Crete Photo-Diary: Agia Pelagia

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Crete is the largest and most populated of the Greek islands. It sits quite alone in the Eastern Mediterranean, separating the Aegean Sea from the Libyan Sea. It's nearly as close to Northern Africa as it is to mainland Greece. It is a dry, warm, mountainous island with a hugely varied wildlife and terrain. These photos are from the sleepy seaside town of Agia Pelagia, our base while we stayed on Crete. It's a quiet place with fine-sand beaches, tavernas, a few shops, but no huge bars or clubs. Everyone is there for the transparent ocean, and for the sun. The cafes along the beach feel more like Bali or Mexico than what you would expect in Greece, with huge cacti scattered around and bamboo parasols laid out for sunbathers. While I was there in late September, the weather reached 37 degrees. The ocean water was 25 degrees. All the pink got washed out of my hair. Small street-cats are everywhere in the towns and cities, living off lizards, rats, fish, and the bins from the nearby restaurants. I found one with beautiful blue eyes, playing in a patch of shade, who posed for my camera after I gave it a lump of ice cream.

I couldn't fit all my photos into one post so I thought I'd split them up into a few, covering different districts of the island. These pics aren't even edited much, if at all. The light was spectacular, and everything was photogenic. We're already planning a trip next year to explore a few more islands,  perhaps Kos or Santorini, and a return to Crete.

Being Little

I have only ever called two men Daddy. Neither of them were my father. When I first began experimenting with BDSM, I was much more comfortable with words like Sir and Master; they have a certain civil politeness about them that doesn't feel quite as filthy, or as intimate, as Daddy. With my first boyfriend, it never felt like the right title. I remember the way I cringed every time he reminded me to use it, a game that quickly became a chore. It only began to come naturally with someone who never, ever required me to be a grown-up, a later partner who remains one of my favourite people and dearest friends.
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I am wounded when he and I start seeing each other. We are friends above all else, and so I take him out to a press event at a cocktail bar, a non-date. Both dressed-up and drunk enough to make long, unflinching eye-contact, he runs his fingers through my hair and gently pulls my head to one side, just to see if I will allow him to move me. We hold hands on the way home as he reassures me there's time, that I don't need to panic about missing my train. He can see my nerves tremble whenever I mention the hour, the station, or look at my ticket, but he does not question me too hard. Being friends, no one is trying to destroy or humiliate the other.

And so it happens very quickly. My voice falls out softer and higher in his presence. Yes, daddy. Please, daddy. Deeper, daddy. He is a foot taller than me and when we hug I can hear his heart. I swap one train journey for another, and sleeping and waking starts to get a bit easier, because being little means being cared for. No endearment is too silly or embarrassing. The smaller I feel, the less anxious I become. Even though this is all happening at the wrong time - even though I am often distant and non-commital and everything else I hated people for being before I was wounded myself - I am no longer afraid to wake up and remember what hurts. I am his babygirl. I have permission, and that knowledge keeps me on the earth.

ddlgThe sexual roles I go to out of habit feel like affected and ridiculous characters, an unnecessary layer between us that needs to come down before we can begin. Kitten, bunny, secretary, a devoted Grecian slave tending her warrior. He wants none of them, and what we have left afterwards is somehow the opposite; a regression, a stripping away of everything I have learned in order to please men. He knows when to choke me and when to let me breathe. The rules are designed so that I am forced to practice self-care, they do not exist merely to trip me up and bring me punishment. He knows I have been punished enough. We take our clothes off as soon as we are alone, and the sex becomes our clearest form of communication, an adoration without cruelty. Something in me unbreaks. We spend hours watching Disney movies and eating junk food in bed, and after fucking I fall asleep on his chest, unshowered, and dream of nothing. I am held in place.

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Babygirls are often misunderstood. Being little has nothing to do with fantasizing about incest, or pretending to be younger than you are. Those things are normal, healthy kinks in their own right, and as much as I want to clarify a distinction, I also don't feel the need to make too fine a point about it. In their essence, all relationships like these are about the exquisite contrast of a childlike spirit within a sensual, adult body. They are about giving and receiving care in the most raw and instinctive form, and relearning a sense of profound safety that we all lose as we live. They're about healing. Everything else is play.

