Friday, 12 December 2014

My Second Novel To Be Published By Open Books

I'm delighted to announce that my second novel Celestial Land and Sea will be published by Open Books in February 2015!

I'll update you soon on the latest developments (make sure you check out my Twitter and Facebook pages for more!), as well as sharing details about the novel, but for now I'll leave you with the link to my introduction on the Open Books homepage!

Amy x

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Top 5 Novels: October-November 2014

It's that time again when I force myself to narrow down the novels I've read over the last few months to just five favourites. It's quite a tough call, as is usually the case, but I think I'm finally happy with my list. 

In no particular order, the novels that have left an impression on me recently are:

1. The Parasites by Daphne Du Maurier I'm a little bit in love with addicted to Daphne Du Maurier. Don't look at me like that - it's Hampstead's fault. I've read a few of her novels recently but The Parasites is by far my favourite. Three well-cultured siblings with careers in music, theatre, and illustration: what could possibly go wrong? There's a lot of The Parasites that sits warmly in my heart, and Du Maurier's writing style is to die for.

2. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery I'd always intended to read Anne of Green Gables, but never prioritised it. Now that I've finished it I can honestly say it's one of my favourite classics. It's quite an easy read, which I wouldn't have expected when considering a tale about a little orphan girl moving in with her foster family, but it's just so agreeable in every emotion it projects. The rate of development for Anne's character is lovely too, exactly what I would have hoped for and more. I definitely urge you to read this if you've not yet done so.

3. Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey Oh wow. Where do I begin? Give me any story about spirits and I'll love you forever. This one is so superbly written, and, with its Victorian settings, is more than I could ever have dreamed of. It's thrilling in parts, chilling in others, and so addictive that I couldn't put it down. It's very believable, an eye opener to the world of fraudulent spiritual mediums, and one that I will read again. And probably again.

4. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton There's a reason why Kate Morton has featured in the past two entries for this series. Her writing is addictive. I do believe The Secret Keeper is my second favourite of her novels to date. A search into the past opens a journey of discover for Laurel, but never did I expect such an outcome. It starts off as a good story, progresses into a wonderful read, and then, out of nowhere, it makes me cry towards the end. I love a novel with a good ending, and this one has a great one!

5. The Observations by Jane Harris This is one of those books that I picked up without not really knowing what to expect from it. I took a risk and it certainly paid off. An Irish maid working for a couple in Edinburgh - sounds straightforward, right? Wrong! The balance of trust here is way off centre; as soon as I start to favour one character they do something that flings me out of my comfort zone. One more occasions than I can count I changed my mind about how I thought it'd end, about who I should believe. It's full of surprises, and puts traditional character traits in a new light. What's not to love?

There's little in life that's as exciting as a great novel. What delights have consumed your imagination these last few months?

Amy x

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Grave Hunting in St-John-at-Hampstead and St Pancras Old Church

Although I don’t ever feel the need for an excuse to go grave hunting, I do like to enjoy the heightened spectrality  of Halloween by spending time in cemeteries and churchyards. This year’s adventures were delightfully literary, with adventures taking me to St Pancras Old Church, and my favourite of favourites: St-John-at-Hampstead.
St Pancras Old Church is situated ten minutes by foot from King’s Cross, so it made an incredibly convenient first-stop on a recent trip to Hampstead. Unfortunately I did not have enough time to go inside the church itself, but the breath-taking beauty of the churchyard somewhat made up for this.
I did, of course, visit with intentions. The particular attraction for me was the memorial tomb of Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin. Wollstonecraft and her writing alike are undeniably fascinating, and visiting the tomb as but a small token of my respect. This was also the location of the secret meetings between Wollstonecraft’s daughter Mary and Percy Shelley before their elopement; so, in a way, if it wasn’t for St Pancras Old Church, there may not have been an elopement, or any time spent at Villa Diodati and the subsequent birth of Frankenstein.

Additionally, the Hardy Tree is a rather spectacular sight. It’s eerie in some aspects, and beautiful in others. I’d seen it in photographs before I visited, but it’s definitely a lot more magnificent in real life. I’m afraid the photo here won’t do it justice, but hopefully it’s enough to whet your appetite to visit!

