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So where does that leave me? Well, with four tattoos, for a start. I’m already thinking that I’ll go back to Lal’s and have a bit more work done in December, say, when the outdoor swimming season is coming to an end, as you can’t swim with a fresh tattoo. I’d like to have the dolphin on my hip re-inked, as after fifteen years it’s quite blurry and indistinct compared to the new tatts. I’ll get them to fix the minute imperfections on my Cross Tree symbol. And I might have a little bit of cover-up done on the grey shading on my pine circle – I’ll have to see how I feel about that.

And what next? Well, I’ve already started thinking about what to have when I’m sixty, and looking on the web at tattoos. There are some wonderful things out there, and one in particular has caught my eye, which is the possibility of having a tree tattoo across my back. I’ll be on the verge of retirement then, moving into the next phase of my life, and the idea of having an autumnal tree tattooed across me to represent that is very attractive.

I keep coming back to this image, which I think is beautiful, although maybe without the bloody heart entangled in the roots, and with orange and red leaves – it could be gorgeous. It’s the work of a woman called Jackie Rabbit, tattooing in Chico, California, and I’m thinking that once I’m retired, I could maybe go to California for a month, drive up that coast past Big Sur, go swimming in the Pacific, visit the wine country, see beautiful San Francisco again, the city by the bay, and catch up with friends in the high sierras. Oh, and get a Jackie Rabbit tattoo while I’m over there. She’s done a number of tree tattoos, and they’re all amazing pieces of work.  (If you’re interested in seeing them, Google “Jackie Rabbit tree tattoos” and look on Images). It would be a good way to start the next phase of my life, and a great souvenir to come back with.

More – the final part – tomorrow.