Sunday 25 March 2012

My tattoo ain't no tatt!

So, back in my mis-spent youth I had a dream, a dream that one day a picture would be drawn on my person and would stay there forever. FOREVER! Back then there was an unending need to procure temporary tattoos, barbed wire around my upper arm, the oblivion logo on my lower back. Mercifully, the law in its infinite wisdom decided that 15 really IS too young to decide what you want permanantly inscribed on your skin, and so these transfers washed away along with my teenage delusions.

Then, at 17, I went to posh college. This meant NO TATTOOS, NO UNUSUAL PIERCINGS, NO FUN. Ok so I made that last one up. But body art really was restricted, they believed that it could mean you didn't get a job. I do see this. Cheap tattoos ain't good, and good tattoo's ain't cheap. But tattoos that mean something or have artistic merit? Sure some people HATE tattoos. But if it isn't there for public apraisal then how much can it matter?

I still desperately wanted a tattoo. I don't know why, it's just one of those things. So, at 25 (26 in two weeks) I finally went for it. And bloody hell was I nervous. I researched Tattooists and studios for weeks, up to 60 I think, and went to around 15 studios. Some studios looked great but the tattoos weren't all that and some tattoos looked amazing but the studio looked grubby. Also, the attitude of the artist was important, I could be sat with that person for a long time, I'm already going to be freaking out about the potential pain, I don't need some angry guy desperate to be somewhere else. I saw a great many standard tattoos and a great many custom ones, i spoke to clients both in person and on Facebook. In the end I went with Southmead Tattoo Studio in Bristol. Although it was in a house on a street of houses, when I went in I just knew it was the right place. Bryony behind the counter was open and helpful, she helped me to put a mood board of ideas together, looked at my design seriously, made suggestions without patronising or detracting from what I'd already said. There was no pressure. While this was going on, Bobby came and took a look and liked the idea, it was all very relaxed. I booked an appointment for a fortnights time, they couldn't do any earlier because they had too many bookings- how very reassuring!

The day before the big day I was nervous as a nervous thing in nervous land. I didn't drink any alcohol the night before (this can make you bleed excessively) and got everything ready to go for the morning.
My breakfast was a mighty feast, my excessive scouring of the internets had told me to eat lots so that I didn't pass out, and since my appointment was at 11am I thought I'd eat a little more to take me through til after lunch. 11am was fast approaching and I was freaking out, not about the design, but about the potential pain- was I going to run out of the studio screaming?

When I arrived I filled out a consent form and Bobby made me a coffee. He showed me two designs: One was very close to my original design but much simpler and the other was in Bobby's old school design. I could already see Bobby's would work better but wanted to change certain parts, I didn't like the clef on the beak or the shifty eyes and he reassured me that was OK and he happily edited to be exactly how I liked it. I wanted it in Black and Grey and Bobby took this and then went to set up the studio. I sat alone in the waiting room drinking coffee, terrified and texting Cloud because she is a veteran of four tattoos, and this was reassuring also.

The time of reckoning was upon me. Bobby came to get me and we went through to the studio. In the studio was Max, another tattooist and another client who both said 'Hello' as I came in. Max asked me if I was having colour and I said not. He told me that colour might be better for my tattoo, though at that point I was not especially receptive to information.

I lay on the massage bed with one end wrapped in clingfilm (surprisingly comfy) and Bobby explained it all to me. He asked me if I was nervous and then reassured me that while there could be some pain it was not unmanagable pain. He did the first line swiftly to check my pain reflex. I wasn't convinced he'd actually put the needle in and so we were both reassured I wasn't going to keep flinching and that it wasn't going to hurt. Bobby did the outline and then went for lunch with Max. I sat and read my book and then they both returned extremely quickly. I lay back down and the drawing continued. Bobby then popped out to do a piercing and to give my neck a rest, I took a look at my emerging owl in the mirror. Max said 'You should go for colour on that style of tattoo' I looked at it again and said 'I wouldn't know what colour to go for' and Max replied 'Let Bobby tell you'.

When Bobby returned I said 'Max told me I should ask you about colour' and Bobby told me what he would do. I went for it and trusted Bobby to do a good job- the best decision I made for sure! It is so awesome! Anyway, for the last bit I had to sit up, and by that point the feel of it was slightly painful as old lines were retraced but nothing unbearable. It was a little like pressing sunburn. When it was finished Max photographed it for Bobby and Bobby covered it in Bepanthen and cling film. He explained the care instructions and I listened attentively. I paid and left feeling as high as a kite, a brilliant experience all round!
Would I get another? Yes! In the same studio? Yes! With the same artist? Definately.

