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, and things in the broader realm of the Gothic and darkly Romantic. 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.

Goth 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, the expression of that in Goth rock. It 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 (Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, 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. The Gothic should not be limited by what is already within it; inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Music That Inspires: Choral Music

This is such a broad topic! I've found it very hard to narrow it down to one aspect for this blog, as music is something that permeates my life. Back when my I still had headphones for my iPod, it was something that was pretty much a constant in my life. I studied it up to A Level and play several instruments, and I sing. When I am particularly strapped for cash, I perform as a street musician (a busker) in Inverness with my recorders  and I am very glad to have a talent (turned into something useful by all the hard work and music lessons and the 6hr-a-day practice schedule when I was a teen) that can earn my keep if necessary. 

I also have milder synaesthesia, and for me sounds tend to be accompanied by colours and 'textures' (I 'see' a lot of it as solidified light almost like glass) to the point where when I am composing, I tend to pick things that look good when I shut my eyes, because they invariably sound good too, and even wrote up an entire chart of chords by colours and what they invoke imaginatively to help me in my compositions. 

I didn't want to write about my tastes in stuff like Goth, Darkwave and French Coldwave because I'm pretty sure I've covered various aspects of that on my blog already. Beyond Goth, my tastes in music are quite broad. I thought I would focus on an aspect of my musical life that has inspired me as a Goth while being quite removed from Goth itself. 

I like early ecclesiastical sacred choral works from a variety of traditions, not limited to but including many things from Gregorian chant to Renaissance polyphony, to modern works such as those of John Taverner and Karl Jenkins. 

When I was younger and somewhere between my Christian roots and my Pagan faith, I was rather active in various church choirs and I have been singing from a very young age. I sang in both church choirs and school choirs, but as many of the schools I went to (I moved a lot) were Christian, I still sang mostly sacred music. I have not attended Church for worship service in years, and do not intend to as I am thoroughly Pagan now, but I still attend the occasional concert of sacred music.  Choir holds almost all positive memories for me. I got to a relatively high standard and ended up singing some challenging music in some really beautiful places. 

While the religious content was not always in alignment with my personal faith (and as I grew older, I grew further away from Christianity) there was something about it that connected with me on a very profound and spiritual way. I think there is definitely something spiritually powerful about religious singing, as an act of worship and an act of faith in itself rather than as simply a celebration thereof. There is a lot in the Bible about music, from David's lyre, to the songs of Solomon, to the angels who sing eternal praises in Heaven, and while this is heading off on a tangent that probably deserves its own post, I certainly think that Christianity and other religions that use sacred song (I have some CDs of Buddhist singing, from a period when I was interested in becoming Buddhist), and they have something very precious and definitely inspiring. A few years ago I tried writing some Pagan songs in a similar choral style, but suffered from a lack of people to sing them (I experimented with multi-tracking myself, but it come out very strange!) and so that project was put into indefinite stasis. 

The heavens my imagination transports me to might not be the one I envisioned when I believed in an afterlife in Paradise, but the music still has the power to supremely move me. It also always reminds me of the glorious Gothic architecture of the Chapels, Churches and Cathedrals I have attended for various things from Royal School of Church Music summer-schools at Magdalene College Chapel in Oxford (a building that is truly glorious) to St. Mary's Church on the bridge in Henley-on-Thames with it's Morris-esque murals and beautiful stained glass, to Peterborough Cathedral (which is Gothic on a truly vast scale!) and thus whenever I hear certain pieces I think of certain places and events.

It should be relatively apparent that historic architecture, especially that in the Gothic style, is something that I am really passionate about. With early Gothic literature, the term came about because of the use of settings, and how a lot of those settings were the sorts of buildings I love. To me, I cannot easily separate my experience of those buildings from the music performed in them, the music I performed in them as part of a choir. 

