Monday, 28 December 2015

New Year's Resolutions for 2016

I wasn't sure whether or not to make any resolutions this year as frankly I feel I already have a lot on my plate with studying. Perhaps taking on five courses at once was not my brightest idea; but what's done is done, and I can only forge ahead and try not to bollocks it up too much! I eventually came to the conclusion that I can use this year's resolutions to help me better prioritise my time and bring a bit more of a sense of balance into my life, instead of feeling as though I am swaddled in to-do lists and buried under a heap of textbooks.
Crapola selfie. Looking v. serious. Was trying to work out if I can still rock the pigtails. (Decided not.)
So these are my resolutions for 2016:

  • Do my best at studying and scheduling my exams.
Ah, the greatest joy of home study - having to apply to take the exams for the courses you've already paid for. Such delights. And of course there is no exam centre in my home town. So next year I have to try to book in to sit ten to fifteen papers in summer 2017, which is already filling me with dread. And of course there's the actual studying itself, which is about a thousand times more arduous than I was anticipating and eats up both my time and my chill like Pacman on steroids. 

So this resolution is very, very simple: do my best. Not 'ace my studying' or 'make sure I book all my exams' but just have a damn good bash at it and try not to become an imploded ball of caffeine and panic. Worst-case scenario? I have to re-apply, and spend another year as a slightly morose student living on beans on toast. I'll still be better educated than I am now. So it doesn't suck.

  • Learn to play some songs on guitar.
I did learn to play a few riffs and about half a song this year, but I think me and my bleeding fingers can take this a bit further. 

  • Be my most true and authentic self.
This, I guess, is the big'un. This and the studying, anyway. Be true to myself and my opinions and values, at all times and in all things. From my wardrobe choices to not fudging it in fright when someone unexpectedly asks me, "So what music do you like?" (Seriously... does everyone do this or is this just me? I know perfectly well what bands I like, but when put on the spot I normally end up blurting something like, "Oh, well, this and that, you know...". Whyyy? Just tell people what you like. It's OK if they don't like the same stuff! And if they get snobby about it, congrats, you just found someone not worth your time.)

  • Do more witchcraft/get more in touch with my 'spiritual' side.
I tend to hedge around the topic of spirituality. I'm intensely interested in all kinds of things and I have distinct Pagan leanings, but to be honest I tend to just read avidly about stuff rather than actually grab a boline and jump in. I might start small by actually trying to notice and acknowledge moon phases, sabbats and esbats and then see where I want to take it from there. 

  • Keep writing fiction and edit my NaNovels.
One of those things that could easily be pushed aside as the studying takes over; but writing is important to me and I don't want to let it slip. Blogging is great because having an audience keeps you accountable, but I don't have an audience for my fiction and fanfiction. This is me refusing to let important things slip by the wayside in the new year. It took me a long slog to get back into fiction writing after a long lull and I am not going to repeat the performance.

  • Learn to draw/practice art.
I need to stop being bedazzled by the pretty shiny goodies in the art shop and get on with practicing the basic mechanics of drawing. I'm rusty. My art is awful. But it's such a pleasure. Even being a pathetic drawer (is draw-er a word? I wouldn't go as far as to say artist. I just do the doodles. I like to do the doodles. And yes, I have a colouring book, dammit), I get such satisfaction from it. I'd like to practice more so that one day, maybe, I can become less shit and produce a drawing that actually looks vaguely like what I wanted it to look like. 

And what about you guys? Who's making resolutions this year, and what are they? (If you're blogging about it, drop me a link!)

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Wishing You A 'Faerie' Merry Christmas

Sorry about the bad pun. I couldn't help myself.

Anyway! This is my first Christmas in the blogosphere since 2012, and I'm pleased to say I'm a little more prepared this year than I have been previously. The shopping. It is done. Well, mostly. I have a few bits and bobs outstanding, but the majority of the gifts are purchased, hints dropped and cards written. I think. I hope. *ahem*

It's going to be a weird Christmas this year. My partner and I have both had family members pass away; and he has moved house this month so we are now living the furthest apart that we ever have, and not particularly by our own choice. Circumstances: they are against us. Le sigh. *staples hand to forehead* I live in a little village just outside suburbia where the phone reception is spotty at best, but we seem to be adapting pretty well so far. It just feels a bit strange - we have lived five minutes apart for the last eleven years - and combined with a busy period at work for both of us (ah, retail) has made the festive season somewhat more fraught than usual.

Also, it is still very mild here in the south of England for the time of year (British 'mild' being relative of course, and obviously it is raining), which adds to the un-Christmassy feelings lingering around the place. I have tried to bring on some festive cheer by busting out the foul-mouthed Christmas jumpers, mince pies and Gluhwein but frankly, I'm just not feeling it yet.
Gruffalo advent calendar ^^
On the plus side, one of my best friends and her lovely fiance are expecting their first baby in January, so that's exciting. I'm getting enthusiastic about my upcoming role as Weirdest Auntie, and may be found lurking in the children's section of the bookstore looking for exciting stories about friendly monsters and witches. For the baby's benefit, obvs.

I have no idea what delights might be awaiting under the (tiny, silver) Christmas tree this year. Well, probably some books - they are my favourite, and my best. ALL the books, please. But beyond that I am clueless. My partner Dan has dropped some slightly odd hints ('smells of leather'?!), which doesn't help.

So, what about you lovelies? Are you feeling the Yuletide spirit yet? What are you hoping to find in your stocking this year? Sending you all good wishes for the season - and a happy new year of course!

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Fiction: Gifts for Witches

An (edited) excerpt from this year's NaNovel.
(c) Amy Townsend.

It was almost midnight.

Mel had been waiting on the end of the street for twenty minutes, the chill of the ground slowly seeping through her cherry-red Doc Martens, her breath trailing from her lips in a sparkling white haze. The latticework of the tree branches above her cast her thin pale face in starlight and shadow, like a lace tablecloth. The cold star-bright night smelt of bonfire smoke and dying fireworks, wet leaf-mulch and frostbitten grass.

She squeezed the hagstone that hung on its ragged red string around her neck, tracing its worn surface with the pads of her fingertips. The hagstone wasn’t magic. If anything, it was antimagic, a piece of nature so ancient, so stolid, that it couldn’t be charmed, cursed, tricked or fooled. Hagstones were for breaking glamours, finding things. Mel figured the only thing you couldn’t find, by looking the hole worn through its centre, was normality.

Mel had brought a backpack, heavy with an assortment of oddities. Mostly they were gifts. A more correct word, perhaps, would have been ‘offerings’, but Mel rejected the terminology of outdated deities and hippy-dippy wannabe priestesses.

In the backpack there were two perfume bottles (both green, thick vintage glass that sparkled like cats’ eyes) and two jam jars carefully washed and filled with dirt and moss and secrets on tiny torn up bits of notepaper. Witches liked secrets. For your everyday run-of-the-mill magical workings and/or application to the Wyrd, such a collection would probably have been perfectly acceptable payment.

Mel was well aware that what she was going to ask for tonight was far beyond run-of-the-mill.

