Beyond the Grave

the Skirrid InnLast night we spent the night ghost hunting at the Skirrid Inn with Beyond the Grave Tours. It was a return to our roots episode as it was during the Beyond the Grave tour of Ruthin Gaol that kickstarted the abysmal show that is Calamityville Horror. We only nearly got lost a couple of times but made it there with plenty of time to spare. For the record, the blame lies entirely with AA route planner. It told us to take the first exit at one roundabout, sending us to police headquarters. Can’t help thinking this was planned. What it actually meant was second exit. At the final roundabout, it told us to take the fourth exit. But what it meant was third exit. What fools to misunderstand!

We arrived early then Cat embarrassed herself by being unable to open the door that led to the room where all the guests were gathered. So we stayed outside for a bit, sitting in the corner of the Inn like naughty children. We eventually walked in and the tour guides immediately recognised us from Ruthin Gaol. Guess showing up half an hour late in a cloud of rage sticks in people’s minds.

We started the night with a group vigil in bedroom one. There were 19 other guests and 4 tour guides. Some of the guests claimed to be sensitive and were doing the whole Derek Acorah thing of ‘I’m getting a…’ then giving a name. Where were they getting these names? Wikipedia? Lance was one. Lance? Really? We’re in WALES, love. They don’t name people Lance here. Strange how the ones who claimed to be sensitive were also the only ones getting ‘harassed’ by the spirits. Some girls beside us kept complaining their legs were cold, like someone was sitting on them. We were sitting perfectly still for an hour. Of course your legs were cold! The blood flow had  stopped and the room wasn’t heated! Someone else complained they were itchy. Buy a flea collar. We itch all the time. It’s not ghosts harassing us, it’s the cats letting us know we’ve forgotten their Frontline. Ryan said at one point he felt like crying. Guess we should lay off the teasing. One guest said she was feeling angry. We were annoyed but that was nothing to do with picking up on the spirits’ energy, it was just the other guests getting on our nerves. If there was a child spirit touching the girls beside us, why didn’t it come to us? If you look up  ‘child-friendly’ in the dictionary, you’d find our scowling faces with a speech bubble “tell your kids to shut up.”

Two guides were heading out to the cemetery. We went with them. So did everyone else, much to our annoyance. We were hoping the freezing temperatures and midnight hour would scare them off. We left them standing round a gravestone while we explored the graveyard, hunting for the grave of Fanny Price, who supposedly haunts the Inn. Fanny Price's graveThen some girls started screaming and legged it. What did we do? Rush the spot that frightened them. Most Haunted have nothing on us. They claimed they saw a shadow by a tree. Ummmm Lynx had her big external camera light on and was moving around. The likelihood is she projected Cat or Ryan’s shadow onto the tree as we were skulking around the graves like Goth versions of Burke and Hare. It wasn’t a ghost, ladies, it was simple shadow play.

We shook off the group and ventured around the other side of the church. Cat found herself standing on a grave, turned around- Fanny Price’s grave! We decided to do an EVP session there but spent most of the time making jokes at the expense of her name. For our American friends, ‘fanny’ is slang for ‘vagina’. Yes, we are professionals 😀 In the Most Haunted episode we watched Thursday night, friend of the show, Derek Acorah, claimed to have a vision of 4 Price graves and a blank one. There were 4 Price graves, but the ‘blank’ one belong to Charles Warren. Come on Derek, that was clearer than Catherine Price’s engravings. What you should’ve said was “I know there are 4 Price graves but the production crew didn’t gibe me the name on the headstone next to them.”

Anyhoo, during our EVP session, we noticed how quiet the graveyard was. It was midnight, 0 degrees and everyone else had buggered off back to the Inn. We were completely alone. FINALLY! At one point we asked Fanny to give us a sign she was there and a huge gust of wind buffeted us. We’re putting it down to the weather conditions. That or she was  really fed up with the ‘Is Willy in here?’ jokes.

We returned to the Inn to find ourselves locked out. Guess Fanny wasn’t the only one who was sick of us 😀 We took one of the guides, Darran, back to the cemetery to show him the grave. Yes, we dragged a stranger into a pitch black cemetery at midnight. Hell, on Monday we got into a stranger’s car in a secluded wooded lay-by. We flaunt the horror film rules here at Casa Raven. Then we locked ourselves in the storeroom where the condemned prisoners were apparently kept. Nothing paranormal, unless you find boxes of cups terrifying, though Lynx did headbutt a candleholder. Then we headed up to the attic where Lynx knocked over a sign that squashed her toe. By now everyone else was doing a vigil in the bar. So we headed to room 2, apparently the most haunted room. A planchette was set up so we wanted to test our theory that it’s always someone in the group responsible for moving it. We all lightly touched it. As predicted, it didn’t move once, despite us willing it to spell out ‘Ryan is a jerk’. He just doesn’t believe us so spirit confirmation would’ve been epic. C.A.T.S using a planchetteWe then ended our vigil in that room with an impromptu dance session before moving on to room 3. Despite there being 19 other guests, we managed to spend the entire night alone. It was amazing! Room 3, which is supposedly haunted by Fanny, wasn’t very interesting so we headed back down for Red Bull. One of the guests asked us if we’d been bouncing on the beds as they could hear banging when they were downstairs doing their vigil. Bouncing on the beds? Did he think C.A.T.S would be that unprofessional? Excuse us, but we were doing Calamityville Horror, Gangnam style. Forgot they had cameras set up.

After the refreshments, everyone was supposed to gather upstairs for a last group vigil. We went to the bar to our own, using Ryan’s iOvilus. We put the iOvilus inside the tankard apparently used to offer ale to the devil. Sadly it didn’t offer to make us rulers of Hell but came out with a bunch of random words, our favourites being ‘their blood’. We were joined by Jason, who was helping out and when we were telling him about Fanny’s grave, one of the K2 meters started reacting. So we tried having a conversation with her, even resorting to taunting her about standing on her grave. It did react but not very strongly.

