Gothic

The house we don’t have yet. 

My partner and I have been planning on living together from around 4 months of being together. We decided very early on that we were serious about each other and from then on, we’ve been collecting things for the house we don’t have yet. 

To say we’re an unusual couple would be a slight understatement. I am what most people would call a ‘goth’ or ‘greebo’ and my boyfriend also has an alternative look; long blonde hair, beard and rarely without a metal tshirt on. 

Living as a couple has been our plan pretty much from the start and it’s been a wonderful experience over the past two years collecting things for our home to be. We both decided that we didn’t want a flat-packed home from IKEA or Argos. We are passionate about old things, antique furniture and things that have held the test of time. 

We bought a gothic revival Victorian octagonal table and drove many many miles to the Peak District to pick it up. We bought a beautiful black Victorian dresser from a man whose wife wanted more modern furniture (thank you very much!) and we have a writing desk and wall mirror to match. 

Our latest purchases were a French ecclesiastical antique candle stick and a wonderful planter that I’m now looking for a stand to put it on! 


We’re definitely going down the Victorian route with our decor. Think, dark coloured walls, dark furniture and lots of candlesticks. I’ve been obsessed with taxidermy and curios since childhood so it was a huge relief to have a partner who also doesn’t hate my love for the macabre. 

At the moment, because of the planter we’ve just found, I’m in the middle of researching which house plants I’m least likely to kill and which house plants were most popular during the Victorian times. I’ve settled on a Boston Fern for the planter above. I love ferns. 

Here are some more images of things we’ve bought for The House We Don’t Have Yet. 

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Paris, Prague and Budapest

As I’ve posted before, my partner and I are keen travellers. We’re both extremely inquisitive people and we both share a love of seeing what the world has to offer.

In March this year, we went on a 6 day jaunt across Europe. We decided to visit three countries and spend 2 days in each country. 

First, we got the Eurostar from London to Paris. We stayed right by the Gare Du Nord as I needed to walk as little as possible. We visited the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame cathedral on Easter Sunday and queued for HOURS to see the Paris Catacombs…


Here are the Paris Catacombs


Notre Dame Cathedral


We then flew from Charles de Gaulle airport to Prague airport. We stayed at the 4 star Hotel Yasmin in Prague. It was beautiful and the best breakfast I have ever had! We booked a taxi into the old town and had a mooch around. I found this amazing little bric-a-brac shop and if I had more space in our suitcase I would’ve easily spent a small fortune in there! It absolutely threw it out with rain while we were in the old town so we jumped into a doorway to find it was the entrance to a museum of medieval tortue, so of course we had to go in!


Prague was sensationally beautiful. We most definitely want to go back and stay nearer the old town as there was so much to look at and so little time to do so. I watched a documentary years ago about an ossuary in Prague and ever since then, it has been on my bucket list. Knowing this, my partner took us on the train out of Prague and towards a town called Kostnice to visit Sedlec Ossuary.

After 2 days in Prague we packed up and flew to Budapest. We stayed in a rather grand looking Novotel Centrum. 

We found the most amazingly hipster restaurant in the Jewish quarter in Budapest. It had a library! And served the most beautiful Hungarian wine called Bull’s Blood. Divine. 

I feel I need to describe how difficult it was for me, physically. I’ve written before about having Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome so I hope by now you’re not surprised when I say this holiday really took it out of me! We stayed two days I each country so I could sleep and rest on the second day. The pain rehab would call this ‘boom and bust’ but I call this ‘real life’. 

There is no real way you can pace yourself on holiday like this. We made sure I had a box full of painkillers and heat pads and I travelled with all my splints and walking stick. I sat down on anything and everything I could put my butt on and went to bed early every night. I took a nearly an entire week of rest to recover from the travelling (well, as much as I recover anyway!). 

This is the only way I’ve found works. Others may pace themselves or go on beach holidays but I refuse to. Firstly, I hate the sun (don’t like being tanned) and it makes my POTS worse. European breaks are ideal in terms of short flights and semi-decent weather. 

Our next trip is in December when we fly to Basel in Switzerland then two days later we fly to Freiburg in Germany. It will be snowy, wintry and Christmas markets galore! I cannot wait! 