So in addition to the four bottles and jars, she had also packed her diary from when she was thirteen; a ball of indigo wool with purple lurex sparkles, a suicide note she wrote in the back of a trashy paperback when she was seventeen, a handful of snail shells wrapped carefully in bubble wrap, a magpie feather that was not quite black and not quite green, and a small jar of lime marmalade.

There were other things in the backpack as well, but Mel was hoping it wouldn’t come to that.

“You’re early,” said a voice from behind her left shoulder. It was a thin voice, a wind voice, like the skittering of dead leaves across tarmac.

“No, I’m not,” Mel said. She was pleased to note that she sounded calmer than she felt. “You’re half an hour late.”

A silence. Not an absent silence, but a weighty, broody silence.

Mel rolled her eyes and turned around. There was no one there.

“I’m not falling for that, either,” she said, looking very hard at a slant of shadow between the thick trunk of the old tree and the wall of the last house. In the sickly streetlight shine, the jagged shadow might well have been a shoulder, an elbow, a long narrow hand with bony fingers. Or it might not. “What’s the matter? You can call up a storm and read the bones of the earth but you can’t tell the time?”

The witch stepped out from behind the tree.

Sort of.

What actually happened was that shadows on tree bark and dead leaves and dust and starlight shifted and congealed into the shape of a person. Mel saw this briefly, and then forced herself to unsee it. Even in Elbury, where magic walked the streets and sang in the air and sludged through the sewers like blood and piss, where you were brought up knowing – not believing but knowing – that there were faeries at the bottom of the garden, it didn’t pay to let yourself see things that your mind couldn’t possibly be expected to make sense of.

Mel had tried to use that excuse for her algebra homework one time. Hadn’t worked.

The witch took a step towards her. A car came around the corner behind them, its headlights flickering across the trunks of the slender trees lining the road and casting zoetrope shadows across the witch’s face. Mel held the witch’s gaze.

“Hello,” she said.

“Hello,” said the witch. She had a tapestry bag slung over her arm, its colours faded with age. She stroked it absently with the other hand as she walked towards Mel, as though the bag were a restless animal she needed to comfort. Her footsteps made no sound on the brittle golden carpet of frost and leaf.

“My name’s Mel,” Mel offered awkwardly.

The witch cocked her head to one side, birdlike. “I know,” she said. Her voice was reedy and distant, like a night bird calling across a mountain lake, a thin and haunting note that made the hairs on the back of Mel’s neck stand on end.

“What do I call you?” Mel prompted. Witches were naturally curious; sometimes she wondered if they agreed to do any of the things they did just so that they could look at you, watch you, study you. It wasn’t unusual, in Elbury, to see a witch standing in the street, hypnotised by the falling rain or the steam off your coffee or dust motes dancing in a sunbeam. It made it difficult to convince them to get to the point.

The other trouble with witches was their erratic behaviour. Don’t talk to strangers was good advice on the whole, but it took on particular resonance in this town. Consorting with witches was not something that one generally did. Especially if you liked all your fingers and toes where they were and preferred not being a frog - or in an oven.

“You can call me Bijou,” said the witch. “It’s not my name. But it’ll do.”

Mel nodded.

The witch had dusky brown skin and a grey pea coat that was rather too big for her, so that she appeared to nestle in its folds like a bat wrapped in its own wings. Her hair was a cascade of dreadlocks, once dyed blue, now a faded greyish-teal. She wore a very long scarf, green and black striped, that moved with the wind, although not always in the direction it should have done. Her fingers were thin, clutching, bent like twigs.

Mel unzipped the bag, the sound unusually loud in the still night air, and took out the jars one by one, handing them over. The witch took each without word or expression, her long pointed fingers gliding over the glass. She held them close to her face, sniffed them, shook them, peered at them intently. Each one vanished into the depths of her pea coat, and she looked at Mel expectantly, waiting for more. Mel’s nerves thrummed with tension. The price for what she was asking was high. She knew that. She wouldn’t let it stop her, not now.

They took my sister, she thought, but she cut that line of thinking dead before any more words could form. Not now, not here. It was too dangerous, too raw.

The witch lifted her head abruptly in a sharp, jerky motion and sniffed at the air, her nostrils flaring. “Angry thoughts,” she whispered. “Desperation. And fear… a bitter brew. Delicious. Delicious.” She leaned towards Mel, angling herself downwards like a heron pecking at weeds, her face all angles.

Mel breathed slowly and deeply and tried not to make any sudden movements. She was suddenly far too hot in her winter coat. “You know what I’m asking?" she said softly. "You know why I came?”

Bijou looked down at her. The lines of her face now seemed predatory, and her mouth was pulled into a thin white line. “I know why you came.” The words were an exhalation, almost a sigh. “I can help you. Of course I can. But… far safer for you to simply… forget.”

“No. I can’t forget. I won’t forget.” Impatient, Mel offered up the lime marmalade next, breaking the tension, and Bijou hummed and nodded in what might have been approval.

Then the snail shells. Bijou accepted them carefully, her sharp fingernails pricking the pustules of the bubble wrap as she transferred them gingerly to an inside pocket of her voluminous coat. The diary, its pink cover sickly orange under the streetlights, a year’s worth of pre-teen secrets and outpourings, lipstick kisses and bad poetry. The suicide note, which the witch pressed to her face; inhaled deeply. The feather.  The wool.

The wool went into the tapestry bag. Mel was careful to look away when the bag was opened and she kept her gaze averted until it was closed.

There were all sorts of witches. They did mostly the same thing, to be fair, but they went about it in different ways. There were cyber witches, who drew their magic from the clacking of keys and the sizzle of circuit boards. There were city witches, who walked widdershins down alleyways and drew sigils in spray paint. There were not many kinds of witch who carried their power in a tapestry bag, which wriggled, like a kitten, when it thought Mel wasn’t looking.

Mel thought about asking what sort of witch she was hiring, but she didn’t know how to phrase the question without giving offense and she had a feeling she’d be happiest not knowing. She wanted three things, three very simple things, really – an answer, a map, and a key.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Riot Dorrrk

So recently I plopped the words 'riot dorrrk' into the middle of my blog header (Writer. Riot Dorrrk. All-Round Odd Duck - in case I change it in the future). ('Punk rock and magic' was my other option but since I haven't yet spoken about punk rock or magic it seemed pretty redundant. Just kinda liked it, you know?) Riot dorrrk was a phrase I came up with when I was thinking about my own 'style', such as it is, and values, and I thought I'd just explain it a little more and see if anyone else is on board with me here.

As a feminist, and an alternative music and style enthusiast I've always had an interest in the riot grrrl movement of the 90s. In my post-Goth identity-crisis wasteland, searching for a new thing to latch on to, I found the term coming up a lot. So when I was looking for a blog tagline, riot grrrl was in the forefront of my mind.

I'm fascinated by riot grrrl. I can't help but admire a movement that told young girls they have a voice and a right to take up space. I was born at around the time the movement was developing so obviously it was never something I was personally involved in. (The closest I ever came, I guess, was putting out a few issues of a fairly crap zine when I was about thirteen or fourteen - under the pen name Milo - but only a small circle of friends got copies, and I don't imagine any still exist. Zines, that is, not friends.)

