All Aboard!

paddleboardingWe’re always up for new challenges so when our polefit studio owner KT invited people to a paddleboarding session, we signed up. And then googled what it was. Basically, it’s a cross between kayaking and surfing, where you stand on a board and use a paddle. Our first thought was ‘this will be so much fun.’ Our second thought was ‘we’re going to faceplant in the water.’ Our third thought was ‘we’re going to faceplant, smack our faces on the boards and the rapids will carry our unconscious bodies through the kayaking course’. (For non-anxiety sufferers, this is known as catastrophizing – always imaging the worse case scenario for every activity.) Despite us being utterly convinced this would end badly, we paid up. Though when the health and safety forms mentioned the possibility of death, images of our unconscious bodies floating downstream seemed suddenly plausible.

paddleboardingWe were excited. And then nervous. We met KT, her hubby and three other polefit ladies in the Cardiff International White Water Centre, ready for our session. We were a little concerned that the women’s wetsuits didn’t go small enough and hoped they wouldn’t put us in kids’ ones. Fortunately, they didn’t. But the wetsuits were too big for us. Cat had to roll up her sleeves into cuffs so they wouldn’t cover her hands. The good thing about the wetsuits was that they were plain black. The worst thing about the wetsuits was that they were wet. And the boots were wet. The suits we could cope with. The soggy boots was not pleasant.

paddleboardingWe squelched our way outside to retrieve our lifejackets then headed down to the cage. Sadly it wasn’t a cage for seeing sharks, but was where the boards and paddles are kept. Our guide, Dan, lined everyone up on the deck, shortest first. That’ll be us then. We practised paddling on our left side (straight stroke to go forward, semi circle to turn, forwards to reverse) then side stepped to the right and practised paddling on our right. It was really tough and we doubted our ability to move the boards. We were then taken to our inflatable boards. Dan said the guys needed the bigger boards and the smaller women needed the smaller boards. Unfortunately, some other women from another group who were bigger than us took the smaller boards, so we had to have regular ones.

We pushed the boards into the water and carefully climbed on. At first, you start off kneeling then once your confidence builds, you stand up. Dear god, your thighs get a good workout! We paddled around the small area, crashing into the sides, boats and other people. But we didn’t fall in. Though Cat inadvertently made someone else fall in. They were heading for a collision and she managed to turn at the last moment. He crashed into kayaks and fell in. LOL.

paddleboarding

the swan is watching us

Then it came to standing. This is it, we thought. This is the moment we get dunked like apples at Halloween. We placed our hands on the boards, got to our feet and slowly stood. We wobbled, but didn’t fall in. The trick was to drop to your knees if you lost your balance or were heading for a collision. Again, we paddled around the small area, crashing into boats and other people. But we didn’t fall in. Our mate, Bryn, who was our photographer, was very disappointed.

paddleboardingThen Dan asked if we wanted to go out on the river. Why the hell not? So we left the training area and picked up our boards. This is where having the smaller boards would’ve been nice. We have short arms and legs. Having to carry the board under our arms meant they were almost trailing on the ground. And they were heavy. We lugged them to another area, carefully climbed on then paddled our way down the River Taff. It was really relaxing. We’d completely got the hang of it and felt totally safe and confident. Until a boat came and the wake unbalanced us. But we didn’t fall in. Lynx was almost knocked off by some floating plant, but swiftly dropped to her knees and avoided a dunking. If there’s one place you don’t want to swim, it’s the Taff. Rats frequent it then have showers so they feel clean.

paddleboarding

future olympic paddleboard champions

We then started dreaming of doing this regularly. Or even buying our own boards and paddles and cruising down any water way we can find. They inflate so we could take them travelling. Hell, we could even form an Olympic team! We could be the first Olympic paddleboard champions. Turns out the boards are expensive and paddleboarding doesn’t seem to be a competitive sport. Yet…

30 East Drive

When the chance to investigate ‘Europe’s Most Haunted House’ comes up, who is going to say no?

30 East DriveThis is the first time we’ve ghost hunted since 2016, mostly due to lack of time, money, and places not emailing us back. We’ve missed it. And what a way to return by spending the entire night in a famous location. 30 East Drive in Pontefract is known as the ‘poltergeist house’. It’s even listed as that on Google Maps. In recent years, it’s come to the attention of ghost hunters and lots of groups investigate there. In Most Haunted, they had marbles and knives thrown at them and Karl was famously dragged up the stairs by a poltergeist, but the white rope attached to his belt points to a less paranormal explanation. Mind you, Most Haunted could make a rabbit hutch look like a terrifyingly scary location.

Does 30 East Drive deserve its spooky reputation?30 East Drive

In August 1966, the Pritchard family – Jean, Joe, 15 year old Philip and 12 year old Diane – moved into the house. Not long after, Philip and his grandmother saw chalk dust fall from below head height. They summoned Philip’s aunt, Mrs Kelly, to come see it. She went to the kitchen to fetch cleaning stuff when she slipped in a pool of water that had mysteriously appeared. As she tried mopping it up, more water appeared.