My favourite churchyard of them all is St-John-at-Hampstead. Not only is it in my favourite place in the world (*cough* Hampstead), it also has a wonderful layout decorated beautifully by nature with trees, plants, and the occasional squirrel. I’d visited several times before, primarily to see Eva Gore-Booth, but something new was on the agenda this time: the Du Mauriers and theLlewellyn Davies family.
Arthur and Sylvia Llewellyn Davies are buried there, as well as some of their sons. Perhaps most notably – and certainly the reason why I sought them out – is the inscription for Peter Llewellyn Davies at the foot of his parents’ grave. Peter was the inspiration for J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, so to think of this as the resting place for the ashes of Peter Pan is, I’m sure you’ll agree, quite exciting.

George Du Maurier’s name sits prominently on this next grave, with many other inscriptions for Du Maurier family members around about. Daphne Du Maurier – my main interest in the family – was actually cremated, with her ashes scattered in Kilmarth, so there’s no trace of her here.

However, there’s plenty of the Du Mauriers, including Daphne, in other locations nearby. Cannon Hall was once home to Gerald Du Maurier, and Well Road hosts a plaque for the house in which Daphne lived for several years.

In all, this was a very successful history-hunting Halloween in Hampstead (please, do excuse the quadruple alliteration; sometimes I just can’t help myself). Until next year…

Amy x

Monday, 17 November 2014

An Interview with (my Auntie) Elsie, Spiritual Messenger

I’m delighted to finally be able to reveal a video that’s been long in the pipeline:

My Auntie Elsie is a spiritual messenger. The gift that was freely given to her by the hierarchy of the Spiritworld is an honour and privilege that is cherished. She has dedicated her life to helping others in need with no self gain, financial or otherwise - all guidance and consultation is completely free and given with non-judgemental compassion. 

I hope you enjoy the video below. I'll leave relevant links and contact information at the bottom!

- Email Elsie:
- Website:
- Trinity of Spiritual Light Facebook:
- Blog:

Questions in the video include:
00:10 - What is a Spiritual Messenger, and for how long as this been a part of your life?
01:21 - What makes spiritualism different to religion?
05:24 - What makes an angel different from a Spirit Guide or somebody who has recently passed on?
06:15 - What sort of impact to paranormal investigation TV programmes have on the perception of the Spiritworld?
08:20 - What are the main reasons behind scepticism towards the Spiritworld?
09:19 - What are the most challenging things about being a spiritual messenger, and what do you enjoy most about it?

Amy x

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

How Lynda Bellingham Helped Save My Life

Following the news about Lynda Bellingham at the start of this week, I'd decided not to say much. I wasn't ready to, not then. But I feel that now, when information has had time to sink in, the moment is right for me to pay tribute to one of the most considerate, caring, beautiful people I've ever known.

It's probably a good idea for me to provide a little background information so you know where the journey I'm about to share with you is coming from. To make a long story slightly shorter, I was hospitalised in 2007 with an eating disorder. Anorexia had bitten me; there was no light in my life, no hope in my heart. During the therapy I received following my discharge I was advised to focus on something I wanted to achieve, an element of my future in which I hoped to succeed. It was an easy decision: I chose my career. Always have, always will. And for my 15 year old self back then, the ultimate dream was to sit among the Loose Women panel (a dream, I confess, that has never left me).

This is relevant for two reasons. For one, the show became my best friend at lunch times - the hardest meal of the day when I was required to eat the largest quantity of food - and it provided me with a regular comfort, a safety net and the familiarity that I so craved. However, it didn't just distract me from my meal; the panel, and two panellists in particular, became wonderful inspirations. One such person was Lynda Bellingham.

For reasons I can't recall, I wrote to Lynda around that time. I can only imagine the look on my face when she replied, her handwriting beautifully sprawled onto a card donning her name in elegant italics (pictured below). I can't remember the exact details, but I must have responded with a thank you and a few more questions, because I soon received another reply.

