Smelting Pot

Moira Furnace

front of the engine house

Shenanigans, inappropriateness and people getting injured. It could only be Calamityville Horror. We were invited to spend the entire night at Moira Furnace by our FB friend, Helena and her team, Boleyn Paranormal. Neen was meant to still be working on Galavant, so we decided to go alone. Turned out Galavant finished early. Balls. Anyhoo, we set off Saturday afternoon, later than we intended leaving, which is becoming our trademark. And yet we arrived on time. Yes. On. Time. At half past four exactly. The time we said we’d be there. Then we spent half an hour trying to find a way in. There were only a few places where we could get phone signal – parts of the woods, the loading bay and by the toilet in the engine house. We failed to break in then eventually managed to find phone signal and rang Helena.

Moira Furnace

lime kilns

Moira Furnace was built in 1789 by Francis Rawdon Hastings, who later became the 2nd Earl of Moira, after he inherited land in Ashby Woulds. He recognised the potential of the area’s coal and iron ore deposits and began developing it. In 1792, a company was formed to build a 30 mile canal to link the Woulds with the main canal network. The first coal mine was sunk in 1804, a lime kiln was built and construction started on the iron-making blast furnace. It was brought to blast in 1806 and closed in 1811, due to some features not being successful as it was a period of blast furnace development.

Moira Furnace

engine house

A foundry making iron castings continued functioning for another 30 years. Moira Furnace was converted into housing for the mining community. In the 1850s there were three families living there. Also in the 1850s, the foundry and lime kilns closed, ending industrial activity, except for coal and clay extraction. The canal was abandoned in the 1940s due to railway competition and mining subsidence and filled in. The last residents moved out of the Furnace buildings in the 1970s and coal mining finally stopped in the 1980s.

Moira Furnace

lime kilns

The foundry was demolished in the 19th century, but the bridgehouse and engine house were converted to dwellings. By the time the families moved out in the ‘70s, the dwellings had become derelict and the engine house was demolished. The bridgehouse and furnace were scheduled as ancient moments after pressure from Philip Riden and the Leicestershire Industrial Historical Society.

Moira FurnaceMoira Furnace is one of the few remaining blast furnaces from this period because it was a commercial failure. If it had been successful, it more than likely would have led to the site being developed and the furnace replaced. Documents mention bad management, construction, raw materials and design, but many of the documents were written by people who were trying to deflect blame from themselves. When the furnace was abandoned, its final charge was still inside, partially smelted. A high sulphur count was detected in the raw materials, which may have contributed to the failing, as well as a design fault or operating problem in the chimney, which led it to overheat.

Moira Furnace

engine house

Staff, visitors and paranormal investigators report feeling unwell in certain parts of the building, shadows are seen, people are touched and screams are heard from the bridgeloft. In a book, Shadows on the Water: The Haunted Canals and waterways of Britain by Allan Scott-Davies, he said during the building of Moira Furnace, a number of ghosts were seen. One was a small boy seen crouching in the corner on the upper floor by the mouth of the furnace.

Moira Furnace

furnace where workers fell to their deaths

There were a number of accidents during the short run of producing iron. The dangerous job of feeding the furnace fell to women and children. As they tipped the wheelbarrows of iron, ore, coke or limestone into the furnace, it wasn’t uncommon for the weight to pull them to their deaths. They would die from asphyxiation before becoming part of the next batch of cast iron.

Moira Furnace


There was a fatal explosion in Moira coalmines in the Bath Pit on 9th August 1845. Seven men and boys died of burns from the explosion. Francis Hastings has apparently been spotted in the woodlands surrounding the furnace and apparently someone died from falling off the top of the furnace. Children also are rumoured to move stuff around on the top floor.

Moira Furnace

Mary’s Parlour

We did a quick walk round, dumped our stuff in the kitchen and promptly loaded the fridge with Red Bull and soya milk. In the loading bay, we found children’s dressing up clothes. Cat walked into a cart. When the lights were on. We returned to the engine house and split into two groups of three. Helena, her mum, Liz and stepdad, Nick stayed in the engine house while us and Helena’s husband Alex ventured into the woods. And so began the calamities. There is a reason that word is in our show name! We found a small clearing. Hanging from a tree was a piece of bark with a hole in it for the string. There was also a stick tied in front of it. We have no idea what this means. If anyone can identify it from the photo, please let us know. We’re intrigued. We decided this would be the perfect place for a vigil.

Moira Furnace

unknown object in the woods.

Alex felt a warm spot near him.  Cat moved closer and could also feel it. It was about three feet off the ground. Lynx also felt it. We tried pointing the temperature gun at it but the readings went weird. Then we realised by trying to find the warm spot, we may inadvertently be groping a ghost. We hope you enjoyed it, possible spirit person. We moved on. Alex got stuck climbing over a log in his two pairs of trousers then Lynx walked straight into a bog. She thought it was the path, until she started sinking. She made a hasty retreat. Cat then got caught by a tree. It had her hair and camera bracket and refused to release her. We ended up walking in a big circle and returned to the clearing.

Moira Furnace

us and Alex in the woods

After a creepy sounding owl kept contributing to our calling out by imitating someone screaming horrifically, we started hearing voices. Alex called out to them, wondering if they were fleshy people and not spirit people. We hoped they weren’t. We’re here to hunt for ghosts, not perverts. We decided to find where the voices were coming from. Except Alex slipped in the mud, fell to his knees and smacked his face on his camera, cutting his lip. Cat, who was answering a text at the time, quickly checked her camera. Yes, it was pointing at him. We will now be able to watch it in slow motion replay. We look after people on ghost hunts. This is also probably why locations keep asking if we have insurance and a first aider. Nope and like bollocks.

Moira Furnace

in the loading bay

Meanwhile in the furnace, Liz had asked the spirits to imitate her whistle. The three of them heard a whistle in return and it was captured on EVP. It’s really clear. They played it to us over our walkie talkies while we were in the woods. We regrouped for a warmth then we headed out to the loading bay with Helena for a ouija board session. Although the three of us spent most of our time falling over the steps. It’s a wonder none of us fell into the furnace. We got nothing on the ouija board but on the sp7 spirit box, there was this weird noise. Cat thought it was a sheep, Helena thought it was a horse, Lynx thought it sounded like the Gremlins laughing.