But whilst I love the ideas and drive behind the movement, I shied away from linking myself directly with the label. Even had I been of an age to take part in the movement when it was at its peak, I think I was probably - frankly - too square. I'm not saying that in a self-deprecatory way; I mean that I am introverted, bookish and not what you could call a party animal, a world apart from, for example, Kathleen Hanna of seminal band Bikini Kill, selling weed in high school. I probably would have thought about going to a gig or starting a local chapter and then chickened out and read a book instead. I'm sure there are quiet, shy, nerdy would-be riot grrrls (or would-have-been, I guess. The riot grrrl movement was widely considered to have bitten the dust in the mid-90s, although many of today's young feminists are still using the term - and why not?) out there; I've just never been lucky enough to meet any!

However, one thing I am quite happy to call myself is a dork. And thus riot dorrrk was born; I am a feminist, but also a bit of a weirdo nerd.

You Might Be A Riot Dorrrk If:

  • you are a feminist
  • you like alternative fashion and punk rock
  • you support the body positivity movement
  • you self-identify as a nerd (geek, dork, whatevs. I coulda gone the 'riot nerrrd' route but I didn't think it had the same ring. Also 'dork' sounds goofier and I am pretty goofy.)
  • you own more than one pair of superhero pants (this is optional but recommended.)

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Inspiration Station: 10/12/15

I used to do these round-up posts on my older blogs, and I still enjoy seeing them all over the blogosphere, so I thought it was high time I did another of my own. I really enjoyed Ramona's monthly Random post at Just Keep BRAINS!, so I've taken a similar approach.

Articles I've Enjoyed

These have been floating around in my bookmarks tab for goodness knows how long. 

Rebuilding your Wardrobe on a Budget: What to Buy First
This post from Into Mind is pretty in-depth. Whilst the example wardrobe used is a world away from my own personal 'style', I did find this very helpful in allaying wardrobe panic and random spends during my recurring fashion dilemmas. Helpful at on good days and downright sanity-saving on bad ones.

4 Danger Signs to Search For, Before Sending Off Your Novel
5 Ways to Keep Me Reading Your First Chapter
I'm in no position to send my half-baked NaNo word vomit anywhere for a long, long time, but the above articles are both fun and interesting, with some great tips.

A Punk Rock Approach to Living the Life of Your Dreams
I look back at this article whenever I need to be told to embrace my weirdness and ignore people. It's got the usual cheerleadery stuff about pushing through fear and taking risks, which I can get pretty 'meh' about, but radical self-love is a great concept and I adore Gala Darling's wise words in general.

Where Personal Values Meet Personal Style
Some good, heartfelt stuff about getting comfortable with who you are.

Recommended Reading
  • Rat Queens Vol 1: Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis J. Weibe and Roc Upchurch
  • The Neon Court by Kate Griffin
  • The English Monster by Lloyd Shepherd

Listening To
  • I Am the Walrus - Spooky Tooth (cover)
  • (You're the) Devil in Disguise - Elvis Presley
  • What the Water Gave Me - Florence and the Machine
  • RU Mine? - Arctic Monkeys
  • Lean On - Major Lazer

Lusting Over

Geeking Out
Vin Diesel confirms new Riddick film (ssh, no judgies, we all have our problematic faves, don't we?).
This most excellent Labyrinth spoof. Entitled Crotch Magic Crotch. You're welcome.

Style: Icons and Current Ponderings
  • Von Monsta remains perfect.
  • Rabbit Heart is a talented artist and craftslady with incredible personal style.
Kind of contemplating new hair for the new year. Mayyybe. Thinking of a funky colour again. My current colour is flattering but I feel a little too... ordinary? Something like this would be amazing, but, eek, the upkeep. >.<

My Month
I'd just like to thank MS Paint and my trusty print screen key.
L-R: messy hair and a mug full of rum'n'coke. New blog sub-header thingie. Good stuff on the cards. Scarf, tatts and pearls. Dorky winter hat selfie. New tattoo.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Feminism, Beauty Standards and Me

Ten years ago I hated the way I looked. I thought I was fat. I thought I was ugly. I thought that having bad skin and flat hair made me not only unlikeable but scarcely worthy of personhood. Like many young people of a similar age, I obsessed about it. I starved. I binged. I created weird food rituals. I exercised continually. I asked for a treadmill for Christmas. I spent a fortune on lotions and potions for my skin, my hair, my imaginary cellulite. I wrote endless lists of ways to improve myself. One that I wrote, aged thirteen-ish, includes the bullet point, 'get boob job'.

For a teenage girl, this wasn't unusual. An awful lot of my friends were doing the same thing.

In my mid-teens I discovered Goth and alternative fashion. This gave me a new focus, and it took me a few more years to realise that covering your issues with make-up is not the same as confronting them. There was a stage in my life when I wouldn't go outside without make-up on. I was happy to spend an hour just on my hair and make-up in the mornings, because I didn't feel 'acceptable' without it. Oh, the irony, when I was relating to subcultures that were spawned from punk, the original fuck-you to standards of appearance laid out by society and the media.

At the time, I didn't realise that my obsession with my clothes, hair and make-up was, for me, a different symptom of the same problem. I was still spending an enormous chunk of my time - and money - fussing over my appearance. I thought that because I was eating three square meals a day, and had the confidence to wear weird clothes in public, that I was OK. The fact that I still hated the person I was underneath, the face I was born with, somehow didn't even register with me.

At around the time I drifted out of the Goth scene, I discovered body positivity. I had always considered myself a feminist - of course I believed in equal rights for women - but I had never stopped to think what it really meant. Not just to me, personally, but in general. If feminists were fighting for equal rights, what were they fighting against?

One of the issues raised by feminism, I learned, was one that had taken up a large portion of my teen years - beauty standards. The more I read up, the more I became horrified that it had just genuinely never occurred to me that there was more to my life than what I looked like. I was so inwardly-focused that all my interests revolved around how I looked, down to reading, almost exclusively, books with characters who dressed the same way as me.
A wild dork appears
Don't get me wrong. I care about how I look. I like to look good. But I'm trying to accept that my idea of 'good' is not necessarily going to be anyone else's idea of good. Trying to teach myself to be a bit more, well, punk rock about it. I like graphic tees, jeans, army boots, messy hair, yesterday's smudgy eyeliner, tattoos. I'd rather have an extra ten minutes in bed than bother blow-drying my hair. I have precisely zero interest in being 'ladylike'.

It's 2015. I can be a mess if I want to.

With this in mind, I have created some goals for myself, for the coming year.

  • Stop buying clothes that I don't need. My wardrobe is spilling over and I don't wear half of it. Thanks to several years' worth of ruthless clear-outs, most it now is practical, useful stuff that I actually like, so I'd rather start making the most of what I've got than keep trying to 'retail therapy' my way to happiness. If retail therapy actually worked I'd be a lot more well-adjusted by now.
  • Try to occasionally eat a vegetable. (I don't count calories any more but I do predominantly eat crappy beige food out of microwaveable packets.)
  • No body shame. No bad self-talk. 
  • Try to stop comparing myself to other people. I am really bad with this. Other women being amazing can make me feel quite insecure. But we all have our own strengths and weaknesses. 
  • If any of my friends put themselves down, give them a dead arm. (Not literally. Assaulting your buddies is bad. But I do get cross when my fantastic friends keep calling themselves ugly or stupid and I refuse to join in with the self-hate or act like it's OK.) 
  • Stop staring in the mirror looking for new faults. Go and read a comic book instead. Limit mirror time, because I get obsessive and weird about it. (When I do find myself staring into the mirror, I like to break the tension by winking at myself and then start doing pirate impressions. Makes me feel good. Don't know why.)
  • Don't be afraid of goofy selfies. Try to be authentic, not perfect.
  • Moar journalling. Moar art. Moar yoga. Moar DIY.

