Wednesday, 6 January 2010

A Winter Wonderland - But Where Are The Ghosts

The BBC were giving out an extreme weather warning this morning, at least for some parts of the country. Just outside Hereford, where I ended up last night, a good five or six inches of snow had fallen and when I got out to the car it was covered with a thick coating of white snow.

The road outside the car park though had been gritted and the traffic was bowling along at cracking pace.

But, I decided to play it safe about where I’d head today as the snow was still coming down in some parts of the country, notably the South West for which I was planning to head. I opted to delay setting out until around 10am when I could watch the news and see where it would be madness to drive towards.

I trudged over to the neighbouring pub, which served breakfast from 8am to 10am, only to find it was locked up.

The spade that I bought from B and Q yesterday proved a godsend as, not only was I able to dig out my own car, but two other drivers borrowed it to dig theirs out as well.

Then, the pub opened and the day looked a lot more promising following a hearty breakfast and a few cups of hot, strong coffee.

As far as I could make out to go south west would take me straight into the snow. But at the hotel I found a leaflet for Littledean Jail near Longhope, which invited people to come and make the acquaintance of the ghostly jailer.

Although the jail doesn’t open at this time of the year I thought a little peek at the exterior might be worth it just to see what it looks like. So off to jail again.

The A roads were fine and there was hardly any traffic about. But when I got to the turn off it was a narrow B road and the snow was thick.

So I decided to wait a few months, untill the jail opened, and instead I headed for Tewksbury.

The Abbey looked lovely with its covering of snow. There was also an apple tree next to the car park that still had apples all over it, albeit they were all wearing snowy hats!

Although I didn’t catch a glimpse of the hooded monk who is said to haunt the Abbey, I did find out what a Gurney Stove is, since Tewksbury Abbey has two of them.

They were made by the wonderfully names London Warming and Ventilation company in the 19th century and were meant to burn anthracite.
Since they provided a very cheap source of heat, most cathedrals and large churches in England had them. So now you know! If you’re wondering what they look like, that’s one to the left.
Tewksbury has some lovely old buildings, and draped in snow, they looked really lovely. I popped into the Royal Hop Pole, which has what I’m sure is one of the longest and darkest corridors I’ve ever seen.
It is a place of shadowy corners, with a large fire place, although there was no sign of a fire. It was also featured by Charles Dickens in Pickwick Papers.
Then I walked down to The Tudor House Hotel on the High Street. This is really nice beamed place and is reputed to be haunted.

I came across an interesting predicament here, one that I’ve encountered at several properties. The last time I was here was in 2003 and then I met with a lady who told me all about ghostly activity, chairs moving, items being moved that sort of thing.

Today I met with the manageress who told me that she had been there for three years now and had not seen or experienced any ghostly activity. I find this many times when visiting haunted places. On one occasion you’ll meet someone who wants to tell you in great detail, and in hushed tones, “all about the ghost,” on the next occasion you’ll meet someone who thinks it’s all nonsense. Such is life, or death.

This afternoon I headed for Shipton Under Wychwood, which I’ve seen somewhere is incredibly haunted. Apart from a hair raising climb up the Broadway bypass, the gritters had obviously been out and the roads were very quiet. Just past Stow on the Wold the A424 was passable but I was slipping a bit. So I decided it was time to call it a day, headed back to Stow and checked in to The Unicorn, a lovely old inn, which might be haunted. I intend to find out tonight!

Tomorrow it’s back to London and that’s it now till Monday when I’m heading up to Edinburgh. So till then Good Hauntings.

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