Slains Castle

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I will tell you, this season I had the opportunity to visit some pretty amazing and creepy places around the world. Of all the spooky spots I will say this one takes the cake. Said to be the spot that inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula, Slains Castle is now a ruin south of Aberdeen, Scotland. There are no gates or tolls or a even a sign saying “Slains Castle this way”. Nope, just word of mouth is how I found this one.

I was playing golf at the impossible Cruden Bay golf course losing more balls than my dogs when I noticed a castle way off in the distance from the 9th hole. My caddie informed me that was the infamous Slains Castle and was one of the creepiest place in Scotland so be sure to never visit. He obviously didn’t know who he was talking to and for the rest of the game I hammered him with questions. When he said it was the castle that inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula, I damn near threw my golf clubs into the sea and ran directly there.

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The next day I set out to visit Slains Castle before, what I thought to be, a mass tourist exodus. Before I get to that, can I tell you how amazed I was that for the entire trip and over 300 miles driving, I drove a manual transmission on the opposite side without incident? That was a shocker.

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The castle was not as easy to find as I had imagined. Like I said earlier, there were no signs or huge billboards like we have in the states. The ruins I saw were way off in the distance so to find the way there was pretty much a guessing game using a sense of direction. When I found a small dirt road, it didn’t feel like the way to a famous castle but like everything else on these trips, the real thing is always more impressive than your expectation little to no fanfare.

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Slains Castle is, in fact, not a tourist attraction. Actually, I don’t even think I was allowed to be there but there was absolutely no one around for miles and miles which made this visit all the more creepy. Oddly enough, later that evening I was reading up on the history of Slains Castle and there were a lot of people who die visiting there! No kidding, a woman was found dead there not long before my visit and in the recent years past people have fallen off the sea cliffs and all sorts of bizarre deaths. Kinda glad I read that after my trip.

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To be there was surreal and absolutely unnerving. It wasn’t like visiting a burnt out old building with urban legends from kids in the neighborhood. No, this was a ruin from the 14th Century that even in it’s prime was creepy enough to inspire the story of Dracula. The sounds of the North Sea crashing against the cliffs were almost completely silenced when inside the open stucture. To add to the lore, a murder of crows flew in and out of holes in the walls and some just perched staring down at you. It was as if hundreds of eyes were on you and not just the crows.

You’ll notice at the beginning of video I enter and quickly turn around. I was a little overwhelmed for some reason. Maybe it was the fact I was walking into a castle for the first time or maybe I heard something, I can’t truly recall. I do remember being shaken right away and you can clearly see that when I did a 180.

I spent roughly an hour walking through the ruins without sign of a single human. No car sounds in the distance. Not even a boat to be seen out at sea. It was such a sensory overload I had to walk out just to collect my thoughts. When navigating the halls it kinda felt like R2D2 as he(?) was stalked by Jawas. It all felt just a little too much.

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Leaving these kind of places is always weird like backing out of the driveway of the Amityville house. It is empty, you know that and I know that but deep down it feels like it isn’t. You get this sense that something is watching you leave and that dreaded sense or foreboding loneliness setting back in. Maybe I am being overly sensitive, I don’t know, but it is a real feeling that even now as I write this in bed, I get goosebumps and the hairs stand on end.

Watch my visit to Slains Castle! Sorry not sorry about the bagpipes.

 

Target’s Ghoulish Potions

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If you have been reading VeggieMacabre for any length of time then you know I am a beer guy and really not much of a mixed drink fan. Sure, around Thanksgiving and Christmas I appreciate a glass of eggnog or apple brandy with a cinnamon stick but usually, it’s all about the beer. I guess it’s similar to cat person versus dog person, if the cat person didn’t completely hate dogs.

Where am I going with this? Oh yeah!

I prefer beer over liquor but if it is named “Ghoulish Potions”, I like liquor. This article might not clear the trees on take off but I am about to drink five martinis so it will absolutely land like a rock. Crash positions and brace for impact.

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We are going to start off with Strawberry. As you see above I don’t have a proper shaker so I will have to make do with this terrible and embarrassing martini set I put together from my glass cabinet. Don’t worry, vodka mixed with sugar-water shouldn’t really be any different no matter how it’s mixed.

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So, I am starting out with strawberry. I know, I have already said that. A shot of Absolute vodka, the whole mini bottle of the strawberry martini mix, a few quick shakes in cheap plastic tumblers, and I have a drink Dracula approves of. Or perhaps not. I tasted this little drink of terrible and I can completely see how someone could have a real bad night drinking a few of these.  Imagine dissecting forty Gusher fruit snacks, extracting the goo and adding vodka. I can promise you no amount of Tums will neutralize this.

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Blueberry! I actually didn’t mind this as much. Kinda of weird, but this mix has twice the carbs and sugar of the rest of the potions so already it had something a little different to separate it from the pack. Besides acknowledging that it’s horrible for you, I am in love with the color. All blue drinks get an automatic passing grade with me anyway, but the taste wasn’t at all offensive. And that surprised me because I have always stated blueberries to be the “just okay” berry.

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Pomegranate martini mix was an odd beast. I wanted to like it but the pervasive plastic after taste kept me questioning whether this was a fruit cocktail or a melted down M.U.S.C.L.E. man cocktail. The color isn’t as neon as the strawberry or raspberry but it is just as offensive to the palate. If you have never had pomegranate, don’t let this be your first experience because that would be like finding a person who has never had a banana and feeding them a yellow pillowcase. (Damn, these drinks are kicking in, can you tell?)

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Green apple! I remember when green apple martinis were all the rage because young people (thinking specifically of my old dates) didn’t know a good drink if landed on their face and started to wiggle. I am being snobby, aren’t I? Sorry, it’s just not my bag and if I wanted a drink that was half Blow-Pop, I wouldn’t run to sour apple.

This mix is not much different but in a shocking twist, it is one of the lesser offenses in the pack. I was expecting a green spew of sour mix but instead its milder than most apple martinis I have had. I am not saying it’s good but I didn’t have to stick my finger down my throat and jam an insulin needle in my neck after the first sip.

I was going to review Raspberry but the silent “P” angers me so I will leave you with this: it sucked. It’s red, distant aftertaste of raspberry and so sweet I actually had visions. Of what, something something Hellraiser something Event Horizon.

Well, that is my harsh review of the “Ghoulish Potions” which are exclusively at Target. I know I was a Negative Nancy about them but I rarely drink anything but beer so it’s kind of wasted on this guy. I will say, you could probably make a delightful drink with these if you ignore the instructions that calls for the entire bottle to one ounce shot of vodka. Maybe mix half a bottle to an ounce and a half with tonic to cut the sweetness? I could be down for that.

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I did have a little scientific method to this taste test. You will notice the horrible handwriting I have been practicing since over half of my career is hanging around physicians. You can still read mine so there are improvements to be done.

After this test and many awful drinks I found myself rapidly passing through the stages of drunkenness with my office buddy. I have to hand it to him, he has more patience than I would have.

Thanks for putting me to bed with a trashcan close by, buddy.

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EDIT!!! The package clearly states that Cranberry was suppose to be in the pack but they secretly replaced it with Strawberry. You sneaky cheeky dicks.