I have a specific fondness for requiems (how stereotypically Gothic of me!) especially the later ones. Later requiems were written more as concert pieces than to be sung at requiem masses, but they are still based around religious texts and sentiments, and as such I'd like to mention a few here. Fauré's requiem with its serene , and is also one of my favourites, then Verdi's with its furious Dies Irae, and Mozart's as well (and the wonderfully Gothic story written about it for the film Amadeus! It's not true, and Sallieri was not driven by obsessive jealousy to murder Mozart by working him to death, but it's a very good story!). I also like Vittoria's 'Missa Pro Defunctis" and "Officium Defunctorum" - his "mass for the dead" and "offices for the dead", the latter of which I heard sung by The Sixteen back in 2006 in Reading. It was  one of those moments when, despite struggling with depression at the time, I managed to unlock the glass box it felt my head was in, and be lost in the music rather than my own thoughts. 

Choral music of various Christian traditions has inspired both my own musical life as a choral singer (I even ran a choir at the school I work at until my chronic illness made in untenable) and also as an artist and poet and photographer as glorious music mixes with beautiful colour and light in a synaesthesic mix in my head, and always evokes a sense of wonder, sacredness and a belief that there is a Divine and glorious presence in the universe, even if to me the heavens are the literal heavens of space full of stars, nebulae and very real glorious light, and to me, a pantheist, the Divine is inherently manifest through reality. When I shut my eyes and sit on the bare earth and feel the boundaries between what is me and what is everything else dissolve and meditate, there's a similar sense of awesome, brilliant, glorious something that I touched when I was singing psalms, evensongs, hymns, masses and oratorios. 

My Musical Pick
There is some overlap with my tastes in more Goth music; some of my favourite pieces by Dead Can Dance are the ones where multi-tracking has been used to create a choral effect, but the songs they sing have words of Lisa Gerrard's glossolalia rather the Latin texts various masses and offices. I think that same sense of light and glory that is forever intangible that I got when listening to choral concerts in Oxford collegiate chapels and grand Gothic cathedrals is what inspired Host of The Seraphim with its vocals that seem to soar ever upwards in plaintive chant over a very minimal (electric?) organ and distant strings. It reminds me of how psalms are traditionally sung with the chords changing according to the text, rather than the text made to fit the melody (think Alleghri's 'Miserere mei, Deus'). To me, Host of the Seraphim is like watching angels come and go, filing past out of view and into nothing but beautiful light. 

Friday, 29 August 2014

Sin In Linen: Review

Look at this lovely pile of goodies I got sent! Forgot to include the tea-towel in this photo (oops).
::Sin In Linen:: are an online shop selling fabric home-ware products for the alternative market, and a while back their founder, Sandy Glaze contacted me via e-mail (best way of contacting me about Domesticated Goth related things!) about sending me a few things to review. After I saw they had Gothic kitchen items, especially oven-gloves, I readily agreed. I've previously bought a few Vigar funky cleaning and kitchen bits, but there's a very limited range of these sort of things in mainstream shops, and I just didn't think that there'd be anyone supplying this stuff specifically to the alternative demographic. I thought my flocked apron and spiderweb toilet paper were a sign that I was applying the Gothic aesthetic to more aspects of my life than many of us do (and possibly a bit more than I ought to!).

I only asked for a spider-web patterned oven-glove & pot-holder set, and they sent me not only that, but two tea-towels and vintage-tattoos patterned oven-glove & pot holder set! I always approve of extra free stuff.

I also asked them a bit about their business, and I've found out that it's run by an alternative lady looking to fill a niche that she noticed when looking for things for her own home. There's a short but informative ::article about her:: over at ::Women You Should Know:: 

The oven-gloves are mitten style, and are comfortable, fit even over my large paws (I'm a tall lady with long fingers) and Raven's talons - sometimes oven-gloves can be a bit small and seem designed for more petite people, seemingly ignoring that larger ladies and men also like to cook - no such problems here, though. The insulation is a bit on the thin side, and I felt my fingers getting warm pretty rapidly, but I decided to hold on to a hot baking tray (fresh out of an oven at 180°C) for 20 seconds to test this, and I didn't feel it get any hotter than warm. I've used it quite a bit since that first use, and on no occasion have my fingers been particularly hot. I haven't put a thermometer in them to figure out exactly how warm "warm" is, but I am pretty temperature sensitive, and it wasn't enough to bother me.  On the positive side, the thinner insulation makes it easier to actually take hold of things like ceramic dishes. Having two (even if they're unmatched) makes it easier to handle heavy and large things (like a roast chicken) - one thing I would suggest to Sin In Linen is the option to order matched pairs or connected oven mitts.

