The White Isle

ibizaoldtownfrommarinaI never thought I’d ever visit Ibiza, especially considering that I haven’t visited the Mediterranean since my late teens and my only overseas trip in the last decade was a stag party in Germany.

So you can imagine my surprise at being invited on the annual work’s incentive trip – a VIP affair that invites our key business partners to join us for a weekend in exotic or luxurious locations.

Initially, I was cautious – I’m not a clubber, I may enjoy a variety of trance, psychedelic and even some dance music but I’m not a fan of hot, sweaty claustrophobia that a vibrant club environment has to offer.

alternateviewofoldtownThat being said, I have missed travelling and love to explore new areas; the idea of exploring the diverse areas of Ibiza’s Old Town was exciting enough to set aside any fears I had around an unfit, overweight forty-something bouncing around Space during its dying days.

As an aside, it’s only as I type this that I realise, as many men do throughout their lives, that I am slowly becoming my Father, who has kept holiday logs for as long as I can remember and travels frequently.

I hereby set out, in a disjointed and succinct attempt at paternal emulation, my own travelogue.

Being a “VIP” work related trip, the expense wasn’t really an issue.

Actually, money is always an issue but in this context I had to pay for very little out of my own pocket.

Accommodation, travel and sustenance were all covered and the (seemingly) meager €100 I brought in hard currency was largely sold back on my return home.

My biggest worry prior to the trip was clothing; Ibizan fashion allegedly centers on Boho Shabby Chic.

My only exposure to Shabby Chic is through my Sister, who used to buy old tat at auctions and do them up to sell on eBay as “Shabby Chic”.

I’m not the best dressed person on the planet, to be honest I’m not that conscious of my appearance – vanity seems a waste of effort to me – but hippy linens and arty T-shirts are something I can work with; overall I don’t think I let the side down.

The flight out was uneventful, albeit I was subject to a “berenger” whatever that is – I must have looked dodgy to them, even as I stood – arms akimbo and jeans falling down – awaiting for the results of some kind of swabbing.

I was only on the isle for 3 nights, staying at the Destino Pacha Ibiza Resort in a lovely little room designed to feel like a villa-cum-bedsit.

The resort was luxurious and full of beautiful people with more money than sense.  I only paid for a single drink through the whole weekend, and that was a €9 20cl soda water!

On the first day we relaxed at the pool, soaking up the sun and mojitos.

sapuntoOn the evening we dined at a waterside restaurant, Sa Punta, where we were offered an amazing mix of seafood, olives and antipasti.

The selection of food may have seemed limited but the dishes we were presented with were well balanced, flavourful and filling.

Once we had consumed our fill and midnight closed in, we moved onto Club Il Lio in the marina itself.

Now, I’m not a fan of clubs at the best of times but the cabaret in life before us was inviting…

I lasted maybe an hour, if that; offensive and officious security guards constantly moving us out of the way – our “VIP” tickets meaningless in a world of regular big spenders and overly flamboyant dress.

That was my only nightclub experience of the weekend, thankfully; we visited Pacha on Sunday and some of my colleagues had the pleasure of experiencing Basement Jaxx in the dying days of Space but I only ate at Pacha (succulent and satisfying sushi with a minuscule offering of wasabi).

Prior to the visit to Pacha on Sunday, I spent the day exploring Dalt Villa itself.

cathedralI wandered the old town, making my way up to the Cathedral that overlooks the bay and back down through the various boutiques and bars.

I completed my first overseas Ingress mission and discovered that the Pokémon native to Spain are different to those we find in the United Kingdom (Growlithe and Ekans).

This supplemented my morning walks across the bleak, desiccated clifftops surrounding the resort – where the odd lizard and dragonfly skittered away from concealed lovers enjoying the morning after the night before.

Overall my favourite day was Saturday.

bluemarlinWe visited Blue Marlin Beach Club and spent several hours being treated to a selection of edible and potable treats whilst dipping into the warm embrace of the Mediterranean.

