Tales From A Weird World

STRANGE BUT TRUE

What warrants the label of ‘strange’ for you?  Does a noise in your closet in the dead of night fill your mind with images of ghosties and ghoulies and leave you shivering under your covers, or do you fart, turn over and go back to sleep again (yeah, you know who you are)?  Are you the kind of person that drives past a dilapidated building just that little bit faster than normal, checking your rear mirror as you go in case a lost wraith is chasing after you, or do you make a mental note to have a nose around at a later date because, well, you never know what you might find.

When I encounter something that might be a bit out of the ordinary, when I hear a strange noise that I can’t place when I’m alone in the house (and like many people, I have knowing what every noise in my house is down to a fine art) or see something that I’m not sure is ‘the norm’, it feels as if reality takes a step to the side, time slows down and my brain whirrs at a hundred miles an hour as it tries to figure out, ‘whoa, whoa, whoa, what just happened there?!’  I’ve always loved the paranormal, and I wonder if what I consider to be strange is the same as what people who don’t give two hoots about the World of Weird consider to be strange, or am I so used to looking out for general cosmic oddness now that I need a bigger hit of it to get the same high?

Wait, am I a weirdness junkie?

THE SPOOKY HAND IN THE HAIR FROM THE GRUDGE WAS BAD…

BUT OLGA DECIDED THE SPOOKY FOOT ON THE SHOULDER WAS INFINITELY WORSE

I remember reading once that a person visited a stately home and while they were minding their own business, looking at one of the centuries old portraits hanging on the wall, reality suddenly hiccupped and the person in the portrait appeared to move.  Oh, pack it in, I don’t mean the person leapt out of the frame and started chasing them around the grounds, but moved just enough for the viewer to have one of those ‘whoa, whoa, whoa, what just happened there?!’ moments.  Now that is my kind of strange…

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT IN THE COMMENT SECTION OVER THERE… 

So come on, don’t be shy, write and tell me what sort of things you have experienced that have left you thinking ‘uh… not sure that was supposed to happen… did anyone else see that?’

Big or small, we all secretly love a little bit of strangeness.

Nicola

weirdworld@hotmail.co.uk
©Nicola Kirk 2015 and www.nicolakirk.wordpress.com

Colchester Castle Museum – Just Where The Sat Nav Left It…

A few weeks back I promised myself a day out and I found myself trundling down the dual carriageway on the way to Colchester with a view to enlightening myself about all things old and Roman at the Colchester Castle Museum.  Amazingly, I found my way there without getting lost, which is quite something as generally satnavs lie to me.   They do.  I end up driving down a dirt track at the end of some farmer’s field with the satnav screaming at me: “You are lost!  You are lost!”  while I scream back, ‘but you sent me this way!  Oi!  It’s no good you re-routing now, is it?!’

The castle hadn’t opened by the time I’d arrived so I went for a wander down the high street.  Two piano shops and a croque monsieur sandwich later, I went and bought myself a ticket to the castle museum for a very reasonable £7.50 and, for an additional £1, you can have a little Samsung tablet to wonder around with that tells you additional bits and bobs as you go around the displays, including graphics of how the castle’s interior may once have looked hundreds of years ago.   Hold the tablet up at the appointed place, turn around, and a 360º view of the place in its former glory appears on the screen, moving as you move.  Nifty.

Chainmail Shirts Are Soooo Last Century Darling

The museum is torn between ages.  The thick stone walls of the ancient Norman Keep and the lovely modern glass display cases and airy atmosphere inside the museum combine to make it a very unique place.  It’s not your average museum full of untouchable objects, there are parts of the museum where you can dress up as a Roman soldier (apparently this is mainly for the children but hey ho…) and you can handle a chainmail shirt so  you can feel just how incredibly heavy they were and other replica items so you get a real feel for the history of the place.  I heard one father say to his kids: ‘here you go, pick up this shield… heavy, isn’t it?’ I smiled while the kids staggered around under the weight of the replica shield. ‘Now imagine trying to lift a heavy sword at the same time AND wear one of these chainmail shirts.’  And then imagine wearing a helmet you probably can’t see too much through and then maybe some other armour and then having to fight for your life, I thought to myself.  Jeez… and they say a policeman’s lot is not a happy one; it beats the pants off being a Roman soldier.

