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Buy to Let – a scourge on our society.

The last blog I wrote was about a dream house we’d found and put a sealed bid on. Unfortunately (or fortunately) we were unsuccessful in bidding on this house, as we were trounced quite heavily by an investor with deep pockets. The dream house has now been sold to a Buy-To-Let owner and will be ‘tarted up’ and put on the rental market.

My personal feelings towards people who use housing as a way of propping up their pension is quite a strong opinion. As a woman in her early thirties, I know how hard the average Joe has to work to pay extortionate rents. I know first hand how unsettling it is living in a private rented house or flat, when any minute an eviction notice can be shoved through the door. In fact, my partner has recently been evicted from his flat due to the owner selling up – that’s happened to him twice in less than two years.

This country is in the middle of a housing crisis. There are more and more buy-to-let owners out there, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down – even with the increase in fees for BTL owners. You see on property programmes men and women in their early sixties with property ‘portfolios’ and it disgusts me. I firmly believe that there should be a cap on the number of properties one is allowed to own. There are simply too many rental properties and not enough houses to buy at affordable prices.

 

 

 

Childfree at 30; female sterilisation. 

Eighteen days ago, 30 year old childless me walked into the Day Surgery Unit at my local hospital, with my hand in my partner’s and my Mum on my other side. I was about to be admitted into hospital for an elective Laparoscopic Tubal Ligation – or to the layperson – to have female sterilisation.

I entered the unit with my long term partner (I would say boyfriend, but he’s more than a boyfriend but not quite a husband) and my Mum. Both of whom I couldn’t have done this without. My support network was exactly what I needed. I was so nervous and excited at the same time but having my loving partner holding my hand and my amazing (Nurse) Mum beside me made the whole procedure much easier to take.

The all important support network

If you’re considering having a Tubal Ligation, having a support network around you is extremely important. Making the decision to end your mothering capabilities forever is a huge decision and having family and friends around you, supporting you, makes all the difference.

The Surgery

At 11:15 I was admitted to the day surgery ward. There was quite a long wait but there were some lovely chatty ladies already in the beds around me, which made my stay a little bit more enjoyable.

I was told to take a urine sample with me on the day of surgery (I believe this was to confirm I wasn’t pregnant) so this was given to the nurse and I was told to wait for the Anaesthetist. As I have a rare illness (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome) I made sure my Nurse Mum explained to my Anaesthetist that my illness causes me to be resistant to anaesthetic, so we made sure both the Anaesthetist and my surgeon both knew before I was put under general anaesthetic.

My Gynae consultant who was performing the surgery came to see me and to tell me about the procedure. He said it should only take him half an hour as it is a straightforward procedure and he’s done many many of them (admittedly, not to too many women my age) and he did ask me if I was one hundred percent sure I wanted to go through with it. He did say that he didn’t like performing this surgery on one so young. (I’ll get to that in a minute!)

Anyway, so the chat with the surgeon went well and I put my not-so-sexy compression socks on and my backless hospital gown and it hit me – I’m going to be put to sleep for the first time in my life and it started to feel real. I was really nervous.

My time came and I was wheeled off down to the Anaesthetic room to be put under. The porter commented on my long unpainted talons and that took my mind of the coming surgery, just for a moment.

The nurse started attaching the heart monitors to my chest and an IV line was put into the back of my left hand. The nurse was lovely and started asking me about my eyebrows (she was surprised to hear that they are naturally arched and I don’t shape them like that myself!) and again, this put me at ease. A mask of oxygen was put over my face as they put the general anaesthetic into my IV… and I was gone.

The next thing I know, I’m awake and I can hear lots of voices but I can’t see straight. I saw a man in glasses peering down at me and I had an oxygen mask over my face. I fell in and out of consciousness for around half an hour (or so I’m told)…

Paul, the man who was looking after me in the recovery room immediately after my surgery, was lovely. He chatted to me about my Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (I felt a bit like a celebrity, as I seemed to be the talk of the town because it’s unusual to have a patient in surgery with a resistance to anaesthetic) and he gave me a very sugary cup of tea and not one, but TWO packets of biscuits – My mouth was incredibly dry from having a tube down my throat so I only managed a biscuit and a half so he gave me the other pack to take back to the ward with me.