30 East DriveOver the years there were several strange incidents: green foam coming from taps and the toilet even after the water was switched off; the tea dispenser being activated and spilling tea over the worktops (clearly a British spirit); lights turning on and off; plants leaping out of their pots and landing on the stairs; cupboards shaking; photos being slashed; and numerous objects levitating or being thrown, including a solid oak sideboard.

30 East DriveIn 1968, the press dubbed the poltergeist Mr Nobody. The Pritchards called him Fred. During exorcisms, walls seeped holy water (not sure how they knew it was holy. Did it recite the Lord’s Prayer?), people had their faces slapped or were pushed down stairs and when christian songs were sung, Fred’s hands appeared to conduct them, wearing women’s fur gloves. We find that detail a little odd. Why women’s gloves? Did they make his hands look more shapely? He also poured a jug of milk over a sceptical aunt’s head. Diane was the focus of the haunting, so many of the scrapes and bruises happened to her. At night, he’d rip off her bedclothes, pull her hair and slap her face. As she neared the end of adolescence, Diane’s hair stood on end and she was dragged up the stairs, with visible finger marks on her throat.

30 East DriveWe’re not sure when the family left, but there doesn’t seem to be any reports of poltergeist activity after Diane’s teenage years. And nothing in the following years until 2012, when a film was made. Neighbours said the house wasn’t haunted. One even said “my house is more haunted than that one.” Clearly, we picked the wrong house to visit. We should have split up and gone to visit the neighbours instead. We might have had a more active evening, sitting with them, watching soaps. Until one of us ends up at the local murderer’s house.

30 East DriveIn 2012, a film, When the Lights Went Out, based on the Black Monk of Pontefract was released. It’s directed by Jean’s nephew, Pat Holden. The producer, Bill Bungay, bought the house and still owns it. He had a photo taken on his iphone of him and the film’s two starlets. His phone died, even though it had 75% battery and the photo wasn’t in his library. Weeks later, it reappeared. We don’t class this as paranormal – this happens with Cat’s phone on several occasions. It’s very annoying. Bill’s photo is blurry. Again, not paranormal. Whenever Cat gives her phone to someone else to take a photo, it’s always blurry because they don’t wait for it to focus. During the filming of a documentary, the kettle would switch on and off, the thermostat would go missing and the researcher was pinned to the bed in Diane’s room. The producer’s keys went missing and nobody could find them until someone opened the hoover they’d brought to dress the place. The keys were inside. We suspect this was probably a prank.

30 East DriveOn Valentine’s Day 2016, Bill was washing up and had the urge to turn around. A domino levitated from the dining room table and launched at him, narrowly missing him. After that, others objects were launched at him, each time, narrowly missing. These were a marble thrown from the ceiling that chipped the varnish off the piano board, two screws thrown from the ceiling, and a red ball.

30 East DriveAnother time he closed the side gate, blocking it with a concrete block. People ran out through the kitchen door, saying the keys had gone missing. He turned around to see the gate was open, the block pushed aside.

30 East DriveThe legend attached to the house is that it’s haunted by the Black Monk. He allegedly raped and strangled several girls in the 16th C, cutting out their tongues so they couldn’t scream. That is a plot taken from Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus where Lavinia is raped and has her tongue cut out and her hands cut off so she can’t identify her attackers. The monk was apparently hanged on gallows on the top of the hill and his body thrown into a well, which the house was supposedly built on. A neighbouring house was having damp work done and a stone well was discovered under the buttress. No mention of any bones though. We’ve researched executions many times and not once does it ever mention people’s bodies being tossed down wells like January’s Christmas trees. Pontefract Friary once stood where the hospital now is, 0.7 miles from the house. It housed the Blackfriar monks, who wore black. But there is no evidence to support the theory that he haunts the house.

30 East DriveThere is no mention of a monk during the time the Pritchards lived there. They witnessed the hauntings. They never said it was a monk. Think people have come to this conclusion based on shadow photographs taken by visitors. Though one looks suspiciously like a finger. We did a Google search for old maps and information on a gallows being in the area and could find nothing. We couldn’t even find the hill on Google Street View. The immediate area is flat. That’s not to say a hill doesn’t exist, but if it does, it’s not as close as paranormal sites claim it is.

We drove the 215 mile trip to 30 East Drive full of expectation – that this was overhyped and we’d spend our evening sitting in a council house, bored. Well slap a crystal ball in front of us and call us Mystic Meg because our prediction came true. We arrived at 7:30 p.m. an hour and a half after our fellow investigators – Jack, Laura and James from The Spirit Diaries and Helena, Alex and Liz from Boleyn Paranormal, along with guest, horror writer Ian Sputnik. In our defence, our mum wasn’t home and we couldn’t leave until the iguana had had his bath.

30 East DriveWe set up and started investigating in one of the bedrooms. After we’d finished riding the rocking pony that is. We’d brought a plasma ball with us, as we’d seen it used in Cross Hands Cinema and it seems like a cool idea, if it works. After 45 minutes of nothing happening, we went into Diane’s room. Whilst we’re young looking for our age, the poltergeist clearly wasn’t fooled into thinking we were teenage girls and left us alone. There was no knocks, no taps, no creepy breaths, not even a Barbie doll was flung with malevolent force. We went downstairs for some Red Bull and vegan chocolate coins then headed into the living room with Ian.