This correspondence carried on for a number of years. Often I would write about nothing very important, and Lynda would always reply with enthusiasm, interest, and love. Sometimes her responses arrived on her own personalised card, and there was the occasional typed letter or wee handwritten note on rough paper if it was all she had access to from her hotel. One year there was even a Christmas card, and I only wish I could remember what year that was from.

At some point along the way our correspondence ceased. I can't remember which of us stopped writing, which of us did not reply to a letter, but it ended. Time runs way from us often, and I never really thought about it a lot until sorting through them all today. The last letter I received from Lynda arrived a few weeks after I met her for the final time in 2011 when she was touring with Calendar Girls. The kindness she displayed that day, as ever, is something that will remain with me forever.

What those letters from Lynda provided, especially in the early days, was a source of hope and support. I was lonely, isolated, and struggling to find the strength to carry on with my existence. Her words supplied a crucial lift in my spirits that was essential to my recovery, necessary to save me from my own destruction. Whether or not Lynda knew this I do not know, but she provided a rock for me when she did not have to. She could have ignored my initial letter. She could have stopped responding two or three letters in. But she didn't. 

When you've forgotten how to live for the present and only exist in hope of a brighter, successful future - such torment I suffered during the worst of my eating disorder - then somebody like Lynda, whose kind heart and soul remained constant, makes all the difference. There was something about her, a quality that very few people genuinely possess, that shone brightly. Our correspondence may have been brief in comparison to that of many, but the impact it had on my own strength and hope is invaluable.

Lynda may not have known just how much her words over the years meant to me - they make me smile even now when I reflect on their content or the emotions I quickly came to associate them with - but perhaps that's not important. What does matter is the fact that Lynda touched the lives of many, and that it can be said, with confidence, that her name will forever live on.

I will light a candle for Lynda at Christmas, and I hope you will join me. If the flame shines half as brightly as she did, the light of her love will continue to warm us all.

Thank you Lynda. Without you, who knows what life would be.

Amy x

With Lynda in 2009

I gave Lynda a teddy bear dressed in Calendar Girls inspired clothes
in 2011. Needless to say, that night she gave a stunning performance.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Top 5 Novels: August-September 2014

I'm always up for a challenge, but sometimes things turn out to be harder than they were initially expected to be. This is certainly the case with narrowing down the list of novels I read in August and September to just five favourites!

The majority of the books I discovered during those two months were of a similar nature - spiritual in some parts, historical in others, and almost always with a parallel timeline. With the exception of one entry, all of my final choices have been plucked from that category.

In no particular order:

(Psst. If you click on the cover images they'll take you to the books' Amazon listings, where you'll be able to find more details about the plot, publishing, etc!)

1. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton I read both The Forgotten Garden and The House at Riverton during these months and loved them both equally, but I knew I had to choose just one for here. It was a close call, but in the end I made my decision, if only by a fraction of a preference, based on the fact that I found the characters to be that little bit more appealing and the narrative to develop at a slightly better pace in The Forgotten Garden. I'm certain Morton's work won't be escaping my mind in a hurry.

2. Mariana by Susanna Kearsley Oh boy. Where do I begin? There's so much about this story that I adore. I fell in love with Geoff immediately, just one of the many poignant characters the novel has to offer. The shift between timelines was executed perfectly, and I found myself fully invested in Mariana's journey. As a Spiritualist there's so much about Mariana that I praise, and I can only hope that everybody gets the chance to read this at some point.

3. The Silent Tide by Rachel Hore The Silent Tide has successfully left me yearning for more of Hore's work. Driven by Emily, a publisher, chasing the story of Isabel, a figure history had drowned as a female, there's a delightful element of mystery throughout the novel. The frequent switch in voice between characters is without fault; it's not only easy to take on board the changes in time, but also something that I found myself greatly desiring as I became more deeply absorbed in the events. I don't often read the same novel twice, but this is one I would happily go back to.

