Tattoo Origins: 53 03’ 40’’ N 9 21’ 46’’ W

These are the coordinates to my favourite place on earth. Yesterday I got to visit there again after three long years.

It’s been quite a while since our last tattoo origins story. I guess that’s because I find them quite draining. I love tattoos. And I love my tattoos. But the gravity I think comes with inking something permanently onto yourself means all my tattoos have very personal and emotional reasons for being there. They’re not secret, obviously, since I’m telling you about them. But sometimes they’re hard to write because I want to articulate their importance perfectly and that almost never happens. So it’s been a while. But yesterday made me realise this was the next journey for us to conquer together. So, onwards.

If you’ve read any blog post by me ever, or even just had a conversation with me, then you’ll know my family are the single most important thing in my life, bar nothing. Their journey is my journey. And my journey is theirs. We’re so wonderfully intertwined. I love them. Put in the simplest terms possible. Diving deeper, they are the reason I breathe. The reason I get out of bed. Fight Live another day. Hearing their voices, reading their sarcasm, feeling close to them is all I need to sustain myself.

You’ll probably also know that I love Ireland. The country just holds a special place in my heart. It’s my family’s home, so it’s my home. Aside from Liverpool, it’s where I feel most safe.

So how do these two facts collide to create this tattoo? And where is this place I’ve drawn on myself forever?

My favourite place in the world is a small slice of the Burren that stretches out alongside the Wild Atlantic Way. Driving from Doolin towards Fanore, just as the road turns to give you a breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean, there is a small gravelled area to park a car. Park there. Cross the road, carefully. Climb down onto the world’s largest limestone pavement and breathe. Feel the harsh breeze from the water hit your face, close your eyes. Breathe deeply. You have arrived. You are alive.

My family and I have been travelling to the west coast of Ireland since the eighties, my brother’s first time being when he was still in our mother’s tummy. County Clare is our favourite. The Burren is possibly the world’s biggest playground and as kids we were mesmerised. I don’t recall the first time we ever found this little spot. But I’m thankful every day that we did. Every visit we’d park the car, wrap up in hats and scarves and coats, and just go. Whilst my sisters would hang back with our mum, casually exploring (they were older and more relaxed), my brother and I would run until we felt the sweat dripping down our backs beneath the winter layers. Under the watchful eye of our dad, it is a clifftop, we’d play the Burren game: no stepping on anything other than rock. You touch grass and you lose. Working our way to the cliff’s edge we’d all eventually pause. Blown away by the crashing waves below and the endless vastness that lay out in front of us.

It’s standing in that exact spot, looking at the ocean, that I’ve continued to come back to over the years. It calls to me. There’s nowhere in the world that I feel vibrates with such possibility. I could stare at the water forever. Yesterday was one of the windiest times I’ve ever been there. The powerful, white waves crashed so hard into the jagged black rocks next to me that I was periodically sprayed with fresh salty water. Feeling it hit my cold skin I felt alive. Peaceful. But secure. And loved. I don’t know how a place can make you feel that way. I think it must be magic. But all I know is I am one with that nameless piece of land. It is me. It has a way of emptying my mind and making me see clearly. About what I want. About what’s important. About what my life should look like. It guides me. Just as my mother guides me. It makes me feel safe. This spot is mine.

I’ll be attached to that place forever. It is my past, my present and my future. I just hope I don’t wait so long next time for the craving pull to ignite action inside me.

All I Am – Jess Glynne

Summer in the City

Proof that Liverpool is the best city, I’ve got the next few weekends sorted for you.