Cat rifled through the record collection, dismayed at the taste in music. The she noticed her trousers were covered in what appeared to be talcum powder. Someone had coated The Carpenter’s record sleeve in talc. Presumably for use as a trigger object and hadn’t bothered to clean it. For shame, previous investigators. Luckily her trousers were PVC so wiped clean.

30 East Drive

this started the album cover photos

Cat and Laura went into the coal cupboard and amused the ghost by reading out a joke on a Penguin wrapper. The only peculiar thing that happened was the motion sensor light going off in the living room. We all ignored it, thinking Jack had set it off. Minutes later, Jack was moving and the light wasn’t going off. It wasn’t him. We kept testing by having different people wave their arms but no one triggered it. Helena suggested the phone in front of it might have set it off, so Lynx texted it, to see if the vibration from the notification set it off. It didn’t.

We returned upstairs to the master bedroom, hoping things picked up, as it was now 1 a.m. As the ghost refused to show, we set the camera on a tripod and took a photo of the five of us lounging in the room, bored. Cat commented that it looked like an album cover and suddenly, the night improved. We spent the next half an hour going into every room and posing for album covers. The photos got more random with every room. It’s hard to be creative with minimal props but we made it work.

One bedroom had a poster of the poster of The Osmonds. Five of them, five of us. We recreated it but without the terrible hairstyles and fashion sense. We didn’t have enough people to recreate The Beatles’ St Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club poster. Those photos were the highlight of the whole night and it energised us into trying Diane’s room one more time. We played monks chanting and a christian hymn – Lord of the Dance – hoping for Fred’s gloved hands to join in. He didn’t. At 2:15 a.m. we called it quits and all slept in the master bedroom.

30 East Drive

recreating the Osmonds poster

See the theory with poltergeists is, they’re generally attached to one person – usually a teenage girl, so if that person isn’t there, neither is the poltergeist. Nobody lives in the house, so there’s nobody for it to attach itself to. In our opinion, it’s overhyped and overpriced. We’re glad we went because we can say it’s not as haunted as people claim it is. Supermarkets are more haunted than 30 East Drive – things randomly fly off the shelves when you’re nowhere near them and the self-scan checkouts think ghostly items are in the bagging area. Paying to sit in a council house in Yorkshire is not worth it. Most haunted house in Europe? The scariest thing about it was the carpets and wallpaper.30 East Drive

Clownface

We’ve spent six days watching a man in a clown mask kill people. No, we weren’t taking part in a brutal murder, we were working on an indie horror film, Clownface. It’s now on Kickstarter, so you can back the project here.

Watch the trailer. Facebook. Twitter

The closest we’ve ever got to a film set was filling in and sanding down screw holes in a cave set of Sherlock. So we were surprised anyone would want us anywhere near their film. We were initially hired as runners but then got promoted to costume and set dressing. Basically, there was a goth character who was our size and somebody had to provide the costume. Goth clothes aren’t cheap so hiring goths for the costume department is a great money saver. On the drive up, we happened to read the call sheet and discovered we were also down as hair and makeup. We laughed. Our hair can best be described as ‘low maintenance’ and as we’ve had short hair since we were 8 and haven’t visited a hairdresser’s since we were 10, we have no idea what to do with it other than dye it and spike it up. Our look is best described as ‘dragged through a hedge’. As for makeup…we hardly wear it and we can’t do any of that fancy shit where you use contouring, highlights and shadows to make you look like a different person. We were dreading this role.

Clownface

sheltering from the rain with Alastair, Ben, Rich, Laura and Alex

The director, Alex Bourne, kindly put us and five others up in his one bedroom flat. Jack and Laura, who you may remember from our ghost hunting/urb ex adventures, joined us. It was a bit of a squish but we all fitted. We never sleep well in new places so after a terrible night, it was a 7 a.m. start as call time was 9 a.m. If we thought eight people in a one bedroom flat was a squish, it was nothing compared to when the rest of the cast and crew arrived with the camera equipment. Our first thought was of escaping, but it wouldn’t make a great impression, and jumping out of a first floor flat window is never a good idea, so we fought our natural instinct to flee. Everyone was given a 330ml bottle of water with their names on and were told to keep hold of it and refill it, as if it got lost, it would not be replaced. We laughed. Turned out, it wasn’t a joke. We were glad we’d brought a week’s supply of Red Bull and our own water. We shared our Red Bull with Alex and Phil, who played Clownface. You have to keep killers happy. We’ve seen what he can do with a knife and some creativity.

The first scene was shot on a street. As the character we were dressing wasn’t needed until later, we had nothing to do except stand around looking creepy. That skill actually landed us a part in a play a couple of years ago. The second assistant cameraperson (AC) couldn’t get there until after lunch and the Director of Photography (DOP – cameraman), Ben, needed someone to operate the clapperboard. Our fear of getting it wrong was overwhelming, but we couldn’t say no. There was nobody else. Jack and Laura were being extras so it had to be us. Fortunately, Ben was lovely and patient as he explained what we had to do and assured us it didn’t matter if we got it wrong. There’s more to operating the clapperboard than just snapping it shut. We had to write the slate number, which changed every time the camera angle did, the take number, scene number and which camera lens was used. Then write notes on it. One such note was: “Fucked up. Ignore clapperboard.” Now we’re glad we had to do it because we learned a new skill and experience. We also learned how to hold a reflector board to help keep sun off the actors’ faces. Who knew polystyrene could do such a technical job? While Lynx filled in the role of 2nd AC, Cat cued in the actors then had to hang on to Ben as he ran down the street filming, to make sure he didn’t fall flat on his face. We are not the best people for this role – we trip over all the time. Especially when there’s cameras involved. Luckily this ended well.

