• Paula


I had my first tattoo done aged 34 - a married, banker, mother of two. Hold the front page! For God’s sake don’t tell the mums at school or the book club... whatever would they think!?

I had been toying with having one for about a year, there’s always been a piece of me that was fascinated by them but tattoo parlours still felt like places for hairy sailors and hells angels, so whipping up the courage to go in to one was harder than facing up to the fact it might well hurt.

It was one warm, spring Saturday, with a 6 year old in tow, that I popped in to my local parlour on a whim, and came out an hour or so later sporting a lot of cellophane around my lower back and what felt like sun burn. A rather plain butterfly surrounded by a few scrolls (all black lines no colour), I was now the proud owner of a ‘tramp stamp’ according to my mates, and whilst it wasn’t the most imaginative thing I could have chosen nor a great piece of art work, I was happy I had popped my tattoo cherry.

I never believed that having tattoos would be so addictive but that first small back tattoo ended up being the start of being tattooed eight times by the time I was 47! The original tattoo had been added to a couple of times, I was never quite happy with it, until eventually it was covered up completely in my early forties with two, 4 hour stints on the couch to cover half my back in a jumping koi (he’s beautiful), and by far my most painful tattoo experience yet. Ouchy but worth it.

My tattoo journey has been really personal for me, each one meaning something different and representing a chapter in my life. My wrist tattoos are visible depending what I am wearing (moon and stars representing my husband, myself and the kids), and on the back of my neck where I have some writing if my hair is up, but they are easy to conceal if I have a meeting where maybe they are deemed inappropriate.

Here are my top 5 tips if you want a tattoo and don’t know where to start....

1 find an artist through recommendation only - not time to pick at random!

2 think carefully about your design and what it means to you - removal is a bitch so take your time.

3 placement is key ... take advice from the artist but also make sure you’re happy if it cannot be concealed easily (also boney bits like ribs hurt more too)

4 the day before, sleep well, eat well and avoid alcohol for 48 hours.

5 take paracetamol before you go and lollipops to suck on!

And if someone tells you you’re too old? Tell them to speak to Helen Mirren.

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