Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Wot no poltergeists

Over the last couple of weeks we've been enjoying a new series on Sky Living, 'The Enfield Haunting'.  This is based on real life events and tells the story of a family in 1970s London who appear to have been subjected to a quite horrific haunting event by a poltergeist, which was investigated by various official bodies and never, quite, disproved.

The series includes some big names (Timothy Spall as Maurice Grosse, the main psychic investigator) and some lesser known but no less impressive talents (including Eleanor Worthington-Cox as the young girl at the centre of the haunting).  And it seems we're not the only ones enjoying it.  This review in The Guardian is also full of praise for the writing, the acting, and the atmosphere, which is nicely creepy with occasional moments of real shock, but without the nastiness or suffering so beloved of horror these days.

The article is more than just a review of the series, going into some depth about the psychological aspects of poltergeist activity and whether or not the Enfield case was genuine, or an elaborate hoax played out by an unhappy schoolgirl (with or without the knowledge of her family).  We'll probably never know, but the article's author makes one surprising and valid point: what has happened to poltergeist activity in the modern technological age?  I hadn't realised, but apparently this kind of psychic activity, which used to be linked on a regular basis to disturbed teenagers, simply no longer happens.

So, was it always a fake?  Are we all so cynical that we assign mundane explanations to anything the least bit weird?  Or have the poltergeists got bored with Age of Warfare and moved on somewhere else?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Garden surprise

It's amazing how places can still surprise you, even after you've lived there for years.  We've been in Windermere full time for three years now, part time longer than that, yet there are still hidden corners to be discovered.

Yesterday, thanks to the NGS 'gardens open for charity' scheme, we found a gem only a few hundred yards up the road: Gatesbield.  This is an arts and crafts house dating from the 1920s, built by a local furniture maker and his wife, and bequeathed by them to a Quaker housing trust for the eldery and infirm.

Normally this is private land, unless you're a visitor or a Quaker attending the weekly service.  But yesterday we had carte blanche to wander the grounds, investigate nooks and crannies and even go in the house.  The gardens aren't huge, but are very pretty with outcrops of natural rock, dells, rockeries, trees, and a nice 'wild' feel in spite of the clustering neighbouring properties.  The house is fascinating: a real Arts & Crafts throwback, surprisingly old-fashioned for 1926, but filled with carved wooden doors, roof beams, carved wooden lintels over the windows, and some examples of the furniture made by hand by Stanley Davies, the original owner.

We paid £3.50 each to get in (most of which goes to some very deserving charities) and the princely sum of £2.50 each for a cuppa and a slab of delicious home made cake.

It made for a fun 'time out' in an otherwise busy day, and a fascinating dip into a previously unknown slice of the town's history.  There are several other local properties open under NGS later on in the year; now we know how interesting they can be, we'll be trying to fit a few more visits in.