For the Winter Swimming Championships, Sue Rentoul supplied us with a number of fake tattoos in the old SLSC logo.  They were applied on the train and were extremely popular, the left breast being a favoured application spot.

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They lasted surprisingly well, the last one only coming off in the shower this morning.  I was rather sorry to see it go, as I had grown rather fond of it.

I still have one real tattoo, of a dolphin on my right hip, which I had done to celebrate my fortieth birthday. My plan was to have a tattoo every five years, although I have been lax in getting the others done.  My sister wondered if I would regret this when I am eighty; my own feeling is that when I am eighty, no-one is going to be saying “Oh, what a shame you’ve spoiled that beautiful body with all those tattoos”.

In any event, the idea is to have a tattoo which is chosen and designed to represent important things which happened to me in the previous five years.  It seems to me that since we experience so many physical changes as we age, some benign, some not, it is no bad thing to take little control over this and introduce some changes to my body which I have chosen to mark the passage of time. 

For the years from forty to forty-five, I will have a pine-cone on my shoulder to honour the lovely friends I met on the pine-clad island of Skyros. For forty-five to fifty, a symbol combined from a tree, a cross and a T, for Cross Tree House where I’ve spent so much happy time with those I love the most, and to remember my beloved old cat Tigger. And for fifty to fifty-five, I shall have a turtle. When I first started outdoor swimming my friend who swims triathlons in San Francisco Bay sent it to me for luck, and I have worn it every time I have swum outdoors.  You can see it in the picture above.  For me it symbolises all the fun and friendship which swimming has  brought me, and I can’t think of a better place to have it than over my heart.