I haven’t swum for around 11 years and its been longer since I enjoyed a dip in the sea.

It was during conversations with people on Saturday that I uncovered  a mysterious side to Ibiza.

I’d already reconciled Ibiza with the isle of the Lotus Eaters in my own mind…

I had no idea that Nostradamus had predicted Ibiza as being the only place to survive the coming Armageddon.

It’s hard to dispute the legends of Ibiza’s magic when I came away so relaxed and purified from what should have been a frantic and intoxicating visit – I wasn’t shy when it came to indulging in the food and drink on offer and yet felt no ill effects throughout the trip.

The meal that evening was a long drive away at a “hidden gem” named La Paloma; an illusive array of starters avoided my attention in the dark of the unlit outdoor dining whilst the darkness did little to prevent me from devouring a perfectly grilled steak.

destinopachaduskThe journey back on Monday was hard, not from any kind of lethargy or illness on my own part but the plane was full of casualties suffering from over-indulgence and weak constitutions.

The Ibizan border authorities had not made the same assumptions as their UK counterparts, and so I wasn’t stopped and swabbed for narcotics or incendiaries on the way back.

I was a little disappointed when passing through the depressingly bureaucratic passport control in Manchester – whatever happened to “Welcome back Mr. Sugden!”… miserable jobsworth.

 

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Gotta Catch ’em All

level41Earlier this Spring I came out (kind of), I announced to the blog-o-sphere that I am Ingress player.

I’ve always been a Gamer, in one form or another.

From that first glimpse of Pong and my Grandfather’s Atari 2600 (which he sold to Soggy… for those in the know).

We had various arcade games on a machine in the family’s fish & chip shop and family games on our ZX Spectrum in the Eighties.

Right through Baldur’s Gate and Diablo in the Nineties; and onto the console wars of the 21st century; I can’t think of a time when my life has not, in some way, been influenced by Gaming.

I LARP, I’ve participated in and run LARP events, tabletop roleplaying sessions.  I’ve played MMOs (finally), single player campaigns and even designed campaigns and systems that nobody will ever play (seriously, I wouldn’t be a genuine roleplayer if I hadn’t! <insert wide grin here for those roleplayers that haven’t delved this deeply into the obsession>)

I’ve written previously about more contemporary games but Ingress was the first to break the mold and invade reality.

That statement probably comes across as somewhat louche from those who know me as a LARPer.

The thing is, LARP is a game which relies on the suspension of disbelief – its very medium is a corruption, ignorance or corruption of reality… some (but not all) particpants cite escapism as their reason for playing.

IngressProfileIngress augments reality.

I’d say a good 90% of my work colleagues are oblivious to the fact that our place or work serves as an anchor to a great many XM fields that ensure the populace of Brighouse are under an alien influence that encourages Art, Love and Creativity.

Unless you’ve been living in a media-proof bubble, you’re already familiar with the company that developed Ingress – Niantic.

Niantic are the brainweasels behind Pokémon GO.

For the past 4 years, Niantic have run Ingress as a successful, GPS based augmented-reality game.

They have encouraged gamers like me to go out into the world, register places of interest that we come across as “XM Portals” and then compete with people in our local areas to control those portals, in a game that has proven both engaging and infuriating over the 3+ years I have played it.

And yet, since shortly after BREXIT, I have neglected Ingress in favour of Niantic’s latest game-child.

I simply have to be the very best.  I have to catch them all!

pogo1Pokémon GO has taken the GPS entities registered by myself and fellow Ingressers (118 places of interest photographed, geographed and registered to date personally) and converted them to either Pokémon Gyms or Pokéstops.

But why?

Why has this fad hooked me in?

Ingress was, by and large, ignored by the mainstream and adopted by Techies (and a few Corporates like me).

In 3 years of playing Ingress I hae become aware of 11 players in the town I work in.