Moira Furnace

lime kilns

We started asking if there was the ghost of a horse present, but it wouldn’t stamp it’s hooves or neigh in response to our questions. Yes, we tried to do an EVP session with a horse. There were some strange bangs, but we couldn’t identify where they were coming from. Moments after we asked the ghosts to push us or push something of ours, Alex radioed to say one of their cameras had fallen off the box it was on. He tried debunking it by shoving the box, but it didn’t tip the camera.

Moira Furnace

romantic candlelit ouija board

We moved the ouija board to the other end of the room and had swapped the planchette for a candle, which was easier to move. Cat moved outside to the furance chimney for a lone vigil while Lynx and Helena amused themselves by discovering that the thumb of a gardening glove looks a lot like a penis in night vision. They shared their finding with Cat and the vigil was soon abandoned for channeling our inner teenage boys. Lynx poked the tip, which looked decidedly dodgy in night vision then Cat made it dance. Only on Calamityville could an innocent gardening glove lead to inappropriate shenanigans. Alex, Liz and Nick joined us for a group photo at the chimney before we all headed back inside to thaw.

Moira Furnace

us doing the ouija board session with Helena

Our next vigil was up in the attic with the sp7. There were some voices coming through, one male voice seemed to be the same person, but we can never understand electronic devices. The SB7 was sweeping in reverse, which hopefully means it wasn’t picking up radio stations. Helena sensed someone on the stairs so went to investigate and felt dizzy. Cat joined her then Alex moved further down the stairs. He felt himself being pulled. Then he tripped climbing the stairs, which was nothing paranormal :D When we returned to the room, Alex found witches hats, so we conducted part of the vigil whilst wearing them and no doubt looking absolutely stylish. The K2 spiked a couple of times but the voices on the SB7 died down. After about an hour, we returned to base camp.

Moira Furnace

Roxy being a trigger object in the attic

We split up again, with Helena, Liz and Nick staying in the engine house while us and Alex investigated the lime kilns and canal. We could hear distant voices that sounded like they were in the woods. Maybe the perverts had returned, believing they were safe from our cameras. No-one is ever safe. We invited any ghosts in the canal to bob to the surface like creepy corpses but none would oblige. On the furnace are hand prints from people from where the furnace overheated. We called Helena and Liz out for a group photo on the stage bit by the tower.

Moira FurnaceWe retired to bed around 4:40a.m. We slept on the attic floor under the watchful gaze of the Sony (until battery/tape ran out). Got up around 8 and packed up. We lingered to do daytime shots then left at 9:30. And we still didn’t get lost, despite not printing out reverse directions! Our map reading skills are improving. And then we started to run out of petrol. There are no petrol stations along the M50. There’s one before the A40 but we thought we’d be ok. We were wrong. As Pinky dropped to 5 litres then 4 litres then 3 litres, we began to panic. Especially as there’s no petrol stations along the A40/A449. We dropped our speed and drove behind a caravan to reduce the drag. Had one satisfying moment when we overtook a police car though. Made it back to Cardiff with 2.5 litres of petrol. Even when we don’t get lost we can’t drive without some sort of adventure! But we had a fantastic time with Boleyn Paranormal and we’ll be teaming up again on other adventures. In fact, we have our sights set on Italy…Moira Furnace

Autumn of Terror

Those of you who follow us on social media or know us in real life, know what our Mastermind subject would be: serial killers. And our favourite of all? (Favourite sounds wrong, like we’re fans or something.) Jack the Ripper. So when we saw an anthology call for fictional Jack the Ripper stories, we desperately wanted to be in it. By ‘desperate’, we mean we would’ve performed a ritual sacrifice on reality TV stars if the anthology had demanded it. Why did the anthology not demand it? We wrote a story, Autumn of Terror, with a short deadline (we think about three weeks) and submitted it. We didn’t expect to get anywhere because the publisher was Little, Brown who publishes J K Rowling, and our acceptance rate has a poorer showing than a ghost’s birthday party. Stephen King used to stab his rejections on a spike. We could impale ours on pikes outside our house, like a paper version of Vlad the Impaler’s scare tactics.

But Autumn of Terror got accepted. The universe was so shocked, an angel choked to death on a chocolate eclair. You’d think that being accepted would mean being on a high for weeks on end. We finally got a story accepted by a major publisher who would actually pay us. Proper money, not  the usual $10 for hours of work. But no. Our demons don’t allow us to enjoy success. They were immediately saying “he sent the email to you by mistake.” Quickly followed by “he was one story short and picked yours at random.” See, demons? This is why we can’t have nice things.

And yet, the second email, apologising for accidentally accepting our story didn’t come. It’s still the only story we’ve had accepted this year, so our demons are happy being smug in our failures, but at least our fascination with Jack the Ripper has finally paid off and we can claim that everything we’ve read or seen about him was purely research ;) We now need to visit Whitechapel and go ghost hunting there, see if we can meet him and his victims in spirit person.

Autumn of Terror follows a Jack the Ripper tour guide as he takes his group to all the murder sites and brutally reenacts the crimes. And as the tour guide puts it to his audience “real murder doesn’t come with refunds.” The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper is out now in the UK and will be out in January in the US. You can get it here Amazon UK   WHSmith   WaterstonesThe Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper

Skeleton Crew

Anatomy Museum EdinburghToday was finally the day. The day we’d been looking forwards to for months. We were going to meet one of the most famous men in Scottish history: William Burke, of Burke and Hare fame, thanks to Iain Campbell at the Anatomy Museum. Most people get excited at seeing celebrities. We get excited at seeing the skeleton of a man executed in 1829 for murder. This may explain why we’re horror writers…

Even though Burke and Hare are known as the most notorious of the Resurrectionists, that’s technically a lie. They didn’t dig anybody up – they murdered 16 people between 1827-1828 and sold their bodies to Doctor Robert Knox to be dissected. Hare then turned King’s evidence on Burke and escaped without punishment, while Burke was hanged before a crowd of 20,000, publicly dissected and his skeleton was put on display in the Anatomy Museum in 1870, where he’s been ever since. Although having now read about the history surrounding the case, we have to say, Hare was the vilest of the two men – Burke at least felt remorse – and yet Hare was the one who got away with it.

us making friends outside the armoury.

us making friends outside the armoury.