Brazilica

14th July

Starting in 2008 as part of Liverpool’s Capital of Culture celebrations, Brazilica is a parade that celebrates Brazilian music and culture as well as the magic of carnival. The parade sucks in around 30,000 visitors each year; this is probably due to the intoxicating atmosphere. There’s so much going on between drumming bands, samba dancers, colourful costumes and intricate floats. The parade begins on Abercromby Street and will wind down through the city and end in Williamson Square. The event will also host live Brazilian/Afro Latin music on a stage at the waterfront. It’s not to be missed! The event is free. http://brazilicafestival.co.uk

Liverpool International Music Festival (LIMF)

@ Sefton Park, 21-22nd July

As always this is one of Liverpool’s biggest events of the year and you should be there. The two day festival showcases music from many countries and cultures to celebrate the vibrant history and diversity of our city. This year LIMF has named their theme ‘Co-Exist and Connection’ which seems like an excellent idea to explore this year given the current world political climate. It’s also a great way for Liverpool to celebrate it’s ten year anniversary of Capital of Culture. Artists include Basement Jaxx (DJ set), DJ Jazzy Jeff and Jax Jones. Tickets start at £5 and under 11s go for free. http://www.limfestival.com

Liverpool Pride

28-29th July

Pride is always guaranteed to be an excellent weekend. As it’s still quite a new event in Liverpool, the event continues to blossom an get bigger and better each year. Ran by an entirely volunteer-led charity Pride aims to combat homophobia and transphobia in Liverpool and across the world. Their website states their core values to be FREE, INCLUSIVE, VISIBLE. So whether you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community of just an enthusiatic ally, this weekend is not to be missed. Whether you want to be in the colourful parade through our streets or celebrate from the side of the road it’s up to you. The march will start at Liverpool Central Library and twist though the city to end on Tithebarn Street where a main stage will be set up full of excellent performers including, Atomic Kitten and Sophie Ellis-Bextor. This year Pride will also be hosting events on the Sunday that are more casual, family-friendly. Sunday is about learning, experiencing and making a difference. This event is free. https://liverpoolpride.co.uk

There’s just something magical about the summer, don’t you think?

T-shirt Weather – Circa Waves

when life throws you a curveball

About six weeks ago my dad, we call him Terry, found a Groupon for cheap Odeon cinema tickets so we bought it. It runs out next Wednesday. We need to go to two different movie showings and currently we’ve been to zero. You know how it is, life gets in the way. We decided to head to the cinema this morning to get the first one boxed off. About five minutes down the road I decide to check the film time. For no reason, just cos I felt like it. Turns out it started twenty minutes earlier than I thought and we’d already missed the start. Yeah, my bad.

So when life throws you a curveball what are you going to do about it? Be angry? Moan all day? Blame the person who’s at fault and make them feel bad? Or laugh at how stupid you are and go and do something else instead? Me and Tez chose option four.

So skip an hour into the future and we ended up in a garden centre planning our extravagant garden makeover; working out how to grow our own vegetables (conclusion: we have no fucking idea); and sitting on every garden bench we come across whilst talking about life. We treated ourselves to some bougie vegan flatbreads, coffee and elderflower water. Cos why not?

I’d say today is the best weather day we’ve had for about eight months. For real. The sun is shining, there’s a pleasant breeze, and today is the first time I haven’t worn my winter coat since like September. So who would wanna spend it in a dark, indoor cinema anyway!

It feels like the start of summer. And that makes me happy.

So just remember, kids, take each day as it comes. No matter how much you plan, life will find a way to change your circumstances. Realise that there isn’t much point in living if you’re not at least having fun. Do something completely random. Something that sounds weird. Because adventure is anywhere. You just have to remember to look for it.

Have a happy, sunny day, everyone!

Peace.

Summer Mood – Best Coast

why do people care about winning?

So I’m just not feeling massively inspired to write today but I didn’t want to leave you high and dry. Instead I’ve delved into the Sarah archive for you. I wrote this piece in my writing class when I was in America. It’s about the obsessive need to win and whether that’s healthy or necessary to living an authentic life. I think they’re questions worth answering, so enjoy:

People seem obsessed with winning, consumed by it. The simplest game of monopoly can cause chaos in friendships. Even walking into an elevator seems to be some kind of competition these days. Moving through life battling people we don’t even know. Are we hot-wired to have this unnecessary need to be competitive, to win? Or are we taught to be?

