July 8

Originally posted: 18/07/2011 as part of The Fleece Files

Firstly, a missing post from June, circa 19 (that was the date I was told this but it had happened a few days earlier).

Two of the staff had walked up to the back of the building, before opening hours, to find a pane of glass smashed in one of the shrubs below the back windows, and on the decking. Nothing too weird about that, except nobody can find where it came from – there are none missing from the building. So we’re looking at one of two explanations here: somebody climbed an eight foot wall or gate to deliberately smash a pane of glass on our terrace for no reason over night, or it appeared from nowhere/dropped out of the sky. Third explanations welcome as neither of them appeal to me.

There are times when, as a paranormal investigator, you can have such a thing as a crisis of faith. I know its not just me from talking to other people, and it does worry me. The people I know who have been doing investigations for years tend to remain strong in their belief of ghosts/spirits/etc (usually mediums/psychics), or as time goes on they believe less and less (parapsychs etc). Falling in with the latter category as a paranormal historian, it depresses me. I’ve known a few investigations in recent years where that gut feeling that something could happen, and how much I want it to happen, has been lacking, and it takes the fun out of it.

An investigation a few months back at the Old Lodge, Malton on behalf of Spiritual Universe events was the first time in a long while I felt that buzz again. Working in the Golden Fleece has been a bit hit and miss: I don’t get that buzz even when I’m wandering about the building alone, but I am sufficiently intrigued by the strange happenings to have started this blog.

Which brings us to July 8.

I’m stood in the back bar, looking up the corridor towards the front of the building, about 10am. The only other people in the building at this point is the acting manager, who is ‘somewhere’ in the building (i.e. I know he’s on site but not where), some workmen in one of the top rooms, and four guests (two couples).

I see him come out of the door to The Meadery (the function room, as you leave the back bar heading to the front its the first door on the right), and head up to the front bar quite swiftly. I turn back to what I am doing, hear a noise, and turn round to see him behind the back bar. There’s no way he could have moved fast enough to have been in both places at the times I saw him, so I go for the logical conclusion: a member of the public has wandered in, and must be apprehended. I did first ask where he had been, and he said the back cellar, as I reach my conclusion I say “then who just walked up that corridor?”

The staircase to The Meadery is off limits to the public unless the room is open for an event, so there shouldn’t have been guests up there. The workmen are at the front of the building (guest bedroom staircase, not The Meadery staircase) and all in hi-vis vests over the work clothes, so I’ve run out of options.

I run up the corridor, followed by the acting manager, and nobody is going to be surprised when I say “and there was nobody there…” Of course not. This is about ghosts, so here we have one.

Now lets look logically at this. From where I was, they could only gone up the front staircase as they weren’t in the front bar, the front door was locked, and they weren’t in the toilets. I knew what all the guests looked like, and it wasn’t one of them. I know what all of the workmen looked like, and hi-vis vests apart, it wasn’t one of them. Thinking back, nor was it the acting manager: they both had mid-blue jeans on, and a dark blue t-shirt with white piping, but the style wasn’t identical. Also, the figure I saw was that little bit shorter, little bit smaller frame, and had short hair (as opposed to an almost shaved head). So who – or what – did I see?

Crisis of faith averted? Possibly so. What worries me now is the amount of times figures in modern clothing are being seen in the Golden Fleece, especially ones resembling current members of staff. As mentioned in my first blog, the staff corridors are a bit of a rabbit warren, and chef Anna has frequently heard her name called, even glimpsing through a door who called her, but never quite catching up with them. On one occasion, she even phoned the member of staff she could hear calling her on the ground floor, to find that said member of staff was in the top guest room making up the bed. Who – or maybe that should be what – are we seeing?

My new seance nights start on Tuesday, July 19 – join us if you want to know more about this, skeptics welcome!

