Three Witches

You know the day won’t go well when you can’t find Sainsbury’s, cross the road to ask someone only to find you were standing right outside it at the crossing. We made a shame-faced retreat, remarking how much like an office block it looked. We went through the revolving doors, marvelling how posh the marble foyer was. Sainsbury’s in Cardiff just have security bleepers and teenagers hanging around outside. Turned out, this wasn’t Sainsbury’s. This was an office block. Whoops. Sainsbury’s was next door. Then Cat got stuck in the revolving door on our way out. Being humiliated by a supermarket wasn’t exactly the highlight of the tour. We returned to Travelodge to fetch Ryan and head to the castle. Ryan forgot his coat & had to return for it. We mocked him and continued on our way. Only for Lynx to discover she’d forgotten her camcorder when we weren’t far from the castle so we had to go back for it. By now the group had splintered – Ryan was on the Royal Mile in Games Workshop, Neen was browsing the shops on Princes Street and we were standing outside a shoe shop getting strange looks from the shop girl inside. So we stood staring in through the window just to make the atmosphere inside mildly uncomfortable.

Edinburgh castleWe finally made it to Edinburgh castle and we managed to get Ryan and Neen in for free on our Cadw cards, saving them £16 each 😀 The castle was cool, though we were disappointed it wasn’t like a castle in the traditional sense. It’s made up of old buildings, which are mostly war museums. We pretended to fire the cannons at the peasants below. They screamed a little but their pain didn’t last long. We went to see the Crown Jewels after spending a while sitting outside. We walked 9 and a half miles yesterday and about 4 on Tuesday so our feet, ankles and shins were in agony. Each step was torture.  Over the security guard’s radio, we heard the word ‘camcorder’ and immediately had visions of someone being tackled after using their camcorder in a prohibited zone. After a lunch break, we noticed we were minus our camcorder. Cat had been in charge of it for once. She’d left it on the bench outside the Crown Jewels. Luckily someone handed it in. Yes, the camcorder announcement on the radio wasn’t heralding the take down and imprisonment of a brazen tourist, but the idiocy of us forgetting it. The security guard commented on how long it took us to notice it was missing. (An hour we believe). Yes we’re numptys. We then nearly left our tablet by a guard post but Neen spotted it. The whole time she’s been looking after the tablet it was safe. We take it back and leave it behind. After that we relinquished full guardianship duties of the tablet to Neen. It wasn’t left behind again.Calamityville Horror at Edinburgh castle

We were supposed to do the Mary King’s Close tour at 9 but Neen and us wanted to do the other vaults tour so we could dance in the witches cursed stone circle. Neen phoned and asked if we could do an earlier tour. They said yes so at 5 we headed over. Have to say we weren’t that impressed. The guides on the City of the Dead tours were amazing but this guy was terrible. He was boring, quite rude to people and putting on a terrible Scottish accent for only a few words. Seriously, either do it properly or don’t bother. He even told an old guy off for sitting on a trough. They don’t let you take photos or film purely so they can make money off the souvenir photos which are taken by an IR camera and frankly not great. The street itself was pretty cool but they really need to sort out their guides. And they have speaking portraits which were clever but totally irrelevant to the tour. They had nothing to do with the close, except one and the guide was so wooden at interacting with the portraits it was embarrassing. The Dungeons staff were brilliant at interacting with the props. This guy was pompous, telling everyone how to walk down spiral stairs. There were four steps. We were hardly in danger of killing ourselves. And we’re seasoned in the spiral staircases in castles. You want a dangerous staircase, try Conwy Castle. He was more concerned with telling us how to walk over the flag stone floor than he was at being entertaining. But we’re glad we did the tour, because Mary King’s Close has been a place we’ve wanted to visit for ages and we can now say we’ve been there.

We then headed to Rapido chip shop which served vegan chips. We’d been looking forwards to going there since we found out about it. The chips were delicious, fat, greasy and huge portions.  They tasted like chips you get at the seaside. We returned to Travelodge for a couple of hours before the 10 o’ clock vaults tour. Ryan didn’t want to do another vaults tour and stayed in Travelodge, so if we antagonise the witches and ghosts on the tour, we’re kinda screwed.Rapido fish bar

We left early for our tour because our legs are so sore, normal walking pace is painful. Good job we did because Cat forgot her rucksack and had to run back for it. When we reached the meeting place, almost everyone was smoking. Ych a fie. We hate the smell of smoke so stood upwind from them as much as possible. If you want to kill yourselves, fine, but don’t take the rest of us with you. For once, the men outnumbered the women on the tour. Usually you get couples or if there is a small group, it’s always women. One large group were a group of soldiers. They were all big guys. Let’s see how brave they are in the vaults. If the amount they were smoking was any indicator, they were clearly nervous.