We returned upstairs and Ryan dared Cat to walk through the pitch black room one  by herself and go down to the bathroom where a woman claimed a spirit tried to drown her. Like that was a challenge! Shrugging, Cat set off by herself. Seconds later there was a thud followed by a ‘crap!’ as she fell down the top step of the bathroom stairs, much to Lynx and Ryan’s delight. We left the Inn at 3:20 and in true Calamityville style, took the wrong road home and ended up on a road we couldn’t get off, heading for England. Luckily it turned off to Raglan. We arrived home at 4. Ryan went straight to bed. We were up feeding the cats and telling our mum about our adventures (the Raven family don’t sleep much) so didn’t get to bed til 4:35. Still awake at 5:15 then were up at 8 (rare  lie in) to feed and clean out our pets, our neighbour’s pets and our  sisters’ pets. Everyone’s gone away! Ryan surfaced at 11:30. Lightweight.

We had an amazing time and would love to do it again. Though if Beyond the Grave see our dance off, this might be the last time we’re allowed on a vigil. *swinging lassos* Calamityville Gangnam style.noose at the Skirrid Inn

Urban Legends

When the plans for entering a location include Batman/Batgirl costumes, a grappling hook, a kosh and Jelly Babies in case we get hungry, we knew we were in for a fun episode. Episode two, season two of Calamityville Horror was an episode with a difference. Forget the stunning castles, creepy jails and spooky haunted caves. Yesterday was an urban exploration episode. In Pontypridd. The place dubbed one of the worst places to live and is nicknamed ‘Chav Town’, where being mugged for 20p is a regular occurrence. Our guest Rich, recounted his 20p attempted mugging story in full hilarious detail. We started out in the Malster’s Arms, the scene of Ryan and Rich’s drunken youth and also a location we used in one of our novels. The cellar bar is apparently haunted by a maid who hanged herself. Unfortunately we discovered there is no longer public access to the cellar bar. We strongly suspect Ryan and Rich’s drunken youth might have contributed to this 😀 Then we moved on to the location that spawned the wild access ideas dressed as Batman. The abandoned 1880’s theatre above the indoor market.

If you’re imagining a grand Victorian theatre, think again. The outside is a big, ugly concrete block. With no windows. Surrounded by a 12 ft wall. Attempts to squeeze through the padlocked gate failed so we headed into the market hoping to find a disused staircase. No such luck. We’d found photos on an urban exploration forum. Someone had managed to get inside and tantalised us with images of old seating and screens, projection equipment and the derelict beauty of a long forgotten theatre. Inside this hideous concrete slab was a stunning, crumbling timecapsule of Ponty’s history, locked away like a fading film star.

Cat tried to squeeze through the main gates but failed. Lynx tried to slither under another set of gates, but again failed. A couple of passing chavs helpfully told us to try using boltcutters. KNEW we were missing something from our ghost hunting kit. A new plan was needed so we we entered the market, hoping to find a hidden staircase that would lead us to our golden chalice.

We cased the outside, lurking suspiciously by some large metal gates at the back of the theatre. Someone called Rich’s name – an ex colleague of his, Kae. We explained why we were acting like loitering bank robbers and she was really interested in the show, so we invited her to join the episode after she finished work. We then snuck up the fire escape to see if we could slip in to the theatre that way. The stench was gut wrenching. We were in the area with all the bins, including a large vat of chip fat, slowly cooking in the sun. Covering our noses, we fled the scene and headed into an army surplus store, to see if we could gather equipment for our dramatic entry. We pictured ourselves emerging from the store dressed in full camouflage gear with a bag full of weapons, equipment and steel toe cap boots. The owner told us we’d never get permission to get inside the theatre and said our best bet would be to go in ‘covertly.’ According to him, if a window was broken or open, it wouldn’t be classed as breaking and entering if we got inside. They even offered us props to use for filming and said if we were caught by the fire escape, to tell security he sent us round there to take his rubbish to the skips. Think we found ourselves an accomplice.

We went to the pub to eat and plot then returned to the theatre with a renewed determination to gain access to this concrete Tantalus. Rich easily scaled the 12ft wall and disappeared down the other side. And that’s as far as he got. So instead we decided to add some special effects and Ryan filmed us and Rich diving dramatically out the way and hitting the floor as a missile hit the padlocked gate. Then security moved us on, claiming ‘you boys look dodgy.’ Yes, he meant Ryan and Rich, not upstanding citizens such as ourselves. Apparently there was an attempted break in at the theatre the day before and he helpfully informed us there was CCTV everywhere and we should wave at the cameras as we pass. Think he was hinting at something, but we couldn’t figure out what. Maybe he was suggesting we looked so stylish, we should admire ourselves on the monitors, as they would be doing. We were more annoyed that someone may have got in where we failed than we were at being moved on.

So we headed to our next location – a demolished outdoor swimming pool in Ynysangharrad Park. Except the whole of Ponty seemed to be there. We were conspicuously overdressed. There was more flesh on display than at a swimsuit contest, without the toned bodies. Two police officers seemed to follow us around the park. Whether it was the filming equipment that attracted their attention or the lack of nudity on our part, we weren’t sure. We sat near a big hole in the boards surrounding the swimming pool but there were too many people for even our ninja skills. After watching the Ponty natives barbeque themselves, we headed for the River Taff to photograph the graffiti. The most shocking piece we read declared ‘Kieran likes Tesco.’ That must’ve been an awkward moment when his mum found a Club Card in his wallet. And to think, everyone thought he was devoted to ASDA!