Fleshing Out History – Sometimes Cake Just Won’t Do It

After a pleasant couple of hours gazing at all things ancient and Roman, I went across the way to a little church with a  wonderfully overgrown graveyard.  It’s almost as if it’s been forgotten about what with the way the ivy has been left to crawl up over the gravestones and the trees keep everything else in perpetual heavy shade, but if you have a look at the sign by the main entrance of the former All Saints church, it’s actually Colchester’s Natural History Museum.  Now this is something I bet the Church never foresaw happening.   The church has been turned into a stage for all things stuffed and feathered with slightly surprised expressions on their faces (excluding the lady on the front desk, she was very nice and smiley).  It was a serene environment to take in some information about the local wildlife and salt marshes.  On the day that I went, there was a lady doing face painting for the kids, and whilst I decided against it, I did see a few kiddies wandering about sporting some pretty cool face paints.   But it does seem that being a church in Colchester is a hazardous pastime – the  ones I came across had been turned into either museums or vintage markets and coffee shops… which is fine by me because it means these fine old buildings are still being kept in use, but I bet the occupants of the tombs under the ancient stone floors wonder what’s going on in their Holiest of Holies.  I did like the polite notice up in the Church Of The Holy Sale Now On though, asking people not to plonk their chairs on top of the underfloor residents.  It’s nice to see a bit of respect still lingers in this day and age of ‘ I Want Everything Now And I Don’t Care Who I Put My Chair On To Get It.’

How To Redecorate A Church, Vintage Style

I love what they’ve done with the place…

I think I might venture back to the lovely old town of Colchester at Christmas because it hasn’t yet succumbed to the giant department stores that sell all the same old things and kick all the other little boutiques which we all love out of business. It has retained its many individual shops with shopkeepers who still smile at you and take a moment to chat.  That’s something I miss, working in London where even the briefest shopping excursion can feel like a soulless chore where you’re just washed along the shopping aisles with the rest of The Masses.

Nicola

weirdworld@hotmail.co.uk
©Nicola Kirk 2014 and www.nicolakirk.wordpress.com

Told You It Was A Long Way!

I know my blog is mainly about the weird and wonderful, and most sisters do find their brothers at least a bit weird but I’m also finding my brother to be… really rather wonderful at the moment (but for goodness sake don’t tell him, I’ve still not entirely forgiven him for telling me I had a child-bearing arse when I was a teenager).

I take my hat off to anyone who goes running.  The thought of running fills me with horror.  I have dreams where I go for a run (seems like a good idea at the time) but for the life of me, I can’t think how to do it, my legs get tangled and I can’t move fast enough to outpace a snail.  As for the thought of going out to run mile after mile, well it just doesn’t compute on any level…  So, for my brother to say he’s going to run the London Marathon (again) on 13th April 2014 to raise money for Asthma UK just blows my mind a bit.  He’s going to drag his butt 26.2 miles around London in aid of charity.  Now that is quite something.  I’ve had experience with asthma when I was a child and was fortunate enough to grow out of it, but Stuart was not so lucky and it’s something that’s plagued him since he was little, but he doesn’t let it hold him back.  Like that Duracell Bunny he just keeps on going and going.

In November he grew the most intriguing facial fluff for Movember when he and his friends raised money for Prostate Cancer Research – for a while he was renamed Wing Commander Morgan-Philps – my goodness all he needed was a stiffer upper lip and a plane and he’d have been well away.  This time, it’s running a marathon to beat asthma, when he suffers from it himself.

So, I have a favour to ask – could you spare a couple of quid to sponsor Stuart in his Run Of Insanity?  Come on, let’s cheer him on!

But here’s a message from the man himself:

“Hello ladies and gents,

I will keep this short and sweet.

I am running the London Marathon again this year in aid of Asthma UK. Asthma is a condition I have suffered with for over 20 years and thought it was right to do something to support the charity that helps others that suffer a lot more than I do.

I appreciate that some of you may have donated last year when I did Movember or have had other people asking so please forgive this request again and anything that is given is very much appreciated.

http://www.justgiving.com/Philpsy

Regards.
Stu
Asthma UK
Thanks everyone!
Nicola

File:Tight lacing.jpg

I Said, IT’S MY BLOODY BED!”

Fortunately no beds were harmed during the fastening of my corset…

“How about… we all wear corsets to the burlesque evening?”  This suggestion came from the same friend who recommended we allow ourselves to be chased by zombies around Mount Fitchet Castle last Hallowe’en. A corset?  Ummm… I glanced down at myself and wondered if I would last an evening without being able to breathe.

