What It’s Like Being an Expat During Covid

Let’s set the scene: it’s February 2019, and I apply for 2 year visa to live in the UK. I get my visa approved, and I’m excited as hell. I’m going to travel so much, around the UK and in Europe, I’ll have friends and family come visit me, it’ll be amazing to see so much of the world.

Yeah, right.

I arrived in the UK in August of last year and a bit more than six months later – BOOM – the entire world shuts down amid the worst global crisis in decades.

So what’s that been like?

Deciding to Stay

At the end of March, shit was getting serious and Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau called Canadians travelling abroad to return home. That just felt like a confirmation of how real the pandemic situation was. It crossed my mind, but realistically, I’m not a traveller. I’m living in England. I have a flat and a job and my boyfriend and I’m a lot more tied down here than a traveller would be. Maybe it’s surprising, but it was pretty easy to decide to stay.

Keeping Up With The News

In the first few months of the pandemic, following the news was absolutely awful. Not just because of being drowned in constant bad news, but because it was so frustrating to see the differences between how Canada and the UK handled the pandemic.
It’s pretty well agreed upon that Canada has done a very good job at cracking down on the pandemic, and while Britain got there eventually, it sucked seeing my home country shut down public spaces (particularly schools, but also restaurants and pubs) while the UK tried to put it off as long as possible. I trust Justin Trudeau to make responsible choices for his country a lot more than I trust Boris Johnson to do pretty much anything.
Even now that things have returned to a relatively normal pace, it’s still frustrating and confusing to compare statistics between the two countries. Canada has a lot fewer people than the UK, so of course numbers are going to be lower, but when my friends worry about a spike of 17 new cases in our home city, I don’t know quite what to say because the city I’m in has one third of the population but six or seven times the cases.

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Tomorrow cafés, pubs, and restaurants are opening up to the public here in England. This does NOT mean that the pandemic is over 🚫 PLEASE be mindful of your activity in public spaces: wear a face mask, maintain social distancing, and be respectful of policies and procedures laid out to keep you safe. Prioritize local and independent businesses – they need you more than corporations do! STAY SAFE EVERYONE 🖤🖤🖤 #saveourNHS #nottingham #mynottingham #lovenotts #nottinghamshire #england #visitengland #ukshots #british #photosofengland #photosofbritain #thisprettyengland #nhs #nhsheroes #healthcareheroes #ihavethisthingwithfloors #chalkart #chalkyourwalk #chalk #sidewalkchalk #sidewalkchalkart #streetart #streetarteverywhere #supportsmallbusiness #shoplocal #fishnets #footwearfashion #discoverunder5k #discoverunder1k

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Lockdown

My workplace was included in the business shutdown with no option to work from home, so for five months I was sheltering at home. I’m a pretty introverted person, and with most of my friends an ocean away anyway, I’m pretty well suited to staying in. It was interesting hearing the perspectives both IRL and online of people who suddenly couldn’t see their friends or family due to social distancing measures. While quarantining wasn’t necessarily easy, it often felt very relaxing. I was able to catch up on reading, video games, and some movie marathons. I called my mum a lot, and my BFF and I watched movies “together” over the phone. For me, it was easier than ever to be in touch with people back home, because quarantine meant that everyone was home all day, and the 5-hour time difference didn’t really matter. My D&D group (which I had joined just a few weeks before lockdown) played weekly, and our Sunday sessions was the only thing that kept me on a schedule. I watched Tiger King, and Wild Wild Country. I started learning German. I blogged more consistently than ever.

While quarantine wasn’t ever ideal, there were certain things that felt good about it – I wasn’t stressed about work, I was in touch with my loved ones more than ever, and I allowed myself to do things I love without feeling guilty about not being “productive”.

New Normal

The UK Government announced that lockdown measures would be easing in June, and on July 4th, I was back at work. It felt like the UK was pushing to open a lot more than Canada, and it made me a bit nervous. Like I said, I think Canada’s government handled the pandemic better than England, which fumbled about with reducing social distancing measures (Social Bubbles, delayed necessity/enforcement of masks in indoor public spaces, “reducing 2 meters distance to 1.5 meters distance but still try for 2m but 1.5m is okay I guess”). Though initially stubborn, people here in England have adapted to the new government advice and regulations, and are generally accepting of the New Normal being thrust upon them. This feels very in line with the stubbornness and steadfastness associated with British people – “Keep Calm and Carry On”.

I think the big difference in the return to normal between Canada and the UK is that the UK has a unique pub culture that Canada just doesn’t really have. More people are going out on the town again here in England, but back home in Canada more people are having house parties, barbeques, and weekends out at the cottage with their friends. There is no perfect way to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, but I think that the new health and safety policies implemented in pubs and restaurants here in the UK strike a good balance between safety and a return to normalcy.

I think that, were I home in Canada, I would be less likely to go out quite as much as I have here. As things have opened up here later in the summer, I have felt more comfortable going out, even travelling locally. Spending the day in town in Nottingham before we moved, taking the bus to Lincoln for a day trip, joining in a road trip to Louth, and now exploring Sheffield. While it doesn’t feel unsafe to do so, it still makes me feel a little guilty. While I have not travelled far, or breeched any guidelines, or done anything that feels inherently wrong, it still sometimes feels like too much. I think if I were home in Ottawa, I would be less likely to be out and about. Being here in the UK, it’s a mix of guilt for doing too much, and guilt for squandering my time here. It feels a bit like I just can’t win.

Looking Forward

As I’ve been saying, a huge part of my excitement in moving to England was travelling. My boyfriend and I were planning on travelling throughout Europe next fall. But who knows how things will stand a full year from now. Maybe the old normal will be back. Maybe things will be worse. Maybe we’ll still be figuring things out as we go, and hoping for the best, like we are now. I am hopeful that we will be able to travel as initially planned, but I also want to be responsible and do the right thing. We can only wait and see where we’ll be in September 2021.

Travel aside, I’ve settled into the city I’ll be calling home for the next year, and -despite the odds of job hunting in a global pandemic- gotten a new job. When I head out the door, I check that I’ve got my face mask alongside my wallet and phone. Ultimately, no matter where we are in the world, this is something we all have to live with.