 4. Close to the Bone by Stuart MacBride I cried at the end of this one. How could I not? Not only is this the most recent of MacBride's Logan McRae series, meaning I have to hope and pray that I can continue to follow McRae* and his journey soon again, but I also found the ending to hit me right in the heart. The story itself, with a thrilling range of murders and fascinating characters, is alone enough to render this a wonderful read, but the ending is painful, and for all the right reasons. I need to read the next McRae book, and, to quote an unrelated Veruca Salt, "don't care how, I want it now!"


5. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood I wasn't sure what to do with this one to begin with. The first quarter, maybe fifth, of the book was not the best read. But I persevered, and how glad of that I am. The style is not necessarily to my taste, and yet I cannot stop thinking about the book. Set around the life of nineteenth-century murderess Grace Marks, there's a lot going for the narrative, and even more for Grace's own personality, particularly the way in which she develops. Whenever reading about true events it's important that I feel I'm being given an accurate, or at least believable, representation of events, and regardless of what I think about the style of the writing, the actual story is unforgettable.

Five novels, five great adventures. With no idea what the next few months will bring, I'll hold onto my bookmarks and wish for all things peculiar, emotive, and thought provoking!

What have you read recently that you can't stop thinking about? I'd love your recommendations!

Amy x

Monday, 7 July 2014

Meet Medora, my beautiful new kitten!

I'd like you to meet Medora, my beautiful new nine-week-old kitten.

Now I promise that I will not become one of those people who upload a hundred photos of their cat every day. At the very least, it certainly isn't my intention! However, I'm so crazily obsessed with her that I couldn't help but share her with you today.

She is named, you may be able to guess, after Lord Byron's daughter Medora Leigh. Now that I think about it, I don't know what else I could have possibly named her. She's the epitome of her Greek name!

She's a half-ragdoll (but you'd think she was half-human the way she sleeps in my bed at night!) and loves to be cuddled and rocked to sleep. She adores her toy mouse, and will happily chew anything that wiggles.

It's almost guaranteed that she'll appear in some of my future YouTube videos, but for now I shall leave you with Medora's first selfie. She really is the new bundle of love in my life that keeps my heart beating!

Amy x

My 'Share a Coke' Experience!

A friend sent me a photo of a Diet Coke bottle they'd found with Byron written on the name label. I searched everywhere for one. I gave up, disappointed.

All was not lost though. It turns out Coca Cola now do an online option so you can order your choice of name/s from hundreds of thousands of options. You can access this part of their site by clicking here.

I knew I was desperate to buy a Byron Coke - it's the little pleasures, isn't it? - but I was wary of ordering a glass bottle online. They only offer the glass ones personalised, and it turns out they only offer it in normal Coke. Shame really, as I only drink Diet or Zero!

Not that that stopped me. My partner and I placed our order. As they're £1.99 each, two bottles cost us £7 in total with postage. If you order five or more though postage is free. How kind!

Two days later I signed for this parcel at my door:

Pretty cute, isn't it? It's smaller than I expected, but the bottles are packaged very snug and secure, as I was relieved to find, just like you see here:

The labels on the bottles are stickers so it shouldn't be too difficult to peel it off for keeping once the drink is finished. After all, if we're all going to this effort to buy a drink on the internet, we're going to want to keep the labels!

This is definitely a one-off novelty service and it's unlikely that I'll ever order from them again. However, there is no reason for this other than the fact that, as a rule, I'm perfectly happy with the Diet Coke I can buy in stores. I've no complains about this Share a Coke option, and definitely recommend it if you're interested in buying a Share a Name bottle!

Amy x

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

The Search for Bellatrix's Necklace Is Over!

It may have taken me two years, but I've finally found the perfect replica for Bellatrix Lestrange's necklace!

Now I'll be honest, when I discovered that the actual necklace worn by Helena Bonham Carter (below) was provided by Crazy Pig Designs, and that I could buy one from the company for £200, I was all set to start saving every penny that I could find.

Was this because I absolutely had to have one from the same company?

No. It's because I couldn't find a decent enough replica anywhere. However, as much as I would love an actual 'replica' from the same company, even I have to admit that it's a lot of money to spend on a necklace that, let's be honest, I'd be too scared to wear outside in case I lost it.

