Monumental

Castillo de ColomaresVisiting a stunning castle, eating more ice cream and nearly getting into a fight on the plane. Our final day in Spain was memorable. We’d got up early to make the most of our last day then waited for Neen to text saying she was awake. An hour later, she texted. She was hungover and would be spending the last day in bed, so us and Cinta drove to Castillo de Colomares in Benalmadena. It was stunning! It’s not signposted so not many people know about it. Castillo de ColomaresYou can only see it when you get to the top of the narrow, windy road to drive down. It’s not really a castle, but various monuments honouring Christopher Colombus – who sailed from Palos – including Aragon’s House, Queen Isabella’s Tower, La Santa Maria (his flagship), the Fountain of Hope and the Oriental Tower. It was built between 1987-1993 by Steve Martin (no, not that one,) with the help of two bricklayers and it only costs €2 to see it. We have found the new Casa Raven and seeing as it’s not a proper castle, it should fall easy to our attack. We made friends with the worker’s West Highland terrier and were tempted to smuggle her home.

Castillo de ColomaresWe returned to Cinta’s apartment then walked to Café Nomad. We were supposed to meet up with Fast Eddie from Motorhead but he got stung by a bee on his eye so cancelled. If a tragedy befalls him now, we will not be happy that our chance of meeting him was scuppered by a bee sting. Neen also cancelled on us. She was still in bed. We once again had smoothies and ice cream. It would have been a crime not to sample the delicious vegan ice cream one last time and console ourselves that our holiday was over. We weren’t ready to go home!

Castillo de ColomaresAt 5:30, we sadly said goodbye to Cinta and went to fetch Neen, who was feeling better. We drove to the car hire place then got on the shuttle bus of terror. We swear the driver was trying to kill us and all road users. Why do we always get the crazy drivers? Pedestrians and other road users cowered as the bus thundered past. We hardly ever use public transport – we certainly don’t want to die on it.

Castillo de ColomaresNone of us got bleeped in security. First time ever! We feel this momentous occasion should be marked somehow. While Neen and Lynx got food from Burger King, Cat went on an expedition to find Red Bull. Neen predicted Cat would return enraged and with a tale to tell. She was right. After scouring almost the entire airport, Cat finally found some Red Bull. The queue was long. She was by an empty till. Someone came to open it, so the man in front of her (who was past the till), started nudging her back and put his can down on the counter, still proceeding to push his way in. Then his order took forever. We’re yet to launch an assault with a Red Bull can and in the airport, it would be a bad idea, but surely rudeness is an excellent motive and we’re confident not a jury in the land would convict us. Cat gritted her teeth, glared at him and pictured all the horrific ways he could meet a grisly end with his sandwich. Trust us, sir, don’t piss off writers unless you want to achieve fame by being ‘the guy who met a horrific end with a sandwich.’*Flicks through our Big Book of Pain*. Ooh page 220, that’s a good one.

Castillo de ColomaresA woman with a clipboard was giving people a chance to win a holiday. She looked at the three of us then went “no, none of you are over thirty.” Thanks, lady, you’ve made three friends today. Neen told her we were. After establishing that Neen was married and we were single, she took Neen’s details for the holiday draw. Guessing single people don’t deserve to have free holidays. Then the plane was delayed. We were supposed to fly at 9:45 p.m. At 9:50, half the plane were still boarding! Only the front door was open so they boarded the rear passengers first, which was Neen. People were standing queuing for an hour. We sat and read our Kindles. We know the Brits have a reputation for queuing but they were taking the stereotype too far. Sit, people, the plane won’t leave without you.

Castillo de ColomaresThen it went downhill. There were these two girls in their late twenties who omg, we were ready to bitch slap. We admit our tempers are shorter than we are. We admit people in general wind us up. And we admit we are one annoying person away from our meltdowns making the news. This is why we work alone and are selective in whose company we keep. We admit we can take a dislike to someone and wish for them to be covered in fire ants for absolutely no reason other than they irritate us. (Seriously, ask our mum about us using our Care Bear stares on random children in the street when we were kids.) Castillo de ColomaresBut these girls deserved our wrath. The whole way down to the plane – and we were queuing for twenty odd minutes – they were staring into the windows, checking their hair, flicking their hair, checking it, running their hands through it, checking it. Tying their hair up, letting it down. Running their hands through it, checking it, flicking it, checking it, shaking it, checking it. Calm down, you’re in an airport, not a shampoo ad. And you are definitely, not worth it. Castillo de ColomaresAnd they kept checking their arses. Yes, they are still there. They haven’t wandered off since the last twenty times you checked them. Though we wouldn’t blame their arses for wandering off out of sheer embarrassment of being trapped in those hideous trousers. We were tempted to pour our Red Bull in their hair, make it nice and sticky, but that would have been a waste of good Red Bull. The blonde was complaining that the zip on her £90 handbag was broken. Newsflash: Nobody cares. The zips on our Nightmare Before Christmas purses are broken but you don’t hear us bitching about it. Cat reckoned she’d end up sat between them. She wasn’t far wrong. She was going to be beside the blonde. Her eye twitched in murderous rage.