One of the reasons we wanted to see Burke’s skeleton (apart from the fact our NaNoWriMo novel is about the Resurrectionists) was because Burke and Hare were the reasons we wanted to visit Edinburgh years ago. We’d had no desire to visit it until we read about them. Suddenly, Edinburgh sounded like a cool place, with its division of Old and New Town. It was years until we’d battled enough of our social anxiety to go, but had we not heard about Burke and Hare, we might never have fallen in love with Edinburgh.

The Anatomy Museum is open to the public on the last Saturday of every month. But we were in Falkirk doing the book signing. When we realised the dates clashed, we emailed the museum, asking if there was any chance we could see him on another day. Our last visit to Edinburgh consisted of us asking at every museum we visited “do you know where Burke’s skeleton is?” We explained that our next book was on the Resurrection Men and that we’d be in Edinburgh doing research for it. We didn’t even expect a reply, so were shocked when Iain emailed back, inviting us for a private viewing on the Monday. We have to say a massive thanks to him for taking the time to let us see Burke. The museum is well worth a visit.

St Cuthbert's

St Cuthbert’s

We headed to the Anatomy museum, cases in tow, hoping Iain wouldn’t think we were planning on moving in. Or secretly hoping he’d let us. We ended up taking a roundabout route, but we got there. Probably should’ve studied the route better. But that’s not what we do. We entered the uni after Cat failed to open the door and a student came to her rescue. He must’ve clocked the look of confusion and slight panic on our faces, as he asked what we were looking for. We explained we were looking for the anatomy museum, so he told us where it was – up several flights of stairs. Why can’t our luggage walk like Luggage in Discworld? And eat people. We heaved our luggage up then found the museum. Cat asked in the reception about Iain, so the woman phoned him. It was kinda obvious we didn’t belong in the uni. Not sure it was the suitcases and hiking rucksack or our lack of intelligence shining through like gout.

St Cuthbert's, Edinburgh

St Cuthbert’s

Iain was lovely and took us up the rest of the way in the staff lift, to save us lugging our suitcases up. We stashed them in the corner of the museum so they wouldn’t become a trip hazard. We talked to him for ages about the Resurrectionsts, our plans for the book and our interest in anatomy. He revealed they’re doing public dissection lectures. Guess what we’ll be doing in Edinburgh next year? :D Every year, Edinburgh finds a new excuse for tempting us back. Edinburgh, stop playing games and just admit you love us as much as we love you. Iain let us have as long as we wanted in the museum. There were some students there studying. We were trying to be quiet so we didn’t disturb them, but Lynx’s knee decided to click loudly every time she passed a student. It does the same during EVP sessions when we’re ghost hunting.

St Cuthbert's watchtower

the watchtower

We weren’t allowed to take photos, unfortunately. Burke is shorter than we thought he’d be. But it was great to finally meet him. He has 2 wonky toes on his right foot and his middle toe is missing as well as some teeth. Iain told us he once took Burke to France in the back of his car. That would’ve been the best road trip ever! Though we wouldn’t have been able to resist posing with him at all the tourist spots. There was also the skeleton of another murderer, standing back to back with Burke. He was the last person to be dissected. St Cuthbert's watchtowerWe spent ages looking at all the specimens. The museum sadly isn’t as grand as it once was. There used to be five floors of exhibits, but it all got scaled down and most of their artefacts are in storage, which is a shame. The public need to see it! We were there for over an hour and were sad to leave Burke. It was surreal to finally meet him after spending our last visit to Edinburgh hunting him down like Prince Charming seeking Cinderella. And there he was, one of the most famous murderers in Scottish history, standing before us in a glass case.

P1140103We waved goodbye to Burke and headed down Candlemaker Row to the Grassmarket and stopped in a cafe for Tom and Amy to have breakfast then went to the armoury and witchery shop to replace a keyring we lost. The witchery shop has the card case made out of Burke’s skin. In the armoury, they had a Davies (our real surname) coat of arms on a pinbadge! So we bought it. The Davies motto is rubbish: ‘without God, without everything, there is only God.’ We’re adopting ‘we had badass dragons.’ Also bought sword pens and a sword letter opener.

Jekyll and Hyde, Edinburgh

inside the Jekyll and Hyde

As we weren’t far from St Cuthbert’s, which has a watchtower, we went there. We didn’t think we’d have time to visit the watchtowers – there’s another one in Carlton Hill cemetery – so it was an unexpected bonus. As we’ve never been in Princes Street Gardens, we walked through there to get to St Cuthbert’s. Tom stayed on a bench outside, as his legs were hurting, so us and Amy went exploring. We thought we’d found the watchtower and went right up to the front door, photographing it, but it turned out to be the caretaker’s house. Whoops :D There were people camping in the kirkyard! There was a shifty looking guy with a camera, who kept staring at us like we were the shifty looking ones. Avert thy eyes, judgemental sir! There was another part to the graveyard and the watchtower was there. It was built in 1827 to deter the Resurrectionists.

ShakeawayAs we headed out to go to Shakeaway, we stopped to have a play in the children’s play park. We all had a go on a hammock and spinning thing then we went on the swinging beam. Amy managed to pick up a playground related head injury on the monkey bars :D She swung underneath them and clocked her head on another one. It’s rude to pass playgrounds without going in them. We don’t need kids to access them! There were a couple of parents in there with their kids. We like to think we taught them that just because we’re adults, doesn’t mean we have to be boring.

Jekyll and Hyde, Edinburgh

preparing to sample cocktails

We had our traditional vegan Redbull milkshakes in Shakeaway then went to Jekyll and Hyde, our joint favourite Edinburgh pub. Amy was asked for ID the minute she walked in :D We had the Gluttony and Humility cocktails, Amy had Kindness and Tom had Death. We also had chips. We weren’t hungry, but it was gone 2 o’clock so we thought we ought to eat. The barman had really pretty eyes. We’re suckers for pretty eyes. We amused ourselves in the pub by making up dialogue for the film, Invaders that was playing on mute. That was followed by an old episode of Doctor Who, which we also gave new dialogue, which included a love story involving The Doctor and the baddie’s beard. Some people will shoehorn a love story in anywhere.

Jekyll and Hyde

haven’t even had our cocktails yet

We returned to Princes Street Gardens to try to find the genius statue for architecture. After exploring the entire gardens, we couldn’t find it, so we found a stone and posed for our own genius statue. Turned out, we’d walked past the statue twice. (Amy Google Imaged it in the airport) Amy even commented on the statue as we passed it. Epic. Fail. We joked that maybe only true geniuses could find it. That sadly turned out not to be a joke. Why did we not Google Image it while we were there? We’re not geniuses, that’s why.

