My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

The Gothic subculture is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, and looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Tim Burton, Siouxsie Sioux and Anne Rice et al.) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. Goth should not be limited by what is considered "goth", inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Green In The Gloom

I wanted to try and take some pictures to show my make-up, but all the pictures close enough to show it came out awful. Even in these, it just looks like splotches and all the details of the leaves are lost. I've actually got black and silver gilt leaves all on one side! As such I decided I would rather showcase that my hair has recently been dyed again and is now a green ombre effect, darker at the bottom. This photograph was taken in my new study, which is mostly lit with purple string lights (spiders, five-pointed stars, fiery swirls, bats...) and is purple and black with greyscale Gothic architecture wallpaper. It is not quite finished yet, but I hope to do a room tour video when it is. 

Selfies by the HouseCat

These photos have been subjected to filters and editing. I tried not to get too carried away - mostly just made things lighter and brighter and tweaked the colours a bit. Some of them have been subjected to a soft-focus effect in order to attempt looking prettier and more ghostly.. I am not good at this creative editing thing! 

Selfies by the HouseCat

The bat necklace is by Alchemy Gothic, and I think the winged skeleton pendant is too. I wish I had my selfie booth ready so I could have taken some pictures of today's outfit because it is rather Morticia Addams-esque, with a black wiggle skirt and a top with long bell sleeves, both in black velvet. The selfie booth is going to go into that recess visible behind where I'm sitting in these selfies, but as you can see currently lacks proper lighting. I first need to get the shelves above my desk sorted, and then mount lights onto those, angled into the corner... SO much to do! Thankfully Raven has put in a considerable amount of work into helping me with my study and the decorating and I am eternally grateful. 

Selfies by the HouseCat

I think these photographs are probably the worst for filter abuse, especially the one on the left! I was trying to look all spectral and 'spooky'... I probably shouldn't try so hard! I get quite self-conscious and perfectionist trying to get good selfies - I end up taking a whole load trying to get a small selection of really good ones, then end up disliking most of them, not being able to pick one that really stands out of the mainly mediocre ones that aren't blurry or really awful, and then collating them all into a collage because then they're tiny and it is harder to see the flaws. I'm torn between my vanity in trying to appear pretty (and find SOMETHING to fill my blog with in lieu of properly written content); and my lack of photographic ability. 

I don't smile much in photographs because even if I'm genuinely happy, it looks either goofy or fake (plus I have bad teeth, even after orthodontics) and then when I try to look serious, I either look angry or miserable. 

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Highland Lolitas Tea Party Club Calendar Photoshoot

A while back, our tiny, nascent Highland Lolita community was lucky enough to get a slot in the upcoming Tea Party Club. After issues finding a photographer, Laura Johnson of ::TahDah Photography:: did our photoshoot, and the location was the tropical house of the Inverness Botanic Gardens. Sadly not all of our community could make it, so our gathering was really tiny indeed. As well as the group photographs, we each got our own individual photographs. 

Photograph by TahDah Photography

I know there are others in the area who have an interest in Lolita, and when I come across people who are interested, they are usually quite surprised to find that there is Highland community, so hopefully our increased visibility will be great for local Lolitas who might want to get into the fashion, but are a bit nervous because they don't think there is a community out there for them. We're a Highland group, not just an Inverness group, and Lolitas from Aviemore to the Islands are welcome to join our group; obviously the large geographic area may make it difficult for some Lolitas to attend all meets, but we have a Facebook page and are quite social. We're not one of those communities that is all about the photoshoots - we like to sit down and chat! 