Go on… a little voice whispered at the back of my mind.  You know you want to…

“Yeah, sounds good – I’ll ask the others too…”  and the words were out of my mouth and running riot before I could stop them.  And so it was that a couple of weeks later, and after a bit of shopping on Ebay, a mob of us turned up at the Burlesque 2013 Championship in Shepherds Bush in our tightly laced corsets (well, the women did, not the men.  That would be just…uh… actually I’d pay good money to see that) wondering what on earth we’d let ourselves in for.  I already had a vague idea what Burlesque was all about but my other half – well, I think he left suitably enlightened by the end of the evening.  By the time we left, I was hoarse from cheering and shouting and I’d observed numerous ways of escaping a corset in a rush.  Looking around at the rest of the audience that night, I’d felt oddly at ease with all the vintage wearing, highly tattooed ladies and gents.  Guys wearing half Victorian half modern clothing and ladies with their hair piled high and with similar corseted figures to myself.  There was a pleasant air of ‘ooh, look what she’s wearing, isn’t that pretty,’ instead of ‘what’s that bitch fink she look like?’  It was a really superb evening and it got me wondering what had made it that way other than the excellent dance acts and outrageous outfits fluttering around on stage.  I really loved the mix of old and new fashions, the way the unusual was admired rather than sneered at.  Everything was just… accepted.   Not to mention the fact I got to wear a really pretty corset that I felt great in – it just ironed out every line in a most pleasing fashion and it was actually surprisingly comfortable to wear.  I’d been anticipating having to escape to the toilets every half hour so I could relearn how to breathe, but no such breaks were required.

It took me a while to figure out that there is a subculture, if that’s the right word, that I seem to have fallen into without realising it.  I’ve discovered the world of Steampunk.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, I think this might help:

 IMG_9026476003587 (1)

I love this kind of world!  I don’t own a strange pair of goggles, which seem to feature quite heavily in Steampunk, but I’m gaining ground when it comes to corsets and things with cogs on.  I bought one corset that was pretty and pink with white lace around the edges and wondered how on earth Victorian women used to manage to do themselves up of a morning…. Ah… that’s what maids were for.  Or – I eyed the bed where my other half was fast asleep- husbands!  But no, I couldn’t wake him up just so he could shove his knee in my back to do a corset up.

You Want Me To Do WHAT, Darling?  Pull Until My Arms Go Numb?!

Please Tell Me We’re Talking About Your Corset?!

After some experimenting, I discovered the easiest way to lace the corset is so you have one set of laces that do the top half up and then another set to adjust the bottom half, and therefore the laces meet in the middle of your back.  This makes things much easier rather than trying to tie laces at the top, where you need to be double jointed to reach or at the bottom, where you could spend all day trying to get the laces to behave themselves.  I’ve worn a corset to work a few times and I tell you what, it does amazing things for your posture.  You.  Do.  Not.  Slouch.  In.  A.  Corset.  But, tied correctly, you can still breathe and you end up with a really tidy waistline.  Of course, a corset alone does not class as ‘Steampunk’, but with a few tattoos, a love of all things spooky and unusual and an affinity with foggy, gas lit Victorian London, the next time I venture out for the evening I may consider a new look for myself.

 

Zombie Framed Tile

Unless They’re From Mount Fitchet, In Which Case They’ll Just Shuffle After You A Bit.

Ah, I love Hallowe’en – it’s my favourite time of year.  When a friend of mine mentioned there was a Hallowe’en event at Mount Fitchet Castle near Stansted, Essex, well, how could I refuse? On Friday 1st November (not quite Hallowe’en night, but it was still the Dia De Los Muertos or Day of the Dead… if you’re from Mexico…) my friend and I took a drive to Mount Fitchet and braced ourselves accordingly.

Do Not Drink The Water

In Mulled Wine There Is… Uh, I Think I’m Happier Not Knowing.

The evening started with an offer of hot mulled wine, which I unfortunately couldn’t partake in because I was driving but perhaps that wasn’t such a terrible thing because my friend advised me that it tasted like nothing she’d never tasted before.  And not in a good way.   Okay, I had a tiny sip just out of sheer curiosity and once I’d managed to uncross my eyeballs, I came to the decision that mulled wine could be used as a method of corporal punishment.