Jekyll and Hyde, Edinburgh

Mackenzie sampling the cocktails

Made our way to the bus station and got to the airport in plenty of time. Our case was 21.6kg! How was it heavier? We’d sold most of our books! Lynx set off the bleepers, had to go through the body scanner then got a very thorough pat down. The woman should’ve bought her dinner first. She spent a long time pressing Lynx’s ribs, even though the scanner didn’t show any metal there. No, there was nothing hidden there – her ribs stick out, that’s all. As Cat and Amy were grabbing their stuff from the trays, Cat heard a security woman say to two elderly women “I can get you both off at the same time.” Didn’t realise that service was provided in airports. Travelling really opens your eyes! Cat was then assaulted by a woman’s handbag and a guy tripped her with his case, both assaults happening within seconds of each other. If that was Fate’s attempt to take her out, it was a poor effort.

Cardiff airport

Cardiff airport has an ostrich!

When we got to the gate, we had a go on these shiatsu massage chairs after Tom convinced us they were worth the £1 for 5 minutes. They’re supposed to be relaxing! They friggin’ hurt! It was like being poked really hard! We got pummelled in the ribs and arses. And they crushed our legs, trapping us in the chair. We’re clearly too bony for them. We paid for that torture and spent most of the 5 minutes squealing. Yes, it was filmed. Whereas Tom had a lovely neck rub, as we’re short, the bit that squeezes your neck, tried to crush our skulls. After we got off them, two little kids had a go. They were laughing and claiming the chairs tickled them. Clearly sadists.

zombies imminent

zombies imminent

Our mum had arranged to meet us outside the airport. We’ve never flown from Cardiff, so weren’t entirely sure how to get out. We headed across the car park and kept going. The roads were deserted. It was like the start to a horror film. We began our holiday by wandering the outside of the airport and it ended the same way. At least we’re consistent.

Princes Street Gardens

Genius does suffer without statues

Digging up the Dead

Falkirk Wheel

Falkirk Wheel

After only 4 hours sleep, we were up, ready to start our Falkirk adventure. So the day was sponsored by Red Bull – keeping us awake for shenanigans since 1998. Yes, our love affair with Red Bull is longer than a lot of relationships. Our first stop of the day was the Falkirk Wheel, which joins the union canal to the lower Falkirk canal. Apparently they do Halloween boat tours. The Narrow Boat of Terror has a starting point! And it now has a name – TerrorNova. For those who have never heard of the Narrow Boat of Terror, gather round and take a seat. Come closer, we won’t bite ;) Falkirk WheelOur mate Andrew and us often have post-cinema chats in the car park ’til one a.m., where some of our best conversations take place. You know how most people, when they have crazy ideas, have other people drag them back to reality with annoying things like logic? Andrew doesn’t hobble our creativity in that way. He joins in. And by joining in, some of our greatest ideas are born. None greater than the Narrow Boat of Terror. We plan to buy a canal barge, paint it black, decorate it with skulls, hang a large Jolly Roger off the back and cruise the canals of Britain, terrifying everyone. We even discussed the possibilities of taking it out to Poveglia Island. (Don’t tell us this won’t work, we know that. Just enjoy the journey.) Anyone who knows horror films, know the monster/murderer walks while his prey runs. Because walking is more sinister. So floating slowly down a canal will be more sinister. It will be a place where Halloween never dies. And now we’ve found a place to launch it. Though this will probably go about as well as that time we nearly bought a watchtower in Barry…Still narked about that.

Antonine Wall, Rough Castle

us at the Antonine Wall

We then walked to the Rough Castle Roman fort and the Antonine Wall, which is the edge of the Roman empire. It’s a grassy hill with a ditch either side and the Roman fort can’t be seen, apart from the undulating ground where the walls once stood. It’s like nature is trying to erase the Romans from memory. There are plaques telling you where particular buildings stood, what they were used for etc. They had underfloor heating, double glazed windows, regular baths. Yet after they disappeared, it took until the 20th century to ‘invent’ these things.

Antonine Wall, Rough Castle

the anti-picts ditch

The official legend is that the Romans built the wall there because they believed they were at the edge of Britain. Scottish lore says they were terrified of the Picts and built the wall to keep them out. Like the wildings in Game of Thrones. There are still the defensive ditches, which were holes they dug and lined with pikes to stop the Picts. We leapt over the holes like invading Picts, and thankfully, were not speared by phantom Roman spikes. That would’ve been a sour end to the trip.

John de Graeme

John de Graeme’s tomb

We then went to the Trinity churchyard, which has the tomb of Sir John de Graeme, who was William Wallace’s right hand man. We found an ominous object – a foam machete spattered in fake blood and paint. There was only one conclusion – a clown met a terrible fate in the graveyard during Halloween. Nobody mourned its passing. We photographed it as evidence then moved on. We saw the Mercat cross in Callendar Square and a pub where Robert Burns stayed. One day, Travelodges will have a plaque saying ‘C L Raven stayed here’. Or perhaps ‘C L Raven stayed here. Sorry about that. Full refunds are provided with your breakfast bag’.

Callendar House

Callendar House

We made a quick stop at Callendar House. Unfortunately, it had just closed for the winter season, but we were able to walk around the grounds. Every time we tried to take a photo in front of the house, the sun would pop its golden face up and turn us into silhouettes. We know we only had four hours’ sleep and were probably looking haggard, but this was harsh. At least we’ve found the first of the Scottish Casa Ravens. Hey, if the queen can have palaces in Scotland, so can we.

Callendar House

the Scottish Casa Raven

After that we went to see the Kelpies, which are 100 foot high horse heads, built on what used to be wasteland. They were beautiful. They’re modelled on real Clydesdale horses. Julie’s never been there so she was glad to go. Our next stop was back to Culross to see the village in the day. It’s such a cool place. the KelpiesBeautiful in daylight, atmospheric at night. We walked up to the Abbey again to explore. There was a steep ladder to an upper area, which reminded us of the dungeons in the Eyrie in Game of Thrones. That was scary going down. We posed on stone pillars – that was tricky setting up a self-timed photo, as Cat had to run, jump on her pillar and pose. In ten seconds. But we have mastered self-timer acrobatics. Then we climbed up a wall to find a “do not climb on the monument” sign. That might have been helpful at the bottom! Don’t judge us now, sign.