South Bridge vaults

The Wiccan’s circle

This tour was with Auld Reekie and called the Terror Tour. Our guide, Rachel was lovely and had a really cool coat. Our first stop on the tour was the site of the old Tolbooth jail, which was right next to St. Giles cathedral and is marked out by brass bricks in the road. On the pavement is a stone heart. We’ve walked over it plenty of times on our travels, not knowing what it was. Apparently it’s the site of the death cell. It’s considered good luck to spit on it, bad luck to stand on it. She asked if anyone wanted to stand on it to tempt fate for the tour. Naturally, Neen and us leapt on it and danced. Strangely nobody joined us. If they’re not willing to stand on a stone heart, there’s no way in hell they’ll come into the stone circle with us. Rachel then took us to a car park for the Parliament buildings, which used to be the graveyard for the cathedral. One resident, John Knox stated in his will he was never to be moved from his resting place, so he’s the only occupant still there. Under car park space 23 which has a plaque. And last night it had a van on it.

Then it was in to the vaults. These vaults aren’t underground, but are actually in the South Bridge. The first room was the torture room. It was boiling in there. Once we were in the vaults, the first room we spotted was the room belonging to the coven of wiccans. They used to hire a vault further up, but discovered a negative presence was there. As we gathered around the stone circle, Rachel told us not to stand inside. Thinking she was banning us, we were planning to jump in anyway. She told us that one night, the coven leader stayed overnight by himself in order to cleanse the vault. He heard a noise further down the vaults and went to investigate. On returning, he saw the iron gate over the vault was closed. There’s no wind in the vaults. He shouted “show yourself” and heard a crack. The mirror in the corner had a large fracture running through it. He again shouted “show yourself!”

But has never said what happened next.

He asked the boss of Auld Reekie tours not to allow anyone to go into the vaults. But naturally, being an operator of ghost tours, he couldn’t lock up the scariest vault in the bridge. So the wiccans built a stone circle to trap the negative entity inside. Apparently, anyone who goes into the circle is attacked or suffers bad luck. There’s a story that one man had a heart attack while in there. Before Rachel had finished saying “if you want to step inside” we were in the circle like rats on a corpse. We broke out our zumba moves while the rest of the group stared at us. It was either in awe, terror or ‘you pin them down, I’ll fetch the men white coats’. It’s hard to tell in the gloom.

South Bridge vaults stone circle

us in the stone circle

Nobody else joined us. We got Rachel to take a photo of us then a couple of the soldiers, clearly feeling emasculated, reluctantly stepped inside the circle. But they didn’t stay for long. As we left, one of them said to us “if anything happens to us now, we’re hunting you down.” We’re not scared! 😀 One of the soldiers then spent the rest of the time tapping us in the dark in an effort to frighten us. Nice try. We see ourselves first thing in the morning, we don’t scare easily.

The final vault was known as the haunted vault. She had the group separate so the men were on the left, the women on the right. Which meant we got to stand in a big puddle and our boots leak. The reason for this was that the entity in this vault is only felt by women. If women are on the right side, all they feel are soft caresses on their cheeks or their hair being brushed. If they’re on the left, the entity becomes aggressive and they get pushed, scratched, etc. We asked if we could switch sides. She was reluctant, but we ran to the left side and mingled with the men. For some reason, the soldiers moved away from us. None of the other women joined us.

On our way out, Rachel threatened to lock some of us in overnight. We were thrilled and begged her to lock us on. One of the soldiers said “I’d stay overnight, but I’m not staying with those three.” 😀 It’s not often that women who are 5’2” at their tallest, terrify a group of soldiers, who were 6’ plus. It was a definite high point of the evening and is now our joint favourite moment with Ryan’s cross dressing charge. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to film in these vaults so the two best moments of the holiday were not captured 😦

However, it’s been four days since we tempted Fate with the heart and dancing in the cursed stone circle and we weren’t attacked, haven’t dropped dead and haven’t had any bad luck. But this is probably because we are naturally the unluckiest people we know so the entity clearly thought about it and went “you’re screwed enough.”