Photograph by TahDah Photography

My outfit for the photoshoot was actually not the one I initially planned - I wanted to go wearing a hand-made skirt I'd done, but I spilled tea down it and had to do a last-minute outfit change! I wanted to do something quite elegant, and I ended up with this outfit, which is a bit 'La Belle Époque' inspired, especially in terms of the curled hair, and the cape/cloak/fringed thing and my being quite cinched into a proper corset under all the layers of dress. I am not sure how I could incorporate one of those big hats into Lolita, even if I owned one, so I went with pinning fabric flowers into the hair of my wig instead. I know I'm a bit older than a lot of Lolitas, who seem to be in their late teens or early twenties, and I feel that what I wear in Lolita ought to suit my age a bit more, so I am going for more A-line skirts, a more classic feel (even when I always wear black) or a very definitely Gothic feel, rather than a 'cute', 'adorable' or 'kawaii' feel. I don't have a 'cute' face any more; it's more rectangular and angular (useful for Ouji!), and my figure has got curvier as I've got older (even without the corset). I used to have a very boyish figure, more angles than curves, but now I've filled out a bit more. I actually quite like going for an elegant look. I think it fits in better with my overall aesthetic preferences. I feel like it is more a kuro Classic co-ord than a Gothic one. 

Photograph by TahDah Photograph. I like the visible vine pattern!

After the photoshoot, we all convened in the Botanic Garden's café, which has wonderfully whimsical mismatched vintage crockery with chintzy florals - perfect for the sweet Lolitas, more difficult for me as I looked for a plate to match my outfit! I think the best thing about our community is how we're all very social. We're a small community, so that probably helps avoid some of the issues that you get with really big gatherings and people trying to mingle between set tables or just that large gatherings can be daunting for a lot of people (myself included). 

Photograph by Keara
I had to get at least one photograph with my Restyle cathedral handbag. It is my favourite bag and my university satchel now! 

Outfit Run Down: 
♕ Head-dress: hand-made by me Fabric flowers: various including Claire's Accessories, H&M, etc. ♕ Necklace: Phoenix1900 on eBay ♕ Blouse: New York Laundry, with collar attached by me ♕ Cape/Shawl/Thing: Blue Inc. with shoulders/sleeves altered by me into ones with pouf-y gathers ♕ Velvet arm-warmers: Sinister Dress: Metamorphose ♕ Tights: Primark Shoes: ShoeZone ♕ Bag: Restyle 

Photograph by TahDah Photography

We had a great day out at the Botanic Gardens, and I really enjoyed getting really dressed up for something. I am "fancy" by mainstream standards all the time, but I felt like I was really doing something special that day. I am working on building up a wardrobe including more layers and textures, and more elegant, flowing designs, not just in Lolita, but being a student and currently unemployed - AND having spent quite a bit recently of my savings on renovating the house we bought - means that I don't have much to spend on wardrobe expansion. 

Photograph by TahDah Photography

As you may have noticed, I haven't been posting much in the way of current news on my blog. I have been decorating my study in my new house (I moved at the end of summer) and I've been really busy as a student, so I haven't had much time to work on this blog. Once I get the lighting sorted out, I will be able to use my newly built 'selfie corner' for outfit-of-the-day shots, and when I have more time to devote to writing, I will go back to writing about more in-depth Gothic things.

I really have to thank the photographer; she took on our photo-shoot at quite short notice and did a great job. Her Facebook page is ::here::, and her website ::here::. She is very professional, and does quite a variety of portraiture and family photographs. I thoroughly recommend her. 

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Highland Lolitas Velocity Café Meet

Back on July 19th, the Highland Lolita community had a meet-up at the Velocity Café which is a bicycle-themed cafe attached to a bicycle workshop. They also are active participents in the cyclist community here and run things like bicycle repair classes! I would have loved to turn up to the meet on my vintage-style bicycle, but it is currently in pieces because I was working on cleaning it up, replacing worn parts, and making it a bit special in the decoration department (plus, I would probably wear Ouji to go cycling rather than Lolita).

Left to right: Danielle, Keara, Emily , Amity Lee and I. Note my un-kawaii \m/
Photo kindly taken by Velocity waitress.

