Monday, 28 December 2020

The Plan - Let's think about something else...Boo!

The Plan – Let’s Talk about Something Else…Boo!

Dear Readers,

Well, I think we can all safely say that 2020 DID NOT GO TO PLAN. But the question is, when do things ever? Now, we can all say, without a shadow of a doubt, that this time last year, we couldn’t have ever imagined that in a few short months we would be encountering new phrases like, “lock down”; “global pandemic” and “COVID-19”. Plus of course: “turn your camera on”; “can you hear me”; “we can see you but we can’t hear you” etc…

It’s affected all of us, some in truly devastating ways, from the loss of jobs and income, to the loss of loved ones. For most of us, it’s completely polished off travel plans for this year, and with the advent of 2021, the travelists among us will be praying for lift off, in more ways than one.

One of the things we’d like to remind you of, dear Readers, was our original plan for this blog: the idea was, that through reading our missives, some long, some short, some informational, some poignant, and many funny, that we’d be able to transport you from your sofa on a Sunday afternoon, to some of the most exotic places in the world, in our pursuit for Travel Trends. That’s exactly what we’re going to continue to do! And in the spirit of looking up towards 2021, we’re going to take you to some truly exotic places – or certainly attempt to rival the weird and wonderful we’ve brought you so far. With the help of your hapless Blogger, and the (demanding at times) Jolly Hockey Sticks Mother, and her indomitable pearls of wisdom…we’ll go to some unusual places together.

  In the meantime, we hope you’re making the best of this festive period, and we can imagine that a lot of you don’t really feel that festive, but that’s ok, it’s ok not to feel festive. It’s been a weird one, and so, to take your minds off it all for a second, we’re going to do something totally different. Not festive. Nothing to do with Christmas, and something we promised at the end of our last blog post: spooooooooooooooky. Buckle up, dear Readers, and get ready for the scariest places to stay in the world!


The first place we’re visiting is the Separate Prison in Port Arthur, Tasmania, Australia. Although you can’t technically stay there, you can certainly visit if you’re feeling brave. It was called the “Separate Prison” because in the secluded area of Port Arthur in Tasmania, it housed some of Britain’s toughest criminals up to the end of the 1800s. The idea was that prisoners were isolated to a “tortuous” degree, and operated a “silent system” whereby prisoners were hooded and placed in solitary confinement and forbidden to talk to anyone. This resulted in many inmates murdering their fellow prisoners! Reason being that the death sentence was infinitely preferable to staying there another minute. It’s said that the ghosts of hundreds of hooded prisoners wander the halls at night. Port Arthur is open to the public and offers nightly ghost tours…

Next up is Poveglia Island in Italy. This tiny island is where people from the mainland sought refuge from invaders. You’ll find it between Venice and Lido. When the Bubonic Plague hit Italy in the 1500s, infected Venetians were sent here to die. Subsequently, in the 1800s, it was turned into a mental asylum where patients were experimented upon and tortured! Lovely place! According to the locals, the island is cursed with unhealthy spirits and stuffed full of ghosts. People often hear voices, screams and feel an evil, oppressive aura when they visit the island. You can’t really visit the island, because none of the locals can be convinced to take you there! They believe that anyone visiting will be cursed, so much so that local fishermen refuse to fish the area for fear of what they might drag up!

Now to Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta, Canada. This is apparently one of the most haunted hotels in the whole country. It’s an old railway hotel, and styled like a Scottish Baronial castle. There are various ghostly inhabitants, including a bride who fell to her death after panicking when her dress caught alight; a family who were murdered in Room 873, and despite the door being bricked up, can still be seen in the hallway outside. And the most spooky: a bellman, named Sam Macaulay, who was very popular during his time in the 60s and 70s. He’ll still appear to take your bags, but when you try and tip him, he disappears! Guess what, despite being part of the upmarket Fairmount Hotels, you can still stay at Banff Springs…just look out for Sam…


The Hell Fire Club, Montpelier Hill, Ireland was a hunting lodge, built in 1925. The problem here was that they used ancient passage tombs to build it, which, it is said, has angered the Devil, it being on a supernatural burial site. Accordingly, the lodge was the meeting place for a small group of Dublin elites who used the site for “debauchery and Devil worship”. Tales of animal sacrifice and murder abound, and with a favourite being that a satanic creature, in the form of a man, appearing as a guest at a game of cards, where another guest dropped a card on the floor, and noticed the visitor had “cloven feet”. On being discovered, the visitor disappeared in a ball of flames. The most regular ghostly visitor is a young lady who was lucky enough to be placed in a barrel, set on fire and rolled down the hill…Today, you’re able to go on a tour of the site…

The Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town, South Africa was built by the Dutch East India Trading Company in 17th Century, making it South Africa’s oldest building. The first ghost was spotted in 1915, jumping off the side of the building, with the Lady in Grey running, screaming through the castle, holding her face. However, since a woman’s body was exhumed during excavations, she’s since disappeared. Other occurrences are a bell which rings for no reason, and a black dog which pounces on people and then disappears…Today, you can visit the castle, and eat in the courtyard.