After that, we reverted to our original role as runners to fetch the second AC, Suki, from Wolverhampton. We had no idea where Wolverhampton was or how far from West Bromwich it was. We hate driving new cities for fear of getting lost (panicky meltdowns aren’t as funny when you’re on your own) and this time, Lynx would be on her own without Cat navigating, as Cat was operating the clapperboard. Though to be fair, Cat doesn’t always pay attention to SatNav, so there might have been less chance of Lynx getting lost. To say she was anxious would be an understatement. But again, there was no choice. And we have to say, Wolverhampton, West Bromwich and Birmingham, sort your road systems out. They’re not easy to navigate without a co-pilot when you have to check SatNav to make sure you’re following it correctly.

Clownface

filming isn’t always glamorous

After lunch, which Lynx spent driving to Wolverhampton, it was time to meet our goth character and kit her out in our clothing and makeup. Fortunately, her makeup is supposed to look a mess. It was unintentional, but worked out well. Dear filmmakers: if you want your actors to look like drug addicts, give us a call. We have the talent. Fortunately, the actress, Leah, was lovely and it was a pleasure to work with her. And she didn’t mind the “Bollocks, it’s smeared all over your face.” The main actress, Hannah, had lovely eyeliner flicks. We took one look at her perfect makeup and hair and asked her to do her own. This scene was shot in the park. Leah asked us to sort her hair so it would stop falling in her face. We had no pins so slapped a load of wax on it and stuck it to her head. We could totally be hairstylists now! We later moved to the street and while Lynx took Leah and lead actress Hannah, back to the flat for a costume change, Laura and Cat stood in for them to trial camera angles. Having a short goth stand in for a short goth character worked well.

That evening, we caved and fled the flat. Everyone was really nice, but we spend all day on our own with our animal army, so we find being around a lot of people overwhelming. We need time to be alone to able to function. Being alone is like being able to breathe. When we worked in our mum’s school, we’d take regular trips to the art storeroom to recover from being around people for an extended period. So we spent Monday evening in Tesco with Jack and Laura until everyone had gone home. Plus we wanted vegan ice cream. Everything is better with ice cream.

On our second day, we again fulfilled the second AC role until early afternoon when Lynx fetched Suki to take over. Today, we were in woodlands, which made us happy. There were ducks, moorhens, baby moorhens, giant cygnets and dogs to keep us amused. If we can’t escape people, having animals around helps keep us sane. We again operated the reflector board, took photos and Cat had to guide Ben backwards through woods and make sure he didn’t fall over. Again, we’re not suited to this role. Cat has fallen over so many times in the woodlands where we walk our dog, that she’s damaged her scaphoid bone. We also learned how to do an ‘end board’ with the clapperboard for the scenes without sound. Basically, at the end of the scene, you hold the clapperboard upside down then flip it the right way. Lynx practised the flipping but every time Alex yelled “cut” Ben switched the camera off so none of her end boards were filmed. Cat’s one attempt was, but only because she threatened to kick Ben if he switched his camera off. As Leah wasn’t needed until 9:30 p.m, we resumed our runner roles by driving Alex to the next location with the camera equipment. Nobody believed the equipment would fit in General Pinkinton, but he proved them wrong. Lunch break was spent moving from the woods in West Bromwich to the cafe in Wolverhampton. It didn’t serve vegan food. Our lunch consisted of a bag of crisps and a tangerine. We were again glad we packed our own.

We weren’t needed for set dressing, apart from moving some tables and chairs around and tidying up, so we spent most of the rest of the day reading and standing outside in an alley of sorts. This was definitely the boring side of filmmaking. We don’t cope well with boredom. We like being busy, so being runners is the perfect role for us. We dressed Leah and did her makeup. This time it smeared all over her face and we only had wet toilet paper to get it off. This made it worse, so we covered some of it with foundation. Again, her messy look and the night time shooting saved us. Makeup is definitely a department we’d gladly give up.

Clownface

guarding the light with Nathan

As there was nothing for us to do (the location was too small for unnecessary crew to be there) we spent the next couple of hours guarding a floodlight in the alley to make sure nobody knocked it over. We were cold, bored and hungry (the chip shop next door cooked their chips in with the meat so we couldn’t eat there, and sorry Mark but hummus sandwiches?…um, no. We have it on good authority that not even lesbians eat those). Nathan, the assistant producer, kept us company on our light guarding mission. But then we got to do another job – guard the floodlight out the front of the location and make sure pedestrians didn’t fall over the cable. It’s a glamourous world. Finally, we were allowed into the warmth. For all of three minutes when we were summoned for another job. Guarding the floodlight out the back. Will, we like you, but at that moment, we were ready to lynch you.

