thirteenfridays: Nevern

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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.

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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

 

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thirteenfridays: Llanelli

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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.

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Photo by Dara Jasumani / Parc Howard museum / CC BY-SA 2.0

This week  we headed off to Llanelli to visit Parc Howard Museum and Art Gallery.  Our regular thirteenfridays guest, Sam Knight, is a fantastic woodworker and he has a beautiful handmade chair in a curated exhibition Pair //Pâr showing in the museum until July. Serendipitously, Parc Howard is also said to be haunted by a number of ghosts. So we popped in to the exhibition keeping our eyes and ears open at the same time for any uncanny fellow visitors.

The building was used as military hospital in both world wars and it is said that the ghosts of a nurse and a soldier are seen together on the main stairs. There has also been scratching and scraping noises at the back of the building which is said to be the ghost of a young man; a lover who hid in the chimneys of the house to avoid detection but who became disoriented and trapped, subsequently losing his life in the narrow network of passageways. Lady Howard herself is also said to wander in the house seen as a ghostly white lady and sometimes appearing at the windows. Lights have also been recorded at night in the empty house after the building has been locked by staff.

We unpacked our 13 themed picnic in the grounds of the house.

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13 Crustless mini quiches flavoured with a selection of 13 ingredients (Spinach, Rocket, Asparagus, Red Chilli, Green Olives, Tomato, Cheddar, Parmesan, Basil, Oregano, Sundried Tomatoes, Spring Onion, Black Pepper) served with 13 slices of cucumber; 13 ingredient smoked chilli salsa (Red onion, Garlic, Green chili, Chipotle chili, Sun dried tomatoes, Red pepper, Lime Juice, Tomatoes, Smoked paprika, Salt, Thyme, Parsley, Sugar) served with tortilla chips; 13 ingredient vegan slaw (White cabbage, Red cabbage, Carrot, Fennel, Celery, Olive oil, Sunflower seeds, Pumpkin seeds, Green Olives, Parsley, Lemon juice, Salt, Pepper); special 13 ingredient Bara Menyn sourdough loaf; 13 baby plum tomatoes on the vine; 13 ingredient ginger and walnut loaf with dates and figs (Flour, Baking Powder, Brown Sugar, Ground Ginger, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Golden Syrup, Butter, Eggs, Milk, Dates, Walnuts, Dried Figs).

thirteenfridays: Llanfihangel Crucornau

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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.

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: 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.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: Hen Galan, Radios, Opera & Bernard

Friday January 13 2017

The first Friday 13th of 2017 and we decided to combine three celebrations into one to celebrate in fine thirteenfridays style.

We started the evening by setting up a radio experiment to commemorate the first public radio broadcast made on January 13th 1910 and at the same time pay homage to Jacob’s Grandad Bernard Jones, born on January 13th 1914, an inventor and pythagorean, interested in using technology to communicate with the other side. Bernard was one of the inspirations for setting up the Absent but not Forgotten project back in 2010, so we wanted to send him birthday greetings across the great divide.
Bernard was interested in EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) so we set up a detuned radio to play white noise into a Latitude 150 walkie-talkie (446.00625-446.04375 MHz)) while a Sennheiser EW100 wireless microphone kit (830-866MHz) picked up the noise at the other end of the walkie-talkie and sent the noise to a reciever where an Ipad webcast live to youtube. Bernard would undoubtedly have enjoyed the new technologies we could bring to the experiment.
Using 2 radio frequency transmitters and receivers potentially increases the chances of paranormal communication…the experiment ran while we dined in the adjacent room, the result is below. The intermittant transmission is the result of the frighteningly poor upload speeds in rural west Wales rather than any spooky goings-on we fear!

During our thirteenfridays meal we listened to the opera Cavalleria Rusticana which is cited as the first public radio broadcast in 1910 and included this song by Enrico Caruso. Not natural consumers of opera we were feeling quite high brow,  but it must be said that not all our guests appreciated the cultural adjustment (you know who you are…).

Hen Galan is the Welsh New Year or the old new year as it was before the calendar change of 1752. Still observed in the Gwaun Valley not far away, our thirteenfridays menu took a Welsh turn in celebration.

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Worrying Welsh Rarebit – 13 slices of local Bara Menyn 5 seed bread topped with classic Welsh rarebit made with Welsh cheddar and served with a foraged garnish of 13 pennywort leaves and 13 wild sorrel leaves.

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Pastai Bysgod Peryglus – Welsh fish pie made with 13 ingredients – Cod, Smoked Salmon, Mussels, Potatoes, Leeks, Fish Stock, Parsley, Bayleaf, Dill, Flour, Butter, Egg, Pepper.  Served with 13 New Potatoes, 13 Purple sprouting Broccoli and 13 Kalettes.

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13 Twisted Welsh Cakes – 13 crushed cardamom pods and dried cranberries providing the twist on the classic.

Bernard’s birthday cake was a Lemon Drizzle with 13 drizzle holes and 13 candles. In memory of the stories by Liz Whittaker about a strange series of events on another of Bernard’s birthdays some years ago, we had a helium balloon and phone at the table throughout the meal…

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Come and join us for Halloween to start our 5th birthday celebrations.  We are in The Abacus on the 31st with a selection of installations and works from the last 5 years.

The Abacus, Wood Street, Cardiff CF10 1ER
 Saturday 31 October  6pm – late

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To make it extra special there will be live performances from Ian Watson and Jacob Whittaker, possibly others (tbc)…

Jacob has brewed a very special wine made from 666 blackberries which may or may not be fatal/palatable/satanic/available ….

This probably isn’t it being made…