What It Means To Be Bisexual In A Heteronormative World

I am bisexual. Among my peer group, I am not the only one; women who identify as straight are few and far between. I'm a sex blogger living in a Western city, privileged enough that hiding my orientation isn't a pressing safety concern. I also pass as straight, and as a result, dodge most of the abuse that queer women usually face. I only experience it when I am on dates with women, when I kiss or hold hands with my female friends in public, when I announce that I am bisexual on the internet or to new male partners, and as a child trying to express myself, when I was taught what dyke and whore meant by kids who did not even know themselves.

A girl once took my hand on the high street of my tiny, coastal hometown in Wales, and a man walked straight between us, snarling as he tore our hands apart. She tried to comfort me in a quiet, leafy spot behind a church, ironically the only place we could kiss without being seen. She was 19, a lesbian, and already used to it. We got happy-drunk on Jack Daniels and told my father we were "friends from blogging" on the way to my bedroom. Standing in my front porch while she smoked, people walking past openly stared, and I tried to put a name to the discomfort and the unease that I couldn't shake, that had nothing to do with my feelings toward her. After a while I realized it was because we were two women in public, and should anything happen, I knew I could not protect her, and she could not protect me.

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Out of all the pan and bisexual gal pals that I have, none of them are currently in a relationship with a woman. Not one, out of maybe 20 girls. Many of them are in long-term or short-term relationships with men, and many are single. This is not just an anecdotal finding, so please don't think I'm indirecting if this applies to you, as it does to me. Roughly 85-90% of bisexuals in relationships are committed to a member of the opposite sex, depending on what statistics you find. Bisexual women are also hugely more likely to marry a man than to marry or enter a civil partnership with a woman, and far less likely to ever come out at all, when compared to lesbians.
   
Let me be clear: I am not in any way insinuating that any of this lessens their status as a queer woman. The relationship we are currently in does not define our sexuality or erase our identity. That is actually the whole frustrating, troubling point I am trying to make. Our relationships with men are not a betrayal of our queerness; but queer women are choosing het relationships in overwhelming numbers, often choosing to never experience a female, and in many instances, choosing to live entirely closeted. This worries me.

Relationships can be a hideaway, a safe harbour; so can monogamy, or celibacy, or any form of sexual status. We use them as disguises, to protect ourselves financially, to avoid oppression or maintain privilege. When a bisexual woman chooses a monogamous relationship with a man, many will try to erase her bisexuality. They will say that she's outgrown her lesbian phase; that she was never really into girls; that she is straight now. This is so profoundly insulting and demeaning that most bisexual women in this situation will respond by declaring they are simply "a bisexual girl who just happened to fall in love with a man". But neither stance is entirely true. Queer girls are just happening to fall in love with men at hugely disproportionate rates, no matter where they sit on the Kinsey scale. I mentioned this imbalance to a straight, male friend recently. His response was to joke, witheringly, that maybe it's just because guys are so awesome at eating pussy and having intimate relationships. And then we both laughed hysterically. We laughed for a very long time.

I know queer women who met their male partners while they were at school, at university, living with homophobic family members, or before they'd even met another girl like them; in contexts where it almost makes no sense to talk about free choices. Straight men are also far more likely to pursue bisexual girls; our culture slaps them on the back for doing so, while many of my queer friends say they feel scared to flirt with another girl in case they are rejected or abused for being gay. If dating a girl might get you kicked out of the house, or disowned, or bullied at school, or shot dead in a nightclub, the odds on what gender you end up with are not 50/50. We do not live and love in a vacuum. Hatred, violence, and stigma towards same-sex relationships is very real. Bisexual people can choose to be invisible - and can you blame them? When the alternative is often so horrific.

The reason I am writing this is because it breaks my heart that so many of my friends have never felt safe enough to explore their sexuality. So many feel like they have no place in the queer community, and simultaneously, that they have no place in mainstream culture. Many have turned to the internet as their only means of self expression.

