Letters from London (and yarns from Yorkshire), part 3

After dinner, Eugene and I set out for the Ghost Hunt. Not a ghost walk mind you, but a ghost hunt. York is apparently quite famous for its ghosts, because we’ve come across four different companies/groups who will take you around the city to tell you about its haunted places. Naturally I was violently opposed to going on any of these, because as you know, I’m fuckin’ terrified of the supernatural. If I can’t kill it, I don’t like it, and I didn’t want to hear anything about York’s favourite haunts. But Eugene was persistent. He desperately wanted to go, and refused to go alone. Some part of him wanted the thrill of going with company, and I was the only company who would appreciate it like he would. And we argued for hours about why I’m scared of ghosts and why I don’t think my life would be improved by confronting this particular kind of fear right now and he still persisted. In the end, his yearning to go seemed to outweigh the potential psychological consequences I would suffer, so for his happiness, I yielded.

The “hunt” we went on turned out to be a Christmas special, with actors performing Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. It was surprisingly good, with a humbling message and a small amount of interaction with the crowd. I particularly enjoyed strolling down the streets of York, singing the first verse of Old King Solomon with the actors. When it came to the second verse however, everyone almost instantly died out because no one knew it. It was hilarious! It was also a little disconcerting to have the actors’ performances disrupted by cars going across the streets in front of them and drunken passerbys making inappropriate ghost noises. At the half hour intermission, Eugene returned home because we didn’t feel it was worth the wait. (Actually, we tried to go home, but instead we wandered around for 25 minutes in a rather large circle. When we finally returned to the place we started I suggested we wait the extra five minutes, but he still didn’t think it was worth the time, so we went home.)

On the walk home, we passed a group that was apparently on a ghost walk of their own. All I caught was the phrase “You can’t see it from the outside, you can only see it from the inside” as they stopped in front of a house. It was enough. I’ve strongly decided that I have so little to gain and so much to lose that there’s no way in hell I’m interested in going. Eugene can stuff it up his ass and go on his own if he wants to see it that badly. Hope I don’t have nightmares!

I love and miss you baby. I hope you get the chance to email again soon. I love hearing from you. Bye honey <3

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wren_Day
Who knew, right?

***

I er… I have decided to go on the ghost walk with Eugene. I talked to him about how I felt, and he agreed to go alone. But then he wanted to help me deal with my fear of ghosts because he felt my fear was unjustified- many ghosts exist, and most of them are powerless in this plane. At the very worst, they’re an inconvenience (changing the TV channel or throwing lightbulbs around) but not generally harmful. So why do I have plasmaphobia, the fear of ghosts to the point where it interferes with my daily life? One website suggests the fear can be life-limiting, and one of the best ways to overcome it is to challenge your fear rather than feeding into it with avoiding and escapism. And unfortunately, that’s more or less what Naomi’s been teaching me, and I must admit that it would be nice not to fear having a mirror in the room at night, or walking through a dark house by myself. The more I linger on such fears, the worse they become. And I think it’s time that I look them straight in the eye, say “I love you, and I mean you no harm” and then carry on with my life as normal. I’ve climbed mountains and spent nights in a cave, taken cold showers and gone for 45 hours without eating. These things have taught me not to fear tiredness, cold or hunger. But I still haven’t challenged my psychological fears. If I can accomplish this gargantuan task of attending a ghost walk, I will be able to say “I’ve faced worse” the next time I fear there is a ghost nearby. So Eugene and I will be heading to the 8pm one in just a few minutes time. I’ve had a fair bit of Christmas mead to bolster my spirit, but mostly I will be going with my own courage. I love you.

***

The ghost walk was wonderful. The carpark where we were supposed to meet had been completely flooded (again, photos to come, but basically the water up to waist level) so we called a few numbers and wandered around until we found the group on top of a bridge. The guy taking the tour was dressed in the classic Victorian outfit (it seems to be the uniform of ghost walk leaders) minus the tophat, but plus the cane. He was very charming, funny, entertaining and knowledgeable. The first place we went to, he talked about a fellow named George someone, who haunted the ladies bathrooms (turning out the lights, then caressing ladies’ necks when they were on the toilet). It’s what the nursery rhyme Georgie Porgie is based on. Look it up if you can! A lot of people cracked jokes (probably because they were inebriated) and had a romping good time. But as the tour progressed, things got progressively more sombre. We heard about Roman soldiers in an old cathedral, a ghostly man who lived on the top floor of a building and wouldn’t let anyone renovate it, a girl who would climb into bed with people… We heard about hangings and mass suicide and all kinds of grizzly things. They were stories though, and I was able to distance myself from them quite a bit.

The tour leader was a fascinating man. As I said, he was charming and eloquent and witty, but I fancied that when I looked into his eyes I saw a tender sadness borne from some tragic experience. It turns out I was right. He has astral dreams sometimes, where his spirit leaves his body and flies around the world. They terrify him because he feels the connection between his body and soul might be severed, and that his spirit might be stuck in limbo, like a ghost, for eternity.  He’s done a lot of thinking about life and death, and I guess that’s what attracts him to his profession. At the end of the tour he invited everyone for drinks, but Eugene and I slinked off shortly after we arrived at the pub. When I went to bed, although I walked through the darkness of the house and feared that there might be unseen things there, I did not think it likely that they were there, nor did I fear that they wished me any harm if they were. I slept well. I hope I can carry this benevolent courage with me for the rest of my life.