Friday 14 October 2011



Saturday 8 October 2011

Going Ape about Going Ape

Hi again,
So Thursday I went to Go Ape! in Haldon forest with Mr Krebs, this is just outside Exeter. Having done Go Ape! before we had a vague idea of what to expect and remembered the number 1 rule 'ALWAYS STAY ATTACHED!' Neil Kemp, I'm looking at you.
Anyway, having arrived in plenty of time in the drizzle we signed the disclaimer and had a safety briefing from our instructor Ian, a man who works the summer in the forest and the winter at a ski resort in Canada, a man who clearly knows what the good life is. After that we were free to wander the forest canopy on a series of hazardous (not really that hazardous) walkways, tarzan swings and zip wires. It's very awesome.
However, having got the panic on the second Tarzan swing which is MASSIVE it was suggest that I hold the black part of the ropes rather than the bunch of ropes attached to me so that when I finally jumped off it felt as though my shoulders were ripped from their sockets and my fingernails torn off and hastily replaced, the bruising around my backside stops me sitting down to swiftly...always listen the instructor OK? ALWAYS!
Anyways, having finished the last zip wire, on my backside like all the others, we went back up to the hut to return the safety gear. Ian, however offered us a chance to go around the awesome bits again because it wasn't very busy! How very kind! So we did, this time the sun shining gaily through the trees and the luxury of experience rewriting the terrible agony of the first time around into a much more pleasurable experience. What a fantastic time! :D

Westonbirt Arboretum- Natures great Tree-atre (Sorry!)

Hello all,
I know, third time in a week, but so many adventures! On Wednesday Andy and I ventured off to Westonbirt Arboretum for the day, just outside Bath. Now, I'm aware Westonbirt isn't exactly adrenaline filled, injury inducing chaos but what it is a truly magnificent, surreal, beautiful myriad of colour and wonderment.
It is gargantuan both in height and acreage (good word? Probably not) and filled with trees (surprising right?) from all over the world.
Its air of surrealism came from the tree lined avenues, they all looked like they should have roads down the centre of them and cars parked haphazardly in front of victorian houses. The lack of these man made things made it very like Alice-in-Wonderland. There was an eerie lack of other people, there were other people, just not where I could see them. It felt like you could run the length of it and depite the sparcity of the woodland around you, never see anyone again, forever and the trees would never end; but you could hear voices. Laughter and chatter carried on the wind and echoing through the trees...or could you? Andy was off taking photographs so it made me doubt whether I could hear anything other than the wind and the leaves and all other sound was a product of my own insanity.
Fortunately however, I didn't see the Cheshire Cat and I didn't encounter a misplaced tea party attendend by a mad hatter and a march hare but it felt like the possibility was there, right around the corner.

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Something to Harper on About

Hello again,
'Back so soon!?' I hear you cry as the titles become ever more tenuous and yes, I am, because this week is rammed full of adventure and this makes Lucy very content with life.
Well yesterday, I went to visit the legend that is David Harper, former radio DJ, genuine voice over thingy for the BBC, and most importantly a very good friend of mine.
So I went to Cardiff on the train, as I clearly hadn't travelled enough the previous day, and met Mr Harper at the station. If you have ever spoken to him, you will see how he essentially sells his voice as his is awesome. He is also the guy I went on the monopoly pub crawl with, so he really is extremely foolish to take one of my wacky ideas and see it through. Anyway, he had with him the oldest working camera I've ever seen with ACTUAL film in it and we ventured off in search of breakfast.
We went to a proper greasy spoon and I had a bacon sammich and David had what can only be described as a meat fest and we both had cappucino's. He is one of the few people I know who takes coffee over tea.
After this we ventured off to the button shop...another shop clearly set up with myself in mind, and I spent a hell of alot of money on buttons (don't tell Andy).
Then we went off to Cardiff Bay and climbed all over it, walked up to the norwegian church, went back had a creme brulee macchiato in Starbucks (actually that might have been the other way around, all I know, is there was coffee) all the way discussing various TV shows we watched as small children and what it was in life that irked us (misuse of the term 'literally' was number 1).Then David attempted to break into his favourite pub (it was closed and he couldn't accept this)and we got on the bus back to town.
On arriving back in the centre we hopped of the pub for a few beverages (as again, David and I have much in common but most commonly drinking) put the world to rights and it was time to go home. What a fabulous day! :)