Remember: keep your equipment dry, and your coffee strong
Rachel Lacy
Ghost Finder General

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June 24

Originally posted: 24/06/2011 as part of The Fleece Files

Stood in the back bar of the Golden Fleece this morning, landlady Steph asked me if I had heard the voice of a man coming from the corridor leading to the kitchen – about the same place as the ice machine, see June 22 for more on that.

I hadn’t, and when she had heard it, Steph had assumed it was the one man on site talking to her. At that point, he was two floors above her and with several closed doors between them. Imagination? Misheard? Possibly. Half an hour later, round the corner from the same point, I heard a male voice from somewhere near the kitchen door. I was the only person on the ground floor at that point…

Remember: keep your equipment dry, and your coffee strong
Rachel Lacy
Ghost Finder General

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June 22

Originally posted: 23/06/2011 as part of The Fleece Files

Today’s report from the Golden Fleece doesn’t seem like much, just a kettle being slammed down.

This particular kettle had been left on top of the ice machine in one of the staff corridors, with nobody near it at the time, and its not the first time something in that particular corner has moved. The heaviest thing to move so far was a large metal spanner!

It could be vibrations, but if so, why is it only things on the ice machine (there is a glass washer and shelves in the area which don’t have things moving on them) that move? The kettle hadn’t just slid, it had been slammed down with force which was heard by the two chefs in the nearby kitchen.

They looked just a tad nervous when I told them that’s the most likely place a suicide victim landed…

Remember: keep your equipment dry, and your coffee strong
Rachel Lacy
Ghost Finder General

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View From The Bar… a bit of background information

Originally posted: 21/06/2011 as part of The Fleece Files

The Golden Fleece is reputedly the most haunted pub in the city which is reputedly the most haunted city in the world… working there, it would be rude not to start a blog on the day-to-day weirdness of the pub. It is, so to speak, a golden opportunity.

Without going in to too much background of the Golden Fleece itself and the reported hauntings, I will try to cover the odd little things that staff and guests report. Steph Macklewain-Cross took the pub over on May 16, started a huge clean-up operation, and made a number of changes. Well, they do say changing things stirs up ghosts!

During the first week, whilst the pub had to shut, the clean-up crew stayed on site. On the first night, three women sharing the same room (manageress Caroline, chef Anna and yours truly) heard a variety of strange things in the night: gramaphone records stuck in a groove being the loudest, but the most annoying was repeatedly hearing tiler Ron walking up and down the corridors. In the morning, Ron complained that he could hear people walking up and down the corridors in the night, leaving him too scared to leave his room… worst of all, the steps stopped outside his room, the continued up the stairs, coming back down again a short time later.

The pot-washer from the Black Swan Inn, Marcus, was on loan the Golden Fleece for the first few weeks it was open and reported the first full-on sightings in the pub. When Caroline noticed for the second time in the same night that the back cellar light had been left on, she questioned him about it. Marcus had seen the staff member who had turned it on both times, but hadn’t thought anything of it. Until he described him, and (nobody’s going to be surprised here, are they?) discovered that there was nobody in the pub, let alone on the staff, who fitted the description he gave.

There’s been a number of incidents with keys and locks, most notably in St Catherine’s Room. The first time, the lock had deadlocked itself from the inside, and needed to be drilled out. Replaced with another, better lock, last Sunday night the lock again jammed when the residents were trying to get in, despite it being a complete new lock.

Last week, Anna called Steph in to the kitchen as the bacon foil(!) was doing something odd: it was gently rocking back and forth to itself on a shelf. Possibly down to vibrations, that wouldn’t explain why, when Steph called it to come to her, the foil roll moved forwards on the shelf. Steph called again, and again it moved towards her. The third time she tried, it spun 90 degrees, ending up pointing at her. Steph then called it down from the shelf, as if it was a dog, at which point it flew off the shelf landing in her arms… Afterwards, Anna said had she not witnessed it herself, she wouldn’t have believed it. Did it roll? No, it was still in the square box…

Some of the phenomena may well be explainable: half-seen shadows in corridors as staff wander round calling each other (the back rooms are a bit of a rabbit warren) could just be nerves and shadows, but I’ll note them anyway just in case it is anything more.

