About Jacob Whittaker

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thirteenfridays: Carmarthen

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.
IMG_7940This week, to find out more about the ghostly sightings and stories of Carmarthen, we preceded our picnic with a Wednesday evening “Creepy Carmarthen” tour courtesy of Nick Brunger.  Starting outside the guildhall, the towns court, we heard about the history of Carmarthen as a near lawless place akin to the ‘Wild West’, with many a highwayman and vagabond facing justice in the court before their final destination at the gallows in the castle.Walking from Guildhall sq up st Mary’s st we stopped outside the Andrew Price hair salon where Nick regaled us with the story of a contemporary haunting and an experiment in psychic communication. Using cards showing letters of the alphabet the spooky experiment revealed the name of the little girl who haunts the premises as Alice.The tour’s final destination is also the castle, which became the town police station and gaol. Over the years it has been the site of many spooky encounters, even as we gathered in the entrance room and listened to Nick telling the grisly history of the building a door to the upper floor’s old police barracks opened inexplicably.

The most frequent encounters, however, take place in the old gaol cells, where people have reported hearing sobbing, felt a hand on their shoulder and a presence in the room…our group crowded into the small, unlit, dank room to hear of these encounters but nothing was stirring in there that evening…

Having thoroughly enjoyed the tour we struggled to find a suitable location for a picnic in the castle grounds, the opening hours being affected by maintenance work.  So instead our picnic destination was decided by unrelated stories of strange movements and encounters with an apparition of a soldier in the chapel of the former Bishop’s palace, now Carmarthenshire county museum in Abergwili.


01For our picnic we had a 13 ingredient Pesto Pasta salad (Pine nuts, Pasta, Water, Pesto, Basil, Spinach, Tomatoes, Salt, pepper, Feta, Mozzarella, Cheddar, Olive oil ); A 13 ingredient Beetroot & Lentil salad (Puy lentils, Beetroot, Tomatoes, Red Onion, Fennel, Garlic, Flat Leaf Parsley, Kalamon Olives, Red Wine Vinegar; Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Salt, Pepper); A 13 ingredient Cheese and Potato pie (Flour, Butter, Salt, Pepper, Water, Potatoes, Cheddar, Milk, Mozzarella, Mustard, Nutmeg, Oregano, Thyme); 13 mini Sosmix Sausages; A green salad with 13 baby plum tomatoes.02

Following the savouries we enjoyed a 13 ingredient Rhubarb and Almond tart (Plain flour, Salt, water, Rhubarb, Butter, Caster sugar, Ground almonds, Egg, Brown sugar, Cocoa, Baking powder, Flaked almonds, Icing sugar) and 13 Strawberry and Cream sponges..03

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thirteenfridays: Nevern Castle

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.

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This week, we were intrigued by the mention of a paranormal experience at Nevern Castle in Pembrokeshire during a picnic (read article here). The article describes how picnickers at the site were disturbed to hear distressing screaming sounds from deep in the earth under their feet. There has also been ghostly sightings of a man in medieval dress.

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For our picnic feast of 13 this week we enjoyed a 13 ingredient Potato Salad (13 Salad Potatoes, 13 Baby Plum Tomatoes, 13 Asparagus spears, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Toasted Walnuts with a dressing of Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Brown Sugar, Black Pepper, Salt, served on a bed of Rocket and Spinach and garnished with Wild Garlic Flowers);  A 13 ingredient Beetroot slaw (Beetroot, Red cabbage, White cabbage, Fennel, Celery, Apple, Carrot, Tomato puree, Olive Oil, Black Olives, Lemon Juice, Mint, Black Pepper);  13 hummus & roast veg sandwiches with 13 ingredients (hummus made from Chickpeas, Tahini, Lemon Juice, Olive Oil, Salt and Smoked paprika served on Brown Sourdough Bread with Wild Rocket, Roasted Red, Green and Yellow Peppers and Roasted Courgette); 13 summer fruit topped mini Victoria sponges with 13 ingredients (Flour, Baking Powder, Butter, Eggs, Caster Sugar, Vanilla Essence frosted with Soft cheese, Icing Sugar, Vanilla, Fresh Strawberries, Raspberries and Blueberries and garnished with Mint Leaves).