Dungeon Masters

Before the day could even begin we had to walk to Tesco to find some cold soya milk. On our other holidays we’ve had a cool box full of ice as our portable fridge but we couldn’t exactly take it on the plane, so cue us trekking to Tesco in the rain for a milk mission. It was about a mile from our Travelodge but walking’s cheaper than a bus. We bought bags of ice to put in the sink with our milk and Red Bull. Then regretted it as we had to lug the heavy bags for the mile home. We were going to go to the castle but after that hike and the rain, we decided to go to the dungeons instead. The sun did make an appearance, but by then we had our hearts set on the dungeon.

Edinburgh Dungeons, The Edinburgh Dungeons are amazing! We knew were in for a good time when the first thing you do is pose for a photo. The girl who took our photo (we didn’t get her name) was lovely. Sadly we weren’t allowed to film or take photos, which was a shame because we want to relive it. We were first taken into a room where a judge awaited us. There was a couple on our tour but they weren’t really entering into the spirit of the dungeons. To put it another way, they looked like they’d accidentally taken the wrong turn out of Topshop and were too embarrassed to leave. The girl was the first put on trial, for witchcraft and just stood there, looking like she regretted the ticket price. Had we been called to take the stand we would’ve been proclaiming our innocence and even attempted an escape and body tackle while laying a curse upon people’s houses. Ryan was called to stand so us and Neen started booing him and calling for the death penalty, loudly declaring his guilt. He was put on trial for cross dressing – namely sneaking into Lady Chatterly’s back garden, putting on her pink frilly underwear and dancing around singing “I’m Shirley and I’m a big girly,” whilst slapping his backside. We haven’t laughed that hard in ages. We were in serious danger of rupturing vital organs. We were now really gutted we couldn’t film. This was comedy gold. Ryan was then known as Shirley for the rest of the holiday. It’s nice he gets a new nickname for each holiday, it’s like a souvenir that never gets lost.

The next stage was our punishment – the torture chamber – where a handsome torturer awaited us. Once again Ryan was his victim. There’s something about him that the guides pick up on because every tour we do, he gets picked on. Maybe it’s the Lynx Effect of his deodorant. The torturer demonstrated tongue removal , the chappy chopper (no prizes for guessing what that was used for) then made Ryan bend over the chair for the butcher’s hook. Never seen him look so nervous 😀 Now he was the one looking like he regretted the ticket price as he awkwardly put his hands on the arm of the chair. That was as far as he got to bending over, the spoilsport. Neen and us were the only people who knew exactly what each piece of torture equipment was used for. Anyone would think that had been our favourite part in history lessons. We were put on a boat and sent through the pitch black caves of Galloway. There, we were greeted by the infamous Sawney Bean – the cannibal. He took a liking to the girl on the tour, but she seemed a little freaked out. We moved on to Dr Knox’s anatomy class where his assistant performed an autopsy. We would’ve happily helped him – we’ve seen autopsy programmes, we know what to do.  We got sprayed with water from the fake bladder before being led to a graveyard. We need a graveyard themed room in Casa Raven. We sat on headstone thrones and listened to Burke and Hare talking. It would’ve been nice to have actors portraying them, but being prodded through the thrones to see if we were suitable specimens was pretty cool. We should’ve slouched lower so they could have massaged our aching shoulders.Edinburgh Dungeons

The next part was a replica of Mary King’s Close, where a cloaked man scared the crap out of the couple we were with. The lights would occasionally go out then when they switched back on, he’d stand in front of them. Never heard a guy shriek like that 😀 We thought it was the girl but no, that high pitched squeal of terror contained a Y Chromosome. We were sentenced to hang and given the option of backing out of the drop ride. Neen and us hate heights and hate that type of ride but we wanted the full experience so went on. As the ride went higher and higher we started to regret it. We barely paid attention to the judge delivering the death sentence, we were so nervous. After being told “you will hang from the neck until you are dead,” they pulled the hangman’s lever and we dropped. Weirdly we enjoyed it and there’s an amazing photo of Neen screaming. We got trapped in the hall of mirrors until the guide rescued us. There was one spooky moment when we approached each other, thinking we were nearing a mirror until we both realised we were wearing different clothes. To be fair, it was dark. After we bought our souvenir photos, we took the lift to the gift shop. We would’ve bought the whole place if we weren’t so broke. We loved it so much, we could have happily spent the day doing tour after tour. There needs to be a Cardiff Dungeons. We’d go and work there. Sadly though, Cardiff doesn’t have the same dark and bloody history as Edinburgh. To our knowledge, we’ve never even had a serial killer.