I like the print placement on the pot-holder.
The black looks actually black on the spider-web pattern, and I am always a fan of stereotypically Gothic things like the spiderweb print. I also really like the skull-and-crossbones print they offer. You can get the spiderweb oven-mitts ::here::. The practical aspects apply to both patterned mitts as the construction and fabric (rather than print) seem to be the same on both. I washed them with my regular black wash at approximately 40°C (older washing machines rarely stay at exactly the temperature of the setting) and there was no fade of colour.

[EDIT 29th Aug. '14: I have washed them a couple of times again since I wrote this and I've noticed that spiderweb print has started to fade and that the rolled hem of the edging on the pot-holder has started to come loose.] 

The two dish-towels I was sent were a vintage tattoo patterned one and and the 'Henna Tattoo' pattern one. You can get the 'Henna Tattoo' ones ::here:: and the vintage tattoo pattern one ::here::. They sell  dish towels by Sourpuss clothing with pictures done in the style of vintage tattoos too - I like ::this:: curvaceous tattooed mermaid!

This is after being washed and ironed; browns are all still rich and vivid!
I like the design of the 'Henna Tattoo' patterned one - it's a dark brown ink-and-wash design that is inspired by boteh ('Paisley' designs) and Mandalas and the colours of Henna art, and it is very pretty -  I have always enjoyed organic, foliate swirling designs - but the advertising blurb on the website seems to be overly exoticising various aspects of Asian culture and not properly referencing the inspiring cultures; Mandalas are from India, Tibet, and other Hindu and Buddhist groups in Central Asia, and Henna for body-paint in Mehndi designs is used in cultures from Sudan to Nepal.

I'm really happy with the actual dish-towels though! Sin In Linen have used nice fabric that almost seems too good in quality for use making dish-towels, although Raven found it a tad thin (probably because he tried to use it to hold hot things, rather than using the lovely oven mitts we were sent!). It's surprisingly good at wiping moisture off things for something that does not look readily absorbent. I am hoping that the patterns are colourfast in the long term as both patterns are very richly printed. I've washed them a couple of times with no apparent fading. I also like how they have a little loop attached to them to hang them up if you're the sort of person that has little hooks for their kitchen linen. 
Tattoo print. I like the mermaids best :) 
The tattoo print on both the tea-towel and the oven mitt is vibrant, clear and colourful. Raven likes red as kitchen colour, so the red trim around the fabric fits in well with out red kitchen items. I have not washed the tattoo print items, so I am not sure about how colour-fast they are yet. Unlike the spider-web design, the tattoo designs are not quilted. You can get the mitt set ::here:: and the towel from ::here::. There's a whole set available, with matching apron from ::here::, too. 

Many thanks to Sin In Linen for sending me free stuff. I hope people found this review detailed and interesting. If anyone has any further questions, please feel free to ask me in the comments. 

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Politeness and Goth Part 3: Advice On Being Goth In Public

Having bored everyone at length with the last two posts, I am going to try and keep this one short. Here are 5 recommendations I make to Goths, especially the very young ones, for behaving courteously in public.
  1. Be polite to customer service staff of all sorts, from baristas to the person at the till in the supermarket, and treat merchandise in shops with respect. Be courteous to other patrons of establishments and do not be loud, obnoxious or behave in a way that can put off other patrons. If you behave nicely, it makes it far more likely that those who run these shops, cafes and restaurants, etc. are welcoming to Goth clientele. I've heard of Goths being asked to leave by places who think that they will frighten off other customers, or of them being tailed by security staff, and while this is usually based off nothing but assumption and pre-judgement, it is not at all helpful to act in a way that will actually upset both the staff and patrons. 