***

Yesterday Eugene and I went to Jorvik, the Viking museum. Jorvik is the Viking word for “York”, and it was freaking awesome. The essence of it was that archeologists spent decades digging down once they discovered it was a viking site, and they learned all about the clothes, diet, tools, ships and general lifestyles of the inhabitants. Vikings ruled half of England until King Albert threw them out, and the Viking King Eric Bloodaxe (what an incredibly spinechilling name) was one of the last of them until he was thrown out of York. The best part of the building was the electric cable car inside, which took us through a reenactment of what York might have looked like during the Viking days. It was great! I also inspected a Damascus sword in the gift shop, yours for only £480, which had tempered steel like the samurai blades. It was beautiful T_T

Thereafter we went to Clifford’s Tower, the ruinous remains of the Castle of York. Eugene and I tried some mead in the gift store, and I’ve now decided that mead is by far my favourite alcoholic drink. We tried some Christmas mead as well, which had other spices and flavours, and we bought a bottle because it was so tasty. Looking forward to drinking it in the mountains! The Tower/castle itself was rather epic, and I would have loved to have been one of the soldiers garrisoned there to look out for invading Viking forces.

In the afternoon, Mum, Caysin, Shu Shu and Wendy all caught the train back to London. We arrived very early though, so to pass the time Caysin asked me to teach her kung fu. I taught her to stomp on people’s feet and to strike them in the groin, to pull out of wrist grabs and to attack the chin or nose with the palm of the hand. To my surprise, she caught on very quickly. She asked to learn how to attack people but I refused to teach her. I think if she wanted to apply herself, she’d make an incredibly talented martial artist.

We had dinner at an Italian restaurant (and lunch at Yo! Sushi! I tried the ramen this time. We ate far, far too much, racking up a bill of £50 between the two of us), which served the most incredible cheesy gnocchetti. I hadn’t wanted so much dairy, but the waiter insisted that it would be awful without it, and Eugene convinced me it was worth it. And it was. My stomach hurt so, so much afterwards (I think that dairy makes me bloated! It’s so obvious now.) but it was an incredible meal. I’ll try very much to be more vegan from now on.

Before lunch, Eugene and I had the luxury of time to just wander around into any store we liked. We found a collector’s store that sold comics and boardgames, and I found this really cool samurai-ninja-shogun card game. But when I inquired about it, the storeowner suggested I try “Samurai Sword” instead, which hasn’t yet been released in England.  I guess I’ll have to look it up!

***

Today Eugene and I had to leave the creaky old house, but we have one more night in York. We booked a night in an inn/tavern called the Gillygate, which is quite a romantic notion but actually a little noisy. Like staying above Rosie O’Grady’s, you know?

We had a rather leisurely Sunmorn breakfast (second breakfast for me! XD), where I tried another “jack-et po-ta-to”. This one was much, much better than the first, probably because the first one was plain and this one was smothered in baked beans.

We had organised for a car to take us to the Studley Royal Park, which contains a ruined abbey (incredible), water gardens (breathtaking) and a deer park (disappointing). Today was one of the very rare sunny days of December, so Eugene and I spent hours running around the abbey, taking beautiful photos of the landscape and ruined buildings. We chased some pheasants (well, walked after them trying to take pictures of them while they sprinted away), spent a few moments at the water gardens and then lunched in a tearoom by the deer park. I’m afraid I had an egg and mayonaise sandwich, and then since I was being naughty, a caramel cranberry cheesecake. Oh, and I forgot to mention! That gnochetti I ate yesterday, upon the very first mouthful, I was overcome by a terrible feeling of sadness. It tasted delicious, don’t get me wrong, but it just made me tragically sad to eat it! Perhaps I was sad because I was breaking my veganity, or that I knew that I’d never eat it again because it was out of bounds next time. Who knows!

The deer park, as I said, was a touch disappointing. There were supposedly 500 deer, including fallow deer, and I pictured them frolicking in lush green meadows with white spots upon their backs, coming within ten metres of me and taking my measure with big, curious eyes. In reality, we trailed through several hundred metres of mud and poop to observe a herd of perhaps a hundred deer from a distance of perhaps a hundred metres. When I slowly approached they slowly receded, and when I quickly approached they ran away. I didn’t even get close enough to see if they had any spots like Bambi, but I guess that’s the price you pay for intruding upon wild deer!

Then we went to the Brimham Rocks, a place modestly famous for its unusual rock formations. We only spent a half hour there, climbing rocks for epic (and rather dangerous) poses as the wind tried to pull us off. It was lovely, but the weather was turning cloudy and bitter again, and we quickly returned to the car. Thereafter we headed back to Studley Royal Park to see the ruins of the abbey again, this time with Christmas carols and coloured lights illuminating the skeletons of the building, before being driven back to central York.

Just before he left, we asked Martin (our driver) where his favourite place to eat was, and we headed down to the restaurant he recommended. The food there was pretty incredible (I ordered the wild mushroom and brie burger, minus the brie. Unfortunately they couldn’t do that, so I just gave in and broke my veganity yet again. And I had some really nice nachos too :>), though a tad more expensive than I had realised – the burger appeared to cost £3.50, but in actuality it was £9 plus £3.50. Plus, the elderflower juice that I drank (while exquisite) ended up being quite costly! I only had about £180 to last the next six and a bit days, so I rather unexpectedly exceeded my budget. I’ll have to be a fair bit tighter with my money if I wish to survive the winter! XD I could always borrow/take money from Eugene if I really needed it, but I’d prefer not to rob him.

It’s about 8pm now, so a relaxing evening of reading and blogging before an early start. I love you so much baby. So so much! Can’t wait to hear back from you. And I hope you got my earlier email messages with attachments- I was having a curiously hard time getting them to send. I love you!

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One thought on “Letters from London (and yarns from Yorkshire), part 3

  1. […] Here are the belated holiday photos I promised from my recent adventures in London, York, Yorkshire, the Peak District, Singapore (parts 1 and 2), Penang and Ipoh. The formatting isn’t great, […]

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