Only 6 of those are what you would class as serious, hardcore, daily players (shout out to agents DMH10, Doodified, Ikibau and Pepian and yah-boo-sucks-to-you to Astral Ranger and DeckardB26354).

Towards the end of last week I took a stroll out on my 30 minutes lunch break (as I usually do) and encountered 15 people playing Pokémon GO.

Fiff-fucking-teen! In a 30 minute (OK, I’ve overshot to 41 recently) period.

15 people playing Niantic’s latest offering, oblivious to the Shaper invasion of Ingress.

My reality wasn’t just augmented… it was skewed!

pogo215! Wow!  Whilst playing Ingress I’d bump into a fellow player – by accident – once in a blue moon.  Most Ingress meet-ups are by design and I shun most of those due to the high number of cheating fuckmonkeys on my team locally.

15 in one day is amazing but why the sudden interest?

Allegedly, Pokémon GO is the most downloaded mobile game ever – EVER!!!1!one!

I never paid much attention to Pokémon in my – erm – late twenties.

Whilst Pokémon was encouraging kids to be the very best, I was building a career as a senior software developer, playing Diablo 2 and dressing up as a Low Elf and fighting the “Dark Alliance” with rubber and latex weaponry.

(OK – by “fighting the Dark Alliance” I mean, being humiliatingly butchered by them – but that’s not the point!)

To date, I’ve shunned Pokémon as irrelevant to my needs.

botpMy own youth was influenced by Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors and Mosschops.

What should I care for random cutesy anime creatures that only seem to speak their own name when I had Thundercats, Transformers and the Masters of the Universe?

Shit son! What constitutedanime” to me in my teens is now classed as “hentai“!

No, the early 21st century’s cartoon pocket monster shenanigans was obviously just a way to part breeders from their money – so that junior could have the latest faecachoo – just like Hasbro did to my parents with transformers when I was a kid.

But now I see what I was missing out on.

You see, Pokémon GO appeals to the Gamer in me.

pogo3Here I am, just under 3 weeks away from my 41st birthday and I’m addicted to a Pokémon game.

You see, it offers everything I need to feed my gaming gland.

Those intelligent bastards at Niantic and Nintendo have hooked me in faster than any schoolyard skag-dealer.

Pokémon GO has 3 whole areas of progression/leveling and if there’s one thing gamers love, it’s leveling.

There is a genuine psychological dependency on character progression.  It’s more addictive than nicotine (which in turn is more addictive than heroin – I can only attest for the veracity of the former statement however).

On top of that, players are encouraged to “catch ’em all”.  I’ve already caught 73 of a possible 150 creatures.

Even better, I can name my Pokémon whatever I like, no profanity filter, just a character limit.

pogo4Like Star Trek: the Next Generation, the mental health benefits of Pokémon GO have been recognised already.

The game gets people out into a pocket-monster-augmented world and interacting with people they never would have thought to interact with previously.

I’m used to that from Ingress – seriously, my local fellow PoGoers seem terrified as I approach them with a toothy grin and demand:

Hi! Are you guys playing Pokémon or Ingress?

This is a genuine phenomenon.

Everywhere I go, I see people playing the game.

And not just the Ingress-paranoia of “Ooh, look, do you think they’re playing Ingress?”.  No this is groups of people, of all demographics, capturing monsters and battling gyms.

pogo5It must be 2 weeks now; 2 weeks of buggy software, overloaded servers and an almost constant Launch App – Attempt Capture/Gym Battle – Force Stop – Launch App cycle… and yet I’m still hooked.

I hit level 20 today, I believe the level cap to be level 50. Now that the server issues seem to have stabilised the game is a real pleasure.

It’s taken me 3 and a half years to get to where I am in Ingress (3 months from level 15 – the cap is 16, I’m 18 months from level 16).

And yet I’m 2/5ths of the way there after 2 weeks!

