New Slains Castle in Aberdeenshire

New Slains Castle

A few weeks ago we drove up to Peterhead so that Jack could attend a football match – which ended up being cancelled, so we decided to make the best of the situation and visited some interesting locations around the area. My friend Christine had mentioned that Slains Castle was nearby, but might be a bit too spooky, and I must admit that I had never even heard of it. There are in fact two Slains Castles – an old and a new one. We visited both of them but there’s very little left of the old one and a farmer seems to be using it as a bit of a dumping ground.

New Slains Castle had a lot of re-building done over the years and the photo below shows that it ended up being given a Scots Baronial makeover at one point.

Slains Castle

Dracula author Bram Stoker had visited the new castle as a guest in its heyday and apparently the location inspired him to use it as a model for Dracula’s Castle. Sadly since those days the castle has fallen completely to ruin. In 1925 the owner decided to remove the roof to avoid paying tax on the building and as the building is practically hanging over the North Sea it won’t have taken long for the weather to ravage it, but it is very atmospheric.

New Slains Castle
Unusually for Scotland there’s quite a lot of red brick in the building of dividing walls and such, I suspect these bits were re-done in the 19th century.

New Slains Castle
You can see where the beams and joists were originally.

New Slains Castle

New Slains Castle

When we were there it was quite busy with foreign tourists and local kids. Those youngsters are always heart-stopping for me as they are fearless, it seems that if there’s a cliff around then there’ll be kids dangling their legs over the edge of it. This time I was amazed to see some boys aged about 14 had climbed right down to the sea – and even more gobsmacked when they disappeared behind a rock and emerged wheeling their bikes – they had ridden down there it seems!

We did climb up some of the castle stairs for a better view and to imagine what all the rooms must have been like but it does feel quite dangerous up there as because the floors have all gone you can’t walk from one room to another as there’s always a big gap between them, if you aren’t careful it would be easy to fall down into a downstairs corridor, it’s as scary as looking down a ravine.

New Slains Castle

The stairs are distinctly dodgy!
New Slains Castle

They chose a good spot for the castle though – both defensively and just for a spectacular view.


There have been quite a few accidents and strange deaths here and there were floral memorials and woven wooden things that must have been to keep witches away – and of course – red thread.

Somebody fell down the ravine below not long ago – don’t go too close!

Slains Castle Sea inlet

You can see more images of Slains Castle here.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula cover

I’m really not into horror in fact I’ve avoided even the mock-horror Dracula/Frankenstein films but spurred on by other bloggers like Stefanie (So Many Books) and Jane GS (Reading, Writing, Working, Playing) I decided to give Dracula a go. And they were right, it is a good read, so much better than the only other book of Bram Stoker’s which I’ve read – The Seven Jewels.

I’m sure everybody knows the gist of the story, because even I did so I’m just going to comment on what led me to read the book which was Stefanie’s remark about it being full of weeping men, which it is, very weird. There isn’t a stiff upper lip between the lot of them, in fact I think the kindest thing that could be said of the men is that they are a bunch of wet willies!

I think it must have been designed by Bram Stoker as a bit of excitement for his lady readers, what with all that male bodily fluid being transferred to Lucy I suppose it was only fair that he should try to titillate his female readers with scenes that I’m sure none of them would have experienced before in Victorian Britain, such a lack of control! How exciting!

Anyway, first published in 1897 and it’s still entertaining us, can’t be bad.

When our boys were wee we rented a cottage in Whitby and because I knew very little about the book I had no idea that it featured in it. I had it in my mind that Dracula was set completely in Transylvania. I thought that all the tourists walking up the steps to Whitby Abbey were doing so just because it had been used as a film location. But Whitby is an interesting place to visit and spookily, while we were there we saw the most amazingly dramatic sunsets that we’ve ever seen.

Library Loot

I had a ‘phone call from the library yesterday to let me know that the Willa Cather book that I had requested was waiting for me, so I sauntered up there in the afternoon and of course I had to take out just a few books more. I ended up coming home with these:

An omnibus by Ian Rankin containing Let it Bleed, Black and Blue and The Hanging Garden. Judith, Reader in the Wilderness is planning to read Let it Bleed, and we’re intending to have a bit of a chat about it.

The Willa Cather book is Death Comes for the Archbishop – lots of people have recommended this one.

A Persephone book by Winifred Watson called Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. This will be my first Persephone read. According to the sticker on the book this is now a major film, but I haven’t seen it.

And because it’s coming up for Hallowe’en and lots of people have enjoyed it, particularly Stefanie, So Many Books and Jane GS, (Reading,Writing,Working,Playing), I decided to take out Dracula. I really hate the blood spattered cover but it’s about time that I got around to reading it and I’m hopeful that it’s going to be a lot better than The Seven Jewels by Stoker.

The Jewel of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker

It was a dark and stormy day with the rain battering on the windows and wind howling down the chimneys, so when the gas man finally managed to fix our NEW boiler, (he’s been trying since Thursday) I thought it was the perfect atmosphere for finishing off The Jewel of Seven Stars.

I’m afraid it didn’t help matters though. It says on the cover of this book: STOKER’S CLASSIC TALE OF TERROR, the inspiration for today’s Mummy movies!

At the beginning Abel Trelawny, a keen collector of Egyptian artefacts, appears to have been attacked in his own home and has fallen into a comatose state. It is thought that the many Egyptian mummies which are in his room have caused his illness.

On page 104 one of the characters who has been relating past experiences in Egypt at great length said, “I dare say you find this tedious;” which was exactly what I HAD been thinking!

It didn’t do anything for me at all. I’ve always avoided horror movies and for that reason I didn’t really know much about Frankenstein, so when I actually got around to reading the book earlier in the year I was pleasantly surprised that I really enjoyed it. I thought that I might be missing out on something and as quite a few people have been mentioning Dracula recently I thought I would start off with one of Stoker’s shorter books first. Now I’m not sure if I will bother with Dracula because although this book was only 188 pages long, it did seem to drag.

First published in 1903 this was apparently Stoker’s eighth book, which is a surprise to me because I didn’t think it was very well written and I had been thinking that he must have improved over the years, maybe not then. It was re-written in 1912 and I think it is that version which I read. I suppose it’s because it’s Gothic, but it’s stilted beyond belief, and I say that as someone who reads more Classic books than modern.

Even reading it with tongue firmly in cheek I couldn’t get any enjoyment from it, however I ploughed on regardless to the end. This was a book which I borrowed from the library and the previous borrower had left their bookmark in it less than half-way through, so I can’t be the only person who wasn’t enamoured with it.

I’ll see what others think of Dracula before embarking on it.

Library Loot

I got a phone call from my local library yesterday morning to let me know that the book which I had requested was waiting for me to collect it. As I didn’t have much planned for the day I thought I might as well go and pick it up. So I now have Thomas Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus to plough through.

Saturday afternoon turned out to be a good time to visit the library as there were quite a lot of good books on the shelves, my last visit had been a fruitless one.

So this is my haul:

Sartor Resartus by Thomas Carlyle
Oracle Night by Paul Auster
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
The Jewel of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker
Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks by John Curran. Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making

Well, I’m hopeful that it’s a good haul anyway. The only downside of this is that I won’t be making any more dents in my TBR pile at home. I had been doing so well too.