After returning to Rich’s to regroup, we met up with Kae to rescue the episode with our last planned location. The demolished shopping precinct. We strolled along the pavement then one by one, slipped through a small gap in the big boards  blocking the area off from the peasants. We disappeared down a staircase in the ground and found ourselves in the basement of a gaming shop. Gingerly treading across the broken phone fronts and soggy packaging, the two of us crawled through a gap in the wall and found ourselves in an underground delivery car park. We explored the darkened openings, the rest of the crew mysteriously vanishing. After five minutes, we heard someone approaching. Wondering if Michael Jackson had risen from the dead with a gang of badass 80’s punks to enlist us in a dance off of Bad, we limbered up. Turned out it was our crew entering through a different way, so ducked into a doorway. When they were close, we jumped out on them. Rich said he knew we were hiding but there was nothing they could do about it. The car park was wonderfully dark and creepy, the smell of damp rank as we investigated the rubble strewn stairways in the shops basements. If ever there was a suitable location for a horror film, this was it.

At one point we heard footsteps above us and hid behind the open doorway into another area, praying we weren’t discovered. None of us wanted to end the day in jail, especially since we’d promised to front up our guests’ bail money should that terrible event occur. We decided not to tell them the money in our wallets could only stretch for a couple of rounds in the pub. That would be bad morale for the crew. All was quiet so we resumed our urban exploration. As we were setting up the camera for our group shot, Lynx heard one of the shutters moving, like someone on the other side had banged in to it. We found our way to a rubble free staircase and emerged above ground, hissing at the burning ball in the sky like the vampires of Gothic horror legend. We scuttled across the vast cement floor of what used to be the precinct to the hole in the boards, slipped through and strolled casually away through the traffic jam. So while we managed to avoid driving through pedestrian zones (mainly ‘cos Rich lives within walking distance of everything), we’ve probably been caught on CCTV loitering with intent outside the theatre and trespassing the demolished shopping precinct. We know how to show our guests a good time!

Go West. Actually, don’t.

The Diamond Jubilee completely ruined our ghost hunting plans as every location we wanted to go was hosting Jubilee events. In the end we managed to find two places that weren’t – Caldey Island and Tyneham, a ghost village in Dorset. We opted for Caldey. And lived to regret it. 5 HOURS it took us to get there because of the traffic. And when we eventually got to Tenby, we discovered you couldn’t park by the harbour and had to park in a multi storey car park – about 15/20 min walk from the harbour. Oh and it appears the people of Tenby are illiterate. That’s the only explanation we can think of for the extreme lack of sign posts. The harbour is not sign posted AT ALL. Neither is the pay desk for Caldey Island. Considering these are tourist places, this is beyond belief. We had to ask 2 people to direct us to the harbour. We reached the Caldey pay desk at 2:55. They closed at 3. Except they obviously can’t tell the time because they were already closed, leaving us and some other tourists pissed off. Actually, we were apoplectic. It had taken us five hours to get to a location only for them to close early. Oh and we had to endure constant staring, points, sniggers and abuse from the local Chavs that were crawling everywhere like cockroaches. Clearly they’re not used to seeing people who aren’t dressed in tracksuits and gold jewellery, and went into a complete meltdown as their tiny brains struggled to comprehend this.

Thoroughly pissed off, we had to make the long trek back to the car. Stopped off and bought some pirate flags to hang from the car windows in protest of all the Union Jack flags that were tainting the scenic views. Pirate flags flying proudly, we headed to Pembroke castle, where apparently people hear moans coming from beneath it. We think maybe this isn’t paranormal but the grunts of the local Chavs. As we were walking up to the castle we once again suffered abuse from another group of Chavs. One fat guy in a t-shirt and tracksuits bottoms shouted “what do you fucking look like? Fucking joke.” To which Cat replied “We look amazing. What do YOU look like? Fucking Chav.” Lynx responded “go fuck yourself with a sharp stick.” We apologise for our language but constant swearing is the Chav native tongue and the only words they’re able to communicate in. It’s completely incomprehensible why someone as ugly as him with such dire taste in clothes could DARE to criticise OUR clothing. Maybe he was so overcome with shame this was the only way he knew how to deal with it.

Pembroke castle is beautiful. And it has a dungeon! Which we only discovered when they were ringing the bell to throw everyone out. We refused to leave until we’d seen the dungeon and then got locked in the castle. Much to our dismay, they let us out. We did some EVP sessions in various places around the castle and at one point when we were asked for a name, in Welsh, the iOvilus said ‘Rodger.’ We’ve now discovered the castle was built by Roger of Montgomery in 1093. How cool is that?

As we left, a huge group of Chavs were sitting on the wall outside. They immediately started heckling us, shouting incoherent sentences that in the native Chav tongue was probably a chat up line. Y’know, like how cavemen would club women and drag them back to their cave. Maybe they were then confused as to why we weren’t swooning with barely controlled lust, like the Chav girls would’ve been. Then one of them asked if we’d take him to Hell. No thanks. We don’t allow scum in our Hell. Ryan was shocked and disgusted by the amount of abuse that was hurled at us. Unfortunately, we used to endure this every day for years which is why we became socialphobic. It doesn’t bother us any more. Clearly they thought we were celebrities. You know how inbred idiots get when faced with fabulous celebrities. They started grunting and throwing things like over excited cavemen. Unfortunately, Chavs are prolific breeders so are everywhere. The only way to stop this is with a neutering programme. Y’know, like with stray dogs. So while Pembroke castle was beautiful and we unfortunately didn’t have time to finish the castle, we will definitely NOT be returning to West Wales in the near future. If at all. In fact, we only suggest you visit there if you enjoy degenerate scum abusing you in every town. When we start the zombie apocalypse, that’s where we’ll send the zombies.

Watch the chavesty of an episode here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbjzzjP6YBY

No photos please!

If we ever reported on a Calamityville Horror episode that didn’t go horribly wrong, the universe might curl up and die. We screw up so you can live. Friday night we conducted an emergency investigation at our sister’s house. When we left, the K2 started going crazy in their kitchen. It hasn’t responded there since. Ryan was supposed to join us but he fell asleep so was late arriving at our house. We went alone. And nothing went wrong. He’s clearly the catalyst for disaster.