Please feel free to join me in my quest for epic body positive riot grrrl woman-ness, or share your own advice/thoughts/ideas/experiences.

Monday, 30 November 2015

A Style Manifesto for the Awkward and Confused

  • Stay in bed too late and leave yourself half an hour of getting-ready time. If you like, follow this up by staring into your wardrobe in abject terror for fifteen minutes before grabbing yesterday's clean-ish clothes off the floor. Don't forget to pull on a bobble hat in an attempt to disguise your still-wet hair.
  • Wear the same seven items over and over, because every time you experiment with anything else it seems to go horribly wrong and you look like a mad bag lady. Not in a cool Tavi Gevinson way or a rock'n'roll misfit way. Just someone people wouldn't sit next to on the bus.
  • Is your predilection for comfy clothes because of your punk rock middle finger up to beauty standards, or because you couldn't be arsed to shave your legs? (Again.) It's a chicken and egg kind of deal, right? Feel quite smug that being a lazy bastard helps reflect your body positive values. 
  • Read fashion blogs and feel even more confused than you were to begin with. Ditto 'street style' websites. Become convinced that 'high fashion' seems to mean 'buying clothes that don't match each other or fit properly' and wonder why it only looks socially acceptable when someone else does it.
  • Make Pinterest boards and take online style quizzes in an attempt to define your personal style. Stare at them for hours in the hopes of discovering their deeper meaning. 
  • Overthink dressing for every social occasion so that you always end up over- or under-dressed and feeling vaguely uncomfortable.
  • Decide you don't care at all about how you look. Live in oversized men's T-shirts and baggy jeans for a month and then realise you are horribly bored.
  • Rectify this by veering to the other extreme! Throw on fifteen clashing items and hot pink lipstick in an attempt to express your inner self. Realise you look insane.
  • Try minimalism, and end up looking as though you're going to a board meeting when actually you have a movie night with friends.
  • Stare creepily at passers-by in bewildered attempts to 'get inspiration'. Stare until you make them nervous. Maybe take notes.
  • Trawl around shopping centres to try and discover what you are 'drawn to'. Come home with Harry Potter knickers, another bobble hat, a grey jumper identical to your ten other grey jumpers, and seven books. 
  • Talk your loved ones' ears off about your crisis of identity. Force them to fill in quizzes about your best features and when they last saw you 'looking fabulous'. 
  • Continue to wear your same seven items (and Harry Potter knickers). Pat yourself on the back for being able to decide that you LIKE these seven things (sorry, 'pieces'). You've come such a long way.
Or is this just me?

On a more positive note, these are some things I wore lately that I was OK with, even if they are largely variations on the same outfit:

Slightly too grown-up for me really. I prefer this trench undone with an unravelling scarf and my hair a mess so I can pretend that I look like a harried academic.
I was running wayyyy late for brunch and grabbed a random selection of items off the floor, which is why nothing matches. I'm OK with that.
This is a men's hat that I bought in Paris. I wear it A LOT. I'm wearing it now.
Really must start taking decent photos. Or get an editing program of some kind. Before you guys all get a crick in your neck from my camera angles. Sorry about that.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

TILT: November

EDIT: Look who posted a Things I Love Thursday on a Tuesday... d'oh. *headdesk*

I have been enjoying myself immensely during the autumn months, wrapping myself up in 1,000 layers and busting out my collection of increasingly improbable winter hats. I love this time of the year so fricking much. Grey skies! Rain! Leaves everywhere! Scarves! Sweaters! Fuzzy socks! Fairy lights! NaNoWriMo! Gahhhh! *combusts*

Meanwhile, everyone else of my acquaintance is complaining about the weather and wishing it was warmer. So, since I am being rather a smug bastard about the whole thing, I thought there was probably no better time to write a Things I Love Thursday post.

  • wine and Tarot evenings with one of my best friends. We both want to get better at reading the cards so we have been setting time aside every week to get together, have a little practice, drink some wine and watch a movie (or some Supernatural). I enjoy this very much and am happy to know someone who likes to do these things too. ^^
  • being given a Topshop voucher to make merry with. I ordered a rust-coloured bobble hat (with oversized bobble, natch), a nude eye contour pot in 'Bare' (because I love wearing a brown eyeshadow but they tend to crease even with primer which is a pain; I'm hoping that a cream product might have more staying power and the reviews were pretty positive), and the piece de resistance, a pair of high-waisted teal crushed velvet knickers. Because I needed them, obviously.
  • my new tattoo. Words can't express how happy I am with it. 
  • the new David Wong book, Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits. I bloody love David Wong's books and this one is no exception. I especially love the protagonist, Zoey Ashe, because you can't not love a protag who is a massive scruff, has blue streaks in her hair and goes around sassing everyone whilst eating pizza and being covered in cat hair. (Her cat's name is Stench Machine.)
  • Lush's Big shampoo. Smells lovely, the sea salt feels great on my scalp and I honestly don't think my hair ever looked better. Wish I'd discovered it years ago. In fact, on the subject of Lush, I also recently bought their perfume The Smell of Weather Turning, it's minty and smoky and strange, I really like it!
  • being able to butcher half of Teenage Kicks on my guitar. Feels like a huge achievement.
  • Sorry Mom Tattoo Balm. My tattooist gave me a free sample and after a couple of days using it I ordered a full-size tube from Asos. On all my other tattoos, I've used Bepanthen to keep them moist whilst they heal but Sorry Mom is so much better. For starters it's not so sticky or greasy and doesn't leave oily stains on my clothes. Also unlike Bepanthen, it doesn't make me break out. My tattoo is healing nicely and looking great!
  • Christmas coffees! It's never too early for highly calorific caffeine goodness. ;)
What are you guys loving in November? :)

Friday, 20 November 2015


Last week I got a new tattoo. :)
Blood, ink and clingfilm - not my usual accessories.
I had wanted a Neil Gaiman-related piece for a very long time so I was happy to have finally settled on a quote.

The lady who did my other tattoos (a bat on my left shoulder and a Lost Souls quote on my wrists) has moved out of the area, to the best of my knowledge, so I was excited to have found a local artist whose style I like. Not that this was a particularly challenging design, as you can see - I'm just a massive fusspot, and also incredibly anxious and awkward, so I like finding people I can get on with. This new piece was done by a lovely chap called Alex at Inkwell Studios, who is the youngest guy I have ever met to own his own tattoo studio, and an incredibly talented artist.

It's a quote from Neil Gaiman's poem Instructions. Or, more accurately, it's a compilation of my favourite lines from the poem. It's a combination of fairytale themes and good advice, and I couldn't be happier with it.

