1. THE THYLACINE Being of a strong cryptozoological persuasion, I have to name the thylacine as my favourite cryptid. I have no idea why this rather small, dog-like marsupial fascinates me so – but it does. I have walked the forests of Tasmania several times, especially the extraordinary Southwest National Park, where you could easily hide a rampaging horde of woolly mammoths, let alone a few thylacines. But although my heart was thumping like a demented bass drum I did not see the critter – although I did meet a guy who claimed he had seen one.
2. THE VIADUCT INN GHOST I have always liked ghost-stories for their folkloric values, but I have never been very interested in trying to prove the existence of ghosts and running around with E-meters and such gadgets, but I must confess to a certain fondness for the ghost/poltergeist in the Viaduct Inn in London because I have actually photographed the bugger. During a guided ghostwalk in London in 1988, I took a picture of part of the cellars under the Inn – apparently they used to be prison cells in the old Newgate Prison. The place was empty – but the photograph was not!
3. AVEBURY A lot of Fortean phenomena is associated with standing stones, and coming from a country where there are standing stones a-plenty, I do have a certain fondness for big boulders standing in all sorts of strange places. But my absolute favourite is the tiny village of Avebury, not far from Stonehenge, where the stones seem to outnumber the population. I would love to know whatever possessed people of long ago to work so hard dragging stones all over the place.
4. THE ROUND TOWER This rather strange-looking tower in central Copenhagen was build by Danish king Christian IV many a long year ago. The official explanation was the need for an astronomical observatory, but in a rather elaborate and grand scale (although there is an observatory on top of the tower today). But the Fortean bits are much more fun. You can (or so it is said) find all kinds of astrological, astronomical, magical and kabbalistic symbols, and a few riddles and ghosts thrown in for good measure, in the structure of the tower and the adjacent church. And the view of Copenhagen from the top is sensational!
5. THE HUIA BIRD I don’t suppose a supposedly extinct bird rates high on the Fortean scale, but this weird thing, that used to live in New Zealand, and supposedly died out in the 1930s, has always been a favourite of mine. It was so very strange – the male and female had different shaped beaks. And that’s not something you see every day. But for me the most exciting thing is that I am convinced I saw a living huia bird during a visit to New Zealand in 1991. That’s not something you see everyday either!
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