On Saturday we headed out to film episode 8. We made shortbread dinosaurs, which if we’re honest, our excitement levels about the trip & the biscuits were equal. We’d been talking to someone from Powis Castle on Twitter and they were thrilled we were going, except that person wasn’t working on Saturday. Saturday was cold and we set off for the two and half hour trip. Remarkably, we didn’t get lost. Angels fell to their knees and wept in surprise. As soon as we spied the castle, our excitement levels went into overdrive. It towered above the peasants like a stone vision of beauty. We nearly cried at the £12 entry fee though. That included the castle, museum and gardens but we’ve never paid that much for a location. Choking back our tears, we headed inside.

Only to discover you weren’t allowed to photograph anything. Or film anything. Or touch anything. Or wear high heels. Or have your phone switched on. Or wear bags. Dust causes damage as well, apparently. So no dropping skin. Surprised there wasn’t a ‘don’t breathe on anything’ sign. Every single object had signs telling you not to touch. Apparently Lord Powis owns the copyright to every object. Now it’s been a few years since we studied Law but we’re pretty sure you can’t copyright belongings. They reckoned bags would knock objects over. But since every room was roped off, barring you from entering, the danger of knocking something over was minimal. Actually, impossible. And apparently phones interfered with the alarm system. Think this is something Mythbusters would like to test out. Oh and there was an obscene amount of National Trust volunteers standing in every corridor and room in stony silence making sure the peasants behaved themselves. They reckoned one visitor season causes as much damage as 25 years of family life. Here’s a suggestion – don’t open the castle up and take an extortionate amount of money from people to go and admire how wealthy you are if your objects are photosensitive. In fact, why not dig a big hole and bury the castle to protect it from the environment. No wait, soil probably causes damage.

Rant over. It is absolutely beautiful and worth a visit. Just not worth £12. We suggest you pay for the castle then stand at the windows and stare down at the gardens. So episode 8 was in serious jeopardy. Once again we phoned our mum for an emergency back up location. Now she did warn us to always have a Plan B but in our defence, we didn’t read anything about the strict rules of the castle before going. She found us Shrewsbury castle, which was 20 mins away and haunted by Jack, who’s a cross between Blue Beard and Ted Bundy. Time was running short. Then the road we wanted was closed so by the time we reached Shrewsbury, the castle was closed. Thoroughly pissed off, we came home.

So on Sunday we set out to Castell Coch, which is about 10 minutes from us. It’s haunted by Dame Griffiths, whose son fell into a bottomless pit of water and was never found, and a treasure seeking Knight. We took Radar, one of our Renault 4s. He attracted more attention than the castle did! Castell Coch is a proper fairytale castle, high up on jagged cliffs known as Devil’s Drop. It’s a popular suicide site. That kinda ruins the fairytale image, but then this isn’t a Disney film. The scariest thing we encountered was the tuna and pasta salad Ryan insisted on bringing. Puke in a Pot we call it. The K2 was silent throughout but we had fun arguing over who was having Lady Bute’s bedroom when we seize the castle (us) and pretending to be spies as we sneaked around the roof holding imaginary guns and stalking visitors. Yes this did happen. We have video evidence. We then investigated the grounds to find this bottomless pool of water. Didn’t find it. We did however find a rope swing someone had made and had so much fun on it, then when some kids showed up, we made them wait their turn.

Watch the episode here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pi-oWypn4qk

Going Ape

Saturday’s ghost hunting expedition was a bit different. For a start, we were looking for the ghost of a murderous ape. Yes, you read that right. Before you ask, no it wasn’t a day trip to  a spectral wildlife park where mischievous monkey ghosts would steal our windscreen wipers and vandalise our car. We visited Carew Castle, which is reputedly haunted by Sir Roland Rees and his pet ape, Satan. We had another guest with us, the lovely Lizzie Rose, who was on top Lara Croft mode, scaling the castle walls and barriers like a pro to sit on top of the castle’s sickeningly high walls. Unfortunately, our deep rooted fear of heights stopped us climbing up after her 😦

In true Calamityville Horror, we got lost. Several times. The first few times was when we went to pick Lizzie up from Swansea uni. We’d never been there before and ended up taking the wrong road and heading in the opposite direction. Ryan’s Sat Nav on his phone saved us, much to our annoyance. We’ll never hear the end of this now. But every time he mentions his phone’s superiority, we’ll remind him his Sat Nav crashes when there’s no phone service. That’ll stop his gums flapping. Then on route to Carew, we took the wrong road at a roundabout, heading left instead of straight ahead. But we’re glad we did, because we ended up going through Laughne, Pendine and Amroth, where we stopped to harass a pirate statue. Turns out, Lizzie is an expert navigator and not only saw us through Swansea safely, but through West Wales too. She’s definitely coming again.

Carew Castle has many ghosts. A Celtic Warrior, Princess Nest and the aforementioned man and ape. Nest was kidnapped twice in her life and had 21 children by 6 fathers, so it’s probable she single handedly populated West Wales. We stood at the bottom on the toilet shaft where her husband and children escaped into the sewers while she was kidnapped by her cousin, Owain. It took her husband, Gerald, 6 years to get her back and another few years to kill Owain. He obviously wasn’t much of an action hero. Bruce Willis never takes that long.