Common sense dictated it would be wise to hunt out the ladies toilets before the tour started and I was advised it was ‘outside… see that light over there in the distance?’  I had a squint through the pitch black night and saw what might have been the dim light of a bulb burning in the distance.  I was glad the designers of iPhone had seen fit to give my phone ‘torch’ mode.  Because of this minor detour, I missed the first couple of minutes of the warm up act, a woman dressed up in old rags who was busy instilling fear into the masses with tales of ‘the Master’ who was on his way to take us on the tour.    It was when ‘the Master’ bowled in that I realised the evening was definitely going to be a good giggle.  Sitting at the back of the room did not offer an ounce of protection from the Master’s beady eye and I was quizzed about why I’d brought my cat with me (I was wearing an enormous fluffy scarf) and was labelled ‘cat woman’ for the rest of the evening, but I got off lightly as the guy opposite me was nicknamed ‘Product Man’ seeing as he’d cleared his bathroom cabinet of hair gel that evening.

And Not In A Good Way

We were led out of the main reception area and out to the main encampment. Halfway up the hill a young man, who appeared to be part of our group, approached the Master.  I overheard the Master saying, ‘Oh, okay, well stay here with me and I’ll get someone to come and get you to take you back again…” but before the Master could finish the young lad keeled over onto the grass and the rest of us were left standing there thinking ‘is this part of the evening or should we also be down in the mud trying to help…?”  I don’t think any of us had quite gathered our wits before the lad started to growl in a most unseemly manner and claw his way towards the rest of us.  Ahh… I see – Zombie Night was under way!   Once we’d dodged around the groaning, and now slightly muddy individual on the floor (apparently he had another six performances of that to get through before he was done for the night) the Master regaled us with tales of how witches of old were dealt with by the fiendish self-proclaimed Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins.  There was an accompanying slide show which sent shivers up my spine – they really used to go all out when it came to dispatching suspected witches.  I think the woodcut of one individual being hung up by the legs and cut in half had us all crossing our legs with sympathy.

I Believe This Covers It…

It was at this point that the Master then passed us over into the care of the ‘military’ where I was asked for my name and age in a dark tent and then was squirted directly in the face with ‘decontamination’ spray.  Wasn’t expecting that.  I think I may have referred to the person that did it as a ‘total bugger’… or words to that effect.

There was no artificial lighting up on the Mount other than little bonfires lit here and there which were both welcome and eerie at the same time.  There was also a low-lying mist that added to the atmosphere.  Somehow my friend and I started off right at the front of our group and then after a few zombie attacks ended up right at the back, so wherever we went we seemed to be prime zombie fodder.  The actors were great fun, dressed up in their zombie outfits with hideous make-up and well-practised zombie shuffles.  My friend attached herself to the back of my coat as we ventured through pitch black ‘morgue tent’ where we were liberally accosted by flailing zombie hands and shut in unlit cabins with sinister hooded figures.  It was great fun.  It reminded me of a sanitised version of the film “28 Days Later”.

Would I go again?  Oh, most definitely!  Put a note in your diary to go next year if you can.

But if you’re not quite feeling brave enough to venture out at Hallowe’en to fend off the zombies, you can still go during the day when they are in hiding and enjoy a  family-friendly day out.  Click here to see when the castle is open (but bear in mind that it is seasonal and shuts for the winter).

Nicola

weirdworld@hotmail.co.uk
©Nicola Kirk and www.nicolakirk.wordpress.com 2013
Follow Me On Twitter: @Weirdworld2013

choice, choices, colours, dreams, funnyNo, No, NO!  Bad Advice, BAD ADVICE!!

Dreams are funny things.  They can be so vivid you wake up wondering if it had been a dream at all.  I dreamed once that I’d received a letter in the post and then, when I woke up, spent the best part of the morning looking for the damned thing.

Never did find it.  Odd that.

Wake Up, Twitter – If I’m Up, So Are You!

Early one morning whilst perusing Twitter (babies don’t care what time they get you up, but when they do, you’d better make sure you have something interesting to keep you awake while they have their bottle) I came across one post that said, ‘everything you dream about is something you’ve seen or done in real life’.

Oh, man, I hope not.

I Can Flyyyyy!!!