Culross Palace

Culross Palace

Culross Abbey

at the top of Culross Abbey

We explored the churchyard. The carvings on some of the graves were fantastic. We were beginning to lose the light so made our way to St Bridget’s kirk in Dalgety Bay. Resurrectionsts used to steal bodies from here and row across the Firth of Forth back to Edinburgh, so we wanted to see it for ourselves. We saw it on our Twitter friend, Suzy’s excellent blog Britain’s Forgotten Bodysnatchers and had to visit it. It was a longer walk than we thought it’d be, but it was well worth it. We didn’t expect the church to be ruins you could explore. After exploring the kirk, we went down into the graveyard. Couldn’t help wondering how many graves actually had bodies in them.

St Bridget's Kirk

St Bridget’s Kirk

The graveyard overhangs the bay, so we found a way down so we could see how easy it would be to get a body down. It wasn’t high so it wouldn’t have been a problem. Though Edinburgh looks a hell of a way across the Forth. It would’ve taken ages to row across. There was a group of teenagers in the graveyard, so god knows what they thought as we discussed the logistics of corpse retrieval. It’s ok, teenagers, we’re writers! The watch house was on the outer wall, facing the woods, so we had to go out of the graveyard to photograph it. The window faces the woods – not the bay or graveyard. That’s useful then. No wonder the Resurrectionists were so successful!

Dalgety Bay watchtower

Capturing a body snatcher

By the time we got back, the next train was in an hour, so we cwtched Penny and Roxy until we had to leave. Julie drove us to the train station and waited with us on the platform to make sure we got on the right train. The train to Glasgow left from the same platform. We ended up sitting several rows apart as the suitcase takes up one floor space by itself. We got back to the apartment at 7 p.m. Dalgety BayWe debated about whether to get chips from Rapido. It was in New Town and Cat’s knee had been bad all trip, resulting in daily use of ice patches, so we didn’t fancy walking. Luckily, Tom fixed the wifi so we were able to get online and check it out. They did home delivery! Minimum spend was £5, which was 2 large chips. Perfect! So we went on our first solo train ride and ordered our first takeaway. Check us out adulting like pros! Yes, we realise people probably do this at like 16, but at 16, we were were suffering badly from depression and social anxiety, which resulted in a break down, leaving us unable to leave the house. So for us, this was a big achievement.


Culross honoured us. Well, Cat.

And to continue the theme of bodysnatchers, the next day was going to start with meeting one of history’s most infamous bodysnatchers: William Burke. We couldn’t wait.

Dalgety Bay

stylish bodysnatchers

This was Halloween

plague doctorsWe’d set our alarms for 6:15 but they betrayed us in the worst possible way. Lynx woke at 7 after a stress dream about missing our train. Way to taunt her, brain, rather than doing something useful and actually waking her. Can’t get the staff these days. We had an hour to get ready and get to Waverley Bridge. We got there with a few minutes to spare but the person in front of us at the ticket machine took ages and the machine to a while to figure out so we missed the 8 a.m. train we wanted. There was another one at 8:15. We got to the platform at 8:05 after Lynx’s suitcase got jammed in the barrier and had to be rescued. plague doctor costumesWe’ve never attempted to master public transport by ourselves (social anxiety makes things like that impossible) but we didn’t have a choice. We had to get to Falkirk. Once again, we rued leaving our glasses behind as we couldn’t read any signs. Luckily, we’d researched it online before we came to Edinburgh, so we knew which Falkirk station we wanted and headed for that platform. A train pulled up not longer after we arrived, ruining our opportunity to take a photo as plague doctors by the tracks. We didn’t get on it because ours wasn’t due for 10 minutes and we didn’t want to get on the wrong train. Everyone else got on it, like they knew it was their train. How do people know these things? We swear that everyone else has been given a manual on how do things – like using public transport, social interaction and how to behave like normal human beings – yet someone forgot to give us the manual so we have to work it out by ourselves. Lynx asked the conductor – it was the right train. The suitcase had to have a seat space to itself, so Lynx sat with it while Cat had a table and four seats for her, the briefcase trolley and rucksack. We donned our masks and hats and took photos of us as plague doctors on the train. The conductor walked past and said “I forgot it was Halloween.” Strangely, we had half the carriage to ourselves. Can’t think why.

C L Raven Callendar Square Halloween fair

our stall

When we arrived at the station, we spotted Julie across the platform. Actually, she spotted us and waved, so we knew it was her (refer to yesterday’s post about people being faceless blurs). We just had to get across the tracks. We eyed the steps leading to the bridge then eyed the suitcase full of books which weighs half our body weight and is half our height. Why must we be the size of pixies? Where are our hunky man slaves? Oh right. Helping the beautiful, Barbie members of the female populace. Sighing defeatedly, we teamed up and lugged it up the many, many steps. It bounced happily down the other side. Sarah, if it’s more battered that when you lent it to us, we’re sorry. But…steps. And books. And no hunky man slaves.

Callendar Square Halloween fair

l-r Lynx, Megan, Imogen, Cat

Julie drove us to Callandar Square shopping centre. We set up our stall then waited for people to arrive. We met Dee who owns Trinity Moon and her daughter, Ellie and a couple of the other stall holders. A woman looked at our stall and said her daughter had one of our books and wanted us to sign it. We then met her daughter, Imogen and her friend Megan. They were lovely and ended up hanging out with us until 2 p.m, which made the day even more fun.

Callendar Square Halloween fair

us with Facebook friend, Amanda

One of the stallholders, Tracey, gave us two glasses with dripping blood as a gift. We bought handmade photo frame and dragon’s eye notebook from a stall holder called Heather. She bought a book. We sold 36 books! 16 The Malignant Dead, 6 Soul Asylum & Disenchanted 5 Romance Is Dead, 4 Deadly Reflections! Can’t believe it! Don’t think we’ve ever sold that many books in a month. At the moment, a good month is selling two ebooks. Yeah, our sales suck.  We suck. Judging by our usual monthly sales, we must be the worst writers in the history of writers. Maybe we should write something involving terrible dialogue, bondage and spanking and earn millions. Think that’s already been done though.

