Nails on Tour – Memory Lane

Discovering My Inner Child

Mickey and Minnie Mouse Nails

Not long ago I was in Devon for my oldest friend in the world’s wedding. We’d been at nursery school together and now she was beginning a new life as a married woman!  All the nostalgia caught up with me and I felt the urgent need to go to a tiny village about an hour’s drive away the following day.

The village was Lustleigh and happens to be where my granny lived before she passed away about twenty years ago.  I have never been back but I have so many fond memories of my time there – Christmases together as a family, making secret hideouts in her garden and rolling down the little hill which ran adjacent to her thatched cottage.

A long and winding drive later, we eventually approached the village and a lump formed in my throat as the emotions started creeping in.  I couldn’t believe I was finally returning to this treasure trove of memories.

Anyone who’s met me will know that I have a terrible memory – I write everything down and try to document life events as well as possible purely because I have so much trouble retaining information about my life.  I envy friends who can reel off anecdotes from years ago with no struggle at all.

You can understand therefore why I was slightly nervous about having dragged my boyfriend to the middle of nowhere, in the rain, with the threat of Bank Hoilday traffic all around us, with absolutely no promise that I would recall where we would need to go or how to get there!

We parked up on a winding little street and wandered along a road barely wide enough for a car to drive down.  Suddenly I picked up the pace as the smells all around began to scream familiarity, beckoning me further along the road.  I couldn’t believe it.  Turning a corner, a sign boasting ‘Yonder Wreyland’ swum into view and I realised we had found the house.

I was hit with mixed emotions.  It certainly looked and smelled familiar but so much work had been done on the house over the years that in some senses it was barely recognisable from my childhood memory.  I so wanted to explore the grounds and peak through the windows and sneak upstairs to find my room but I no longer had that right.  I didn’t want to corrupt what little memory I did have with any new images and thoughts associated with the house.

I began looking up and down the hedge, I could have sworn it was around here somewhere.  Turning a corner, I spotted it.  Set back from the road, was a little green gate that opened from the bottom of the garden onto the road.  My eyes began to tear up as I realised I hadn’t imagined it.  My memories were becoming a reality!  

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Wandering further down the road passing quintessentially English cottages, the smells of wet leaves and berries and honeysuckle consumed me.

IMG_8522.PNGI felt like an exuberant child again.  The walk into the village always felt like an eternity when I was little, wrapped up in my coat and wellies, but now it was only a few paces before the sound of the stream began getting louder.  Honouring my childhood tradition we played pooh sticks over the bridge, reliving the endless competitions I’d had with my siblings growing up.

The road had now become a path and, as we continued down it, I realised I could see over the hedges to my right.  I had never even considered that there would be a cricket pitch there.  I had always been completely oblivious to life beyond what I had been able to see.  I guess when your line of sight gives you nettles and bugs and puddles, you’re pretty content with what you have that you don’t have to spare a thought about what you can’t see.

IMG_8523.PNGAs I looked ahead my eyes gleamed with excitement as another memory came rushing back.  Standing under the bridge I hooted and squealed as my voice echoed all around me. I felt five again!  I don’t do this often enough in the busyness of every day life.

Veering around a bend we came up the ascent to the centre of the village. We ducked into the church and I was hit again by the familiar smells of dusty hymn books and wooden beams.

Now for my final search – I had to find the playground.  My memory was starting to get hazy. There were so many possible avenues and things looked a little bit different from what I could remember.  The post office had closed so there was no option of penny sweets for us today.  

Then, coming over onto the other side of the hill, I spotted the silver glint of a slide.  Yes, the very same slide that had graced the edges of the park all those years ago.  Skipping past the swings and the apple trees, I headed straight to the middle of the green, where the May Queen rock stood, a giant rock with a throne on the top and the names of the former May Queens carved into its side.  I took a seat on the throne and surveyed my kingdom with glee.

