Things To Do In Whitby When You’re Not Dead

Whitby Promenade

After a deliciously bleak morning spent staring at the sea, we went on to explore Whitby in considerable depth.

What we found will shock you.

It won’t. It won’t shock you. But those Buzzfeed/Upworthy titles really work, and how else am I going to convince you to read on?

Whitby Fortune Teller

Lee Ester Alita Lee is a clairvoyant. She practices her fortune telling in this tiny shack by the sea. She’s no ordinary spiritualist. She’s a television and radio spiritualist, the most truthful and the best, known for her truthful predictions.

She had a board displaying her celebrity clientele, but someone had heartlessly decided to build a bloody phone booth in front of it. Displayed prominently in the window is a phrenology head. I wonder if Lee Ester actually practices phrenology, or if it’s only there for its vaguely arcane/esoteric connotations?

We didn’t have a consultation, but I was tempted. The last time I dabbled in this sort of thing was to have my dreams interpreted. I told them about the time I dreamed my old physics teacher had hopped seductively down the street, chanting “biddy, biddy biddy”. I had to protect myself, but the only weapon to hand was a fireplace poker which I’d have to wear like a glove. I knew that to use it would involve crushing my hand.

I was told that this dream proved that God wants me to write, and one simply cannot hear that often enough. Then they prayed for me, which was a bit awkward.

Every business in the country – nay, the world – should load their facades with flowing, glowing promotional copy like this. It would be like living in the 19th century.

Whitby Pirate

The pirate guarded the entrance to an arcade. We didn’t spend as long inside as we have been known to in the past. Every time I see an original House of the Dead cabinet I make a point of having a game, but I was disappointed on that front. Alex enjoyed no big winnings on the two-pence machines, and I wasted about £7 trying to claw a Gizmo, which would have become a birthday present for my brother.

I am sorry to have failed you, brother:

Gizmo

Next we have one of the main reasons I was so keen to visit Whitby in the first place. The Dracula Experience:

Whitby Dracula Experience

When it comes to things like this, I’m all talk, no trousers. These things are invariably naff, but I always find that my confidence escapes me on the threshold.

I have no idea why, given that I’m not eight anymore, and given that I know that the absolute worst I’m ever going to get is a mild jump-scare. But there’s something about ghost trains, haunted houses and dark rides that I find so overwhelmingly unnerving. I’m rubbish.

But knowing that I’d regret it to the grave if I didn’t give it a go, and given that Alex bought a ticket for me as a treat, I had to go through with it. And that’s exactly what I did. I went through with it, as quickly as I could. What a waste.

It wasn’t even scary. It was dark, with strange early noughties CGI portraits dotted here and there alongside dimly lit wax recreations of characters from Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 interpretation of Dracula. Strobes were used, with grave readings from Bram Stoker’s original text.

It wasn’t scary. At all. But I was absolutely terrified.

At one bit, a young boy wearing a cape emerged from the shadows and shouted “rargh”. This made us jump. Oh lord, did this make us jump. I’d heard that the Whitby Dracula Experience used live actors, but on the front desk was a sign reading “no live actors today”. It was a ruse, designed to lull you into that precious false sense of security. And then, when you least suspect it, there he is.

The Dracula Experience was a disappointment, but that’s 98% my fault for being such a pathetic softie. The other 2% is attributed to the fact that they had, on display, the authentic Christopher Lee Dracula cape. Unfortunately, it was tucked into a dark corner, right by the entrance. I would have missed it had I not asked the surly ticket man about it, and he did seem unusually loathe to point it out.

But it’s mainly my fault. Must try harder.

Folk Devils Whitby

Folk Devils was an unexpected treat. A dedicated folk, roots and experimental electronic music shop right in the heart of this quaint/gloomy Yorkshire seaside town! Their range was small, but incredible.

I got:

  • Autechre – Untitled
  • Plaid – Rest Proof Clockwork
  • Arthur Russell – World of Echo

£10 each! Beautiful, beautiful music, all sold by a wonderfully bearded man who only seemed to stock the music he loved. This is a nice arrangement indeed for an independent seller of music, as it means you can compliment every single customer on their taste. Everyone therefore leaves feeling discerning and empowered, and everyone makes a point to return and spend as much as they can spare.

Genius.

Whitby Vic Reeves

This photography studio dresses you up in Victorian garb and takes your picture in convincing sepia. You often find this sort of thing in British seaside towns, but where else displays pictures of Vic Reeves in the window?

He might have been a customer, he might not. This being Whitby, more likely Mr. Reeves would stare at these pictures in open-mouthed horror, with no recollection at all of them having been taken.

But Mr. Reeves. You’ve always been the caretaker here.

Whitby Spiritual Connection

Spiritual Connection is one of those gorgeous new age/hippie/pagan sort of shops, the sort of place I’d like to open when I retire. In fact, this particular one was comfortably dark and gloomy on the inside, and it was run by a quiet little man with missing teeth, craggy skin and an elaborate beard. I like to think that I met my future self.

From here I bought some incense called “Black Magic”. The sticks burn for about 20 minutes and the scent doesn’t linger at all. When will I learn that you should never stray from the path of Nag Champa?

V-Tech Talking Whiz-Kid Power Mouse

We went to quite a few charity shops, which offered regrettably slim pickings. One of them, though, had this V-Tech Talking Whiz-Kid Power Mouse! I had one of these when I was about nine. I can still remember perfectly every sound, every sequence, every game. Some of the keys on mine were caked in jam, but this one was in pristine condition.

I didn’t buy it. Why didn’t I buy it? Granted, I would never have used it, and it would probably no longer offer any educational value, but still: Why didn’t I buy it?

I’m rubbish. Look at this drawing of Pegasus:

Pegasus

Gutsy Ginger was another new age/hippie/pagan shop, and this one was even better than Spiritual Connection.

They had a sign in the window, “Now Burning”, demonstrating the incense currently being burned. Like a record shop, but with scent! And it was Nag Champa! I was instantly enthralled.

Gutsy Ginger

On the inside it was even better, with the global dubby beat music you only ever hear in shops like this. Where do they find such music? I need it. All of it.

Also, it was almost as colourful as I wish for our house to be. If I don’t spend at least a spell running one of these shops before I die, I will have failed as a man.

Gutsy Ginger

Gutsy Ginger

Finally, there was this disgustingly small dog:

Puppy Dog Walk

Tiny Dog

And that’s Whitby! For now.

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