"Trust the wolves, but do not tell them where you are going. Remember: that giants sleep too soundly; that witches are betrayed by their appetites; that dragons have one soft spot, somewhere, always. Trust ghosts. Trust dreams. Trust your heart and trust your story."

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Comfort Zones

"People say that you should really do something out of your comfort zone. Why? I worked very hard to find my comfort zone. It was really rough and I can’t even get there that often. Takes all day and I gotta get off to a good start and do all the right things and avoid the right people and find all the right people and do all of these things to find my comfort zone. And then I’m supposed to do something outside of my - Fuck you! You do something outside your comfort zone. My comfort zone is hard-won….

"But then, that’s where popular culture and pop psych comes in and wants – and the shtick I was looking at last night was that like, so, if it’s ‘afraid’, then, 'You should do the things you’re afraid of’. Why? Why? I have felt quite enough fear. I don’t think I will benefit from more fear. I don’t think it’s the missing element in my life. I don’t think that’s the thing I need to be seeking out. 'Go to the places that scare you.’ No! I have carved out an awesome space in which I don’t have to visit the places that scare me. I don’t like them there. I’ve been there. I know more about them than you, person telling me to go to the places that scare me."

- John Darnielle, 2014-04-19 and 2014-04-20 at the Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago.

I am not in my comfort zone.

I previously hinted that I have big scary changes coming up in my life. Let me state that I have very little sense of perspective, so it may be that what seems big and scary to me will seem like cake to you guys, but the fact is that I have handed my notice in at my main-earning job, working in a charity shop, to go back into education.

I worked at the charity shop for nearly five and a half years. I started as a volunteer, and it gave me confidence when I needed it. I'd been taken out of school and had been trying to educate myself at home for the previous five years, so I was very isolated and even more socially awkward than I am now. I have made some great friends through working there, and whilst I fully intend to keep in touch with everyone it makes me a little sad to be going. It's the end of an era in my life.

So I'm sad. And scared, because whilst I still have a part-time job at the local alt shop, I'm nonetheless going to be losing a large chunk of my income. Both my family and my boyfriend's family are planning to move house in the new year and I still don't know where I am actually going to live (although if I don't end up with a workable action plan a few friends have offered to let me couchsurf and mooch their shower and WiFi, which is nice). And I have to do awful things like speak to course co-ordinators and schedule exams and all sorts of alarming studenty thingamabobs.

The quote that I started this post with is something I bookmarked a while ago, when I was intending for this post to be more about why you shouldn't feel bad if you don't want to come out of your comfort zone, and that (as my own bucket list proves, I like to think) you can expand your range of experience with small, joyful, meaningful things instead of scaring yourself half to death by feeling the only way to give yourself a boost is to do something cray-cray and totally out of character.

Then I ended up cast adrift out of my own comfort zone, and feeling a bit butthurt about it. Now I have to start building a new comfort zone, which is annoying. Going back into education was a choice. (I first have to get my GCSEs, then I want to start training to become a library assistant.) The whole moving thing has been kind of thrust upon me by circumstances. I could deal with one scary thing. I was kind of excited about it, even. Two scary things has me stressing like a mo-fo.

Which I guess, if anything, kind of proves the point I was originally going to make. Comfort zones can actually be great. There's a difference, I feel, between being stuck in a rut (which I would have been, if I hadn't decided to try to get some qualifications and aim for a job that I feel suits who I am) and creating a space, an environment, a set of circumstances in which you feel nurtured and safe and happy. I'm not saying don't do anything with your life - gosh, no! Don't stagnate!

But don't feel bad if you don't want to swim with sharks or jump out of a plane or some shit like that, either. We all have different boundaries. You can expand your zone just as easily by trying a new flavour of coffee or going to a new bookshop, or getting a train to visit a museum in another city. What's the point in forcing yourself to do things you don't like? I've tried that. I've tried forcing myself to socialise when I didn't want to, and so on and so forth. It was just unpleasant and uncomfortable. I didn't feel I'd gained or learned.

I guess that as with most things, it all comes down to finding what works best for you. Some of you want to jump out of planes. Have fun with that. I'll be snuggling up on my giant fluffy beanbag, reading fantasy novels and ignoring my problems. :)

Monday, 9 November 2015

Why I'm an Ex-Goth

This subject is something I keep coming back to, I suppose mainly because it's hard to sit down at my computer and start blogging without recalling the years I spent as a 'Goth blogger'. At the time, I was 100% sure that I would be a black-clad darksider for the rest of my natural life, but now when I look back I feel almost as though I was a different person. Reading back through posts on my old blog (which I have left up by request) makes me cringe occasionally - I am eighteen-nineteen-twenty and so convinced that I know it all, with my skinny eyebrows, stompy boots and overeager verbosity.

Now I'm twenty-four and in a state of near-constant neurotic paralysis due to my utter conviction that I know precisely nothing. I'm OK with that. In fact I'm kind of enjoying it. (The person I am now is a person who didn't exist five years ago. That's terrifying and liberating all in one hit. Who will I be in another five years? No one knows. How exciting.)

I know a lot of the people who come to this blog now come from a link on one of my old sites (hello there). I am also still friends or fond acquaintances with a lot of people I met through the blogging community back in the day, and it's fantastic to see the achingly cool people they have grown into (Sary. Allison. Just to name two incredibly awesome people). I look back with a slightly creeper-ish sense of pride on the days when we were all strange teenage bloggers together.

OK. Fangirl moment over. *pulls self together with great effort* What was I saying? Ah yes. I know a lot of you reading this right now are here because of Ye Olde Goth Blogging Days, and I almost feel as though I owe you some sort of explanation as to why this:
became that:

A photo posted by Amy Townsend (@wildlavendergirl) on
I'm not going to lie, I do look back at old photos of myself and think dang, I used to look so much cooler, but the thing is, I do so with a little smile and the quiet knowledge that, well, that was then. And whilst I'm glad I did it, it's not a reflection of who I am any more. I still think of myself as 'alternative', just in a gentler, nerdier sort of way. I no longer feel like I need my appearance to shout, "I AM DIFFERENT." I suppose because I no longer need my appearance to say anything at all to other people. It's just me. I just am.

[Hopefully unnecessary disclaimer: I don't speak for other alt people! I'm not saying that people dress up in their various subcultural ways to proclaim how different they are. I'm saying that, in part, I did. This post explains and expresses no one's thoughts or motivations other than my own.]

As I've recently mentioned, being an 'ex-Goth' is something I consider an important part of my identity. After all, Goth culture was something that consumed me for a six-year period of my life. It played a large part in shaping who I am and how I look at things today; it's not something to be shrugged off. I find it strange now when I realise that I actually have friends who never saw me with long black hair and a multitude of facial piercings, as though I'm a puzzle and they haven't got all the pieces. (But of course, I didn't witness their developmental years either, so I guess it works both ways.)