It was a beautifully warm sunny day and we spent the afternoon exploring and taking a field recording on the site of the old watchtower using a mic inserted just below the surface of the ground. We’ll process this to look for any unusual sounds or spectral screaming!

Despite the bright sunshine, there was quite an atmospheric feeling at the site and a couple of times we felt a little unnerved by odd movement in our peripheral vision…

On our way home we visited St Bryach’s, the beautiful old church in Nevern village. One of the ancient (700 year old) Yew trees in the graveyard is called the ‘Bleeding Yew’. It continuously secretes an unusual red sap, an unexplained phenomena which has attracted a number of miraculous legends – the church website wryly favours the idea that it bleeds in sympathy with Jesus on the cross. There is also said to be a white-robed man who wanders in the churchyard as well as the sound of children playing at night.

The Bleeding Yew in St Bryach’s Churchyard

 

thirteenfridays: Llanfihangel Crucornau

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.

May the Fourth was with us for our picnic in the shadow of the Skirrid Mountain (Ysgyryd Fawr) near Abergavenny. It is also known as the Holy Mountain or the the Sacred Hill. The Welsh word Ysgyryd describes the shape of the mountain as having been ‘shivered’ or ‘shattered’.

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For this weeks 13 picnic feast we had a 13 ingredient Couscous salad (Couscous, Stock, Fresh tomatoes, Cucumber, Parsley, Capers, Olive oil, White Wine Vinegar, Lemon Juice, Sunflower seeds, Pumpkin seeds, Salt, Pepper), a 13 ingredient bean salad (Beans: Kidney, Black Eye, Haricot, Borlotti, Sweetcorn, Red Pepper, Chickpeas, White Wine Vinegar, Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper, Coriander) 13 slices of a 13 ingredient special loaf from Bara Menyn (ing?), 13 cheese & wild pesto twists made with 13 ingredients (Wild Garlic Leaves, Wild Garlic Mustard Leaves, Parmesan, Walnuts, Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Salt Pepper, Flour, Butter, Egg, Cheddar Cheese, Sesame Seeds),  a vine of 13 cherry tomatoes, 13 Banana and Walnut Muffins using 13 ingredients (Flour, Baking Powder, Salt, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Butter, Banana, Caster Sugar, Muscovado Sugar, Milk, Egg, Walnuts, Vanilla Essence).

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After our picnic of 13 we headed for the infamously haunted Skirrid Mountain Inn for a pint. The pub is in the village of Llanfihangel Crucornau and reputed to be one of the oldest pubs in Wales. The inn is said to have been standing for over 900 years, having been recorded during the Norman Conquests of the 11th century. The wood of the ancient front door has been carbon dated at around 1,500 years old.

The Inn is steeped in history and legend and, perhaps unsurprisingly, has a serious reputation for hauntings. The pub was used as a public meeting place, a courtroom and place of execution with an oak beam still installed above the stairwell reputedly scorched and scarred by the rope. It is believed that between 12th and 17th Centuries around 180 miscreants met their end on the premises. The ‘hanging Judge’ Judge Jeffreys known for his royalist bias and the severity of his punishment was reputed to sit at the Skirrid during 17th Century.

There have been many reports of ghostly sightings and experiences at the pub, from the spectres of the hanged, loyal past staff (especially Fanny Price who died aged 35 of consumption in the 18th Century) and the soldiers who were brought to the pub as a temporary hospital. On the day we visited there was a convention of ghost hunters meeting in the dining room.

