Whitby Goth Weekend

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

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

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

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

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

Whitby Goth Weekend

badges of honour

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

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

Robin Hood's Bay

Not your usual beachwear

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

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

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

Carry on Camping

Three Cliffs Bay

Three Cliffs Bay

After we’d been camping in Tenby in July, Ryan bought a tent and was determined to use it before camping season ended. So he booked a two night stay in Three Cliffs Bay in the Gower for himself and our mates Rich and Hannah. We weren’t going to go because Cat had her knee operation on August 28th and we weren’t sure if her knee could withstand camping four weeks after the op. Then we heard the forecast was for rain. Camping in the rain wouldn’t bother us, but being stuck in a tent with nothing to do would drive us insane, especially when we knew there were castles to explore. This week we’d finally made up our minds to go. And the forecast improved. We discovered that two of the castles nearby were haunted so we arranged for Neen, the newest member of Calamityvile to join us at Oystermouth. Forget camping, this was Calamping.

Ryan went straight to the Gower after work so we joined him later in the evening, doing some beast spotting as we travelled through country lanes. We’re not experts in cryptozoology but we debunked some beast sightings as sheep and wild ponies. By the time we got to the campsite, the daylight was dying, so we assembled Ryan’s tent by headlights and luck. Rich & Hannah got lost so didn’t arrive for another hour. We spent the evening playing the card game Avalon, which always descends into wild accusations of treachery and passionate pleas of innocence and causes you to manipulate and yell at your friends. It’s a lot of fun.

Pennard Castle

Pennard Castle

Saturday morning we were all set for exploring Three Cliffs Bay and Pennard Castle. Pennard is supposedly haunted by a Gwrach y Rhibyn, a Welsh banshee. She’s hideous with black leathery bat wings, waxy skin, rotting teeth and straggly hair. She usually haunts moats and crossroads and on a rainy night, will rise from the depths and call the name of the person doomed to die, like a terrifying game show host. Once she’s called your name, she returns for you and knocks on your bedroom window before dragging your soul to Hell, without giving you the chance to claim the star prize. She features in one of our stories in Deadly Reflections so we had to see if we could find her. There is also a rumour that if you spend the night in Pennard Castle, the Gwrach y Rhibyn causes you to go mad. We were tempted.

We tried to find a way to the beach from our campsite. Us and Rich were all for hacking our way through the brambles and steep drop that bordered our campsite but Ryan and Hannah talked us out of it. After failing to find a way down, we asked the owner. Having to ask how to get to our locations kind of ruined the adventure feel we’d set out with. We walked to the beach and crossed the serpentine estuary via stepping stones onto sand dunes. They soon gave way to marshland, where we determined grooves gouged into the ground were the drag marks of beast victims. We spotted paw prints with claws, which we were certain were beast prints. We considered warning other tourists as they seemed oblivious to the danger, but then we decided against it. The beast would need to eat and we refused to be on the menu. With the castle lurking on the cliff above us, we could believe we were in an epic fantasy, as part of an invading army marching to storm the castle. Well, if you can have an army of five armed only with crutches, shortbread and determination.

Pennard Castle

this way to the castle

After marching across a wooden walkway beside the estuary, we saw the way to the castle – a steep sandy slope. We decided to rest at the bottom and eat a bag of Sainsbury’s ready salted crisps before attempting to tackle it. By the time we got to the top we were too exhausted to storm it so just stumbled up to it, trying to catch our breaths. It was hardly the ferocious siege we’d envisioned. We beat the other three to the top and had already explored it by the time they joined us. Turns out, Pennard is basically two walls. It the hardest we’ve ever worked to get to a castle and we had to cross a field of murderous cows to reach Old Beaupre. Behind the castle was a golf course, which totally ruined our imaginations of this epic fantasy setting. You wouldn’t wander out of Winterfell onto the eighteenth hole.