Making Haste to Hastings

Hi all,
Have shaken of the melancholy so back to my wacky adventures. On Monday I went to visit the lovely Mayhews; Ned, Yee Chuan and Jeffrey. Hastings is a good 3 1/2 hours away but with the help of a Grande Creme Brulee Macchiato from Starbucks (Om nom nom nom)on the way there and a Red Bull (bleugh!) on the way home, tiredness was kept at bay!
Anyway, I finally found Ned by some miracle (had the wrong postcode)at his mysterious workshop which had in it, among other things, a massive engine, some guitars and a door which will soon become a secret door behind a bookcase. Ned seems always at home in places that are not quite complete, and he looked at home here. I had a whole lot of Ned about it. Then we ventured out to see Yee Chuan and Jeffrey at their house. Greeted with the ominous words 'We were talking about you yesterday and here you are!' we sat down and reverted to reminiscing about a time where we sat about eating a whole lot of the time. After that Ned went off to cook with Jeffrey and Yee Chuan got back to talking and being fed fresh samosas (om nom nom nom) with date chutney which were AMAZING! At fourish Yee Chuan and I went down to Yee Chuan's shop.
Yee Chuan's shop in Hastings Old Town is what heaven looks like in my own head. There are just piles and piles of fabric from lots of different times and places, proper vintage fabric and millions of dress patterns. Two sewing machines. In addition to all of this Yee Chuan does alterations and makes tiny wool and vintage childrens clothes and does sewing lessons. It is several layers of awesome. Then Yee Chuan says 'help yourself to whatever you like'!!! Kid in a sweet shop syndrome. Sixties dress now in production.
After all that generosity we went back to the house where a feast lay on the table and we all tucked in merrily...Very exptremely delicious. Not long after this Jeffrey had to go to his tap dancing lesson (this is something normal) and Ned and I went to the house Ned sort of lives in, but since he doesn't really live anywhere I guess a more accurate description would be the house where Ned sleeps sometimes in return for doing it up for the owner of it. Ned decided he was making cheese (as one does...again this is fairly normal) so I loitered awkwardly in the kitchen looking around at yet another unfinished building in which Ned had ensconced himself. Just like old times.
After that we went to get Ned's phone from a pub and operated some form of self control which meant that neither of us got a drink. Since drinking and shared adventure appears to be the only things we have in common, it was pretty impressive. Dropped Ned 'home' then drove off home. Was amazing to see them all in spite of the mighty distance, but since I've always driven miles to see Ned (another story) that didn't really matter.

Saturday 17 September 2011

The Lonliness of Grief

This Blog is not exactly uplifting, so make the decision whether to read on now.

Time to me has always been elastic. There was always plenty of time for everything I might need to do and if something couldn't be done then there was always another day. But life, it turns out, is extremely short. It is impossible to know how much more time we have to fill, it can end so abruptly.

Last week at the Bristol half Marathon, a collegue of Andy's having been as fit as a fiddle with a healthy lifestyle and young children had a heart attack and died. He was 32. On the 2nd January 2007 my friend Caroline called to say our good friend Oli Cowling died of motor neurons disease at age 23. And two years ago my Grandmother, Gwen Greenaway, died very suddenly. She may not have been very young, but she was so busy and so full of life, her passing effected everyone around her. And it is my Grandma I want to remember for her incredible awesomeness today, because i still feel the grief I have for her almost too heavy to bear.

Nearly all her life my Grandma was part of the Girl Guide association, right from a Girl Guides as a teenager to Trefoil Guild right until the end of her life. She had always been nearly completely blind but never let it stop her from doing anything, she would ride about on the bus to go to town, or go with the Trefoil Guild camping. One of my most vivid memories was walking back from college and as I was walking past the Bath weir, there she was, sat on a bench. I hadn't known she was coming, and I've never been so happy to see anyone! And she was happy to see me. She just radiated sunshine, even when she felt sad herself.

Conversely though, I remember missed opportunities to see her. I had planned to see her the week before she passed and I couldn't make it. I called her and rearranged for two weeks later...too late. And I think this is the reason I still have the grief so raw in my heart. I miss her so much, and I know I'm not the only one.

I don't think I'll ever be without this sadness. Everytime I look at my Dad I can see her, they look so alike, but that makes me remember all the good things. Owls for one. Allinson brown bread with Golden Churn. Boscombe. Eggo. Corinthian (Played by the king and Young Princes). The very old biscuit tin. The extremely soft camp bed. Gillam Road. Staying there in the summer.Stories about my Dad, my uncle Steve, my Auntie Lori. The animated way she talked about my cousin Ali. More owls. Those weird squirrels. She was amazing. I shall remember her for all those things and many more, and always miss her. I think that's the only way to cope with grief, isn't it?