So. What changed?
  • I'm lazy. Not only that, but I don't want to put so much effort into thinking about my appearance. My version of Goth culture centred heavily on fashion and make-up, and I found I was no longer enjoying anything - I was outside myself, watching myself take part, monitoring how I looked at all times, and it wasn't good for me. I needed desperately to take a step back and evaluate what I wanted to be doing with my time, where I wanted my energy to go. And once I'd taken that step, I couldn't - and still can't - bring myself to focus so heavily on my looks again.
  • It wasn't fun any more. Blogging and being a Goth went hand in hand for me, and when one took a hit the other did too. On the one hand, I got some criticism. This is par for the course as a blogger - people are not always going to agree with you, and had I been thicker-skinned I could potentially have a) continued regardless or b) learned something, but my self-image was so tied up with blogging that I felt under attack. On the other hand, people were recognising me out and about at clubs and festivals, and whilst this was incredibly exciting at the time, I did come to realise that I'd rather be under the radar.
  • I wanted to be able to develop as a person. For example, one thing I was heavily criticised for was my music taste. That's fine - my music taste is pretty awful and I won't deny it, but because I was so obsessed with being a Goth, I felt like I had to start listening to the 'right' music. Obviously, this then led to me feeling like I was squashing my own personality. (I might have stayed a Goth longer if I hadn't become so obsessed with the culture. It was my entire identity. It was all I wanted to be. If parts of me didn't fit, I squashed them, stomped them or simply made excuses for them, and in the long run that doesn't work. You can't just cut off bits of yourself like an ugly sister hacking off toes to fit into a glass shoe.)
  • As soon as I started to look outside Goth for clues as to who I was and where I fit, I found myself dredging up more and more things from my pre-Goth past and from the world around me that were more 'me' than the narrow self-definition I had tried so hard to shoehorn myself into. So once I was out, as it were, I couldn't squeeze myself back in. It just wasn't 'me' any more. For some people, there's no squeezing and no squashing - which was how I knew that for me, it was time to move on. You can't force yourself to be a Goth once it stops being something that speaks to you!
  • I stopped being able to pretend that the things that annoyed me in mainstream culture (drug use, body shaming, bullying) didn't happen in the Goth scene. I had thought of Goth as some sort of perfect haven and when I realised it wasn't I felt disillusioned. Again, my own fault.
To be shameless and quote myself, from a previous blogging incarnation, "Of course, those aspects of me that drew me to dark culture still remain and are still celebrated - I am an avid bookworm with a particular fondness for dark faerie tales; I adore dark fashion; I have an enduring fondness for fantasy art, particularly with darker aspects... etc, etc, etc. 

"For me, the trouble with belonging to a specific subculture is that I felt I had to live up to other people's expectations of what a proper Goth should be if I wanted to 'earn' the label, which after a while felt limiting and uncomfortable. I learned that I prefer a more fluid, general descriptor like 'alternative', because there were things outside even the most vague boundaries of dark fashion drawing my attention, and I didn't want to just shut off the side of myself that wanted to (for example) wear florals and no make-up. 

"Long-time readers will know that crimping personal tastes to fit labels is certainly not what I'm about and never will be. I was reminded of those slightly awkward adolescent years when I tried to buy the 'right' clothes to impress the 'right' people, and something inside me rebelled against the idea of reliving a time when I didn't feel good enough to be accepted for who I was. I liked having the freedom to experiment with fashion, the quirkier the better, and experience different styles and genres of music without feeling like a fraud for calling myself a Goth."

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Style Concept: Storybook Girl

She's the girl who stumbled into a fairytale and never found her way out.
She's the smell of books, dust and sunlight.

The storybook girl needs comfortable clothes, because there's another world in the back of her wardrobe and there might be lions around the corner and you can't run away from witches if your shoes don't fit.

She's the queen of cable knit, pensive expressions and steaming coffee. There are ink stains on her cuffs and she doesn't read Vogue and she has non-fictional feelings for fictional characters*. She spends her life looking for magic, both inside her books and in the world around her.

Storybook Girl

The storybook girl doesn't care much about her make-up or nails. Her hair is messy from running through the forest, her cheeks are flushed from the fresh air and she's half-mad from living in the world inside her head. She's scuffed Doc Martens and chunky scarves, mustard and beige, cranberry and cream, moss and autumn rain and fallen leaves. A wildflower wanderess with freckles and a ready laugh.

She likes things cozy and quiet inside and wild on the outside. She lives for a mug of cocoa by the fireside and a howling wind. She dreams of moonlight and mountains, becoming a lighthouse keeper or a mapmaker or a professor of folklore. She slips away from parties to read and look at the stars. She's not a manic pixie creampuff, just an intense bookish girl who's more into Tolkien than Twitter.

She sees the wonder in the everyday. She owns legwarmers, fingerless gloves and a bobble hat. She knows her own mind and doesn't mince her words. She's not minimalist because it looks good on Instagram but because the time it takes to put on jewellery and lipstick is time that could be spent reading or wandering in the fields. She's a nerd and a bird-mad girl, both at once.

The storybook girl is free and wild, unconstrained, unconventional, and quietly, gently feral. Fisherman's jumpers, baggy jeans, men's belts, scruffy boots, undone shoelaces, patched-up backpacks, elbow patches, cat hair on her blazer, the smell of bonfires, road trips, grass stains, muddy Converse, unraveling cuffs, long hair, flannel shirts, vintage sweaters, drunk on fresh air, daydreams, wanderlust and sweet tea.

Story Seeker

*I borrowed that from Bookworm Boutique.

Storybook Girl Pinterest board

Friday, 30 October 2015

Halloween Party Look (Trial Run)

Am I spoopy yet?

Zombie punk party girl!

My friends Beth and Tom are having a party at their new house this weekend, which judging from some intriguing Instagram/Facefail posts might be involving Halloween beer pong and a spooky pinata (much excitement).

Going to spray my hair white also - this was just a practice run to get the make-up and accessories sorted. I was going to be an amusing bedsheet ghostie but I had a last minute change of heart.

Also. My workplace is doing a competition whereby everyone who comes into the store and says "I ain't afraid of no ghost," to a member of staff will be entered into a prize draw for a £20 gift voucher. This makes me very happy indeed.

Happy Halloween everybody!

Monday, 26 October 2015

Bucket List, Part Two

Continued from this post.

53. See the redwoods.
54. Dance on stage with The Cruxshadows.
55. Bathe in a hot spring.
56. Jump out of a hot tub and roll in the snow.
57. See Emilie Autumn live.
58. See The Birthday Massacre live.
59. See The Cure live.
60. Listen to cicadas.
61. Go to the island of bunnies.
62. Visit a cat cafe.
63. Visit Bornholm, where my grandmother grew up.
64. Road trip the United States.
65. Sit on a roof.
66. Go on a paranormal investigation.
67. Learn how to skateboard.
68. Try ziplining (aaargh!).
69. Learn to play guitar.
70. Visit Central Park in Autumn.
71. Go shopping in Selfridges Christmas shop.
72. Get good at gaming (am newb).
73. Learn Danish, the language of my forefathers (kinda).
74. Hitch hike.
75. Ride on the back of a motorbike.
76. Sleep on a sleeper train.
77. Drink in a haunted pub.
78. Stay a night in a haunted hotel.
79. Go to an outdoor cinema.
80. Learn to knit.
81. Visit the Harry Potter studios.
82. Drink a butterbeer.
83. Camp at a music festival with good people.
84. Go to a big big music festival.
85. Go to Whitby Goth Weekend.
86. Sing karaoke with friends.
87. Go back to Whitby and explore more.
88. Have a pet bunny.
89. Stroke an angora rabbit.
90. Visit New York.
91. Try snowboarding.
92. Try skiing.
93. Sleep on a beach.
94. Drink chartreuse.
95. Go on a meditation retreat.
96. Travel by dog sled.
97. Have a romantic dinner on a rooftop.
98. Go to a NaNoWriMo write-in.
99. Eat baklava in Greece.
100. Visit Canada.
101. Go to the USA for Halloween.
102. Sleep in a lighthouse.
103. Work as a barista.
104. Get a job in a library.
105. Live in Shakespeare and Company, the Parisian bookshop where you can stay for free.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Catch Yours Truly (well, my feet anyway) in the Carpe Nocturne Fall Issue