 

 

Witchy Destinations – My Dream Travel List, Part 3

So I’ve been meaning to make this post since forever. I started writing a blog post around Halloween about local Nottingham witch history, but I wasn’t able to find enough detailed information about the city to warrant a blog post for that. There was a witch scare in greater Nottinghamshire because of one particular location, and that sent me down a rabbit hole. I started writing about witchy places in the UK in general, but that post also kind of fell through the wayside. Now that I’m stuck in my flat, unable to travel anywhere [thanks, Quarantine], I thought I’d revisit my blog draft section and see what there is to work with. Long story short, I’m fantasizing about travel again, and here are the 4 destinations in Great Britain with witchy history that I want to visit!

Creswell Crags // Nottinghamshire

The place that inspired this list, Creswell Crags, is a collection of limestone caves absolutely covered in protective markings carved into the stone. These marks include double VV engravings in reference to the Virgin Mary, as well as diagonal lines, boxes, and mazes, which were devices to capture and trap evil. Common consensus is that these “Witch Marks” were carved throughout the cave system to keep whatever dwelled within the caves captive, protecting those who lived in the surrounding area from demons and witches. With such a complex cave system, it’s speculated that people believed these caves reached straight to hell. Photos make it seem like something straight out of The Blair Witch Project or The Ritual. I would love to see this historically witchy site for myself, and spend the whole day exploring the numerous cave systems at Crasswell Crags. You can read more about the Witch Marks here.

Museum of Witchcraft and Magic // Cornwall

Anyone who knows me knows I love a good museum. The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic is located in Boscastle, Cornwall, a village surrounded by coastline preserved by the National Trust. The independently owned museum is one of the most popular tourist destinations, and I’m not surprised as to why. It’s jam-packed with art and artifacts depicting the mythology and historical realities of witchcraft, which is such a fascinating subject. I went to a combination art/history exhibition about witchcraft in October, and it opened my eyes to how integrally witch history is tied to the history of women: women’s magic seen as “a weapon aimed against the state and church”, and medicine is seen as strange and deviant when performed by women, but something to be praised and commodified when performed by men. I would love to explore the museum and continue to learn more about this fascinating history.

Pendle Woods // Lancashire

If you know much about the history of witchcraft, you’ve probably heard of the Pendle Witch Trials, in which 10 people were hung for killing people via magic in 1612. Pendle Hill is an iconic location for witch and folklore buffs, but I’m more interested in visiting the nearby Pendle Woods, Better known as Aitken Wood. A walking trail exists, and an art installation has been placed throughout the woods, inspired by and memorializing the Pendle Witch Trials.

Edinburgh // Scotland

Calton Hill, Edinburgh (Walkhighlands)

Scotland is notorious for its history of witchcraft, as it was the country with the highest number of witch trials in Europe. Edinburgh in particular has so many places tied to witches, trials, and burnings that it’s hard to boil it down to just one spot within the city. This entry on my list is less tied to witch mythology and more associated with the horrific reality of persecution. Despite this, or maybe because of it, I would love to take one of the walking tours that explores the history of witches in the city.

My mum has talked about how witch trials resonate with her, particularly in Scotland where our family is from. My mum is a painter, and one of my favourite paintings of hers hangs in the living room of my parent’s house, a pheonix-like figure rising from the ashes; a piece inspired by witch trials and persecution of women. I would love to bring my mum to Edinburgh so we could learn more about and pay homage to the sites where the trials and persecutions took place.

There are many more places around the world that I would love to visit for their ties to witchcraft, particularly museums of the occult. I kept this list limited to England purely to keep it in scale. Witchcraft and the occult have history around the world!

Hopefully travel is more available soon, as I’d love to get started on visiting some of these witchy places!

What Inspires Me To Travel

Okay, so realistically there are a lot of things that inspire me to travel, but this post being published on Mother’s Day should tip you off as to the subject of this post: my mother. An incredible woman and accomplished world traveller, she inspired me to take a risk, move away from home, and pursue new experiences overseas.

Photo from trip to China, 1970s

My mum grew up in Brockville, Ontario, which is a town in Eastern Ontario, but living in a small town never inhibited her curiosity about the world and the diverse cultures it has to offer. She’s checked off just about every “bucket list” kind of experience most travellers can think of: hitch-hiking across the United States, exploring India, travelling across Europe, hiking in New Zealand, and visiting Hong Kong during Lunar New Year. She’s also got some of the most unique travel experiences I know: visiting Afghanistan, taking the Trans-Siberian Express across the Soviet Union, and visiting Communist China shortly after it reopened for Western visitors.

I’ve always been envious of all of my mum’s stories about her travels. It’s a big part of why I wanted to experience living in a different country. I want to share stories and photos of my travels with others, because I’ve grown up being excited and inspired by the stories and photos from my mum. Her travels reflect years of cultural curiosity and discovery, and I want to be able to reflect that within myself.

Photo from trip to Soviet Union, 1970s

I like to imagine that my own global travels fall into line with my mum’s legacy of women exploring the world. Although my opportunities for travelling across Europe are on a bit of a backburner because of Covid-19, I still very much intend to travel lots as soon as it is safe to do so. But yeah, I think there’s a part of me that’s very driven to travel as a result of growing up with such a well-travelled mother.

We were intending on travelling together. My mum is meant to come visit me here in England next year, and we are planning on going up to Scotland together to visit the area where our family heritage is from. I’m so excited to share the experience of travel with my mum as an adult, because I know that we tend to enjoy the same things from travelling, especially learning about cultural history. Travelling somewhere together where we both have that connection to the geography and culture is something so exciting for me.

I sincerely hope that pandemic fallout does not cancel this trip that has been coming for a long time – what feels like my whole life – especially now that I’m here living in the UK. We’ve still got a year, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed that things work out!

My mum truly inspires me in all kinds of ways, including to travel and explore the world, just like she has done!

Instagram vs Reality: Travel Photos

Instagram and travel content go hand-in-hand. We all love looking at beautiful people in beautiful destinations, and it’s pretty inspiring to see how beautiful the world is, and fantasize about the #beautifuldestinations. For travel influencers, there’s often a focus on creating a fantasy dreamscape of idealized destinations, rather than reflecting the reality of tourism and travel.

The Influencer “Look”

Common visuals in travel influencing are hypersaturization and colour theming (think lightroom presets); maximalism, filling the frame with busy and colourful visuals); unique and ~authentic~ worldly experiences; luxury content of first class flights and resorts, expensive goods and fancy foods; fashion using travel as a backdrop, with the real focus of the picture being on the influencer themself, not where they are. Travel influencing has a look, and we all know it. We want that life! We are being sold a fantasy of travel in idyllic locations and glamorous travel where we are the centre of our own beautiful universe.