I was in recovery for around 45 minutes. This is apparently unusual but because I’d had to have more anaesthetic and more painkillers (I’m on a morphine derivative permanently at home) so it took me longer to be brought back to the ward.

Oh Holy Oramorph!!

I must admit, I was surprised by how okay I felt having been wheeled back to the ward… and then the morphine wore off…

Holy mother of all things merciful I have never felt pain like it. The pain came from not only having my organs pushed and pulled around, but from the gas they pump inside your stomach so they can see what they’re doing in there. It’s this gas that made my stomach so painful. So, they gave me two lots of Tramadol and when that didn’t work, they offered me Oramorph. I drank it and within 10 minutes I was right as rain again.

Around 20 minutes after the morphine, I was wanting to get up and move around, so I went to the toilet for my first wee. It’s important that you wee after surgery, or they won’t let you go home. I was relieved that I’d peed and eaten so I was soon to be discharged.

I got myself dressed (they encourage you to do as much for yourself as possible) and the nurses all looked at me incredulously, like I’d made a miraculous recovery – I was writhing around in agony just 30 minutes before!

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Shortly after receiving 2 doses of Tramadol and 1 dose of Oramorph!

My Saviours are here!

I text my Mum and within 10 minutes I was walked down the corridor by a nurse and there I saw my Partner and Mum standing there, peering behind the door looking relieved to see me. I’ll never forget their faces in that moment.
We walked slowly and gently to the car (me wearing my pyjamas, dressing gown and slippers) and home to rest I went.

Post Surgery

I cautiously moved around my house for a few days after the surgery, careful not to lift anything heavy or reach upwards. I had a couple of dissolvable stitches inside my belly button and another stitched wound near my left ovary, just below my knicker-line.

Within a week, I started to feel much more like myself and I took a tentative trip outside with my Mum just to the shops for a little walk around. I’m now 18 days post-op and my belly button looks exactly as it did before the surgery. The wound on my left hip is healing more slowly, but it’s getting there.

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I received a pre-assessment information pack that I read cover to cover. It featured all the information about the surgery, the anaesthetic and the recovery.

 

Thoughts

Q: How do you feel now that you are permanently unable to bear children?

A: Exactly as I did before the surgery. I didn’t wake up and think ‘Oh God, what have I done?’ I felt no different whatsoever.

Q: What if you start to regret it?

A: I’m a firm believer in instinct. If my gut tells me something is right or wrong, I tend to listen. At the age of 30, if I wanted children, I would have had them by now. I do not see myself ever wanting children and that is why I made this permanent decision to be sterilised. If in ten years’ time I find my mind wondering about children, I’ll remind myself of all the reasons why I chose to be sterilised in the first place.

Q: …And what are those reasons?

A: One, lack of maternal instinct. I’m not going to wake up one day and feel broody. I have never felt broody.
Two, I don’t like children. There, I said it. They’re loud, they’re messy, they’re expensive, they’re needy, they’re tiring, they’re stressful.
Three, I am an introvert. I am sensitive to the energy of other people and my people-battery gets flat after a short while. Being around a baby or child runs that battery down twice as fast and I would definitely resent it. I need quiet, I need to be alone, in order to re-charge my batteries.
and finally, number four, the “big kahuna” – I am invisibly disabled. My health has been poor since my early twenties and I have several chronic illnesses; two of which, run in my family. I do not believe it is morally right to bring a child into the world if there is a known possibility of them inheriting a health condition.

Q: But what if you didn’t have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, do you think you would feel differently?

A: No. I do not believe I would. I listed my EDS as the last reason and there’s a reason for that – I am a woman, first and foremost. I am a woman who has never felt the urge to procreate. If everything in my life was perfect, if I had all the money in the world, If I had a large house, a garden, Nannies, and I wasn’t disabled, I still would choose not to have children. My own lack of maternal instinct is reason enough. I shouldn’t have to justify not wanting children and it shouldn’t rest on whether or not I was physically fit enough to bear a child. I don’t want children, period.