Castillo de ColomaresPeople had labels put on their luggage to put it in hold as there wasn’t space on the plane. Only the first 100 bags go in the cabin on Ryanair flights. Lynx had a label put on her case. They allowed Cat to keep her travel rucksack as it could fit under the seat. The girls ripped their labels off and hid them. They had large bags, which frankly, we’re surprised passed as cabin bags. Clearly they thought they could flaunt the rules like they flaunted their hair. Don’t get us wrong, we break many rules, but some rules are there for a reason. Like there was no room on the plane. Then they held up the plane cos they couldn’t find space to put their bags. Wonder why. Could it be…there was no room? They stopped at locker one, plotting to use that space but eventually moved to row 12 and blocked it. All the lockers were closed. Maybe because…There. Was. No. Fucking. ROOM!

Castillo de ColomaresThere was now an entire queue of people behind them, waiting to sit because Aeroplane Barbies were holding everyone up. After waiting patiently, Cat said, “excuse me, I’m in 12B, can I just get past?” They would have had to move forward half a step to allow her to squeeze into her seat. The blonde turned and stared at her. “I’m in 12. My friend is in 27.” Cat “So?” Thanks for that fascinating glimpse into your lives. Seeing as we’re sharing seat numbers, Lynx was in 11B and Neen was in 32. Normally, Cat would not respond so rudely, but they had irritated us more than a nettle rash to the eyeballs. Blonde “We’re together.” No shit, Sherlock! You’ve just spent the past half an hour chatting and having a hair flicking contest. Castillo de ColomaresCat *gestures to Lynx* “we’re together.” Blonde *stroppily* “Ok, I just thought you could switch seats with my friend.” Ohhh that’s what you wanted. Some of us often take things literally so you have to be more specific or we will think you’re just sharing seat information as a way of getting to know each other. Cat “No.” Switch seats? O.M.Goodness, how awful for you to be separated. Keep holding up the plane while we get out our tiny violins and weep for your heart-wrenching pain. In fact, it will be the title of our next poem ‘Ballad of the Barbies who were fifteen rows apart on the Ryanair flight from Malaga’. Hmm, that title may need work. And not much rhymes with Malaga. We were thirteen seats apart for the flight over. We didn’t demand other passengers switch seats.

Castillo de ColomaresThere is a reason you are assigned seats – so if the plane goes down, they know who died and can inform the families. Well, we think that’s the reason. That’s the one we’re going with. Imagine the confusion had the plane gone down and instead of finding a corpse with a fetching red mermaid dress and fishnets, they found one with ‘Made by Mattel’ stamped on its arse cheek. The Aeroplane Barbies still refused to move so Cat pushed past the blonde. Blonde “Stroppily* “Oh that is so rude!” Rude? RUDE? Listen up, Goldilocks. Rude is refusing to put your oversized case in the free hold when you are asked to. Rude is trying to steal other people’s locker space because you feel rules don’t apply to you. Rude is then blocking the entire front half of the plane from reaching their seats because you can’t find anywhere to put the cases that YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO FUCKING HAVE!

Castillo de ColomaresCat then lost her temper as the air stewardess was battling her way through the queue. Cat “I have already asked you to move and instead you are BLOCKING the aisle!” She made sure to hit Goldilocks with her bag as she passed and sat in her assigned seat while the Barbies muttered about her behaviour. We regularly tell our mate Andrew that we feel we’re bad people. He disagrees. Then we remind him of how we wanted to throw two girls off a plane mid-flight because they wouldn’t leave their hair alone. The Power Rangers wouldn’t respond is such an awful manner. The air stewardess reached them and said something about there being a lot of confusion. No, there was no confusion. The problem was two posh, self-entitled princess thought they were too good to let their bags go into the hold and thought they were entitled to tell other passenger where to sit to suit them. Goldilocks passed the air stewardess her bag and said “You can put that down the front.” No please? No thank you? This woman isn’t your servant. We have a much better idea where you can put it. Step aside, air stewardess, we’re good at Tetris. We got this.Castillo de Colomares

Rondalust

Sierre de los NievesIt’s never a good sign when you get up in the morning and your calves scream “oh dear god, why are we walking?” Today would be a day of shuffling, rather than strutting. But first we had a long car drive to the historic town of Ronda.

Sierra de los Nieves

check out this road!

We were going to catch a bus to Neen’s uncle’s house but as we got to the bus stop, the bus pulled away. We decided not to throw away what little remained of our dignity by chasing it, shaking our fists and weeping into the tarmac under a plume of exhaust fumes. We’d probably get killed on the roundabout. Luckily our travel insurance covers repatriation, but nobody wants that on their death certificate. After sitting at the bus stop for over half an hour, we texted Neen to say we had another 20 minute wait, so she came to fetch us. Neen’s uncle, Jerry, joined us for the adventure. Neen was having problems with her eyes and started feeling sick so she pulled over and Cat had to take over driving. Do you remember in our first post how we said how much we hated it and our only experience of driving in a different country would be forever marred? Now we had no choice. This would either redeem us or ruin us. Hell or glory.