Callendar Square Halloween fair

us with Julie

We also met our Facebook friend, Lauren. Apparently, we’re her favourite authors after Margaret Atwood, which is one hell of a compliment we’re not worthy of. It surprises us that people actually bother to read our books, let alone enjoy them, rather than just buying them out of obligation because we’re friends/family/they feel sorry for us. Lauren was joining us on the overnight ghost hunt, so after the fair, we went back to Julie’s to dump our stuff and meet her dogs, Penny and Roxy. If we’re honest, we were just as excited to meet the dogs as we were for going ghost hunting. After a quick stop for food and dog cwtching, we all headed to Culross Palace.Culross

The village of Culross is a fantastic place! It’s a historic village with cobbled streets. We wandered up to the abbey before everyone else got there. There were 13 people in total. We did a group walk around with Lee, the medium, doing his spiel. Then we had a break then split into 2 groups. Us, Julie, Lauren and 3 other women were with Lee in the north block. We went into a room by ourselves. but didn’t get anything. We then went downstairs by ourselves. And heard dragging on the ceiling. We shouted up to see if anyone was moving.


vigil in the north block

Nobody was. We heard it again a few more times, along with fast tapping. We shouted up – nobody was moving. No idea what caused it. There are bats there so maybe they had something to do with it – tapping morse code and dragging the corpse of a tourist who refused to pay. Hopefully the cameras picked it up. Cat also got really itchy in that room on her side, back and round her right boob. Lee said one of the ghosts had a skin condition, like eczema. The itching stopped once she left the room.

Culross Palace

in the laird’s room by the curtain that moved

We had another break then went up to the family room to do glasswork. We never participate in glass work or ouija boards with people we don’t know or trust implicitly. It’s too easy to fake it, whether consciously or unconsciously. So when we do public ghost hunts, we never volunteer to take part. The glass was extremely active. We would’ve like time to use it by ourselves. We then all separated. We went into the laird’s room and sat by the bed. Schofield and Linus (Lynx’s back and Cat’s bad knee) weren’t happy so we had to keep sitting down.

Culross Palace

upstairs in the north block

Lynx was attaching her bracket to her camera, as it had come undone when Cat asked for the curtain to be moved. It moved. Cat “that was Lynx moving the curtain.” Lynx “no it wasn’t.” She hadn’t touched it, or at least wasn’t aware she’d touched it. Her arm couldn’t reach so it may have been the bracket or it could’ve been shadow play creating the illusion of movement, as Cat’s torch was pointing at Lynx at the time. Hopefully the camera can tell us what happened, as it was on a chair, filming us and the curtain. We then went into the adjoining strongroom, but didn’t get anything.

Culross Palace

downstairs where we heard dragging & tapping

We regrouped, had another break then everyone went to the family room to use the glass with a ouija board. Again, we didn’t join in. So we napped through it instead. Bear in mind, we’d only had about 6 hours sleep the night before, from being down the vaults. We’re great at napping sitting upright. We went back to the north block and did an EVP session in the upstairs room. A woman, Morag, did the calling out. They played it back and Morag and Lee claimed to hear responses, but we couldn’t hear anything other than the static. Her voice was quite muffled on it. Another of the team, Helen, played it back on her DVR.


Culross village

Her recorder was much clearer, the voices were louder and sharper during the calling out, but it picked up nothing. Morag played hers again and again claimed to hear responses. Lee commented on how the expensive Panasonic ones, which she had, seemed good at capturing EVPs. But we believe a muffled DVR can sound like responses in the static when it is really just static. If there were responses, why hadn’t Helen’s DVR picked anything up, when it was obviously better quality?

We finished the night in the townhouse. We didn’t do anything in there, but it was cool to see it, as it’s where the old tollbooth was and where a witch tried to commit suicide. We left at 3:15 and dropped Lauren off. Julie made up the couches for us to sleep on. We had a surprisingly good night’s sleep, even if it was only 4 hours.


with Lauren and Julie

Under the Skin

Surgeon's Hall Museum

Surgeon’s Hall Museum

There was one place in Edinburgh we’ve wanted to visit since last year, but it was closed for renovation. This September, it reopened: the Surgeon’s Hall museum. It had one item we were desperate to see – a pocketbook made from William Burke’s skin. William Burke, along with William Hare, murdered sixteen people between 1827-1828 in order to sell their bodies to Doctor Robert Knox for dissection. They’re known as the most infamous resurrection men, but they never actually dug anybody up. And after Burke was executed (Hare turned King’s evidence and got away with it despite being the more evil of the two) a pocket book and card case were made of his skin. The card case is in the witchery shop in Victoria Street. Now we got to see the pocket book. Yes, we get ridiculously excited about the strangest things. Our zumba teacher once said “you walk a mile to find a vegan cafe, but get excited to see an object made from human skin.” Yep. We’re paradoxes. The Surgeon’s Hall museum was the first place we were taking Tom and Amy to as an introduction to Edinburgh. This is what happens when you come on holiday with us. We make you look at dead things in jars.

Edinburgh castle

us at Edinburgh castle

The museum was fascinating. Level 3 was dedicated to the history of surgery from the 1500s to the 1900s, which was perfect as our new book is set in 1828 and features the body snatchers. Naturally they had a section on the resurrectionists. And they had the pocketbook made from Burke’s skin! As well as his death mask. So we’ve seen the card wallet and the pocketbook. The skeleton is the last piece of the macabre puzzle. Sadly we weren’t allowed to take photos inside the museum :( There was also a mock up of an anatomy lecture theatre.

Surgeon's Hall museumLevel 2 was the pathology level and was divided into different body parts, all pickled in jars. So there was a section on knees, kidneys, eyes, heart, etc. And 2 display cases of skeletons with scoliosis. Lynx was made to stand between them, as she has mild scoliosis. We spent a long time finding a skeleton that matched hers. The display cases proudly showed off their specimens, each one clamouring for our attention. We didn’t know which side to start on! When confronted with rows and rows of dissected organs, how do you pick? It almost seemed wrong to get hungry in this section. Heat in Las Vegas killed our appetites. Staring at pickled organs in Edinburgh did not.

P1130558One area on anesthetics told of a story of a doctor using ether in a demonstration The patient woke during the operation and fled, locking himself in the toilet. The doctor, described as a determined man, chased him down, kicked open the door and carried the screaming patient back to the operating theatre to finish the procedure. That has to go in a story somewhere.