The reasons we fall in love with certain people and not others are hugely complex, and stretch farther than I could ever cover in writing. I do not think it ever "just happens". Love is love, but that doesn't mean it is always treated the same.

I Have A Rose Gold Watch, Am I Grown-Up Now?

I get sent a lot of really gorgeous stuff as a result of my blog. I have to pinch myself sometimes, even after all these years, when I think that this is actually my part-time job. I don't feel "grown-up" enough most days for this to be true; sometimes I'm not sure if I feel like a proper blogger, a proper woman, a proper adult, a proper creative. I need help sometimes, from the little things that sit around my house and remind me, whenever I see them, how much beauty my online creativity has provided for me. Objects that make me feel somehow a little more together, a little more grown-up, a little more "here", a little more done.

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Watches are no longer really necessary for their practical purpose. Everyone tells the time by their phone. But we keep buying them because of what they mean, because of our learned material culture, because of aesthetics. We create ourselves, and those we love, with the things that adorn us. Being grown-up is ultimately just a matter of doing something with the time we are given, and trying to learn at the same pace as we wrinkle up. And making the most of our time is easier if we have a perpetual reminder.

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This is the first even-remotely "grown-up" watch I've ever had, at the ripe old age of 25. It's definitely one of the most beautiful objects that blogging has brought into my life. When I went to have it sized, the watch-maker said she had never seen one like it before, which pleased me a great deal. It's made from maple wood and rose gold, and was chosen for me and my style by the super kind and knowledgeable people at Jord. Clothes-wise I'm quite a laid-back person, and I tend to express my personality more through my hair, my makeup, my jewelry, my body, the way I speak with my hands. I have always been an over-sized watch and blue jeans type of woman inside, and now my exterior is in sync. I am a little more here, a little more done.

You can win your own timepiece by entering my giveaway. The winner will receive a $75 e-voucher to spend, and everyone who enters will win a $20 one to put towards a timepiece. The giveaway ends on the 12th of June. Good luck, everyone.

This post contains pr samples/sponsorship, please see my pr page for details

Wooden Watches For Sale

New Horror Funkos!!

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I have a theme for my Funkos. I like themes. I like a certain aesthetic consistency in most things; it helps me bring beauty and a stylised order to an otherwise hectic and disorganised life. It's one of the reasons I love blogging. I love to curate life, and gather together the bits and pieces that I feel can say something about me that I cannot express by pure, spontaneous, dirty living, which runs away before I can grab hold of it.

The theme I have in mind for my Funkos is this: Monsters, and the women who know how to handle them. At first it might seem like a strange way for a feminist to collect her toys, but let me explain the idea a little bit better first. Not all these "monsters" are male, (Ghostface for example, spoiler alert, is a female in Scream 4) and not all of them are even human; to me they symbolise the demons within us all. The reason I am collecting specifically female champions, warriors, fighters, slayers, rescuers, saviours, and yes, even victims, is because I'm collecting those that have meant the most to me, as a woman, and the ones I have most deeply identified with. The archetype of the warrior princess has always fascinated me. Over the years, certain characters have taught me how to handle the monsters in my own life, and those inside me, by applying reason (Dana Scully), by applying love and forgiveness (Belle in Beauty and The Beast), and when all else fails, by slaying (Buffy Summers, forever and always). I know it's all a bit deep for a bunch of fucking Funko Pops, but that's what I'm like. So I thought I'd share.

My Buffy Summers and Ghostface Funko Pop Vinyls were kindly gifted to me by Vanilla Underground, see my PR page for details 

Spring Fashion Haul

It's been an absolute age since I've done a fashion post, let alone a fashion haul. Lately I've been intentionally buying up new things for spring (and being sent a few by brands, lucky me) so it just NEEDS to be done now, I think. I feel like I'm making my way towards having more of a "capsule wardrobe" than I've ever had before. Usually I'm the most impulsive, novelty-driven consumer possible. I buy strawberry bags and mermaid earrings and watermelon shorts. But I've been actually trying to focus in on versatile pieces that are more deeply suited to my personality and lifestyle. I'll run through them for you now but I'm sure I'll style them in outfit posts soon also!