Fortunately, the roads were our favourite type to drive – windy mountain roads with stunning views through the Sierra de los Nieves. Mountains one side, valleys the other. It was like being back in Wales, except there were safety barriers and no sheep. Our mate, Andrew, was suitably jealous of Cat driving the roads. So was Lynx. We stopped at El Burgo when Neen got too sick so while she rested in the car,  we wandered the market with Cinta and Jerry, had a drink in a nearby pub then continued on our way.

El Tajo, Ronda

El Tajo

Driving was so much more fun. Jerry made the perfect driving instructor on our excursion. We loved the twisty roads and the views. This was our kind of driving! We took it slow as we’re still getting used to the car, so didn’t fling it around the bends like we would normally. The Sierra de los Nieves were home to many bandits over the years and it was easy to see why. Sadly, we didn’t see any bandits, though we did see some goats. Getting held up by legendary bandits would certainly make our blog post more interesting. Though we’d have a hard time explaining it to the hire car company.

El Tajo, RondaRonda was really nice. It has so many beautiful buildings and the stunning El Tajo gorge. As we walked the streets we saw a yellow American school bus and a film crew. We often end up in places where there are film crews or big events on. Most of the cameramen were positioned around the El Tajo. Then we saw that on the front of the bus was The Fear Factor: Pain in Spain. We think that the contestants were going to bungee jump off the bridge. There is no way in hell we would ever do that. It ranks up there with putting fire ants on your eyes and sitting on an Inquisitor’s chair. Or even going to a Justin Bieber concert.

El Tajo, RondaWe had lunch (ok, chips) in a café and wandered around. We visited the Museo de Bandoleros. Bandit museum! (Our dog is called Bandit, so we had to visit it.) This was our first and only visit to a museum this holiday. We visited 7 in Venice. It was interesting to learn the history of the bandits. We especially loved the old comics related to them. Folklore had romanticised them into heroes, much like Robin Hood and the highwaymen are in Britain.

Museo del Bandoleros

Museo del Bandleros

We climbed up onto the city wall and walked along it while the others stayed at the bottom. It sort of resembled a castle, so we got to feed our castle fix for a bit. We weren’t so keen on climbing back down the walls. The steps were high and open on the one side. Despite us regularly climbing high castles and walls, our intense phobia of heights has never left us.

RondaLynx had a go at driving the mountain roads on the way back. We dropped Neen and Jerry off then drove back to Fuengirola. An hour later, we went back to meet Neen’s aunt, Carmen, who was desperate to meet us. Cinta didn’t come so we had to navigate our way to Elviria. We went from hating driving the car to having to drive it by ourselves. We still hate the size of the car, which seemed to take up the whole road. Next time they try upgrading us, we are definitely punching them.

RondaThe barman loved our tattoos, but couldn’t speak English, so Jerry translated his praise then translated us telling him the stories behind them. It turned out, he was also a twin. We can find fellow twins anywhere. As we left the bar, we got lost. We still don’t know how. We ended up driving up a road where someone had hit a fire hydrant and flooded the road. As Helen (our SatNav voice) navigated us back, we were then pulled over by the police and Cat was breathalysed. First time for everything. They were stopping every driver. We refuse to drink and drive, which is just as well, considering the size of the shots in Spain! Spending our last night in Spain in a jail cell would be a sour end to a fabulous trip.Ronda

Planet of the Apes

Rock of GibraltarToday was the day we had been waiting for – the day we would get mugged by monkeys. Ok, technically they are macaques, which are apes, but ‘mugged by monkeys’ sounds funnier. From the moment Neen suggested visiting Gibraltar, she’s been looking forward to seeing us wrestling monkeys for our phones, food and self-respect. Seeing as Lynx managed to leave a phone on the plane home from America and knock another phone in the Seine, it would be a challenge for her not to lose it to a monkey. Our mum gave us a bumbag to keep them safe. In America, bumbags are called fanny packs, whereas in Britain, ‘fanny’ is a slang term for ‘vagina’. GibraltarNeedless to say, there were countless jokes about putting stuff in our fannies. Cinta had sent us videos of the apes stealing people’s glasses and phones, and our sister regaled us of hilarious tales of our brother in law being chased by an ape. We wear glasses and while it would be safer to go without them, we would not see the monkeys until it was too late. “Is that a paper bag ahead?” would soon become “Oh dear god! It’s eating my face!” Would we escape unscathed? Possibly. Would our self-esteems cope with losing a fight with an ape? No. If our self-esteems were hooked to an ECG machine, they’d be calling in experts to see if they had a pulse.

Gibraltar

cable car selfie!