Similarly, the small things that go missing then randomly re-appear I will note. Lets start with the table numbers in the back bar. Some morning they are all there, some mornings they are not. They could have been stolen, or misplaced, or somebody is playing tricks, any of which I can accept as an explanation; what I struggle with is the things that re-appear the next day somewhere completely different, or in the case of the number 4, re-appears in a place that had just been cleaned twice and on both occasions, it definitely wasn’t there.

Remember: keep your equipment dry, and your coffee strong
Rachel Lacy
Ghost Finder General

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Scream Until You Like It

Originally posted: 27/10/2010

Hallowe’en: great for the little kids to dress up, have some mild terror, eat lots of sweets… but what about the big kids?

You want big scares and big screams this year, try York Maze’s Hallowscream. I was invited along to the press launch and took as a test audience my seventeen year old daughter Carol, and her boyfriend Rob as ballast, as it was easier to hold her when she jumped with one on each arm. Yes, it was that scary for her!

Like with York Dungeon, I’m not going to give away too much about the attractions as that would take the fun out of it. But a few words of advice: wrap up warm, wrap up waterproof, and wear decent shoes. And take a friend.

We started with An Audience With The Undertakers: a few scares, a few laughs, but we’d expected more jumps. It worked well to set the scene, and I think the experience was better for this rather than going all out for terror from the word go. Maybe it was just to lull us in to a false sense of security… We followed it up with The Curse of the Corn, which started with a tractor ride. As we waited our turn, we saw two other rides go out full and come back empty, and all we could hear in the darkness was the screams…

The walk back was… err… interesting. Funny moment when Carol and Rob (by this time we were all linked in a chain, fingers nearly being broken in terror) found they couldn’t run any further – having run straight in to a hay bale! I was suffering with night blindness from the very bright lights on the other side of me (nice touch whoever thought of that), I got my just desserts for laughing at them when something loomed out of the darkness next to me, and I jumped, although not as far as Carol who nearly achieved vertical takeoff a few times.

The rest of our ‘pleasant country walk’ was not so amusing, as the darkness, mud, maize stalks and random nasties contributed to set us all screaming – and immense fun it was too!

After a quick breather we decided that next we would brave Barnageddon, an indoor maze of the macabre which included the wet part, more nasties, moving parts, hysterical offspring, toilets and sheep. I had a good scream halfway round partially because I felt the urge to join in, and partly to keep Carol company. Honestly. I must admit that after this one, even I wasn’t sure about going round the last one: Carnevil.

Avoid if you have a phobia of clowns. Avoid if you have vertigo. Avoid if you are affected by strobe lights. But for the rest of us – awesome! The children, bless them, let me go round alone. If the random couple with nice warm woolly hats who were in my group are reading this, THANK YOU! I couldn’t have made it round without you. Adrenaline kicked in after 30 seconds, so I made it round laughing and shrieking, and absolutely loved it. Rob only stayed out as moral support for Carol, after I came out he went round and I do believe the word he shouted as he came out was also “awesome” – the vote of approval from both generations.

Big kids: go scare yourselves silly at Hallowscream!

You MUST book in advance for this one, I think next year we’ll be organising a staff outing to Hallowscream.

Remember: keep your equipment dry, and your coffee strong.
Rachel Lacy
Ghost Finder General

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Illuminating Time in York Dungeon

Originally posted: 22/10/2010

New exhibition at York Dungeon for Hallowe’en: the history of Jack O’Lantern. I was invited to the launch evening, and despite knowing the route and what happens, even I jumped a couple of times!

I can’t give you all the details because that would take the fun out of it, so the only way to find out what happens is to go yourself.

