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..

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Great Gothic Graveyard Walk

Originally, quite a few of us were going to go on the graveyard walk, but in the end - especially with it being the day after the Rapture rock night (29th October) and people being rather hung-over - it ended up with only a small group of us going. I've been on antibiotics due to getting all infected in my sinuses and then my chest after having had the flu (it's a recurring issue because my sinuses don't drain properly), so I wasn't drinking the night before, and I don't drink much anyway. 

This is the unicorn statue in Falcon Square

This was Inverness based, and as I had organised and was leading it, I had to get their nice and early. Raven was at work, and I'm medically not allowed to drive, so this meant a bus journey. My friend Ducky was staying at ours, so he came with me. We met up in Falcon Square, which is pretty much Inverness' city centre, and I stood under the statue of a unicorn, my bright green hair hopefully a beacon to make us visible from afar.

The first stop was meant to be Chapel Yard cemetery, which is one I am quite fond of, but it was locked up over the Hallowe'en weekend (it's usually open during the daytime) - presumably to stop those revellers who get carried away from doing anything to desecrate it. After a spate of grave vandalisms in the city, this was probably a wise decision. 

Detail of Leakey's interior
We decided to move on and go to Leakey's instead. ::Leakey's:: is a used book shop, but it's in a repurposed chapel, and it's amazing. It's internationally famous, and is one of the best book-shops I have been into. You can find books on pretty much everything. I bought a book by Raymond Buckland on how to communicate with spirits. We had a lot of fun rummaging through various sections - there were so many books that I wanted, but I could only afford to get one book, so picking one was quite hard. They also sell prints, including one I saw of a mausoleum (roofless, a specific Gaelic type) that is in the Old High Church graveyard, but I couldn't afford it, although I was quite tempted. It's my favourite shop in Inverness, and it's easy to while away the hours in there. 

The inside is like something from Harry Potter! 
I thoroughly recommend Leakey's to anybody interested in old books or old buildings, especially if they love both. There are a lot of fabulous details of the building remaining from its time as a church, including the original stained glass windows, pulpit, and galleries - as well as a big log-burner in the middle of it all! Yes, a book shop heated with fire! The pipe reaching up through the ceiling in the above picture is the chimney. I love standing by the fire and warming my hands, especially in the chill of the colder months in the Highlands. 

One of the stained glass windows in Leakey's. Yes, I still like windows.

After visiting Leakey's, we went to the neighbouring Old High Church graveyard. The Old High Church graveyard is one that I've visited numerous times, and is one of my favourites in Inverness, probably because it's usually quite quiet and has a nice view over the river. Thankfully this graveyard was open, and we had a look around. 

Left to right: Ducky, myself, Sean, Lyn, D. J. A.
Ducky borrowing my cane to look fabulous until I'd need it on the way back

We also took a group photo - as you can see, a small turn out. Missing is Lyn's partner, who is taking the photo. Note how dressing for the Scottish autumn ought to take precedence - I am grateful that all those layers of velvet were actually rather warm; I should have worn my coat.  

A. & D. amongst tombstones.

Lyn, the lady with the red hair, used to be a volunteer with the Culloden Battlefield visitor's centre, so she told us about the history of the graveyard in relation to the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden and the execution of Jacobite prisoners. I've written about that before ::here::. It's a sad and sombre part of history, very dark for what now seems like a charming and peaceful graveyard - not somewhere to be associated with a mass execution. It seems a bit weird photographing where they shot people, so I didn't take a picture of that part of the graveyard. 

Blackfriar's Graveyard

We then tried to visit Blackfriar's graveyard which is down a side-street and beneath the British Telecom building, literally! As it is an archaeological site there's a 'bridge' over it connecting the two main portions of the B.T. building. The site has the remains of an ancient Dominican Friary, really only one column standing - as well as a more recent, but still centuries old graveyard. It was also locked, however, so I just took some photographs through the gate. I've been in there when it's open, however, and shall have to post better photographs on this blog and also at ::Architecturally Gothic::.

Balnain House

After we tried to visit the Blackfriar's graveyard, we walked across the foot-bridge to Balnain House, the front courtyard of which is above the mass graves for the prisoners executed at the Old High Church, as Balnain House was at the time used as a hospital for the Hanoverian troops. It's a sombre place, and I am surprised no latter monument has been erected to those buried there. If it hadn't been for Lyn telling us, I'm not sure I'd have known about that at all. I've lived here 5 years, and I'm still learning so much about this (relatively small!) city. 