I know that I sound like a bit of a cynic, and maybe I am. But really, I don’t have a problem with wanting to curate the perfect Instagram feed; I’m guilty of it myself. I don’t think that editing your content is inherently bad, but I do think that “travel influencer” content does shape the way that we imagine travel, and it’s important to address the realities of travelling and creating travel content for Instagram.

Jumping back to my definition of “travel influencer” content, a description of this content can be narrowed down to hyperstylization: exciting people having “authentic” experiences in glamorous locations. The issue that comes from this content is that a lot of it comes from post-production. Editing colours, saturation, exposure, contrast, et al is standard, but we also see people editing in visuals to create a fantasy that does not reflect the reality of these locations. A popular example of this is a photo of springtime at a small farm in Vermont, as edited by a prominent influencer.

It's not just bodies and faces that get tune-ups on Instagram ...
“Springtime in Vermont”
Source: reddit.com/r/instagramreality

While a lovely piece of digital art, it is in no way representative of visiting Vermont. When we consume such stylized travel content, we are building up an idea of what our experiences should and will look like. It can be damaging to build up our travel expectations based on what we see online.

Another example of the false realities we see on social media is how easy it is to get great photos of ourselves. Unless you’re very patient or willing to wake up very early, you’re probably not going to get a shot of yourself alone with the Eiffel Tower, or the London Eye, or any other popular tourist attraction.

This is why your holiday will NEVER look as good as the one on ...
Source: The Sun

The presence of crowds in major tourist areas was one of the things that threw me the most during my visit to London earlier this year.

Why do all these tourists and travellers have to be around me, a tourist, as I create travel content? How am I going to get cute pictures if there’s all these people around taking pictures?

-Me, January 2020

I will admit that a lot of my expectations of London were built up based on what I saw on social media, and I was a bit affronted by the reality of what being a tourist there is like. I loved London, but it wasn’t exactly what I expected. I spent less time taking photos than I had planned, but more time walking around and forming my own experiences of the city. I edit my travel pictures, and will be going through my editing process in an upcoming post. However, I always try to depict my travel experiences in an authentic way, just tidied up a bit.

Social media influencing and content creation is work. It comes from spending a lot of time and effort making it look like your content is natural and easy, #flawless. I don’t want to devalue the creation of travel content, and the work that goes into it, but I do want people to think critically about travel as seen on social media, and what they can expect for their own experiences.

Let’s Go To: London

It’s finally time to write about London! In January, I spent three days exploring the city; most of the weekend was spent sightseeing and checking out tourist attractions. While I can now check London off of my travel list, it’s such a wide and diverse city that I’m already planning my next trip back to discover even more of what it has to offer.

Day 1

Image result for tube map

London is a two-and-a-half hour train ride from Nottingham to King’s Cross St Pancras, and we stayed at an AirBnB in Vauxhal, about a ten minute walk to the London Underground. Our goal was to keep our budget as tight as possible (alternate title to this blog post: Let’s Go To London On a Budget), and our biggest spend on our trip was a 3-day visitor pass for the Tube, coming in at £40.50 per person. Honestly though, if you’re planning on exploring London on foot (which you should, since it’s the best way to see any city), it’s such a worthy investment. It really is a world-class transit system, and kind of acts as a tourist attraction in and of itself.

Our first night in London was spent at a wrestling show: Wrestle Queendom III, organized by EVE Riot Grrrls of Wrestling. Self-described as “Punk, Feminist, Empowered. Women Superheros Come To Life!”, this organization sure knows how to put on an excellent wrestling event. If you’re local to London and into wrestling or female empowerment, see about getting tickets to a show. If you’re not able to get your butt into London, you can watch their shows online through their website. You can find more information here.

Day 2

Sunday was our only full day in London, and it was spent on a walking (and Tube) tour of famous landmarks around the city. Jack planned a route that would take us around the city for optimal sightseeing, but I was going through it a bit blind. This added to the fun, since I didn’t know what we would be seeing next! So what exactly did we see?

We started by arriving at Buckingham Palace at a very un-optimal time: the middle of a special Sunday changing of the guard. While I am a sucker for a good marching band and mounted police, it was next to impossible to get a good look at the Palace, much less a photo. This is a recurring trend for every big tourist attraction: there are tourists everywhere, even in early January off-season.

I think it’s something that’s normal and to be expected when you’re playing tourist yourself. Even so, I was blown away at the sheer number of people at many of the stops on our little tour. Just something to keep in mind when you’re fantasizing about world travels.

From Buckingham Palace, we walked through St James Park to a large courtyard outside the Household Cavalry Museum. Through an archway leading to Whitehall Road and Horse Guards. All things equestrian stick out to me when I travel since I grew up loving horses and with a horse adoring mother, so I’ve put a mental pin in these to come back to when she comes to visit. Along Whitehall Road we passed the intersection to Downing Street, which is no longer open to pulic access for security reasons. Whitehall Road has beautiful architecture, plentiful statues and memorials along the road, and is a must to walk down. Whitehall Road turns into Parliament Street, which features a monument to Winston Churchill, Westminster Abbey, Parliament, and Big Ben. These buildings are absolutely beautiful works of architecture, and I would have loved to have seen them! Unfortunately, parliament and Big Ben are under renovations, and consequentially under scaffolding.

Womp womp.

Right beside Big Ben is Victoria Embankment, with Westminster Bridge and the River Thames and, if you’re lucky, a man playing Old Town Road on the steel drum. Across the river you can see the London Eye and grab an iconic tourist photo. We crossed Westminster Bridge and walked along The Queen’s Walk to the Golden Jubilee Bridges, and back across the river to the north bank, along Northumberland Avenue to Trafalgar Square. It still blows my mind how many iconic locations are all jammed so close together! Trafalgar Square might be my favourite of the tourist spots in the city. It is absolutely beautiful, with large fountains, various statues, and Nelson’s Column. Even though it’s a busy area, the wide space means it doesn’t feel jampacked with people.

We didn’t go to the National Gallery, but I would be open to it during my next visit to London. There are so many museums and galleries in the city that it’s basically impossible to visit them all in only one trip. Trafalgar Square did have some of the goofy tourist crap that I associate with Hollywood Blvd or Times Square; in the bottom right-hand corner of the above picture, you can see a “floating” Yoda to take pictures with. Across from Trafalgar Square is the Canadian Embassy, which is super easy to identify because it is completely plastered with Canadian flags. Loved it.