We returned to Greyfriars Kirkyard so we could see it in the day. It’s beautiful. It has stunning monuments that are carved with skulls, skeletons – need we say more? Whilst we were there, an American couple asked if they could take our photo. This is happening with increasing regularity and sadly, it’s not because they know who we are. We all gathered together for the shot then got talking to them. Turned out, he works for the bass player of Matchbox 20, who had just finished a gig in Glasgow. Everyone had flown home, but they decided to head for Edinburgh instead. After the graveyard, we made our way to Black Lion game shop so Ryan could buy some dice. We spent ages in there while he deliberated, so just chatted to the owner.

Camera Obscura, mirror mazeBut we had another place planned – Camera Obscura. It’s filled with optical illusions and the camera obscura, which is a large mirror on the roof of the building, which reflects the city onto a table, allowing us to see the city from above. There was a cool mirror maze which was easier to navigate than the one in the dungeons. There was also a vortex tunnel, which had a metal bridge through a tunnel of lights which spins. It’s very disorienting and we all felt sick. No idea what possessed us to go through a second time.

We made a quick stop at our Travelodge then headed out for our vault tour. We called in to our closest pub – Jekyll and Hyde. Jeykll and Hyde pub, Another awesome pub. It is filled with dark wood, chandeliers, displays of old glass bottles, skulls and an old type writer and an area made to look like a library. Turns out, this was where the toilets were. They were concealed in the library walls. It’s the first time we’ve ever wanted to sit by the toilets. To get to the back section of the pub, you went through a tunnel with horror monsters painted on it. We need pubs like this in Cardiff. Perhaps one day someone will open a Soul Asylum pub in our honour, with cocktails with name like ECT, Insanity or The Lobotomy. The walls could be padded, the tables could be stretchers, the beer garden could be the graveyard, with headstone seats…we haven’t really thought about it.

After a quick drink, we made our way to the vaults. Our guide, Samantha was brilliant. The City of the Dead tour takes you to the Niddry Street vaults known as Damnation Alley. Each tour company has their own section of vaults. On this tour, there are only 3 vaults to go in, but one of them, Vault 19 has the legendary South Bridge entity, who attacks people. We were hoping tonight would be the night he made an appearance. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. We hear all these stories of people being attacked on tours and not once has it ever happened on a tour we’ve been on. We got talking to an Australian tourist, who like us, was looking for scary things to do. He seemed nice and stuck with us for the tour. Either because we were the ones with the big light, or so he’d be able to throw us in the path of the entity. Or he figured the entity would be more scared of us and would therefore, attack the less threatening members of the group.

When we were in the vault, our guide had everyone switch off their torches so we were in complete darkness. Having been locked in the punishment cell in Ruthin Gaol, we’re used to being in a room so dark it makes your eyes hurt. But the girls in front of us were clearly scared. They kept switching their torches on. Samantha told us a story about a little girl, Claire, who was on a tour with her mum. The guide’s torch had died and Claire’s mum went to grab her hand, but Claire wasn’t there. After the guide’s torch switched on, Claire was stood in the corner, facing the wall, Blair Witch style. When her mum asked why had she gone, she replied “someone took my hand.” The guide asked if she thought it was her mum. She answered “no, I knew it wasn’t my mum. My mum doesn’t have claws.”Niddry Street Vaults

A guy burst into the vaults, screaming. The girls in front of us freaked out and rushed backwards. We were at the back of the group so were almost trampled. How could they not see that coming? It’s a classic horror technique. Although the scare did relieve some of the tension, the story would have been creepier without it.

We were gutted this tour didn’t have the cursed stone circle, as we were going to dance in it. We’re booked on the Mary King’s Close tour tomorrow, so unless we can change the time, we’ll have to leave the stone circle for another holiday. We finished the night in the Jekyll and Hyde pub before returning to our Travelodge to see if the entity had scratched us. Sadly it hadn’t. But there were more tours  to come…

City of the Dead

Calamityville Horror at Bristol airport

at the airport!

