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

 

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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: 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…

thirteenfridays – Lemuria special

The ancient Roman festival of Lemuria is thought to be a pre-christian antecedent of All Saints Day.  Taking place from May 11th to 13th, feasts and rituals took place  ‘…to exorcise the malevolent and fearful ghosts of the dead from their homes. The unwholesome spectres of the restless dead, the lemures or larvae were propitiated with offerings of beans.’ (read more)
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13 Homemade Oatcakes with Manes Mackerel Pate, served with a 13 ingredient seasonal salad – Red cos, Green Batavia, Spinach, Rocket, Little Gem lettuce, Wild Sorrel, Pennywort, Jack in the Hedge, Wild Garlic & Violets dressed with Mustard, Honey, & Olive oil.

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Bellona’s Bean Stew, a 13 ingredient stew with Black Turtle beans, Pinto Beans, Cannellini Beans, Green Beans, Tomatoes, Stock, Onion, Garlic, Worcestershire Sauce, Carrots, Celery, Chilli, Olive oil.

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13 ingredient Plutonian Pear Pudding – Passum, Honey, Hazelnuts, Plain flour, Caster sugar, Butter, Baking powder, Bicarbonate of Soda, Eggs, Vanilla, Dark chocolate, Cream, Milk.

So having dined on oatmeal cakes (a nod to the Vestals’ ‘Mola salsa’,) Passum poached pear pudding (passum was a sweet raisin wine with honey), garnishes of wild violet flowers and more honey we continued the evening with a short and effective ritual –

Ovid notes that at this festival it was the custom to appease or expel the evil spirits by walking barefoot and throwing black beans over the shoulder at night. It was the head of the household who was responsible for getting up at midnight and walking around the house with bare feet throwing out black beans and repeating the incantation, “I send these; with these beans I redeem me and mine” (Haec ego mitto; his redimo meque meosque fabis.) nine times. The household would then clash bronze pots while repeating, “Ghosts of my fathers and ancestors, be gone!” nine times.’

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Absent but not Forgotten: V – Halloween at the Abacus

To kick off a series of events for ABNF V (celebrating our fifth year of Absent but not Forgotten) we held a one night only retrospective exhibition in The Abacus, Cardiff.  An amazing space to show in, we were able to include a number of works from the last 5 years.

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As well as the installations and artworks we offered evil home-brewed refreshments and toasted the event with our special reserve ‘666’ blackberry wine (brewed from 666 blackberries). Live Halloween sounds were created by Jacob Whittaker and his vinyl loops of horror and a new performance from invited artist Ian Watson, a truly terrifying blend of electronic noise, mask and sportswear!

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Our interactive corner invited some homespun ghostly shenanigans – thanks to all our Sheet n’ Tweeters!

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Halloween MMXV

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…