I'd searched everywhere for a cheap lookalike, anything that remotely resembled the one worn by HBC in the Harry Potter films. Just when I was about to give up, my attention was brought to what has now become one of my favourite eBay shops. You can click here to check out Muggle Market, from whom I bought the following two necklaces:

(Wrist tattoo not included!)

I can't believe how beautiful that bird skull is. Okay so I'm not going to pretend it's exactly the same as Bellatrix's, but I'm sure you'll agree that they're strikingly similar:

(Left: me. Right: Ms Bonham Carter!)
I cannot quite believe how perfect it looks. It's the only one I've ever seen where the eyes aren't too narrow or too squished, or where the beak isn't too long and pointed. The shape and size are both spot on, and the black chain that came with it is wonderful too.

Now for the best part: the bird skull necklace cost just £10.50. I know, it's incredible! Sure, I'd love the official one from Crazy Pig Designs, but I'm more than happy enough for the mean time with this beautiful option.

I also have nothing but praise for the Dark Mark/Nagini necklace too, which I purchased for £6.50 in the same order. This one was just as exciting as I'd been desperate for a Dark Mark necklace for several months now, but only ever seemed to find either really expensive ones or really tacky non-Dark Mark snakes. This one is exactly what I wanted - I couldn't be happier!

You can either visit the links above or head to for the full range of Harry Potter items (and more) the store has to offer. I have my eye on a few other things from there too, but I'm trying to be good! We'll see how that goes...

If you're looking for a replica of Bellatrix's necklace - and, let's face it, who wouldn't want to wear a bird skull? - then I definitely recommend you take a look at this one. It's well made, perfect in size, and is pretty inexpensive. I think it's safe to say that it's definitely been worth holding out for two years to find one in which I can find no flaws.

Amy x

Wearing the necklace!

Monday, 2 June 2014

Finding Byron in London, Cambridge, and Six Mile Bottom

This is the second of two posts as part of my London Series of May 2014. You can find the first post (Harry Potter) here. There are video clips from my travels related to Lord Byron here and at the end of this post.

There's an odd thrill of excitement in stepping back in time as I walk down the streets Byron used to frequent. Some have noticeable alterations, others have been completely rebuilt. And yet there's something about the imagination that doesn't let any of this taint the experience. On my recent visit to London I was enthralled with the delights of several of the streets upon which Byron, at one point in his life, had taken lodgings. Let us look:

8 St James's Street and 13 Piccadily Terrace
These properties are not as they were. 13 Piccadilly Terrace is said to have been in the location of the now 139 Piccadilly. The tall building photograpphed, appropriately named Byron House, is now 8 St James's Street, but as far as I am aware this is not the building as it was. Nonetheless, we can say safely that Byron would have breathed the air in that very spot. It doesn't get much more exciting than that...

Actually, yes, yes it does. As I turned the corner onto Bennet(t) Street, wherein he used to lodge at number 4 in a building no longer standing, there was a giant wall to mask construction work on the other side of the road. On this wall could be seen - and I dare say it would be impossible to miss it - a rather giant head of Lord Byron. Needless to say, I took this opportunity to be photographed with His Lordship.

Heading up the road took me to 50 Albemarle Street, more famously known as the home of John Murray Publishers. It has been situated there since Byron's life, so that's definitely a treasured location.

You will also find a rather peculiar statue of Byron in Hyde Park. Located on a roundabout just outside of one of the exits, it's quite an odd looking statue and one, if I may say so, that doesn't do him any justice. However, me being me, I had to take a picture of it. I'll let you make up your own mind about what you think!

At the end of the week we took a day trip up to Cambridge so I could see the university. Unfortunately, it wasn't the most pleasant of experiences. Perhaps I just picked the wrong day. Maybe not. But, for whatever reason, I decided almost immediately that I do not like the area. It was nice to see the statue of Byron in the Wren Library, even if some of the staff were unacceptably rude, but I can't say I'll ever be going back in a hurry.