Frankenstein's pubTom and Amy went to the cafe so we headed down to the lower level and looked at more specimens that covered the two world wars and injuries sustained there. We didn’t want to leave but we were really hungry by this point and the lure of shortbread and Red Bull was too great to resist. As we were stuffing our faces outside, a woman commented on lovely our outfits were. We thanked her and tried not to spit crumbs out. We didn’t know there was a cafe and had no idea where it would be. Lynx spotted a black sign near the entrance, but we’d left our glasses at home as we didn’t have room for them. This was a mistake. Yes, we realise we could’ve worn them instead of carrying them, but vanity won’t allow this. We lived to regret this for the rest of the holiday.

Frankenstein's pub

us in Frankenstein’s

Normally we get away with it by having someone with us with perfect vision who can read things like signs and road names and because we don’t need glasses most of the time, we can pretend we see the world in 20/20 vision. Seriously, who needs to see details on trees? Or to see people’s faces from afar. So if you see us from a distance and we don’t appear to have seen you, we’re either not paying attention, or you’re a faceless blur. Like Slender Man. Most of the time people probably look better through our vision. But there were many times on this trip we were alone. Without perfect vision. Fortunately, we came up with a plan – we switched on the camcorder and zoomed in on the sign. It was pointing to the cafe. We then realised we’d missed out the dentistry section but met up with Tom and Amy instead. We could’ve easily spent half the day in the museum, but we had a list of other things we wanted to do and we didn’t want Tom and Amyy to get bored, so sadly decided to leave.

Gladstone's Land

Gladstone’s Land luckenbooth

We stopped at Tesco for soya milk and Red Bull then Sainsbury’s for crisps and chocolate. That was less exciting than the museum but it can’t be body parts and pickled organs all the time. Dropped our shopping at the apartment then went to Frankenstein’s for lunch. This is our most frequently visited place in Edinburgh. Tom and Amy tried haggis. We tried a new dish – fries. Shocked everyone with our bravery. We got to see Frankenstein come out of the generator on his stretcher! All our visits to Frankenstein’s and we’ve never seen this. So we’re still experiencing new things, despite Edinburgh being an annual destination.

Writers' museumOur next stop was Gladstone’s Land, which is a tenement made up in the 16th-18th century style. It has a Luckenbooth (a kiosk) so we wanted to visit it as Luckenbooths feature in our books. It was really cool – bigger than we thought it would be inside. People outside had a raven, Lenore and an owl so we took photos of them. The raven and her sister, Nevermore were going to lead a ghost tour.

Writers' Museum

Writers’ Museum

We wandered up to the castle to look for the armoury, but couldn’t find it, so headed back down to the Writers’ museum. No wonder we’ve never found it – it’s down Lady Stairs Close. The museum’s dedicated to Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson and Walter Scott.

We’ve only read Jekyll and Hyde and other short stories in a collection by Stevenson, but it was still interesting. One day we’ll be in there. Even if we have to hide our books among the exhibits and invent Scottish ancestry. We headed back to the apartment then worked our way down Cockburn Street and went to the Dungeons! We visit here every time we come to Edinburgh. Had to queue for ages! The photographer, Stan, was hilarious. His phrase “terror in the eyes, jazz in the hands” has become a highlight of our trip. We asked if we could keep him, but he said he’s feral and can’t be tamed, so we offered to drag him out by his ankles. We have such a gift at talking to people.

Edinburgh Dungeons

the only guy willing to accept kisses

The Dungeons were brilliant as always. They had a new attraction with a green lady ghost and the Mary King close bit was different, with the buildings collapsing. The resurrectionist bit was different too, where instead of Burke and Hare choosing victims, we were part of the watch and a woman came out of a sarcophagus. We bought the cuddly judge this time (now named MacKenzie, after the famous Bluidy MacKenzie. We bought the executioner, Ketch, last time), as well as plague doctor keyrings, had a torture wheel keyring free (this may come in handy for…research), we also bought a little anatomy table and ‘cos we spent £20, we got a free Sweeney Todd clock! And Stan gave us a free photo.

Edinburgh Dungeons

Lynx with MacKenzie and a friend

We headed back to the apartment and decided to take a rare evening off. We packed our stuff for Falkirk then we all played Murder of Crows and 2 games of Gloom. Tom and Amy went to chill in their room so we set up our bed and got ready for the vaults tour, which was starting at 11, so we had couple of hours to kill and spent it reading.

Mercat tours

us and Nichol

We left at 10:35, thinking the mercat cross was ages away. It was practically outside. So we sat on a statue to wait for everyone else and got a lot of funny looks. One guy even commented something about Halloween. Think he was referring to our clothes. Hey, every day is Halloween! Our tour guide, Nichol was fantastic. He was creepy and funny. He tried to creepily outstare us. Some women shrieked and fled. We stared him down, being even creepier, and we weren’t wearing Halloween makeup like he was. We started at the mercat cross. Cat felt herself tip, as though she was standing on a wonky paving slab and someone had stood on the other end or pushed her. But her slab wasn’t wonky and nobody was behind her.Blair Street vaults

Nichol told a story about a traitor and demonstrated the torture on an unwilling victim, who took to playing a torture victim really well. Then we moved into Borthwick’s Close where Nichol told us about the infamous Major Weir. After that we went into the vaults. We will never get bored of the vaults. One girl was picked to stay at the back of the group to make sure everyone stayed together. She was terrified and wussed out. We heroically took over. Well, we always stay behind for photos and time alone in creepy places. That’s the same as being heroic, right?

Blair Street vaultsWhen we were in the safe vault, Nichol mentioned a pregnant tour guide being attacked by a female ghost. Lynx could’ve sworn a woman walked past her right side and stood behind us. She eventually turned to look. There was nobody there. So it might’ve been the shadows of the women in front of her on the wall and Lynx’s hair over her eye. The camera wasn’t on, so we can’t verify this. It was now midnight. It was now Halloween.

