Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Family Ghost Hunting

As a parent of two young children my first reaction to anything described as a "family activity" is that it will likely bore me out of my skull. Not only do children find things that are simple and repetitive a lot more interesting than adults do, but it also seems like a lot of entertainment for children suffers from a distinct lack of quality control. It's as though some performers figure that since kids aren't that discerning they don't necessarily even need to put on a decent show.

However, one family in England gives me hope that things won't always be this way. They and their teen daughter have taken up a hobby that's right up my alley - ghost hunting!

While most opt for a day trip to the countryside or beach, parents Wendy and Gary and teenage daughter Nikki prefer to explore the tunnels of a Victorian coastal fort.

"We have never been down there and not heard something," said hairdresser Mrs. Canham.

"It’s everything from tapping, cold spots and strange light orbs, which we’re told are spirits."

Armed with a torch and digital cameras, the family from Stanford-le-Hope in Essex have taken shots they say show spirits floating around their head and torchlights inexplicably bending. The Canhams caught the bug two years ago when 16-year-old Nikki’s parents were invited to Coalhouse Fort in Tilbury with her school drama class for Halloween.

"While we were there, I heard a lot of strange noises," said Mrs. Canham, 37. "I heard dragging, scraping and tapping and my hands kept going cold for no reason."

Unfortunately for the Canhams the photo accompanying the article that they claim shows "orbs" is nothing paranormal. It's either the camera flash or a flashlight reflecting off the door in front of them onto dirty spots on the lens or possibly dust - but I still give them points for trying. There are only a handful of ghost photos out there that look like they might be anything paranormal, and even very active groups like TAPS (of Ghost Hunters fame) rarely capture anything resembling an entity or even a genuine orb on film or video.

Since then, they have spent about £2,000 on entrance and guide fees.

So it is expensive, but it sure beats sitting around watching puppets, cartoons, or dorks dressed up as animals or fictional characters.

Nikki admitted friends think her hobby is a little weird but she cannot wait to turn 18 so she can go to more haunted buildings.

"I’d love to go hunting somewhere like Hampton Court," said Nikki. "I want to find the most haunted place and spend the night there."

That sounds like a lot of fun to me too. My oldest daughter is still young enough that she finds the Ghost Hunters TV series a little scary, but I expect she'll grow out of that in a couple of years. Maybe once that happens we can organize our own paranormal family excursions.

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