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I was so relieved that my memory hadn’t failed me, that I had been able to reminisce on all the happy times I’d had here and reinforce the fading images in my head with fresh ones.  My trip down memory lane has reminded me that my past is as important to me as my future.  So often I forge ahead with plans and forget to appreciate what’s got me here and made me who I am today.  It’s taught me to embrace a child’s perspective again, taking each day as it comes and enjoy the simple pleasures once more.

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Friday Faves – Episode 14

Happy sunny Friday!  I hope you have some beautiful summery plans for the weekend.  Today I bring you another episode of my Friday Faves – this time, it’s the best of the gradient nailart.  Gradients are brilliant for making your nails stand out and once you get the hang of them, they are really simple to master. Click here for a tutorial for my rainbow gradient nails.

Rainbow Gradient Nails

The following designs aren’t by me but I’ve let you know who each of the artists are so you can find and follow the ones you like and I’ve organised them from easy to difficult so hopefully you can find something to inspire you.

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Difficulty rating: *

First up, @ohmygoshpolish shows us a simple blue to white ombre with a stencilled accent nail, but you could freehand a similar design if you were feeling confident.

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Difficulty rating: **

Next, @sharingvu demonstrates a perfect pastel rainbow gradient with glitter placement details – so eye-catching. She’s done a tutorial for the gradient here.

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Difficulty rating: ***

I love this sideways gradient from @nailsandpolkadots. It reminds me of pic ‘n’ mix sweets. She’s kindly done a tutorial for us here.

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Difficulty rating: ****

@simplynailogical shows us a double chevron gradient. It’s so cool how it looks like an alligator!

 

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Difficulty rating: *****

More blue and pink gradient nails, this time by @lieve91. She does tribal nails so well.

 

 

There you have it.  If you haven’t tried a gradient before, definitely give it a go – it’s such an easy way to get a beautiful, breathtaking design.

Want more inspiration? Then catch up on more of my Friday Faves.

Friday Faves – Episode 13

I can’t wait for the weekend to begin…and to welcome it in, I bring you another edition of Friday Faves – this time it’s watermarble nails!

Watermarbling is a notoriously tricky technique to master and requires a lot of practice and patience.  There are endless tutorials on YouTube for how to do it and @mucking_fusser is often described as the Queen of Watermarbling.

Today I want to show you my favourite designs of the week – they’re not by me…I wish!  But I’ve credited each of the artists so you can find and follow the ones you like.  I’ve also tried to include a variety of difficulties, although as watermarbling goes, it’s all a pretty high standard I’m afraid.

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Difficulty rating: *
Despite being a huge name in the nailart world, 
@ohmygoshpolish still admits to needing practice with watermarbling. Here her neon swirls are accented with dots – great for hiding blemishes in your design. She’s done a tutorial for us here.
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Difficulty rating: **
Another big name in the nail sphere, @trendypolish shows us how to do a striking two-tone watermarble here.

 

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Difficulty rating: ***
Unsure about whether to go for shiny or matte, @nailsbywis shows us the impact of both.  I love the colour combo she’s used too.

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Difficulty rating: ****
The precision in these almost-exact-replica watermarble nails from @rubyrominaa is astounding!  I especially love the neon.

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Difficulty rating: *****
Again, @erinzi shows us such precision in design but also in placement.  This certainly makes me want to keep practising.

 

If you haven’t tried watermarbling before, I highly encourage you to give it a go – even if you just do one nail.  You’ll never know unless you try.

Have a great weekend and tune in next week for more of my Friday Faves.

Friday Faves – Episode 12

I’m so excited for the Bank Holiday weekend!  I have endless plans for relaxing and painting my nails and can’t wait to get started.  To welcome it in, I bring you my Friday Faves from the last week and this time the theme is stripes and spots.

The designs aren’t by me but I’ve credited the artists for you to find and follow the ones you like.  You’ll see I’ve divided them up into difficulty levels so there’s something for everyone to try.

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Difficulty rating: *

Here’s a super simple yet striking design from @tinseltownnails that is perfect if you’re a beginner.

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Difficulty rating: **

I love this criss-cross design from @lifeisbetterpolished – so bright and instantly uplifting.

