My New Tattoo by Gabby Colledge

I like to see my body as art and I think tattoos are a gorgeous way to commemorate feelings or memories and to turn your skin into a canvas. I already had one small tattoo before I left on this trip (you can read about it here), in memory of my late grandad, but I knew I wanted more. As the trip has continued, I’ve realised that it’s changed me as a person and getting a tattoo to celebrate it just felt right.

The next step was thinking about what the hell the tattoo was going to actually be, but this came to me pretty easily. Barcelona has been my favourite city of the trip so far, and we were surrounded by wisteria flowers wherever we went around the city. We then kept spotting them on our trip – all over Catalonia, the South of France and now Italy. They are such beautiful flowers and have become my own personal reminder of the beautiful places we’ve seen since leaving England in November. I realised that a bunch of wisteria on my arm was a perfect, understated symbol to have tattooed on me and I decided that I’d love it to hang just below my shoulder.

The biggest step was then to find the right artist. Whenever I knew we’d be going to a new city, I would scan Instagram and Google to try to scout out any artists I’d like but for months, I just couldn’t find the right person. And then I think that it must have been fate as one of my favourite tattoo artists, Gabby Colledge, who I’d found on Instagram, posted to say she was guest tattooing in Rome!

She’s usually based in London and is hugely popular, with no appointments available until 2019, so it felt like it was meant to be. Myself and Ross knew we would have to be in Milan until the 22nd of May, but that if we put a shift on then we could make it to Rome for the appointment on the 24th.

We got to Rome in good time and headed to the studio, Aureo Roma. I had a cloud of butterflies in my tummy the whole way there, but once inside the studio I started to relax. The studio itself has such a chill vibe and Gabby was instantly welcoming. Just hearing another British voice after so long away had a bizarre calming effect on me!

When I saw the design that Gabby had drawn up for me, it was exactly how I’d envisioned and I knew I’d absolutely made the right choice in artist. As she took a while deliberating and checking the placement was perfect, I felt in very safe hands.

Everything was super clean (having briefly worked as an ear piercer at Claire’s, I am particularly careful about hygiene) and done with absolute care. My previous wrist tattoo had been pretty painful and I was quite nervous since the wisteria tattoo design was so much bigger than my wrist feather was, but Gabby reassured me that upper arms are generally much less painful to do.

She was spot on and I was surprised at how little it actually hurt! My wisteria took about 2 hours to complete all in all, and it was so easy to chat to Gabby throughout it. She was so interesting, honest and genuine which truly made my tattoo experience one hundred times better. My anxiety left me pretty quickly and I was grinning throughout the entire process.

I could not be happier with the final result as well – the dotwork shading and fine lines make the flowers so delicate and I adore the placement. It’s not just a tattoo, it truly is a piece of art.

Obviously, a tattoo this big and, in my opinion, perfectly done, does not come cheap and I’m really glad that I had it the day before our van was burgled. I know I wouldn’t have been able to spend that much if I’d known we would lose so many valuables, but now I have a permanent reminder on my arm about the good times. The theft has been awful but the rest of our trip has been amazing and every time I look at my tattoo, I remember the previous six magical months of travel and that we do have more of that to come.