strange_complex: (Dracula Scars wine)
I got back on Monday night from a long weekend in Whitby spent in the company of around 40 Dracula Society members: including [personal profile] lady_lugosi1313 whom I have now dragooned into joining! I went there with a smaller group of them two years ago, and managed a decent write-up of it afterwards too (LJ / DW), but this was a more formal gathering designed to mark the fortieth anniversary of the Society's first official visit there in 1977.

[personal profile] lady_lugosi1313 and I got there shortly before lunch on the Friday, but the official business didn't begin until that evening, so we spent the afternoon enjoying Gothic seaside fun in the sunshine. We pottered around the shops buying various treasures, and then headed down to the harbour front where she introduced me to Goth Blood milkshakes - basically ordinary milkshakes with bucket-loads of food colouring in them which turn your tongue blood-red after a single sip:

2017-09-08 16.42.27.jpg

I also went through the Dracula Experience: a once-in-a-lifetime audio-visual presentation of the Dracula story. I say 'once-in-a-lifetime' because it is so rubbish that it is hard to imagine anyone voluntarily going twice (for all the reasons aptly articulated in these TripAdvisor reviews). They have a cloak at the beginning of the exhibition which they claim is one of Christopher Lee's Dracula capes, but I'm afraid it clearly isn't: it has a strong diagonal ridged texture which none of Lee's capes in any of the Hammer Dracula films ever did. Still, though, the whole thing only cost three quid, and I did chuckle most of the way through at how inept it was, so I guess it wasn't the worst thing I've ever spent money on. Afterwards, we spent one whole pound each on the tuppenny falls, where [personal profile] lady_lugosi1313, who is an experienced competitive player, completely wiped the floor with me, winning more than double the amount of tuppences I had managed to score every time we compared our takings.

The evening began with the traditional gathering around the bench which the Society donated in 1980 (I suppose we'll celebrate the 40th anniversary of that in three years too!), where [personal profile] lady_lugosi1313 encountered most of the Society's members for the first time, and was also introduced to tuica: Romanian plum brandy, and of course our preferred toast. The rest of the evening was informal, but Julia (the Society's very energetic chair) had laid on a wonderful programme of events for us at the Royal Hotel the following day.

We began with a screening of 27. Holy Terrors (2017), dir. Julian Butler and Mark Goodall )

We also had two talks given by members of the Society: Gail-Nina Anderson on werewolves and Barry McCann on Jekyll and Hyde. Both traced the evolution of their creatures and their stories through time, looking at how and why they have been treated differently in different circumstances, and what aspects of the human experience they have been used to explore. And although this wasn't particularly planned, both actually informed the other very neatly, and indeed made me realise something I had never really noticed before: that Jekyll and Hyde is essentially a werewolf story. As Gail had already shown us, werewolf stories have never actually been that prescriptive about the matter of how a person becomes a werewolf: many just take it for granted that they exist, and those which do try to explain how it happens offer a much wider range of possibilities than the now common idea of being bitten by an existing werewolf. Nor is the moon particularly consistently required to prompt transformations. So a story about a man who brings out his inner beast voluntarily through a potion of his own making fits right into the canon.

After lunch (roast pork baps from the Greedy Pig GET IN MY FACE!), it was time for a quiz. Given that this consisted of a ten-point round on Stoker's Dracula (which I have read multiple times and am reading right now), a ten-point round on Whitby (where I was sat while taking the quiz), and a twenty-point round on film adaptations of Dracula (which are basically the heart of [personal profile] lady_lugosi1313's and my co-conspiratorial film watching), you would have thought I might manage to do quite well on this, but no! Somehow Julia managed to make it really hard. The winner, Kate, scored a fairly modest 26.5 points out of 40, while I scraped along with 14.5 and [personal profile] lady_lugosi1313 bagged a mere 11.5. It's almost like we've been wasting our lives!

Oh well, at least we had plenty of opportunity to buy up books and DVDs which might help us to do better next time in the society auction - not to mention all sorts of other goodies, from the utterly tat-tastic to the actually very tasteful. This was my personal haul, including a notebook in the shape of Christopher Lee as Dracula )

That evening was the Society's formal dinner, so I grabbed the rare opportunity to dress up in full Gothic finery with both hands. We had allowed plenty of time to walk down from our guest-house and ended up arriving ridiculously early, so, as it was still light and I don't look like this very often, [personal profile] lady_lugosi1313 indulged me with a little photo-shoot.

