Ye Olde Kings Head – Mostly Haunted

Ye Olde Kings Head

Chester

Would you dare to stay a night in a 300 year old pub, in one of it’s most haunted bedrooms?  Sound like fun?  I wasn’t 100% convinced, but that’s what Mrs Platinum Al and I decided to do recently.

You’re familiar with Most Haunted, right?  Where Yvette Fielding and her intrepid group of paranormal investigators visit aged buildings to discover what ghostly goings on they can find?  Well Ye Olde Kings Head in Chester, was featured on the programme not too long ago.  We watched the programme and were intrigued by the various strange occurrences the team observed.

So Mrs Platinum Al decided she wanted to stay the night there.  In the room that was supposedly the most active with things that go bump in the night…

Not like that, you smutty lot!

Ye Olde Kings Head is a wonderful looking building in the Tudor style – dark wooden beams highlighting the architecture.  Inside, the pub also has a real Olde Worlde, traditional style with plenty more wooden beams, comfy chairs and an open fire.  It is indeed very charming – you would swear you’re on a film set if you didn’t know better.  There’s also a well stocked bar, live music and a friendly welcome. 

We were staying in Room 1 – supposedly the most active in the paranormal activity stakes.  The room featured an enormous four poster bed and antique looking furniture.  There were yet more old wooden beams visible, these ones a bit lower – OK for any headless spirits.  An excellent spacious bathroom completed the impressive amenities.  All very cosy and not at all spooky, I wasn’t nervous at all.

Now I’m not necessarily a believer in the supernatural.  There’s usually a plausible real world explanation for most weird events.  However I’m not a total nay-sayer either; I’m certainly interested, and if something truly bizarre occurred I’d accept it.  But it would have to be pretty out of this world and happen right in front of my eyes.

After a few drinks and a top notch evening meal, we retired to our room to begin our own paranormal investigations.  With a glass of wine (or two) for Dutch courage, we waited to see if anything would happen.  We closely observed everything in the room to see if any objects had moved.

In true Derek Acorah style, we attempted some “calling out”.  You  know, all that “Is there anybody there?” malarkey.  No, I can’t believe I did that either.  I assured our ghostly hosts – if they were there – that we meant no harm and were only curious if they would like to make contact.

Unfortunately, nothing happened.  No otherworldly voices, no items moving of their own inexplicable accord.

Although just as we were falling asleep, the television switched itself on.

Now that occurrence might be explainable in many ways: a faulty TV for one.  But the fact that the same thing had happened on the Most Haunted episode had us intrigued.  I’m not saying I was convinced, but it was an interesting coincidence.

I then fell asleep in the giant four poster, easily the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in.  Happily I slept right the way through; my main concern of this visit was having to go for a wee, in the dark, in the middle of the night.

In the morning we had a great full English breakfast and were ready for a new day.

Our investigation at Ye Olde Kings Head didn’t deliver much in the way of ghostly goings on, but we definitely had a brilliant time.  We were well looked after, with the food and drinks being excellent.  Both the pub and the room we stayed in were really warm with an almost magical ambience.

We’ll definitely visit again, and attempt some further paranormal investigations.  Perhaps it was a little disappointing that we didn’t experience anything strange.  But we both had a relaxing break in a really good pub, and that’s good enough for me.

The website for Ye Olde Kings Head is here.

The Facebook page for Ye Olde Kings Head is here.

Ye Olde Kings Head, 48-50 Lower Bridge Street, Chester CH1 1RS

Tel: 01244 324855

Sci-fi Weekender 2016 – The Director’s Cut

Sci Fi Weekender 17th – 20th March 2016

Hafan Y Mor Holiday Park, Pwllheli

It’s nearly that time again – the time for Sci-Fi Weekender at Hafan Y Mor, North Wales.  So as per previous years, here are a few bonus photos from last years festivities.  For some reason or other, these shots never made the original two part blog write up last year.  My apologies for that, but here are the best of what’s left.

For those with memories wiped or destroyed by pan galactic gargle blasters, Sci-Fi Weekender is a gathering every March for all things science fiction and fantasy related.  There are special celebrity guests, discussion panels, interviews, workshops, gaming and more.  Not to mention plenty of entertainment and partying.

If this is your kind of thing, there’s no better place to be than Pwllheli, where the Hafan Y Mor caravan park hosts this superb event.

The main highlight of the festivities are the people who attend.  Travelling from all over known galaxy, there are some wonderful people to meet and a welcoming atmosphere for all.