So there you have it.  I’m a 40-something Pokémon trainer and Gym Leader (until the local Instinct/Valour cock-knockers take out my Vaporeon) and I’m proud… Bring on the wearable!

Ingress -Huddersfield Banner Mission

2016-04-09 10.56.24I’ve been playing Ingress for over 3 years now and yet despite this, I have not really written about my experiences playing it.

Ingress is a GPS based game, a sort of MMO where you play yourself in augmented reality.

With elements of capture the flag, tower defence and even (to a small degree) role-playing, Ingress has captured the imaginations of millions of players worldwide.

I am genuinely surprised that it has taken me this long to write about it.  I play Ingress daily, it is a part of my daily routine – a part of my life… and yet, I would only class myself as a casual player.

I have travelled to other cities and even met friends that I would not have met if I did not play the game.

After 3+ years I am still only level 14, with a current level cap of 16.  I have seen friends start the game and achieve the maximum level in around a year.

The game has evolved massively since I started playing both in terms of game-play and coverage.

In the early days, agents (the term used in game for players of the game) could submit “portals” – places of interest that can be captured, held and even linked to other portals to gain points within the game.

Portal submissions are no longer accepted (there are rumours this is a feature that may well return) but I did manage to rack up 118 successful submissions while they were.

The only way agents can improve or add to the game currently is by the creation of missions.

Missions (created from the Mission Authoring Tool) are a further incentive to play the game – if you didn’t find the game addictive enough to start with.

missions1I have created 39 missions, including 3 single line “banner” missions, I’m awaiting acceptance of these missions by Niantec (the organisation that created/runs Ingress).

Banner missions are by far the most interesting, rewarding and challenging form of mission.

2016-04-09 12.47.34A mission is a collection of 6 or more portals (or way-points from Google Field trip – but that’s another story) with actions that must be performed on them.

Actions can be sequential or performed in any order and range from a simple “hack” to capturing, upgrading or “modding” a portal.

Agents may even be requested to enter a pass-phrase related to the portal or area they are near.

The only reward an agent receives for a mission is a badge; badges are images created by the mission author and collecting them results in progress to wards the achievement of an in-game medal that aids towards an increase in level.

Banner missions creatively break down larger images into a mosaic of badges that, when collected in sequence, display the larger image in the agent’s in-game profile.

huddsbadgesThe Huddersfield banner mission is the first banner I have attempted and was created by a respected local agent from my team (Enlightened/Green), J0nny.

At 24 missions, this banner is not the largest I have seen (I came across a 60 mission banner in Eastbourne!); 24 missions across Huddersfield was still quite a challenge.

It took me 2.5 hours and led me, meandering, around Huddersfield, hacking my way through portals that have been familiar to me for years.

I tracked my progress using MapMyWalk as Ingress gives a useless estimate of 15 minutes per mission- this map should give you an idea of how long it takes a 40 year old, overweight Yorkshireman.

huddsmission_map

Starting at Huddersfield railway station, the missions lead you North, out of town under the viaduct and up towards Greenhead Park.

A spike up through the park then pulls back into town past the Civic centre and Town Hall then down to the University campus.

You have an opportunity here to drop into the Queensgate indoor market; I took the opportunity to pick up a couple of books from the excellent (and Ingress friendly) Kapow Comics.

A circuit of the campus (challenging at the moment due to the construction work in progress there) eventually brings you back into town and around St. Peter’s park before heading back to the railway station.

There is limited parking available at the station itself, so you may want to consider coming in by train.

If you are planning on attempting a banner like this, it is important to make sure that you are going to start at mission 1 and that you are starting a brand new line of mission badges, otherwise the overall banner will be askew when complete.

If you’ve made it this far and you’re not an Ingress player, well done.

If you fancy taking up the game then consider trying it out; it certainly gets you out more.

Also, choose Enlightened (Green/Frogs) over Resistance (Blue/Smurfs)… help us immanentize the eschaton… Hail Tsathoggua…

Egged While Walking

eggfaceLast Monday I was assaulted, in a way that both literally and figuratively left me with egg on my face.