Tucked behind the National Gallery is Leicester Square, and further back the Chinatown Gates. Somewhere near Chinatown we got back on the Tube to Monument Station to see the Monument to the Great Fire of London. It still blows my mind that as far back as the 1600s, people were creating monuments to commemorate historic events. The instinct to preserve human experience is timeless, but the creation of monuments still feels like a much more contemporary action to me! We crossed over London Bridge (truly not an exciting landmark, if you can call it that) with a view of Tower Bridge further down the Thames. From there we walked to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Just around the corner from The Globe is a beautiful piece of street art with a street performer: a tuba player who has fire coming out of his tuba. I saw him on other people’s posts of the street art, so he must be a regular in that particular location!

Near the Globe Theatre is Tate Modern (on my to-do list for next time!) and Millenium Bridge, which we walked across to St Paul’s Cathedral. We got back on the Tube to continue our adventures, but that was about it for our walking tour of London’s sights.

That’s 28 different places we saw, all within like… 4 hours! It never felt like we were rushing through things, or going too fast. It’s just the nature of London, particularly the central area of the city that is just so packed with iconic places. Honestly, it was kind of overwhelming. You see all these places and know that they’re historic or important or iconic, but you’re seeing so many of these places one right after the other. It’s a lot to take in!

We weren’t done day 2 yet though. We spent the afternoon in Camden, taking in the wild shopfronts and market. Though I loved the extreme decor of the buildings on the high street, the shops mostly offered tourist goods or faux-edgy merchandise that plays into Camdentown’s punk roots. It was really neat to see, but nothing really appealed to me in terms of actual market shopping. The area does have a lot of creative and beautiful street art, much of which is focused on Camden icon Amy Winehouse. It’s really beautiful to see how the area preserves her memory.

With our legs very tired from our day walking in London, we went back to our AirBnB and took a nap, then ordered takeaway.

Day 3

Our last day in London started with a view of the city from the sky. There are several options for rooftop sightseeing, including going up The Shard. We chose to go to Sky Garden, which is completely free, so long as you book tickets in advance. It’s right across the Thames from the Shard, located in what’s honestly a pretty ugly building nicknamed the “walkie-talkie”. I’m kind of glad that this was the building we were going up, since we would be seeing all the iconic skyscrapers, and not the dumb walkie-talkie building. The views from 32 stories up was incredible – it really puts into perspective just how huge London really is. It sprawls out as far as you can see in every direction, an enormous mass of city. If you visit the city, you have to see it from above.

Our afternoon was spent at the Natural History Museum. There are so many museums in London, and I really want to visit more of them next time I visit. The Natural History Museum is such a beautiful building, with exhibits including dinosaurs and fossils, mammals, birds, the human body, geology, and more. I loved seeing the old taxidermied creatures from a time when conservation meant hunting animals and stuffing them for preservation. There’s just so much history to it. I thought it was a nice touch that in the display cases there were notes explaining the worn condition of many specimens, as they had been preserved long ago and were not going to be replaced due to changing ethics in ecology.

In which I go on a tangent about museums

I had a bit of mixed feelings on the Natural History Museum. To be fair, I have a lot of opinions on any museum I visit, because I’m very interested in museum curation. I think that I had built up in my mind the idea that it would be quite traditional in its displays, specimens and artifacts mounted in glass displays with text-based information. As unremarkable as museum displays like this can be, I think there is a type of classic beauty to them that I appreciate from an aesthetic standpoint. And, to be fair, there were some sections of the museum with displays such as this, and sections that were updated in a clean, timeless way. The geological exhibit is a good example of this, and I particularly liked the earthquake simulation! However, there were other exhibits that felt dated from the time they were updated in what had to have been the early 2000s (this may or may not be specifically calling out the exhibit on the human body, whoops!). Dated graphic design, clunky touch screens, and the push for interactive exhibit content are big turnoffs for me when it comes to museum design, and since that was one of the first exhibits we went to, I guess the museum and I got off on the wrong foot. I eventually got to a point of reconciliation with the idea that, while the museum is a piece of history and tradition, it’s also an active research centre with a focus on inspiring young people to get involved in science and ecology. And that can be hard to do when a museum feels dated, because it doesn’t create the atmosphere of science as an active field in which one can participate. The same way that art comes alive in a gallery, and history comes alive in museums, science and biology come alive in museums as well, and they have to appeal to the young people who go to visit them. I get that. And it’s fine. Overall, I think that the Natural History Museum really does an excellent job of combining the tradition of museums and keeping their content fresh and engaging.

One of my favourite exhibits at the Natural History Museum was a small gallery that really payed homage to the Museum’s history. Original plant specimens from James Cook’s voyage to Australia, A skeleton of a dodo bird. An original first edition copy of Darwin’s Origin of Species. This appealed so much to my historian’s heart.

The museum’s stunning foyer

We finished off our visit to London with dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe in Piccadilly Circus. Not intentionally though; we hopped off the Tube to see the area on the way to St Pancras, and decided we had some time to kill and needed some food before our train. We ended up at the Hard Rock Cafe as a bit of a “aren’t we the most touristy haha” choice, but the food was nice and we had a great time watching and talking about the music videos they played. We finished our dinner, got some souvenir glasses, and headed to the train.

Our visit to London was less than three full days, but it felt like we had done so much in that time. It was a bit exhausting! And despite having felt like we’d done so much, I honestly feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of London. It’s a beautiful, overwhelming, exhillerating, exhausting, wonderful city, and I’m excited to go back and see what else it has to offer!

Have you ever been to London? What is your favourite thing that you did? What would you recommend? Or, if you haven’t been, where would you like to go?

What I Pack for Short Trips

I’m about to go on my first trip out of town in England! I’m headed to London for a three-day weekend! In Canada, I’m used to packing for short trips to Montreal or Toronto. A lot of these trips have been for conventions, so I often have with me a suitcase full of cosplay gear. However, when you eliminate the copious amounts of costume, hair, and makeup products I need for Comiccon, I’ve actually become quite adept at packing everything I need into a single backpack, which is ideal for a weekend trip. These are my tips on what to pack for a short trips!

Personal Items

These are the items that are most important to bring. Pretty much all of them will stay in my purse or day-bag (like my phone!), but they’re definitely things you don’t want to forget.