Q: Do you have any words of advice for other women out there who are contemplating Tubal Ligation?

A: Yes, think, think and think again. It is such a personal decision, no one can make it for you. You have to be absolutely sure that you never ever want a baby, because Tubal Ligation is non-reversible. It is a permanent solution.

Q: Okay, so I’ve decided I want to go through with it, where do I start and do you have any advice?

A: Yes; Stand. Your. Ground. Your first port of call (this is advice for ladies in England, I do not know the procedure for private health care or that of US health care) will be with your General Practitioner – they are the ones who refer you to the NHS for the procedure.

Even in 2017, Doctors are reluctant to refer women for sterilisation who are “young” and “childless” (and even in some cases, after having children they still are reluctant!)
You will need to assert yourself at every point, and make your argument clear. When approaching a Doctor, have your facts. Research the procedure, the success and failure rates, research other women’s successful cases and have every answer to their questions thoroughly thought out. I was asked about why I didn’t want to continue with the Mirena Coil and my own feeling is that my body does not react well to added hormones, so I wanted a permanent solution that didn’t involve hormones.
Unfortunately, you will come up against doctors who will refuse outright, either due to their own personal opinions or because they think they know best. My advice is to stand your ground and don’t take no for an answer. If you have no luck with your own GP, book an appointment with another GP at your surgery and ask them to refer you.
I was turned down by my own GP but when I saw another, after somewhat of a fight, I was referred on and then got to be assessed by the Gynae team (they are the ones who make the final decision).

Q: Do you have any other advice?

A: All I can say is, do what is right for you. I knew deep down I didn’t want children at a very young age. I did wait until I was 30 to broach the subject of sterilisation and I did try every available form of contraception before making the huge decision to be sterilised.
I won’t sit here and say it’ll be easy, or that you won’t regret it – the decision is 100% yours and you have to be prepared for the possibility of regret. If you can accept that, then good luck to you on your journey to being childfree.

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“Motherhood is not for every woman, and that’s okay.” – Beth Von Black

Stanmore: Pain Management Rehabilitation Programme Day 2

Woke up just before my 7:55am alarm went off this morning, which is rare. So I watched some morning news and waited for my breakfast to arrive at my door. Unfortunately the breakfast was disappointing, so I’ll make my way to the restaurant for breakfast tomorrow, even though I’m phobic about buffet food. I can have as much as I want when it’s buffet – I had 4 mini croissants and a big bowl of plain yoghurt – no granola as they’d run out and you can’t eat plain yoghurt on its own, it’s hideous!

So after breakfast it was time for a ‘Your Move’ session which was a basic relaxation/stretch class – lasted about 15 minutes then I went onto my first Physiotherapy session. The Physio was lovely, and really listened to my issues and goals. She sorted out some things I can do to improve my back pain and ward off so many muscle spasms. Then she said I was strong and had a great sense of body awareness – so my aim to get pilates and yoga back into my routine regularly is definitely doable, which is great.

Then we moved onto Occupational Therapy and we worked out some areas we could improve; longevity of shopping trips, my ability to do more chores around the house and work on my hands and grip.

Then came Psychology, which was weird. I got upset because of the vulnerability I felt talking to a complete stranger and it was an odd sensation. I thought it would be more to do with how I feel about living with a chronic illness, but it was more to do with being bullied as a teenager and how I see myself now. Which is great, but not what I’d expected to be delving into (especially with such a limited time frame… I’m a complicated woman and 3 sessions of psychology ain’t gonna do much!).

After lunch (which is cleverly made so that none of it can be squirreled away to our rooms for later – it was all salad, ham, chips and pasta) we had a session about the physiology of pain. I found this particularly boring, mostly because having been diagnosed with EDS for over 10 years, I know enough about pain to not need a lesson about it. I’ve read up about pain plenty of times and it just felt like they were teaching a granny to suck eggs, in a way.

I think that’s what Andy (the lead Psychologist on the programme) meant about my being a breath of fresh air in terms of being a chronic illness ‘sufferer’ – I don’t ‘suffer’ with anything; I have a chronic illness, I am not my chronic illness. So the sessions here seem to be catered to the more ‘Fibro minded’ people who tend to let their pain take over and therefore need to be taught how to change their relationship with pain. I am confident in myself and my illness to not feel like I have an unhealthy relationship with my chronic illness or pain.