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Photo from Flickr by Viv Lynch https://flic.kr/p/bS22YP (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

We didn’t knowingly encounter any spooks during our visit; the bustle of a Bank Holiday weekend very much filled the pub with the revels of the living. It is an immensely atmospheric building however with the wide Tudor fireplace darkened by the patina of centuries of smoke, the oak beamed ceilings and panelled walls (the timber reputedly salvaged from ships of the 16th and 17th Centuries) and the old timber windows seats and Welsh settle.

thirteenfridays: Llangrannog

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.

For our third thirteenfridays picnic we headed to the picturesque seaside village of Llangrannog.

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Llangrannog is allegedly haunted by the ghost of a sailor known as Huw Puw who died in the 18th Century and is still said to wander the shoreline.  We watched out for ghostly figures while enjoying our picnic beneath the cliffs near Carreg Bica.

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As a smaller party of two this week, we enjoyed a slightly smaller feast of 13. We were delighted to have a specially baked 13 ingredient loaf baked by Jack from the wonderful Bara Menyn bakery in Cardigan – (White flour, Spelt flour, Rye flour, Wholemeal flour, Natural wheat leaven, Water, Sea Salt, Oats, Seeds: Pumpkin, Sunflower, Poppy, Sesame, Linseed)With a 13 ingredient Caponata (Aubergine, Celery, Onion, Tomatoes, Capers, Olives, Garlic, Red Wine Vinegar, Oregano, Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper, Parsley), a 13 ingredient Hummus (Chickpeas, Tahini, Garlic, Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Water, Salt, Pepper, Sumac & four seed mix topping: Sunflower, Sesame, Pumpkin, Golden Linseed, Sumac)A green leaf salad garnished with 13 wild garlic mustard leaves and 13 vine tomatoes.  

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13 falafel made with 13 ingredients (Chickpeas, Spring Onions, Garlic, Ground Cumin, Ground Coriander, Fresh Coriander Leaves, Flat Parsley, Nutmeg, Black Papper, Salt, Baking Powder, Sesame Seeds, Sunflower Oil) and 13 Pistachio and lime squares also with 13 ingredients (Plain Flour, Caster Sugar, Butter, Salt, Ground Pistachio Nuts, Eggs, Soft Brown Sugar, Lime Zest, Lime Juice, Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Oats, Baking Powder).

As we finished our picnic and began to pack away the beach started to fill with children from the nearby Eisteddfod Urdd campsite site.  There are stories from other children who have stayed on the Urdd site of a black nun who transforms into a crow and torments the campers!  We made our way through the hordes and up onto the cliff path to take in the view and look for for the spectral figure of Huw..

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Quote of the week:  “Is that you Huw?…”

thirteenfridays: Aberystwyth

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.05A 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.

 

 

thirteenfridays: To Pembrokeshire & Beyond

Our 13 week picnic marathon started on Friday 13 April, we’ll be visiting a haunted location every Friday until Friday 13 July…

We started off with a thirteenfridays road trip armed with sound recording equipment, digital cameras and an original Polaroid camera – to take an unfakeable and unique Polaroid image at each location. We followed Pembrokeshire Beyond’s haunted map of Pembrokeshire with seven locations to visit.

Our first stop was St Thomas‘ church in Haverfordwest, which is now out of use, (an apparent 40% chance of a paranormal encounter…) where we unpacked the first part of our 13 themed picnic in the graveyard.

01Located in the centre of town, there are reported sightings of hooded figures making their way to the old priory situated by the river below the hill and the notorious Owl Man who leaps from trees to assail unsuspecting walkers!02We had the first part of our picnic feast of 13 in the churchyard, with 13  cucumber and cheese sandwiches; 13 samosa, 13 cherry tomatoes on the vine, a selection of 13 teas and 13 peanut butter cookies..