I made this…

A few weeks ago, my partner and I signed up to an adult education 1 day course in Stained Glass making. We’re quite a creative couple and are always looking for things we can do together. This one day stained glass course was a no brainer – we both adore churches and cathedrals, especially for their incredible stained glass windows. So, we thought we’d have a go at creating something of our own!

I was quite nervous when we got to the adult learning centre. It all seemed quite daunting looking at all the tools and equipment laid out before us.

The tutor started by explaining the difference between different types of glass, cutting, staining, painted glass etc. Then we went through the usual ‘elf n safety stuff and we got on with our creation.

I have to say, I really struggled cutting the glass. My hands aren’t very strong at all and I suffer with chronic and acute pain in my fingers and wrists. You do have to press really quite hard and keep it smooth at the same time using a glass cutter like this one:

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I don’t think I’d recommend glass cutting to someone who struggles with their hands! I shan’t be making any more stained glass panels, I don’t think.

Anyway, we cut the lead came (the silvery metal stuff that hold the glass in place) and placed it all together ready for soldering.

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An example of soldering Image taken from search engine

Soldering looks easy, but is actually an art in itself. It is so easy to make it look awful, as I found out. I’m hoping I can file it down a little, polish or paint it up and hide some of my awful soldering, but anyway…

I made this!

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Post-Apocalyptic Style

Six or seven years ago, I was dressed head to toe in All Saints clothing. They were making clothes that really appealed to my dark side; with their trademark asymmetrical cuts, slouchy pirate style clothing, dresses with Vivienne Westwood inspired handkerchief hemlines and t-shirts emblazoned with terrific artwork by the wonderfully macabre artist Laurie Lipton.

I was absolutely in my element… and then something shifted. Fashion trends changed and All Saints became a completely different animal. It went down a very minimalistic route, and whilst I like to call myself a minimalist goth, this was just, in my opinion too… plain. Uninspired, even.

For years after I struggled to find fashion like it, until I stumbled across a German fashion site called Orimono that offered mostly men’s fashion, but also some women’s and some unisex clothing too. I found a piece from brand called Preach and a piece from Thom Krom that just jumped at me straight away. They weren’t on the lower end of my budget, but I knew I had to have them. Here they are modelled on the site:

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Image copyright Orimono.eu

and here are they are on me:

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Thom/Krom – The night is your friend, my love.

 

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Preach Clothing

Here is what a poor minimalist Goth’s wardrobe looks like right now:

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It needs filling… clearly….

The loves of my life; The Mediaeval Baebes

As I’ve said many times before, I was a strange child. I was strange in that I absolutely adored listening to folk music (thank you, again, Mum!) and remember seeing the original Steeleye Span at The Stables in Wavendon back when it was just a shed – I must’ve been around 12 years old.

I first heard the Mediaeval Baebes on VH1 singing Gaudete, a song I already knew because Steeleye Span did a version at The Stables. As soon as I heard the Baebes’ arrangement, I knew I’d found something rather special.

The Mediaeval Baebes are an all female choral group who write their own arrangements to traditional medieval songs and poetry. They have a backing group of very talented musicians playing traditional medieval instruments.

As soon as I saw that their 2nd album Worldes Blysse had been released, I knew I had to have it. I can remember opening it at Christmas as playing the album on repeat, with the lyrics in the album cover. I just had to know all the lyrics and I can now recite Mediaeval Baebes songs in Italian, Medieval English, French and Latin (I’m sure I’ve missed some!) and I can’t be prouder of that fact. There is something about the Baebes music that appeals to the deeper parts of my soul. It’s like I was born to hear this music.

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I first saw the Baebes perform live at The Stables when I was around 15 and a few times at Berkeley Castle Joust where I managed to get the courage to have a poster signed by them, which of course, I still have (and will be proudly displayed when I have my own place!) and I’ve also seen them at Birmingham Cathedral for a wonderfully festive Christmas concert and last year at Loxwood Joust .

I’m also happy to report that the (other!) love of my life, my partner loves the Baebes too, so now instead of dragging my Mum along, I get to take my man instead!
(Cue me wanting the Baebes to perform at our forest wedding one day!)

In 2010 the Mediaeval Baebes put together an opportunity for us ‘normal’ folk to learn a couple of their songs and sing alongside them in a mini concert in front of our friends and family. Of course, I had to do it! It was a fantastic (if, very nerve wracking!) day and I got to sing with two of my favourite Baebes – Katharine Blake and Bev Lee Harling. Sadly Bev is no longer singing with the current Baebes lineup.