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Difficulty rating: ***

@badgirlnails brings us a multicoloured abstract accent nail.  I wouldn’t be able to keep my eyes off these if I had them!

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Difficulty rating: ****

I love a good tribal print and this design made up of stripes and spots by @lucysstash is enviably eye-catching.

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Difficulty rating: *****

Wow – so much detail on these nails!  @jauntyjuli shows us just how epic stripes and spots can be – utter perfection.

 

I hope you find time to push yourself with some nailart techniques this weekend and that these have sparked off some ideas.

Tune in next week for more of my Friday Faves.

Friday Faves – Episode 11

Here in London the sun is shining and the weekend has finally arrived, and to accompany these two wonderful facts I bring you a bright and summery edition of Friday Faves.  

As always, the designs aren’t by me but I’ve credited the artists so you can find and follow the ones you like.  I’ve also included a variety of difficulty levels to suit both the amateur and the expert alike.

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Difficulty rating: *

@lifeisbetterpolished brings us an accent nail of swirly sunshine.  Orange is the perfect way to welcome in summer.

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Difficulty rating: **

I’m loving this abstract pink design by @101nailfreak – so eye-catching and enticing.  I almost want to eat it!

 

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Difficulty rating: ***

These acid green and half moon leopard print nails by @mireyaaxo are obnoxiously cool.  I just love the colour combination.

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Difficulty rating: ****

Here @wondrouslypolished gives an unmistakable salute to summer with her tropical palm tree design on a hawaiian sunset backdrop – utterly breathtaking.

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Difficulty rating: *****

@ane_li wows us again with another feather design, this time on a pink ombre background tied into a message of eternal hope.

 

Well, all that has made me far too excited for summer!  Sadly London’s prospects for a sunny weekend are fairly slim but I’m hopeful sunshine will be on its way before too long.

Enjoy your weekends and check out more Friday Faves for further inspiration.

Friday Faves – Episode 10

Ahoy there!  It’s the weekend!  And to welcome it in, what better than an episode of Friday Faves?!

This week I bring you the best of the nautical manicures from the unchartered waters of nailart.  As always, there’s a variety of difficulty levels and I’ve included links to each of the artists so you can find and follow the ones you like.

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Difficulty rating: *

@celinedoesnails – made famous by her original floral anchor masterpiece, gives us a simple free hand design that is great for beginners.

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Difficulty rating: **

This colourful take on a maritime mani is brought to us by @sabrinasnails. A splash of colour and glitter adds a new dimension to a classic anchor design.
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Difficulty rating: ***

@nails_by_Cindy pairs gold studs with navy blue for the perfect nautical combination.

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Difficulty rating: ****

Shiver me timbers, it can be a pirate’s life for you with @sloteazzy‘s design – just walk the plank and follow her tutorial here.

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Difficulty rating: *****

Finally, @lifeisbetterpolished shows us a feminine take on an anchor design – quite frankly flawless!

 

 

Hopefully that’s helped you navigate some ideas to get your nails looking shipshape for the weekend!

See you next week for more of my Friday Faves.

Friday Faves – Episode 9

Here we are again, another episode of Friday Faves, and this week I bring you the best of the tribal designs from the nailsphere.  I’ve included a variety of difficulties to suit every level of expertise and as always, the designs aren’t by me but I’ve added links to the artists so you can find and follow the ones you like.  Right let’s get to it.

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Difficulty rating: *

First up is this simple neon dotted tribal mani by  @jewsie_nails – great for minimal effort but maximum impact.

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Difficulty rating: **

@thenailtrail adds a gradient backdrop with a high contrast black tribal pattern for that extra wow factor.

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Difficulty rating: ***

@dahlianails keeps this mani de rigueur by combining the so-now-fruit-print with a classic monochrome tribal design.

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Difficulty rating: ****

This super bright and colourful tribal design is from the hugely talented @wondrouslypolished – enviable precision!

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Difficulty rating: *****

The woody texture is the perfect backdrop to this understated tribal design from @lieve91 and she’s even done a tutorial for us here.

 

I hope that inspires you to try something new this weekend.  See you next week for more of my Friday Faves.