Vanity, vanity, all is vanity )

Much wine was drunk, merriment had and patrons on a ghost walk of Whitby outside the window trolled by means of a green Frankenstein torch shone at them through a white napkin (though irritatingly they didn't seem to notice). None of this, though, stopped a hardy band of us from getting up the next morning bright and early to do the six-and-a-half-mile cliff walk from Whitby to Robin Hood's Bay. This of course was all in honour of Mina and Lucy, who do just this walk in Stoker's novel straight after the funeral of the Demeter's captain: a plan concocted by Mina with a view to tiring Lucy out and stopping her from fretting about the funeral and sleep-walking that night. She records her plan in an entry on the morning of 10 August thus:
She will be dreaming of this tonight, I am sure. The whole agglomeration of things, the ship steered into port by a dead man, his attitude, tied to the wheel with a crucifix and beads, the touching funeral, the dog, now furious and now in terror, will all afford material for her dreams. I think it will be best for her to go to bed tired out physically, so I shall take her for a long walk by the cliffs to Robin Hood's Bay and back. She ought not to have much inclination for sleep-walking then.
And you can read her post-factum report of the walk itself that evening here.

We grabbed a couple of group pictures before we set off, which I hope Michael won't mind too much that I have stolen from his FB page:

Cliff walk party selfie Michael Borio.jpg

Cliff walk photo Dutch angle Michael Borio.jpg


Then off we went, past many picturesque delights )

The conversation as we walked unfolded much as you would expect in the circumstances. I can't remember exactly who said what now, but the gist of it all went more or less like this:

"Presumably Mina and Lucy can't actually have walked to Robins Hood's Bay. They must have taken a horse and cart or something."
"Oh no, it says quite clearly in the novel that they walked."
"Yes, that's right - they're obviously going across the fields because some cows come up and give them a fright."
"Can you imagine doing this in heels and a corset, though?"
"Well, Victorian women did have sensible walking boots and country clothing."
"Yes, absolutely - the Victorians were very much into their physical exercise and fresh air."
"They would still definitely have been wearing corsets, though."
"Oh yes. Mind you, the whalebone corsets had quite a lot of give in them. You would only wear the steel ones in the evening."
"Well, my respect for Mina and Lucy is increasing with every step."
"You've got to wonder if Bram ever actually thought about the implications of doing all this in a corset, though."
"Hmm, yes - good point. Well, unless he dressed up in the full regalia himself and did the whole walk that way. You know, just to really get into the heads of his characters."
"Well, given that he was 6'4", that would have been quite a sight!"

In the end, we were not as hardcore as Mina and Lucy ourselves, though. They walked both ways, and had to suffer an unwanted visit from a curate in the evening. We got the bus back, before enjoying another final dinner together ahead of our general dispersal on the Monday morning. Not that [personal profile] lady_lugosi1313 and I were in a rush to get home that morning, though - not least because she didn't have any house-keys, so couldn't get into the house until [livejournal.com profile] planet_andy got home with his set anyway, and furthermore because their boiler had broken so the house would be freezing. Instead we spent most of the day in Filey, which I have never visited before, but which proved to be a charming seaside town with a lovely museum, some great charity shops, some excellent cafes, and a fountain with a surround designed like a compass showing the directions of all the locations mentioned in the shipping forecast )

They also had a crazy golf course, where [personal profile] lady_lugosi1313 and I played a game so utterly inept that it more than once reduced us to tears of laughter; but I feel duty bound to note that she did beat me, with a score of 37 shots for 9 holes to my 40. Finally it was time to head home, playing games of "I Spy" and "I am a Hammer film: which one am I?" as we drove. All in all a very enjoyable and much-needed final summer jolly before term hits with a vengeance next week...
strange_complex: (Bettie Page shoes)
To celebrate having a free day on Saturday, I first enjoyed a big fat lie-in, then took a leisurely breakfast, watched some TV, noodled on the 'net, and finally headed into town to complete a few shopping missions I hadn't had time to attend to for the past week or so. I needed to stock up on things like shampoo and so on from Boots, but it had also become urgent that I buy a new pair of actual boots. So urgent, in fact, that I'd got to the point of being faced each morning with the choice of wearing either a) a pair of boots with one missing sole, a broken shank1 and a rapidly disintegrating interior or b) a pair of boots with the bottom of one heel missing. Usually, pair b) won out - but it was clear that this state of affairs could not go on.