    An aside: Having worked several years in retail, I've noticed that most places that are trying to sell you something are fairly happy to have buyers, and as long as you are buying their products, not stealing or breaking anything, and not putting others off from buying their products, or harassing their staff, they are quite happy for you to be there, even if you look 'weird'. Of course, there are some people who are prejudiced, but those who are unwelcoming and hostile to Goths are thankfully the minority.  

  2. If you are gathering in large groups - especially if you are young and therefore somewhere public like the town square or a local park is the only sensible option for larger gatherings - be respectful of those around you; try not to swear loudly or in front of children, take your rubbish away with you, and please don't try and "scare the normal people". Also, be aware that others can find large groups of people inherently intimidating (regardless of whether that group is black-clad and spooky or not), so make sure your group does not dominate a path, or somewhere where people are walking through a lot. If you want to run around and be loud and active, that's perfectly fine, just find an open space like some grassy parkland. If you are in a park, please remember that younger children may want to use swings and play equipment so do not monopolise them. Plenty of parks now have shelters and benches for teenagers and young adults to congregate at, and also larger scale play equipment so that younger children need not have competition for swings, etc.  

  3. Mind your manners - "please", "thank you" and "excuse me" (or their equivalent in your native language) all help create a positive image,  and cost nothing but air and fractions of seconds. Say thank-you to bus drivers, greet people politely, and otherwise be considerate. This is the sort of small thing that we tend to need to make an extra effort to remember in order to help make it clear that we are not dangerous, mean and evil individuals, or all sullen, depressing and gloomy, or snobby and cliquish, or whatever flavour of negative stereotype is currently more pervasive. 

  4. If people ask you sincere questions, especially questions that are oft repeated such as "are you a Goth?" and "is that a costume?" and "what is Goth?" then respond politely. If you have time, then answer briefly, if, for one reason or another, you don't want to answer at that moment, then make a polite apology. Do not respond rudely, do not be overly sarcastic; it is better we educate people and inform them than give them a negative experience with Goth. I have seen this happen in real life and over the internet, and responding politely always works best. If you do have time to respond, try and be brief, accurate and avoid phrasing things in ways that might frighten the asker; remember that most people have a rather opposite reaction to the macabre to ours. 

  5. Be yourself; don't try and act all dark and scary for other Goths (most of us think it's quite pretentious and somewhere between silly and amusing) or to try and project a specific image, and don't try too hard to be exceedingly nice and perky to everyone either, as people are often just as suspicious of obviously forced niceness. 

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Politeness and Goth Part 2: When Others Are Rude

This is a continuation of yesterday's post.
As Goths, we sadly receive a lot of negative and unwanted attention if we are visibly so in public, and  also sometimes from those we live, work and study with. The topics of how to deal with bullying at school, family that do not understand, and unpleasantness from co-workers have already been addressed by others in great depth; I thoroughly recommend reading the advice given at Gothic Charm School.  Here I am giving advice on not countering rudeness with rudeness. In life I have found that in the end, you are stooping to their level and it is better to take the higher ground, but rather than asking you take my word for that, I feel like I ought to elaborate. 

Firstly, there are those who shout abuse at Goths in public. Please do NOT shout and swear at strangers who make rude comments in the street. It is understandable to be angry if (or sadly, and more likely, "when") you get street harassment for being Goth, but retaliation does not help, and remember that once you react, people like that will try and provoke further reaction. Also, if you react and get involved in some kind of argument, there's the risk of it escalating. My advice is to walk on, don't even turn to look at them, and get yourself to a safer place. It is usually teenagers and young men (but also young women, just a higher percentage are male) in groups who do this, and their motivation is to show off to their friends, and to get some kind of reaction from who they harass, and they will generally be rude to anyone that has anything about them that distinguishes them. 

Yes, their words and sentiments are wrong, yes you may feel that you ought to stand up for yourself and your subculture, but your words will not discourage them, or change their minds, and in reacting to them, you are giving them what they want; a spectacle. If they are particularly aggressive, report antisocial behaviour to the police. In my experience, the police in the UK tend to respond actually remarkably sensibly without much victim blaming to these incidents, especially since the work of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation to work with police on the matter of street harassment for those in alternative subcultures. 

