Last night, I faced one of my biggest fears and attended not only The London Bridge Experience’s super scary Halloween event, Phobophobia…but on actual HALLOWEEN of all nights! Dear god did I feel brave (afterwards, that is. I was very, very scared in the run up to the event..!).

The London Bridge Experience is a really fun place to go anyway; it’s really scary (similar to London Dungeons but scarier, whereas London Dungeons is a bit more ‘fun’. TLBE is fun but just that bit more scarier) and I eventually went last summer just in general and really enjoyed myself. There was a lot of fun history to learn about, followed by the actual scare attraction.

Formidable Joy | Review | Phobophobia at The London Bridge Experience | Halloween | Phobophobia | The London Bridge Experience

I was a little apprehensive heading into London last night because a) it was Halloween so it was either going to be overly busy or overly scary and b) I actually thought it would be a good idea for a first date…!

When we arrived, it was busy and we were advised a maximum wait time of an hour but it took maybe half an hour at most. It wasn’t too bad because we had characters walking down the line to entertain us (one kept reminding us we were from Luton everytime he saw us and kept pointing us out to people, haha). Because it was busy and on Halloween, everyone was really in a great mood so it was actually quite nice waiting because it had such a good atmosphere.

I don’t want to spoil what goes on inside but it really is the right amount of jump scares and interaction. I could tell very quickly that it was aimed at adults with the languages and jokes used but in all honesty, at first I was kind of disappointed…as we went through maybe three scenes of a couple of minutes long before being ushered to run onto the next one..and then suddenly we found ourselves exiting the attraction.

I WAS SO CONFUSED. It felt like it was just a very short event spent running between ‘scenes’…however, I felt that something wasn’t right as when we were herded out I had spotted another tunnel…and it turns out (somehow) half of our group had followed the wrong person and left the attraction missing pretty much the entire thing, do’h! I’m very glad I checked because they let us back in again but I feel bad for the others in the group that were just like ‘oh is this it? Cool’ and left! So if you ever go, just be wary when you’re running through scenes and make sure you’re going the right way! It lasts a lot longer than five minutes so if you feel like your time has been cut short, it probably has and you should definitely talk to someone and not just accept it and go home, haha.

The second time around was much better (obviously because we got to do the entire thing). But I felt the atmosphere had improved a little this time, probably because the first group we went with was filled with really quiet people and overly drunk people. The second group was a nice mix of people who got scared easily (me) and people who screamed a lot (also me, but others too), which added to the whole atmosphere.

What I loved most – other than the great sets – were the parts where they intentionally tried to mess with you a little. With smoky rooms and flashing lights, I was constantly seeing things out the corner of my eye. At some points, I was convinced I’d seen a mannequin in a weird pose beside me and then in a blink of an eye ‘it’ was gone. I know this effect is used at a lot of scare attractions but usually, the actors just run around you and try to disorientate you. At The London Bridge Experience, they bided their time wisely. They posed to fool us, they crept up behind us…it worked really, really well and I was very impressed.

I really, really loved Phobophobia at The London Bridge Experience. In the run-up to the event, I was really nervous and the entire thing exceeded my expectations. I will definitely be looking to go again next year!

Have you ever visited The London Bridge Experience? Let me know!

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Last night I headed into London to check out an awesome restaurant event (blog post soon to follow) and to try my hands at one of Handmade Mysteries’ Escape Rooms. We chose to visit Poppa Plock’s Wonky Workshop at The Depot in Islington, although there’s also Lady Chastity’s Reserve in Battersea.

I’ve only ever been in one ‘sort of’ escape room (which was quite recently) and The Crystal Maze, so I definitely don’t have much experience, nor did I know what to expect. My friend and I arrived at The Depot (really lovely place – I thought it was a random place for an escape room but when I discovered there’s also a theatre nearby it made sense) and met the lovely Tanya (who I’ve known for years through the blogging circle!) and her plus one. We were met by Wynn, who ushered us through to outside the room once we discovered the final two guests weren’t able to make it.

Formidable Joy | Review | Escaping Poppa Plock's Wonky Workshop | Handmade Mysteries | Escape Room | Halloween

The lovely (and slightly eccentric) Wynne explained to us that she was a creation of toymaker Poppy Plock, who has mysteriously disappeared. Once inside the creepy toy workshop, we were given the task of putting resident dummy Roy back together – a lifesize creepy doll hanging on the wall with all his limbs missing. The general idea was to partake in puzzles to gain access to his limbs (to return them)…but of course, it wasn’t that simple.

As well as tough clues and puzzles to decipher, we were also taunted (and sometimes helped) by a ventriloquist dummy who teased us and made many funny innuendoes. For a group of slightly tipsy beginners, this amused us to no end.