Walking beside the canal

After that we headed along the canal (a beautiful walk in itself) to Inverness' closest thing to a necropolis - the sprawling Tomnahurich cemetery that winds its way up to a war memorial at the top of a small but steep hill. It's in the suburbs of Inverness, rather than its centre, but not quite at the city's edge - however it has some very beautiful views, and is something of a park as well as a place to bury the dead. Some of it is wooded, and it's a very beautiful place. It has a lot of Victorian monuments, many of which are rather ornate. It also has large areas of more modern grave-stones - in general a bit plainer than their historic neighbours.
Looking out over more recent graves from the hill.

We walked all the way up the central hill, which is quite steep in places (my knees and ankles are weak from old injuries and ached quite a bit - I'd lent my cane to Ducky for aesthetic purposes, but on the way back I needed it back for practical reasons!). The view is beautiful, and the monuments at the top, including the war memorial, are quite splendid. There weren't any the day we visited, but if you go there when it's very quiet, there are often hedgehogs and red squirrels, too.

Finial type monument between stone graves

One thing that is unusual in Tomnahurich are the cast-iron monuments. Most of them are in the form of a traditional Victorian Gothic-Revival headstone, but cast as an iron frame with an inner plaque, often a stone plaque. These are often the graves of people who worked at the foundry and ironworks in the city, and I wonder if they're the graves of those who died in industrial accidents, or perhaps those who had died after many years working at the ironworks. One curious iron monument is one that I spotted that appeared to be an architectural finial used as a monument, mounted on a small stone. Similar finials top the gables of the finer Victorian houses and buildings across the city, and I wonder if the monument was either cast from the same mould, or was initially made as a finial, and then used as a monument.

We spent quite some time walking around Tomnahurich, examining the monuments, pondering about what the symbolism meant in regard to those buried, and admiring the fine stonework - the monumental masons of Invernes were evidently quite skilled! I tried to take more photographs, but I was loosing the light, and I will have to return in summer, or earlier in the day.

We had a fun, if rather long walk around the various graveyards and cemeteries of Inverness - or at least those that were accessible. We had planned to go further North to the graves of the patients of Craig Dunain (a Victorian 'lunatic asylum', which I have written about ::here::) but it was getting too dark, and late enough in the evening for busses to be infrequent, so we headed back after Tomnahurich. It was very nice to catch up with friends, even if not as many folk turned out as could have, and a good walk around Inverness, too!

Friday, 14 October 2016

Dark Towers, Clouded Skies - Photographic Friday

Another Friday, another set of photographs. These are from the same day as the previous set, but of a different building. This is the Palace Hotel, and it is also on Ness Walk. It's got two big turrets on the front - a continuation of the bay windows and dormer windows into two 'towers'. It looks very grand, and the frontage is quite a mix of styles. It's a mixture of French chateaux details, Scottish Baronial and eclectic ornaments. The front has an arch over a balcony. 

As with all my architectural photography now, these are on my Tumblr account ::Architecturally Gothic:: - I also post up pictures there that I don't post here (otherwise my blog would include far too many buildings!) and I talk more about the architectural historical aspects of what I photograph. I also reblog photographers with similar architectural interests to me (and often a similar black-and-white dramatic style, just a lot better than mine!).  If you like that sort of thing, I suggest you follow my Tumblr. I'm studying architectural technology at university, and so a lot of my photography is related to that, plus historical architecture is something of a passion of mine, so my Tumblr updates more than my main blog. 

All of these photographs are for my college project, and are an attempt to capture the architectural character of the city centre and riverside area in pictures. I feel that Inverness is an underrated city, and this is partly because of a lot of mid 20thC developments that demolished lots of the old city and marred the overall character of the city - my project is a theoretical plan to address some of that. It's all academic, literally, and will never see fruition, but I like this project as an opportunity to show something of my vision in general, and my love for the city. Everyone in the class got the same brief and location, and I love this project. 