Finally, after months of waiting and planning, the glorious day had arrived. The Edinburgh ghost hunting holiday. The day started well when Ryan got up and couldn’t find his suitcase. Then he went to buy an auxiliary cable and dropped his driving licence in Morrison’s before discovering he had a cable at home. Then he lost his Jaffa Cakes. We threatened to leave him in Edinburgh. The chances of him finding his way back would be slim. We picked Neen up and we were off. Until we realised we’d forgotten something important. The Red Bull. After an emergency dash to ASDA we were set. The trip to Bristol didn’t involve any wrong turns or random swearing outbursts, because Neen is an experienced traveller to Bristol airport and navigated well. You don’t need Sat Nav when you have Neen Nav. We found the car park easily and parked in the dirt field before boarding the old minibus to the airport. Except we both tried going to Arrivals. Our thinking was, ‘we’re arriving at the airport’. Apparently we needed departures. Note to selves – never travel without adult supervision. Oh wait, we’re 30…

When going through security, the guy took one look at us and Neen and laughed. All the jewellery had to come off, including chains on skirts and boots. Then Lynx and Neen were frisked. Ryan filmed it and was promptly told off and made to delete his video. He protested the lack of Photos Prohibited signs, as he stood in front of one. Unfortunately, the ban on photos forbade the glorious photo opportunity. The guy who had seen us through first, laughed at us putting all our jewellery back on. We then bought a Red Bull before buying a range of studded wristbands and a spiked studded tie. Mostly people hang out in duty free. As our flight was called, Lynx realised she’d dropped her boarding pass. A frantic scour discovered it by the ties. Disaster averted. As we headed out to the plane, Lynx filmed it and was asked to delete it. They were too distracted by her filming to notice Cat taking photos right in front of them 😀 Currently typing this on the plane and it is so exciting! We haven’t been on a plane for 17 years. Tonight we do the Greyfriars Kirkyard ghost tour. We can’t wait!

on the plane!

on the plane!

We took a bus to the city centre as we couldn’t afford a taxi. We sat backwards which wasn’t a wise move as Lynx gets travel sick and at any minute, we waited for the man opposite her to be treated to the inner workings of her digestive system. Thankfully, it didn’t happen. The bus dropped us on Princes Street, our Travelodge was on Queen Street, which was quite a walk when you’re laden down with suitcases, rucksacks, crutches and excitement. A woman must have noticed our confused, panicked expressions as she came over to see if we needed help then directed us to Queen Street. Surprisingly we found our Travelodge without tears. Probably because Neen has an incredible sense of direction. This might be the first holiday where we don’t get lost. We’ll have to find some other way to entertain ourselves. After settling into our Travelodge, we headed into town to look for somewhere to eat before the kirkyard tour. We passed a bar called Jekyll and Hyde then found a bar called Frankensteins. Or The World Famous Frankenstein to be exact. Torn between here and a vegan cafe, the lure of a horror themed evening swayed us. The place is amazing! There is Frankenstein-esque design and the cocktails have Frankenstein names such as Dr Frankenstein and The Bride. We ordered The Generator, which is a mix of vodka, cranberry juice, lime and red bull.  And the chips are vegan. We’re in for a great night.Frankensteins pub, Edinbrugh

We met up with the tour by St Giles Cathedral. We’d booked with City of the Dead Tours. Our tour guide Jerry was brilliant. Absolutely nuts but very entertaining, ducking and creeping past the other tour. Neen and us joined in. Ryan pretended he wasn’t with us. He does that a lot. Think we embarrass him or something…The kirkyard had stunning monuments but when we were further in, we looked at the sparse headstones and were thinking ‘this isn’t much of a graveyard. There’s no-one here’. Turned out, during the plague, they built those plague pits. We were in fact standing on half a million dead bodies. The top soil is made up of 2% human remains and every now and again when it rains, bits of bone seep to the surface. But we weren’t allowed to take any home as souvenirs. It’s considered grave robbing, which is still a hanging offence in Scotland and you will be placed under house arrest until hanging comes back into fashion. Like all past nightmares, it’s bound to happen soon. Look at the seventies hairstyles currently assaulting our visual senses.

We were really looking forwards to someone on the tour being attacked by the MacKenzie poltergeist, especially if it happened to one of the C.A.T.S. team. The one thing our show is missing is a violent poltergeist attack.  And Red Bull sponsorship. As the guide talked about the poltergeist, the group started getting more and more nervous. We were getting more and more excited. Then we were led into the Covenanters prison, where the Covenanters were forced to live naked outside for months, with little food and water. We were taken into a tomb and told the story of a tramp disturbing MacKenzie’s mausoleum and waking the poltergeist. Then a guy in a mask leapt in, shrieking. Most of the tour screamed in terror and shot backwards, further into the tomb. Neen and us didn’t even react. Neen had seen him move into position and we’re really hard to scare. Ryan jumped.264