I forgot that the bus service to where I live is drastically reduced on a Sunday, so ended up having to call a taxi and was a bit late to the meet. I hate being late to meets! It was, however, my own silly fault for forgetting about the different bus timetable on a Sunday. We all had our snacks - some of us had tea and cake, but I had juice and some houmous with lovely crusty delicious bread - it tasted hand-made, and it was really, really good bread. We sat around chatting and eating for a while. One of the advantages about being such a small group is that we can have a whole-group social conversation when we meet up, rather than either ending up confined to only those we are sat with, or doing a lot of milling around. 

After our meet-up at the Velocity cafe, we walked down the hill and took outfit pictures in the alcove of the rear entrance of the Eastgate mall. It was outdoors with plants and such, a relatively plain wall, and most of all, secluded from the wind. This summer in Scotland has been mostly dreich through to plain rainy, and the weather has been most things other than sunny and still!

Full length photo by Danielle.

My outfit was another black and white outfit, but this time I was aiming for something distinctly more Gothic, rather than the more classic outfit I aimed for with the outfit I wore to the Botanic Gardens. I actually wore this outfit again yesterday, repreiving it for a shopping trip into Inverness with Raven and visit to the Blend Tea-House (my favourite place for tea in Inverness, and also does amazing bagels!). We had a lot of fun with our outfit photos, and also took a group circle-of-shoes photograph, and lots of selfies with each other. The wind was a bit blowy, and my wig rapidly got straggly; it isn't the best quality and has a tendency to tangle itself up rather rapidly. 

Keara in a yellow and pink Sweet-Lolita co-ordinate.

I took some photos of the other Lolitas. I really like Keara's amazing make-up and while I am not usually a fan of things pastel and cute, I really liked her entire outfit. Amity Lee's outfit was also really adorable, and her multicolour wigs are always so cool. 

 Amity Lee looking amazing in Sweet-Lolita

We took some selfies with each other, and generally used the moment as a photo opportunity. Lolita is a very elaborate fashion, and it takes a certain amount of effort to put together a nice outfit. Most of the other Lolitas are more experienced than I am, and better at putting together a nice co-ord (or co-ordinate; a co-ordianated outfit where everything matches together) than I am. Sweet is certainly the most popular style in our community, but Danielle wore a lovely old-school Country Lolita co-ord, and I am always the one in Gothic!

Danielle wearing Country-Lolita

As well as individual photographs, we took some selfies together! 

Danielle and I. Best vampiric look. Photo by Danielle

A few random strangers wanted their pictures taken with us, both when we were taking outfit-pictures in the alcove before the footbridge, and generally when we were in the mall! I do wonder about what happens to all these pictures - they must be out there on the internet somewhere! A lot of little girls especially think that we're just fabulous. I have notived that sweet Lolitas get asked if they're princesses a lot, and I get asked if I am a witch! (I am a good witch, of course! :P). What would probably either frighten or confuse the children that ask if I answered honestly with anything that wasn't something along the lines of "no, this isn't fancy dress, I just like wearing clothes like this" is that technically, yes, I am actually a witch too, but my appearance is completely unrelated. Neo-Paganism, Wicca and modern Witchcraft are such alien things to most people that I don't want to bring it up, lest my Gothic appearance confuse them, or frighten them by correlating with negative stereotypes. 

Amity Lee and I, photo by Amity

We decided to go into the mall itself because the weather looked inclement, and because we could get ice-cream! We went to Mackay's which is Scottish ice-cream chain. 

Afterwards we all split up and went our separate ways home. I took a bus with Amity Lee, and then tried walking from the bus-stop to my house... the path is very uneven, and I was wearing heels I can only just walk in on flat, even ground. I sadly fell and turned my ankle badly, but I was near a friend's house, so I managed to get them to give me a lift back to my apartment, and they helped me up to my door and into the house. I wasn't too scuffed up, but I laddered my tights. It was quite sore, though. 

Here I am before the wind ruined my wig. I'm less keen on the straight fringe than I used to be; I'm starting to think it doesn't really suit my face-shape. The lipstick was a colour I really liked, and stayed remarkably well despite eating and drinking while wearing it. 