Finally, filming finished at midnight. Our enthusiasm had been replaced by hunger headaches and we point blank refused to ferry anyone else home. It was unprofessional, we know. But we were the only ones who hadn’t eaten. We were on the verge of collapsing. That and we have a Smartcar, so one of us would’ve had to beg a lift off someone else. We loaded our car with equipment then kept trying to persuade the cafe owner to let us tidy up or wash up. He was having none of it. Then they closed the road we needed to get back to West Bromwich. Fortunately, Lynx’s daily drive to Wolverhampton meant she could direct Cat to the city centre where SatNav finally stopped trying to send us down the closed road. Damn it, Helen, we were just as tempted to drive through the cones as you were, but Wolverhampton loves its speed cameras and we can’t afford a fine.

We made it back to the flat at 1 a.m. to find we were the first to arrive. And we didn’t have a key. To say we were pissed off is like saying an erupting volcano is only a bit of ash. We’ve never been so glad to eat a bowl of cereals. Then the toilet paper ran out. It was a tense night.

Wednesday we were back in the woods for a Clownface killing scene. Lynx had to take the sound girl to the train station then fetch Suki so didn’t get to the woods until after lunch. Cat got the glamourous job of squirting water on a tree to make it look like someone pissed on it. This got dubbed ‘the piss take’. Lynx had made the realistic looking urine from water and a teabag. Cat then operated the reflector board. We didn’t have much to do that day, but we did trample down holly and bushes for Ben to stand on that patch. Part of our job as Costume was taking continuity photos so if the actors changed, we could make sure everything was put back right, including wisps of stray hair, whether their collar was up or down and even the pattern of blood on Clownface’s arm. We also took a lot of behind the scenes photos. Not our job, but considering we took 1000 photos on a five day stay in Paris, not taking photos is an alien concept to us. Clownface kept us entertained by dancing between takes. We also brushed down the victim as they kept resetting the scene.

us and Jack having fun in the playground

Then there was a 3 hour break for the victim to have prosthetics done. To our logical brains, it would’ve saved time if the prosthetics were done while other woodland scenes were shot then cleaned him up for his first scenes. But the film world is incredibly illogical, which hurts our brains. Lunch was more hummus sandwiches. We helped ourselves to some strawberries and congratulated ourselves for bringing our own crisps and chocolate. Us, Jack and Laura used the time off to escape being around people. Working 12 hour days with no lunch break to escape constant human company was starting to drain us. So we went to the awesome children’s playground that was the other side of the park. After playing on the roundabout, we spied the fireman’s pole. You know how obsessed we are with polefit. We couldn’t resist. Cat did a Kitten spin followed by a Genie spin. Lynx did a Back spin then a child’s voice on the platform above the pole said “Can I come down now?” *scowls* damn it, kid, we were being impressive! Some people have no respect for sport.

We still hd a couple of hours to kill, so we sat on a bench, refusing to rejoin the others. Alastair, the behind the scene photographer found us and interviewed us. The interview had to be paused four times for us to pat passing dogs. Well, it was paused for them to pass. We insisted on patting them. We then bumped into Ben and 1st AC, Rich, so the six of us went for a walk.

The woodland scene overran by two hours so the final scene back in Alex’s flat was cut. We were secretly pleased and paid a visit to The Veggie Chippy in Birmingham. Delicious vegan chips and a range of vegan pizzas and vegan meat. They even said if we phoned an order in, they would bring food to the set if we finished late. We can’t recommend them enough. You get so many chips for the price. We paid another visit to them the following evening.

escaping people at the dinosaur exhibition

Thursday was a day off so we went to Dinosaurs in the Wild in Birmingham’s NEC. We were the only ones without kids and were the most excited. It was fantastic. Then we sat outside in the picnic area, relishing being alone. Apart from the crying, screaming kids who were ruining our tranquility. We were about to leave when the kids left, so we stayed an extra twenty minutes to make the most of it. When we returned to the flat, we were once again, locked out. So we went to Tesco and bought some snacks and drinks for the cast and crew cos we felt sorry for them. Who knew Mini Rolls could bring such joy to people?

Friday was a much shorter day. We were back in the woods. Lynx went to Tesco to fetch cleaning supplies then we removed all the bird poo from the benches the actors needed to sit on. We were asked to be extras to walk past in the background but the scene was cut due to timing. We haven’t seen the footage but we’re positive our walking was Oscar-worthy. We wanted to steal someone’s dog for the scene to add authenticity. We hadn’t long started when torrential rain stopped the filming. We quickly put Hannah and Second Assistant Director Jess in General Pinkinton, while lead actor Richard sheltered in another car. Us, Alex, Laura, Ben, Rich and Alastair, all sheltered under the polystyrene board which was protecting Ben’s equipment. We got soaked. The rain hammered down for about half an hour. Every time it looked like it was stopping, it started again. Quitting and going home was looking very appealing. The only thing that made it bearable, was knowing we had vegan cupcakes from The May Bakery waiting for us. Eventually it stopped raining and the sun came out, but we were already wet. Everyone got to leave early today. Just as well, because we had a 10 a.m polefit lesson the next day and needed some sleep. The mood was brightened by a chocolate lab puppy called Maggie running into the set. Every film set needs a puppy to cheer up the cast and crew.

