Thursday, March 22, 2007

The 10 greatest treasures of our National Library

The 10 greatest treasures of our National Library

It holds many riches from our past - choosing favourites is no easy task. Trevor Fishlock takes a deep breath...

HERE'S the challenge. I'm at the National Library of Wales on the hill overlooking the sea at Aberystwyth. From its millions of books and manuscripts and remarkable objects and curiosities I've been asked to choose just 10.

It's a bit like Desert Island Discs, but more fun and much harder.

I admit I have a head start. The library celebrates its centenary this year and I've been here making television and radio programmes about its treasures for BBC Wales and gathering material for a book. It would be easier to pick my top 200 or 300 treasures, but 10 it has to be.

Of course, the library itself is a wonder, the living memory of the people, the dream that flowered into a reality. It sprang from the great 19th century welling of Welsh consciousness and aspiration from which emerged the unifying national institutions: university, library, museum and eisteddfod.

The library and museum have grown into the granaries of beloved treasures; and the library itself stands as the powerful witness of the Welsh experience, affirming six simple and determined words: Wales was, is and will be.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Ghost buster wanted at Bodelwyddan Castle - Daily Post North Wales

Ghost buster wanted at Bodelwyddan Castle - Daily Post North Wales

Ghost buster

WANTED: one ghost hunter, must be strong of spirit and prepared to work nights.

Those are the criteria for what must rank as one of the oddest job ads ever posted: a paranormal investigator at a North Wales castle.

A boom in visitors keen on the paranormal has led to staff seeking another hardy soul to join their ranks.

The spooky job may not be for everybody’s tastes, and anyone who would flee the room screaming is likely to fail their interview.

Paranormal events first started at Bodelwyddan Castle two years ago, and have attracted growing crowds.

Participants are given guided ghost walks between 9pm to 6am.

Events alongside the walks include meditation with crystals, scientific tests, vigils and divination sessions.

Laura Whitley, paranormal assistant at Bodelwyddan Castle, said: “The vigils last about 45 minutes in the dark, and you start by shouting ‘are there are any spirits in the room.’

“Sometimes you get really loud responses, like bangs. Then we go on to use methods like laser thermometers to test for any presence.

“At the last divination, we had some impressive results – members of the group brought spirits along with them, and they ended up coming through.”

The job advert calls for “an enthusiastic individual to join the Paranormal Investigation Team... no experience necessary, but an interest in the paranormal is essential, as is the willingness to work unsociable hours.”

Applicants would work on demand, with events taking place at least once a month during the winter.

Laura said: “We are looking for somebody confident – it is an unusual job and one that involves dealing a lot with the public.

“Bearing in mind we are leading groups of the public, you can’t really be the first person to run out of the door as soon as you hear a bump.

“You have got to be extremely level-headed. It’s difficult to say what they should expect, it all depends on whether any spirits want to come along and play.”

The successful applicant will be given full training on the historical aspect of the events, and the technology required to conduct tests.