Ok, technically we were just outside the haunted castle, but it definitely should have been close enough to be aware of any ghostly presence.
I am glad this is behind me – it wasn’t terrifying, but really just rather unpleasant! I woke up at 4am to find everything sopping wet and a slug snuggled up with me on the sleeping mat. No ghouls in evidence though.
But back to the beginning. Part of the challenge in achieving any of these things is how to fit it all in with normal life, without getting myself a) arrested or b) pegged as a total weirdo by my entire acquaintance. I may be failing on the latter but it is still quite important to avoid the former.
Rather than sleep rough in my own village, where I might be recognised; or among real homeless people, where I might offend by appearing to minimise their difficulties; I cunningly combined that challenge with the haunted venue. My husband was happy to take on the ghouls and the sleeping rough, but was pretty adamant that breaking into historic property would not be acceptable. I was quite keen for the company, and thus the limits were set.
As luck would have it, my mother in law lives near just the place, and so our escapade was incorporated into a family visit. We left the children with grandparents, and then, (after watching a DVD about all the ghostly sightings to date at the castle in question, to whip ourselves into a fearful frenzy), we set off at 10pm with sleeping bags, mats, bivvy bags and bin liners.
We drove as close as we could and parked. We were already dressed in night attire, and teeth brushed, just like any other vagrant. We hiked with the sack of sleeping apparatus down a long forested path, by a sliver of moonlight. We eventually reached the castle. All was enveloped in foggy gloom. We investigated the walls and towers for somewhere suitable to ‘camp’. All options seemed to involve lying on wet grass, and being rather visible if anyone chanced to come past. We plumped for a spot where we were at least partially hidden between a tall bush and the high castle walls. The allegedly most haunted tower was right in front of us. Ideal for spotting any ghostly doings.
We lay some bin bags down first, then the therma-rests, then stuffed the 4-season down sleeping bags inside the bivvy bags. Each wearing 2 pairs of trousers, 2 pairs of socks, thermal tops, down jackets, hats, scarves and gloves, we climbed in. God it was hot! It may not have been terribly authentic, for I suspect not many of the actual homeless are working up a sweat in early April at midnight. After all that preparation we had to remove most of the gear!
Here we are, looking more ghostly than any ghoul:
It was completely dark by now, clouds hid the moon and stars, and there was no sign of otherworldly goings on. So we curled up and slept. And that is really all I can report, until 3.45am when we both awoke, needing the loo, and unable to ignore the fact it was raining reasonably hard. Everything on the outside was soaked, yet in the middle of our cocoons we were toasty. We discussed whether it would be acceptable to get up and go home. Since nobody is making the rules here but me, I concluded that that was allowed!
So we packed up, removed the slugs, stuffed all the wet gear in a rucksack, and trudged back up the hill in the blackness.
We were home and snuggled up in a warm comfy bed by 4.30, ready to enjoy the luxury of a Nannie-enabled lie in. I appreciate that is not a recourse that is open to most rough sleepers, and although the whole experiment has been somewhat flippant, I find myself sympathising with their plight in a whole new way. We can at least go home and dry everything off in a nice warm house. What do people do once they are wet, and then stuck outside all day the next day and the next night, and the next day after that?
I was rather disappointed not to have more scary happenings to report. I promise I did choose a place that purports to be extremely haunted. Alas it was a quiet night for the ghouls. Though in truth I had taken my glasses off and stuck my head half way down a sleeping bag, so it’s also possible that I just missed them!