sceptic psychic

This is the blog of weird stuff that has happened to me in my life. It may have supernatural origins, it may have natural ones. It's not likely to be updated often, but I welcome any comments or thoughts. LOL Andy

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Peasant Stew

The Vaults

I've had a couple of visits to the Vaults, in Edinburgh's Niddry Street, which I'll talk about in the next post.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

RSS Discovery, ?2001?

RSS Discovery

This is a ship berthed at Dundee that Captain Scott sailed on and got stuck in the ice. On one of the decks, there's a wardroom for the officers - polished oak table in the middle, and berths for the officers to sleep in round the walls. These berths are roped off with the usual red rope. When we visited it with friend a few years ago, we were walking round the wardroom when the ropes on one side started swinging gently to and fro. Not that unusual on a ship, you'd think, but then it is in dry dock! Anyway, I put my hand on one rope to stop them swinging. They did stop, but at the exact same moment the ropes on the other side started swinging instead! There was nobody near them to touch them, and no apparent vibrations or anything.

Rational explanation: It was vibrations.
Psychic explanation: I'd heard that the ship was haunted by Shackleton, but a recent episode of Most Haunted claimed there were one or two ghosts there. There was something of an atmosphere in there.
Conclusion: It may not seem like much, but there genuinely seemed to be no reason why these ropes should start swinging in the first place and why, at the same time I stopped them swinging, the unconnected ropes on the other side of the wardroom, should start.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Airth Castle, July 2005

We had a short break at Airth Castle Hotel last year. I knew as soon as we'd booked it it would have a ghost story - no surprise there; every Scottish Castle does.

We were staying in the (heavily converted and unhaunted) stable block. However, one day when we were driving past the castle itself, the door was open, and we could see inside. I joked to my daughter about the 'ghostie' in the Castle. Just shortly after, my mobile, which had been fully charged, went flat. It has never done that before, or since - it's a very reliable model that takes forever to run down.

Supernatural explanation: Paranormal phenomena are often associated with power sources draining for unexplained reasons. Maybe the ghosties don't like having the piss taken.

Rational explanation: Batteries do do funny things. Sheer coincidence. Not like we were actually in the castle!

Conclusion: None. But the only other time my moby has malfunctioned was in a highly haunted situation - Edinburgh's Vaults (future post).

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Culloden

2000/2001?
I visited Culloden battlefield for the first time around the time our daughter was a toddler - I remember that because Heather stayed with Alison at the Visitor centre while I went up to the Highland Line.

The battlefield is pretty simply marked out, with the Government line being nearest the Visitor centre and the Highland Line being several hundred yards further away. As I walked towards this past an area called ?the Well of Souls? where the killing had been at its worst, I experienced a sense of extreme sadness - something I've had before at haunted locations, such as at York, both where the Roman legionaries had been seen, and another place which had been an orphanage.

When I reached the Highland Line, I walked along it, looking, naturally, for Fergusons amongst the stones advertising where the various clans had lined up to be slaughtered. However, we've always been a small clan so I wasn't surprised not to find them I did find the Camerons (my middle name, and part of my ancestry) and as I stood beside the stone where so many of them had been that day, waiting for Cumberland's guns to cut them to pieces, I was definitely not alone. I felt my long-dead relatives were with me.

I decided to walk through the heather towards the Government positions, and as I did, I spoke to the spirits around me. It was an intensely emotional experience for me, something I hadn't expected.

Rational explanation: Too much Highland fresh air and imagination running away with me.

Counter argument: it was completely unexpected. I've always seen myself as a Lowlander, and the Jacobite Rebellion as a ludicrous civil war between rival monarchies which led to the senseless slaughter and ethnic cleansing we all know about. I had no romantic notions of myself as a Highland clansman. But someone was there with me that day, and I still get choked up when I tell the story. A weird, life changing experience.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

More Dunfermline Experiences

?2000/2001?

The only time I think I might have actually seen an apparition was in the Abbey graveyard. Crossing it late one winter's afternoon, I turned round and saw a figure standing by one of the gravestones near the gate I had just come through (St Margaret's House end). I didn't react much at the time, but when I looked round again it had gone. It might have been someone standing there, but it was a very odd place to stand: right up against the wall next to the gravestone.

A much more disturbing thing happened around the same time, during a stormy period. I was crossing the graveyard just after lunch; the wind was whippng round my legs, just about taking me off my feet. For some reason, I 'imagined' a voice from one of the graves, mocking me, calling me a 'pettifogger' (an old-fashioned, derisory word for a lawyer - not one I or anyone else nowadays uses much). 'Come on then,' I found myself saying inside, as the wind got stronger and stronger, ' show your power. Make the gate swing shut before I reach it.' The graveyard gate, a big, iron affair, didn't shut. But when I reached the City Chambers, I discovered that one of the big windows in the stairwell had blown in, narrowly avoiding showering one of our cleaners with glass. It was unprecedented for one of these windows to be damaged.