We set off for Gibraltar and got excited when we saw a Pink Smartcar on our way, though it was one of the pale ones, not the deep pink of General Pinkinton. We’d also spotted Renault 4s and Renault 4 vans on our trip and lamented that they hadn’t been available to hire. We’d have no trouble driving those, seeing as we own two of them. The minute we crossed into Gibraltar, we could tell we were on British soil – it was cold and foggy and there was nowhere to park. Gibraltar drivers are crazy! We eventually found somewhere to park, which was right at the base for the cable cars. We had chips and lemonade in a pub across the road. It’s so weird. Everything is British yet they still drive on the right and a lot of them speak Spanish. Annoyingly we forgot our British wallets and they charged more to change into Euros. So if you go to Gibraltar, pay in sterling, it works out cheaper.Gibraltar apesGibraltar ape

We rode the cable car to the top of the rock and went to the souvenir shop to look for a pin badge. We have a travel rucksack and buy pin badges from every new place we visit to put on it. We managed to find one with a monkey and the rock on. There were monkeys on the railings as you headed into the gift shop. One was eating a pack of biscuits and one looked like it had crumbs all over its face. Another one kept posing for photos every time a camera was pointed at it. We cautiously sidled up to it for a selfie and managed to get one without losing our phone or our dignity. And we got to quote the fabulous line from Kong: Skull Island “is that a monkey?” When we went to Venice, we got to quote from Back to the Future : “where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” We now feel that having a movie quote for every place we visit is as essential as learning their basic language.Gibraltar ape

We headed down through the nature reserve to St Michael’s Cave. One taxi driver got a monkey to sit on people for photos but only those who went up in the taxi were allowed to have a photo with it. The monkey had other ideas and leapt on Cat’s back. They were united in their view of ‘rules were made to be broken’. In hindsight, putting our strawberry perfume in her hair (to make the smell last longer) was a mistake. But no harm came to Cat and she didn’t achieve Internet fame by wrestling with an ape, much to Neen’s dismay. Gibraltar apeThough the monkey did refuse to get off her and kept playing with her hair. In the end we had to summon the taxi driver for assistance. Getting a monkey through airport security would prove tricky. Claiming it’s a fetching rucksack would fail when the monkey starts biting travellers and peeing on the conveyor belt.

St Michael's CavesSt Michael’s caves were stunning and one area was huge – they use it as a concert hall. There were coloured floodlights which made them look lovely, but it was very difficult to take photos then. The phone took better photos than the camera. The stalactites were impressive. The caves don’t cover a huge area, unlike Dan yr Ogof, but they are well worth a visit. The next place on our list was the Great Siege Tunnels. We wanted to see the Ape’s Den so Neen and Cinta went an easier route. Apparently, there’s such a thing as too many monkeys. The Apes Den was just a wooden shelter with fruit under it and two monkeys. Not quite the den of apes we were hoping for. We’d expected to fight our way through a tunnel system with monkeys leaping out at all sides. Like a zombie attraction. Needless to say, we were a little disappointed. We didn’t see a single tourist get mauled. Sad times.St Michael's Caves

Great Siege TunnelsThe Great Siege Tunnels were interesting. The Siege lasted from 1779-1783 and they were also used during WW2. Neen and Cinta stopped halfway – Cinta doesn’t like caves as she’s claustrophobic and Neen couldn’t be arsed to walk down to look at more caves so we went by ourselves. We’re descended from miners, we’re genetically programmed to love caves. They had mannequins in there, which as many people know, are a favourite thing of ours to molest. We behaved ourselves and didn’t act inappropriately towards them. They had cannons and we didn’t think we’d come off well. Plus, they looked ‘judgy’.

Great Siege Tunnels

Tunnel rats

Moorish castle

Inside the Moorish castle

We then wanted to go and see the Moorish Castle. Neen and Cinta headed back to the pub we went to before. The Castle was just a tower with one floor and the roof but it was interesting to see a Moorish castle. SatNav then took us through the town centre to get to the pub. It was like walking on a normal British high street with Marks and Spencer, Debenhams, Peacocks, Top Shop, etc. Gibraltar’s a little disappointing. It was nice but nothing special. It’s like being back in the UK but with lizards. We stopped at Trafalgar Cemetery, which is misleading because only two of the soldiers who died at the battle of Trafalgar are buried there. The rest are victims of yellow fever. We met back at the pub and had some more chips then headed home. Our calves haven’t yet forgiven us for all that downhill walking. Lynx hobbled for the rest of the holiday. If we can’t now break a man’s neck with our calves, we are going to be very disappointed.Gibraltar

 

Spanish Invasion

FuengirolaNo problems in the airport, smooth travelling and nothing going wrong. At all. Could this really be one of our travel blogs?

The day dawned horribly early. Well, we were leaving at 7:30 a.m. The journey was uneventful apart from them closing the Brynglas tunnels but the diversion didn’t take long. FuengirolaWe got through baggage drop off without causing an incident, our suitcase was under weight and Cat managed to get through security without being patted down. Neen and Lynx didn’t escape the bleeper’s attention. You’d think airport scanners would account for underwire bras. Believe us, guards, our boobs aren’t big enough for smuggling goods. By the time we’d done our makeup, we had 15 minutes until our gate opened. We heard ‘Keith Allen’ being called over the tannoy and joked that it was the actor.