Remember that whatever they say is designed to provoke and upset the person they are harassing, and therefore do not dwell on their words and try not to let them trouble you. I have years of practice at this, so to me mean words have pretty much no impact, mostly because I know that I am doing no wrong, but they are.  It takes a while to become impervious to those who try and make a mockery, and some people never do, but even if you are upset, try not to let them see it has affected you. 

Do not try and scare people.
I think that deliberately setting out to scare and shock people is unkind, and really not a productive use of time, even with - no, especially - with people who have a problem with your Goth self. It can be so tempting to indulge in deliberate theatrics when faced with people who think you are a Devil-worshipping vampire-witch, but it is ultimately unproductive, and can sometimes be very counter-productive. 

An examples of this from my life:
When I was young and naive about the world, I tried feeding the rumours already being spread about me being a witch as a strategy to scare off the bullies at school, but then it back-fired when adults around me either thought this as confirmation that I was indeed an evil witch, or thought that I was a delusional attention seeker and other such things that caused me far more trouble than the bullies, and it did not stop the bullying; learn from my mistakes - I've heard of other babybats attempting that sort of thing, and it rarely ever works. I am pretty ashamed of how I behaved, and how stupid I was thinking it might work, but if it means that other people don't make the same mistakes, I am willing to share what I did publicly. 

I also don't think it is sensible to counter intolerance and prejudice by deliberately being defiantly as  Gothic and different as possible. I have myself been very tempted to employ this tactic against someone who spent much time during my teenage years trying to get me to be 'normal' by badgering me, ranting at me, complaining to others in my life, etc. and all to no avail as I am inherently different and changing me simply isn't possible.  While showing to that sort of person that there is no way you are going to change and that you are proud to be who you are is satisfying, there is no point emphatically making a big and conspicuous display of it; simply carry on as you are and ignore them as you still make your point without trying to provoke. Antagonising them in return will not achieve anything, but will only further entrench their beliefs, as people tend to become stubborn and defensive if they feel they are being openly challenged. It can be hard to walk away, and it is understandable to become angry, defensive and defiant yourself, but if reasoning with them calmly does not work, then other tactics will not either; you cannot force someone to realise or admit that they are wrong. 

I will be posting again tomorrow with more Goth advice, and later this week I will post about my adventures this weekend past.

If you have specific question, you can contact me privately by my Domesticated Goth e-mail address at: 
domesticatedgoth[symbole arrobase]gmail[point]com or by messaging the ::Domesticated Goth page:: on FaceBook

Monday, 25 August 2014

Politeness And Goth Part 1: Why Be Polite?

In many ways, I feel like I shouldn't have to write this, and that everyone should be polite and well-mannered anyway, but the world doesn't work like that, sadly. A lot of rudeness gets directed at us Goths by people who are prejudiced, judgemental, and ignorant of who we are, but sometimes we Goths don't act politely either. 

I know that Goth, as an offshoot of Punk, has its roots in a subculture that used profanity, rudeness and shock tactics as means of political and societal protest, but Goth was a departure from Punk, and most of us are not engaged in a countercultural protest, in fact quite a few of us, myself included, are quite keen to point that our dress and lifestyle is not an act of deliberate rebellion, that we aren't trying to be some sort of non-conformists, or acting like this for any kind of audience or attention, but rather that we are just have a different set of tastes and values than the mainstream. 

Anyway, when wider society has a negative opinion of us anyway, confirming that opinion by acting rudely does not really shock; it is far more unsettling for us to be pleasant, nice people because then that forces them to confront that their pre-conception was wrong, and depending on what sort of framework of notions about the world that this pre-conception rested on, forces them to confront to some degree the under-pinning ideas. Jillian Venters of the amazing ::Gothic Charm School:: calls this concept 'subversion by politeness' and it was reading her articles that gave me something to coalesce my own ideas about this topic. 