Without wanting to give away any spoilers, the entire time spent in the room was so much fun. At times (okay, most times) it was very challenging and I definitely felt an adrenaline rush as I rushed around the room trying this and that. It didn’t take us too long to understand what exactly we had to do for our end result, but decrypting the clues to get there was a whole other bag of fish.

Luckily the room was filled with things to try; toyboxes to open, games to play and things to pull, twist and push. There was never a boring moment and Wynne was absolutely fab, whether it was giving us one of the three clues we were allowed or just popping her head in to drop a dirty joke and check on us.

Because it was for Halloween, there were a few scares too of course, but nothing too bad. I just jumped very easily when the ventriloquist dummy suddenly burst into life/sound.

The hour seemed to stretch while we were in there, but as it got closer to our allocated end time, hearts were definitely beating fast with the tension rising. As it goes, Team Area 51 (terrible name, I know, but the table we sat at before we went in was 15 and it’s the first thing that sprung to mind!) beat the Escape Room with a mere 37 SECONDS TO SPARE. Talk about cutting it fine.

The last few minutes were an absolute adrenaline rush, we knew how we were going to get out but of course, there were some more twists! But we were on a roll and well into what we were doing by this point so luckily we managed to escape.

Formidable Joy | Review | Escaping Poppa Plock's Wonky Workshop | Handmade Mysteries | Escape Room | Halloween[Source]

Handmade Mysteries’ Poppa Plock’s Wonky Workshop escape room was SO MUCH FUN and considering it was one of my first ever proper escape rooms, it was a lot more immersive and exciting than I expected. I thought maybe we’d be in one small room and have to do a few tough tasks to escape..but it was so much more than that. With so many escape rooms popping up now, it makes me wonder how companies manage to make them all different and unique.

It was obvious to me that Handmade Mysteries had really put so much thought into these puzzles. They were challenging, yes, but not impossible. It helped to have a real mix of people in the group, for example, I got overly into it and spent most of the time screaming for the team to find something or cheering loudly, whereas Tanya was really thoughtful and managed to crack the tougher puzzles. Becky really paid attention to all the little things, finding things we needed and discovering new clues, and Tanya’s plus one wasted absolutely no time in working out what clue was where. We came together to make a really strong team!

Two other things I particularly enjoyed about Poppa Plock’s Wonky Workshop was a) we were able to take our drinks in with us (haha) and b) we were given a scorecard at the end which had scored us on a manner of random things like how many times we screamed, drunk irresponsibly (lol) and tidying up after ourselves.

I just wish I’d thought to ask if I could take my phone in so I could have had a selfie with creepy Roy! But at the same time, I wouldn’t have wanted to take photos and give anything away…

Overall I had so much fun. Poppa Plock’s Wonky Workshop really exceeded my expectations and I think the creep factor this escape room absolutely perfect for groups of friends or dates this Halloween!

I’ll have to try Handmade Mysteries other escape room, Lady Chastity’s Reserve next! I’d also like to point out that although I thought the location was surprising for an escape room (then again what is the perfect location for an escape room?) the lovely pub we met in (with beautiful fairy lights outside and a relaxing atmosphere) was a great after (or before) location. Unfortunately, I had to rush off home, but I wish I’d been able to stay for a few celebratory drinks or even had food and drinks beforehand. It was just the right type of place to spend an entire evening with your friends; having a couple of drinks and then doing something really quirky and different.

If you’re looking for something hands-on, amusing and not too scary this Halloween, I’d without a doubt recommend Handmade Mysteries’ Poppa Plock’s Wonky Workshop – although I’d happily visit any time of year.

Would you try and escape the wrath of creepy dummies at Poppa Plock’s Wonkey Workshop? Let me know!

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Going out for Halloween isn’t for everyone. Despite the fact that I’m doing a few cool events/reviews, I’m not actually going to any parties this year – and who wants to, when Halloween falls on a school night? That being said, my second favourite thing to do on Halloween is to order a takeaway and just watch all the scary films.

It’s the only time I feel brave enough to watch them alone. Luckily, Netflix is the way to go this October as there is SO MUCH scary content on there right now.