  • Wallet
  • Passport – if travelling internationally, it’ll be one of the only valid proofs of ID you can use. Keep it safe!
  • Phone and charger – consider bringing a portable charger in addition to a wall plug if you’re planning on being out and using your phone lots during the day
  • Camera – as a travel blogger and Instagrammer, I need my camera with me on trips! To be fair, my phone is ancient and its camera is trash, so if you’re comfortable taking all your pictures on a crystal clear Pixel or iPhone, you don’t need a DSLR.
  • Camera paraphenalia – DO NOT FORGET A MEMORY CARD IN YOUR CAMERA. Yes, I have done this. I don’t usually bring my camera charger when I pack for short trips, since if I charge mine before hand as my camera’s battery is quite long lasting.
  • Travel tickets – if you have a hard copy of your bus/train/plane tickets, make sure you pack them! Keep them somewhere easy to access.
  • Bullet Journalthis is a very “me” thing to pack, but I like to have my plans written down!

Clothes

When I’m travelling for the sake of travel, and know I’m going to play tourist, I like to plan my clothing ahead of time. Consider what your plans are for your trip, and pack accordingly. I try to reuse as many articles of clothing as I can – the ultimate capsule wardrobe – to cut down on space. This list is an example specifically for my trip to London, so don’t take it as gospel of exactly what to pack for yours!

  • Jeans (black) – worn on day 1, not packed
  • Bodysuit (black) – worn on days 1&2, not packed
  • Cardigan (black-ish) – worn day 1, not packed, available as extra layer for days 2&3
  • 1pr Tights (black) – worn on days 2&3
  • 1 Skirt (black, floral) – Worn on day 2
  • 1 Dress (black) – Worn on day 3

And that’s it! That gives me three outfits: Jeans, bodysuit and cardigan for day 1, a bodysuit and skirt for day 2, and a dress for day 3. Pack a few accessories that fit the season to add some colour or detail to your wardrobe. I’m bringing a scarf and a hat, since it’s winter. Don’t forget to pack socks and underwear as needed, as well as a good pair of walking shoes or boots.

It may seem a bit silly or extravagant to pick out all my outfits in advance, but I find it’s so much easier that way. 6 articles of clothing, only 3 of them packed, and I’m dressed for 3 days in outfits that I know I like. Everything I’m bringing is black, so I don’t have to worry about mixing and matching colours. If you like a bit more diversity in your wardrobe, keep contrasting colours in mind when you plan what items you’ll reuse.

Cosmetics

While I love makeup, I don’t love travelling with it. I don’t like packing it up, I don’t like thinking about it being damaged, and I don’t like it taking up a lot of space. I honestly don’t think the brands are important, just pack what works best for you. Here’s what I try to limit myself to when I pack for a short trip:

  • Foundation & makeup sponge
  • Mascara (1, black)
  • Liquid lipstick (1 bold, 1 neutral) – I prefer any long-lasting lip colour for travel, since I don’t have to worry about having to reapply throughout the day.
  • Liquid eyeliner (1, black)
  • Makeup brushes (eyebrow, contour, eye shadow (3))
  • My travel Holy Grail palette: The Tartelette Amazonian Clay Matte Palette
I love this palette for travel because it is ridiculously multi-purpose. As long as I bring the right brushes, I use it for my eyebrows, contour, and eyeshadow. It’s not particularly large, and it cuts down on so many individual products.

All together, that’s 6 makeup products and 4 applicators. Not bad! Non-makeup cosmetics include:

  • Makeup remover wipes – easier to transport and use than a liquid bottle
  • Hairbrush and elastics
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste

I don’t usually pack hair products or bodywash, since they tend to be supplied by most hotels and AirBnBs. If they aren’t, I’ll pop out to a shop and get a mini-bottle, but I haven’t had to yet.

All packed and ready to go!

Contrary to the stock photo I used at the beginning of this post, I don’t pack my laptop for short travel anymore! I used to pack it when I travelled for conventions and needed to be online for social media management, but when I’m travelling for the sake of it and playing tourist, I find that I’m happier when I don’t have my laptop with me. It’s not taking up space, I’m not worried about it breaking or getting lost or stolen, and I don’t feel the need to work with it being around. I can upload my photos when I get home. You’ll get a London blog post sooner or later, but I’m going to be enjoying the city while I’m there!

Christmas in England

Merry Christmas! I have to say that I’m not exactly a “Christmas Person”, but it’s hard to escape the festive cheer in England leading up to and over the holidays. While the Christmas holiday itself isn’t much different in spirit – spend time with loved ones, eat good food, exchange gifts, goodwill towards man etc. – there are some differences in the way the country leads up to the holiday. I just wanted to tell you about some of the things that I’ve noticed about Christmas here that are different from at home!

The buildup starts earlier

We all know how Christmas starts to creep up on us earlier every year. In Canada, it begins in late October-ish. Here in England, stores embraced Christmas marketing and decor beginning in late September and into early October. I think that Thanksgiving and Halloween in North America help keep Christmas from encroaching into October too much. Two months of holiday leadup is plenty, thank you!

There’s a whole new soundtrack

My knowledge of Christmas music is weirdly warped – I grew up on traditional carols and Handel’s Messiah. We also listened to “oldies” style Christmas carols (like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra), which I’ve heard here, but not as much as back home.

England has it’s own whole library of Christmas pop to choose from. I recognized some of it, like WHAM!’s Last Christmas and Paul McCartney’s Wonderful Christmas Time. A lot of it was brand new to me. More Christmas pop, more Christmas charity singles, and the concept of the Christmas #1 single. I think Christmas pop is more prominent over here (with less of the oldies), but that could just be my perception since I’m biased towards oldies. Either way, contemporary Christmas pop is alive and well here: Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, and the relentlessness of Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You.

A Bop
Also a Bop
Literally wtf England

Food products and packaging go wild

Speaking of Mariah Carey, her face is all over supermarkets come December because she’s on the festive packaging for Walkers Crisps! Truly the Christmas Queen.

All kinds of brands repackage their goods for the holiday season, even mundane things like bread and orange juice get a festive makeover. There is also way more of a selection of Christmas dinner and party foods, which is impressive since it’s not like Canadian grocery stores don’t do the same. There are just more options here for things that you don’t see on the Christmas dinner table in Canada – things like pigs in blankets and a vast array of finger foods. You’ve also got a wider selection for desserts here. In Canada, Christmas dinner is usually followed by pie or a Yule log. Here, Christmas pudding, mince pies, Yule logs, and profiteroles are among the many options for a post-dinner treat. So many variety for holiday goodies!