Friday Faves – Episode 8

Happy Friday everyone!  Almost the weekend…and you know what that means?  Another batch of Friday Faves!  The designs aren’t by me but I’ve credited each of the artists so you can find and follow the ones you like.  I’ve included a variety of difficulty levels so if you decide to give one of them a go, you can choose how much to push yourself.

This week I bring you the best of the striping tape manis from the last week.  Striping tape can be pretty fiddly to use but once you get the hang of it, it definitely pays off as the results are stunning!

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Difficulty rating: *

This eye-catching design by @nailsbyarelisp gives a nautical twist to a classic French.  I love the black and gold combo – hello gorgeous indeed!

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Difficulty rating: **

Try this geometric mani from @g2thelo to showcase your striping tape skills. Not sure how? Follow her tutorial here.

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Difficulty rating: ***

Doesn’t this just make you want to be by the sea?! This beach towel mani is by @mllrdesign – tutorial here.

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Difficulty rating: ****

Neon brights from @chelseaqueen combining vertical and horizontal stripes – these are to die for!

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Difficulty rating: *****

Last but by no means least – this multicoloured chevron mani reportedly took @lissamel9 two days to complete! Good on you girl! Here’s a little how to.

 

There you have it!  Happy striping…

I’d love to know what you think of this series.

 

Check out more Friday Faves for further inspiration.

Nails on Tour – Israel

I recently returned from a trip to Israel and wanted to share a few of the highlights with you.  The purpose of the trip was to gain a deeper understanding of the Bible by visiting the locations where the action actually took place.  I was also there to enjoy some respite from work and absorb some sunshine.  For this adventure, I set off with some Mediterranean lemons on my nails which seemed to fit in quite well.

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20140516-141732.jpgWe started out in the lush terrain which surounds the Sea of Galilee in the north of the country. There we recapped on the stories of Jesus and followed in his footsteps up Mount Beatitudes and around the towns of Capernaum and Nazareth.  The weather was perfect and even among the busy tourist sites we managed to find some peaceful solitude.  There is so much to take in when visiting these areas, when you think about where you are actually standing and the history that took place there, it takes your breath away.

While there we also went on an all-Israeli-singing, all-Israeli-dancing boat trip across the Sea of Galilee.

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The days were packed with panoramas of rocky mountain ranges, ample countryside and endless olive groves, and in each location we would read the corresponding Bible passages and watch as the imagery and meaning of the text would come to life.  One memory which particularly stands out was visiting the waterfall by Mount Hermon.  As you get nearer and nearer the roar of the water becomes almost deafening as it powers through the cliffs.

On our ascent we sang the lyrics of the song inspired by Psalm 42, written by David, there in the ‘heights of Hermon’:

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All who are thirsty
All who are weak
Come to the fountain
Dip your heart in the stream of life
Let the pain and the sorrow
Be washed away
In the waves of His mercy
As deep cries out to deep

 

The imagery was suddenly so strong and, standing above the bellowing waters, the meaning of the words began to take root within me.

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Trying to pack so many sites into one trip meant that we were soon moving on from Galilee but not before I had painted my nails. I went for a simple distressed design, decorated with some adhoc neon polka dots which became brighter still in the glorious sunshine.

Travelling further south, we visited the seaside town of Caesarea, an ancient port built by Herod the Great.  There we explored the Roman remains of the amphitheatre and the arena, imagining the chariot races and gladiator contests.

Compared to England, where historical artefacts are mostly cordoned off from curious tourists, I was stunned that the original stones from 2,000 years ago were so casually exposed to the elements, quite content to be clambered over by children and adults alike.

Staring out at the aquamarine sea, we found ourselves longing for a cooling dip in the water but, short on time, settled instead for a refreshing ice cream.

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Setting off from there we headed to the even hotter climes of Massada and the Dead Sea visiting Jericho, the oldest city in the world, and the location where the Qumran Scrolls were discovered.

While in our hotel one evening, sitting out on the veranda and watching the sun set over the desert, I painted my friend’s nails with a monochrome iKat design to match her trousers and iPhone case!