When I was eight my best friend told me about this football team she’d heard of. She was Elen, with one ‘l’ and her hair was strawberry blonde, not ginger. And we loved football. So did my dad. For the next seven years, Sunday mornings were just for us. Whilst everybody else slept peacefully in, we braved the north English winter. Sometimes the ground would be so hard the studs of my boots couldn’t even penetrate it. Like that would stop us. My dad was the perfect kind of supporter. Maybe it’s just because he’s a quiet guy, but he’d never shout instructions at me from the side line like other parents. Whenever I looked over after I’d missed a really important tackle he’d just smile and shrug his shoulders, ‘don’t worry, next time you’ll get her’. At half time he’d squish my tiny child hands in between his giant gloved hands and rub them until they’d warm up. He’d blow on them and make it look like he was playing the trombone or something, telling me words of encouragement so I’d forget about the stinging pain of my hands starting to freeze. When I thought not winning would be the end of the world, my dad understood that we were children. This was supposed to be fun.

And maybe it was because of the support I got from him or maybe I was just programmed to do it but I loved sport. I cared about it. I played anything I could. Rounders, hockey, basketball. I loved it so much I even played sports I didn’t care much for, just enjoyed the adrenaline of running around, being active. I played netball when I thought it a misogynists answer to women playing basketball. I played hockey even though I was legitimately afraid that the ball was going to knock my teeth out or my knuckles were going to slice across the concrete. And I even got bribed in to playing rugby. I was the kicker. And the 98% of the time I wasn’t in fact kicking, I spent at the side of the pitch gagging on my mouth guard hoping to Jesus that I didn’t get tackled.

And then I was asked to decide the future of what until now had been a major part of my life. Maybe it wouldn’t have come to such a catastrophic ending if I hadn’t been directly challenged to decide. They wanted us to take a qualification at my high school. It was a privilege they said. Just try it for a week, my dad said. But at thirteen, I wasn’t the same person anymore. I didn’t care about sport. I didn’t care about winning. I’d slowly dropped out of each team. I didn’t have any fight left. It’s not a matter of passion though. I still cared about things, music and reading. I even still followed our football team, Everton. I just didn’t want to play. I just wasn’t competitive anymore. Did it happen overnight? I don’t know. I don’t remember one defining moment at least. I just didn’t care about hitting, throwing or kicking a variant of rubber or leather. Not anymore.

But how can you just lose that? This is one of the only times in my life my dad and I had completely disagreed. He couldn’t fathom why I wouldn’t take this opportunity, yet he couldn’t see that I had changed. I was growing up. Everyone assumed for so long that I’d do the sport thing for the rest of my life – even myself – that when it all evaporated I think he was in denial. I’d been to the classes for a week and I whole-heartedly knew this wasn’t the way I saw my life going. You’re throwing away a brilliant chance, Sarah. He just couldn’t get it. I’d sit in my garden at night on the cold concrete and cry. I couldn’t have the conversation again but could I just say no? I was still a kid and this was uncharted water. Now my parents were even arguing, my mother asking my dad if he cared more about sport than his daughter. Whilst I listened to the fight through the brick wall my back was leaning against, I reevaluated my own life and what I thought were the important things. I realised I didn’t need to be competitive. It’s kind of self-destructive. Just listen to them in there! You constantly need to prove to yourself and others that you’re good enough, that you’re right. That you’re better? Who knows. But if people just stepped back and compared themselves to who they were yesterday rather than the hundreds of thousands of others in the world they’d probably be happier. Now I saw not winning as a casual thing, if it happened it happened. My dad thought it was the end of the end. But it wasn’t even the winning he cared about; he just didn’t want me to miss a good opportunity. And to his credit, ultimately all he wanted was my happiness so we closed the doors on that part of our history. Moved on to new things.