I started out with a trench coat, because not having one began to feel kind of ridiculous. I picked this absolute keeper from Gap, after looking around for months at different ones. I wear it pretty much every day now so I probably should have bought one sooner, to be honest. I mix it a lot with my new rose-gold trainers from New Look. On the website they call them "Stone" coloured, but in real life they look rose gold to me - perhaps my obsession is making me hallucinate.

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Continuing with the rose gold theme, I've been wearing my metallic headphones from Kanen every single day. You can find similar ones on Amazon if you want a more reasonable alternative to Frends. The dress you can just about see underneath my trench is by Rare but I found it on Depop, and I was thinking of styling it for an OOTD post at some point, as it is super-sexy in a Jessica Rabbit type way. 

I've been trying to wear earrings now that my ears are getting gradually more and more pierced and elf-like. I was kindly gifted these ones and these ones from Happiness Boutique to try out, and I love them both. The Red Wine Drop Earrings feel really high-octane, and I tend to wear them out in the evening with an LBD or something. The Lavish Bar Statement Earrings are lighter and have more of a hippie vibe, so they go with pretty much everything in my wardrobe. Oh, and if you wanted to pick up something from Happiness Boutique for yourself, you can use my discount code "witchcake" for 10% off on orders over £15o until May 27th.

I know it's kind of mean of me to include something that isn't available any more, but I needed to mention my Chanel evening bag, because I've barely photographed it until now and it's one of the most beautiful things I own! I always get it out more in the spring, simply because in the spring I tend to go more places that warrant a Chanel bag, ya feel?

This post contains pr samples/affiliates, please see my disclaimer here 

How I Got Rose Gold Hair

how-to-rose-gold-hairIf you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you will have already seen recent selfies of me with my new rose-gold, pinky peachy hair. I've been wanting to go this colour for months and months, and fawning over images of pretty metallic hair on Pinterest while I mulled it over. I finally committed to the process (and shelled out around £100 all in all - becoming a unicorn ain't cheap) and I am sooooo happy I did. Here's how the magic happened.

What I Started With: Before I began, I had waist-length, auburn hair. It had been tinted with semi-permanent dyes many months ago, and had a lot of virgin roots. It was quite strong and healthy, despite being in desperate need of a trim, and I felt confident it could withstand a bleaching. 

The Bleach: I decided to go to a professional salon rather than bleaching it myself, because the kind of blonde that I wanted was a warm, natural-looking blonde - a golden canvas for temporary rose, peach, and pinky dyes that I could play around with to make something quite deep and metallic. So I booked in to Bauhaus in Cardiff, where they use Aveda products - my favourite. They gave me an all over bleach with a stronger solution on my ends. At this point you will look like a CheeseString, until they tone your hair. They gave me several rounds of ash and natural toner until it was all a consistent colour (check out this selfie to see what I looked like).

 photo 72a1da99-3b3b-4f14-abb2-8f6826c9f224_zpsqetrbswn.jpgThe Cut: After I had my blonde sorted, I decided to cut off the dry ends of my hair so that it would be healthier and happier after all that bleach. I had very, very long hair, so I opted for layers, about four inches taken off the length, and a "horseshoe" pattern around my face so that it tapers at the back (think Zooey Deschanel). This also got rid of the darker-blonde ends of my hair so that the rose-gold would go on evenly, and give me less hair to dye!

The Rose Gold Tint: I started with one bottle of Rose dye from Bleach London (their products are all vegan and cruelty-free). I originally planned to mix Rose and Awkward Peach, but I had enough warm, peachy tones in my hair to be getting on with, so all I needed were cooler pink tones. With the first half of the dye I followed the instructions on the bottle and put it on towel-dried hair for 15 mintues, but after I did this, there was next to no colour on my hair. So I did a little strand test on DRY hair, which I left on for a couple of hours. The strand came out a beautiful, bright metallic pink. Happy with the strand, I went ahead and used the last of the bottle on completely dry hair, left it on for about one hour and a quarter, and then rinsed off the excess. I did not rinse until the water ran clear, like you would with regular dye, because that would literally leave no colour on you at all. When I was done I dried my hair with a black towel to avoid any stains getting anywhere!