This last photograph was deliberately edited to be gloomy and dark. I quite like giving images that sense - I guess it reflects my general imagination, which is full of Gothic tales of the supernatural. The photographs I upload to ::Architecturally Gothic:: are not the only photographs of the city I took - there's quite a few full-colour images that a look a lot more bright and cheery, they just wouldn't be very suitable for either blog as both of which are about a certain Gothic atmosphere. My project booklet is a lot brighter than my blog; that wouldn't be suitable for the brief, or the nature of the project - Inverness has lots of stunning architecture that lends itself to spooky photographs, but it's not really a spooky city - it's one full of Victorian medieval-revivalism and red and yellow sandstone. 

Friday, 7 October 2016

Gables, Clouds and Rainy Skies - Photographic Friday

Another instalment of 'Photographic Friday'. I haven't done these in a while, especially since I established my architectural photography blog on Tumblr - ::Architecturally Gothic::. If you like my photography work, I recommend looking at that. I'd like to get a few more followers, too! I've watermarked all of my architectural photography with that blog now - if it's going on Tumblr, it needs to be watermarked so attribution doesn't get lost if people reblog without source. 

Anyway, this is a set of photographs from over a week ago. I actually made myself ill by going out and photographing this set - or rather significantly accelerated the progress of a cold straight into the worst parts. I've ended up missing college and not really doing much for over a week, and I'm worried I will get behind. 

Columba hotel, named after the Saint. Dramatic skies. Photo by me.

This is one of a whole heap of photographs I took of Inverness for a university project, and the only day I had to go in take photographs happened to be one of frequent torrential downpours, and I got soaked (despite my umbrella and coat) and the following day felt like death, and have spent most of the following week ill in bed with some sort of bad cold, perhaps the flu. 

At least the Scottish Baronial gables are pretty. Note the stepped gables - these are called 'corbie-steps' or 'corble-steps' from the Scots word for crow; "corbie", or just 'crow-steps'. At some point I'm going to have to take a picture of some crows perched on them - there are enough crows about the place, but the seagulls keep chasing them off. 

Close up of Columba Hotel sign and gables and dormer. 

In a break from the rain the clouds were really rather snazzy. Again, the gables of the Columba Hotel (and a cute wee dormer window). Scottish Baronial architecture dominates Ness Walk, with the all narrow windows, many gables (and roof goes up to the wall and stops, instead of overhangs past it. This is very common with Scottish roofs. There's often a sort of hidden lead gutter called a raggle, behind the wall, otherwise water would get in.) These photos are for a college project. I’m doing an analysis of the current architectural context for a site, so I pretty much photographed the entire area around it…
Gables all in a row. Photograph by the HouseCat
Another photograph from Ness Walk. Many of Ness Walk’s gables all in a row, against the clearing clouds. It did rain again after that, but at least the weather was dry for a moment. The old parts of Inverness are beautiful and full of character - it’s a shame they demolished so much of it between the 1950′s and ‘70s and replaced a lot of it with ugly box buildings. A lot of Inverness’ older districts make me think of a scaled-down Edinburgh. There's even a prominent city-centre castle on a hill!

Gothic windows. Photograph by the HouseCat 

Gothic Revival apartments/offices/accommodation (I can’t remember which portions of this building are what), opposite the Cathedral, in Inverness. I took this photo because of the Gothic Revival details on an otherwise very Scottish Baronial building - bridging the Scottish Baronial style of most of Ness Walk (and the Castle across the river) and the Gothic Revival style of the (perpetually unfinished) cathedral.

Here's another combination of Gothic Revival and Scottish Baronial. I think the two columns either side of the gable might be chimney-pots, either that or they are purely decorative - I'm not actually sure! The blind round 'window' in the centre is a cinquefoil Gothic tracery, and the tops of the windows have been pointed to Gothic arches, but still retain the overall 'vertical rectangle' feel of Scottish Baronial windows. The crow-steps are capped wit fancy stone, but are still very much crow-steps. It's a well executed hybridisation of what in this case are two medieval-revival styles. I think this particular building is either offices or a hotel. 

Hopefully these pictures have been enjoyable. I think my architectural photography is certainly improving, and I really must update my Tumblr with more photography. 

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Review - Lilith Skirt by Necessary Evil from Kate's Clothing

Edit: This post is delayed because I wanted to put it out after a linked unboxing video, but I don't have iMovie anymore, and I'm still getting used to how to edit videos, so the unboxing I've filmed will be uploaded to YouTube AFTER this. 

