thirteenfridays: Aberystwyth

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Our 13 week picnic marathon started on Friday 13 April, we’ll be visiting a haunted location every Friday until Friday 13 July 2018.  Each week we set off armed with sound recording equipment, digital cameras and an original Polaroid camera – to take an unfakeable and unique Polaroid image at each location.

This week we headed out in brilliant sunshine on the hottest day of the year so far. Feeling a little heady with the vitamin D and finally in shirt sleeves after the long long cold of the Welsh winter we were in high spirits as we loaded the car and set off for Aberystwyth.

As we joined the coast road ready for our first glimpse of the sea sparkling in the sunshine we were a little disquieted to find it instead covered in a low sea fog. We continued our journey joking as we went that Aberystwyth was probably enveloped under a cloud. As we progressed north, we saw a strange, grey wall of fog looming ahead of us. We dipped in and out of the fog with glimpses of sunshine in between until we neared Aberystwyth and – hey presto – it was indeed enveloped in sea fog made truly eerie by the sunshine filtering through the layers of mist.

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Undaunted, we headed for The Promenade and unpacked our picnic at the far end of the North prom underneath Constitution Hill. We have heard a number of ghost stories about the town, and our picnic spot was in a nexus between three of the sightings:

1. The Promenade Couple – A young woman has been seen leaning towards the sea from the promenade railings; a young man runs towards her but both are floating a foot above the ground. They both then run towards one another, embrace and then turn towards Constitution Hill running hand in hand along the promenade. The couple then glide down the steps to the beach and head straight into the sea eventually disappearing under the water. They are said to be the spirits of a young couple who were tragically killed in the 1960’s after becoming trapped by the high tide at the end of the promenade under Constitution Hill.

2. The Consti Woman – A woman in old-fashioned clothing who has been sighted a number of times wandering on Constitution Hill. Oddly, when we arrived and parked our car we all saw a girl dressed in a bonnet and a long plain dress – in the style of a Victorian servant – walking with her friends at the end of the promenade; we assumed she was a student in fancy dress…

3. The Ghost of Alexandra Hall – a ghostly face is seen at the windows of the ex-University Halls of Residence and there have been numerous stories of ghostly encounters by resident students. Behind the building is the derelict Boar’s Head pub which is also said to be haunted by the ghost of an ex-landlord who hanged himself, inconsolable after the tragic loss of his fiance.

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Our feast included 13 cheese scones, 13 mini feta & spinach pasties, 13 slices of Bara Menyn bread with a 13 ingredient Suma Mushroom pâté – Water, Palm Oil, Yeast, Mushrooms, Potato flour, Onion, Corn starch, Salt, Garlic, Paprika, Clove, Nutmeg & Thyme.05

A Glebelands salad garnished with 13 primrose flowers & 13 Pennywort leaves; a 13 ingredient potato salad – Pink fur apple potatoes, Carrots, Red Onion, Hazelnuts, Olive Oil, White wine vinegar, Salt, Pepper, Sugar, Seeds – Sunflower, Pumpkin, Sesame, Golden Linseed.06
13 ingredient Rocky Road made by Kirsty – Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Golden Syrup, Butter, Digestive biscuits, Raisins, Cranberries, Orange Juice, Nuts – Pecan, Brazil, Hazel, Almond and Cashew;  13 ingredient Flapjack – made by Sam.

The strange light, the fog and the location served to utterly unsettle us and even our trusty team of spook seeking hounds were on the alert…

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In the evening we went along to Ceredigion Museum for the ‘Aber Shorts’ event showing a series of short films in the Coliseum Theatre space.  A piece from our 2011 Arts Council of Wales funded project in Aberystwyth had been selected to be screened. Stuart Evans, Display Designer at the museum told us about a strange experience he had whilst introducing a film in the theatre in which we were now sitting.
(Watch the film here https://youtu.be/Ko7M7q1D1BA )

We headed off home in the twilight and as we came along the coast road to the headland past Llanon we pulled into the lay by to witness the surreal sight of the late evening light playing over the fog which hugged the surface of the sea; an extraordinary experience.

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