Outfit Run-Down:
☠ Canotier: Alice & The Pirates ☠ Wig: bought on eBay, not sure of manufacturer ☠ Blouse: Bodyline ☠ Neck-bow: hand-made by me ☠ Gloves: secondhand on eBay ☠ Jacket: Putumayo ☠ Dress: Bodyline ☠ Tights: from the Hallowe'en shop last year ☠ Shoes: Demonia ☠ Bag: gifted, not sure of supplier or manufacturer. 

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

I've been tagged! 13 Halloween Questions Tag

::The Everyday Goth:: nominated me to take part in this.  As Hallowe'en is my favourite time of the year, this looked like fun. 

1. Favorite Halloween song?
It has to be 'Halloween' by Siouxsie And The Banshees from the album JuJu. I am a big Siouxsie fan, and love how frenetically, chaotically upbeat the song is. It is clear that the narrator's perspective is actually quite unhappy and disturbed, and so the almost-happy-but-broken music the lyrics are set to make it unnerving in the best way. 

2. Witch or Vampire? 
Well, I'm already a real witch of the Neo-Pagan sort - a Wiccan who switched traditions to something based out of various British and Brythonic/Gaelic traditions, so I'll go with vampire! I like the the idea of being some immortal, sensuous, beautiful creature that is also monstrous and deadly at the same time; elegant, classy and impeccably well mannered, but secretly a vile blood-drinking predator that kills to survive in a terribly gruesome manner - it's the duality that appeals to me; sex and death, beauty and monstrosity. 

3. Favourite thing about Halloween?
Probably being able to easily find home décor that I actually like without trawling the internet for hours! The idea of well-made, elegant and non-tacky Hallowe'en decorations appears to be an American thing with many department stores and supermarkets there stocking a wide range of decorations that include things I would certainly have as décor outside of the Hallowe'en season. Sadly, this is not something that occurs much in the UK, where the holiday seems mostly marketed to children and young people, so there are fewer shops carrying items that I would find suitable for year 'round décor. This is beginning to change, though, and this year I have managed to pick up a lot of nice things for my new house! I think I will actually make a haul video for my YouTube account. 

4. Hallowe'en party or scary movie marathon? 
Definitely Hallowe'en party! Each year we host the Grand Annual Vampire Soirée, which is a practically dusk-'til-dawn party with a Romantic Goth aesthetic and plenty of drinkable forms of fake blood, some alcoholic, some not, all vegetarian. Everyone dresses up as a fancy vampire, and we have a lot of fun. I'm also always going to several other parties around Hallowe'en. I don't do big parties much around Christmas and New Year's; just the dinner on Christmas, the Solstice as a religious celebration, and New Year's as time to stay up late at home and have some fizz, but Hallowe'en is a time of year where I turn into party animal. 

5. Skeletons or Zombies? 
Skeletons, without a doubt! My partner and I have a bedroom with a skull theme, with a good few skeleton ornaments around the place, too. I like them as a symbol of our mortality, a memento mori, and because the human body is a beautiful, sculptural, structural thing under all the flesh. Zombies are all rotted, decaying and gross, whereas a cleaned skeleton is much less disgusting. 

6. Favourite Hallowe'en candy?

7. Favourite Hallowe'en Movie?
Tim Burton's 'Nightmare Before Christmas'. I've loved it ever since I was young, and although I didn't get to see it in the cinema when it first came out, because my parents deemed it too weird for me, but I did see it at home, and it was definitely a spooky influence on the younger me!

8. Favourite Hallowe'en costume?
I went as a flaming-maned, black-furred Night-Mare when I was 15, and hand made the entire thing, from the fur-suit to the papier-mâché head and hooves. I looked out of the thing's neck, and wore heels under my hoof construction, and was about 6'6" in the whole thing, maybe taller. I won the school Hallowe'en costume competition and a giant plastic pumpkin filled with sweets that I still had not finished eating by the following Easter... 