Back to the ape. Some people reported seeing the ghost ape running along the top of the castle walls, like a hairy free runner. We hoped to be able to buy a monkey mask in the gift shop, wait for Ryan to go off doing his artistic shots then leap out, making crazed monkey noises and tackle him while he falls screaming into the dirt. Sadly the gift shop didn’t sell monkey masks. 😦 Sir Roland Rees travelled often and one time returned with a Barbury Ape, Satan. He wasn’t a nice man. In fact, he was a total jerk and would host dinner parties just so he could ridicule and laugh at his guests. Bit like the 1600’s version of Big Brother. The ape would mimic him and also laugh at the guests. Roland’s son was having a relationship with a Flemish tradesman’s daughter and Roland wasn’t happy about this. The tradesman called at the castle to confront Roland and Roland, who was drunk, unchained Satan and set him on the man. The man escaped but put a curse on Sir Roland, saying the ape would kill him. A servant found the injured man and took him back to the servants’ quarters to look after him until the storm passed. Later that night, the staff heard screams. They went to investigate and found Sir Roland dead, with his throat torn out and Satan dead beside him, with not a mark on him. Portraits lay in the middle of the floor, burning. Some reports say the ape was actually the one on fire. According to a nice caretaker we spoke to, there are written records of Sir Roland and his ape. So when there’s a storm, some people claim to have heard the ape’s maniacal laughter echoing through the castle ruins. 

Calamityville Horror

Our amateur ghost hunting show, C.A.T.S Tales of Terror is being revamped after only 3 episodes. It’s had a name change and is now called C.A.T.S Calamityville Horror, after a creative dispute. In other words, the third member of our team, Ryan, suddenly realised we were doing a show and now wants to be part of it, instead of just accepting his role as the C.A.T.S clown. But don’t worry, he still trips over and gives us great out-takes. We think the new name reflects the disastrous things that happen on the show. We’ve also bought fancy new editing software so hopefully the show will be much improved. Well, the filming will be better quality, even if the stars aren’t 😀 Not even Ryan’s fancy HD iPhone can make us look good. We just appear in HD. No-one wants to see that.

Yesterday we returned to Newton House in Dinefwr to do the hidden house tour and get answers for what happened last week. We were accompanied by Hayley, who was our guest for this episode. We wandered the house beforehand and returned to the basement where we got the reaction from the K2. We got another reaction from it, in the same place. As usual, we were thrilled. You wouldn’t think a bleeping, flashing machine could make us so excited. Simple things… We got another reaction outside the Tea Room, which used to be the Billiard’s room. People have reported smelling pipe smoke in that room, which we managed to miss out on our last visit. Not sure how that happened. It’s probably Ryan’s fault. Cat put the K2 to Ryan’s body and it flashed and lit up. She put it to his head and it went really quiet. Obviously no brain activity.

We told our guide, Kevin we were interested in the ghost stories and he asked if we were the ones there last week. Our reputation obviously preceded us 😀 As long as we left good impressions. People do tend to remember us. Like horror movie monsters. Once you’ve seen us, the fear lingers and haunts your nightmares. We got taken to the offices and the creepy corridor, which featured in Most Haunted. In the room where one man was carried out on that show, the K2 was silent. We got to go on to the roof and were very tempted to push Ryan off to see how well his iPhone’s Steadicam worked under extreme pressure but there were too many witnesses and he wouldn’t have gone quietly. He’s a struggler.

On the tour, we passed the Tea Room and the K2 remained silent. Kevin told us when he was coming down the basement stairs, he once saw a man dressed in Edwardian clothes. We then told him this was where the K2 went off. After the tour, we took Kevin down to the basement and again the K2 performed for us. We’ve asked two members of staff – Kevin & Scott, who we spoke to last week and they both said there’s nothing behind the door. Kevin then opened another door, which led to an original Victorian urinal. Tourists aren’t shown this part. We had behind the scenes access! We were more excited than was normal at seeing a urinal. Wonder if the Victorians adhered to the same weird urinal rules modern men do. We returned to the tourist office to show other staff members the footage and Scott took us back in to see a 400 yr old skeleton of a cat which was discovered under the floorboards. It’s still there. Yes, he moved the floorboard for us. That is customer services. Apparently people used to bury things in floorboards to keep away evil spirits. Children’s shoes were discovered under there. An ancient belief was if you killed someone and buried them in the foundations, the building would stand. So when we have our castle, we might have to try this…

View the footage here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtzQaomk8QY

C.A.T.S. Tales of Terror

Enough of boring you with Gunning Down Romance. We’ve started a new project. Our own ghost hunting show. Before you start thinking of Most Haunted, with high tec night vision camera equipment, an entire crew acting scared, a ‘psychic’ communicating with the spirits etc, this one’s different – we never see any ghosts, none of it’s faked, there’s no script, no crew. We don’t even research the places we’re visiting. We’re basically just clowns with a camera (and an EMF when it arrives). It’s not a proper show and should never be taken seriously. Come on, it’s us, we couldn’t do serious if we tried. So we’ve basically just got the footage we’ve filmed of any ghost hunting we’ve done and stuck it in Movie Maker with start and end credits. See? Not serious at all. We’ve called ourselves C.A.T.S. – Cardiff’s Answer to Supernatural, even though the third member of our team, Ryan, is from Brigend. But we hadn’t met him when we came up with the name, so it stays. The show is Tales of Terror. Even though nothing scary happens, but it’s cool, so we’re keeping it.

The first episode was shot in June 2010 when we visited Boys Village in East Aberthaw http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdQYjEVuguE&context=C426d6b8ADvjVQa1PpcFNvSknDwArr1KJSPVLTGQ4ocP-tSmkhZMk= the blog for our visit is here: https://clraven.wordpress.com/2010/06/17/ghost-hunting-live/ episode 2 will be our visit to Ruthin Gaol. Episode 3 would’ve been our visit to Denbigh Asylum, had we not been escorted off the grounds. That really bites because we’ve seen photos & footage of people who managed to sneak in there. We ranted and raved about that for hours. We need to be in there! We’ve written a novel set there and everyone else but us has got in. We got angrier and angrier with each photo/video footage. Probably should’ve shut the computer down. Our glowing rage was mistaken for the Aurora Borealis. Each photo we see just infuriates us more. So instead, episode 3 is our visit to Margam Castle. We did a ghost walk there on Tuesday night with Wales History and Hauntings (who we did the Llandaff ghost walk with) so wanted to visit the castle in the day to get good footage. We knew it was going to go horribly wrong when we arrived at Ryan’s ready for a day of ghost fun only for him to think we were spending the afternoon in the Harvester with his family. We stared blankly at him. He swore blind he’d told us. He did not. So we set off to Margam ready for ghostly fun with just the two of us (there’s nothing vegan in Harvester, not even the chips) only for him to phone saying he’d cancelled and was joining us. Except he couldn’t find the motorway. Most of our time in Margam was wasted trying to find our way up to the ruins on the mountain. Once again proving, we are in fact, idiots.