And that's about it. You can see what I looked like immediately afterwards in this picture, and after a few washes, the colour fades to peach, ginger (like this) and then rosy blonde. If you have any questions about going rose-gold then please pop me a comment!

Why I'm Quitting Internet Dating

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I've been meeting men and women online for about three years. Sometimes it would turn into a monogamous relationship - but when things ended, I would always go back.

It began when I made the decision that I was going to find a Dominant. I wanted to see if I could get my needs met, somehow, with only a vague idea of what they were and what would satisfy them. I joined Fetlife, a networking site for kinky people. As a teenager, I was cripplingly agoraphobic and anxious. I don't know how I could best describe to you what it's like to possess both a crazed sexual drive, and a fear of talking to people I find attractive. The two do not easily coexist and used to push me to do dangerous and destructive things, in an attempt to break the periods of isolation that my fear of crowds and open spaces often confined me to. I would have moments of explosive, wild bravery, where my impulses would briefly overcome my fear, and compel me to take a desperate risk. When I joined Fetlife, it was the first time I was able to talk to others about my deepest desires on a casual, daily basis. I lost my shyness and extremity, and was quickly found. Within two weeks I was in a relationship.

Ten months later, when that relationship ended, I returned to Fetlife. This time around, I joined Tinder as well. At first it was thrilling to have limitless choices again, without the phobias and the shame that had tortured me. I explored everything I discovered, with a greater understanding of my own needs, and so much less at stake. But the words we use in matters of the heart are heavily recycled, and over the last three years, there has been hardly any original communication. A lot of those conversations could have been written by the same lover. I've used OkCupid, Bumble, Tinder, Happn, Fetlife, Whiplr, Her, SugarDaddy.com, and a whole host of other dating sites in the gaps where I was free to. I started to come across people I had already dated. Swiping past exes in my Tinder stack, I would laugh at the contrast between their profile and what I knew of their real self, re-writing them in my head. In my relationships, I kept finding little clues; flashes of deja vu come to tell me I was dating the same man, only in a different form. They appeared in odd combinations and in unexpected moments. The plain navy bedding. The Batman laptop stickers. That certain IKEA chest of drawers. The candle jar with the black paraffin soot up the sides, that stains my hand every time I light it. Them, crying, unable to cope. Me, silent and tired. The black sex toys. The belt. The empty bottles of whisky. The drunken phone calls. The morning light. The train station.

Growing detached and observant on dates, that feeling of repetition intensified, until it began to feel like a game of Guess Who. Except it was not a game, but my one and only romantic life. As time has passed, I have grown tired of that type of  person. The majority of people looking around online are not ready to find something. Especially something like me. 

I have changed since all this started. I'm openly kinky to all and everyone I meet, and I have a much larger circle of kinky friends now, who I can explore with, should I wish to. I no longer need the distance of a dating app in order to be honest about that. The usual rhetoric is that internet dating is just a convenient means to an end, because our lifestyles make it difficult to meet people organically. But I have come to believe that only truly applies to a small percentage. For me, it was about having very specific kinks that I needed to confess. And for all the men that I met, it seemed to be about disposability, and their incapacity to connect to another person in real life or otherwise.

The other day, after all these years, I deleted all my dating accounts. Not just the apps, the actual accounts. For a while I was afraid to do this, thinking my love life would be barren without them, but I needn't have worried. If anything, I feel more approachable in person now, more connected to the people around me. Should the dates become less frequent, I still think I will survive. I can't imagine anything worse than one day, as an old woman with grey and wrinkled hands, still leaning down to light a candle with paraffin soot up the sides of the jar, and not even caring who it's for.