Friday, September 14, 2018

The Road Less Traveled

At 05:00 I leave for the Lake District and, although it's a long journey, I can't help but wonder what possessed me to leave so early. I should be packing my things, as I haven't even started and so I'm likely to forget something, knowing my luck my phone charger. But I'm a lazy traveller and a night owl, so instead I'm here writing this blog. Inspired by travel of course. Superstition, folklore and travel have gone hand in hand for hundreds of years. I present to you my Top Five Travel Superstitions.

Leave no sheet unturned
This was one superstition I encountered years ago, while working as a cleaner at a hotel. If you're traveling alone and end up in a room with two beds, then either use the bed you're not sleeping in to store your luggage or mess it up completely; pull he sheets out, throw the quilt and pillows on the floor, go nuts. Basically do anything but damage the hotel.
"Why the hell would you do that?" You might be wondering. Well it turns out that an empty bed can be an invitation for unwanted guests of the ghostly variety. The more uninviting you make the bed, the less likely you are to end up with an evil spirit as a roommate. Anyone who's ever read an M.R James story will tell you how unpleasant an aggravated sheet ghost can be.

Carry Protection
Stop laughing. I meant a St Christopher's Medal.
The Catholic Church might have removed him from the Roman Calendar in the 1960's, but that hasn't stopped people believing that carrying one of these little charms will ensure safe journeys. St Christopher's story is one of legend, although there's very little evidence to prove he actually existed other than these stories; he kindly carried a small child across a river, once they got safely to the other side the child was revealed to be Jesus. As a result Christopher became the patron saint of travel.

Pick your dates
On the subject of Christianity, a lot of people consider traveling on a Friday to be unlucky. We're not just talking about the 13th here, we're talking about any Friday. Supposedly this is down to the crucifixion of Jesus taking place on a Friday. Sunday, on the other hand, in considered a luck day to travel on.

Beware the Willow
Willow trees are truly beautiful, nothing could beat a riverside picnic under those gracefully drooping bows on a hot summer's day. But at night this folklore laden tree is far from welcoming. According to old Somerset lore it's best to avoid Willow trees whilst traveling at night, as they are prone to uprooting themselves so that they may stalk unwary travelers, creeping along behind them and muttering. What do they mutter? Find out if you dare.

And finally...
Who's a good boy?
If you come across a stray pooch whilst on your travels it's considered to be good luck, even more so if it follows you home (congratulations on your new dog) and especially if the dog is black. Which is nice, since black dogs tend to get the rough end of the stick when it comes to folklore. There is a but though, there always is. If the dog follows you home on a rainy night it is a sign of bad luck. Although this is presumably because your house is going to stink of wet dog and you just know your new friend is going to shake itself dry them moment it gets through the door.

So what do you think, what do you believe and do you have any favourite or unique travel superstitions of your own? Feel free to drop a message in the comments with your opinions, you know I'd love to hear them. Myself, I don't really follow any travel superstitions although I do find them endlessly fascinating. I have been known to use a spare bed to store my luggage, but that's more because it's practical than because of ghosts.
Keep your eyes peeled for more blog posts coming soon. As I said, I'm visiting the Lake District, a place rich with folklore and hauntings, and I just can't wait to share them with you.

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