Christmas Markets are magical

I only went to our local market, but the European tradition of the Christmas market is alive and well in England, and they’re beautiful. A collection of traditional food stalls, local crafstman and vendors, funfair rides, bars, and even ice skating, these markets go all out to create holiday magic. There is so much apparent thought and care put into the Christmas market here in Nottingham, and it’s a really beautiful atmosphere. The tradition is starting to make its way to Canada – Ottawa has its inaugural Christmas market at Lansdowne this year – but it’s definitely a result of the traditions here in Europe. I’d love to visit some of the other Christmas markets while I’m here. Maybe next year!

There’s no “Happy Holidays” debate

Truly, war is over in England. The War on Christmas, that is. In North America, there is the whole debate on what to say to someone around the holidays (particulary as a greeting for customer service workers). You know, to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” in case the person doesnt celebrate the holiday? It’s more controversial in the United States, and kind of an accepted non-issue in most of Canada. I asked my coworkers about this – what’s the norm for the service industry here – and they all confirmed that “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Christmas” is the accepted greeting.

Christmas jumpers are serious business

In Canada, we have the whole “ironic ugly Christmas sweater” thing going on. I genuinely don’t know if the propensity for Christmas jumpers is motivated by the same irony, but they are everywhere in England around the holidays. You can find them in every style, ranging from understated to gaudy, with traditional designs or something appealing to every fandom. Everything from a traditional knit with Star Wars insignias to festive sports jerseys/kits to a screengrab from the Christmas talent show scene from Mean Girls can be found on a festive sweater. And they’re not relegated to Ugly Sweater Parties either. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, you’ll see these Christmas jumpers everywhere!

Christmas away from home is weird. A lot of what feels like leadup to the holidays was missing, because it’s traditions I follow with my friends and family. Decorating our tree and reminiscing over where all our eclectic ornaments came from. Going shopping for gifts with my best friend, before a sleepover where we drink wine and build a gingerbread house. I did have a lovely little Christmas here in England though, with a little tree and a turkey dinner and Christmas films. It took a bit of effort to remind myself that just because this Christmas is different doesn’t mean it’s any less of a lovely Christmas. Happy Holidays, everyone!

4 Things I Miss About Canada

I’ve been living in England for 3 months now, and things here are starting to feel like my new normal. I have lots of people ask me if I miss home, and what I miss the most about Canada. Usually my reply is that I don’t miss much except for my family and friends, but I decided to do a quick think of some of the other things I miss about Canada.

Rounding Prices to the nearest 5¢

Canada eliminated the penny in 2013, meaning that our prices round up or down to the nearest 5¢. In a job that requires cash handling, this makes life so much easier. The UK has taxes included in marked prices, so if something says its £5, it’s exactly £5, not £5.65 or however much would be added by sales tax. But if that’s the case, why are some prices £4.99? Why would you do that? No one cares about that 1p change! Start rounding your prices and get on Canada’s level!

Watching Hockey Games

Even though I am Canadian, I only got into watching hockey regularly within the past year or so. Now that I’m living in the UK, I find it so hard to manage watching NHL games because of the time zone difference. We’re 5 hours ahead of Canada, so games don’t start here until 12:00 or 12:30am! This typically falls within an hour after I get home from a shift at work and find myself barely able to stay awake through the whole game. Major bummer. It’s very frustrating to have gotten attached to a team and now struggle to keep up with their game schedule. On a brighter note, Nottingham has a local hockey team, so I can still go see live hockey games every so often!

Coffee Shops

Okay, so it’ not like there are no coffee shops in England. There are chains like Starbucks and Costa, as well as independent coffee shops. Still, compared to Canada they are few and far between. I think this is because in Canada, if you want to meet up with a friend for lunch or in the afternoon, it’s too early to go to a bar so a coffee shop is the perfect place to go. Here in England, you can pop into a pub for a drink instead. While a pub is a fine replacement for a social meeting space, they don’t quite cut it for a public workspace. I’m way more productive when I’m not working at home, so it’s a bit of a bummer that I don’t have my go-to option of “nearest coffee shop” as a reliable spot.

Plus, I didn’t think I’d end up missing it, but I miss Tim Hortons!

Talking About Canada Things

Image result for canadian news

What exactly are “Canada Things”? It’s not like I don’t get to talk about Canada here. Many people at work ask me where I’m from, and if I like it here compared to back home, and what’s Canada like. I’m always more than happy to talk about it, but it’s not the same as talking about what’s going on back home. Like Don Cherry getting fired. It doesn’t hold the same importance for someone who grew up seeing him every week on Hockey Night in Canada as it does to someone who has no idea who he is or how ingrained he is in Canadian identity. It was weird only having a few people to talk politics with surrounding our federal election in October. I want to laugh with people over how disastrous the new LRT system in Ottawa is.

It’s not like I don’t get to talk about these things. I can text my friends and family back home about it, and talk to my boyfriend (who hears way too many updates from me on the failures of the LRT). But it’s just not the same as being able to make small talk about it with people. It makes me feel far away from home, and very much like a foreigner. That’s not always a bad thing (I am a foreigner!), but it’s the only thing that does so in a way that makes me miss home.

Really, it’s not all bad to miss things from back home in Canada.

It can be hard living abroad sometimes, but all these differences are really shaping my experience as an expat. These little differences are what I love to experience. They’re the kinds of things you don’t realize about your country until you’re not there! If you’ve ever travelled or lived abroad, what are some of the things you ended up missing from back home? Let me know!

Nottingham at War: WWI

November 11th signifies the anniversary of the end of the War to End All Wars. Though now used as a date to memorialize the sacrifices of soldiers from all generations, it still stands out to me as a day to reflect on the lives lost during the two World Wars. I’ve always been passionate about the study of the wartime history. Living in Canada, it’s easy to feel a bit disconnected from the history of the wars. Canadians fought overseas and supported England on the homefront, but it never really feels like “Canada’s War”. Living in England, there is a lot more tangible history to experience, and it all feels a bit more real.

I’ve done a bit of research on homefront history in Nottingham, and it’s so interesting to read about areas of the city I know being directly effected by the war. I walk the same streets that suffered bombings and saw the celebrations of armistice. It’s a strange and wonderful feeling to connect with these places in real life. I’ll be looking at World War I history in this post, and World War II history in the next.