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My love for the Baebes has never waned, although they did lose me a bit when they released Undrentide, which was a bit too new-age and modern for my tastes and I’m pleased to report that the Baebes are sounding more like their original selves than ever before!

One of the many things I love about the Baebes is their professionality when they perform. They are always so tight, their timings are beautiful and you can see how much work Katharine puts into writing and arranging the songs. I am a huge admirer of Katharine Blake as a musician, a true artist. Anyway, enough blowing smoke up their ass!

Here are a few pictures I took at the 2015 Loxwood Joust…

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So, if you’re into medieval music, folk music, acapella or classical music, I cannot recommend the Mediaeval Baebes enough. The Mediaeval Baebes have played such a huge part in my life and I can say I am a forever fan.

From the young geeky bespectacled girl singing along at the top of her voice at Berkeley to the twenty something woman at the front singing along at the top of her voice, a fan for life x

Fashion – friend or foe?

When I decided to start blogging I thought it would be easy because I was an individual. I was often admired by my peers for being different to the masses and standing out in the crowd, so I thought ‘okay, I should use this’…

It wasn’t until I joined twitter did I realise just how big the blogging pond is. Like anything in life, you have to compete with others if you want to get noticed or get ahead. But, just how different am I really?

During my formative years I was picked on for my eccentric fashion choices. At the age of 14 I was shopping in Camden, wearing platform shoes and purple lipstick. It may not sound so strange now – thanks to the wonderful fashion world bringing 90s nostalgia to the fore – but back then, I was odd, different and strange. Uncool even. Desperately uncool.

But it seems that the fashion choices I made as a teenager are what the cool kids are wearing now (boy do I feel smug that I got to wear it when it was uncool, the very definition of cool!) so I am a little upset and confused as to why I cannot find anything to wear as a twenty something goth who doesn’t want to be cool?

What I’m trying to say is that while I absolutely, 100 percent applaud companies like Killstar, Dolls Kill, Ironfist and Disturbia (to name a few) who have in essence reignited the alternative fashion culture, I have to say that I just don’t like much of it at all. (Please don’t hate me, I’m just being honest!)

 

 

I was definitely interested in the occult when I was younger and pentagrams were my favourite shock tactic. But as I’ve matured, I’ve realised that I’m about as Wiccan as I am Catholic. I’m not a witch, I’m a goth who loves black, so do I really want to wear something with a pentagram on? (Hence why I haven’t bought the Disturbia swimming costume I blogged about the other day!)

So, where do I go from here? Well, I’m redefining goth to suit me – I’m a minimalist goth. I shop in any shop that sells anything black and see what I can find to suit me.

As of this moment, there are no high street shops that cater for the look I create for myself…

  • I love ‘off the shoulder’ because my collarbones are sexy.
  • I wear long sleeves or 3/4 length sleeves because my arms aren’t the best part of me.
  • I never wear skirts or dresses above the knee because I’m pear shaped and wasn’t blessed with good legs (I dress for the size I am, not the size I wish I was!) so this leaves me out of a good 90% of modern alternative brands like the ones I’ve mentioned above.
  • The majority of the dresses are either really really short or really really long with a thigh high split.
  • The tops are usually cropped which for a country where size 16 is the average size, doesn’t bode well at all.

I’m all for other people dressing in whatever the hell they like. I’m not here to tell people to cover it up, I’m simply saying that I like to cover mine up. Elegance is something I have admired since I can remember. Sadly, elegance isn’t trendy right now, so I’m very limited in what choices are out there for someone who wants to be gothy and elegant.

When I say I’m a minimalist goth, I’m saying I like simplicity. I wear plain black tops with very little details on. I like asymmetrical cuts reminiscent of Vivienne Westwood. I like form fitted dresses like the Monica dress from Pinup Girl Clothing. I like black cowboy boots. I like leather jackets. I like plain skinny jeans (without tears in, dear Lord how scruffy) and I like opaque tights. I like to wear one ring on the middle finger of each hand because more than that looks cluttered. If I’m wearing a necklace I won’t wear earrings and visa versa. I like flared trousers whether they’re in fashion or not – they suit my curves. I like the dystopian look if done simply.

It’s all about creating a look that enhances not detracts. That to me, is what being a minimalist goth is about.