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Dead Sea float

Having already taken in a fair number of sites, a few of us decided to take a day out to sit by a pool and soak up some rays.  We even braved the Dead Sea float.  We’d heard numerous warnings about it stinging or being dangerous, so were rather anxious tiptoeing through the shallow water until it reached the tops of our legs.  At this point I didn’t know what I was meant to do until someone said ‘now sit down’.  I sat on the water and immediately my legs came up in front of me and I found myself floating effortlessly on the water.  It felt utterly bizarre and reduced us to hysterics.

Camel ride

The following morning, rejoining the group, we went for a camel ride along the cliffs overlooking the Judean Desert.  Not being an animal lover, it surprised me how much I enjoyed it.  We bumbled along on the humps of the camels, testing the locals on their English, when one came out with ‘you silly sausage’ in a thick Israeli accent which was completely unexpected but also a comforting reminder of home.

Nearing the end of our trip, we drove to our final destination: Jerusalem.

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We had been really excited about visiting the capital, but when we got there I found it quite a cultural shock.  I hadn’t realised before but it is split up into four quarters – the Christian Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, the Arab Quarter and the Armenian Quarter.

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It’s extraordinary walking round the city and crossing from one quarter into another and experiencing a complete shift in sounds and smells and clothing and colours.  It’s quite jarring and makes the religious clashes that much more of a reality.

Our time there was divided between exploring the biblical sites of The Mount of Olives, The Garden of Gethsemane, Hezekiah’s Tunnels and Golgotha and enjoying the delights of the bustling Jerusalem markets.

20140421-153358.jpgTo fit in with the multicoloured stalls of Mahane Yehuda Market, stuffed full with spices, tea and fruit, I decided to paint some watermelon nails. Approaching a large and intimidating-looking seller, I asked if I could please take a photo of his watermelons! Showing him my nails, he agreed.

We picked our way through the covered market stalls, practising our bartering skills on anyone who’d take us on, reconvening every so often to compare bargains or shamefully admit defeat in having been ripped off by some shrewd dealer.

Reflecting on my time in Israel, I remember it as a land of layers – history built on top of history; cultures and religions overlapping one another like a venn diagram. The people are friendly and welcoming on the surface, but you can’t help but notice there is an underlying sadness, a discontentment with the present and, sandwiched in there somewhere, is a hope for something different.

There’s too much to see to try to fit it all into a ten day trip and equally there’s seemingly too much diversity to fit it all into one country – something’s gotta budge, but what? Despite some incredible memories and the satisfaction of learning so much, I must say, I was pleased to reach the end of my trip. There’s a tension in the air, particularly in Jerusalem, that I was glad to escape. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back. If I ever do, who knows what the country may look like then?

Friday Faves – Episode 7

Welcome back to another edition of Friday Faves!  Excuse my absence, I’ve been in Israel (more on that later), but this week I bring you the best of the Easter nailspiration.  As always the designs aren’t by me but you’ll be able to see who each of the artists are and that way you can find and follow the ones you like.  There are varying difficulty levels so hopefully there’ll be something for everyone.

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Difficulty rating: *

These matte, pastel mini eggs by @10blankcanvases are the perfect Easter concoction. There’s even a tutorial for them here.

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Difficulty rating: **

@thenailtrail has brought us a bright and simple egg manicure – it just cheers you up looking at it doesn’t it?!

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Difficulty rating: ***

Bunnies and a chick – what more could you ask for?! Thank you @gabbysnailart! I managed a little bunnnie when I was just starting out with nailart so it is possible, I promise.

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Difficulty rating: ****

I love a good silhouette design and these romantic rabbits by @faburnails are simply divine!

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Difficulty rating: *****

Wow – so much going on here.  Look at the little fluffy chick, and you could literally squeeze those bunny rabbits…too sweet!  Well done @101nailfreak, excellent work!

 

Well there you go.  Happy Easter everyone, I hope you all have wonderfully relaxing, long weekends ahead.

Check out more Friday Faves for further inspiration.