Blair Street vaultsWe were allowed to wander for 10 minutes so we instantly split from the group. They all stayed together in the safe vault for ages, too scared to venture off. We were off before he’d finished speaking. Time alone in the vaults? No way were we passing that up. We managed to lose everyone and do a bit of ghost hunting. But mostly we spent our time taking photos and talking about what we had experienced on camera. As everyone else stayed together, they were easily tracked for regrouping. Nichol had to come and find us. Why does everyone notice when we disappear? Damn it people, let us be alone in the dark vaults. We were rounded up and taken into Mr Boots’s vault. After the tour, we hung back, taking photos and trying to see if we could hear the footsteps that we’d heard the last time we were in these vaults. Sadly Mr Boots didn’t seem to want to visit us this time. We grabbed Nichol for a photo and begged to be able to stay the night.Blair Street vaults

Lowland Fling

P1130499Just when we thought we wouldn’t make it back to Edinburgh this year, our Facebook friend, Julie, invited us to do a book signing and launch of the The Malignant Dead in Falkirk on Halloween, as part of Callendar Square shopping centre’s Holistic Halloween fair. Trinity Moon in the shopping centre stock our books. You know what’s close to Falkirk? Edinburgh. So we booked a trip and took our mates Tom and Amy with us. They’ve never been to Edinburgh. Our usual Edinburgh buddy, Neen, is working on Galavant and couldn’t come.

Cat hijacking Thunderbird 2

Cat hijacking Thunderbird 2

Our trip began unusually peacefully. Cardiff airport was dead. Zombie apocalypse dead. We half expected to see mangled corpses riding on the baggage carousel and getting patted down at security. We wandered over to the baggage check in and weighed our case – .6kg over. Luckily, Tom’s bag had 10kg to spare so 4 copies of Soul Asylum and our batteries hitched a ride in his bag. It turned out to be a self serve bag check in. So much better! And we didn’t argue with it like we do with supermarket machines. Although Cat failed putting the luggage tag on by not watching the on screen instructions. Then we went upstairs and found a ride on Thunderbird 2 for photos. You know your holiday is off to a good start when your first photo is you riding a kids’ Thunderbird. Got through security no problem. What is this witchcraft? Again, hardly anyone there. We were suspicious. Did everyone else know something we didn’t? Then we had 2 hours til the flight. So we spent it wisely – eating shortbread, drinking Red Bull and bitching about how we couldn’t get on the free Wi-Fi.

Lynx Thunderbirds are go!

Lynx Thunderbirds are go!

We were meant to board at 5:30 but didn’t get called til 6. Most of the flights were to Amsterdam. Before one D&D session, our group spent a while discussing taking a group holiday to Amsterdam, hiring prostitutes and taking them for a lovely day out to the funfair. And maybe getting them to be non-playing characters in our latest campaign. Had Cardiff airport overheard this? Were they trying to make this a reality? On board the plane, we ruined the air steward’s safety routine. That’s a first for us, but we think it’s a fine achievement. During the safety demonstration, he tripped when turning around to demonstrate how to tie on the lifejacket. Cat & Tom laughed then Cat said he nearly gave us a totally different demonstration. He tried really hard not to laugh, but we were determined to break him. The more he fought it, the redder he became. Then when it came to demonstrating blowing into the tube on the life jacket, he wouldn’t look Cat in the eye and then he laughed. Us 1 air steward 0. They are human after all.

Edinburgh AirportWe landed earlier then expected then accidentally went out through the back of the airport. But we got a great photo opportunity with us each standing in a giant letter of the Edinburgh sign. Couldn’t find the air link bus. We were certain they were always right outside the airport. They are. Out the front. We found a tram ticket place. £8 each return. We couldn’t remember how much the bus was and went looking for it. Turned out we’d come out the wrong exit of the airport so we had to walk back. Found the bus. £7.50 each. And there were loads of roadworks, which we probably would’ve avoided with the tram. We couldn’t lug our case up the stairs, so we stayed down while Tom and Amy went up. A Canadian guy invited one of us to sit by him and let Lynx put her bag on his lap while she squeezed in. That’s gentlemanly behaviour you don’t see every day, especially as her case weighed 13kg. Cat rode on her suitcase. Hey, we travel in style.Edinburgh airport

Got in to Edinburgh past 8:30. Then walked up Cockburn Street, turned right onto the Royal Mile and kept going. We knew exactly where we were going! We know Edinburgh well. We laughed in the face of maps! When we got to George IV, we realised we’d walked too far and had to turn around. Tom brought a map up on his phone. We ended up in Bells Wynd, which is basically like an alley and a guy asked if we needed help.

Cockburn Street

Cockburn Street

He thought Tron Square was slightly back the way we’d come. We got the tablet out and found the directions the apartment owner, Wendy gave us. Then Lynx went one way and Tom went another, leaving Cat and Amy with the luggage and feeling like every horror cliche was being used: splitting up, random person appearing to be helpful but isn’t, railings clanging, place that doesn’t exist… All we needed was lusty teens and the slaughter would begin. But luckily Tom found the apartment. It was probably too cold for teens to be cavorting outside.

our apartment

our apartment

The apartment was lovely. It had one bedroom and a sofa bed. And it was in the perfect location for all the places we wanted to visit. In our usual style, we dumped our stuff then headed out. We like to hit the ground running on holiday and don’t stop until we’re on the plane home. Turned out, we’d walked right past Old Assembly Close, which takes us directly to the apartment. It even has ‘Tron Square’ with an arrow pointing! Fail. We went to Frankenstein’s but it was absolutely packed, so we went to Nando’s instead. Going to Frankenstein’s on our first night is a tradition! Way to ruin our tradition, hen and stag parties :( A curse on both your houses! May your marriage fail miserably ;)

St Giles Cathedral

St Giles cathedral

  • Ravens Retreat Newsletter

    Ravens Retreat Newsletter
  • Disaster Class Youtube

    D&D, The Dresden Files RPG,
  • Disaster Class blog

    D&D, RPG,
  • Tweeting brains

    • I'm so excited! My Necromancers @clraven are entering MY novel into a prize! What should I spend the winnings on? A brain farm, perhaps. 2 years ago
    • @AnyaBreton I can still see it *licks lips* sorry for the late reply, my Necromancers banned me from Twitter :( 2 years ago
    • I can't wait for the 2.8 Hours Later game. I volunteered to be a zombie so I can pounce on @clraven when they're fleeing the others :D 2 years ago
    • I'm baaaccckkkkkk! My cruel Necromancers @clraven are FINALLY working on my book again. If they don't release it this year, I will eat them. 2 years ago
    • my Necromancers @clraven are playing this I'm going 2 volunteer to be a zombie. *Eyes Necromancers* you'd better run! 2 years ago
  • Scott the Zombie

  • C L Raven Fan Club

  • Gunning Down Romance fan page

  • C.A.T.S. Tales of Terror

  • Disenchanted fan page

  • Soul Asylum

  • Deadly Reflections


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,500 other followers