The ghost walk was amazing. Unfortunately we couldn’t film it but we highly recommend you do that one and the Llandaff one. The guide, Jim, is fantastic. The hours fly by and you don’t even notice the cold because you’re so enthralled in his stories. Plus you get to visit Margam in the dark without having to remortage your house to pay for it. http://www.cardiffhistory.co.uk/ if you want to book a walk. Sadly we didn’t see any ghosts, though we were nearly turned into some on the M4 when a horse van thought it would be fun to try to crush us between it, the crash barrier and another car. But we live to fight another day.

So…if you like creepy ghost hunting shows with properly trained presenters who’ve painstakingly researched the place they’re going to, screams aplenty and the whole thing taken incredibly seriously, do NOT watch our show. However, if you would like to see 2 freaks and a geek getting lost, insulting  and hitting each other, armed with a video camera that doesn’t seem to have night vision who forgot to do their research in the excitement of visiting the place, then by all means, tune in. As soon as our EMF arrives, we’re off to Hellfire Caves. Yes we will get lost. Yes we will fool around. And yes in true horror movie form, we will mock the legend and get butchered live on camera. As long as one of survives to upload it.

Final Destination

Day 03 – by the time we got back to our Travelodge, after driving through an apt place called Loggerheads, it was 4:10am. And we couldn’t sleep because it was too cold. Eventually, at some point, we got up and put our hoodies on and eventually fell asleep about 7:30am. We were up by 9, ready to visit Conwy Castle. As it was our last day, we wanted to see another castle before we went home. Thoroughly knackered and with Ryan on a nicotine withdrawal, we headed for Conwy. We were tempted to wind Ryan up, taking full advantage of no cigarette crankiness then filming his meltdown and posting it on NHS stop smoking sites, but seeing as he didn’t film ours on the the way to Ruthin, we decided to be good mates and stop at some services for him to buy fags. The petrol station was deserted. Think creepy, horror film, place with filled zombies snacking on the cashier type deserted. It was brilliantly atmospheric. Naturally, we let Ryan go in alone and got the cameras ready for his bloody, screaming exit.

We drove into the Little Chef car park and saw a sign that would lighten the weariest of hearts – FREE WI FI! We rushed in, set up our laptop and started taking advantage, all the while trying to ignore the waitress and pretending we hadn’t decided what to eat. Feeling bad, we eventually asked her if the chips were vegan. She kindly went to check and assured us they were, so we ordered some. So fellow vegans, if you want vegan chips, Little Chef is fine. There’s also a vegan cafe in Bettws-y-Coed and a vegan chip shop in Llandudno, but we didn’t have time to check those places out. Ryan decided to keep us entertained by tripping over our laptop wire and very nearly face planted in his search for salt. He really didn’t have to go to the trouble, but you know what some people are like – always have to play the clown. Turned out, the salt was on our table. Oops 😀

Just as we left, we were topping up the Mini’s oil when Cat suddenly remembered something – we’d forgotten to pay! The waitress didn’t ask for a bill and because we were served at the table, we completely forgot. We sent Ryan back in with some cash and when he came out, he claimed the cops had been called. As we pulled out of the car park, there was a police car parked. We fled the scene.

We reached Conwy Castle without getting lost. Cities crumbled, civilisations collapsed and the gods fell to their knees with the shock. The only problem was, we’d come on marathon day and there was nowhere to park. If there are any types of festivals, big events, or marathons, guaranteed, we will unwittingly pick that day to visit that town’s castle. It’s a gift. We eventually parked by the harbour, but after Lynx had done an amazing long reverse down the road, finishing the move with a flawless parallel park beside a wall, we realised something – Ryan & Cat couldn’t get out the passenger side. Ryan attempted to slide across into the driver’s seat, but because we’re so short, we have the seat pumped right up and forwards, so he got wedged under the steering wheel. Sensing an opportunity, Lynx, who was already out, started filming, while Cat, who was trapped in the back, started taking photos. So we have footage and action shots of Ryan having to crawl out of the car, ending up on his knees in the road. We texted our mum so she could update Twitter & Facebook, Ryan’s humiliation going global. It was a defining moment of the holiday.

Ryan demonstrating how NOT to leave a car

Conwy Castle is beautiful and another contender for our base in the Zombie Apocalypse. Apparently, it was our favourite when we were kids and we used to run along the walkways, as opposed to now, when we hold on to the walls for dear life. Though walking up to the castle from the harbour was dangerous. We had to go up a narrow, two-way road, with no pavements, under a castle bridge that acted as a chicane. How we didn’t die is a mystery that only Sam and Dean Winchester can solve.

Conwy Castle

As much as we hate heights, we can’t leave any area of the castle unexplored, so insisted on going all the way to the top again. We were rewarded in one tower by seeing pigeons and their chick in one of the tower walls. We waited ages, perched near the edge of the tower, for the chick to make an appearance. It was worth the vertigo & sheer terror.