If you go out dressed visibly Goth, then people will, on some level, see you as representative of the subculture as a whole. If they associated Goth-looking (and most mainstream people can only do a best-guess at subcultures from appearance) people with rudeness and anti-social behaviour, then it will reflect badly on the rest of us, even those that are not involved - also, people tend to assume that all local Goths know each other (I very frequently get strangers ask me if I know someone specific because that person is also Goth... I'm pretty well connected to the local subculture, but I don't know every Goth between Fort William and Aberdeen!) and therefore if you do something that upsets people, that can have repercussions on other local Goths, or if over the internet, Goths in general. 

Being a polite can genuinely change people's perceptions of Goths, or at least the individual being polite. A while ago, before I moved to Scotland, I used to frequent a little cafe with Raven. I went there more than he did, because it was where I was living at the time, and he was still living in a different country! Anyway, we'd still go there whenever he came to visit, and I would go there in-between times for take-away hot drinks and rather yummy cakes. Initially the owner was a bit afraid of me; she saw someone who looked spooky, with a coffin-shaped hand-bag (apparently that was particularly spooky) and all the anachronistic fashion I usually wear, but then, because I was always friendly, polite and cheerful, she realised that I wasn't a scary person after all, just a spooky-looking eccentric, and neither was Raven. Raven and I made it a tradition that on the last day of his visits to me, we would go there for afternoon tea, complete with cakes, etc. and with regular custom began to build something of a rapport with the staff. I think this is part of why people like Jillian Venters of Gothic Charm School and I want to encourage good manners so much; when people assume the worst of you on sight, you have make it very obvious that the worst isn't true, and it can change people's minds about old assumptions. 

If it is likely that people assume the worst, then you have to put in a bit of extra effort into making the good parts of your personality shine through, because people's prejudices can blind them. I am not suggesting being fake, only that it is important to take into account how others around you will react, and to consider what will be the most beneficial course of action to all involved. 

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Inverness Botanic Gardens & Floral Hall

❀❁✽❀Floral Fun & Afternoon Tea❀✽❁❀
Raven, K., M., and I all met up at Inverness Botanic Gardens (which you can find out more about on their website ::here::). K. and M. are primarily into Lolita fashion, whereas I am a Goth that dabbles in Lolita. I felt like wearing a Goth outfit with Lolita influences rather than a proper Gothic Lolita outfit as it was not a proper Lolita meet-up, just a gathering of frilly friends. 

Raven and I had been to the Botanic Gardens the previous week, and Raven wanted to go back to take photographs of the flowers. Raven took most of the images here, which is why he is not in many of them. Others were taken by M. All photographs are credited in their captions.

K. took this photograph...
 of Raven taking the next photograph of K taking this photograph..
As you can see in this image, I am wearing the silver wig again! This is the wig that was cut by a stranger the last time I wore it out, and since then it was retired awaiting repairs. I sewed some wefts of replacement hair in, but the texture of the new wefts was much shinier and more synthetic, so I stopped at the bare minimum to avoid the wig cap showing. I am going to buy some better quality synthetic hair to continue the replacements. In order to hide parts where the wig cap is showing - partly because the wig has thinned with time as hairs have shed, and partly because a thick lock of hair was cut off - there are quite a few hair flowers attached to the back of the wig. I felt that the flowers went with the botanic theme quite well, so were a good way of disguising that. 

K. and M. and I kept swapping M's smartphone between us.
Photograph by Raven.  
I have a special fondness for cacti and succulents - I grow LOTS of snake plants (sansevieria trifasciata) which are currently residing with my father as there's just not space for them in my apartment, money trees (crassula ovata, also known as jade trees) and for a while grew a little cactus, the exact kind of which I don't know. I really love the bold, architectural and geometric shapes you get with many cacti and succulents. They're always very interesting to look at. Not all cacti are very spiny or spiky looking - the ones I am posing with in the picture below are actually furry, but if you look carefully, there's spines within the fur, too!

On the path down into the cactus grotto.
Photograph by Raven.
The cactus house at Inverness Botanic Gardens is on two levels, with a sunken area involving a large mirror that gives a "cave" effect, which M. and K. were sitting in front of. Raven did well to keep himself out of the mirror photograph, but did not spot me rather theatrically "sneaking" up on M. and K.! 