World War I

War sets in

“Europe is Marching into a State of War” reads the headline of the Nottingham Evening Post on August 1st, 1914. Three days later, the United Kingdom declared war on Germany. That same day, the captain of Nottingham’s cricket team – Arthur Carr – was publicly called up for duty in Dublin. The Robin Hoods, a volunteer infantry force, drew crowds as they marched through the city on their way to Derby barracks. Hundreds of horses were taken from their owners for use in the service, particularly from the Shipstone area. The first Nottingham soldier, Corporal William Stevens, was reported dead on October 7th, and wounded soldiers begin to return to the city. By November, 8500 men had enlisted at the Trinity Square recruitment centre to replace them overseas. Belgian refugees flooded the city after the war began, and Nottingham’s chuches, playhouses, sports clubs, and musical groups raised money for charity relief.

Soldiers departing Victoria Station, 1914

It wasn’t over by Christmas

By January 1915, greater wartime measures set in, including restrictions on selling alcohol, and lighting curfews. This was a result of the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA), which was heavily enforced in Nottingham because large numbers of troops were to be stationed there beginning in 1915. In March, over 7000 soldiers billeted in public halls and private homes throughout the city. Anti-German sentiment began to rise in the city, and butchers in Hockley and Sneinton Market had their storefronts destroyed. By August 1915, non-naturalized Germans and Austrians in and around Nottingham were intered in the spirit of national protection. Conflict also broke out between men, as married men felt it was unfair to be called to service above single men.

Old Market Square
“Every man is needed. Why do the single men stay behind? Will not our women help us?”

No end in sight

Soldiers outside a Drill Hall on Derby Street

1916 saw the national mood go from bad to worse. The war wasn’t felt as directly on the homefront as it was during WWII, but the effects were starting to set in. Food shortages begin to set in around the country, and increased DORA restrictions greatly impact the city. Shops close and lights are out by 7pm, and electricity in the city is completely cut off at 10:30 each night. With coal miners fighting overseas, Nottingham experienced coal shortages during a brutally cold and dark winter. Protests against homefront hardships and inflation broke out in Old Market Square later that year. Nottingham also experienced the rare event of air raids by zeppelin in 1916, with the most notable destroying homes on Mapperly Street.

Bomb destruction on Nottingham homes

As food prices continued to rise into 1917, the Land Cultivation Committee scoured the city for land that could be used for agriculture, including The Forest Recreation Ground. Rationing and shortages, combined with another brutally cold winter, had many people seeking food and shelter at the Salvation Army in Sneinton Market. Charity events were particularly prominent this year, including exhibitions, garden parties, charity football matches, and a “Patriotic Fair” and pageant which raised £31 000 (£2,132,000 when adjusted for inflation). Communal kitchens open up across the city, with 20 open by May 1918.

Women in the War Effort

At the onset of the war, it was unknow how vital women’s contributions on the homefront would be. The best opportunities for involvement were through Women’s Employment committees. In April 1915, the first major opportunity to join the war effort presented itself in the Lace Market. Nottingham’s factories, previously used for lace and garment manufacturing, were to be used to manufacture respirators after gas started being used in the Battle of Ypres. Around this time women also began to register for land work (taking over men’s work on farms and in resource extraction), and replacing men’s work within the city, such as bank tellers and tram operators. In July 1915, a recruitment march from Wollaton Hall to The Forest saw nearly 3000 women join the war effort.

Women at work as window cleaners, tram operators

In August of that same year, many more factories in and around Nottingham were mobilized for the war effort, including a major artillery factory at King’s Meadow Road, and a shell factory in Chilwell. By March of 1916, women taking “men’s work” becomes a prominent issue when Alice Astill becomes the city’s first female taxi driver. Women over 30 receive the vote in 1917 due to the absence of elligble voting men. The suffragette movement had been a major political issue before the war, with a prominent Nottingham suffragette arrested for trying to blow up the visiting King.

By 1918, the Chilwell shell factory was a beacon of munitions production, seeing an all-time high in June. The women filled 46,725 shells in one day. 15 days later, however, absolute tragedy struck. The factory exploded, killing 134 workers and injuring over 250 more. Though the owner of the factory claimed sabotage, it is likely that the prioritization of output over workplace safety is responsible for the disaster. The factory reopened two days later, and continued high output for the duration of the war.

Aftermath of the Chilwell Factory explosion

Coming to a close

1918 saw a huge increase in production, of food, materials, and munitions. Charities continued to raise money for the war effort, and people flocked to Skegness, the nearest seaside town, for Patriotic fairs. Over the summer, as the Triple Entente made major headway in the war, spirits lifted at the prospect of the war coming to an end. This was brought to an end in October, when the first case of the Spanish Flu was reported in Nottingham. Hundreds of people caught the flu, with the city shutting down to prevent the spread of the disease. By November, the death toll was nearly 300, and totalled 1400 deaths in Nottingham by 1919.

Despite this, nothing could stop the jubilation on November 11th when Armistice was announced, and celebrations took place in Old Market Square. Armistice celebrations are fascinating to me, as I cannot imagine the emotions involved in celebrating the end of four years of war, rations, regulations, and an uncertain future. Nottingham at war cost 14000 lives, with many more injured, disabled, or suffering from PTSD. Though the fallout of the war took years to dissipate, the Peace Celebrations must have been so full of joy, hope, and relief. I think sometimes about where and when I would go if I had a time machine, and I’ve added Old Market Square during Peace Celebrations (after both wars) to my mental list.

Armistice celebrations in Old Market Square

The War to End All Wars

I’ve always found WWI to be endlessly fascinating for it’s metaphorical resonance. It represented the worst of nationalism. It’s the culmination of the industrial revolution used in the worst ways. It started on horseback and ended with tanks. It was waves of men traversing No Man’s Land to move borders a few feet further. Entire nations industrialized to support the war movement, and nothing was spared.

Looking back on it, we know it was largely for nothing. War would return twenty years later, greater and more terrible than the Great War. I think it’s important to remember that very real people sacrificed their lives willingly to defend what what they thought was right. It’s also important to remember that very real people were also forced by their governments into military service, dying for what people in power thought was important. With over 100 years between then and now, it can be hard to imagine what the First World War was like. It’s endlessly fascinating to me, and it’s such a privilege to be able to live in a place that was directly touched by the history of the wars that we remember today.

Much of the local history referenced in this post was found here.

Photos were found here and here.