Castillo Sohail

Castillo Sohail

Lynx was right at the back of the plane – the very last seat – and sat between two large men. The man on her left was very nice. She couldn’t put her case up because everyone else was boarding so she had to wait for them to pass to put her case up. So he put her tripod, camera and kindle on her seat for her. Unfortunately, the guy to the right blocked most of the window. Lynx gets travel sick so needs to look out of the window as the plane starts moving, or she’s nauseous for the whole flight. Luckily, our friend, Hayley, lent her a travel sickness bracelet for the journey. Cat was sat thirteen rows ahead, between two women and behind a whinging, snotty baby. She plotted to put it in the overhead lockers. She was certain the parents would be glad of the peace. Airline rules don’t state you can’t put children in the lockers. Separating us was Ryanair’s plan to make us pay £6 per ticket for allocated seating. Ryanair, you have underestimated our stinginess. We have our kindles, we have no need for company.

Finca del secretario

Finca del Secretario

It turned out, it was Keith Allen the actor. He was sat across the aisle from Lynx but on the window side. The guy to Lynx’s right was doing filming with him. Lynx concluded that meant she must have been sat in first class. Check us out, flying with celebrities. Next we’ll be upgraded from budget airlines. *Checks bank balances* maybe not. The landing was pretty rough, which seems to be the case with Ryanair flights. No travel sickness bracelet in the world can counteract the nausea caused by the landings. And what is it with them not supplying sick bags? We know they’re a no-frills airline but that one tiny frill will save the cleaners an unpleasant task.

Castillo SohailCinta met us at the arrivals gate then joined us on the shuttle bus to get our car. The man uttered the words “we’ve upgraded you from the Polo to a Toyota Verso.” He was lucky he wasn’t punched in the mouth. We selected a Polo because we’ve never driven a car bigger than a Renault 4! We normally drive our SmartForTwo or our mum’s Mini. And they gave us a 7 seater barge! General Pinkington could have fitted inside the car and still left the backseat and boot free.

our hire car

We like small cars. You can fit through gaps that SUVs get trapped in and parking spaces are so much easier to find. Neen drove out of the rental place as we didn’t want to do the first drive. It’s not that far to get to Cinta’s, though we’re not convinced we’ll master roundabouts. It’s all so terrifying. And whilst we don’t want to be disparaging about the drivers, there were very few cars that weren’t covered in scratches or bumps. We feared for our rental car.

on the beach with Cinta

Neen dropped us off at Cinta’s apartment left to go to her uncle’s in Elviria. Cinta took us on a tour of Fuengirola. She’s not far from the beach. People seemed to like our outfits and complimented us in Spanish – not sure they get many goths round here. We also got strange looks for being so clothed on the beach. But after seeing all the perma-tanned, wrinkled Brits who looked like someone had dressed a leather coat in beachwear, we vowed we would cake ourselves in suncream. We would rather be pale and maintain our youthful looks. ‘Leather look’ is fine for furnishings but not for humans. We found a vegan gelato place, Stickhouse, and got fruit lollies – strawberry and raspberry. They use real fruit and the lollies were lovely. We even found time to do our flexibility stretches most evenings. We don’t let holidays get in the way of fitness!

Cafe Nomad

our vegan ice cream from Cafe Nomad

Day two was very warm. We walked to Castillo Solhail, only to find it’s closed all week for an event! Gutted. The one time we’re in Spain and they close their castle! This happens to us a lot. It’s like places don’t want us to educate ourselves. We circled the castle trying to find ways in, but this is the problem with castles – they were designed to keep people out. So we continued our new holiday tradition of honouring Polefit and did a double figurehead on the wall then found a lamppost so Cat did a polecat and Lynx did a fairy sit.

Castillo SohailWe then went to Café Nomad and had delicious vegan ice cream – vanilla, strawberry and chocolate with cream (which was lovely), strawberries, grapes and bananas. We’ve never tried cream before, so this was a moment of bravery. Surprisingly, we liked it, but Neen didn’t. Now who’s fussy? *pokes Neen* Yes, we ate the bananas. Bananas are a big ‘no!’ food for us – the colour, texture, taste, all add up to yuckyness. Devil’s food, we call them.

polecat

Even the thought of touching them makes us shudder. But we were brave and ate them like proper adults without pulling faces and spitting them out. Smothered in ice cream, we couldn’t taste them, but the texture was still upsetting on our tongues. Their Very Berry smoothie was really nice. The Strawberry Burst smoothie was nice but the banana taste was too strong for our liking. BananaMan we are not.

Lynx doing a fairy sit

Then we walked four miles to Finca del Secretario, the Roman ruins. They’re small ruins but interesting and best of all, they’re free! We love finding hidden gems not many tourists know about and the ruins were definitely one of them. One side is the pottery kiln, oven and fish storage area while the other side are the thermal baths and courtyard, complete with mosaic tiles perfectly intact. You don’t get that kind of craftsmanship these days! We sat for a while in the shade as it was 26 degrees. The ruins are a peaceful place to be and totally different to the beach image usually associated with Fuengirola.

