The road so far

Every year, our New Year’s Resolution never changes: Do Something Different. This year, we smashed it.

VeniceWe went away for our birthday in February for the first time, visiting somewhere we’ve never been: Venice. We rode Vaporettos, tried Gelato (yum) and pizza for the first and probably last time (ych a fi, that taste still haunts us) and went to an insane Asylum museum on a separate island. We deliberately got lost so we could explore every part of Venice. We went to Murano and visited the glass museum. Sadly we didn’t get to go to Poveglia, the plague island. Maybe next time…It was an amazing experience and we still miss it, even though the dogs wouldn’t come and say hello. Venice is an incredible place. The architecture, the canals, the museums (we visited 11) and due to going in February, there were hardly any tourists.Venice

SpainIn May, we went to Spain for the first time to visit our friend, Cinta. It was an unexpected holiday, but we’re glad we said yes. We also went to Gibraltar. It would’ve been rude not to, as we were so close. Fortunately, we didn’t get mugged by monkeys. That would’ve been a low point. We also learned to drive a left-hand drive car on the other side of the road. That was a terrifying experience! But we loved every minute of it. Particularly the vegan ice cream. We also visited the historic town of Ronda, which we meant we got to drive through the Spanish mountains.

We also did something this year that absolutely terrified us –  we started gymnastics. Our coach came up to us in Comic Con (Cat knew him from physio class four years ago) and said the magic words: “You know what will help you with polefit? Joining my gymnastics class.” So we did. A month later, because it took us that long to pluck up the courage to go. We’ve never done a forward roll, cartwheel or handstand in 34 years of living. Mostly, the fear of breaking our necks always stopped us from trying them. Most kids don’t have that fear, but we did. Now we can do them. Sort of. We can also do somersaults. Can’t land them though. We’re learning handsprings, backflicks, roundoffs, front walkovers, handstands on the beam, Aerials. Haven’t yet mastered a single one of them though but we’re persistent. We’re also doing Acro Yoga poses for funsies. Mostly we fail and face plant and ruin our coach’s prep work. We prove nothing is fool-proof. Starting gymnastics at an age where most people have retired, isn’t easy. Especially when we’ve never done it before and everyone else is much younger and better than us. But we’re conquering our fear and doing things we never thought we could do.It’s a very frustrating, soul-destroying sport that inflames our darkshines to the point we want to quit. But we’ve made some awesome new friends, in particular, two women, both called Sarah. We would’ve quit if it wasn’t for them.acro balance

paddleboardingPaddleboarding with fellow poledancers was certainly a new thing. We thought we’d be shit and end up in the water. We were actually pretty good! And we instantly fell in love with it, imagining ourselves as Olympic champions. Turns out it’s not a competitive sport. Oh well. Though a woman has paddleboarded across the Channel, so it could be a cheap way for us to get to France.

acro balanceIn November, another gymnast, Si, messaged us with the words “Warrior Training will help you with polefit.” Next thing we know, we’re in a gym in Caerleon running on a treadmill, lifting weights and pushing a monstrosity called a Prowler while Si graciously takes being sworn at as he increases our treadmill speed and adds more weights. Usually, people take offence when you flip them off, but Si just responds with “I love your fighting spirit.” This is going to be a brilliant relationship. During our first session, pushing the prowler up and down the gym nearly killed us. By our fourth session, doing it with 30 kg weights didn’t seem as hard. Then we went up to 40kg. In just four sessions our strength has dramatically improved. Now we’re going to enter something called the WOLF run. We HATE running! 6 miles of Woods, Obstacles, Lakes and Fields. But you get a cool medal and t-shirt at the end. They’re our motivations for doing it.Warrior Training

warrior trainingWhile poledancing is not a new thing for this year, conquering our fear is. Considering we used to be scared of being upside down, we’re now doing pole flips and drops and even spinning upside down! We’re loving the progress we’re making and we’re finally starting to look a little graceful! We did a routine to Marilyn Manson’s Killing Strangers that our teacher, Amy, devised and thanks to Hannah, we finally beat our nemesis move – The Superman – by flipping in to it. We don’t do things the easy way!

We also did something else  scary – starting our own radio show! It’s something we’ve always wanted to do, but never had the guts or opportunity. Then our friends, Jack and Laura, started volunteering at Vitalize Radio in Torfaen. They suggested we get our own show, then Jack spoke to our boss, Dan, who loved our idea of a horror show. We now host The Graveyard Shift every Friday 7-9 p.m. We love it and talk all things horror. We even get to play our own choice of music, which means we have to upload it to the system, because whilst there’s a load of Beyonce and Little Mix, Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson are sadly underrepresented. Until now.Vitalize Radio

Frightmare

with one of our sets at Frightmare

In September we got a job helping to build a Halloween attraction on a farm in Gloucester, thanks to our best mate, Neen. We love Frightmare and visit it every year. This year we got to help build it! We spent our breaks patting the animals and threatening to ride the ostriches. And of course the three of us went along, dressed up, to enjoy the fruits of our labour. We loved every minute of it and even offered to pole dance at next year’s show. Halloween itself was spent watching a Burlesque performance for the first time with our other best mate, Andrew.

