Winchester Mystery House

Winchester Mystery HouseThe day started with an exciting trip to Safeway. We say ‘exciting’ but only because it was our first visit into an American supermarket. In reality, it wasn’t exciting at all. It was just as expensive as the corner shop by our apartment. We were going to buy crisps, but a single bag of crisps in America is the size of a multipack bag over here, yet their cereals come in tiny boxes. Oh and their peaches are so large, we’re convinced a small boy and some insects live inside them. No, we didn’t try them. Would you want to be the person to accidentally eat James?Winchester Mystery House

We went back to our apartment to access Wi-Fi and arranged to meet our friend Marcia as she would be joining us for the Winchester Mystery House. She very kindly offered to drive us to San Jose, where the house is. It’s about an hour south of San Francisco. After an hour of failing to find each other (not having Wi-Fi or 3G is a real pain when trying to arrange a meeting place), we met up at 12 and headed off.

Winchester Mystery HouseThe Winchester Mystery House is amazing! Just as great as we thought it would be, which is a relief because normally things don’t live up to our expectations. We should probably lower our expectations, but we save that for dealing with people. We like to have some hope in our lives. The house was incredible. Sarah Winchester’s husband made the famous Winchester rifles. Following his death from Tuberculosis, a medium told Sarah she would be haunted by the spirits of everyone killed by the rifles but the only way to appease them, would be to never stop building her house. So she bought an 8 room farm house in the middle of nowhere and for 38 years until her death in 1922, builders worked 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at a cost of $5.5 million. She paid them double the going rate.

Winchester Mystery HouseWe did the grand estate tour so we got to go round the house, the garden and behind the scenes in the outbuildings and basement. Our house guide, David was hilarious and not bad looking. And there wasn’t anyone in the group we wanted to feed into a woodchipper, which never happens. We visited 110 of the 160 rooms but weren’t allowed to take photos or film, which is annoying. We can’t produce a ghost hunting episode without filming! None of the furniture in the house is from when Sarah owned it, as it was sold off, though it is from the correct time period.

Winchester Mystery House


Because there were so many rooms and the tour was quite short, we didn’t get to linger or explore anywhere. It was “This is…room.” Move on. “This is the…” Move on. When entering the servants’ quarters, Cat felt a weird wall of energy as she walked through the doorway, like passing through an invisible barrier then in the next room, had what we call ‘fishtank feeling’ – it’s the weird head rush feeling you get you put your hand into a tank of water and the water and light distorts things – It’s happened at quite a few locations now, but other than that, we experienced nothing spooky. Though we weren’t exactly long enough anywhere to experience things.

Winchester Mystery House

Foreman’s house. This was the original size of the Winchester Mystery House

A film crew was there, as they’re making a film about the house, so a small group had come to check it out, which meant we had to wait a couple of times for them to finish in a room before we were allowed to enter. Unfortunately, there were several tours going round, so even if we had manage to lose ours, we would’ve ended up in another group. We would love to explore the house on our own and do an overnight ghost hunt. Though knowing our luck, we’d fall out of the door to nowhere. We asked David if we could sleep there. He said he didn’t mind, but we’d have to be careful not to set off the motion alarms. Our sleep is as restless as a hungry zombie. That would never work.

Winchester Mystery House

water tower

Unfortunately, on the behind the scenes tour, there was a family we could’ve cheerfully fed to piranhas. They annoyed us before we’d even begun the tour. We knew doing two tours without wanting to gleefully and creatively murder someone would be too much to ask for. There is a reason we don’t work with people. The group we’d been with, were somehow on a different behind the scenes tour, which was a shame. We wanted to join them. The outbuildings were interesting – there was the fruit drying shed, stables, garage, car wash, aviary and basement. We were allowed to take photos and film on this tour, but we only filmed shots, not the actual tour. Afterwards, we filmed outside and did our information pieces, so hopefully we still have an episode. Hell, we’ve made episodes from less. And everyone watches them for the locations anyway. Like what we used to do with Most Haunted before deciding DIY dentistry was a better way to pass the time.

Winchester Mystery HouseMarcia wanted to check into her hostel in Marin Headlands across the Golden Gate Bridge, and as we wanted to cross it, we went with her. We reached it close to sunset, so the sky was kinda golden. We could see Alcatraz! Her hostel seemed like a nice place – beautiful views of Golden Gate Park and the buildings are lovely. It’s like a summer camp, but partway up a hill. It instantly reminded us of Camp Crystal Lake and we eagerly awaited the arrival of Jason Vorhees’s mother. Maybe she missed the bus. We returned as the light was failing, so the bridge was lit up, then tried to find somewhere to eat. There was a place that did homemade vegan ice cream, Pena Pachamama, so we headed there. There was nowhere to park and we ended up driving around for 40 minutes. We kept saying that we had food, we were fine, but Neen insists on us eating at least one proper meal whenever we stay somewhere.

Winchester Mystery HouseWe should’ve found somewhere else. It was packed and there was nowhere to sit. The food was mostly vegan, but nothing we’d eat. Why don’t vegan places do fries? We ordered the ice cream and a hazelnut chocolate mousse. For a drink, we had the limeade, which was made from agave – cactus (we had to ask what it was). It was sharp, but just about drinkable. The ice cream was made from almonds and wasn’t too bad. We couldn’t eat more than one spoonful of the mousse and the more we drank the agave, the worse it got. This is why we don’t go to vegan places but prefer to find places that do vegan options. From now on, we’re not going to bother looking for vegan places. If a place doesn’t have something we like, we’re happy to eat our food outside then join our companion afterwards. We did it in the airports, we’ll do it in restaurants and pubs.

Winchester Mystery House

door to nowhere

Food is a real issue with us. We can’t eat food of certain colour, texture, strong taste, smell, or if it looks a certain way. This is why we take food everywhere we go. It’s not a case of being fussy or getting away with it as kids, we physically cannot eat it. Whenever we try new food, we actually have to force feed it to ourselves. Imagine if your spoon was filled with poison or nails but you had to try it – that’s what it feels like when we’re faced with new food. It’s like a phobia. We would LOVE to be able to go out and eat whatever was put in front of us (vegan, obviously) and we envy people who can. This is how we survived not eating in Vegas – when your diet is so limited, you learn not to eat. Winchester Mystery HouseFortunately, we’re much better with drinks, so if we’re hungry, we can fill our stomachs with liquid instead. Eating is very much a social thing. So we don’t socialise that much. It’s easier than having to explain your problem and if you refuse everything you’re offered, you end up looking rude. We had this problem on the planes. Everyone else got a choice of menu. Those with specialised diets were not given an option. It was ‘this is your meal’. We ate the tiny bowl of fruit and forced down the bread roll (we can’t stand bread unless it’s toast but felt we had to eat something) and that was it, the whole 11 hours flight. Next time, we’re not going to bother putting a dietary requirement and just won’t ask for meals. It’ll be better than them having to throw away our untouched food because the smell of it makes us feel sick. The air hostess at the end of the first Virgin flight brought round Love Hearts, which we can eat, and made us take extra as we hadn’t eaten. On the flight back, the bread roll was wholemeal. White bread can be forced, wholemeal cannot.Golden Gate Bridge

But if this day had a disappointing end, the next was bound to be better.

Roll on Alcatraz!Winchester Mystery House

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