Canada 2015 – The City of St. John’s

My Canadian holiday last year was split between two cities – St. John’s followed by Toronto.  St. John’s is a city on the east coast of Canada, about as close to the UK as you can get and just five-and-a-half hours flight from London.  In fact you can fly directly to St. John’s Airport.  It’s where my friends live, who kindly offered to put me up for eight nights and show me the sights before heading onto Toronto.

Surrounded by the natural beauty of Newfoundland, pronounced ‘Newfinland’ by the locals, St. John’s is built around a harbour and overlooked by Signal Hill.  It was my first experience of Canada and the North American continent and it definitely lived up to my expectations with wide roads, big cars, and friendly people.

The city itself sprawls from the harbour to the countryside, with the downtown area being a hub of offices and shops.  It’s quite different to a UK town or city, as the ‘centre’ doesn’t have a high street with full of commonplace stores, they tend to be on retail parks and malls dotted around the city.

I explored the bars, restaurants, and shops downtown.  What made it stand out for me was colour of the jellybean row houses, the sight of arriving cruise ships, and the views from Signal Hill.

I also used St. John’s as a base to explore some of Newfoundland, and even with a week in the area I only managed to cover a small part of what Newfoundland has to offer (the part known as the Avalon Peninsula) getting as far as Come By Chance.

If you get to visit St. John’s I recommend visiting these places…  Tim Hortons for amazing coffee, Quidi Vidi for lovely walks and a local brewery, Signal Hill for views over the City, The Bagel Cafe for the best breakfast known to man, the Johnson Geo Centre for some entertaining education, George Street for endless bars and the opportunity to be screeched in, and The Yellow Belly for Canadian Poutine.

Shiverpool in Liverpool

This is the first of three posts from a recent weekend trip to Liverpool.  The visit was originally planned around a ghost hunt at the abandoned Newsham Park Hospital, but that was cancelled at the last minute leaving a free weekend with accommodation booked.  So lots of tourist adventures were done, including an evening with Shiverpool

Shiverpool run theatrical ghost tours around the city, a very entertaining way of learning the dark past of Liverpool and its people.  No actual science or ghost hunting, just good clean and occasionally spooky story telling and fun.

The tour was focused on the Hope Street area and featured Lucy Carew, aka Chiller Black, and Samantha Hill as Chiller’s sister.  One or more members of the Shiverpool crew lurked in the shadows from time to time too.

I’m delighted to say that Shiverpool liked the photos from the evening so much they’ve had a copy of them all, and even used them as part of their submission for the Liverpool City Region Tourism Awards!

I don’t want to give away too much about the tour, or spoil the surprises for anyone, other than to say it was really excellent and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone visiting Liverpool.  And if you’re in Oxford, then look out for Bill Spectre who does a similarly excellent ghost tour around the town.

Ghost Hunting at the Four Crosses, Cannock

Whether you believe in ghosts or not, a ghost hunt is an interesting way to spend an evening.  I’ve done two ghost hunts with Eerie Evenings, and for this one at the Four Crosses in Cannock I took along the camera to get some photos.  I find the Eerie Evening team good – there’s no faking and they don’t try to convince you that any experiences are paranormal, that’s for you to decide.  For the record, I’m firmly on the fence…  I’ve like to believe that there’s something, but my scientific mind means I’d need to experience something really convincing to believe.

The Four Crosses is an old coaching inn originally built in 1636, with some of the timbers thought to be a thousand years old.  Today it’s seeking a new owner with newspapers claiming the hauntings are putting buyers off.  The reported spooky goings on include the ghost of a baby that fell off the bar and died, a child who ran outside an was immediately killed on the busy road outside, ‘Knocker’ an old regular at the pub, marching soldiers, a man who committed suicide in the garage, and many more.

The evening started with a medium doing some readings amongst the group, and then the group was split into three teams who spent the evening doing vigils in the main hall room, the upstairs bedrooms, and the cellars.

I didn’t feel scared at any point in the evening, and the only thing I experienced was during a session with a planchette where the group were ‘contacted’ by a man called Normal Mole, an old bar worker from the pub, who died at the age of 78.  He lost money playing snooker, and in the room he contacted us was accompanied by five other ghosts.  I’ve not looked into whether any of that information is accurate or could be backed up with real evidence.

From a photography point of view a lot of the evening was spent in the dark which made photography a challenge.  But I’m always amazed just how much detail can be brought out of the dark with a bit of simple editing in Lightroom

Whilst editing I spotted just one oddity, which you can take a look at in the photo looking out of the window below…

An Eerie Evening

Last night (or should that be this morning?) I, along with some friends, did a ghost hunt.  When it comes to ghosts I’m quite open minded but firmly sat on the fence – I’d like to believe there is something after life, but my scientific mind won’t let me believe anything without proof.  And I think the only proof that would mean anything would be for something to happen to me.

The ghost hunt was run by Eerie Evenings at The Manor House in West Bromwich, from 9pm through to 2am the next morning.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, so rather than risk taking my ‘proper’ camera I took my small Samsung Galaxy Camera (and a big jumper, two torches, and some gloves – it was a chilly night).  It’s not the best in dark conditions, but a lot cheaper to fix if I dropped it in the dark!

The evening started with an introduction from the Eerie Evenings team to the twenty seven people there – and they explained they were all open minded, there’d be no tricks, and everyone should take away from the evening whatever they wanted to believe.  We then had a tour of the house, had a session with a medium, and then split up into small groups to start the vigils.  On the vigils we tried Ouija boards and table tipping, used EMF monitors and laser thermometers, and talked in order to make ‘contact’.

The Ouija boards and table tipping had limited success for us, but in all three areas we went we had EMF readings and even banging in response to questions we asked.  There were areas of the building where I felt very apprehensive and uneasy, but for the most part felt very at ease.  

The only point where I had any kind of personal experience was after the group was asking a young girl ghost called Lucy to touch me.  They’d given up and gone for a tea break, and as I was making my way out of the room I felt something touch my on my arm.  I’d say it was about the same force as when a fly or wasp flues into you.  Not quite conclusive proof, but unexplained all the same.

Other people claimed to have seen a ghost – a bearded man staring out of a window – but there were no photos. 

At the end of the evening we did a ‘human pendulum’.  Something I’ll leave you to experience for yourself if you ever do a ghost hunt.  I’m just surprised I didn’t dream about Shaun of the Dead afterwards!

I’ll definitely do another ghost hunt some time, and will take the proper camera to get some better images of the event and maybe some video too.