9. Favourite Hallowe'en store? 
Hallowe'en-specific stores are not really a thing in the UK. There's a temporary shop in the city in a vacant storefront that sells discount costumes, but it's not something that really interests me because I like making my own costumes, or assembling them out of my usual clothes. I do like the Hallowe'en range that has been in TKMaxx this year, though! 

10. Jack-o-Lanterns; yes or no?
Yes! I, like the Everyday Goth, am clumsy with a knife, so I collaborate with my partner; I draw the design onto the pumpkin with a permanent marker, and he cuts it out. My partner's a nurse so has to deal with enough injured people at work, without needing to fix me, too! He can handle the sharp things, I'll handle the Sharpie. 

11. Bats or Black Cats?
My cat, Kuro Shinigami, being all floopy, photographed by my Dad

12. Is Hallowe'en your favourite holiday?
YES! YES!! YES!!! BEST HOLIDAY! It's Samhain too, which I celebrate as a Neo-Pagan, but the commercialised spook-fest that is modern, Americanised Hallowe'en basically turns everyone Goth for a few days and means there are enough scary movies, skull-chocolates, spooky costumes and funky things I love to keep me stocked and stoked until it comes around again the next year. It's a celebration of all that is creepy, freaky, spooky and kooky. I love it. 

13. Pumpkin Spice Latte or Hot Chocolate? 
Chocolat chaud! Made with proper melted chocolate, milk and cream, and with some praline syrup. 

Witching On A Monday

Last night I went to the local open Circle's moot. The Circle is an open discussion groups for Pagans, Witches, and Occultists of various traditions. The Moot is basically a pub meet-up where we talk about mostly on-topic stuff, but the conversation has a tendency to deviate (often to cats... ) 

Yesterday was Aleister Crowley's birthday, and that was the theme of our discussion. Personally, I'm not really very fond of Crowley as a person, but I respect his contribution to the Occult. One member brought the deck illustrated by Lady Freida Harris for Crowley's Thoth project. Lady Harris was an amazing illustrator, and I loved the mixture of early 20thC and late 19thC styles used in it (and rather wish I could use a few of them as prints!). Another discussed the Abremelin ritual, and I asked about Boleskine House and we discussed sense of place. Discussion wandered a little off topic with a conversation about how the mythology/reports of experiences around aliens is often very similar to that around faeries. 

We sit in a quiet corner of a local pub, and I'm probably the only member that looks "witchy"; you'd probably think we're just a group of slightly eccentric friends having a chat to look at us; a Goth (or two), a few hippies and a few more ordinary looking folk, on comfy chairs with pints, having a giggle. It would only be if you overheard us that you would know we're not just a group of friends out for a quiet Monday drink. 

Selfies taken on my laptop's webcam. Edited with PicMonkey

I rarely wear this much religious jewellery at once, but felt this was an opportunity to wear the pentacle bling! I got these new pentacle earrings recently, but I feel like they're actually a bit ostentatious to wear out and about much, so they're probably going to end up as mostly ritual jewellery rather than decorative jewellery that I would wear on a daily basis. The beaded charm necklace (nearest my neck) was actually from Claire's Accessories! I guess they were selling them as part of that rather problematic 'occult trend' going on in Goth at the moment, but the mixture of a pentacle with celestial symbols is actually rather suitable - only problem is the pentacle is inverted so I think I may swap that charm out for a properly point-upwards pentacle. The top point of the pentacle in the tradition I follow, symbolises the fifth (energetic) element, Spirit which is in balance with, but above, the four (material) elements, Earth, Air, Water, and Fire. The circle is symbolic of the cyclical nature of life, and how all things are one interconnected thing, with the knot-like interlace of the pentagram star itself also symbolic of that interconnection and fluidity. As such, the orientation of the pentacle is important. An inverse pentagram or pentacle is a deliberate inversion or upsetting of that balance; sometimes that is a positive force for change, but often it has been used to symbolise Fire and Earth being prioritised in a carnal and greedy manner - lust, rage, violence, greed, jealousy, etc. Of course, in Neo-Paganism, interpretations aren't fixed, and are varied between traditions. 

