An amazing photo from Paul & Susan

A good friend of mine sent me this photo, which was taken on Gibraltar this year. As you can imagine, the photographer was trying to record the Barbary Apes, but look what turned up when the picture was downloaded!

 

 


To me the figure looks like a hitch-hiking soldier in uniform... But what do you think?


A phantom priest......

I once worked in a popular and somewhat exclusive hostelry
close to London. The  daily journey to and from my lodgings necessitated walking along a long, narrow pathway that ran  for some two hundred metres between dark evergreen hedges.
On the occasion I have in mind, I had been working a late shift from seven in the evening until midnight. I did not exactly relish my lonely walk home. but since I had just received my summons to take up a commission as a Naval Officer, I did not allow myself the luxury of fear. The pathway was lit by streetlights at either end and these provided both illumination and a crumb of reassurance.
I had travelled perhaps a third the length of the path when I made out the dim oval of a human face at the halfway point.
As I neared this disturbingly discorporate image, I realised with some relief that the body was clad in a dark monk's habit: this explained my earlier inability to see more than just a face….


To complete the recovery of my equanimity, I soon made out the shape of a small terrier dog preceding the cleric on his nocturnal perambulations. As I drew level with the monk, I observed his upturned eyes and the large silver crucifix he carried before him: his lips moved in silent prayer.
Two steps past, and I reflected that I should at least have bade my fellow walker good night: accordingly, I turned to look back….the path was entirely empty: no priest and no terrier! The hairs rose like hoplite javelins on the back of my neck!
There is, of course, a denouement to my tale Some days later I discovered the name of this ancient track to be….

Priest's Walk!

A phantom Cavalier!

I have read these tales with great interest: in particular, the encounter with a 17th Century phantom..... The reason this story strikes a particular cadence with me will soon become apparent !

Some years ago I began a dalliance with an antique dealer from London: he was suave, debonair and charming, and I eventually agreed to go away with him for the weekend, should an opportunity present itself. This gentleman, who we now know as D****, happened to be a member of a society of historically-minded individuals known as the S**led Kn*t.
This group would dress up in totally authentic 17th century costume and re-enact events of the Great English Rebellion.

What perfect cover for a liaison! It happened that the next 'muster' (as these gatherings were called) was to take place at a ruined castle near the tiny West Country hamlet of Castle C*rey. D**** had a close friend whose parents owned a beautiful former parsonage on the outskirts of this picturesque spot: what more natural than he and his 'wife' should stay there on the eve of the muster?

Arrangements were duly made, and, after a splendid meal in excellent company,  we eventually found ourselves undressing for bed in a beautiful old oak panelled chamber, somewhat after the style of milord Buckingham's location.

Then followed some fairly heavy...how shall I put it? Exertions! These left D**** and myself more than ready for sleep, and soon we both sank into the arms of Morpheus.

After what seemed two hours at least, we were awoken by a heavy thumping at the ancient oaken door of our boudoir: at the same time, the cast iron latch rattled up and down in its guides.


Thinking it must be some urgent message from our hosts, I swung my legs to the floor, slipped on my robe and padded across to the door. Sliding back the heavy bolt, I opened the door to find myself looking into the smiling face of a cavalier! I stepped back aghast….then, as the figure turned and walked away down the corridor, fear turned to rage: what kind of joke was this? Who did those S*aled Kn*t fools think they were dealing with? I flounced through the doorway, hands on hips just in time to see the opalescent vision pass through the blank wall at the end of the corridor!

A Devon Spook!

I wonder why it should so frequently be the shades of departed priests that cling onto earthly ties long after their death? Perhaps, having spent so long preparing others for THEIR vision of the afterlife, they cannot reconcile themselves to the reality they encounter at the time of their own demise!
At any rate, it surprising how often the ghost of a monk or priest figures in people's experience of the supernatural, and I am no exception to that rule!
I occasionally used to stay with relatives in a fine old building situated on a high spur of land above the River Exe in the town of Topsham, Devon. This  imposing pile, which was then used as a private school, has had a somewhat checkered  past, and certain gloomy landings are not places to linger during dark evenings!
However, while it is true that the house itself is undoubtedly haunted, my experiences concern what I have witnessed
from rather than in it!
About twenty years ago, when first I stayed at Elm Grove House, I was given a charming guest room on the top floor. Two wide sash windows afforded excellent views across a valley towards water meadows, an ancient public house and a distant farm. Directly in front of the house ran Elm Grove Road, sweeping down between stone walls towards a narrow bridge that spanned a weir.
One evening, having bade my genial hosts goodnight, I trudged up the four flights to my chamber, undressed and, having completed my toilet, decided upon a last look at the moonlit landscape before retiring. I drew back the chintz curtains and stepped to the window: a near-full Moon illuminated the whole valley with its pale light.
A movement below the house on the other side of the road caught my attention: the unmistakable figure of a cowled Dominican monk was shuffling down the hill towards the weir! In itself, there was nothing untoward in this: Devon still possesses a number of ancient but thriving monasteries and abbeys: I reasoned (in my innocence!) that this was an inhabitant of one such in the T*psham area.
But then I noticed something that literally caused the hair on the nape of my neck to become erect like the hackles of a fighting dog: the monks lower limbs were 'wading' through the tarmac of the footpath!!!
That is to say, the unearthly visitor appeared to be walking along a surface some thirty centimetres below that of the modern pavement! I watched in stunned disbelief as the monk continued his journey down to the public house: at this point, he seemed just to vanish with a kind of sideways 'rush' in the direction of the door of the hostelry.



There is a sequel! Some years later and recently married, I once again stayed in the same bedroom. During the night I awoke with a parched throat and decided to obtain a drink of water from a small sink in the corner of the room. As I passed the windows I glanced down, and there. once more, was the monk! As before, he appeared to be treading some older, lower pavement surface...but this time he looked up! From beneath the cowl of his black vestments I could discern two dark glittering eyes like those of a raven. For perhaps five seconds we stared into each others souls, before the strange nocturnal visitor resumed his perambulations towards the weir……

My hosts, incidentally, know of no relevant local legends concerning ghostly monks...but they do confirm that the medieval road surface was some thirty centimetres lower than the present one!