Of course the cosplay on display is inspiring, eccentric and hugely creative.  Whether it’s a costume that’s taken hours (or days) to make or just a fun nod to a random, unsung background character, the inventiveness and level of in depth knowledge to be seen is spectacular.

So here are a few more photos of the brave, intrepid souls who let their creative prowess and geek pride shine.  Every one of them a star.

Enjoy the photos – though be warned: they’re of varying quality…

Girls just wanna have fun

Sci-Fi Weekender 2015 – The Director’s Cut

Sci-Fi Weekender 19th-22nd March 2015

Hafan Y Mor Holiday Park, Pwllheli

It’s nearly March – and you know what that means!  Yes, it’s almost time again for Sci-Fi Weekender!  This year’s event is at the same venue, Hafan y Mor holiday park, near Pwllheli in North Wales.  Running from 17th-20th March, the 2016 event promises even more out of this world fun.

Whilst doing a little reminiscing, I found a few photos from last year’s SFW that, for one reason or another, hadn’t been used.

So I decided to share a few more on this page, just as a warm up for SFW7.  Hope you enjoy.

And here are a few more shots from the weekend.  Hope none of these are repeats that I’ve missed…!

I may not have indulged in any Cosplay last year, but I did take along my Social Media Proof glasses.  These were invaluable in getting a few unusual character shots.  I might take them again this year!  Hopefully the concept is explained by the photos.  If not, let me explain…  The SMP glasses are worn on the face as sunglasses, giving the effect of those censorship bars across celebrities faces when they don’t want to be pictured.  That’s the idea, anyway…

Instead of “cheese”, it’s “No photos!”.  Here’s a few pics of us “doing a Kanye”:

Great memories.  I’m looking forward to this years Sci-Fi Weekender in just a few weeks.  Hope to see some of these amazing characters again!

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The Tower of London

In early November I went to London on a work trip.  I stayed in a hotel very close to the Tower of London, just on the opposite side of Tower Bridge.  At least, I think that’s what this bridge is called.  It’s the famous one that everyone thinks is called London Bridge, much to the shame of the people of Seattle.

Anyway, while I was there, the poppies to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.  I had a spare ten minutes after I checked in to take a few photos before the light went.  Here they are.

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Quay Hotel & Spa, Deganwy

A break at the Quay Hotel & Spa, Deganwy, North Wales

A few weeks back, Mrs Platinum Al and I were lucky enough to visit the Quay Hotel in Deganwy, North Wales.  It had been a present for Mrs Platinum Al’s birthday, an we were looking forward to nice relaxing break away.  Here’s a brief over view of our time there.

Deganwy is close to Llandudno on the North Wales coast, just far away enough to feel like we were removed from the every day.  The Quay hotel is a modern, yet stylish building situated (as you would expect) right by a small harbour on the Conwy Estuary.  The setting is picturesque and the hotel impressive and welcoming. _MG_3030

We were a little early to check in, so left out bags with the extremely helpful reception staff and checked out the leisure facilities.  The gym was compact but well equipped; I spent a good half an hour here getting my break off to a positive start!  I then joined Mrs Platinum Al in the swimming pool.  The pool was a fair size at 15 metres and not too busy.  We also experienced the hydrotherapy spa pool, steam room and sauna.

After this, our room was ready.  Our luggage had already been taken up for us.  The room itself was a large room with both bed and chairs, not to mention the added bonus of a balcony with view over the harbour.  The bathroom was enormous! IMG_3069

Next on our agenda was lunch.  We ate on site in the Grill Bar.  Mrs Platinum Al opted for a Club sandwich.  I chose a very fine wrap with poached chicken, bacon, cheese and barbecue sauce.  This was served with fries and was exceptional.

Later that  afternoon, it was time for our spa treament.  We were both booked in for an hour long, deep tissue full body massage.  I had never had a massage before, and found this to be a relaxing and enjoyable experience.  The spa environment was calm and luxurious, and the expert staff friendly and hospitable.  All in all a fantastic treat that I would recommend. _MG_3052

In the evening, we chilled out in our room and enjoyed a drink on the balcony.  It was very easy to lounge in comfort and watch TV – with full satellite channels there was plenty to watch!  However we decided to head into nearby Llandudno for a meal.  There are several restaurants in the town to fulfill this need, and it’s not far away in a taxi.

Our stay at the Quay Hotel was fabulous – I have no complaints what so ever.  The setting and the premises were really top notch and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay.  We hope to make a return journey soon!

The Quay Hotel and Spa, Deganwy Quay, Deganwy, Conwy, North Wales LL31 9DJ

Tel: 01492 564100

The Quay Hotel website is here.