Explanation: A mixture of an overactive imagination, and, in the second incident, the worst storm for years.

Conclusion: None.

More Recent Experiences

1997 to 2002: During the time I worked at Dunfermline, several odd things happened to me. The first four years were spent in St Margaret's House, a former convent that was reputed to be haunted. It was at the boundary of Dunfermline Abbey, and to reach the other office, City Chambers, you had to pass through the Abbey graveyard.

St Margaret's definitely had all the elements of a haunted house: oppressive atmosphere, strange noises in the title deed annex to our office. Other staff experienced faces reflected in the mirror and 'someone' brushing past them. I never had that, but there were some definite bumps and bangs from next door to the extent that you would think someone had come in via the other door to the annex (it could be reached from within, and outwith, our office) and the feeling of being watched - especially if you were alone on a dark December afternoon. I have to say it never felt an unfriendly place.

Explanation: You would feel that way, wouldn't you, if you'd been told it was haunted, and I can't remember which came first - being told, and the experiences I had.

Conclusion: Nothing happened that could be proved as having a supernatural origin. A lot more people than me though had strange experiences in the office.

September 28th, 1998/2000 The night before our daughter, Heather was born, I dreamt she would be a girl (we'd asked not to know at the scan). When she was around 18 months, she still wasn't walking, but I had a dream where she was walking, wearing a brown jersey like one she subsequently was given, around the time she started walking.

Explanation: 50/50 chance of being right she was a girl. Quite likely that she would walk, and acquire a brown jersey, somewhere along the line.

Conclusion: True, but I definitely felt like someone was pointing me in the right direction. I have loads of dreams that don't come true.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

November/December, 1980 (18)

During my first two years at Edinburgh University, I stayed at Mylne's Court halls of residence, in Edward Salvesen Hall. My brother (the same one, bless his sense of humour) had stayed there years before me, and told me Mr Mylne, who built the place in the 17th century, would occasionally pass people on the stairs. I never met him, and never felt uncomfortable in any part of the place at any time of day or night - with one exception.

On the ground floor entering from the High Street there was a private study room called Mylne's Room. Wood-pannelled, paintings, big oak table in the middle and so forth. I only went in there once. Sounded like a good idea to go in there and study with your mates. And maybe meet girls. The atmosphere in it was horrible. I couldn't stay in it, for the feeling of being watched.

Sceptical explanation: Just the mood I was in at the time; something I'd eaten; teenage hormones.

Counter argument: fair comment, but I know I never went near the place again, whilst staying on in the halls for an otherwise happy two years (apart from the food. It was awful even when you were pissed.)

Conclusion: none.

1985 (23) I was going out with my now wife, and to get to her flat in Comely Bank had to walk along the road past the Stockbridge Colonies. It's a pleasant walk, and I was just about to cross one of the side roads near the sharp bend at the end of the road when a car appeared. It wasn't going that fast, but as I crossed I found myself skipping to one side. A couple of seconds later, the car, which had lost control, mounted the pavement where I had been previously. If i had crossed straight ahead I would have been hit.

Sceptical explanation: Subconscious foresight rather than second sight.

Counter argument: I felt no sense of danger, no panic, when the car came into view. I had no feeling that it was out of control.

Conclusion: Trust your instincts, wherever they come from. If your legs say skip to the side, go for it.

Paranormal or not?

My memory for exact dates for most of these odd events is hazy, but I've given the closest approximation (with my rough age in brackets) where possible:

1976 - (14) I was up in Aberdeen visiting my grandmother with the rest of my family. However, for reasons of space, my brother and I were going to stay at the flat he was renting at the time in Carden Place, Aberdeen. It was a basement flat, accessed round a courtyard at the back. When my brother and I arrived at the flat, we realised I'd forgotten my pyjamas and he went back to my grandmother's to get them, telling me just to go into the flat.

For some reason, I was unable to and waited outside for him to come back. The place totally gave me the creeps: there seemed to be a really nasty presence in it that didn't want me there. Reassured by my brother's return, I was just feeling like a wuss when my brother told me the place spooked him completely too; that there were weird bumps and bangs in the middle of the night and so forth unlikely to have been caused by the old lady upstairs who was the landlady; and that the piano played by itself in the middle of the night. That was all really helpful. Amazingly, I did eventually get to sleep that night. No piano.

Sceptical explanation: I was just being a wuss. My brother was having a laugh.

Counter argument: My brother, who's 9 years older than me, could see I was distressed and isn't the type of brother to make that stuff up. He confirmed it many years later. I'm not usually such a wuss that I can't stay in a place on my lonesome.

Conclusion: Some places have a really unwelcoming atmosphere. This was one of them.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

1st September 2005

My first attempt at posting. Much more stuff to be uploaded next week.