On the bright side, we did then travel from Cambridge to Six Mile Bottom. This couldn't have come at a better time for me as I'm currently doing a lot of research into Byron's relationship with his half-sister Augusta Leigh, and a connected link with Mary Chaworth, and a great deal of this focuses around the once-residence of Augusta, now known as Paddocks House. It's a gorgeous building, and I feel honoured to  have been inside it. I definitely recommend you visit if you get the chance - a taxi from Newmarket station is most certainly the easiest way to approach it if you, like me, do not drive!

With the dampener that is Cambridge aside, it's been a very satisfying week with a lot of Byron all around. There are still several places on my list I'd like to check off in the UK before I branch out and begin exploring the Byron of the rest of the world, but for now I shall enjoy the adventures of the recent past. I hope you shall too!

Amy x

The Making of Harry Potter: The Tour, The Sets, and an Excitable Slytherin

This is the first of two posts as part of my London Series of May 2014. You can find the second post (Lord Byron) here. There are video clips from my travels related to Harry Potter here and at the end of this post.

Now, I'll be honest. I don't know where to begin. There's so much I want to share with you, but I know I must refrain from inundating this with all the photos I've taken over the last week. Instead, I think I'll include just a small selection, perhaps just enough to whet your appetite, and hopefully you'll enjoy these as much as I do. Allow me to start with Diagon Alley...

The above picture is of Leadenhall Market, seen in the films as Diagon Alley. It's not too difficult to find, situated near Bank tube station, and the image here is taken looking down from the main entrance. If you wander around a bit (and we had to do quite a bit of wandering!) you'll find this:

That there is no ordinary doorway into an optician's. No, that is the doorway to the Leaky Cauldron! Sadly, there was no sign of any witch or wizard in sight willing to help us pass through this magic doorway, but it was fun to visit there all the same.

The last stop on our magical Potter trail around London is Great Scotland Yard:

Yes, that's none other than the exterior for the Ministry of Magic. It's slightly different, as the bridge has been duplicated and added to where the front door can be seen in the photo, thus acting as a pillar next to which the red telephone box is situated, but it's still instantly recognisable. I think, out of all three here, this was by far the most thrilling to see.

However, the winner, insofar as it excelled my excitement levels to heights I didn't even know existed, is the Warner Brothers 'Making of Harry Potter' Studio Tour. Full details can be found on the website as linked, but in brief an adult ticket costs £30, and it must be pre-booked. I definitely advise anybody to take the tour bus from Watford Junction station as there are a few interesting features on there that you wouldn't get if you drove to the studios.

Once there there's a brief introduction from a member of staff - it's not as boring as it sounds, I promise! - which definitely helps to set the mood and get fans even more excited. After that, you're free to look around at your own pace. I thought this was fantastic as I'd originally assumed that it was a timed guided tour. How long I stared at Bellatrix's dress for was probably more than socially acceptable, but I remain thankful for not being pushed for time!

As much as I'd love to share all the pictures I took, we'd be here forever. Instead, I've selected three I particularly like - one set, one costume, and one too awesome for words - to introduce you to the tour's beauty. I really cannot encourage you enough to go along and enjoy it for yourself. The props and costumes on display were the actual ones we see in the films, and it really helps to bring everything to life.

Who doesn't love pink?

Anyway, I'm afraid we've come to the end of this particular Potter session. I do hope you've enjoyed this as I fully intend to remain enveloped in this magic until the grave and beyond. If there's anything in particular you'd like to know about the tour or any of the locations mentioned then please don't hesitate to email me via the address above and I shall try my best to answer any questions from my own visitor perspective. Do look out for my second blogpost and make sure you check out the Harry Potter footage in my video below!

Amy x

Oh, and just one more thing: long may Slytherin reign!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

The Beauty of Wearing Black

People often criticise me for always wearing black. They encourage me to feel like the decisions I make about my wardrobe make me a bad person.

But then I remember: I like the clothes I choose to wear.

There are a lot of stereotypes surrounding people who frequently wear black, and I'd like to discuss why these are shameful accusations. 