Frightmare

working hard at Frightmare

Getting a new tattoo counts as doing something different, right? We commemorated our love of poledancing by getting a poledancing fairy tattoo. The wings match the butterfly wings we each designed for our mum’s tattoo. While our broken raven tattoos represent starting to heal from twenty years of mental illness, the poledancing fairies represent the next stage of finally becoming comfortable with ourselves, with our bodies, and celebrating the enormous fear we’ve overcome since starting polefit. We would never have started gymnastics or warrior training if it wasn’t for polefit. We would still be refusing to expose any part of our bodies that isn’t our arms.

poledancing tattoo, gothic fairy tattoo,

Cat’s tattoo

We got our lips and ear lobes pierced. Now, we love getting tattoos. We get so excited about it. Piercings, we hate. We get so scared we nearly hyperventilate. It doesn’t make sense. So we decided to get it all over with in one go and get three piercings done at once. That was a load of agony we could’ve done without! But we don’t regret it and will hopefully get some new piercings next year.

poledancing tattoo, gothic fairy tattoo

Lynx’s tattoo

Frightmare

with our boss, Matt, and best mate, Neen, at Frightmare

And we’ve actually had a pretty good writing year. Well, the end of the year anyway. The start was shit, as always. We were asked to participate in a Dead Authors Death Match at Bristol Horror Con. We picked Poe, of course. And we did a reading of The Malignant Dead. Our horror story, Some Strings Attached was published by Burdizzo Books in the Reverend Burdizzo’s Hymn Book. Our travel article, Culture Shock, about our disastrous trip to Paris won second prize with Writing Magazine. A horror comedy, Pretty Vacant was shortlisted in the To Hull and Back competition and is out now. Another story, Hell’s Bells, has just been published in Australia in a Christmas horror anthology. Our first Australian publication! The Art of Dying was shortlisted by Crystal Lake and very nearly published. Deadhead has made it through to the second round of voting with Dark Moon Digest in America.

dressing up for Halloween gymnastics

ClownfaceWe also got work on an indie horror film, Clownface. We were hired as Costume and Set Dressers and also did the role of Second Assistant Camera, Sound, Runners, Props and Makeup. We get so nervous working with people because we’re used to working alone and we had to live with them. This was a major stressor for us but we coped. Even if we did end up Hulking out and screaming at people for constantly refusing to do the washing up. But from that, we were asked to write our own film. So we’ve adapted The Black Kiss from Romance is Dead trilogy and next year, we will become directors as we shoot it. We’ve also helped on our mate Dave’s film. Lynx got to die and Cat got to be a newborn demon and we helped crew it.

We’ve had some losses this year – our guinea pig, Reggie, and two of our cats – adopted stray Moussy and our beloved Warlock. And the year has ended pretty shittily for us in terms of finances, which has meant that our plans to spend our next birthday in Rome have gone the way of the Roman Empire. However, we’ve achieved a lot and next year we’re going to do even more. Or die trying. Either way.

polefit

Planet of the Apes

Rock of GibraltarToday was the day we had been waiting for – the day we would get mugged by monkeys. Ok, technically they are macaques, which are apes, but ‘mugged by monkeys’ sounds funnier. From the moment Neen suggested visiting Gibraltar, she’s been looking forward to seeing us wrestling monkeys for our phones, food and self-respect. Seeing as Lynx managed to leave a phone on the plane home from America and knock another phone in the Seine, it would be a challenge for her not to lose it to a monkey. Our mum gave us a bumbag to keep them safe. In America, bumbags are called fanny packs, whereas in Britain, ‘fanny’ is a slang term for ‘vagina’. GibraltarNeedless to say, there were countless jokes about putting stuff in our fannies. Cinta had sent us videos of the apes stealing people’s glasses and phones, and our sister regaled us of hilarious tales of our brother in law being chased by an ape. We wear glasses and while it would be safer to go without them, we would not see the monkeys until it was too late. “Is that a paper bag ahead?” would soon become “Oh dear god! It’s eating my face!” Would we escape unscathed? Possibly. Would our self-esteems cope with losing a fight with an ape? No. If our self-esteems were hooked to an ECG machine, they’d be calling in experts to see if they had a pulse.