The tour was brilliant, but the jumping out wasn’t necessary. We were in a graveyard at night, that’s haunted by a violent poltergeist. There doesn’t need to be any tricks. We checked ourselves for scratches, bruises and bites when we got back but sadly we were all unharmed. Maybe next time…

Greyfriar's Kirkyard

Gimpic Funland

This weekend, as an extended celebration of Ryan’s birthday, we went to stay with his mum in Pembrokeshire. She’d planned a weekend of fun and we had no idea what it was so dressed accordingly for anything. PVC and chains. You can’t go wrong with that. Well…the chains might not have been a great idea but nobody died so it worked out ok. Turned out, the fun was to take place in Heatherton Adventure Park, which will hereby be known as Gimpic Funland.  Yes they had most of the events we’d done for the Summer Gimpics – archery, shooting and as a substitute for sumo wrestling, they had body zorbing. So this summer, we will return with other Gimpians and take over the park.

Heatherton, Gimpics

note the oversized overalls

First up was go-karting. Ryan was at a distinct advantage, having watched F1 all his life so he knew about things like race line and cornering, and he plays a lot of racing games. We were going for fun, taking tight corners and using the corners to their maximum curvyness, trying to see if the karts would tip like our Renault 4s. They don’t. First up though – the overalls. We could’ve both fitted inside them and had room for cake. We were like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man after he’d been burst. Not cool. We had to have cut off ones that billowed like sails as we walked. Then we saw the carts. Every adult who used them had their knees bent right up. We estimated the gap between the pedal and the seat was our leg length fully extended.Heatherton, go-karting, Gimpics We were right. In fact, we had to sit forwards on the seat to be able to press the pedals down. But we refused to use children’s carts. It is demeaning enough being us. So Ryan lapped us and Cat came within inches of running him off the road as a result of this.

Heatherton, Gimpics

filthy land lubbers

The next event was Pirate pitch and putt. The course was amazing, with streams, cannons and a shipwrecked boat. We each got a hole in one, much to our surprise because we gave crap a bad name out there. And in keeping with the pirate theme, swore like sailors all the way around the course. Yes there were children there. No we’re not sorry. Pirates don’t apologise.

Following this was lunch then archery. We used the adult bows. Big mistake. They were bigger than us. We’re not kidding. We’re 5’1. The bows were 5’4 long. Heatherton, archery, GimpicsPride refused to allow us to use the children’s bows. Though actually, the guy running it didn’t even suggest it.  And we didn’t have our glasses with us so focusing on the 30ft distance to the target was…challenging. There were 10ft targets but children and pussies used those. Lynx who was terrible in practise, won with 14 points. Cat who was good in practise lost with a crappy 3 points. Not only were the bows comically oversized, they were heavy, so by the time it came to the actual shooting, our arms were shaking with the effort. Clearly we needed more Red Bull.

Heatherton, body zorbing, GimpicsThe next event was body zorbing. This was the most dangerous, fun event of the day. Basically, the top half of your body is in a big inflatable ball, leaving your legs free to run. And the object is to slam into each other and knock each other over. One problem – he gave us adult zorbs. Everyone else’s zorbs came down to below their arses. Ours came down to our knees. So when we were down, we couldn’t get back up. And these things were heavy. We could barely walk in them. Imagine being trapped inside a big medicine ball. That was us. We bounced and rolled like pros. Kids were waiting to come in but the guy refused to let them in with us three, we were that dangerous.  It was like having our own special Gimpic ring. And we were the only 3 going around the go-kart track. It’s like they knew this was a preliminary Gimpics. Cat picked up injury to her bad knee, bruising the old operation scars but you can’t have the Gimpics without injury.

We then moved on to pistol shooting. The tiny targets at 20ft away proved impossible to see without our glasses. And no one told us how to aim the damn thing. For people who’ve never fired guns, we didn’t know you had to line the sight up with the gap at the back of the gun. Ryan only decided to tell us halfway through. So we were embarrassingly crap. Cat hit the target 11 times, scoring 23 points, Lynx hit it 16 times, scoring 38 points and Ryan hit it 23 times, scoring 52.

We’re going to have to get into training for the Summer Gimpics, maybe do more weight training to compensate for the heavy equipment. They also had water zorbing there but we ran out of credits, but we can see that being a fun Gimpic event. But they really need to have equipment designed for small adults. For a start, they need women’s overalls for the go-karting and they need slightly smaller bows for the archery. We’re too big for most kid stuff and frankly, as adults, having to use child equipment is demeaning. They need in between sizes, like for adolescents. Ryan’s mum is the same height as us so would have the same problem. There are tiny women out there people and we demand proper size equipment.