I wasn't really looking forward to the boot shopping very much, as I have terrible trouble finding boots I like which are appropriate for work. I've railed in this journal before about those stupid heels which are placed right at the back of the boots, I don't like wedges, and I don't want to wear anything more than about 2.5 inches high for the sake of comfort. So there's not much on the contemporary high street which I really want to wear.

However, yesterday the Shoe Gods were clearly with me, as I walked into Clarks, saw a pair of boots I liked straight away, tried them on and found that they fitted beautifully. I can't find a picture of them online that I can link to, but they're Victorian-looking black leather ankle-boots, with cosmetic laces up the front, a practical zip up the side and a nice-looking heel about 2" high. Plus, they were in the sale. Yay!

Thanks to Clarks, I'd got everything done I needed to do within an hour of leaving the house, so I used the time I'd expected to spend trudging gloomily around boot-shops checking out mobile phone deals instead, with an eye to the upcoming end of my current contract with Vodafone on 27th February. This is what I found, in the sort of price-range I'm willing to pay and with the sort of features I want:

NetworkVodafoneO23T-mobileOrange
Plan150 AnytimeOnline 25X-Series SilverFlextDolphin
Monthly charge£25£25£22.50 for 8 months, then £40£27.50£35
Insurance£6.95£7.50£5.99£5.99£6
Minutes150200300c. 85250
Texts5005001000c. 170250
Internet allowanceReally unclear1Mb then £3 per Mb1Gb1Gb£1 per Mb
HandsetSony V630iAnyNokia N73Nokia 6253Most
Contract18 months18 months18 months18 months12 months


Given that I'm currently paying £30 per month for a mere 25 minutes, 250 texts and no internet allowance, those all look pretty tempting. In fact, I think I'm most tempted by the T-mobile Flext deal. Although the numbers of minutes and texts are a bit lower on that deal than some of the others, you can actually use up an overall 'allowance' on whichever you like, which is rather nice, and I very much doubt on current usage levels that I'd feel restricted by it. And that lovely, ripe 1Gb of internet usage is very tempting! Although my current phone can theoretically access the internet, I never use it, because I have no idea how much it will cost me, and suspect it might be rather a lot. A 1Gb allowance basically means being free to surf as much as I like, in practical terms, and the web browser the guy in the shop showed me looked pretty decent, too. Although I probably won't make as much use of it now as I might have done a year ago (when I was spending at least nine hours on trains a week), I can still see how it could be really handy for things like house moves (which I know needs to happen again fairly soon), trips away and so on.

If anyone has any thoughts on that deal, or any of the others, or any general experiences with any companies other than Vodafone (the only company I've ever used so far) which you think I should know about, speak up!
-----------------
1. The steel 'backbone' of most heeled boots. You know it's broken when the heel no longer stays solid in relation to the boot, will move about if pushed by a hand and feels like it's slipping out behind you when you walk.

Bargain!

Thursday, 4 August 2005 21:22
strange_complex: (Penny Bazaar)
My regular-stylee film-based camera is busticated. I have accepted this. It's a fair cop - I think the thing must be about ten years old now. In the long term, I plan to replace it with a digital camera, but I have too much other stuff on at the moment to put proper thought into this, and besides, I'd like to be clearer about my employment prospects for the immediate future before I start shelling out that kind of cash.

So, in order to avoid leaving Belfast without ever having taken a single picture of anybody or anything in all the time I've been here, I decided that in the meantime, I'd buy one of those single-use cameras, just to take a few basic snaps with. In Tesco's this evening, I looked at what they had on offer. Single-use cameras with flash - £6.92. Great.

But wait! What's this? Reusable camera, also with flash, £7.97. What? Surely not? Surely you've missed the bit on the packet where it says 'single use'? *checks about ten times* Nope, I haven't, and the way they've packaged it with a separate film (yes, folks, also included in that bargain price!) next to the camera itself is kind of a hint that it can be loaded up with new films in the future, too.

So now I have come home not with a single-use camera, but with an actual new film-based camera, and it cost me less than I've seen some single-use ones going for elsewhere. OK, so it's manual wind-on, has no zoom function, and is 'focus free' (an abbreviated euphemism which actually means "Your pictures will be completely free of anything which is in any way in focus"). But so would a single-use camera have been.

Hoorah for technical obsolescence and cheap Chinese manufacturing! Anyone in my immediate vicinity for the next month had better prepare to strike a pose.

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