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.

 

 

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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…

Steynton

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.

thirteenfridays: Portuguese Portents

Friday 13th October 2017 is the centenary of ‘The Miracle of the Sun‘ in Fatima, Portugal.  We took this as a sign to create a Portuguese style thirteenfridays meal with an added sun theme.

Sardines
13 Spooky Sardines – Simple and tasty with 13 lemon slices.

Sides
We served both starter and main course with a 13 ingredient salad of rocket, spinach, watercress, celery, fennel, cherry tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, sprouts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, capers, red pepper, and olives along with a side dish of 13 cornichons and more green olives.

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Paranormal Punahou – A 13 ingredient Portuguese Bean stew (modified to be vegetarian) – red kidney beans, white kidney beans, stock, onion, carrots, potatoes, chopped tomatoes, macaroni, pasata, savoy cabbage, garlic, water and seasoning.   Served with 13 Batatas a Portuguesa (Portuguese fried potato).

Tarts

13 Petrifying Pastéis de Nata (Portuguese Custard Tarts) – A must have Portuguese dessert!

Sweets
Evil Espresso Thirtinis & Scary Sunflower Seed Brittle – a little extra dessert to celebrate the sun theme!

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)
MackerelOatcakes
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.

BeanPot
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.

PearPudding
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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