Unfortunately this afternoon the jacuzzi wasn’t working so we were left with either swimming in the COLD (we have connective tissue disorders damnit, we need warm water!!!) pool or using the sauna – neither of which we felt like doing so we sat and relaxed for a bit before the children piled in the pool.

Anyway, I’m utterly knackered so I’m going to leave it there. My fella’s coming to visit me in the hotel tonight, so we’re eating dinner in the restaurant here. I can’t wait to see him, I feel like I’m a million miles away from him! (In essence he’s more like 40 miles away!)

Historical Adventures in England

I am a huge lover of English history. I love English architecture, I love castles, I love manor houses, I love churches and cathedrals. So when I was taken to Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire for my birthday last year I decided to become a member of the National Trust for a year.

My partner and I love nothing more than getting a picnic together and getting in the car and driving to as many of the National Trust (NT) properties as we can. Last year we visited so many places! We visited:

  • Waddesdon Manor (my favourite in terms of opulence and grandeur)
  • Scotney Castle in Tunbridge Wells (NT)
  • Claydon in Buckingham (NT)
  • Canons Ashby in Daventry (NT)
  • Stowe in Buckingham (NT)
  • Avebury in Wiltshire (NT)
  • and we also visited the privately owned Hatfield House in Hertfordshire
  • Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire (English Heritage)
  • Stonehenge in Wiltshire (English Heritage)
  • and finally we visited Beaulieu house and Hurst Castle in the New Forest.

It’s not widely advertised, but there is a concession for disabled visitors to all National Trust and English Heritage sites (lots of privately owned historical sites also have concessions, just ask) – where your carer or accompanying person enters for free, ultimately making it half price for you both. This is what makes it so great for me and my partner because we wouldn’t be able to afford to visit so many places without that concessionary rate. It really has been a game changer for us as a couple.

Anyway, enough rambling, I’m going to post some pictures I’ve taken (all on an iphone, so not the best quality!) from our English adventures… this country is absolutely beautiful and I simply adore it.

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Scotney Castle in Tunbridge Wells – Copyright Beth Von Black

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Scotney Castle – Image Copyright Beth Von SBlack

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Scotney Castle – Image Copyright Beth Von Black

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The Ruin at Scotney Castle – Copyright Beth Von Black

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The Ceiling at Claydon in Buckingham – Copyright Beth Von Black

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Canons Ashby in Daventry – Copyright Beth Von Black

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Canons Ashby in Daventry – Copyright Beth Von Black

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Canons Ashby in Daventry – Copyright Beth Von Black

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Selfie time at Hatfield House

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The Gothic Temple at Stowe in Buckingham – Copyright Beth Von Black

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Picnic at Hatfield House 

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The Lawn at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire – Copyright Beth Von Black

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Elizabeth I – Hatfield House – Copyright Beth Von Black

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Sculpture Garden at Hatfield House – Copyright Beth Von Black

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My partner wondering if this would fit in our car… at Hatfield House

During the past 18 months we’ve also visited Salisbury Cathedral, Gloucester Cathedral, Bath Abbey, St Albans Cathedral, Birmingham Cathedral and Winchester Cathedral.

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Gloucester Cathedral

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St Bartholomew the Lesser Church and St Barts Pathology Museum (Macabre Market)

More adventures to come this year……

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#loveyourimperfections

Do you know what really gets my goat? It’s the latest offering from Match.com and their wonderful marketing of self-esteem with the cringe inducing hashtag ‘love your imperfections’. 

You may wonder why I have beef with a seemingly innocuous statement but let’s look closer…

The term ‘imperfections’ can be literally translated to not being perfect, not whole, with blemishes etc etc. 

But what really irritates me is when it is used to describe HUMANS as if any one of us is capable of achieving this ‘so called’ perfection. Show me ONE perfect person and I’ll eat my hat…

  • Freckles are not imperfections. They are normal and natural because the skin is not a piece of perfectly bleached piece of paper. 
  • Having a loud or unusual laugh doesn’t make you imperfect; it makes you different and interesting
  • Not being able to dance to a beat is not an imperfection. There isn’t a single person in this world who is a ‘perfect dancer’ (sorry Darcey Bussel but you are not perfect!)