The following Tuesday, we picked Jess up and drove up to Wolverhampton for the mid-week shoot. We were all staying in Jess’s friend’s house, where filming would take place. We went to Nando’s on our own for the first time in an unfamiliar city. *Slaps bravery stickers on selves.* Helen tried to send us down a bus lane, but we were wise to her games. Unit call time the next morning was 8 a.m. This time exists for starting work? Grumbling, we went to bed at 11:30.

We were up at 6:30 and an hour later, went out to buy breakfast and lunch for everyone and ended up going to a few shops to get everything. The cast had requested Cornflakes and Mark insisted the Rice Crispies were a good substitute. Our response of “they asked for Cornflakes, they’re getting Cornflakes,” was swiftly followed by “No-one eats fucking Rice Crispies!” In fact we know of only ONE creature who eats Rice Crispies – our duck, Peking. This time there was a runner but she was two and a half hours late and then went home a few hours later. So we again took on the role. Today we were classed as ‘Art Department’, meaning we were in charge of set dressing. We’d brought ornaments and props up with us, including some of our weapons collection and dressed the set ready for filming, taking continuity photos every time something got moved. Alex had tacked newspaper articles to the wall and when we came to take them down (and later put them back up in exactly the same place), our pixie height worked against us. Part of our job also involved carrying a heavy chest of drawers in and out of the room every time they needed to change camera angle to shoot from the corner.

After lunch, we did the washing up then were about to set dress the hall, only to find it had already been done. This is what we were hired for so we were a little narked. It looked staged. With permission from Alex, we took everything away. We left a row of shoes lined up and draped a scarf and some jewellery over the bannister post. That’s what our bannister post at home looks like.

Most of our time that day was spent reading, apart from carrying furniture and tacking up scarves that kept insisting on falling off the walls. However, when filming wasn’t been done in that room, the scarves stayed up. Bloody typical. When filming was over, we packed everything up, ate our ice cream, tidied the kitchen and did some more washing up. We left an hour early and took Jess home.

Our first experience of working on a film has certainly been interesting. Cast and crew were incredibly lovely and made us feel very welcome and treated us as part of the team, not newbies. We’ve learned so much (bring your own food and drink) and have really enjoyed seeing how a film is put together, what the different departments do, how much is involved in even the shortest scene – a two minute murder scene took several hours due to all the angle and POV changes – and that we can read a Game of Thrones book in a week when things are slow on set. For people who like being alone and like working alone, we’ve learned that we’re good at following orders and doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done. We can now do the role of runners, set dressers, costumes (well, goth costumes), we can operate the clapperboard and reflector board and we’ve learned to speak up when we don’t agree with something. (No-one. Eats. Rice. Crispies). That’s a huge thing for us, especially with people we don’t know. Whilst we wouldn’t want to do this full time – the waiting around would drive us insane – we had a lot of fun and can’t wait to do the next block of filming. Just please don’t put us on makeup.

Clownface

hanging out with Laura and Jack on set

 

Guards! Guards!

Humour, sacrifices and dragons. Guards! Guards! had it all. Sadly, this was to be Monstrous Productions’ final Pratchett adaptation. We’ve loved every play we’ve seen and we’re gutted it’s all over. This was a fantastic play for them to go out on. We’ve not read the book but will definitely be buying it now. This was another play to feature Sam Vimes and fitting for their final act. Jes Hynes fantastically reprised his role of Vimes from Nightswatch.

Guards! Guards! follows a rather large dwarf, Carrot, played hilariously by Christopher Maxwell, who is sent by his adoptive parents to join Ankh-Morpork’s City Watch. He memorises every rule in the law book. It’s a shame the rest of the city haven’t. He makes his presence known by marching into the Thieves Guild and arresting their president. But a law-abiding Watchman is the least of Vimes’s problems when a Brotherhood steal a book – How to Summon Dragons – and use it to, well, summon a dragon. See, only the rightful king can defeat a dragon so in order for Ankh-Morpork to have a king, there needs to be a dragon. It’s all about destiny. That and a promotion to king’s aide for Lupine Wonse.

Vimes and the rest of the watch are in the Shades when a large dragon incinerates three people. The people’s charred silhouettes on the wall is bound to draw attention, though not as much as a freshly painted wall in the Shades would. But regardless of how dodgy some people are, a giant dragon turning them into ash is bad for morale. With the help of a swamp dragon, Errol, Vimes and his team are tasked with finding and stopping the dragon. That’s not easy when it’s summoned with magic and promptly disappears.

This was the first play that featured the Librarian – a wizard who was accidentally turned into an Orangutang and refuses to be changed back. We love the Librarian in the books so were thrilled he was in this. Lowri Belson was superb as the book-loving ape. She injected so much character and personality into a role where communication was done solely through facial expressions and “ook!” And the occasional “eek!”

The show was hilarious, with added things like Death playing with a fidget spinner, Brother Watchtower replacing his mask with a cat one and Errol flying across the stage on a wire to fight the dragon. What we love about Monstrous Productions plays is the cast always look like they’re thoroughly enjoying themselves. Sets and props used are always minimal and work so well. Everyone was superb in their roles and made this a fantastic play to end on.