Is anyone else absolutely loving the fact that Netflix has added their own ‘Netflix and Chills’ section?! Here’s what you should be watching all throughout this month and especially on Halloween…

Formidable Joy | Halloween | 5 shows to watch on Netflix this Halloween | Halloween | Netflix | Entertainment | Netflix and Chill | The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina | The Haunting of Hill House | Derren Brown: Sacrifice | Haunted | Riverdale

THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE
Quite a few people have been recommending this (I’ve got at least five people I know hooked) so you know it’s good. Episodes are long however – and you need to pay attention – so this is the type of show that needs to be started now in the run-up to Halloween. It sounds like your typical haunted house story but it’s not. It follows the Crain family as they move into a huge mansion in the hopes of ‘doing it up’ (as I would say) and selling it on. Of course, slowly but surely odd things seem to happen but what is interesting about this show is that it follows a non-linear timeline as we check in with the family both before their escape from the house and the way it haunts them all afterwards. It’s set in these two timelines – for the most part – and will keep you gripped as you try to understand what happened. The drama of the show also makes you feel and sympathise with the characters and there’s plenty of twists and turns too. The scares are spot on – from the few and far between jump scares that get you just when the tension is built enough, to the plethora of weird ghosts that will disturb you to no end. The floating man freaked the f*ck outta me. Be warned though: you’ll be tempted to binge-watch this in one entire evening.

RIVERDALE, SEASON THREE
Yes, it’s kinda corny (did you see my tweets about the first episode of the new series?! I mean c’mon, someone tried to get Archie to shank someone in prison…with a SPOON) but the new series is seemingly focused around cults and weird going-on’s. It won’t exactly get your heart pounding (except for Archie topless and the return of Jughead of course *deep sigh*), but if you like your scares a little more subtle and adventurous, this is the perfect show to watch week by week. Plus there are rumours that’ll be crossing over with The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, since it’s set in the same universe and all…

THE CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA 
One to look forward to – just three more days! – The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a seriously spooky reboot/take on the original show we used to watch as teenagers. And I mean spooky. The trailer alone features what looks like blood rituals, creepy visions, demons,  levitation and of course lots of magic. I honestly thought this would be kind of lightly spooky but it seems a lot darker than I originally imagined, so I for one can’t wait for it to drop on Friday. Plus, when doing my research, I noticed that one of the characters is pansexual. Kudos for getting with the times Netflix!

HAUNTED
If you like your scares a little more…real then Haunted is the show for you. This new show is part documentary part supernatural drama and focuses on real people sitting down to talk about their real encounters with the supernatural. Their events are then re-created – kind of different, no? This six-part series consists of short 20-minute episodes too, so it’s perfect to dip in and out of…if you get too scared.

DERREN BROWN: SACRIFICE
The legend is back! I still remember sitting down one October and watching the series where he hypnotized a man into believing the zombie apocalypse had begun..this time around though, Derren Brown will aim to change a man’s prejudiced views, to the extent that the man will have to decide between taking a bullet for a complete stranger or saving his own life. Maybe not horror, but anything from Derren Brown will certainly mess with your mind.

And, whilst writing this post, I realized every single thing I’ve written here is a series and I haven’t mentioned any movies..so that’ll be another blog post coming up soon.

What show are you going to be watching in the run-up to Halloween? Let me know!

 

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I know I praise London a hell of a lot – especially for Halloween-related events – but London isn’t local for everyone. Luckily, there are plenty of cities other than London you can visit to still get your spook on, even if you aren’t close to the capital.

Here are five must-visit cities (around Europe) worth visiting this Halloween…

Formidable Joy | 5 must visit cities to visit for Halloween | Halloween | Travel | Bran, Romania | Berlin, Germany | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Edinburgh, Scotland

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND
Edinburgh is a town that’s rich with history and, paired with its old grey buildings and narrow winding pebble stoned streets, it’s the perfect setting for a horror story. For something a bit different (but traditional), there’s folklore, fire, music and street theatre performances at the Samhuinn Fire Festival (aka the pagan celebration of the end of the harvest season and arrival of winter), or for fun spooks, there’s the Edinburgh Dungeons. Too touristy? Try a visit to The Real Mary King’s Close, a warren of underground streets and spaces: creepy enough without the added scares! Elsewhere, Mercat Tours offer scary walking tours of haunted streets and graveyards, and for something totally authentic: Edinburgh Castle. There are no Halloween specific events running but don’t the best scares occur when you don’t go looking for them..?

BERLIN, GERMANY
Berlin is a place filled with culture and, come nighttime, many clubs with a fetish edge. But if you head just outside of the city, you’ll find Filmpark Babelsberg, an immersive theme park-come-giant film set. At Halloween, it transforms into their annual Horrornaechte celebration which sees the entire park transformed into another reality with Halloween horror, props, actors and performances. In the actual city of Berlin, however, trick-or-treating is still as popular as ever, and head to the clubs for the best Halloween parties in all of Europe.