So, sorry match.com you have just got right up my craw with that advert of yours. Humans aren’t perfect and they therefore can’t have imperfections; they have things that make them human. 

I really really wish this world would stop using the words ‘perfect’ and ‘imperfect’ to describe people. 

We are anything other than those two words. 

    Social Media

    If you’ve somehow managed to stumble across my blog and don’t hate it, feel free to let others know you like it. Actually, even if you hate it, pass the word on – any publicity is good publicity they say. Ha.

    I have been a social media butterfly under many guises since I was a teenager. Faceparty, Myspace, Vampire Freaks, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter… You name it, I had one.

    Thankfully social media is a wonderful and vibrant way to get yourself out there, especially if like me, you’re less physically able to get out and about.

    If you’d like to follow me around the internet, feel free to have a look at my Instagram page, my Pinterest, my Twitter and my newly acquired Facebook page.

     

    Just say YES

    When I first decided I wanted to start a blog, I didn’t really know which direction to take as to what I wanted to blog about; there are so many facets to my life, I couldn’t narrow it down. I had written a blog a few years ago when I started running a vintage business and had some compliments on my writing style. I don’t know if they were just being polite but nevertheless, it brought about a confidence in me.

    I guess most things in adult life are about having the guts to do something you’ve never done before. As Einstein said, the definition of insanity is ‘doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results’ I’m probably paraphrasing but you get what I mean.

    I know too many people who do the same thing, day in, day out and complain that their life is unfulfilled. But, they haven’t actually taken the time to really sit and think about WHY their life isn’t what they had imagined it would be. They don’t consider that it is the choices they’ve made that have led them to the place they are now and another few scary but brave decisions may change their life for the better.

    I’m not saying I’m perfect by any means. But, I do like to think having spent a fair amount of time in an introspective space, I have come out with a clearer knowledge of who I am as a person. As I was going through this period of ‘enlightenment’ (cue the sick noises!) I became much more of a yes person.

    Crippled with Social Anxiety throughout my teens and early twenties my natural state was to avoid anything that may cause me embarrassment or even a small amount of attention. It stopped me doing a lot of things and it got so bad I spent 2 years hiding in my house rarely leaving it. I finally had had enough and decided I wanted more for myself, so I tracked down a few self help books on how to overcome social anxiety and even spent time (and a lot of money) having hypnotherapy sessions.

    It took a while but I built up more and more confidence. I enrolled in some small adult learning courses and tried my hand at dressmaking and silver smithing. Slowly I came out of my shell and life started to feel a little less daunting.

    A good few years have gone by now and while I still have mild social anxiety, it doesn’t rule my life. I took chances, I took risks, I thought ‘what the hell’ and did things I never thought I could do. I’ve walked down a catwalk wearing latex in a fetish club, I’ve talked about myself on the local radio, I’ve been in a tv commercial, I’ve run my own business, I’ve been published as a model, I’ve been immortalised as a comic book character.

    All these things happened because I simply said YES.

    What have you done lately?

     

     

     

     

    It’s just a phase, isn’t it?

    When I was in secondary school, I had several nicknames given to me by my peers. I remember Witchcraft being shouted at me across the hall, I remember greebo and goth being launched at me like a bullet set to wound or even kill.

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    (A 17 year old me)

    But, what these bullies didn’t realise was that I actually got pleasure from hearing them jeer at me, calling me names that I felt were far more ‘me’ than my own name (at the time). I got a thrill out of being infamous in secondary school, whether it was for good reasons or bad, I loved being known by everyone.

    I’m no longer in secondary school (thank fuck) and I’m now hurtling towards my thirties at what feels like super speed. But, somewhere along the line, I should’ve thrown away the band t-shirts, the purple lipstick and the New Rock boots and emerged as a social butterfly who enjoys wearing push up bras, sunbeds and peroxide. But I didn’t….