With the sun shining and the wildflowers in bloom all around us it was hard to imagine our supernatural fellows at this location, but with the strange growth patterns of the trees – one looking like a giant man-sized nest – it would be quite another prospect after dark.03

Our next location, Clay Lanes (a whopping 80% chance of an encounter…), is described as ‘..may be the most metaphysically active road in the county’
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Most of the reported activity is on the road itself so we didn’t stop for any 13 picnic snacks – it is a very atmospheric area though. We stopped for a wander around the ruins at Haroldston seeking a glimpse of the white/grey lady and made a sound recording there which we will take a little time to process and draw out any EVP in the recording.
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Our next stop was at one of two locations on the A4076 (70% probability…), another road which ‘..was home to an epidemic of sightings earlier this year. 44 sightings in two weeks.’

The image below shows the church at Steynton where ‘Legend says if you see the shadowy figure waiting by the church in Steynton and you don’t pick it up it will appear in your back seat and you will be involved in an accident not long after!”

We weren’t aware of any shadowy hitchhikers hopping aboard…

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The next location on our route was the Waterston Road (80%…),  ‘For decades an old woman in a ragged dress and emitting an eerie blue glow is said to be seen on this road. There is also said to be a lady seen holding a bundle of rags.’.  Perhaps we were a little early for the weekend (when most reported sightings occur), but we did find a mysterious bundle of rags in the hedge! This location really was quite spooky and certainly sent a little tingle up the spine…
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In Broadhaven (only 30%…),  ‘…the epicenter of a UFO and alien activity epidemic from 1977 to 1982.’ we keenly watched the skies for signs of activity and sat at a picnic table near the beach for our second picnic break.Broadhaven

With a bottle of Hop House 13 lager to drink we served 13 veggie sausage rolls, a tortilla made with 13 ingredients (potato, sweet potato, squash, beetroot, parsnip, celery, fennel, onion, cheese, eggs, butter, black olives and oregano), and a 13 ingredient lentil pate (red lentils, water, garlic, ginger, tomato puree, oats, cumin, coriander, bay leaf, tumeric, chili, sumac and salt) served with 13 mini oatcakes.
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Our next stop was at Newgale (50%…), where ‘A man is said to run across the road into the path of unsuspecting motorists. he has been described as young with fair hair while others have described him as wearing a red jacket’. 

It was a misty evening and there were certainly a few young men criss crossing the road with pints from the pub to sit on the beach in the evening light – probably all corporeal we imagine…
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So on to our final destination on a small road from Llys y Fran to Clarbeston (just 10%…but wow…) where ‘A flaming coffin is said to travel through the road and over the hedgerow. The object was said to have knocked a man off his bicycle and gave him a terrible scare while another man walking thought the object was on collision to kill him.’. 

No flaming coffins encountered we’re disappointed to report.07Stopping at the reservoir to enjoy the last part of our picnic – 13 chocolate chip cookies and a warming cup of one of our 13 tea selection.
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Looking at the Polaroids and processing the photos and audio clips from the day we found a couple of unusual results…one polaroid might show an interesting anomaly and something happened to the metadata on photos taken around Broadhaven and Newgale…IMG_7226 from Newgale is out of place and the ‘date modified’ suggests it was modified before it was taken!
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We’ll be exhibiting the original Polaroids, sound works and other outcomes from our 13 weeks of supernatural picnicking later in the year.

Quote of the week: “I’m 80% delighted with this road trip!”

thirteenfridays : 13 picnics

This year has two Friday 13ths and like 2013 (when we started the thirteenfridays project) there are 13 weeks in between!  In celebration we are planning a new series of events.

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The series kicks off on Friday 13th April with a road trip suggested by the Pembrokeshire Beyond website.  Equipped with Polaroid camera, audio & video recorders, an open mind and a picnic feast of 13 we aim to visit all of the seven spooky sites around Pembrokeshire, stopping for a snack and a search for paranormal activity at each location (some are haunted roads so might not be possible to stop).

The series will continue with each Friday taking us out to different haunted locations with different 13 themed picnics, to explore sites and stories of strange and supernatural goings on around Wales.