After successfully shedding over four stones last year, I have decided to carry over into 2014 in the same vein. So, Monday night I decided to try a new route.

My usual winter evening route has reached its expansion limits, at best I can make 6 miles on a night without straying too far into urbanity but to do more than 6 miles would mean looping over territory already covered and that would become a little too repetitive for me.

The new route takes me down into my local village and then the opposite way to my usual route. A good 7 miles minimum at first estimate.

My plan is a simple one, start 2014 at 5 – 7 miles of mixed walking and sprinting every other night and build up a mile a month until I can comfortably cover 12 miles without too much of a struggle.

Fitness wasn’t the only drive to change routes, I’ve recently started playing the augmented reality game Ingress and the only vulnerable enemy portals near me are on the new route.

So Monday night I started Endomondo and set out, down into Lindley, farming enemy portals in Ingress.

It was a nice start, despite having been relatively idle over the festive break, my fitness levels hadn’t dropped and I made a good pace through the village and up towards the M62.

3.5 miles in I cross the M62 and head on to my planned turning point, a church on route – co-incidentally the last of the enemy portals in Ingress.

The road up from the bridge over the M62 is poorly lit, poorly paved and poorly travelled. The occasional car speeds past on its way towards Rochdale but it’s my preferred walking environment – lonely and isolated.

I’d estimated that a turn around there would result in my returning home at the 7 mile mark – a circuit that could be expanded upon by moving the turning point forward by half a mile in future,

I hacked the Ingress portal and made the turn to start home, checking my progress in Endomondo to make sure I wasn’t short changing myself on distance.

I was suddenly struck in the face, throat and chest by what I took to be a hard snowball – an ice ball even.

Cold, hard and wet, I was knocked back by the blow.

Uttering an expletive, the realisation dawned that we have not had any snow yet this winter; I looked around to check as I wiped, what I thought was snow, away.

My hand came away with a mix of albumen, yolk, blood and shell.

I had been egged.

I think the embarrassment negated the rage and shock somewhat, although the anger seeped back in as my hand came away a second time doused in blood.

I could tell there was a wound, of sorts, bleeding profusely from my chin – and my throat and chest felt bruised.

The egg had hit at a fair speed. My memory, catching up with me, associated the impact with the passing by of a speeding car.

I had been egged from a passing car.

A third wipe and I determined that I was still bleeding.

One hand pressed against my chin and throat to stop the bleeding, whilst the other struggled with my, now egg-bound, phone.

The camera wouldn’t activate and so I decided to make my way back towards home (2 miles away) or hospital – (4 miles away – if needed).

The blood kept streaming, so I stopped at a local takeaway that had just closed for the night. The gentlemen inside let me in but didn’t have a mirror or first aid kit.

They let me stay there until the bleeding stopped and gave me paper towels to stop the flow.

As helpful as they were, the chaps in the takeaway couldn’t really help me identify the severity of the source of the bleeding, so I decided to set out again whilst phoning my other half for help.

When I finally got the phone free of blood and yolk, I managed to take the photograph above and realised that actually I wasn’t badly cut at all.

A swollen chin, minor cuts on the chin and in the mouth; and a chest full of egg.

In the aftermath I called 111 to go through a medical check-list and then 101 to inform the local police – although there is nothing they can do with no description of the assailant or the assailant’s vehicle.

Four days on and I have already made sure that I get out again, albeit on a third route. I did find myself flinching as cars passed but that didn’t last long.

It does seem that I am not alone, this kind of assault appears to be surprisingly common.

I’ve heard of walkers, runners, cyclists and equestrians being pelted with eggs, stones, bottles and cans; even being shot with pellet guns in more extreme cases.

I just count myself lucky that I was not hit in the eye and that I haven’t come across this activity before – hopefully it is quite rare.