Hi guys! Exciting news to share with you - well, exciting for me anyway. This month I have two articles out in alternative magazine Carpe Nocturne, which covers all things other than the norm including Goth, sci-fi, fantasy and steampunk. It's fantastic to see my name in print!

Strega Fashion
A double-page spread (!) about the growing subculture strega, a visual interpretation of witchcraft-related and folkloric themes, with its roots in Goth, mori kei and boho.

"Mai's mother describes herself as a witch, and thus, Mai says, 'It's always been a positive thing for me. A witch is a strong, feminine woman and a force to be reckoned with.'"

I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to the beautiful, kind people who allowed me to pick their brains for this article - Mai AgerlinRaePsychara and Pandora. I am indebted to you all for taking part and especial thanks to Mai and Rae who also provided photographs to accompany the article. I am very grateful to all of you for your time!

13 Life Lessons Goth Taught Me
(I really never expected to see a picture of my feet in a magazine with an international readership.) Being an 'ex-Goth' is actually a pretty large part of my identity. My time in the subculture had a big impact on how I see myself and the world around me.

"Screw the 'male gaze'. If I want to wear thirty layers of impenetrable velvet and an improbable hat, I will. Similarly 'you looked so much better before you had that mohawk/piercing/tattoo/hair colour never seen in nature' is a ridiculous statement implying that what you see in the mirror should be tailored to suit other people. Nuts to that."

Carpe Nocturne is over 100 pages of strange and unusual goodness, available in both print and digital form (I am awaiting my print copy with much glee!). I am delighted to have taken part in the latest issue and would like to thank CN very much for having me.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

10 Reasons I'm Thinking About Quitting Facebook

Just to be clear, I haven't done the deed yet. Quitting Facebook has been something on my mind for a while, but it's going to take *shudder* effort... I need to make sure all the right people have my email address or other contact details, I have to make sure I've downloaded and backed up all my photos, and I need to switch my Goodreads and other accounts to my email address rather than the oh-so-seductive 'sign in with Facebook' button.
This was the first photo of me ever posted to Facebook. I am as graceful and co-ordinated as ever. Like an elegant snow deer.
As a writer and a blogger, I obviously am not opposed to social media. I love Tumblr, I love Goodreads, I love Pinterest... in fact, I'm noticing that my social media tendencies lean towards anything where you don't actually have to talk to people. Just kidding! No, I prefer these accounts rather than Facebook or Twitter because they are actually relevant to my interests, instead of simply a platform for the general banalities of everyday life. So, without further ado, I'm thinking of quitting Facebook:
  1. To redirect my energy into the friendships and relationships that mean the most to me, instead of fielding notifications from twice-met acquaintances inviting me to play games fifty times a day and making me feel fed up with other people in general. I am an introvert, and although I love people (some of them anyway), I don't have enough energy to go around everyone and still feel happy and relaxed at the end of the day. I'd like to be able to focus more on specific people and, frankly, let the rest go. (I was planning to do some cord cutting at this last new moon but instead I had a lovely migraine, so that will have to wait until I shake off the post-migraine collywobbles.)
  2. To avoid self-consciousness and comparing myself to others. It's easy to fall into the trap of worrying too much about what everyone else is doing and forgetting to focus on my own life. I'm currently going through a sort of refining process, tweaking my existence into something that feels good... it doesn't have to look good from the outside and it won't necessarily look good on Instagram (although I like Instagram - I try to not take it too seriously. Mostly I post photos of books, new T-shirts or me doing daft things in public rather than trying to take the prettiest selfie or whatever. I went through that trying-to-be-Instacool phase earlier this year and it was fail). 
  3. Similarly, because I hate feeling like an image or a brand more than a person. I don't want to plaster only the best bits of my day all over the internet in the hopes of impressing somebody. Even in people's holiday photos now, you can see that a lot of us have worried more about our hair, make-up or outfit than the beautiful scenery behind us. Facebook has turned us into witnesses of our own experience - we frame things and edit them rather than throwing ourselves into them. I want to see more photos of scruffy bastards enjoying themselves. I want to BE that messy-haired scruff in the nerdy jumper grinning madly because, wow, there's a mountain behind me, not worrying about my eyebrows or the fact that my smile is too gummy and this amazing experience I'm having might not look as good to other people if I am not perfect enough (the horror). 
  4. Because it intrudes into the actual, real life that I'm living. Even if I don't delete Facefail, I will remove the app from my phone because I'm tired of having interesting one-on-one conversations interrupted by the aggressive buzzzzzz of an FB notification. Perhaps it's because I'm a bit of an old lady, but I find it inherently rude that we seem to be intended to drop whatever we're actually doing (and turn away from the person we're actually talking to) because somebody we went to school with back in the mists of time has sent us a poke.
  5. I realise this might be a bit on the passive-aggressive side, but I for one slipped easily into the habit of inviting people to an event with just a couple of clicks (a problem in itself for me, because I end up inviting all and sundry so as not to offend anyone and then having a larger group than I know how to cope with), and I kind of miss the days when, if someone genuinely wanted to see me at a gathering of any kind, they'd text or call me and speak to me about it. I want to know that if I'm invited to something it's because somewhere along the line someone has thought 'Oh it'd be nice to see such-and-such at our party', and not 'Oh but if she sees the photos and knows we all got together without her she'll be upset,' or, even worse, 'Well, the more randomers we invite the more popular we'll look.' Spoiler alert: I do not mind if I am not invited to every single thing. I have books and Tumblr and box sets of Thrones. I'm sure I'll be fine if you'd rather hang out with your other friends this time.
  6. On the flip side, feeling like crap if I can't make it to a specific event. I love you, friend, and I will try to come to your important thing, but I don't drive and I work in retail which is not a good combo for getting to things/having weekends. I don't need a case of the guilts for six weeks afterwards. 
  7. Also, sometimes I'd like to be able to say no to things that I just don't feel like doing without it being a huge deal. I know this sounds anti-social but the trouble with Facebook is that one's calendar can get a bit overcrowded, and I really need a lot of recharge time. I am the epitome of Netflix and chill, and sometimes I just need my space.
  8. Because I miss when I used to get together with buddies after somebody had been away somewhere and look through their holiday photos. That was a whole social convention that has just vanished into the ether and I know it's sad but I stubbornly miss that.
  9. To keep my private life private. Maybe it's ironic for a blogger but I don't want to fall into the oversharing trap. Some moments of my life are just for me. Or just for me and the people I'm sharing them with. I don't want the temptation to splurge these bright, shining, life-changing instants for the delectation - or amusement - of others, I want to hoard them and treasure them all to myself.
  10. I have better uses for my time. More and more often I find myself looking to my phone for entertainment when I'm waiting, travelling or on my lunch break. Uh, hello, but I have books for that. When did I get so interested in what everyone else is doing? If X friend did an awesome thing, I'm sure she'll tell me about it when next we talk. I don't have to hang my eyeballs out on FB all the time for fear of missing something.
So what do you guys think? I know I'm a cranky old lady in a twenty-four-year-old body, but how do you feel about Facebook? Would you quit? Are you addicted? Let me know. ^^