BRAN, ROMANIA
Why not go straight to the source this Halloween and visit the Dracula’s Castle? Untravelled Paths offer The Dracula Experience – a four-day tour across Romania which includes a visit to Bran Castle. Day one begins with Romania’s lively capital Bucharest, which is filled with bars, cafes and shops, before a transfer to Transylvania the following day. On this day, you’ll visit the tomb where Dracula was buried before visiting his infamous castle (but if you prefer your scares jumpy, make sure you make time for a small but hilarious horror house a stone’s throw away from the castle). Then it’s over to the beautiful medieval town of Brasov for traditional sightseeing and charming bars. The following day includes visits to Rasnov Fortress and a stay in medieval Sighisoara (the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler). The last full day features a transfer to Balea Lake for lunch (travelling via Transfagarasan!) before a visit to Poenari Castle, the supposed ‘real’ Dracula’s Castle. A final night in Bucharest before your flight home the following day. As someone who has travelled around Romania, I can safely say this tour includes some of the most beautiful places in the region of Transylvania. I’d recommend reading Rhian’s account of the tour. Alternatively, G Adventures offer a shorter tour which includes a party at Bran Castle, if that’s more your thing.

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
Often dubbed as the Gothic capital of Europe, you’ll be spoilt for choice with this city’s castles, medieval lanes and stunning architecture. Halloween celebrations may not be big there, but there are so many creepy attractions to be found in the city such as the Torture Museum, the Old Jewish Cemetery (not necessarily an ‘attraction’ but you get my point), and the Sedlec Ossuary. The city has a history of vampire lore too. Prague is where to be for the best creepy Insta photos by far.

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY
You wouldn’t expect it, but Budapest is fast becoming one of the best places to celebrate all Hallows Eve. It’s extremely cultural with various lantern festivals and tons of Halloween parties in trendy bars and pubs. There’s also Holnemvolt Castle (and zoo!), an interactive underground horror tour AND a pumpkin festival…to name just a few things going on. Plus, Budapest is just a super pretty place to visit anyway.

If you’re looking to travel somewhere this Halloween (or the next!), this list has you covered. Of course, each city around Europe has its own celebrations and traditions so I’ve just picked some of the most fun sounding ones, but we’re really spoilt for choice around Europe.

Have you ever travelled outside of the UK to celebrate Halloween before? Let me know!

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My knowledge of podcasts is expanding! I now know how to download and listen to full episodes on Spotify on the phone I use simply for music in my car (as opposed to constantly running out of signal using the actual podcast app), I know where to look for decent podcasts…and subsequently I’ve finally expanded my podcast interest to shows other than My Dad Wrote A Porno.

My current favourites (and not just for Halloween) are of course anything scary/spooky. You simply can’t go wrong with a podcast that creeps you out a little, especially driving home during these long winter nights…here are my favourites.

Formidable Joy | Halloween | Podcasts | 5 seriously spooky podcasts to listen to this October | My Favourite Murder | The Last Podcast on the Left | The No Sleep Podcast | Alice Isn't Dead | And That's Why We Drink

MY FAVOURITE MURDER
Upon my first listen of this podcast – by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark – I was an addict and ended up listening to five epsiodes in a row. The show is really easily listening. Both Karen and Georgia are really easy to listen to in a relaxed and chatty manner and I love how they love grusome murder and have absolutely no apologies for it. Their first ever episode covered the case of Jon Benet Ramsey – a personal favourite of mine – but I still learned more about the case!

THE LAST PODCAST ON THE LEFT
This is probably my least favourite on this list but I had to include it as it is a classic. It did take me a while to get into it though as at first all it seemed like to me was a podcast filled with inside jokes, rude comments and rowdy men ha! However, I stuck with it and now I like it a lot more than I used to. Plus, I like that it features Creepypasta’s too – so the creepy episodes are really varied. My only issue is that I cannot play any episodes earlier than Episode 34 on both Spotify and the podcast app so I’ll have to find another way to catch up!

THE NO SLEEP PODCAST
A different type of podcast here – a horror podcast but that features original horror stories. Even though they’re not real, each episode is still creepy enough to send shivers down your spine – and it’s even won awards. If you prefer your scares a little more fictional this Halloween, this podcast is for you.

ALICE ISN’T DEAD
From the same team behind Welcome to Night Vale, Alice Isn’t Dead is a multiple episode horror fiction story about a trucker who travels across America for her wife – Alice – she had assumed was dead. I’m only one episode in so far but it’s gripping – I’ve had to really hold back from bingelistening to tons of episodes in one sitting. It’s perfect for fans of Serial too.

AND THAT’S WHY WE DRINK
Another podcast launched by successful women, which I love of course! And That’s Why We Drink is similar to My Favourite Murder but focuses on more than just murders – including all sorts of paranormal subjects. It’s also easy listening and very capitvating, and I love how Christine and Em really do their research. For example, I’d read a lot about the Winchester Mystery House but their first episode revealed so much more about the subject that I had no idea about. They really know their stuff.

Are you a fan of any of the above podcasts? Can you recommend any others to me? Let me know!

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