Now to Blighty: let’s go to the Ancient Ram Inn in Gloucestershire. Built in 1145, apparently priests used the inn in which to keep slaves and workers used to build the nearby St Mary’s Church. The Inn is situated on two ley lines (lines of spiritual energy emanating from sites such as Stonehenge and Pentre Ifan) however, even worse is that it’s said to have been the site of devil worship and child-sacrifice. It’s well-known in the area that the redirecting of water on the Inn caused a portal of dark energy to open up, causing many ghosts to haunt it. In the “Witch’s Room” you’ll find the ghost of a woman burnt at the stake in the 1500s, accused of being a witch (as an aside, dear Readers, did you know that witches were really midwives?). There’s also a high priestess, a monk, chilling screams and a centurion on horseback. You can visit if you don’t want a peaceful nights’ sleep!

Now for the most haunted castle in all of Europe: Dragsholm Castle in Denmark. Originally build in 1215, parts of it was used to house noble or ecclesiastical prisoners. It’s the happy home of over 100 ghosts, including Mary Queen of Scots’ husband the Earl of Bothwell who died whilst a prisoner. Also, the White Lady who roams the corridors, and whose skeleton builders found encased in a wall in 1930…Interestingly enough, the castle is now a luxury hotel with a Michelin-starred restaurant, and offers a spooky 2 night ghost stay! In the small town of St Francisville, north-west of New Orleans, you’ll find the mansion of Myrtles Plantation wherein you’ll find the stunning “Tara-esque” (sorry, reference from Gone with the Wind there) grand foyer, complete with French crystal chandelier. A total of 10 people have been murdered in the mansion, including Chloe, who had her ear cut off by her lover…She sports a green turban, and likes to peer at visitors in their beds, and has even appeared in a photo. Another photo has captured “Ghost Girl” peering from a window. Weirder sightings include a child bouncing on the beds, a soldier, a voodoo priestess (another one? We’ve just had one in Gloucestershire?) and the ghost of a previous owner how was shot in the chest…It’s now a B&B…

India will take you to Bhangarh Fort in Rajasthan. This is actually a fort city, built in 17th Century, and contains fort walls, bazaars, palaces and numerous temples. However, it’s the most haunted fort in India. In true Indian folklore fashion, there’s a whole story around it: so a wizard called Singhia was trying to get a princess called Ratnavati to fall in love with him. He was having a bit of trouble, so he made a special oil to do the trick, but it turned into a boulder when she threw it away and crushed him. As this happened, he cursed the palace, condemning the inhabitants to death…Plus another local cursed the fort because it overshadowed his property, and anyone who goes to build a roof for the fort will see it immediately fall down. You can go and have a look at the fort now, if you’d like, but it’s mainly ruins. Interestingly enough, it’s not open at night, as the locals still believe you’ll disappear forever…

You’ll find Australia’s most haunted house, Monte Cristo Homestead, in New South Wales. It’s a late Victorian Mansion, built in 1876 and has some serious ghosts, such as a child who was dropped down the stairs, a maid who fell from a balcony or a stable boy who burned to death. The most active is the son of a caretaker who was found curled up next to the body of his mother, and subsequently chained up for 40 years…You can now spend the night there, as it’s a B&B…

Penultimately, we have Chateau de Brissac, Maine-de-Loire in France. This is known as the “Giant of the Loire Valley” on account of it being the highest castle in France, with a private opera house, seating 200 people, 204 rooms and 7 floors. Originally built as a fortress around the 11th century, King Louis XIII paid a visit in 1620. Here, you’ll find a really active one: La Dame Verte was the illegitimate child of King Charles VII, murdered by her husband in the 15th century in the chateau when he caught her having an affair. Charmingly, she’s often spotted in the tower room of the chateau, wearing a lovely green gown, with gaping holes where her eyes and nose should be…If you don’t see her, you’ll certainly hear her moaning…You are most welcome to stay in the castle, which is renowned for its wines and Christmas markets!

Now, dear Readers, as you know, one of the most popular things about our blog posts is the personal and real nature of our experiences. Therefore, a blog post would not be a Travel Trends blog post without a personal experience. Not naming names or places, but there is a certain cottage in Sussex, in the South of England, we happen to know is, or was, most definitely, haunted. There were three distinct ghosts or ghostly presences. The first being the overwhelming smell of toast without possessing a toaster. The second being the stairs: you try hoovering them? You get thrown off. You try putting a ladder on them? You get thrown off. And lastly, there’s the little girl who was stuck in the well underneath the dining room. For years and years, this room was damp. Presumably because of the (now dry) well underneath it. There was always an odd sort of presence in there, but not an unpleasant one. One day, the cottage was visited by a psychic, who, on entering the dining room, screamed and insisted that the owner of the cottage take the little girl by the hand, and lead her down to the other end of the garden, where her mother was waiting. Although the owner of the cottage was slightly bemused, as he was trying to get it on with the psychic, he did was he was told. Ever since then, the room has not suffered at all from the damp…

So there you are, dear Readers, an unusual, and not-at-all festive blog post to take your mind off things for two minutes. We’d love to hear from you, and if you have any “ghostly stories” you’d like to share, we’d love to hear them! So comment below!

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