Advice From My Youth – Graffilosophy

Smoke Di SmakI was reminiscing, about a piece of graffiti, with a friend the other day.

During the dark days of my early teens, this piece of late eighties/early nineties graffiti carried sage advice for those of my generation.

This particular piece of graffiti, runs absolutely contrary in spirit to the more visible “Free the herb” graffiti, that can still be seen from Manchester Road running alongside the railway line between Linthwaite and Milnsbridge.

A simple rhyme, the graffiti in question reads:

Smoke di smack

You’ll be back

Think I’m joking

Just keep smoking

At the time, it felt like it was Huddersfield‘s response to the children’s television show, Grange Hill, and its own graffilosophy regarding Zammo getting a smack on the nose.

Bridge 29

My good friend managed to salvage an old photograph of the graffiti in question, taken a few years after its initial discovery.

He also kindly gave me permission to use the image here (see photograph, top right).

This weekend, my partner and I decided to take a stroll into Huddersfield and our chosen route took us past this piece of local history.

Our route took us from our home near the M62, down into Milnsbridge and along Huddersfield Narrow Canal towards Huddersfield itself.

The very last road bridge before you hit the exit from the canal to Manchester Road, Bridge 29.

I took the opportunity to video the bridge in question and hoped the graffiti would still be there, despite the many rejuvenations that the canal has undergone over the past 25 years.

Luckily, the words could still be made out, just, although more graffiti has been added over time.

How It looks TodayIt struck me that the advice offered here is just as relevant today as it was then.

The statistics I’ve found during a brief period of research, seem to show that whilst heroin use within the adult population hasn’t really changed over the last decade; usage amongst teenagers has dropped.

Maybe this is down to better education in schools, although I doubt it.  It is far more likely to be due to the prevalence and accessibility to cheaper forms of narcotic and the stigma that heroin abuse developed through the nineties and beyond.

I’d like to think that a part of the decline in heroin use is down to this iconic piece of graffilosophy, however unlikely that is.

Philosoraptor

Now we’re in an age where locality isn’t the norm.

Maybe graffiti like this has lost its relevance to the youth of today; maybe this integral piece of my own youth culture will be eroded over the next twenty years.

Society’s youths are now interactive with people all over the world; social networking opens them to a wealth of information – both overt and subliminal.

And so I offer up an intermediary solution, calling on the power of internet enabled memes; a philosoraptor to carry the advice well into the 21st century.

Archaeology – Lindley Moor Update

Lindley Moor 1For the past two weeks, there have been a number of archaeologists working on Lindley Moor.

At least I guess they’re archaeologists.

As I’ve mentioned before, these archaeologists don’t look like the archaeologists I know personally but the it takes all sorts.

The archaeologists are rumoured to be looking for evidence of a Roman Road at a contentious site that is currently the centre of a controversial planning application.

Lindley Moor 2

The Roman Road is thought to lead to the old fort of Cambodunum at Slack in nearby Outlane.

This morning it looks like the archaeologists have either moved away from the north-east sector of the site, to another part of the site, or they’re finished and moved on to their next project.

Over the last couple of days I’ve diverted from my evening stroll to explore the areas they have been investigating.

It has been a diverting experience; I’ve shared the fields with an enigmatic metal detector and his dog (who both seemed called from the works of M. R. James when I first encountered them).

I’ve also explored areas of the site that I have never visited before, either through laziness or the presence of violent livestock.

Lindley Moor 3I’ve had opportunity to speak to strange locals and also meet calmer, less violent livestock.

Over the last two evenings I’ve managed to bore the viewers of YouTube to tears with recordings of the various dig sites.

At first I thought that I might be overdoing it but in retrospect the videos may be all that people have to remind themselves of such a beautiful area and the lengths people went to to try prevent the local council and property developers from further destruction to our precious green belt.

Looking at the many dig sites on site (and I think some stretch off the main development site) a few have some interesting elements.