Finca del secretarioWe then went to a quiet country road where we learned to drive the car. Driving on the left side of the car on the right side of the road was an unnerving experience. Especially as we weren’t used to being in such an enormous car. We hated it at first. It was like we’d forgotten how to drive. And the seat couldn’t be raised, which is poor form when you’re only 5’1. Finca del secretarioEnded up down a narrow dead end road so had to do a turn that had a tree one side of the road and a sheer drop the other side. That was certainly not an experience we wish to repeat! We’d had plans to share the driving between us and Neen and had been excited about this new experience but after practising, we realised our plans for a fun driving holiday were dashed and we relinquished all driving responsibilities to Neen. With our self-esteem more battered than a pinata, we got Neen to drop us off at Cinta’s and we consoled ourselves with the next day’s adventures: Gibraltar. The island of thieving monkeys.Finca del Secretario

The Devil’s Servants cover reveal

The Devil's Servants C L Raven

Here it is – the cover for our next release, The Devil’s Servants. Unfortunately, a lot of events conspired against Team Rose Raven and River Rose sadly couldn’t do this cover. But we’re very fortunate to have another talented friend – David V.G. Davies, better known as From The Shadows indie film maker, horror prop maker, our fellow con buddy and all-round awesome guy. So check out his website and buy some cool models. Here are links where you can stalk him: Facebook  Twitter Instagram.

pre-order The Devil’s Servants UK US. Release date will be 1st July at Swansea Horror Con.

  1. The year Edinburgh burned.

Scotland was cursed by witches and in 1649, the witch panic was at its peak. No-one was safe from the executioner’s flames.

Below the imposing behemoth of Edinburgh castle, nineteen year old Nessie Macleod is forced to watch her mother, Isabelle, burn to death for witchcraft. Her mother’s crime stains her more than the ashes that scatter across the Esplanade. Shunned by Edinburgh’s townsfolk, she’s also hounded by the witch pricker, John Brodie. Brodie killed her mother and now he’s coming for her.

The daughter of a witch is always a witch.

When old Annie Dickson is accused of cursing the flescher’s pigs through witchcraft, she suffers for days at Brodie’s hands before betraying three women and starting a witch hunt that sees one woman killed and another executed before the baying town.

Nessie is lured to Greyfriars Kirkyard, where she’s haunted by the ghosts of the women burned for witchcraft. They want revenge on Brodie and his men. Nessie learns her grandmother was executed during the North Berwick witch trials in 1597 for conspiring to kill King James VI. She left behind everything Nessie needs to stop Brodie and lay the witches’ ghosts to rest. But using objects to harm people is witchcraft and there’s only one penalty the courts will impose:

Death.

“Never wish for the flames.”

Whitby Goth Weekend

Leaking tent, fabulously dressed people and befriending as many dogs as possible without resorting to kidnap. It was our first ever Whitby Goth Weekend. And we forgot our sodding makeup.

General Pinkinton was packed full of books and other con gear as well as all our camping paraphernalia. Turns out, this does all fit in a Smartcar. Trust us, when you’ve had to squeeze 20 hexagonal tubs of ice cream into a freezer, you can pack a Smartcar. We were halfway to Whitby when we realised we’d left our toiletry bag back at home: shower gel, hair wax, moisturiser, eye gel, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, body spray, facial wipes. And makeup. We were going to the most important event in the Goth calendar. And we had no makeup. A cloud of silent rage descended upon General Pinkinton. The toiletries we could replace in Sainsbury’s but very few places sell vegan makeup. The places that did would be closed when we arrived and would only be open during the hours we would be trading. Our eyelids would have to remain distinctly un-black.

We got to our campsite, Broadings Farm, to find chickens, a dog, sheep and lambs! We pitched our tent then wandered the farm to meet our furry neighbours. The sheep seemed suspicious of us. Like they knew we wanted to pat their babies. The chickens had no trust issues and came over for a chat. The campsite had a lovely heated toilet and shower block, a pot wash area and a laundry room! No more peeing in bushes for us! (We mastered that art last week when camping with our mates, Bryn and Jo.) We went to Sainsbury’s to grudgingly replace our toiletries and buy a tub of vegan ice cream then spent the evening watching The Addams Family TV series on our portable DVD player. Turns out, camping in Whitby is cold. So very, very cold. We had thermals on under warm pyjamas, blankets, coats and sleeping bags. And we still froze. We even wore gloves. The only way we could keep our faces warm was to sleep with the blankets covering our heads. Like what they do to dead people in hospitals.

We got up early and arrived at the pavilion at 8:30. Our pitch was in the Spa Theatre. Near the doors. The outside doors and inside ones were open to allow for easy access. We’re cold blooded, hadn’t warmed up from the night in the tent and can’t seem to regulate our own body temperature, so we froze. Though it was warmer than the campsite. We regretted our fishnets though. And our lack of layers. We only had 4. Whitby AbbeyWe kept our hoodies and big coats on. Our carefully selected Burleska dresses were covered by coats, which ruined the look. And we had no makeup. Least glamorous goths ever. Nobody else seemed to notice the cold, but most traders seemed relatively local. We travelled up from Cardiff. It’s a lot warmer down south! We managed to get all our books, jewellery and merchandise on our three foot table. Hell, if we can get all our gear in General Pinkinton, we can get all our merchandise on a three foot table.