I remember many of my dreams, which are generally really nice – dreams of flying or discovering lost tombs (yes, I’ve had one or two of those dreams – Lara Croft has nothing on me).   But sometimes I suffer from oddly disturbing dreams.  Like the one where I went into my little boy’s room to check on him one night.  He was fast asleep in his cot but as I turned to leave I saw an 8-year-old version of him standing next to me in the gloom.  The older version of my son grinned up at me and then abruptly disappeared into thin air.  I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen an 8-year-old version of my son in real life, so why would I dream of him now?  When I woke up from that dream I felt absolutely terrified for some reason and had the worst case of goosepimples and shivers I can ever recall having.  It was one of those moments I thought only existed in bad sitcoms where the sleeper sits bolt upright in bed. My flesh literally crawled.

Who’s Reaching Out To Hold Your Hand At Night?

And only a couple of weeks back, I woke up because I was certain I could feel someone holding my hands, which were laying on top of the covers.  The hands holding mine were freezing cold – I could feel them.   I remember a little voice in my head screeching ‘they’re holding your hands!  They’re holding your hands!‘  Again, I woke up feeling terrified and freezing cold with goosepimples running over my skin like a million icy ants.

What makes us dream these things?  If it’s our brains sorting out the things its experienced during the course of the day, why would I dream about a futuristic version of my son or that someone with horribly cold hands was  holding mine while I slept?

bad-dreams-funny-cat

And don’t get me started on the dreams I’ve had about Gene Hackman trying to murder me (I mean, really, why?) or someone shooting me in the back while I walked home from a school I’ve never attended…

Therapy, anyone?

Have you ever had strange dreams that have left you feeling spooked or wondering ‘where on earth did that come from?!’

Nicola
weirdworld@hotmail.co.uk
©Nicola Kirk and www.nicolakirk.wordpress.com 2013
Follow Me On Twitter: @Weirdworld2013

Hey, Where Did Everybody Go?

I’m not all ‘paranormal paranormal, ghostie ghostie’.  Well, not all the time anyway, sometimes you do have to have a break from it all.  Having spent a few days in the lovely seaside town of Le Touquet, France, I have come to the conclusion that all those years I spent learning French was a waste of time.  I went over there and thought to myself, well, here we are in France, surrounded by French personages, I will speak French to them!  But no:

“Je voudrais deux cappuchinos, s’il vous plait!” I announced proudly in one restaurant, hoping my hubby would be seriously impressed by the fluency of my French and ignoring the confused look my son was giving me.

“Two cappuchinos?  Okay, anything else?” the waitress replied with a smile.

What?  What’s this?  Is my French so terrible, the waitress wants to spare my blushes by making me speak English?  Perhaps it’s my accent?  English with a hint of Australian (according to some people, although I’ve never been to Australia in my life.  Well, not in this life anyway.)

“Uh… no, that’s everything, thanks a lot.”  Pah.  All those years of slaving over a hot French dictionary and they insist on speaking my own language to me.  Well, at least they aren’t just looking at me blankly as they did with my poor pa when he once ordered ‘trois bieres‘ and held up four fingers.

Show Me The Money!

Le Touquet is a beautiful place during the summer months, but when you visit out of season, as we did, it’s a ghost town.  The seafront becomes a desolate place with a slightly menacing feel to it due to the lack of life.  Of any kind.  I’m sure we didn’t even see a seagull while we were there.  The sky was grey, the wind was a bit overexcited and the place had the air of a deserted fairground: you knew some fun had been had there, but it was a long time ago and all that remained were the echoes.  It was wonderfully eerie; I rather liked it.  It set my imagination running off down all sorts of avenues.  We drove around the tree-lined boulevards around the apartment where we were staying and stared at the huge houses that had been shuttered up for the winter.  It appears that many of the homes there are owned by super rich people who only use them in the summer months and then shut them up for the winter.  Cafes and shops seemed more closed than open and it wasn’t until we trundled off to Boulogne Sur Mer to see the Nausicaa aquarium and Amiens to see the lovely little zoo there that we found life again.  But that deserted seafront at Le Touquet is haunting me – I think it needs a short story or something written about it.

Le Touquet may not be exactly rife with ghost stories, in fact, I’ve struggled to find reference to anything weird there, but driving down the deserted roads certainly gave me food for thought.  All those shuttered up mansions and lifeless windows – who knows what could be lurking in there?

On a completely different subject, have a look at this:

http://www.boredpanda.org/wilder-mann-charles-freger/

Who says Pagans don’t have  a sense of humour…

See you later.

Nicola
weirdworld@hotmail.co.uk
©Nicola Kirk and www.nicolakirk.wordpress.com 2013

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