Aside form signs of recent construction materials and ceramics that may or may not have been planted as a hoax, there are also areas that the archaeologists have concentrated on… presumably with toothbrushes.

Lindley Moor 4A couple show signs of the continuation exisitng dry stone walls… but older.  As if the buildings and walls on site have been pulled back since their original construction.

Most interesting of all are the two sites containing what look like walled up culverts of some kind.  I’ve been back this evening to get pictures of the culverts for this blog.

I’m not convinced the archaeologists are done with the site yet but I’m also not convinced that anything they find will prevent the area being tarmacked over and turned into a disused data campus.

The videos are many in number but all are available on my YouTube channel.  I’d love for you to see them, so I have listed the relevant videos below.

The first three are from July 26th 2011, when I explored the southern sector of Lindley Moor and spread round to cover the western side.

The rest are from the evening of July 27th 2011, when I intended to cover the rest of the site but simply ended up ambling the whole site.

I also saw some of the local fauna…

The Appleyards

Appleyards 4Situated between Linthwaite and Golcar, on the Golcar side of Huddersfield Narrow Canal, are the Golcar Appleyards.

Infamous in the local urban legends of my childhood, the Appleyards are a singularly dark and oppressive place.

There were tales of people being nailed to trees in years gone by and that kind of thing, urban legends and nothing more.

The area named “The Appleyards” is actually a lauded local beauty spot, offering a unique picnic site to visitors and residents alike. My own experiences of the Appleyards have been anything put picnic-esque.

That being said, my own experiences have been nocturnal at best and not focused on the picnic area itself. The notorious area that many think of when they hear “The Appleyards” is the wooded area between the picnic area and the canal.

Golcar Baptist ChapelAs a youth in Linthwaite, I would often visit friends in Golcar and the route through the Appleyards was often the quickest way there and back. Not for those wary of elevation, the pull from the canal up to Town End is a relatively steep one.

From the second lock down from Lowestwood Lane, I would cross the packhorse bridge and pull up past the Appleyards to venture further towards Golcar Baptist Church and then up to the main hub of Golcar. A long pull but that didn’t bother me in those days.

For some the way back is a lot harder still.

I would often return home around eleven at night, a sense of dread settling as I entered the narrow ginnel alongside Golcar Baptist Chapel. Hastily making progress alongside the graveyard, the dread would increase as I came closer to the Appleyards. Then came the final push; the last of the street lamps ahead I knew I would soon leave it’s soft orange sanctuary to pass under the viaduct and make the run past the Appleyards and down to the canal towpath and perceived safety.

Only once did I actually run. The pressure of total malevolence emanating from left as I approached the viaduct was such that I ran all the way to Lowestwood Lane. I was young then, less brave.

As an older youth, as my interest in self-improvement developed, I would use the route as a means of concurring fear. As a life long gnostic and paranormalist, I have even been back on occasion to “investigate” the area. Not in an Yvette Fielding kind of way, you understand, more in a John Constantine manner.

Under the viaductThere have been more notable experiences. Those with a sensitivity for these things claim to sense something of the Appleyards as far away as Milnsbridge and even go as far as to suggest that the sense of “other” doesn’t really leave you until you come off the canal at Slaithwaite.

Huddersfield Narrow Canal has a fantastic collection of sections for those interested in experiencing the paranormal, especially between Milnsbridge and Marsden.

I’ve posted about the Appleyards in the past (2003-ish) on the popular paranormal forum, Ghosts-UK.

I had a situation once regarding a place on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal called the Appleyards. It’s a picnic area on the other side of the canal from the towpath. It is where I encountered a spidey sense so strong that both myself and a friend collapsed to our knees at the same time.

Anyway, the place has consistently evoked that sense for myself and other friends whenever we have been through. I used to go there just to test the feeling, using it as a benchmark.

