Monday, 25 April 2016

Whitby Goth Weekend – 23rd April 2016

I recently went to the April Whitby Goth Weekend, North Yorkshire. It’s held twice a year; Halloween and the anniversary of Bram Stoker’s death. Stoker was the author of Dracula who lived and based some of the story in the town. My friend and I spent the Saturday (also St George’s day) admiring the outfits of those who had dressed up and taking in the amazing scenery. If you’ve never been I highly recommend you go.

The Spring event is usually less well attended than October. In the winter the shops are decorated for Halloween, making it more popular but the advantage of April is you ‘should’ get better weather. We had sunshine all day and it was dry, although quite cold on East Cliff. I recognised a few people from previous events. They all had different outfits showing they make a real effort. It’s my favourite place to take photos. I took over 600 on the day and you can see some of them below.

I hadn’t been to the last two events so was really looking forward to it. Whitby and the surrounding area have great significance for me. My Mother’s side of the family came from North Yorkshire and they spent their summers there after they moved to Cheshire. We had fish and chips at the Magpie CafĂ© just as my Mum, Nana and Granddad used to do. My grandparents are sadly no longer with us but I always feel they are with me when I’m there.

Obviously the Dracula/Goth connection also appeals to me due to my love of horror and the paranormal. On our way back I bought a Whitby Ghost Story book from the Tourist Information ’13 Ghost Stories from Whitby’ by Michael Wray. This contains many stories from the town ghost walk, such as Old Lisa, The Whispering Ghost and the Wicked Punch and Judy Man. Make sure you buy it when you visit.

I’ve always found Whitby atmospheric and a little spooky...I’ve never been brave enough to venture there at night!

 See more photos on my Facebook page

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

My Paranormal Experience

As a sceptic many people assume I’ve never had a paranormal experience. That’s not the case…

Back in Sep 2004 I was staying in a cottage in the Lake District. This happened to be the birthplace of John Dalton. Dalton was an eminent scientist in 1880’s, best known for his pioneering work on atomic theory and colour blindness (Daltonism). The cottage itself was steeped in history and there were many old pictures and artefacts dotted around. 

On the first night my fellow guest (not a ghost) and I watched Most Haunted and then went to bed. I’m never good at sleeping in new locations but I got the sense that someone was at the threshold of the bedroom. The hall light was on so I could see no one was there. I dismissed this feeling and fell asleep.

An hour or two later I wore up with a start and had the sensation that someone (male) was standing over me, watching me in the dark very close to my face. I was too scared to turn the bedside light on so hid under the covers. I didn’t want to wake my partner in case they got freaked out or told me I was stupid. I therefore hid, scared under the covers until the sensation passed or I fell asleep, I’m not sure which.

The next morning I regaled my friend with the tale. I later picked up the visitors book and was surprised and bemused to see several references to a ghost. Proof! I said that the cottage was haunted. For the remainder of the week I peered around corners checking no one was there but nothing else happened.

At the time I was open-minded about the paranormal so was convinced I’d had a genuine paranormal experience. Over the years I rationalised the event. As I have learnt more about the psychology of paranormal perception I have discounted it completely. I was fortunate to stay there again in 2014, just before I started my Psychology MSc and project on paranormal belief. That week passed without incident and I found the place warm, friendly and without any spooky atmosphere. I also reread the visitors comments with a more critical eye. 

Was my second visit uneventful because I was a sceptic or did the ghost leave me alone? I won’t bore you with psychological research here but there is evidence that the suggestion a location is haunted can be enough to induce paranormal experiences. As a counter argument, I only found out the location may be haunted afterwards but the combination of location, context and history may have conspired to create a sense of presence.

I have had other (ghost hunting) experiences I can’t fully explain but this is my most paranormal experience… so far!

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

My Local Haunts

My county of Cheshire, like many other historic rural shires, boasts many haunted places and associated ghost stories. Below are a collection of paranormal accounts that will be familiar to local residents, both living and dead…


The only entry on the Paranormal Database website for Wilmslow is a UFO sighting behind the department store Hoopers in Jan 1966.

“While patrolling the town centre, PC Colin Perks spotted a hovering craft that glowed a greenish grey colour. Colin said the UFO was around thirty foot long and that he could see portholes along the side. After several seconds it flew off”.

The George and Dragon pub (now empty) is said to be haunted. Staff have felt and seen the present of an extra spirit than those behind the bar! Visitors have reported the sound of groaning and chains. The pub sits next to St Bartholomew’s Church.  Underneath the church and pub lies a secret tunnel which emerges in a wooded area a mile away. Its precise function is unknown but rumour has it that it may have something to do with slavery in the 16th Century.


Such tunnels were not unusual. There was one that linked the Church and the Rectory (now the post office) in Cheadle. One of my distant relatives was the housekeeper for the Rector. On one occasion she was walking along the tunnel to tell him his dinner was ready when she was met by a ghost walking towards her in the opposite direction. She then turned tail and ran back the other way knocking over one of the gaslights that lit the tunnel as she did so. The fountain in the town (now moved from its original location) is said to be haunted by the ghost of a white lady.  