Pennard Castle

Hannah, Rich, Ryan & creepy guy

Whilst we were exploring, we saw a guy walking through the grounds. We avoided him and hid through one of the arches. He stopped to talk to the others. After a while, we wandered over to join them and within seconds, our spidey senses were tingling. This guy gave off a vibe so wrong it almost made our K2 light up. After he told us we’d look good in films, we scarpered. And his teeth were unnaturally white and straight. They really didn’t fit with his face. Our first thought was the police might have his teeth impressions on file after a dastardly case of cannibalism and he’d replaced them with dentures to avoid detection. After he’d gone, Rich and Hannah both said they’d been creeped out by him. Luckily Rich had one of Cat’s crutches, so if the guy had tried anything, Rich could have whacked him off the mountain with the crutch. Rich even pulled Hannah away from the guy and got the crutch ready should the creepy teeth man attempt anything murderous.

Then there was another bizarre incident. A woman was cradling some cloth then sat beside our group and opened the cloth. Inside were 6 or 7 enormous mushrooms. She kept watching us as she examined the mushrooms, like she was paranoid we were going to take them. We half expected her to snarl ‘my precioussss’ whilst glowering. She then gathered them up in the cloth and walked away.

We decided to rest and enjoy the view – we could see General Pinkinton perched on the top of the slope even from this distance, like a glowing pink beacon of hope – before heading back when a dog started barking. We could see it in the ferns not far from us. Then we heard a bag rustling in the bushes, along with a quiet voice telling the dog to shush. The dog wouldn’t stop barking. Every now and again, its owner tried to stop it barking, but she didn’t leave the bush or raise her voice. After thinking back on the events at the castle, Rich came up with a theory – everyone we’d met at the castle had been driven mad by the Gwrach y Rhibyn. Then we heard a strange musical whistling. After standing there, confused and wondering if we were all hallucinating, Hannah worked out what it was – the wind blowing through the holes in Cat’s crutches and turning them into musical instruments. After the experiences we’d had, we wouldn’t have been surprised if the music came from fairies trying to lead us into the perpetual dance.

The trip back to the campsite was a mad rush because we’d arranged to meet Neen at 3 p.m. at Oystermouth and it was already 2:25 p.m. By the time we got back to the campsite, it was about 3 p.m. After guzzling some cake and Red Bull, we were ready to go. Cat was back on her crutches on the way back and had slapped an ice pack on her knee. The rest of our group were too exhausted to come, so we headed out alone.

And got utterly, horribly lost.

Oystermouth Castle

Oystermouth Castle

First off, the AA route planner forgot to mention a T junction then the next instructions were to drive for 4 miles and we’d arrive on Newton Road. We were on the phone to Neen, who was trying to find us on her 3G. She was on Newton Road and according to the road sign, so were we. But we weren’t in the same place. We were wondering whether there was some weird parallel universe thing happening. Turns out, we were above Newton Road, on some sort of fake Newton Road. We had to take a windy downhill road to join Newton Road. Neen was parked opposite the police station. We drove through Oystermouth. No police station. We drove back through Oystermouth. Still no police station. And so began another Calamityville meltdown. Most of that journey will have to be bleeped out. We turned around again and found Neen waiting for us in a junction. We sheepishly followed her to the car park. By this time it was 4:15 p.m. and the castle closed at 5 p.m.

Oystermouth Castle

The prison at Oystermouth

The worker who greeted us was lovely and gave us a map of the castle and told us a bit about it. He was concerned about Cat, as she was on her crutches, but she assured him she’d be fine and we set off. Oystermouth is reputedly haunted by a white lady, with bloodied lashes on her back. The legend is that she was whipped to death and has been seen wandering the grounds, crying. Unfortunately, our tour of the castle was a bit rushed and we only had time to do one EVP session in the prison. The worker told us about other ghosts that had been spotted there – 36 in total. We only wish we’d had more time to explore it properly. As he was ringing the bell for chucking out time, we snuck off for comedy photos with cutout heads.