We have loved watching the plays and even enjoyed being in one. We’re sad it’s over. So it’s best to sum it up with a quote from the great man: “It’s still magic, even if you know how it’s done.”

Cast:

Sam Vimes – Jes Hynes

Corporal Carrot – Christopher Maxwell

Nobby Nobbs – Josh Flynn

Sergeant Colon – Eamonn Corbett

Lupine Wonse – Josh Stevenson-Hoare

The Librarian – Lowri Belson

Lady Sybil Ramkin – Becca Smithers

Brother Watchtower – Asher Townsend

Brother Dunnykin – Matthew Hitchman

Brother Plasterer – Jamie Gibbs

Brother Doorkeeper – Loz Shanahan

Brother Fingers – Loz Dixon

Dibbler – Harry Spencer

Lord Vetinari – Michael Dickinson-Smith

Death – Matt Burnett

Carrot’s Dad – Pete Belson

First Guard – Matt Edwards

Second Guard – Tony Beard

Urdo Van Pew – Terrance Edwards

First Worthy – Ellen Warren

Second Worthy – Katya Moskvina

Chief Assassin – Gareth While

Archancellor – Steve Durbin

Voice at Door – John B. Dent

First Citizen – Paul Wooley

Second Citizen – Sarah Roberts

Zebbo Mooty – Nick Dunn

Warrior – Richard McReynolds

Bunting Carrier – Howard Dickins

Knowlessman – Bethan Lisles

Servant – Luke Belson

Voice in Crowd – Nelson Cotrim

Crowd – Sarah Burrow

 

London Comic Con

London Film and Comic Con

Us and Sarah

Yesterday, we did something that we’d never thought we do – went to London Comic Con. It shocks people when we tell them we’ve never been to London. There are places we want to visit – Highgate Cemetery, the Tower, the Dungeons, the Chamber of Horrors – y’know, pleasant touristy stuff, but London terrifies us. Its population is almost three times the size of Wales’s. That’s why it scares us. Deep down inside the healing versions of ourselves, are still the social anxious wrecks that used to be in control. And when it comes to London, these demons rise to the surface and dissuade us from going.

London Film and Comic Con

Oogie Boogie

London Film and Comic Con

Thor. He even sounded like him.

But Ron Perlman changed our minds. We’d already agreed with our mate, Andrew, that the three of us had to meet him. Then he cancelled. We didn’t. Andrew tries to persuade us every year but we never end up going. This year was different. Some members of our gym class, Sarah, Lloyd and Ellie, also wanted to go so the six of us travelled up in Sarah’s minibus. And this time, we were in costume. We like to theme our costumes – Freddy vs Jason, or we go as the same thing – Silent Hill nurses, ghost pirates, etc. This time, we went as Mileena and Kitana from Mortal Kombat 9. Mileena is Kitana’s clone (mixed with blood from a Tarkatan warrior, hence her teeth) so it’s perfect for twins. Being the eldest twin, Lynx was Kitana. Being the evil twin, Cat was Mileena. It’s one of the few games we’ve played on the PS3 that isn’t Streets of Rage or Golden Axe. We bought the costumes because we have no sewing talent, although we did make Kitana’s fans. Well, we painted fans and cut out the blades from card, painted them and glued them on. We even colour co-ordinated our nail varnish and underwear with the costumes, seeing as the costumes didn’t cover a lot.

London Film and Comic Con

Hellboy

London Film and Comic Con

Green Arrow

London Comic Con wasn’t the crush we expected. We thought we’d have to fight our way down the aisles. Or use our usual method of letting Andrew create a path through the crowd and follow in his wake. He’s 6’5 and an ex rugby player. People move for him. The traders tables were more spread out than they are in Cardiff, allowing for wide aisles which made it a pleasure to walk through. Being 5’1 in a crush means you’re armpit level with most people. It’s not a nice place to be. Loads of people loved our costumes and we couldn’t go anywhere without people wanting photos of us or with us. One teenager was a little embarrassed so his mum pushed him forward and we flanked him. One photographer ambushed us before we’d even got inside. We looked fabulous still wearing our hoodies. A few photo journalists took our photo and had us do fight poses, though one didn’t know who Mileena and Kitana were. Even the ice cream van man outside wanted our photo!

London Film and Comic Con

Son of Harpy

One of the highlights was being asked to do a fight scene for a 360 vr headset. We had to stand either side of the camera, looking like we were squaring off then circle the camera pretending to fight. Luckily we still remember our karate moves, though we may have to take up tessenjutsu (the art of fighting with war fans,) and sai fighting. The guy was really impressed and asked if we’d choreographed it as we were perfectly in sync. Nope. We were terrified we’d cock the whole thing up as we didn’t have time to practise and had to wing it, but Andrew said it looked cool. We don’t always wear costumes when we go to cons, but when you do, you experience the event differently. Had we gone in our regular clothes, we wouldn’t have been asked for photos, or been asked to do the fight scene. Although we do often get asked who we’ve come as. Maybe we should say we’re cosplaying C L Raven.