We spent the evening in Tenby – for those who don’t know about the fun time we spent in Tenby last time with chavs shouting out how appreciative they were of our uniqueness, you can read about it here. Last night they were just as welcoming. One guy muttered ‘Goths’ as we walked past. We were so grateful, all these years we couldn’t work out why we dress like we do and this guy has opened our eyes. Thank you, kind man, we’re no longer ignorant. Someone else said “are they going to a funeral?” No. We wear skirts and dress smart for funerals. The rest of the people just gawped. We got a smile from a young, good looking policeman but it was probably out of sympathetic pity for the welcome we were about to receive. We will make it our mission to avoid Tenby in future. They’re just not ready for us.

This summer, the Gimpics will be going to Heatherton. So lock away your kids. This is going to get dangerous.

Reading Festival

We had our first ever library on Saturday in Cathays Library. Yes, we should have blogged about this on Sunday, but we’ve been busy formatting and this is the first chance we’ve had to blog about it. We were incredibly nervous and part of us hoped the rain that day would cause a freak flash flood and the reading would be cancelled. Even though the library isn’t by the Taff, so that wouldn’t have happened. This was one day we wished we were back on the Propranolol.

Disenchanted Soul Asylum C L RavenAs it was our first reading, we had no idea what to expect. We’d only started rehearsing the week before. We were memorising our bits between the readings because we didn’t want to read from a script. It never sounds natural doing it that way. Our sister, Sarah, made a lovely display of our books (the postcards were arranged neatly, but our niece had got to them by the time this photo was taken).

Luckily nobody noticed our shaking hands or the shaking Red Bull can whenever we took a drink. Ryan filmed the whole thing so as soon as it’s edited, we’ll put the link up so you can watch it for yourselves.

The reading itself seemed to go down well. Soul Asylum, C L RavenPeople laughed when they were supposed to, nobody fell asleep and our grampy even put his hearing aid in so he could hear it. He never gets to see us in a professional capacity, so it was nice for him to see what we actually do all day. As we’re the only unemployed ones in the family, he’s got to see the rest of our family be successful with jobs, families etc., but we’re the ones who don’t have ‘a proper job’ and still live with our mum, so we were pleased he came and that he enjoyed it.

We read chapter 1 of Soul Asylum then a short extracts from chapters 2 and 26. After that, we read a short extract from all 10 stories in Disenchanted. We even played their trailers, though the lack of whiteboard & TV meant we had to hold our laptop up. We probably wouldn’t do this in the future, but we had an hour to fill.

So the reading was fine. There was only one problem – only our family and friends showed up. We are massively grateful for their support and know we can count on them to be our rent-a-crowd, but the whole point of this was to promote ourselves and our books, and possibly sell some if we’re lucky. But if the only people who come have already bought our books and know who we are, it defeats the object. We have another reading in June and part of us is tempted to cancel it. Not because we didn’t enjoy it, because we did, but because it’s a lot of effort and stress to go through if the only people who will turn up are our own people. We might as well hold a reading in our living room.P1040770

There was plenty of publicity surrounding the reading – Cathays Library made posters and flyers, the Cardiff Libraries Twitter and Facebook accounts were publicising it, we were publicising it, but still, nothing. This does seem to be a problem for us – it doesn’t matter how many blogs we guest on, or act on marketing advice, we still can’t sell books. Even winning the Get More Exposure book trailer competition only sold 4 copies and that was promoted to 30,000 people.

But there was definite highlight for us (apart from having our wonderful friends and family there) – we got to meet our Twitter friend, Cheyenne and her husband, Dugald, who travelled from Bristol to come to our reading.  We took them to a pub afterwards and hung out for a couple of hours, which we really enjoyed.

So would we do it again? Probably. But maybe we should wait until people actually know who we are. Or we could go to Plan B. Kidnapping people for a reading isn’t illegal, is it? Oh. Only if we let them go…


Out to lunch

Hello! We’re not in Ravens Retreat today, instead we’re hiding out at Linda Parkinson-Hardman’s blog, Woman on the Edge of Reality. Come over and say hi. We reveal what we wanted to be when we were younger (surprisingly, writers wasn’t our first choice), what inspires us, that no one ever wrote love songs about tea, and where exactly we would hide a dead body. Yes, we’ve thought this through. Yes you can borrow it 🙂

There’s also a giveaway of our books, so pick whichever one you want, be it print or ebook, we will ship anywhere.

