Day of the Dead

Red Bull MiniDay 3 of Edinburgh – after one of the worst night’s sleep in a while, we woke to find the Red Bull Mini parked below our window like a love-struck Romeo ready to serenade us and awaken us with the amber nectar that is Red Bull. Now we’re the least romantic people you’ll meet but damn it we fell for his efforts. While Neen and Elaine headed for the cafe on Blair Street for breakfast, we spent our time wisely – harassing the Red Bull Mini. Someone even thought we were the reps. We had to explain that no, we just really loved Red Bull. Is it weird admitting to strangers you’ve written songs about an energy drink?Red Bull Mini

We met up with our fellow travellers in the cafe and headed for the Dungeons. As we reached the doors, Elaine realised she’d left her ticket in Travelodge. We told the Dungeons we would return and we parted ways. Neen and Elaine headed to Princes Street to do some shopping and we returned to Old Town. First stop – Red Bull. Mission accomplished, we toured the closes of Old Town, filming short information pieces on them as they’re the locations used in our plague doctor novella, The Malignant Dead. One of them happens to be on the street where our Travelodge is. It’s the scene of a double murder. When we discovered our Travelodge was on this street, we were so excited. It’s not often you get to stay in a place where you kill two characters. Maybe their vengeful ghosts were the reason we weren’t sleeping…We’ll put the filming together so when the book is released, people will be able to see the streets featured in it. Obviously they looked a little different in 1645 – there weren’t wheelie bins and scaffolding back then. Though we spent most of our time nearly getting run down by cars or vans. When we’re casually wandering Edinburgh this doesn’t happen, but if we stand in the road with a camera pointing at us, suddenly we become targets. There were 2 people playing Scottish music near the Mercat cross. It’s hard to film a piece whilst trying to resist doing a jaunty jig in the middle of High Street.

Burke's skin card case

card case made from Burke’s skin

We headed for the Witchery Shop where we bought a replica of the newspaper featuring Burke and Hare’s trial, a skull box and 3 keyrings – tombstone, coffin and ghost. Then we found what we had been searching for – the card case made from Burke’s hand skin. Finally we had caught up with the infamous body snatcher. We stared at it in awe, filming and photographing it as the shop worker sat behind it, probably a little nervous at our ghoulish delight. Unfortunately the case was in a glass case so we couldn’t touch it 😦 But we did chat to the worker about it and our failed attempt at finding Burke’s skeleton. He told us it isn’t in the Surgeon’s Hall like we’d been told but in the anatomy museum of the university. It’s still used as a teaching tool. The anatomy museum is only open to the public on the last Saturday of the month. When we weren’t there. Howls of rage echoed around the tiny shop. Infuriatingly, we’d originally planned to be in Edinburgh on that day but couldn’t get cheap rooms or the flight times we wanted. It seems Burke is outwitting us from the beyond the grave. There’s only one thing for it – we have to return to Edinburgh. And this time, we will plan our trip around the times when we can view the skeleton. People have planned trips around worse reasons.

execution site on Grassmarket

execution site on Grassmarket

Later we headed to Grassmarket to meet up with our fellow travellers. We found them trapped on the bus so waved and turned around, constantly taunting them as they were stuck in traffic 😀 We met up by the old execution site then ventured into Edinburgh’s oldest pub, The White Hart Inn, built in 1516. In The Malignant Dead, McCrae drinks in here. We filmed the corner where he sits. The guy who happened to be sitting in the corner started looking very paranoid as both us and the camera pointed at him. He was too far away to hear us talking about the book. We decided not to explain what we were doing, instead letting him wonder why he was the focal point for our filming 😀 A day isn’t complete until we’ve made at least one person nervous.

White Hart Inn

White Hart Inn with nervous man in white t-shirt

After finishing our vodkas and lemonades, we decided to head to a vegan cafe we’d heard about on Bread Street. It had closed down. So we wandered down Morriston Street to find the other vegan cafe we’d heard about. It was now boiling and Morriston Street was very long. We must’ve walked about half a mile when we finally found a sign for the cafe. It didn’t look very existent. In fact, it was starting to look like crack den. But the door to the building was open so we went in. As we were walking up the abandoned stairs, this was feeling more like the start to a horror film than a cafe. Did we do the sensible thing and turn around? No. Stories never start with “so we turned around and went home.” That would ruin the inbred cannibals’ fun. We reached the top to find doors locked and post piling up outside. Definitely closed then. And we’d walked all this way. Our zumba teacher commented on our FB post about this, saying how she loves our unique take on the world – we’ll walk for miles in the heat to find a vegan cafe but get really excited at seeing something made from human skin 😀 We found a really nice empty pub called The Priory. They had skull bottles on the wall. That was an automatic win for us. The waiter was really friendly, even if he did look like Austin Powers’s son.

The Priory Pub Edinburgh

skull bottles in The Priory Pub

We returned to Travelodge before heading back out to Frankenstein’s! Our favourite waitress, Bec, introduced us to the gloriousness that is chips in  ice cream. She is the first person we’ve met who wasn’t disgusted when we told her about the heavenly treat that is dipping chips in slush puppy. Then we made our way to the Dungeons. Edinburgh DungeonsThey were brilliant as always. Neen once again got put on trial for witchcraft. Not quite sure how this keeps happening. Maybe us constantly pointing at her and shouting “witch!” doesn’t really help. Luckily we’re in the 21 century and not 1649, or Neen’s fate would be so much worse. The only guy in the group got picked on for most of it 😀 There were 2 girls in their early twenties who were the obligatory screamers you get on every tour. We always have fun with screamers. You can spot them instantly – they’re usually 2 girls in the late teens/early twenties who spend the whole time clinging to each other, too scared to move on, and they shriek at the slightest thing. The girls got made to ride in the front of the boat as we headed to Sawney Bean’s cannibal caves. We love the boat ride, it’s pitch black and really creepy as you hear the cannibals hunting for you. The girls’ terror was intensified when they kept getting tickled. By Neen 😀 We bought ourselves a cuddly executioner from the gift shop. We named him Ketch, after the worst executioner in British history, Jack Ketch, who took 7 goes to sever James Scott’s head.

Ketch enjoying a Red Bull smoothie

Ketch enjoying a Red Bull smoothie

Edinburgh ghost bus

The Necrobus

9 p.m., it was time to climb aboard the Necrobus! The buses were used as funeral hearses to carry mourners, pallbearers and the coffin to the funeral, until a fire burned all but 2 buses. One is in London, the other in Edinburgh. They used to close the curtains if the coffin was on overnight as people believed spirits could become trapped in reflective surfaces. The bus was incredible. We want one. The tour was brilliant and a thick fog descended, making it eerily atmospheric. The views of Edinburgh were completely shrouded in the fog but we think it made the experience better. The conductor was hilarious. He even let us go downstairs for Neen to take our photo as we pretended to be the spirits trapped inside the windows. We wanted to spend the night on the bus but unfortunately, people seem to notice when we’re not among the group so we never get away with hiding until closing time.Edinburgh ghost bus

Then we finally made it to Banshee’s Labyrinth! Reputedly the most haunted pub in Edinburgh but what excited us was it used to be Bloody George MacKenzie’s house. Yes, the MacKenzie poltergeist we hunted for last year. It used to attack women in the house. And it’s now a pub and situated over one of the vaults where a banshee has been seen. It was stunning.

Banshee's Labyrinth

inside Banshee’s Labyrinth

Purple walls upstairs, red walls downstairs, black gothic furniture. It looked like our house. We found a gibbet in a tunnel so naturally put ourselves inside it. Unfortunately, the only spirit was inside our lemonade.Edinburgh ghost bus