St Illtyd's churchyard

St Illtyd’s churchyard

Then it was on to St Illtyd’s church in Oxwich, which is supposedly haunted by a Ceffyl Dwr – a water horse. We found no traces of it but the graveyard was stunning, partially set in woods and surrounding a beautiful old church. The horse has been seen by a well in the graveyard. There was no well. Turns out we’re as bad at hunting mythological beasts as we are at hunting ghosts. So we returned to the campsite for a game of Cyclades and more finger pointing rounds of Avalon. Loud music blared out – a band were filming a music video on the beach, complete with floodlights. And they were staying a few tents away from us. They were really good and had a Thirty Seconds to Mars sound to them. After that we were asked by two different people if we were in the band. For some reason, “are you in a band?” is one of the most common questions we’re asked. Guess camping in our best Gothic clothes makes us stand out. Unfortunately, we have the musical talents of an octopus.

Weobley Castle

Weobley Castle

The next morning we packed up, hung out at the campsite for a bit then we headed for Weobley castle while Ryan, Rich and Hannah headed home. We only got lost twice. Once we ended up driving through what appeared to be moors, with ponies and cows guarding the road. We knew we’d gone wrong when the turning right in 0.7 miles didn’t exist over 2 miles later. We turned around and ventured off down country lanes, once again taking another wrong turn before some ramblers pointed us in the right direction. Weobley castle was lovely. We closed the gate behind us, declared the castle ours and kicked out the peasants. At one point we were the only people there. A sign warned visitors to take care to avoid accidents. Cat nearly had two, going over on her ankle which resulted in her nearly falling off the wall we were climbing on. Then she tripped.

Then we tried to get home. With no AA route planner and only an Atlas and our dodgy memories to help us. We figured we’d just retrace our route back to the campsite. It seemed easy. Bad move. We put a call into NASA to see if their satellites could find us and even they shrugged their shoulders and wished us luck. Miles and miles of country lanes and moor type lands later, we found houses and pulled over to stare at the map, trying to look like we knew what we were doing. We clearly weren’t fooling anyone as a nice pensioner came over to offer assistance. He soon pointed us in the right way. So we set off, full of hope.

And promptly got lost.

Weobley Castle

Taking over Weobley Castle

Happy Campers

Our mate Neen turned 30 on Friday and like all 30th parties, it had to be memorable. Plus she had our fancy dress and bouncy castle party to compete with. Think she trumped us. We spent the weekend camping in Tenby with a trip to Heatherton adventure park. We know last summer we vowed to never return to west Wales after the welcome we received, but we couldn’t say no to this trip. We haven’t been camping since we were 13 and that was in our aunt’s back garden in Guernsey. There were 14 of us in total. For the first time we got to take our pink Smartcar on a road trip as Ryan would be staying in west Wales to look after his mum who’s hopefully coming out of hospital today. We won. We didn’t tell Ryan, Sarah and Craig we were racing as General Pinkinton only has a top speed of 85 & they would’ve trounced us. But a victory is still a victory.

Meadowfarm camp siteWe got to Meadowfarm camp site and immediately pitched our tent. It’s a great camp site, with stunning views and best of all, a freezer in reception where you can store your ice blocks. That came in very handy, even if the trek up and down the steep hill to reception was a killer. Still, it kept us fit and out of mischief. We’d definitely stay there again. In the excitement of camping, we’d bought camping mats, sleeping bags, air beds, chairs & Ryan bought other equipment. We weren’t going to bother with chairs, but Ryan persuaded us that going camping didn’t mean we had to go feral. It turned out, our 3 man tent did not mean 3 air beds. No, we didn’t check this before setting off. So we spent 2 nights with the 3 of us squished onto 2 single air beds. It’s a good job we’re all friends. After staying up ’til one a.m. then not sleeping all night, we woke at 7 ready for Heatherton. On the hottest day of the year.