Whitby Goth WeekendOur aim when doing these events is to make back what we paid for our table each day, but now we had a new goal – pat 10 dogs a day. And we succeeded. To be honest, we made more of an effort to speak to the dogs and get their attention than we did with potential customers, but that’s true in our non-working lives too. Striking up conversations with dogs doesn’t seem creepy. Neither does offering them the dog treats you forgot to take out of your pocket.

Whitby Goth Weekend

badges of honour

Although we did make friends with two of the traders – Andrew who owns Cave Crafts and Stuart who was raising money for Tees Valley Guinea Pig Rescue. As we have rescue piggies, it was fitting to be beside his stall. We made our table money back for the day so we were happy. It was a good start! We loved seeing everyone dressed in their gothic finery. Though only 50% of the customers were goths or steampunk. We expected a much higher number. Even kids were dressed up, which was awesome. We inspected the lovely clothing stall that was there but being only 5’1 works against goths. The skirts’ waistband came up to our armpits! That would not be a fetching look.

Robin Hood's BayIt rained on Friday night, which showed us that our 20 year old tent leaked. And that we should have bought the Anne Stokes umbrellas we’d been eyeing up on a nearby stall. Considering how much it rained, the leak was fairly minimal and it was in the porch area, so we didn’t mind. Again, we watched the Addams Family and made a trip to Sainsbury’s to buy a tub of ice cream for our tea. Much cheaper than eating out and it meant we avoided the hassle of parking in the town. We also did our flexibility stretches in the tent – becoming flexible won’t happen by magic.

Robin Hood's Bay

Not your usual beachwear

Saturday’s trade we did about the same as Friday’s, except what sold really well on Friday, barely sold on Saturday. Though more books sold so we were happy with that. It’s not always easy making your table back when your most expensive item (Soul Asylum) is £7! And we bought those umbrellas. We noticed all the traders had changed their clothes. Our dresses didn’t allow for more clothing space in our bags. Whitby AbbeyThough under our coats, no one would have noticed. We didn’t smell so it was all good. We chatted to a lot of people who bought books. Everyone was so nice and seemed genuinely pleased when we complimented their outfits. Saturday night we decided to explore Robin Hood’s Bay. It’s beautiful and there happened to be a ghost walk in an hour. Naturally, we joined it. Even when we’re working we can’t keep away from the paranormal. We were the only goths in Robin Hood’s Bay. So the only goths in the village.

Whitby AbbeySunday morning we packed up our tent, got temporarily adopted by the farm dog and still got to the pavilion an hour before everyone else. Sundays in cons are normally slow and we take a third of what we take on a Saturday. Not this time. Sunday was our best day. We sold two books in the first 15 minutes! It was definitely a day for book buying. Whitby AbbeyOne man, Ash, who bought a book on Saturday, bought another one on Sunday. Weirdly, our book customers were all non goths and mostly older. Though we hopefully now have some younger fans too. Providing they don’t have nightmares. We’re gutted we can’t make the winter Goth weekend as we’re booked in for Birmingham Horror Con’s Halloween Special but we definitely want to return in April. We love Whitby and we had so much fun trading.

Whitby AbbeyIt finished at 4, which gave us enough time to pack up and head for the Abbey. General Pinkinton looked tiny among the hire vans in the pavilion car park! A bit like our tiny stall among everyone else’s massive towering pitches. But it meant we could do a three point turn to get out while everyone else would either have to reverse, or wait for other traders to leave. We reached the Abbey an hour before closing. The guy at the ticket office was fascinated with us. Considering how many goths he must have met over the weekend, we were surprised. Especially since we weren’t that dressed up on the Sunday. And we still had our big coats on. The Abbey is stunning. It was originally built in 1250, replaced in 1500 and inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Going to the Goth Weekend and not visiting the Abbey would’ve been an insult to both the Abbey and to Stoker. When we were in Whitby in November for the comic con, it was closed by the time we packed up so we’d wandered the outside and got photos of it lit up. This time, we could actually be inside it. We didn’t want to leave. But we had a five and a half hours drive home and that bag of popcorn wasn’t going to eat itself.Whitby Abbey

Literary killed the horror genre

Can you smell that? That fetid odour of decay seeping into your nostrils, coating your tongue? That’s the death of horror. And our career. Seeing as they’re linked, it’s only fitting they die together.

We used to blog regularly – once a week at least – but lately months will pass without a blog post. There are no excuses, we just have nothing to say. We’re finding it hard to keep motivated when we’re failing at the only job we love. Writing advice often tells you to enter competitions because they’re a great way to teach you to work to deadlines, they help get you noticed by agents and publishers, and they can be a great boost to your career and bank balance. But that’s if you win. We’ve been shortlisted and longlisted in various competitions and has it boosted our career at all? Has it fuck. Things is, many competitions are expensive – novel ones are easily £20 per entry. Short story ones range from £5 upwards. Poetry ones usually start at £3. Over a year, it mounts up. For this tax year, we’ve spent £285 on competition entries. One win would make that worthwhile, but when that win never comes, all you’ve done is spent money with nothing to show for it.

