London has left its mark: my swallow tattoo

So today, this happened:

Tattoo by Andrea Giulimondi, The Family Business

I have to admit, I was terrified. But G, the artist, made fun of me ever so slightly, and that made everything better. Adorable Italian men can do that to a girl.

He also talked me out of going for outline only. I’m ever so pleased I listened to him. Yet again the artist knows best.


The swallow tattoo was a symbol used historically by sailors to show off their sailing experience. Of British origin, it was the image of a Barn Swallow, usually tattooed on the chest, hands or neck. According to one legend, a sailor tattooed with one swallow had travelled over 5,000 nautical miles (9,000 km); a sailor with two, 10,000 nautical miles.

It is also legend that if the sailor drowns, the swallows will carry their soul to heaven, representing freedom and hope. So that’s good?

Swallows migrate between hemispheres throughout the year but always return home. They also mate for life. Well, kind of. They are genetically polygamous but socially monogamous. Which is quite interesting in a ‘sex at dawn’ kind of way

The swallow also represents love, care and affection towards family and friends, showing the loyalty of the person always returning to them.


It was important to me to get a tattoo in London. Especially so after this last week. A week of terrible and changeable weather which has done nothing but reaffirm my love for this beautiful and difficult city. I will always be a New Zealander but I can’t help but feel that London is also my home.

Of course it could always be that, in the words of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein from Portlandia, all I did was ‘put a bird on it’.



  1. leahevansnz · May 8, 2012

    I love it, it’s so beautiful! To be completely honest, I have never ever been a “tattoo” kind of girl – always thought they were a bit yuck and trashy on girls. But since I have been following your blog for a while now and reading about your newest additions (and some older) I have truly come to appreciate them as art, and I love LOVE all of yours! So much so I am even considering a small teeny tiny bit of ink myself 😉

    • Sarah-Rose · May 8, 2012

      That is SUCH a compliment, seriously.

      One of my favourite/leastfavourite things is when people get to know me without seeing my tattoos (winter time or at work) then see them & say ‘oh! You don’t look like the kind of person who’d have tattoos’. Because I really hope they rethink their misconceptions about tattoos … but I doubt they do.

      Also: good luck with considering your tattoo! Don’t enter into it lightly, tattoos are for life, not just for Christmas 😉

  2. Monica · May 9, 2012

    If you did’nt get it I will ask you again:) :

    I was just wondering if i could use your picture in my bachelor thesis? 🙂 I love the picture. I will off course write your name and web page under it 🙂

    This picture:

    Monica 🙂

    • Sarah-Rose · May 12, 2012

      Hi there – I didn’t get your question.
      Of course feel free to use the picture with credit.

      Thanks for asking first!

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