Thursday, 8 October 2015

TILT: October

It's been a while since I last did one of these, so I figured that the time must be nigh. >.<
  • Getting ready for 'WriMo! I almost forgot November was fast approaching as I have so much going on at the moment (the responsibilities! Get them off of me!) and when I did remember I really wasn't sure whether I should add another item to my arm-length to-do list. Especially with the item being National Novel Writing Month, not exactly a small challenge. Then I decided I might as well plow my time and effort into something I love, and if some of the other crap slips by the wayside for a month then, well, so what? I can pick it up again in 50,000 words' time, right? My NaNo profile is over yonder.
  • Christmas shopping. I know, super early! But my partner and I won't have much time off work later in the season and we like to do our shopping together so we made the effort to do it this week. I love shopping together because 1) we always start with a Starbucks breakfast, 2) we always finish with a slap-up dinner and more often than not a bottle of wine, and 3) I buy more 'little treats' for myself than all the other presents put together. My boyfriend is a legend, as well. He carried all the bags and bought me a teddy bear (named Hendrik, god knows why).
A photo posted by Amy Townsend (@wildlavendergirl) on

  • The Big Bang Theory. My mum thought I needed cheering up the other week so she bought me the box set of season eight. I love my mum.
  • Finding secondhand signed books. On the last day of our Isle of Wight trip, I bought a stack of books at one shop and grabbed a very battered China Mieville at a train station book exchange on the way home. The Mieville was signed. So, I discovered later, was a Terry Pratchett book I had bought in the bookshop. Score!
  • Sweater weather. The time is now. I have an army of sweaters and scarves and a new mustard-coloured parka. My body is ready.
  • Looking out of the window when my candles are lit and it's raining outside and the leaves are yellow and I have my book in my lap. :-3 Perfect!
  • My new Batman pajamas. Thank you, Primark (also now the proud owner of not one but two Gryffindor sweaters. I wanted Ravenclaw in an ideal world but they only had Gryffindor so whatevs).
  • Signing up to a fanfiction website and being too shy to post any of my work. >.< The fact that I could fills me with glee.
  • Lush Halloween stuff. Yes, one of everything, please and thank. I mean, sparkly pumpkin bath bombs?! I bought one, but really I needed twenty.
What about you guys? What made your week? ;)

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Holiday Shenanigans

Image-heavy post!

Last month it was my 24th birthday, and my boyfriend and I went away together for a few days to celebrate, and tick some items off the bucket list. We chose our destination via the tried-and-true combo of 1) it was cheap, and 2) it was easy to get to (we don't drive yet), which is how we found ourselves on the Isle of Wight, staying in a 1942 motor gun boat converted into a houseboat. Better yet, it was a B&B, and we got served a fresh-cooked breakfast on the boat every morning. Paradise!

I loved staying on a tiny island. I got very excited on the ferry as we approached because you could see the curve of the land, showing how very small it was! The isle isn't really that far from the mainland (an hour on the ferry) but somehow it felt very remote, in the loveliest possible way. Despite the fact that from the beaches around Bembridge you could see the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth! The lights from the mainland reflecting on the sea looked beautiful at night.

Our gunboat was the Xoron Floatel in Bembridge. It's unique as one of only two surviving Fairmile C Class MGBs in the world today, and definitely the only one converted into a B&B! I'm not quite sure what I was expecting, but I was charmed by the low ceilings and sheer number of spider plants. Our cabin managed to be both spacious and cosy, with low, curved ceilings and an en suite with bath and shower.

Of course we were there during the off season, when many of the tourist attractions were closed and the weather highly suspicious. This has never bothered us; we love walking and exploring, and we certainly did plenty of both. On our first full day on the island we hiked across the downs from Bembridge to Shanklin Chine, which took us about three hours...

We kind of suck at selfies.

One of the other great pleasures of the Isle of Wight was the food. Eating is one of my greatest holiday pleasures - I love finding a new or a quirky restaurant and stuffing myself silly. The above photo is from a restaurant whose name I forget, but I'd highly recommend the Pilot Boat Inn in Bembridge (shaped, I might add, like a boat), the Driftwood bar on the beach at Sandown, and the Bandstand which is also on the beach near the Sandown zoo. It has glass walls and we ate there on a rainy day - it was fantastic. Possibly also the best meal I've ever eaten.

I just uploaded these for the facial expressions >.<
Mostly we were lucky with the weather, except on our second day when it rained fairly continually and we got soaked. It was worth it, though, to watch the huge dark clouds coming in over the sea.
On our last day we found the amazing Mother Goose bookshop in St Helen's, and I spent rather a lot of money on a heap of Pratchett, Froud, Gaiman and assorted books on witchery. Well spent, I feel.

And heading home again! 
What I always really enjoy about going on holiday with Dan is taking a break from everything. Coming back again is always a bit of a jolt; I really like who I am when I'm away and carefree, and it's hard to hold onto that in my small home town. Dan doesn't really use social media so I end up heavily cutting back on my usage and I find myself enjoying things a lot more, not worrying about how I look and certainly not worrying about what I'm wearing, as all I've got is what's in my suitcase. This was an amazing trip and a great birthday! Hoping to escape again soon :)

Monday, 28 September 2015

Autumn Wishlist

  • cardigans
  • boots
  • soft socks
  • rum
  • warm, chunky jumpers
  • everything cable knit
  • when your breath makes little ghosts in the cold air
  • frozen spider webs
  • crunchy grass
  • crunchy leaves
  • pale blue skies
  • thunderstorms
  • the smell of wet grass
  • rain against the windows
  • Hogwarts T-shirts
  • hot, sugary coffee
  • Heathen body and face lotion from Goth Rosary (the site closed down, I am now on my last bottle *sad face*)
  • orange leaves
  • tartan skirts with cosy tights
  • leather jackets with huge chunky scarves
  • blankets. Oh so many blankets
  • ogling the new Zadig and Voltaire collection even though I can't afford it and couldn't justify the expenditure if I could
  • pumpkin spice lattes
  • horror films
  • tweed blazers
  • burgundy velvet
  • boyfriend in jumpers *mmm*
  • rewatching Labyrinth
  • Game of Thrones season 4
  • bonfires
  • Wolf by First Aid Kit
  • Kate Griffin's Matthew Swift novels
  • guitar practise
  • clove incense
  • early Christmas shopping
  • all the Halloween stuff

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