(From Spooky Isles) "Styal Mill is said to be haunted by a Victorian lady who roams the upper floors. The Apprentice House has several spirits. Renovations in the 1980s left workmen terrified after they reported seeing a lady in white in the medical room. Another lady spirit has been spotted lurking in the attic and even directly behind someone without them knowing. A dog mysteriously became terrified and seemed unwilling to go upstairs in the house. When taken outside the dog refused to go back in. The feeling of being watched is experienced in the schoolroom. Mediums and sensitives have reported that something dark, disturbing and sheer evil resides there".

Alderley Edge

The Edge and surrounding area has a long association with legends of King Arthur and witchcraft. The park itself used to be a mecca for witches and witch-wannabes, i.e. teenagers, to congregate at Halloween. After several years of trouble the area was closed off at night. Although, I wouldn’t recommend going there after dark in October or on a solstice. My mum had her own encounter at The Edge which spooked me so much as a child I slept with a crucifix above my bed. Come to think of it I still do… but that was my Nana’s which I’ve kept.

Suffice to say both good and bad magic is said to be practiced there. Legend has it that if you run around the 'Devil's Grave' three times the Devil will rise!

In a previous post I’ve mentioned the legend of the Wizard of Alderley Edge. The farmer in that story was from Mobberley, which is where I was born and brought up.


I used to live on a farm and our house always had an atmosphere. I remember seeing a man once and my Mum also thinks she did, although our stories may have got merged over the years. One of our neighbours has a resident ghost called Mary. Like Casper, she was friendly and was known to assist the owner with putting on his jacket.


Tatton Park has many ghosts and you can listen to Mick Ricketts talk about those at Tatton Old Hall. The Mansion House itself is also said to be haunted.

The long straight section of road running next to Tatton is known as the Tatton Mile. Late one October night in 2009 a driver spotted the figure of a man standing in the road with his hand out as if he wanted the car to stop. As the car drew closer the figure vanished causing the driver to swerve out of shock.

These are just some of the local ghost stories and legends in this area. I’m probably biased but Cheshire is definitely worth a visit for the traveller looking for supernatural tales.

Do you have any accounts you’ve heard in this area? If so, get in touch.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Remembering Parapsychologist Dr Michael Thalbourne

On 4th May 2010 Dr Michael Thalbourne died aged 55 in an Adelaide hospital, Australia from the toxic effects of quetiapine and clonazepam. These medications were prescribed to him for his bipolar disorder which he suffered from for more than 20 years. Despite leaving us so young he made a hugely significant contribution to psychology and parapsychology during his career. In 2011 he was posthumously awarded an Outstanding Contribution Award by The Parapsychological Association.

Over a twenty year career as visiting research fellow at the University of Adelaide he published numerous articles, served as the President of the Australian Institute for Parapsychological Research and launched the Australian Journal of Parapsychology. If that wasn’t enough, along with his colleagues he gave us the concept of Transliminality.

Transliminality refers to the ‘Hypothesised tendency for psychological material to cross (trans) the threshold (limen) into or out of consciousness’ (Thalbourne and Delin, 1994). It is defined as a hypersensitivity to psychological material in the unconscious and external environment (Thalbourne and Maltby, 2008:1618).

It is measured using the Revised Transliminality Scale (Lange et al., 2000) which includes 17 questions on seven psychological constituents: hypeaesthesia (heightened awareness of the senses), hypomanic experience, fantasy-proneness, absorption, positive attitude towards dream interpretation, mystical experience and magical ideation.

Typically, high scorers are interested in their subjective mental experience such as dreams. They also report higher paranormal belief and paranormal experiences (ESP) (Thalbourne and Delin, 1994). There is evidence that the brains of high and low scorers may show differences in temporal lobe lability (Thalbourne, Crawley and Houran (2003); Thalbourne and Maltby (2008). A hyperconnectivity between the temporal lobe and sensory areas of the brain may lead to an oversensitivity to external information and unconscious material coming into awareness. This could then be misinterpreted as paranormal rather than internally generated.

I’ve used the Revised Transliminality Scale in my MSc project and I’m currently writing up that section of my dissertation. This has reminded me what an amazing contribution he made. By continuing the research into transliminality, paranormal belief and other correlates we can all keep his memory alive. 

You can read more about Dr Michael Thalbourne and his work at the links to below: 


Lange, R, Thalbourne, M. A, Houran, J and Storm, L. (2000) ‘The Revised Transliminality Scale: Reliability and Validity Data from a Rasch Top-Down Purification Procedure’. Consciousness and Cognition, 9 (4), pp. 591–617.

Thalbourne, M. A. (1998) ‘Transliminality: further correlates and a short measure.’  Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 92, pp. 402–419.

Thalbourne, M. A., Crawley, S. and Houran, J. (2003) ‘Temporal lobe liability in the highly transliminal mind.’ Personality and Individual Differences, 35, pp. 1965-74. 

Thalbourne, M. A., and Delin, P. S. (1994) ‘A common thread underlying belief in the paranormal, creative personality, mystical experience and psychopathology’ Journal of Parapsychology, 58, pp. 3-38.

Thalbourne M. A. and Maltby, J. (2008). ‘Transliminality, thin boundaries, unusual experiences and temporal lobe liability.’ Personality and Individual Differences, 44 pp. 1617-1623.