Not much has happened since my last Blog post, but I guess part of the challenges of writing Blogs is just to relate events as these happened in fact – maybe a few personal feelings thrown in, if necessary. There have been plenty of those lately: but some of these are just a little too personal to relate here.
But on a ‘news front’ quite a lot has been happening – and continues to happen . . .
Gareth came round tonight and he was telling me about a ‘ghost hunting excursion’ he had last week when he and three other people, together with a film crew, had visited one of France’s most notorious haunted locations, in Normandy. It was called the “Abbaye de Mortemer”, not far from Rouen. Stories of earthbound ghosts and other unexplained phenomenon abounded in this desolate ruin, and had also been witnessed by local people over the past decades. They left for France last Friday, and stayed over until the Sunday night, I think they were quite exhilarated to have left the dismal weather of the U.K. behind, but were to experience even ‘stranger’ weather conditions whilst driving on their way to the haunted abbey ruin. Gareth told me that throughout the finally long drive in northern France the weather had turned decidedly ‘misty’; even to the extent of obscuring a full moon that night. Also strange, perhaps, was that this mist seemed so low that it literally obscured the tops of many windfarm generators, which seemed to be in abundance on their way there. However, ‘climatic conditions’ aside, Gareth is with me tonight, and I have therefore suggested that he briefly give you his own account of the haunted abbey which they visited . . .
We had trouble getting there, because the producer was relying on a satnav that kept going wrong, apparently because of the recent solar flare, and more importantly because there are two places called Mortemer, some forty miles apart, and it was unable to distinguish between the two. So I told him to set it for Lyons-le-Fôret, the nearest town, and after we had arrived there he was able navigate the rest of the way by the quaint old-fashioned method of following the road signs.
Our team included a professional medium well known to viewers of satellite psychic channels; Carrie Kirkpatrick, best known for having produced ‘Pet Rescue’ for the BBC in the 1990s; and Rat Scabies, formerly the drummer of The Damned. The abbey, founded by Henry I, king of England and Duke of Normandy, in 1134, is now a ruin, except for what was the southern cloister, which was turned into a manor house in the seventeenth century, and is still inhabited, its owner having kindly given us permission to film there. Henry I, as every English schoolboy knows, died of a surfeit of lampreys, and he is said (though a local historian whom I interviewed for the cameras disputed this) to have eaten this fatal last meal there – it is recorded that the nearby lake supplied the monks with perch and lampreys – though more certainly he died at his hunting lodge at Lyons-le-Fôret.
No ghost actually appeared before the cameras – you cannot bribe them by offering them Equity rates. There were a few odd occurrences, however. Whilst I was waiting around by the foot of the stairs in the hall, where some of our equipment and baggage had been put down, there was a sudden flash of light, accompanied by a ‘phut’ sound. I thought that there must have been an electrical short circuit, but when I mentioned this to the others they pointed out that the only electrical item there was a metal detector, which was battery powered and then switched off. I cannot explain this. Though I wasn’t there, I heard that the door of the dovecote (said to have been used as a prison in the seventeenth century) opened by itself when there was no wind. When we went up to the ‘Rose Chamber’, said to be the most haunted room in the house, I noticed that whilst it is very pleasantly furnished, there was a sort of oppressive atmosphere in it. Carrie actually said that she found it difficult to breathe in there. Perhaps a previous occupant was still present in spirit, and objected to intruders.
At the end of the day, the film crew expressed themselves satisfied with the material that they had obtained, though I don’t know what it will look like when edited. Afterwards we went to a restaurant in Lyons-le-Fôret, where I was served with the only vegetarian item on the menu, which proved to be inedible (and bear in mind that this was where Henry I died after an ill-considered meal), though the wine was good, and also the local cider. Carrie happened to mention how previously we had filmed Rat Scabies as the Grand Master of the Knight Templars being burned at the stake, at which the producer said, “You’d better not mention that around here.” I said: “Is that because we’re near Rouen, where they burned Joan of Arc at the stake?” He retorted: “Where THEY burned Joan of Arc?” So I replied: “All right, where WE burned Joan of Arc.”
There was much more that happened, but I don’t want to overload David’s blog. We went back via the Channel Tunnel (or the ‘Tunnel sous la Manche’ as the French road signs call it), and Mr. Scabies drove us back to London in his Ratmobile, dropping me off at Richmond station – it was only after he had departed that I discovered that the District line was not running that weekend. For now, thankyou for reading this.
Gareth J. Medway
That’s an interesting account. In fact, I was invited to go to Paris last Wednesday with a friend, but unfortunately, I only realised at the last minute that my ten year passport was a couple of months out of date. Gosh! Doesn’t time fly? Even in decades? I wasn’t able to obtain a Visitors Passport, as apparently these are no longer issued. So Della had to go on her own, and I am really missing her company. So, if I have been slightly depressed lately, that is the real reason.
But thanks Gareth for your account of your Normandy trip; most interesting, like to go over with you maybe next time. For now, everyone,