In the next few blogs I am going to be writing about a few fashion designers/brands that I do like. Unfortunately, I have champagne tastes and a beer budget so images of me wearing these brands will be few and far between. However, I will always strive to save up and buy a couple of capsule items from these designers so I can show you first hand just how amazing they are. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Lipstick

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Ever since I was a teenager I’ve loved the look of black lipstick. I was your average teenage goth back then; though favouring purple lipstick over black because my Mum had some big opinions about black lipstick (to this day, she still screws up her nose when I walk around the house in it and I’m 29!)

I think I’ve been tainted for life because even now, I can’t bring myself to wear black lipstick seriously. I’ve never been a cyber Goth who shaves their brows and paints them in, or wears dread falls or tutu mini-skirts; not because I don’t like the look (I love it on other women) but I just don’t think it suits me. I would consider myself a minimalist Goth in that I like wearing plain black clothing and then accessorising with vintage or antique jewellery and a skull or two. I also loved dark red lipstick as it’s very glamorous. I’ve always been into hollywood glamour of the 40s and 50s so red lips come naturally to me….

But, I keep coming back to the black lipstick. I’m not sure if it’s a nostalgia thing (which seems to be a big thing right now) but I keep playing around with the look. I love it. I love how as soon as you put black lipstick on, you feel like you. All the deepest darkest parts of your soul are suddenly out there, on show, for the whole world to see. You finally feel you are part of a specific subculture that has been around for decades; the Goth subculture.

There’s been a running topic among the Goth subculture which is

Am I Goth enough?

and I think I’m guilty of having these worries myself, particularly when I go to an event that is specifically aimed at the ‘darker’ parts of life like the Satanic Market I went to recently, I found myself comparing myself with other ladies who attended the event, worrying that I don’t fit in because I’m not goth enough.

Isn’t it funny that you can get to your late twenties and STILL be comparing yourself to others? It’s sad, isn’t it? The thing to remember is that we all have insecurities. The woman I’m admiring is probably feeling a similar feeling to me.

So what have I learned – I’ve learned to acknowledge when I’m feeling insecure in myself and remember that it’s normal to have a wobbble. I’ve also learned that sometimes, you just have to go for it. Out of curiousity I posted a picture of myself wearing black lipstick on my instagram page and it has had some really positive comments. Now, I know that seeking validation from people online (or anyone for that matter) isn’t  a legitimate way to feel good about oneself, but if you can see it from a more objective perspective, it can be helpful.

To conclude; fuck it. I’m going to ROCK that black lipstick and not give a shit what anyone else thinks. It’s something I’ve always admired on other people, so why don’t I just bite the bullet!

Brand Spotlights

Over the coming weeks I shall be writing a few blogs about a few brands, designers, independent businesses and friends that I believe need to be talked about and admired.

I am a firm believer in helping those around you rather than competing blindly and carelessly to get yourself ahead. While this may not be the best way to make money, I believe authenticity and integrity are more important. Of course, money helps (especially when you are naturally more disadvantaged than most) but it’s not the be all and end all.

So keep your eyes peeled to see where I shop, whose music I listen to, what I like to drink and pretty much everything I like!

If you’re looking to get your name out there (like myself) feel free to get in touch. Email me at bethvonblack@hotmail.com

 

Greetings to you all

 

Let me start by saying good evening to you all! I am thrilled to finally have somewhere to call my own and hope you get as much enjoyment out of reading this blog as I will, writing it.

I’ve been doing some research into what blogs are all about and I’m not sure if this is going to take off… but I’ve been told I’m interesting as a person and live an unusual life so, why not write about it and hope people weren’t just blowing smoke up my ass!

In this blog you will find out who I am, what I like to do and why I can’t do things most people take for granted. I won’t go into detail in the first post (I don’t want to scare you off just yet!) but who knows, you may end up changing your perspective…. One can only hope!

I shall be documenting in word and image most aspects of my life, from what I like to eat, drink and watch, to what I wear, the furniture I covet and the four walls I call home. I will also be giving some of you a bit of an education into the world of hidden illness – but honestly, don’t worry – I’m not going to bore you to tears with the trials and tribulations of that.

The mantra that ‘humour must be maintained at all times’ was instilled in me from a young age (thank you Mum, really) so do expect a rather large dose of sardonic wit, sarcasm and puns.

That’s enough fluff for now, I shall love you and leave you.