Libraries, Castles & Fear of the Dark: What I’ve Mostly Been Doing This Week

By Christina

It’s been a busy week for both Sheldon and myself. We haven’t had time to catch up properly, and aside from a mistakenly sent Whatsapp message from Sheldon to me wishing me well on my upcoming trip to Egypt (I wish), we haven’t had time to speak, although we do leave notes for one another in the form of drafts right here on this blog. The latest series of notes have been about our upcoming feature on Abney Park Cemetery – it’s been a fair while since we visited it so we figured it was about time we wrote it up! Stay tuned for that, but in the meantime, and mainly because I’ve been ridiculously too busy to put together something proper and far more researched and thought out for you guys (sorry), here’s what I’ve mostly been doing this week:-

I’ve been listening to some great music that I’ve recently discovered. Some is old and some is new and some is about death and some is full is life. Here’s a short playlist for you to put on while you read the rest of this post –

Johnny Flynn – Tickle Me Pink (2008)

Foster the People – Coming of Age (2014)

Slow Club – Because We’re Dead (2009)

Abney Park – The Story That Never Starts (2012)

The latter is a Steampunk band from Seattle, USA that I discovered while researching Abney Park the north London Magnificent Seven cemetery. They are really pretty good. Find them on Youtube also.

My friend Phil gave me a book he thought I would like (and he was right) all about West Wickham, which is the small town on the south London green belt that I moved to not long ago.

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I didn’t know a lot about the place, but when an underground river in the area overflowed during our recent spell of (very) bad weather and caused a lake where a lake shouldn’t be, Phil told me that in the summertime, during periods of extreme drought, you can see the remains of an old Roman road right in the same spot. He also told me that the Roman Road has been traced right across West Wickham Common, which is where I do a lot of my running training. He then told me a ghost story about the place and I haven’t been able to go running there since. But the book is really interesting. I’m just getting into it at the moment, and I’ll let you know what I discover about this ancient Roman settlement I call home in a future post.

Talking of ghost stories, I went up to Cumbria in my little Nissan Micra (I may be having a funeral for it very soon!) to see my friends Emmy and Ben last week. They live in a little town on the west coast of Cumbria called Workington. It has an interesting history and I even uncovered some fun historical and architectural links with London while I was up there. Again, I’ll write about it all in a future post. I spent one whole afternoon walking round all the old churchyards in the area and later on, after an ill-thought out comment about ghosts in the attic (where I was sleeping) by Ben, I was too scared to go to sleep.

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I ended up staying awake until 4am, with the light on and Netflix playing at full volume. In the hope that any ghosts that might have been hanging around were frightened by 21st century technology that brings films straight to your iPad (another invention the ghosts might have been confused by). When I finally did fall asleep, it was with my head submerged firmly under the duvet.

It led me to wonder how it is that I’m such a scared y-cat when I spend half my life thinking about, hanging about or writing about cemeteries. I’m certainly not scared when I’m in them. But I have always been afraid of the dark. Thus far, no ghost wearing Victorian petticoats has ever bothered me during the night but there’s a first time for everything I suppose. Incidentally, a fear of the dark is known as achluophobia. By the time you’ve learned how to pronounce it, it’ll be morning.

Today I’ve been busy indulging myself in a spot of Castle Porn (real thing) by spending the afternoon at Arundel Castle in West Sussex. A beautiful castle in a beautiful village on the River Arun, that looks rather like Gondor from Lord of the Rings if you view it from across the surrounding fields.

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The gardens were particularly beautiful. Sheldon would have loved it there and would have run about naming all the plants. I could only guess, and read the helpful signposts.

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I’ve also been to the public library this week (yes, people still do that) and now I have a whole stack of books on the history of London to wade through. Wish me luck!

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