After Conwy, we decided to head for home, as the light was failing us. Though before we left the beauty that is North Wales, we wanted to show Ryan Denbigh Asylum, the setting for our novel, Soul Asylum. For those of you who remember the pointless eight hour road trip we took last year to see it from behind the gates, you’ll be pleased to know, this year, the gates were open. But the asylum was fenced off, with demolition notices all over the gates. This was our final chance to see the asylum up close before it was torn down to make way for flats. Though we’d been warned about the nasty caretaker who lives next door, we had to seize this chance. We walked in. Unfortunately, the driveway is at least one hundred metres long and we’d only got about thirty metres away from the asylum when a guy shouted, asking what we were doing. Fearing it was the nasty caretaker, we explained we were just having a look. Luckily, it was a nice guy, who explained he didn’t mind, but the other guy did and was on his way – with a dog. And we’d forgotten to load Ryan’s pockets with meaty treats to ensure our safe getaway. He kindly let us take a few pictures before escorting us off the grounds. As we got into our car, the other caretaker arrived. We drove sedately away, acting like we hadn’t been inside the gates. Though we will never accomplish our dream of getting inside the asylum, we got as close to it as we’ll get ever get and the thrill of being so close to all that history, will stay with us.

Denbigh Asylum

 

Ghostbusters

Day 2/3 – the ghost hunt. When we eventually found our way into Ruthin Gaol, everyone cheered. We hurried into the corner, cracked open a Red Bull and tried to swallow our fury. Didn’t want everyone thinking we were rageoholics. Though the shaking hands, demonic glares and muttered curses might have given it away. The group did some energy exercises. By this point we’d all calmed down and were back on speaking terms. One exercise involved standing in threes and using your energy to push the person in the middle. We couldn’t help sneakily physically pushing each other and pretending the ghosts did it. Then we were taken on a tour of the gaol, whilst our guide, Karen, told us about its history. Saying we were excited would be an understatement. We were in an old gaol, ten o’clock at night, on a ghost hunt. We were living the dream. We were all ushered into the dark cell, a punishment cell where prisoners were kept in the pitch dark for hours, days, even weeks. Some of them went mad and were shipped off to Denbigh Asylum. Prisoners weren’t allowed to talk to each other at all and the vents in their cells were positioned so they couldn’t communicate through the walls. We went into a cell which was set up how it was back then, with a thin bed on the floor and no furniture. The mannequin looked very depressed, yet fetching in his grey arrow print pyjamas. Making a note to see if they sold them in the gift shop, we moved on. There was a laundry cell for the women prisoners to work, a bath cell with a large iron bath (they shared bath water, so bad luck if you were 15th in line for a bath) and the warden’s office. When we were left alone we took turns to climb into the bath. It was really deep. It was a shame we’d never fit it in the Mini. It would make a really nice feature in our house.

Upstairs held a modern cell, a cell dedicated to the second world war (the prison had closed by then but they made ammunition here) and the best cell of all – the condemned cell. The minute Karen said we could wander, we were in that cell like chocoholics on a chocolate cake. Everyone else on the tour was sedate. They seemed more fitting ambling round an art gallery than exploring the hidden horrors of an abandoned jail. The two floors above us held the other cells, which now hold the archives for the prison and the asylum, so we weren’t allowed up there. After a break, we were split into two groups. Our group went upstairs, where we had to hold a circle of rope and imagine energy going round the circle, to encourage the ghosts closer. It was hard keeping our concentration because we were desperate to explore the jail some more. That and because we have the concentration span of three year olds. It was also hard standing still, because if we stand still for longer than a few minutes, we have a tendency to faint and after being embarrassingly late, fainting on a ghost hunt was the last thing we wanted. The guide tried encouraging a boy ghost to stand between us. He must’ve known we’re not keen on children because he refused. We were glad. Children are germy. We then had to picture a blank canvas in the hope the ghosts would put pictures on there. It didn’t work. Cat was imagining Red Bull, while Lynx was imagining the asylum from Nightmare On Elm Street 5 – Dream Child. Ryan’s canvas was black, which we’re sure hints at serial killer tendencies. The ghosts definitely didn’t put those images there. When we opened our eyes, the rope had lifted at two points, one where our tour guide was and the other on the other side of the circle. The rope where we held it, stayed down low, except between Cat and Ryan, but that was down to Cat fidgeting and trying not to pass out.

K2 meter

After another break, we took some equipment to conduct our own investigations. We took a K2 meter, two rods and a pendant. We headed straight for the dark cell and closed the door before the other guests had even left the kitchen. After messing around with the rods for a bit and asking the ghosts to touch Ryan disrespectfully, we decided to take it seriously and ask the ‘ghost’ some questions. We had our camcorder and voice recorders switched on, the camcorder trained on the K2. The first few questions got no response. Then Cat asked if the ghost was executed here. The K2 lit up. Then we asked if the ghost murdered anybody. Again the K2 lit up. We asked different questions about who the ghost killed, but got no response. So we asked if the ghost was hanged here. Again, the K2 lit up. When we asked if the murder was accidental, we got nothing. When we asked if it was cold blooded, the K2 went crazy. It seemed to like any questions about murder. Clearly we were among like minded spirits. We were too desperate to see if we got any responses anywhere else, so we left and went around the rest of the jail. Nothing. Not even a flicker. We’re not saying it was proof of anything, we just can’t explain it. Here’s the link: http://youtu.be/Sh_0cesBouw We shut ourselves in the condemned cell, but didn’t get any response. We returned to the dark cell, but this time, there was nothing. After another break, we went with the other group leader, who was assigning cells to everyone to go in. He pointed at us and said ‘dark cell’. We cheered and hurried in.