I used to get really annoyed when my brother would beat me at fifa. I was that sore loser who’d switch the game off with minutes to go because I was never going to win and it bothered me. Now he wins 9-0 and we laugh at the four own goals I managed to score. He doesn’t care; he just wants someone to play with. And I’ve got to say, it’s liberating. Not caring. It’s incredible. I’m not competitive. I used to be. Now I see the more important things: happiness, fulfilment, the fun of the activity. How can such a big part of you change, alter and even disappear without you even noticing? I have no idea. But I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

Nature Of The Experiment – Tokyo Police Club

Tattoo Origins: oneeightzeroeight

I haven’t graced your screens with a tattoo origins for ages so I thought it was about time.

Now, in all honesty I’m at this impasse where I cannot for the life of me remember the order of the next four tattoos because they were all done on the same day. This was less than two years ago but I was hyped up on adrenaline and excitement so it’s a bit fuzzy. If I even tried to work it out it would just be a lie so I’m just gonna go in an order that makes sense to me.

But why did you get four on one day anyway? Simple, at uni I could never justify it over rent or, you know, vodka. But in September 2016 I’d been made permanent at my then job and I decided if I didn’t do what I wanted now then I’d spend a lifetime waiting for tomorrow. It’s the little things.

Sarah, hurry up and get to it. What does oneeightzeroeight mean and why is there no spaces? Simple, it’s my PIN number.

I’m totally joking.

It’s a date. The eighteenth of August. On this date in 2014 I ventured on arguably the biggest adventure of my life. At least it was at that point in my life. My first big adventure. I moved to America. George Mason University, to be specific. For my exchange year.

But why does that need to be tattooed on you? Well is was one of the most mad things I’d ever done. Since I was sixteen sitting in IT classes looking at university courses I knew I wanted to do a year in the States. Believe me, I’m super glad it was Obama’s America cos I couldn’t have gone now.

But it was something I had wanted so I worked hard to get myself there. I worked in sweaty kitchens in the summers and I took up any shift I could at the bar during my semesters. It definitely wasn’t coming cheap. Even when my uni said I wouldn’t be able to go if I didn’t start going to lectures, I made sure I was there bright eyed and bushy tailed at nine am for a full semester to show them I was serious. Yeah, some of you are probably thinking I should have just been at those classes anyway. But that’s not who I am. So that was a big thing for me.

When I finally got there there was this huge pressure to make it the best year of your life but what people forget is you’re really just moving your life to a new place, laundry still has to get done and essays still have to be handed in. And man, did I miss my family and friends. So it took a while to adjust but eventually I met some of the most awesome people and then I really did have one of the best years of my life. I won’t say the best cos I’m an optimist. There’s more to come for me in this life. But then I got home, to ‘reality’ and all of a sudden laundry seemed a lot less glamorous. I wrote a dissertation then graduated with no savings and no job and no real idea where my life was headed. And it got me thinking about my year abroad and how I made something happen.

And I had all your usual year abroad revelations. I learnt a lot about myself and I discovered a lot about life. I learnt a lot about friendships and people and I just felt so connected to the world. I felt like I was living a dream, yeah, what a cliche. But I’m just telling you what it was like. It was boss. It was so wildly different from my normal life that it felt like I was living someone else’s if only for a year. And when it ended I knew I needed that feeling of freedom and culture and fascination in my life again. Always, if possible.

So I got this tattoo to remind myself of that. I got this date because it’s tangible and I can touch it. But also because it’s the beginning and I think the beginning is important. It’s to remind me to always chase adventure and that feeling of adrenaline and fun and euphoria. It’s on my arm so I can see it. So I’m confronted with it every day. I can’t hide from it. So when I’m staring absentmindedly at my work computer wishing I was anywhere else in the world but in that office I can see it in my peripherals. And I can remember, oh yeah, I already knew that; I want more for myself. Then I feel a fire inside me to find the next adventure, no matter how small.

It’s also just to remind me of that year and of all the beautiful friends I made. And the fun we had together. I felt so connected to you guys there, and I hope you know that. I love that it’s almost unreadable, because it’s for me not anyone else. There’s no spaces so it’s almost in code. It’s also in numbers to solidify the code. Nobody else knows what this one means so you better all hush!

So, anyway, it means a lot of things. And people think you just aimlessly ink words on to yourself. Pshh.

Ritual Union – Little Dragon