directly in their ears. Then we hear screaming and flashlights come on. Several women, particularly the ones standing by the stairs, were being shoved around very hard. The ones who felt this ended up moving to another point of the circle. Once we calmed down, we rejoined hands and the flashlights all went out again. The guides were asking, “If you’re here, give us a sign. Make a noise. Touch someone. Let us know you’re here” (they repeated this several times throughout the night). There is more pushing, screaming, flashlights coming on…people in abject terror. Lights go out again, holding hands again…I hear a shout coming from one of the men in the group. It is one of the gay guys that I was hanging out with, and he said that someone was trying to pull up the back of his shirt (remember, Sir G. was homosexual)…he explained that he was gay, so perhaps the ghost could sense that. We got settled back into our circle, lights out…one of the guides had gone and sat on Sir G’s bed. One woman suddenly exclaims that she sees a bright flash of light moving onto the bed. The guide announces that Sir G. is sitting next to him on the bed. We hear a sudden sound coming from downstairs. The guide on the bed shouts, “We know you’re down there, come up and join us.” In a minute, he tells us, “the elemental has joined me on the bed.” Despite all this going on, I still hear/see/feel nothing. Just about everyone else in the room is panicky and scared and nearly crying with absolute horror, and I was feeling a bit disappointed because I wasn’t experiencing anything.

At this point, we trade places…and our group joins Michael in the Gate House and the dungeon. Michael should have gone to the Ghost Tower, but he refused to step foot back in there again. We went to the dungeon first, which was, in my opinion, the creepiest room in the entire castle. All lights out. Instead of standing in a circle and holding hands, we just sat around the room very quietly. I was sitting off in a little alcove in the room, next to a trapdoor that led to a hole where they would throw some of the prisoners. I figured that surely I would feel something there, but I felt absolutely nothing. We sat there in silence for awhile, and the medium finally announced that nothing was there, so we moved on to the Gate House.

At the Gate House, nothing seemed to be going on there either. In one of the rooms, Michael said that he could see ghosts moving in and out, but none of them were staying. He said he would let us know if anything started to happen. Well, nothing did. We sat there for a really long time. My legs were starting to fall asleep. One of the guys in our group fell asleep and actually started snoring. Two of the women in the group finally got up, announcing that they had to go to the restroom, so I followed them out. We went to the restroom and then sat in the café for a bit, talking about how disappointing this was. Nothing we had seen had truly convinced us.

After a short while, everyone else joined us in the café. Michael arrived first, a minute or two before the others, and he was shaking and telling us that he was absolutely terrified of going back in the Ghost Tower. But he had to go, so he was fortifying himself with coffee. The rest of the group joined us, and we went back into the Ghost Tower and got into a circle, holding hands. All flashlights off, and the only light in the room was a tiny red dot coming from the tape recorder. Michael is sitting apart from us in a corner. I got a very odd sensation at this moment…the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end and I got this hot flash. One of our guides announced that Michael was currently in a trance. He is a transmedium, and ghosts can enter his body and speak through him. At that moment, we felt a whoosh of cold air, and Michael’s breathing became really shallow. He started moaning. So the guides begin asking him questions, and slowly he starts to talk. He says that his name is Guy, and that he lived right after the Crusades, in a place not far from the castle. He told us that he didn’t want us in the room, but he agreed to answer some questions on the condition that we promised to leave. He said that his wife lived in the castle…she was the daughter of an earl, and that she jumped into the Avon River and drowned at the age of 25 because she was possessed by demons. He explained that he lived his life as a recluse until he died at age 50. We felt another burst of air as he was talking about his wife, and he said, “She’s here.” The guides determined that his wife had entered the room. In a minute, we felt another rush of air and heard footsteps leaving the room, and the spirits were gone. Michael was sputtering and choking on the floor, and had to be helped out by one of the guides.

After that, a large chair was brought out and placed in the middle of the room, a wine glass placed upside down on top of it. Three people volunteer to place their fingers lightly on the base of the glass (like an Ouija board). One of them asked questions:

“If there is a spirit in the room, please move the glass.”

The glass moved, just a bit.

Through a series of other questions, we determined that the ghost moving the glass was once again, Sir G. Suddenly, the guides started suggesting questions for the volunteer to ask the ghost, but the ghost began responding directly to the guides instead.

“Do you know there is an elemental in the room?”

The glass moved so hard and fast that it nearly crashed off the chair.

“Can you move the glass in the direction where the elemental is located?”

The glass moved toward the stairway, where this wolf/dog spirit was first encountered.

A series of other questions were asked, and then the wine glass just stopped moving. After several minutes, we concluded that Sir G. was tired of playing with us, and he left. And so concluded our ghost hunt.

Back at the café for closing remarks, Michael is slumped in a chair, complaining that his body is burning. One woman touches his arm, and says that that his skin is boiling hot. It looked like blisters/boils were popping up on his skin, although I can’t be sure of that…I did see some wounds though and he was pointing them out.

The last hour was perhaps the most convincing for me, but I still haven’t quite wrapped my brain around it. Whether it was a bunch of smoke and mirrors, or whether it was real, it was a very cool experience, and I was happy to have access to the castle at night, which few people before me have ever had the chance to do.