So we decided to change tactics and spend the next couple of months submitting to magazines instead. You don’t pay to submit and some even pay to publish your work. We’re now avoiding the ones that don’t pay. Publication is brilliant but we can’t pay vet bills with a PDF copy of a magazine. Can you imagine calling in a plumber and telling them you’re not going to pay them, but the work will be great publicity for them? You’d be left with a blocked toilet. Yet people think it’s ok to do this in the creative industry. But that’s a rant we’ll save for another post. In order to try to reduce our vast amount of rejections, we’ve been buying the latest issues of the magazines we want to submit to, to see if our style of work is suitable. And it’s left us feeling despondent and questioning why we’re bothering to write anymore. Because we’re reading these horror/dark fantasy magazines and asking:

Where is the horror?

Horror is about producing emotions – fear, unease, anticipation, an unsettling feeling that something is going to happen. Yet we’re reading these stories and the only thing we’re feeling is bored. And pissed off that we’ve spent money on this tripe. There is no horror. One story had a smidgen of horror in the final few pages, after making us wait 7000 words to get to it. By which point, we didn’t care. We’ve also noticed that some stories are told in a really detached way, so if there is any horror, this way of narrating lessens the impact of it, and makes us not care about the characters. Oh no, something may have possible happened to X, but it’s not explained and the story goes on and…nobody cares. There seems to be this new breed of ‘literary horror’ that just isn’t horror at all. (Don’t get us started on literary work. There is no good reason to leave out speech marks just to make your work ‘experimental’. Why not go really experimental and leave out the words?) It’s like arty films. All pretty cinematography and bugger all happening. This is what literary horror is. All purple prose, characters as two dimensional as a Justin Bieber cut out and about as scary as a blade of a grass in a leafy meadow.

Horror doesn’t have to be about blood and gore. That’s one sub genre of it, mostly in the slasher/spatter sub genres. There are other sub genres, such as: body horror, zombie, psychological, crypto/nature, paranormal, supernatural, gothic, etc. There are sub genres within sub genres and genre cross overs, such as sci-fi horror, (the best example being Aliens) action horror, horror comedy (Tucker and Dale vs Evil. Friggin’ genius). But their main aim is to scare or unsettle you. If they don’t, they have failed.

And yet we’re reading these magazines and wondering when did it become ok to leave horror out of horror fiction? We are rapidly running out of markets that we think would be a good fit for our work. Sadly, we’re spending money to find this out but at least our rejections will be reduced and the magazines are tax deductible. In one magazine’s guidelines it says ‘sci fi, fantasy and horror with a literary slant but if you write what is considered classic in these genres, it’s not for us.’ So do they want sci fi that has no science? Fantasy that is realistic? Horror that isn’t scary? It seems we don’t write what these magazines publish. Maybe we need to rename what we write as ‘the genre formally known as horror.’ We’re from the old school of horror – Stephen King, Clive Barker, Dean Koontz before he found God. The classic films – Nightmare on Elm Street, Fiday the 13th, Snowbeast, Candyman. But magazines don’t want this. They call themselves horror magazines but don’t actually publish any horror. It would be like us setting ourselves up as window cleaners and refusing to actually clean any windows. Remember that song by Buggles? Video killed the Radio Star? Well Literary killed the Horror Genre. Sing it. The words fit.

So if competitions pick literary stories as winners and genre magazines chose literary over genre, where does that leave genre writers? How are we supposed to get published? The main piece of writing advice given is ‘write what you love’ but if nothing is publishing what you love, what are you supposed to do? Self-publishing doesn’t guarantee you’ll find readers or success, but that may be the only option left. One way of getting readers would also be to graffiti your work on random walls and buildings, but the council frown upon this form of creative expression. So if you see any form of spray painting horror writing on the streets of Cardiff, it wasn’t us.

Horror does have to evolve to stay alive, (not with sparkly vampires please, you’ve ruined it enough) but not to the point where you take the main ingredient – the emotions of fear or unease – out of it. It would be like romance stories where no-one falls in love, crime where no crime is committed, or comedies where no-one dies. No, wait, that’s horror comedy. Horror films are sticking to the right ingredient, even if it is all just remakes for profit, but at least it’s still horror. (Are you listening, Hollywood? Fucking stop it. Start paying attention to Indie films – they have imagination). Horror is finding a resurgence in TV series based on classic horror films: The Exorcist, Wolf Creek, Ash Vs The Evil Dead, Scream. And other series – American Horror Story being the most well known. However in the writing world, it’s getting harder to find horror fiction that actually contains an element of horror.

Horror isn’t dead – especially in the indie film scene – it’s like Michael Myres or Jason Voorhees. It can’t be killed. But maybe it’s waiting at the bottom of the lake, biding its time for unsuspecting campers to revive it from its watery grave. *Does stretches* Fancy a swim?