    At 29, I’m still dying my naturally medium brown hair, black. I’m still painting my nails black (and now shaping them to a point) and I still wear my ‘signature’ winged black eyeliner I perfected by the time I was 16.

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    The difference is, I know who I am on the inside. I know what I want from life, I know what makes me tick. I know that I don’t like being suntanned and I always feel more myself when I re-dye my hair black.

    Being a goth, for me, is about knowing myself and trusting that I like what I like because I listen to myself; not the media, or my friends or my family. I’ve had people praise me for my individual sense of style even though they are self professed ‘jeans and a t-shirt’ type and that is what drives me in my quest to show the world you do not have to subscribe to ANY culture or subculture if don’t want to.

    Of course, it’s natural for us to all go through stages in life of liking a certain look, or genre of music that is different to what you thought you’d be listening to or liking.

    For example just after the ending of my first relationship, I decided to train to be a body piercer. I spent 8 months working in a body piercing studio in the town I went to school. During those 8 months I transitioned into something totally different and by the end of it, I’d packed away most of my ‘gothy’ clothing and was dressing in pencil skirts and shirts with a nipped in waist and wearing red lipstick on a daily basis. I was listening to a lot more Rock N Roll and jazz and was enjoying my girlier side.

    It was interesting because being in the body modification industry I got to experience the best of both worlds. I could dress up in a pinup/rockabilly look and still be covered in piercings. I could experiment and see what worked and what didn’t. I loved the creative freedom of working in the body modification industry and it allowed me to widen my interests.

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    This is what I’d look like one day, working as an apprentice body piercer.

    The more I listened to the music of the 1940s and 1950s, the more I became passionate about the look of the eras. I had started attending vintage fairs and decided to start collecting vintage clothing.

    I gathered a rather large collection and with that, a surprising amount of knowledge about buying vintage; so with that, I decided to stop my body piercing apprenticeship and start my own business selling clothing and accessories from the 1940s and 50s and Tally Ho! Vintage was born.

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    This was my first ever fair at a tiny, unknown events company in Milton Keynes.

    It then grew very quickly and I’d built up a reputation for being the only vintage business in Milton Keynes that only sold ‘true’ vintage. I had quite a following and had regular customers.

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    and finally, I had a concession in a vintage/antiques shop in Northampton where I even got my own shop sign (hand made by my fair hand!)

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    Tally Ho! Vintage was my greatest achievement. I was being asked to set up my business at popular vintage fairs in the local area and had concessions in several antique shops.

    Sadly, by this point, my EDS had started to become a problem and my wonderful parents had to help with an awful lot of the physical work that was involved in running a business and doing fairs. I decided to close down the concession I had in Ampthill Antiques Emporium (pictured below)

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    As I was winding down the vintage business, I had started to model for a friend and her photographer friend who specialised in the pinup look. I modelled for several photographers and websites, was signed to Ugly Models and was published in a Tease and Cake calendar in 2014.

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    Image copyright: Tease and Cake

    Throughout this time, I still had my signature black hair. My nails were often painted red for shoots, but there was always an element of ‘goth’ in how I presented myself. It just came naturally to me, to keep the ‘darker’ side rather than hide it completely and be someone I’m not.

    A few years later and the modelling had also had to take a back seat to my health. I couldn’t travel unaccompanied any more and travelling to London for auditions became too much, so I resigned from Ugly Models and only did shoots locally. Thankfully, a friend of mine Kate Beavis writes for Vintage Life Magazine, so I have been fortunate enough to model for her on a couple of occasions.

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    Image copyright: Binky Nixon for Vintage Life Magazine

    That was last year and this is me now….

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    So you see, it’s absolutely OKAY to experiment with your look. It’s absolutely OKAY to throw caution to the wind and wear that bright red lipstick you’ve never had the guts to wear. It’s OKAY to change your look, it’s okay not to care about having a look.

    What’s important, is you find out who you are and be 100 percent comfortable with what you find. If you’re not; make changes.

    Being an authentic person takes times, growth and courage to be uniquely you. You’re only on this planet for a relatively short amount of time, so stop wasting it by conforming to someone else’s life plans, looks or tastes.

    BE YOU, you are enough!