My Spooky Urban Exploration Experiences

I’ve dabbled in urban exploration: adventuring into abandoned buildings or places. I think it’s a bit of a misconception that it’s an inherently scary hobby, and I don’t think I believe in haunted places or ghosts. However, I have had a couple of creepy experiences while exploring that made me question my paranormal skepticism. In the spirit of Halloween, I’m going to tell you three stories of creepy (and possibly paranormal) urban exploration experiences!

1. The Attic

When I was my first year of university, I had a friend who would join me on urban exploration trips and urbex photography sessions. She found an amazing site, the Prince of Wales hotel, just to the south of Ottawa. Like most places I’ve explored, it was not inherently spooky, and we were very excited to look around and take photos of this beautiful building.

We arrived in the early October afternoon in a mix of sun and clouds, and we were having a grand old time poking around, taking photos, posing for “ghostly” long exposure shots, and generally having a great time. We were clearly not the first people to explore the hotel, as there was plentiful graffiti on the walls and a fun surprise left for us in the basement. “The end of the world is here”, but it came across more cool and fun than creepy.

The open entrance to the abandoned hotel had been in the basement, so as my friend and I worked our way up to the top floors of the building, the sun got lower in the sky. As we lost our lighting, a sense of unease started to come over us, but we wanted to see everything in the building before we left. By the time we got to the top floor, we were in full creeped-out mode, but not to be deterred. It was dark and getting cold, and as we explored the upper level, we found children’s toys scattered around. I know it’s such a trope in horror that kids and their toys are creepy, but in a building that had long been abandoned and completely emptied, the presence of kids’ toys was decidedly eerie. We discussed wrapping our adventure up for the day and heading out, but we really wanted to finish exploring the whole building. Then we saw it.

The attic. This is the only picture I have of the attic. I really don’t consider myself a great believer in the paranormal, but there was something about this attic that felt off. Maybe it was just how dark it was up there. Maybe it was that the flooring looked like it might be unsafe. It might just have been that this scene from Sinister exists and was in my head while I was climbing that ladder. Whatever it was, I had such a sense of dread that I couldn’t bring myself to get to the top of the ladder. I don’t usually chicken out while urban exploring, but I chickened out. My friend outright refused to climb up. We decided to wrap up our exploration “since it was getting late anyway”, and left very unsettled. The hotel was torn down a few months after we visited.

2. The Collectors

My very first urban exploration experience is one of my favourites. I had family friends who lived out in the country, and down the road from their farm was an abandoned house. They would always invite our group of family friends out to their place for parties, and one day a bunch of us kids went for a walk down the road to explore the house. Often, when houses are abandoned, they are emptied of (most) furniture and personal belongings. This one had been boarded up untouched. It seems like when the elderly owners of the house had passed away, their children came and took what they wanted, then just abandoned the property.

As we explored the home, we uncovered dozens of treasures. Those that stood out the most were a baby grand piano, a birdcage and a record to help teach birds to sing, and a taxidermied anthropomorphic squirrel. Though the majority of the exploration was decidedly un-creepy, as we were leaving the home, I stumbled upon a decently sized stack of newspaper clippings. Rifling through the pile, each clipping was a report of a horrible accident. Train crashes, farm equipment incidents, car accidents… I suppose the elderly couple must have had a morbid fascination with accidents. Still, it’s decidedly weird to go about clipping and collecting these articles. Nothing terrifying, but decidedly weird.

3. The Seance

As I mentioned before, I don’t typically get spooked by urban exploration. I tend to feel curious and excited instead of scared. Even at the Prince of Wales Hotel I wasn’t nervous until the very end of the exploration. However, the only time I’ve ever had a truly haunting experience was in a burn-out house in New Edinbourgh. From the moment that my friend and I arrived on the site on a freezing winter day, something felt off. It’s the feeling you get in a horror movie when tension is being built for a scare. Dread. Though we were warry to enter the house, we didn’t let our nerves get the best of us. In we went.

A large pile of branches was heaped in the entryway, like the house was protected from intruders like us. We were hushed as we made our way through, taking pictures as we went. It felt a bit like we were being watched. I kept hearing faint noises from the floor above me. My friend didn’t hear it. The windows were all boarded up, so light was more limited than it had been in the hotel, so we were only able to see what was directly in the path of our headlamps. The majority of the house had been vacated, so there wasn’t much to see in the first few rooms. Then our light beams landed on something.

A salt circle. Candles were spread evenly around the ring. People had been here, and they had created a space of ritual magic. Inside the ring you can see two objects: a decorative ceramic bottle with some kind of liquid inside, and a papier maché head with decorative circles (coins?) over the eyes. In the photo above, it doesn’t look that scary, but this photo was a long-exposure that took in a lot of light. We only had faint beams of light from our head lamps to break the darkness. There was one other item found in the room: a piece of paper. It’s there on the piece of plywood on the right of the photo. On it, instructions to summon ghosts.

In that moment, we had serious reconsiderations for continuing our exploration. Freaked out by both the mysterious noises and the implication that ghosts had been summoned to this very house, we tentatively decided to carry on. My friend wanted to continue exploring the main floor, and I decided to venture upstairs.

The floor was largely fire-damaged, with very little floor space left safe to walk on. This had been the kitchen, and the outbreak of fire is likely what caused the house to be abandoned. Though I have tried to find a history of the building and why the house we were in and the apartment block next door had been abandoned. From what I can find, a fire broke out in 2011 that destroyed the building, and in typical NCC fashion, it was condemned and then sat there for years. I couldn’t figure out if anyone had died in the fire, but I honestly wouldn’t be surprised. I don’t know how to describe it, but it felt like somebody had died in that building. As I was shooting some pictures of the burnt out kitchen, my camera did something that I haven’t experienced before or since. The screen glitched out, sporadically flashing green.

That was enough for me. I went right back down the stairs and told my friend I was done, we needed to go. She agreed, and we fled the premises, hopped on a bus to a bookstore and looked for books about ghost hunting. We never got to return to the house to try anything out, but if there are ghosts there, they don’t need to be disturbed again. With a level head after leaving the abandoned house, I can look at the things that happened logically. The noises that I had heard were likely squirrels or raccoons. The glitch on my camera was probably a result of the -30C weather. What I can’t account for is that uncanny feeling of dread throughout the entire experience. Because of this experience, I can’t say for certain I don’t believe in hauntings.

Have you ever had a supernatural experience? Or have experience with urban exploration? I’d love to hear about it! If you’re looking for more spooky content, check out my post about Dark Tourism here.