We stood around, talking to the ghost, teasing each other and enjoying the experience. At one point we could hear the guides getting excited about a door closing and asking the ghosts to do it again. We decided not to admit that it was Ryan who closed the door. We didn’t want to spoil their excitement or admit that our party were responsible. No ghosts, just over eager ghost hunters shutting themselves in the dark. We were then released for good behaviour and sat in the corridor watching green lasers that had been set up. The guide believed the lasers going dark was ghosts playing with them. We suspected faulty batteries because after he switched them off for a while, they then came back on stronger. They told us the lift had moved and so had a door handle, after we’d all gone into our cells. We couldn’t help but be suspicious especially because the only ones who appeared to be experiencing anything were the two council workers who’d organised the event. At one point we walked into the munitions room where a lady was standing in the corner talking to a ghost and assuring it we weren’t going to hurt them. We edged out. You know what it’s like when you walk in on a conversation. Awkward.

us doing the vigil in the condemned cell

C.A.T.S Cardiff's Answer To Supernatural doing the vigil in the condemned cell

During each break everyone would gather in the kitchen. We were always the last ones to arrive because the guides had to keep fetching us from the cells. For the last hour they said we would be locked in a cell and asked who wanted to stay in the condemned cell. Our hands shot up. Some people laughed nervously. The guide asked us if we were sure. We responded with an enthusiastic “Hell yeah!” and leapt up. Ryan didn’t get a say in the matter. We sat on the cushion in the condemned cell in pitch blackness. They locked the door. We switched our torches on long enough to hold them under our chins and pull frightening faces at each other. We asked the ghost questions for the DVR but if they responded we didn’t hear it. Ryan told us we didn’t have to spend the entire hour in the dark and kept switching his torch on. Some people have no sense of adventure. The hour went past way too quickly. We didn’t feel at all uneasy or scared being shut in in the dark in what would’ve been the most terrifying cell in the prison. We felt perfectly relaxed and just thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being there. Maybe we’re just more comfortable with the dead than the living. The living frighten us more than the dead ever could.

When the hour was up, we were fetched. Turned out we were the only ones left in the prison. Apart from the K2 getting over excited when asked about murder we had no paranormal experience. We did however have an amazing time and definitely recommend it. We’re planning our next ghost hunting trip already. As we were travelling back to our Travelodge at 3:30 am the road was covered in mist so thick we couldn’t see where we were going. So if there were any ghosts roaming the roads, we probably ran them down. We only got lost once. Think that might have been Ryan’s fault.

Lost in Translation

Day 2 – Nov 19th

We spent last night cheating at Monopoly – NB. If you ever play Monopoly with us, we cheat. Every game. Be warned. Then we watched Seven. One of our favourite films.

Caernarfon Castle

We started the day full of hope and plans. Then realised we’d left our makeup at home. Now we’re not the kind of girls who won’t leave the house without makeup. On the contrary. Half the time we can’t even be arsed to wear it. Might wear it once or twice a week. But we were on holiday, appearing in video and photo footage. And we’re vegan so we couldn’t just nip out and buy whatever was around. We had no Internet. Our mum came to the rescue, locating places that sold Barry M makeup and giving us directions. So we started the day much later than we planned after getting lost in Bangor trying to find a Superdrug. Eventually made it to Caernarfon castle. North Wales has an amazing knack of only displaying road signs on one route into wherever you’re going and this always happened to be not on the route we were travelling. We made it to the castle. It’s stunning and perfect for the Zombie Apocalypse. We were there for 2 hours, exploring every inch. After a Red Bull break, we decided to head for Anglesey. We made it to Holyhead then got lost around the coastal path trying to find what we thought was Penhros Feliw castle and turned out to be a couple of standing stones in the middle of a field with very suspicious horses. Then we eventually found some Hut circles. A lot of Hut circles to be precise, still intact. We didn’t have time to go anywhere else as we had to be at the Ruthin Gaol tour by 9:30 so we headed towards Halkyn at the other end of North Wales. And got lost. Very lost. Turned out the Halkyn Travelodge wasn’t actually in Halkyn. After taking the wrong junction (Ryan’s fault, again) we wandered the lonely country lanes trying to find our way back to the A55. Couldn’t get back on it, like it was a magical road that just disappeared. When we did find our way back to it, we were pointing in the wrong direction. Then we got stuck behind what we suspect was a drunk driver doing 25 in a 40 zone, windscreen wipers on despite there being no rain and his car was misted up. Every time an oncoming car, he braked to practically a standstill. Tensions were rising, time was running out. We made it there at 7:10pm.

Our mum nagged us to leave the Travelodge by 8 to make sure we made it to the Gaol. But we’d printed off an AA route planner and it said the journey would take 31 mins. Plus we had detailed directions from the route planner so as usual we ignored our mum’s advice and left at about 8:50. By 9:35 pm we were hopelessly lost and miles from Ruthin Gaol. The route planner told us to go right. The sign pointed left. It told us to take a right at first set of traffic lights and we’d come to a roundabout half a mile away. Two miles later, down a dark country lane, there was still no roundabout. Tension in the car was reaching critical. Our tour was at stake. Had to phone our mum and get her to find a number for Beyond the Grave to tell them we would be late. Horribly, horribly late. Ryan got out and asked some drunken church goers for directions. Turned out, AA route planner meant turn right at first traffic lights in Mold. They’d missed an entire village off their route plan. Cat drove like an F1 pro. Ryan spent most of the North Wales trip claiming her driving scares the shit out of him. After her epic driving to reach the Gaol, we’re lucky he got back in the car. We told him safe sensible driving through the holiday would be boring. This kind of driving would make his heart race. For some reason he wasn’t at all grateful about the adrenaline rush. On the way we passed a place called Loggerheads. It couldn’t have been more apt. By now the tension in the car had reached explosion imminent. Lynx was shouting and swearing so much nearby sailors phoned their mothers to apologise. Cat just concentrated on not moving down pedestrians. Ryan was planning his funeral.

We made it to the Gaol at 10 pm. By this point, the silence amongst the party was heavily loaded. The friendship was fracturing. Lynx was furious, her rage causing natural disasters in several countries. Cat was praising herself on her driving skills at top speed through those bendy country lanes without crashing. Ryan was just thankful to still be breathing. We walked in to the Gaol and everyone cheered. The host told us to have a coffee to get over being lost. We cracked open a Red Bull and prepared to spend the night in an abandoned, haunted Gaol.