By Tania Poole - (the only member of CFZ Australia who could make it to North Devon this year.)
While I sleep in a conservatory next to a tank of rare caecilians, the household of Myrtle Cottage, headquarters of the CFZ, was readying itself for the second day of the Weird Weekend.
At the Woolfardisworthy Community Centre where they hold the event, everyone gathered at midday for the next instalment. Jon began with the question ‘What is cryptozoology’ in which he asked the youngsters, (some who are crew or just ‘gophers’) and they could not answer – or were too shy to. Even I asked for the microphone to give 3 categories of it – I was right, except for another category – the study of out of place animals.
Nick Wadham was back with his bugs – dangerous ones (or just creepy looking ones) – consisting of large snails, spiders, tarantulas, centipedes, cockroaches, stick insects and scorpions, even an Argentinian Boa. He got the kids up the front to hold the creatures and described how their victims were killed and eaten.
After some lunch, Max Blake spoke about the Analysis of the Borley Bug – Margaret Wilson, an artist, saw a strange creature one day in the garden of the Borley Rectory (the most haunted house in Britain), describing it, and sensing that it was supernatural, and getting a friend to paint the creatures (right), Max’s talk was to perhaps work out exactly what kind of bug it was, the closest thing it could have been was a dragonfly.
Jon McGowan did a talk about large cats in Britain – focusing on his location in Dorset. Jon is one of those very few people that can prove big cats do haunt the British countryside because he goes out into the wilds three times a week and watches their movements. His findings were amazing, and knowledge of big cat behaviour is brilliant.
Glen Vaudry spoke about Scottish Sea Serpent carcasses, and spoke about many findings that occurred in previous centuries as well as the more recent ones – quite often the carcasses turn out to be rotting basking sharks, complete hoaxs, or made up.
Jan Bondeson, who I also saw talk at the Fortean Times Unconvention in London, in November 2011. He’d spoken then about Talking dogs. This time it was another dog - Greyfriar’s Bobby. Most people know about the small mongrel that apparently mourned his master’s death and sat by the grave in the kirkyard for several years around the 1860s and 70s, but Jan had wanted to find out whether that was true – indeed he had existed – a dog called Bobby did indeed live in the Kirkyard, but it was not known that he mourned by the grave. He was well fed, even attending a restaurant where he got fed, at 1 o’clock after the gun went off daily at the castle, and had many friends in places he used to visit. It may have been romantic story tellers or journalists that made Bobby a loyal dog that never left its master’s grave. He may have not even had a dead master!
After Jan was the annual award giving – people who have been incredibly valuable in the CFZ, a great helper, or a great speaker and explorer get acknowledged by being given a Golden Baboon award, and certificate. It’s typical tongue in cheek CFZ humour and honour.
The night ended with a documentary called ‘Heads!’ about the Hexham Heads and other mystery stone heads of North England. It must have gone for close to 2 hours. Some more raffle prizes were handed out, and then Silas Hawkins read out another ‘Bedtime story’ from Richard Freeman’s book ‘Green Unpleasant Land.’ It was my favourite story – Drakes Briar – which I found out was everyone else’s favourite too. Including Richard Freeman.
The Saturday Weird Weekend of 2012 ended at midnight, yet most people went straight to the bar. Another successful day!