The first competition took place on the go-karts. Round one was us, Ryan, Neen and Richard. On the second lap, Cat took a fast corner too fast and spun her kart, much to the delight of the spectators. After managing to turn it and drive through the pits, it was game on. But we lost. As much as we love karting, we seriously suck at it. We’d spent the week watching go-karting videos and studying the racing lines on the Heatherton track so we could win. But when it came to the race, the racing line was forgotten. Neen and Ryan lapped us twice. They are very serious racers. Not entirely sure who won that race, think it was Ryan but they’re both claiming winner’s rights. The second group was Craig, Amy, Rachel (AKA Gibbon), Nici and Zoe.

Next up was the bumper boats. heatherton adventure parkWe watched others do this and it kinda looked boring as they chugged around the water slowly. We all got in the boats and turned them into the bumper boats they were supposed to be. We discovered if you turned the engine all the way to one side, the boat would spin really fast, making the impact into someone else even greater. Think we set a bad example to others because after we got out, everyone started spinning the boats.

body zorbing, Heatherton adventure parkThen we moved on to body zorbing. Last time we did this, we used the adult balls. But they were way too big for us, came down past our knees, which made getting up difficult and they were really heavy. So this time we requested children’s zorbs. Big mistake. They weren’t anywhere near as padded so we felt every impact of hitting the ground, like whiplash. We were up against Neen, Ryan and Zoe. Zoe and Neen are roller derby girls so are very fit and strong. We’re fit and strong for our size, but we’re also very small. Needless to say, us and Neen were the ones on the floor for most of the fight. We couldn’t get Ryan and Zoe down. Even when us and Neen teamed up, we couldn’t get them down. Ryan was the only one could fell Zoe. We trooped out of the arena battered, bruised and barely able to move. Lynx’s back bent the wrong way against the ropes, making her Scoliosis protest vehemently at this abuse. Then Cat’s bad knee went. Despite quickly slapping on the Deep Freeze ice patch and her brace, the damage was done. The pain was so bad she couldn’t walk but with her crutches at home, there was no choice.

pirate golf, Heatherton adventure parkNext it was pirate golf. We split into teams of 3 or 4 and hit the course. Two balls ended up in the water and Amy bravely waded in to fish hers out. Thinking of it, we all should’ve thrown our balls in just so we could escape the blazing sun. Then it was round 2 of go karting. This time, it was serious. It was us, Neen, Zoe, Ryan and Amy. We were determined not to lose this time. But against Neen and Ryan, we didn’t stand a chance. This time, Ryan spun his kart. And we nearly drove into him 😀 Neen won that bout. Turned out, the kart Cat spun was number 7. The kart Ryan spun was also number 7. This now removes driver error from the accidents. We had a faulty kart. After the race, Cat’s ribs were sore on the left, from where the seat was digging in – there was a swelling there. By night time, the swelling had grown to the size of half a golf ball. For the first time ever, her ribs couldn’t be seen beneath her skin.go-karting, Heatherton adventure park

On our way back to the camp site, we spied a woman sitting in the road. We stopped, wondering if she was drunk or had a stone in her shoe but then she heaved herself to the side of the road on her hands and arse so we could pass. Cat got out and went to see if she was ok – she’d gone over on her ankle down a pothole. An ankle she’d previously broken and had surgery on, and her other leg was badly grazed. Luckily Cat had spare ice patches so we put one on her ankle, helped her up and insisted on giving her a lift to the camp site. We dropped her off outside her tent. Did you see that, Karma? We helped someone. Now pay up.

Sunday morning, we woke feeling like we’d lost a fight with Megazord. We got home at 6pm and all 3 cats flocked to us. Mum hadn’t really seen them all weekend. They knew when their slaves were home and crowded round with untrue tales of starvation and being left alone. They seem to think we’re the only ones who live at Casa Raven. Today we’re still sore and stiff. And tonight we have an hour of zumba with extra half hour of toning. This is going to hurt…Heatherton adventure park