::Kate's Clothing:: got in contact with me to do this sponsored post, offering to send me an item to review. As you know from my past reviews, I review things honestly, and while getting free stuff is definitely cool, I will not let that cloud me form being honest about the quality of something. Thankfully, I don't have to worry about that much with this, because this skirt is pretty darn nifty.

I was given the option of picking anything from Necessary Evil's latest range - most of it was too minimalistic and 'Nu-Goth' in styling for my personal tastes (I have nothing against that style, it just isn't my personal thing; I like a little more detailing - if you like Nu-Goth, they've got some great things in stock), but this ::Lilith skirt:: with its four tiers of ruffles at the bottom caught my eye as suitable for my Romantic Goth style. I saw it as an excellent skirt for layering, which as the photos show, is definitely true. It has an excellent balance of cling and swooshiness - very good for showing off curves and for achieving that vampy silhouette. 

One hat-point short of a cliche. Photo by Raven
The thing that got me most excited about this skirt is that it is actually long enough on me. I am pretty tall, as many of you will already know, and usually struggle to find skirts that are a reasonable length on me. Skirts have to be at least 40 inches to be floor-length on me - at 40 inches I can wear a skirt riding just above my hips and have it sweep the floor, but I prefer a good few inches above that to have a skirt worn at my waist. This skirt is 43 inches long, and I bought it in a UK size 14 (US 10) because I've gone up a wee bit from a size 12(US 8), and I'd rather have a loose size 14 than a size 12 that's a wee bit tight - plus, after I loose more weight, I can always have a larger size taken in. I'm very happy to have a skirt where I love the aesthetics and it actually is long enough for me! There are so many skirts out there which I think look beautiful... on someone 6 inches or more shorter than me. 

Hat adjustment pose! Photo by Raven

The construction of the skirt seems sturdy, but the fabric is thin, and I imagine it wouldn't be that hard to put a stiletto heel through it if you stood on the hem, however that is a matter of taking care, rather than a fault in the skirt. I've not had it long yet, so I cannot say yet as to how long it will last me.

It is made of a synthetic mesh material, and it is rather sheer - I certainly wouldn't wear it without something opaque underneath (in the photos I am wearing opaque black tights and a black tunic underneath, the black tunic reaching down to bellow my butt, and the tights being very thoroughly opaque) or over it (I am also wearing a "butt cape" or reverse apron - this is an over-skirt that's actually a modified semi-sheer skirt, split down a seam and finished with velvet ribbon for ties) to preserve my modesty. It was quite dingy for the photo-shoot, too. If I were to wear it out and about, I would probably wear it over opaque leggings or under my favourite velvet long-at-the-back, short-at-the-front skirt. Other people may be more comfortable wearing something that sheer and thus may want to wear it just as a skirt, but I am definitely happier covering up. 

More hat adjustment poses... Photo by Raven
Altogether I'm very, VERY happy with the skirt. I was also happy with Kate's Clothing - not just for sending me free stuff, but because when I enquired about the length of the skirt they gave me the measurements and my interactions whenever I have ordered from them (which I've done several times) have always been very pleasant, and I've been shopping with them much longer than I've been affiliated. I don't often buy new clothes at all (for several reason, some of which financial, some of which ecological), but when I do, I see Kate's Clothing as pretty reliable online retailer. My only suggestion would be that if possible it would be better to list more detailed measurements as sizing on the website itself.  

Outfit I am wearing in the photos:
Hat - H&M, bought new several years ago. (I'm no longer supporting H&M as a retailer).
Choker - 'Eretica' choker by Alchemy Gothic; secondhand on eBay
Necklace - 'Dragon Heart' pendant by Alchemy Gothic; secondhand on eBay
Cropped top - Raven; secondhand on eBay (It's got velvet, lace-up details up the front and drippy sleeves - perfect over-the-top Romantic Goth!)
Corset - Burleska; secondhand on eBay
Belt - secondhand on eBay
Overskirt - hand-made, fabric re-claimed from a skirt secondhand on eBay
Skirt: Necessary Evil; sponsorship gift from Kate's Clothing
Shoes (not visible;  coffin-buckle pikes) - Fantasy Shoes; secondhand on eBay

I would have normally worn lace gloves, but I took them off because otherwise my hands would have been just too dark in the photographs to really show up. I think the local woodland has become the new 'meadow' default photography location since I moved away from the meadow (I miss that meadow). Photographs are by my very talented partner, Raven, and are NOT to be reproduced without permission.