London Film and Comic Con

Boba Fett

And then we attempted to talk to a celebrity. Mark Sheppard, who plays Crowley in Supernatural. If there’s one thing we shouldn’t be allowed to do, it’s talk to celebrities. In Wales Comic Con last year, Cat attempted to flirt with Tom Wlaschiha, who plays Game of Thrones’s Jaqen H’ghar. It went like this: Cat “You’re actually really hot in real life.” Tom “You’re going on my list.” He plays an assassin. This wasn’t a great list to be put on. We vowed we would not disgrace ourselves in front of a man who plays the king of Hell. We broke our vow. Spectacularly. At first he looked confused, like we were speaking another language. Then we joked about kidnapping the cast of Supernatural. He looked scared. Even more so when Cat asked him how fast could he run. That’s when threats of the FBI were bandied about and we decided leaving was our best option.

London Film and Comic Con

Us and Steven as Jason Vorhees. We meet at most cons.

It was a big thing for us to wear such revealing costumes. We’ve always hated our bodies and never exposed them. We didn’t wear short sleeves until we were 17. Then we started polefit and were forced to get our legs out. As we became more advanced, we had to wear less clothes so our skin would help us stick to the pole. So we’re now more comfortable revealing our bodies, however, we still hate them. Cat gained weight from fluid retention after going on the pill last year and can’t stand looking at herself in the pole/gymnastics videos. Whereas Lynx feels she’s too skinny. We’re not fishing for compliments or comments counter-arguing this, we’re just explaining why wearing the costumes was a big deal for us. Especially since our legs were covered in IPL burns and polefit bruises and we also had polefit bruises on our arms and hips. Plus Cat has the big burn on her stomach from the baking tray incident. But people loved the costumes and we met many Mortal Kombat fans. We will be bringing Mileena and Kitana back for Cardiff Film and Comic Con in September. We have a table there, so come along, say hi and let us dance.

London Film and Comic Con

Twintality!

Tumbleweeds

We are on our way to becoming superheroes. No, we haven’t been bitten by a spider, or received experimental super soldier drugs. We’ve joined a gymnastics class. Anyone who’s watched our Calamityville episodes is probably laughing right now. We can barely stay on our feet when walking, how would we cope with somersaults? Faceplanting in the foam pit is our common method of landing. Our sister did gymnastics when we were kids. We weren’t interested. It was too girly for us and we didn’t want to wear leotards. So what, at age 34, convinced us change our minds?

Polefit.

4 years ago, Cat was strong-armed into joining a 8 a.m. physio class to help her back into exercise after her third knee operation. At first, she refused – 8 a.m. is too early to be so active, so her physio played on her desire to heal and said “if you want to get back to exercise quicker, join the class.” Whilst there she met a guy called Ryan, who taught gymnastics. He tried to persuade us to join his class back then but we were still quite anxious and weren’t confident enough to join a class. Plus Cat’s knee wouldn’t have coped with the impact. Fast forward 4 years to Cardiff Comic Con. Ryan came to our table and after catching up, he uttered the fatal words “you know what will help you with Polefit? Joining my gymnastics class.”

We are highly competitive in sports and we’re completely obsessed with Polefit. Most of our Instagram is filled with Polefit ladies and men and we watch all their videos, wishing we could be that good. And one of our goals is to do flips on the pole. So when Ryan said he could help us achieve that, we swallowed our fear and joined the class. A month later. It takes time to summon the courage to do something scary like joining a new class full of strangers. And every single aspect of gymnastics terrified us. It took us 6 months to conquer our fear of being upside down on the pole! And yet we were going to be doing somersaults, asymmetric bars, the beam and back flips. There wasn’t a single part of gymnastics that appealed to us, apart from using it to be good at pole.

But in April, we fought against our natural instinct to back out and we went to Planet Gymnastics. We sat in the car park for a while, psyching ourselves up. Then we did it. And we were terrible. Beyond terrible. We’re probably the worst gymnasts the sport has ever had. But we didn’t care. We’ve never done a handstand, forward rolls terrify us (for fear of breaking our necks) and we’re as graceful as an ice skating spider. But we kept going. Every week, we showed up, kept trying and kept failing. But we loved it. Now we can hold a handstand for a few seconds, forward rolls don’t terrify us so much (but we still don’t like them) and we’re still as graceful as an ice skating spider. We won’t talk about the asymmetric bars. We can’t even get on the damn things. The first time Ryan tried pushing us backwards into a spin, we fought against him and resisted for as long as we could. We’re not easy to teach.

We faceplant all the time but we’re having fun and we’ve made new friends. We even convinced one of the guys to don a dinosaur suit and do some tricks. And we’re learning somersaults, back flips and aerials (no-handed cartwheels). The gym is now filled with our shrieks, laughter and “I can’t get out of the fucking foam pit!” Each time we learn something new, we have to conquer our fear all over again. Hell, each time we do something we’ve already learned, we still have to silence the fear. But we’re doing things we never thought we were capable of doing. Scared? Absolutely. Enjoying it? Most definitely. And we are finally becoming the superheroes we always wanted to be.

We just need to learn to land on our feet…

Watch our first three months here.

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