There was a time maybe 7 years ago. I had met up with an ex-girlfriend who was interested in the paranormal. She was a thelamite (I believe that’s the term for those who have studied and practice the teachings of Crawley). One night we set off from her flat, with a couple of other friends one sceptic and one other occulty type and walked the canal to the appleyards… it was about 1am by the time we got there (Student days eh? Never an early night )

The others were more interested in lighting their cigarettes and discussing the scenery but I led her down into the epicentre of the area… normally by now my spidey sense would be flaring and I’d want to run… but this time there was nothing. My friend looked at me with a smirk… I think she jokingly accused me of trying to get her on her own in a dark wood. I apologised as she turned to head out… as she got to the edge, I had been spinning trying to look into the trees to see anything… trying to push my sense to their maximum… as she disappeared over the edge of the path to rejoin the smokers I thought out loud

“Thanks a lot… I don’t ask for much do I… you’re probably scared”

And with that I turned my back and took a step… as that step fell it was like a lead curtain had been dropped behind me… my spidey sense flared up … not as much as it had done the time I had collapsed but it was strong and the things that seem to hang about that area were most definitely about.

I started to run up the path and was greeted by my friend, tears streaming down her face… she had felt it as it opened up.

So the embarrassment didn’t last long… even the sceptic had felt it but he still maintained his scepticism.

And again on Ghosts-UK.

One place on Huddersfield Narrow Canal, called the Appleyards, has been notorious in local stories. Urban Legends of people being nailed to trees for any number of reasons in centuries gone past. The place has such an energy at times it hurts… honestly (a friend and I were walking along the canal late one night and both doubled over… the feeling was that strong that our stomachs had knotted and legs had just gone to jelly… I’ve also seen things in the shadows and trees… the place is thronging with activity at times). I once took a group of people there, again just after the witching hour. I took them to show just how active it was… they were sceptical (of the place, all were aware of and interested in paranormal activity).

We got there and it was deader than a dead thing. Nothing, not a tingle on the old spidey sense. I took them off the canal and into the actual area (something i had never dare do at night before, the feeling was so strong normally). Still nothing. The others drift back to the canal and start talking about heading back… whilst I and one other do a circuit of the area… by now I am astounded and quite disappointed. I apologise to the lady with me and we head back… ladies first. As my lady friend stepped out of the boundary of the area it all came flooding in… like a thousand mocking and silent voices rolling in at once. Well.. it was nearly laundry time for me luckily the lady with me also felt it… the thing(s) had been holding off… purely because we had gone there deliberately.

The PoolMore recently I have passed through again and taken time to explore the area in the soft summer dusk – dusk is a time of transition, a good time to experience those experiences that might be experienced when you look to experience them.

There is still something in the atmosphere of the Appleyards. Nothing I would say I had brought myself but something desperately alone and craving attention.

“Don’t look at me!” whimpered whilst thinking “Never leave me!” would be a way of describing the gathered thoughts that the area emotes.

A friend of mine remarked that he feels unclean when passing through the area, like wading through an air of ordure with particles that never quite leave you once you have passed through.

Appleyards 1Oddly, while exploring the actual picnic area, I noticed a great many manhole covers, through which I could trace a number of waterways running through the area. This led me to a division of possibilities.

Firstly there is the scientific explanation-de-jour for paranormal experiences that is Infrasound – often said to be caused by running water (albeit hundreds of miles away).

Yet on the other hand, there is a thinking born of watching too many episodes of Supernatural: what if the waterways were deliberately crafted here, to hold something in? Certainly a theme I may call upon for a future work of fiction…

Discussing the area after a visit, I was prompted to put down the following verse to describe my feelings about the Appleyards.

Cold damp surroundings
Dusky feculent embrace
Departure denied

A presence claws out
Running water conduits hold
Innocence drawn in

Foetid miasma cloys
Eternally unclean henceforth
Freedom is sullied

The area is still there and still active; it is certainly worth a diversion if you’re walking in the area.