York Dungeon is also running a Hallowe’en competition, see their Hallowe’en on Facebook for details: upload photos of your costumes, carved pumpkins etc for a chance to win some great prizes.

Remember: keep your equipment dry, and your coffee strong
Rachel Lacy
Ghost Finder General

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Its life Jim, but not as we know it

Originally posted: 22/10/2010

The latest paranormal photo to appear in the local paper, The Press, of what was believed to be a UFO, has sadly been removed.

It technically is, in that its unidentified, has wings, and its an object.

So is it an alien life form? Ghost? Or, perhaps, a fly at close quarters?

My money is on the fly…

Two more have gone up since I first wrote this blog, any comments on them welcome:

Remember: keep your equipment dry, and your coffee strong
Rachel Lacy
Ghost Finder General

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A Bit of Light Relief

Originally posted 08/10/2010

I thought I’d share this moment of insanity just to show how surreal the life of a professional ghost hunter is.

Earlier this year I had a night out that had to take the biscuit as being the most surreal night out ever. The biscuit, incidentally, being teapot shaped and pink, with shiny tasty things on it. I have wondered since exactly what sort of biscuit it was…

I only wish I’d drunk more, because then I could either forget things, or things may have made more sense. Except for the fish. I can’t see the fish ever making sense. I first wondered if the pirate smelt of fish as he thought it added something to his costume. Then I wondered if it was something to do with the beard and whatever he had been up to earlier in the day, and decided that was a thought best suppressed. I tried really hard not to react to the smell whilst he was talking to me, but it was difficult to ignore.

I was kind of relieved when he took two small salted sardines impaled on a wooden kebab stick out of his pocket. That is not a euphemism. At least they disguised the smell of the ripe cambozola he had down his trousers. This is also not a euphemism. We at least had the sense to say no when he offered to share the cheese.

Why me? Why was I targeted by a group of pirates who also do Viking and troll (WTF?!) re-enactment, collect antique weapons, and hide various smelly food stuffs about their persons? I suspect my costume may have had something to do with it, which was why they wanted photos of me and also asked me to join their burlesque troupe as a “naughty pirate.”

Even though they have my details they haven’t been in touch. I wonder, now, what other delights I have missed out on since?

Remember: keep your equipment dry, and your coffee strong.
Rachel Lacy
Ghost Finder General

P.S. If you’re one of the pirates reading this, do please get in touch! If nothing else, I’d like to see how the photos turned out.

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Facing the Past

Originally posted: 19/06/2010

More reflection photos, sorry but this time I can’t tell you where they were taken as we were sworn to secrecy. All I can say is that the building is *only* 100 years old, but on a site where there has been human activity for nearly 2,000 years, including a lot of deaths both natural and unnatural.

It is human nature to look at random patterning and try to make sense of it, and the first image we look for is a human face. However, what about other body parts?

See the photos: the first one was taken seconds after another one that doesn’t have anything odd on it, but this one appears to have a person forming in the right pane of glass:

The second photo was taken looking the opposite way, and there appears to be a reflection of a person in the gloss on the door (the photo was taken using a mobile phone camera, no flash), although the more I look at it the more I think it is just my brain trying to see a face:

Thoughts, anybody?

Remember: keep your equipment dry, and your coffee strong.
Rachel Lacy
Ghost Finder General

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York Ghost Festival 2010 – biggest so far!

Originally posted: 19/06/2010

Woot!

Check out the website, we’re in for a busy one!

Of course, this early in the year there’s a lot of TBA and TBC about, but I can confirm unofficially that there’s three investigations booked in already with a possibility of more, two exclusive screenings, walks, talks and this year, we’re even doing some Hallowe’en fun stuff for children. We’re involving more venues and attractions throughout the city, and have some big backing behind us this time.

Also, for the first time, we’re inviting celebrities along… more to follow soon!

Remember: keep your equipment dry, and your coffee strong.
Rachel Lacy
Ghost Finder General

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