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Archive for May, 2012

Book Review: The Night Side of Nature…

May 20th, 2012

I don’t know if it’s a Vitamin deficiency, a lack of decent sleep or a morbid fascination for the weird and bizarre, but out of the blue I can be struck by an insane craving for real ghost stories. The craving demands stories I’ve never heard before; preferably weird ones that make me shiver and feel glad to live in my boring unhaunted house. (How do I know it’s unhaunted? That! is another story.) This last year I had the ghost story craving hit hard and I ended up having to buy (and borrow from the library) quite a few books before it was satiated. In my quest for stories I accidentally discovered ghost story treasure. The title, ‘The Night Side of Nature’ doesn’t sound like treasure. It makes one think of worms gasping for air on drenched sidewalks glistening in the moonlight. Treasure comes in all shapes and sizes! The author, Catherine Crowe, was not only a woman, she was the first person to attempt to scientific study (and then publish a book) on ghostly phenomenon. There had been earlier books on ghosts, but as she notes they were all written by men who’d already made up their mind that there was no such thing as ghosts. She felt such a well documented phenomenon found in every culture and every age deserved closer inspection.

Born in 1800, Crowe was an educated English woman fluent in German and German philosophy. A very logical person, she had an open curious mind. Published in 1848, this book is much more than a collection of 18th and 19th century ghost stories. Because Crowe is retelling stories that have been recounted as taking place in ordinary life the reader gets a detailed glimpse into the past one rarely finds in biographies or personal letters. As a social history this book is solid gold. As story-fodder (stuff that feeds the story factory in any writer’s brain) it is platinum. As a collection of ghost stories it is an Aladdin’s Cave! I loved this book and highly recommend it. The author’s introduction and the first chapter or two are rather thick going, but once she starts sharing ghost stories I found it hard to put down. I highly recommend it. I can’t believe I’d never come across it before I bought it though maybe I wasn’t ready for it… To give you a sample of what I mean I have to share my favorite ghost story from the book…

From page 232 using Crowe’s spelling and punctuation: Read more…

Book Reviews, Ghost stories, History Notes, Regency Notes

Tatershall Castle…

May 10th, 2012

It didn’t seem likely that we’d see much sun, but the Goblin had the day off, so Tuesday we took our cameras off to Tatershall Castle (about fifteen miles east of Lincoln). It’s more of a moated tower. It was built at the end of the 15th century and was apparently one of the early large residents built in brick. When visiting most National Trust properties you get a sticker to prove to the volunteers stationed around the property that you’ve paid. I, being paranoid, kept asking the lady at the desk… “Are you sure we don’t need stickers?”…three seconds later…”Are you sure we don’t need stickers?”…ten seconds later etc… How was I to know there would be NO volunteers? No one to stop me from taking five hundred photos! The lady looked at me like she hoped I’d fall down the stairs which wouldn’t be hard. Tatershall has one serious winding staircase (the wedge type that rap around the central pole thingy) from the second floor all the way to the roof. Read more…

I've been taking photographs