Burn After Reading

We know we only blogged two days ago, so apologies for another bombardment, but we keep forgetting to mention we’ll be doing a library reading in Cathays Library in Cardiff, and as it is in a week, we thought we ought to announce it. Our terrible memories are legendary so PLEASE remind us to show up! 😀

Cathays Library, C L RavenFirst, check out the cool poster Cathays Library made for us. Isn’t it lovely? As the poster says, we will be in Cathays Library next Saturday at 4 p.m. We will be reading from Soul Asylum and Disenchanted, plus talking about the books and taking questions. We’ll also bring along copies of our books for anyone who wants to buy a signed copy. They’ve scheduled us to talk for an hour so be prepared for awkward silences, uncomfortable coughing and maybe random dance routines to break the tension.

Weirdly, we do have an actual tie to Cathays. The library is next door to one of our favourite graveyards – Cathays Cemetery. It’s where we filmed the book launch video for Soul Asylum. For those of you who have a print copy, you’ll know there are gravestones on the back cover. Those photos (it’s more than one) were also taken at Cathays Cemetery. When our story, Field of Screams, won Writing Magazine’s ghost story competition, the author photo we sent them, was taken in Cathays Cemetery after we’d got horribly lost in it.

So if you’ve got nothing better to do on a Saturday, come along and say hi. And stay for the reading 😀 We would offer you a bribe, but we lack the skills to rob a bank and health and safety vetoed us bringing along shortbread. (N.B Health and safety have also vetoed the random dance routines). We can’t promise you good times, no wait, we CAN promise you good times and you’ll get to hang out in a beautiful library, right next to a Victorian cemetery.  And if it all goes horribly wrong, that’s where we will be hiding. It’s a BIG cemetery, so you’ll never find us 😉 But please keep heckling, booing and bottle throwing until AFTER we’ve finished reading the extracts. Joining in will just distract us 😀

Thirteen Ghosts

In the aftermath of finishing Bleeding Empire, we had a couple of days of not writing then immediately got bored. We’d been planning our Bleeding Empire board game, beta reading and editing our Calamityville Horror episodes, but we weren’t working. Boredom does terrible things to us. If we’re lucky, we just feel frustrated. If we’re unlucky, the darkshines descend then we spiral into a pit of hating our work, feeling despondent, despair and utterly hopeless. So boredom is a bad thing. Ryan said to us “why don’t you relax? Read something, or watch TV?” Our response – “we’re like sharks. If we don’t keep moving, we’ll die.”

The idea of spending the day watching TV when we could be working fills us with horror. Actually, time spent not working, caring for the pets or exercising feels like time wasted. So we did the only thing that would keep the darkshines at bay – we wrote two new ghost stories. One is written for Writing Magazine and is about a woman who’s waiting for the ghost of a headless smuggler and the other is about two guys in a band who stumble across creepy wraiths in a graveyard. Then our mum reminded us of an idea she had a couple of months ago – to put all of our ghost stories into a collection. We liked the idea, but didn’t think we had enough for a collection. Turns out, we have 11. We’d like to have 13, so need to write a couple more. There’s only one problem – so far, all the stories only add up to about 30,000 words. Half the length of Disenchanted. As we’d like to bring this out in print, it needs an injection of words. We haven’t yet set a date for when it will be released, but it will probably be around June/July, which is when Disenchanted was released.

So this week we’ve been redrafting all the stories we’ve earmarked for the collection (which is going to be called Deadly Reflections). We’ve already added 1000 words to two stories and redrafted two more. One of them, Deadly Reflections, was published by Dark Fire Fiction two years ago. We’ve always liked that story. It’s one of our oldest and we thought it was as good as we could get it. We were wrong. Two years has taught us a lot more and when we read it, we were disappointed. It wasn’t as good as we remembered. There was too much telling rather than showing and it just didn’t feel right. So it’s been put under our surgical knife and had an overhaul. It’s not ready to have its bandages removed yet, but when it is, it will be completely transformed, whilst retaining enough of its original features that it will be recognisable.

Then we started to panic. In another two years’ time, we will have learned even more about writing. So will we look back at our collections and novel and think “how the hell could we let them go out looking like that?” Probably. But we can always rewrite them in two years. That’s the beauty of self-publishing.