It has to be said, first of all, that I haven't always favoured the clothes I wear now. Once upon a time, I tended to prefer options like this:

No, I'm kidding. That was one time. But I did frequently dress like this...

I was happy wearing colour. I didn't have a problem with it then, and I certainly don't have a problem with it now when other people choose to wear it. A lot of the time it's assumed that everybody who wears black is just scared  to wear colour. While I cannot, and would not, speak on behalf of everybody - certainly some people do feel uncomfortable in brighter shades - this should never have become a stereotype. When I bought a black dress one day in 2011, I decided that I actually liked wearing black.

Here you see me, a few months later, still dressed, head to toe, in black:

I love that umbrella. I love that coat. In fact, I love everything about that outfit, and that is precisely my point. I chose the clothes you see in that photo because I loved the style, not because I felt I had to hide my body behind the darkness. 

That's not to say that there aren't days where the thought of looking in the mirror terrifies me; I, like most people, am often displeased with with way I look. But this is not something reflected in my wardrobe decisions. For some reason, fashion 'experts' have got it into their heads that anybody wearing black - and they seem to not realise that it's available in options other than baggy hoodies and joggers! - must be stripped of this apparent mask and expose their bodies in brighter colours. Yes, some people do hide behind black clothes and just need that nudge of encouragement to wear the colours they suit and adore, but some of us don't actually want to be forced to banish the black. Some of us actually enjoy it.

'But Amy', you may be thinking, 'you look rather covered up in the photo above. How does this prove you're not hiding?' Well, here's a recent photo I took with the intention of putting it on the internet where I knew a lot of people would see it. Again, I'm wearing black:

Now I don't particularly like my arms. I don't know too many people who do like their own arms. And yet, despite the fact I'm dressed in black, they're not covered up. I'm not hiding behind the black bodice; in fact, if I'd leaned over you'd see I was actually quite exposed. So how anybody can say I'm using darker clothes to hide my body, I don't know.

I'm going to cover two stereotypes in one now. First, allow me to introduce you to one of my favourite dresses:

Needless to say, the outfit is all black, except there are now splashes of green and red in there too. If you look closely, you'll see that these splashes are in fact blood stains and heads of Frankenstein's creature. For many people, black clothing equates to the Gothic. While I don't deny that the two go hand in hand wonderfully, it doesn't automatically mean that they must always be paired. There are times when I do darken up the make up and look a little more Goth-like than usual, but that doesn't mean I don't know how to have fun. I'll refrain from going into Gothic stereotypes here, but I'm sure many will agree with me when I say that too many believe that black clothing always equals Gothic, and Gothic always equals a lack of fun and creativity.

There is certainly no lack of creativity in the design of that dress! Such items of clothing prove that there is a lot of fun to be had with wearing black: there are so many styles to choose from, so many cuts and designs, and, the best part, it's so easy to pair them with fun shoes and pretty jewellery to offer a reflection of personality. One thing here I can state with complete confidence:

Black does NOT have to be boring!

The most important thing to me about wearing black, however, is not the way I look, but the way it makes me feel. Instead of hiding behind black because I'm not confident in my own body, I wear black because it enhances my confidence. I feel protected, safe. I've tried wearing colour, I used to like it, but people change and the way we feel changes too. Maybe one day I'll enjoy wearing brighter clothes again, but right now, as has been the case for quite some time, I'm at my happiest when I'm wearing black.

However, and I probably don't need to say as the existence of this post says the very same, there are times when I feel self-conscious, and even dark fabric can't barricade the cruelty. But the point I want to emphasise here is the fact that those bouts of self-consciousness come not from the clothes I wear or the way they make me look, but from the words of others.

It is the unnecessary judgement from other people that induces poor confidence, not the clothes we choose to wear. I wear black clothes because I like to wear them, not because I feel I need to. Different people have their own reasons for deciding to wear black, and never should everybody be labelled with damaging stereotypes, and certainly not because of the way they look. I make the decision to wear black and I like what I wear.

By choosing to wear black, I am allowing myself to be the real me, not the person society pressures me to be.

Amy x