Buffalo Wings and Beer

Buffalo Wings & Beer, Cloverly MD

Continuing the American theme from my last post, this time I’d like to tell you about a very special place.  It’s my favourite bar – possibly of all time.  Though it’s been a long time since I last paid a visit, I have some very happy memories.

Back in 2000, I went on “vacation” to Maryland, USA – and again the following year.  Some relatives of mine were living in the area, and I was lucky enough to be invited over to visit.  So my family and I made the trip from Wales to America.  We had a fantastic time catching up with our family and being amazed by the country itself.  An unforgettable part of the trip was when we were introduced to the BWB.

BWB stands for Buffalo Wings and Beer – which is, quite simply, what the establishment offers.  It’s a bar, and a local of sorts to my relatives, and we were to visit there quite a few times!

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Recreating BWB at home recently with wings and Sam Adams beer. Note BWB shirt and cap!

Quite different to the pubs we’re used to at home, the BWB is a sports bar also offering food.  So unlike our boozers back home, you can have a few (or several) beers and you don’t need to leave to get food.  When you get hungry, you can order food right there!  Now we have restaurant pubs in the UK, but at the BWB you can order food at later times not just during the restaurant opening hours.  No need to run off to the kebab shop here.

Great food too – I became a big fan of the chicken wings in particular.  But not too hot!  This was also where I grew to love Samuel Adams Boston lager too.  Not to mention the buckets of beer – literally of bucket with ice and several bottles of booze!  Fine ale and good food – it couldn’t get better.

Except it could.  BWB also housed the coolest jukebox ever, pool tables, pinball, dart boards, arcade games – awesome stuff.  As a sports bar, the TV Screens showed sports, but as this was the US the entertainment was not what I was used to.  I even saw a vert skateboarding competition being shown there once.

It must be said that the people in the BWB were great also – welcoming, polite, fun – both customers and staff.  They were pleasant and genuinely interested in us as visitors to the country.

If you’re ever in the area, make sure you visit.  There are a few BWBs in the chain, the one I visited was in Cloverly.  Awesome place.  I hope I get to go back there someday.

With thanks to Lesley, Simon and Ben Stagg, who introduced us to the world of BWB!

Buffalo Wings & Beer Cloverly, 15412 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20905

The BWB website is here.

The BWB Facebook page is here.

A Letter to the New York Post

Some of you have heard the story before, for which I apologise.  For those that haven’t, the details are below.  Strange, the twists and turns we experience.

The email below was written some years ago, after the events of 9/11.  You’ll understand why I wrote it, I hope.  As far as I know, this letter has never been printed.  If you’d like to share it, please feel free to do so.  It may eventually find it’s way to it’s intended recipient.

With continued respect and affection for New City and the people who live there.

From:XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

To: <letters@nypost.com>

Sent: 24 August 2004 21.18

Subject: IMPORTANT: Message from UK

Hi,

I live in North Wales, in the United Kingdom.  I am writing to you in the hope that you could perhaps print a message to a citizen of New York city in your newspaper.

In September 2001 I was staying with relatives in the Washington DC area, on vacation, and decided to take a trip on the Greyhound bus to New York.  I had always wanted to visit the city having seen it on television and read about it over the years.  So two friends and myself decided to make the trip.

When we arrived we explored, and that evening went out to eat and see some more sights.  Around 10.30pm we left the Broomhill bar (I think in Little Italy?) with the intention of going across the river on the Staten Island ferry.  The taxi driver who drove us was a great character, friendly and a real New Yorker.  He asked us what our plans were, to which we replied, “We’re going to go up the Empire State Building tomorrow.”

The driver pointed out the window, and gave us some honest advice: “See that building there?” he asked.  We nodded.  “That’s the Twin Towers.  Go there tomorrow morning; it’s free, you don’t have to wait, and it’s higher up so you get a better view.”  We thanked him and said we’d take his advice.

The next day, as you can probably guess, was September 11th.

My companions and I never made it to the top of the towers (we stayed out late and didn’t get up that morning early enough).  We were lucky, as the horror that unfolded that day proved.

I just want to let that taxi driver know – we didn’t go to the Towers that morning.  Just in case he is tortured by the advice he gave us.  I don’t know the taxi drivers name, just that he drove a yellow cab and was a native New Yorker (his father, he told us, had worked on the Staten Island ferry).  I hope that you can print this letter in the hope that he may read it, so his mind may be eased if this has troubled him.  Because if he has been troubled, he need not worry anymore.  I’m sorry this letter hasn’t been written sooner.

With fondest regards to the people and city of New York,

Alun Jones

Wales

UK

(Email address removed for privacy)