M. and K. giggling,  me sneaking up on them.
Photograph by Raven.
Above the cactus grotto is a path that goes to the tropical green house and past the carnivorous plant display - I quite like those, too!Of course, we did not stay indoors, and so we had a wonder around in the outdoor gardens, too. I wish we had spent more time in the tropical green-house, and that I could find the charger for my camera, because I would have loved to have taken pictures of all the beautiful flowers (and fish) in there. 

Black and white and floral.
Photograph by M. Editing by HouseCat.
The botanic gardens stretch quite a way outside - further than I had realised on our first visit. I saw this dark green shrub with huge clusters of lovely white flowers and just knew I had to stand in front of it for a portrait! This photograph was taken by M. but I did the effects and filters on it afterwards. I think the black fabric flowers make an interesting contrast with the real white flowers. 

M. and K. arrive in the magic garden..
Photograph by Raven.
There is a "Jungle Path" intended for children through some Buddleia shrubs that M. and K. decided to go through - as considerably taller than them, and wearing precarious shoes, I decided to stay outside. Raven managed to get a rather good photograph of them that makes it look like they just emerged into a magical world, and M. has such an expression of wonderment on her face in this! I like how K. is standing near pink flowers that match her dress, and M. is standing near Buddleia flowers that closer match her dress! 

Channeling my inner Khaleesi
Photograph by Raven. 
We walked up a rather narrow and rocky path (hard in high-heeled platform Lolita shoes!) to a lovely viewing point, and I tried to pose on one of the rocks. Raven managed to catch this photo of me looking imperious before the illusion of majesty was ruined by my wobbling, flailing, and needing Raven's assistance to get down off the rock. 

K. under an umbrella, looking out over the meadows.
Photograph and editing by HouseCat, using M.s smartphone.
Unfortunately it rained quite early on in our walk around the gardens, so we sheltered under a tree where there was a bench, on the little mound overlooking the wildlife meadow and apple trees. K. and M. had an umbrella to share between them, so went to explore the meadow - as yet I haven't been that far, so I certainly need to go back!

At around 16:15, we went for afternoon tea - K. and I shared a halved slice of chocolate cake because there was only the one slice left, but it was HUGE, so I just cut it in half. The Floral Hall tea room has beautiful vintage tea-cups and saucers, and mis-matched plates for cake slices, and a selection of teas. There's also old decorative tea-tins on display, and lovely tea-themed decorations on the walls. The cake was rather tasty, too! Afterwards we went for a quiet walk around Tomnahurich Cemetery, which is near by, but we did not take photographs there, as we were being far more reflective. 

All in all, it was a lovely afternoon out with friends, and I thoroughly recommend the Botanic Gardens as an attraction to visit, especially as entry to the gardens is free!

Friday, 15 August 2014

Dinner With Friends

I am going to be upfront and honest here; I just really like how my make-up turned out today, and wanted to share it. 

Looking imperious!
I was all done up nice to go out for dinner with Raven and Suzy_Bugs. It wasn't to anywhere fancy, but I just felt like dressing up as I don't actually have very many opportunities to do so. I wore a corset, layered floor-lenght skirts, a silver satin-effect ruffled blouse, and plenty of fancy accessories. I quite enjoyed wearing more traditionally Gothic make-up; what I usually wear is a lot more toned-down than this. I did the two-tone eye-shadow based on a tutorial by "This Is Black Friday" on YouTube. The tutorial can be found ::here::.

Ruffles and suchlike
In retrospect I feel like I should not have worn black lipstick, as it wears off unevenly when eating. I definitely should not have worn, or even bought, the black lip-gloss; it gives a lovely wet-look effect when freshly applied, almost like PVC, but it rapidly starts bleeding into the fine lines of my skin around my lips, even with lip-liner, and even over black lipstick. In the end, I had to start over, and just wore matt black lipstick out. 

Extra shiny lipstick! That did not last :(
Other than that, I had a lovely dinner, a nice evening with friends, especially with Raven (who'd just finished a 12hr shift at work and deserved a nice evening) and altogether things went well.