The inverse pentagram and pentacle, while they have been used in Satanic contexts, are not by any means exclusively Satanic, or necessarily negative symbols, but as they are popularly associated with Satanism of an erroneously understood anti-Christian variety, I choose not to wear them, as it only adds to greater confusion about my religious affiliation and the stereotyped assumptions about my morality. Very few mainstream people I encounter understand the differences between LaVeyan Satanism, the inverted Christianity of the anti-Christian variety, and the other religious and spiritual paths that see Satan as either an archetype, or part of a polytheistic pantheon, or as a positive symbol of rebellion and individuality, etc. Very few mainstream people I encounter know that those paths are rather different from Neo-Paganism, Wicca, and Witchcraft traditions like Cunning Folk, either. I'm rather fed up of fielding questions about curses, animal sacrifice and ritual sex! 

You may also note that my hair isn't its usual colours in these selfies; I have not dyed my hair copper, but am wearing a wig on account of my dye having faded and blurred, my roots having grown out fairly significantly, and my being in dire need of a hair cut! The colour also reminded me of the turning leaves now that autumn has arrived, so I thought it seasonally appropriate. I am actually wearing shimmery eyeshadow, too, in browns and purples, with a bit of gold shimmer - yes, warm tones! - but it didn't show up very well in the photographs. 

There's a visual pun in those photographs; if you spot it, you get a kudos but no physical prize :P

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Makeup Of The Day: Peacock Blue

I am still revelling in the ability to wear elaborate make-up to university. 

I haven't been wearing it as much as I like because I have been ill, and if I am coughing and sneezing I do not have a steady enough hand to apply my usual make-up, plus I am liable to poke myself in the eye, and my eyes are already watering and my face is all puffy. I am not going to try and cake myself in make-up to hide it, because it will make it worse. 

Selfies by HouseCat
I have been playing with making my makeup a bit more colourful to match my hair, and this look incorporate both blocks of dramatic, dark colour and my usual swirlies. As you can see by the top two pictures, I am trying to wear my glasses in my makeup photographs because that is both how I usually look (I need my glasses to see what I am doing at university), and because I think it is interesting to see how my makeup and glasses work together. As my glasses are quite swirly and dramatic themselves, my makeup has to be quite strong to still be the main visual element. 

Gloss black lipstick is currently something I really like doing, but sadly it is not something that lasts very well for clubbing, and certainly not eating out. It ends up matte very rapidly at college, but at least it remains black. 

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Makeup Of The Day: Being batty!

Hallowe'en is coming! So I experimented with something a little bit kitsch and Hallowe'en-y.

As such, on Monday I decided it would be a good idea to draw bats on my face. I was right; bats ARE a good idea. I need MORE bats, in a greater variety of arrangements! I recently bought a selection of vinyl bat stickers for my study window, which I have arranged in a sweeping colony swirling around the edge of the glazing, and I figured that this sort of arrangement of bats would be good for curling down my cheekbone. 

Selfie by the HouseCat

I used greens and blues for the eye-shadow because that matches my hair. I was thinking of using purple for a more stereotypical Hallowe'en colour, but I think slime-green has become somewhat of a traditional Hallowe'en colour too now. Orange doesn't suit me, so it would never be orange. 

Also, these pictures are a somewhat edited, and not necessarily particularly well, because they were phone-cam selfies that turned out washed-out, faded and weirdly blue because I didn't adjust the white balance & exposure right. I tried to make the dark bits darker and the colours right, so that includes darkening up the makeup a little and putting the vibrancy back in my hair, but I know that on some monitors it looks like I have over-compensated and the pictures are too dark in places. As per usual, edited with ::PicMonkey::, which is a free online picture editor, and has a neat collage tool.