Gibraltar

cable car selfie!

We set off for Gibraltar and got excited when we saw a Pink Smartcar on our way, though it was one of the pale ones, not the deep pink of General Pinkinton. We’d also spotted Renault 4s and Renault 4 vans on our trip and lamented that they hadn’t been available to hire. We’d have no trouble driving those, seeing as we own two of them. The minute we crossed into Gibraltar, we could tell we were on British soil – it was cold and foggy and there was nowhere to park. Gibraltar drivers are crazy! We eventually found somewhere to park, which was right at the base for the cable cars. We had chips and lemonade in a pub across the road. It’s so weird. Everything is British yet they still drive on the right and a lot of them speak Spanish. Annoyingly we forgot our British wallets and they charged more to change into Euros. So if you go to Gibraltar, pay in sterling, it works out cheaper.Gibraltar apesGibraltar ape

We rode the cable car to the top of the rock and went to the souvenir shop to look for a pin badge. We have a travel rucksack and buy pin badges from every new place we visit to put on it. We managed to find one with a monkey and the rock on. There were monkeys on the railings as you headed into the gift shop. One was eating a pack of biscuits and one looked like it had crumbs all over its face. Another one kept posing for photos every time a camera was pointed at it. We cautiously sidled up to it for a selfie and managed to get one without losing our phone or our dignity. And we got to quote the fabulous line from Kong: Skull Island “is that a monkey?” When we went to Venice, we got to quote from Back to the Future : “where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” We now feel that having a movie quote for every place we visit is as essential as learning their basic language.Gibraltar ape

We headed down through the nature reserve to St Michael’s Cave. One taxi driver got a monkey to sit on people for photos but only those who went up in the taxi were allowed to have a photo with it. The monkey had other ideas and leapt on Cat’s back. They were united in their view of ‘rules were made to be broken’. In hindsight, putting our strawberry perfume in her hair (to make the smell last longer) was a mistake. But no harm came to Cat and she didn’t achieve Internet fame by wrestling with an ape, much to Neen’s dismay. Gibraltar apeThough the monkey did refuse to get off her and kept playing with her hair. In the end we had to summon the taxi driver for assistance. Getting a monkey through airport security would prove tricky. Claiming it’s a fetching rucksack would fail when the monkey starts biting travellers and peeing on the conveyor belt.

St Michael's CavesSt Michael’s caves were stunning and one area was huge – they use it as a concert hall. There were coloured floodlights which made them look lovely, but it was very difficult to take photos then. The phone took better photos than the camera. The stalactites were impressive. The caves don’t cover a huge area, unlike Dan yr Ogof, but they are well worth a visit. The next place on our list was the Great Siege Tunnels. We wanted to see the Ape’s Den so Neen and Cinta went an easier route. Apparently, there’s such a thing as too many monkeys. The Apes Den was just a wooden shelter with fruit under it and two monkeys. Not quite the den of apes we were hoping for. We’d expected to fight our way through a tunnel system with monkeys leaping out at all sides. Like a zombie attraction. Needless to say, we were a little disappointed. We didn’t see a single tourist get mauled. Sad times.St Michael's Caves

Great Siege TunnelsThe Great Siege Tunnels were interesting. The Siege lasted from 1779-1783 and they were also used during WW2. Neen and Cinta stopped halfway – Cinta doesn’t like caves as she’s claustrophobic and Neen couldn’t be arsed to walk down to look at more caves so we went by ourselves. We’re descended from miners, we’re genetically programmed to love caves. They had mannequins in there, which as many people know, are a favourite thing of ours to molest. We behaved ourselves and didn’t act inappropriately towards them. They had cannons and we didn’t think we’d come off well. Plus, they looked ‘judgy’.

Great Siege Tunnels

Tunnel rats

Moorish castle

Inside the Moorish castle

We then wanted to go and see the Moorish Castle. Neen and Cinta headed back to the pub we went to before. The Castle was just a tower with one floor and the roof but it was interesting to see a Moorish castle. SatNav then took us through the town centre to get to the pub. It was like walking on a normal British high street with Marks and Spencer, Debenhams, Peacocks, Top Shop, etc. Gibraltar’s a little disappointing. It was nice but nothing special. It’s like being back in the UK but with lizards. We stopped at Trafalgar Cemetery, which is misleading because only two of the soldiers who died at the battle of Trafalgar are buried there. The rest are victims of yellow fever. We met back at the pub and had some more chips then headed home. Our calves haven’t yet forgiven us for all that downhill walking. Lynx hobbled for the rest of the holiday. If we can’t now break a man’s neck with our calves, we are going to be very disappointed.Gibraltar