Sunday, 21 September 2014

Nail Rehab Week 2 and a Day Trip to Somerset

Hey y'all!

Don't have any nail art for you today, but I did want to give you a status report on my nails, talk a little more about how I'm rehabbing them, and also show you a few pics of a trip Mr. Faff and I took on Monday out to Somerset.

Let's start with a look at my naked nails to date.  There's obviously been a bit of growth, because that's what nails do.

Unfortunately just growing length isn't going to fix the problems from the damage that was done.  On my thumb nail, I've developed a split right at the hyponychium, due mostly to the nail plate being severely thinned in that area.  For the time being, I've patched this split with Orly Nail Rescue, which should hold it at least until it grows out far enough that it won't be painful to trim it back.  You can also see a few splinter hemorrhages around the site, which further indicate that the nail plate experienced some trauma.

My weakest nail by far is my ring finger.  In this macro you can see the nail plate is fairly deeply "etched", and you can also see another splinter hemorrhage on one side.  I've actually developed these on all the nails on this hand, and they're all right along the edge of the hyponychium, which just further shows that this was probably the result of damage from blending the acrylic tips.  They're not dangerous or painful, but the placement helps me diagnose what happened and when, since they're all in roughly the same place on the each nail bed.

For the first week of nail rehab, I focused mostly on moisturizing the cuticles and "resting" the nails - I didn't wear any polish.  The only addition I've made this week is to start using strengtheners, and I have two products that I use fairly interchangeably on a regular basis anyway.  The first strengthener that I ever used religiously was Seche Rebuild.  I credit this product with curing my peeling, tearing nails and toughening them up enough that I felt like I could start a nail blog!  After about 6 months of use, I read about Duri Rejuvacote and immediately ordered a bottle.  I feel like it works just as well, although I have to state that I've noticed that in addition to growing my nails, it also makes my cuticles grow to the cray-cray, so be aware of that if you decide to start using this product.  Both products have the same application instructions: apply one coat per day, and once a week, remove and start over.  Alternatively, use it as a base coat with every polish change.  As with any nail care product, if you experience any burning or pain or discomfort when you apply it, stop use immediately.  They're never supposed to hurt you!

I also mentioned last week that I use a cuticle oil with Vitamin E - this is the one I use.  It's a Superdrug branded (read: cheap) and it absorbs quickly into my skin.  I also like that it has a brush applicator rather than a roll-on ball, and that the cap has a doe-foot cuticle pusher right there on the product.  The carrier oil in this pen is almond oil, so if you have a nut allergy, you'll need to look elsewhere.  I've also heard wonderful things about OPI Avoplex Cuticle Oil To Go, although I haven't tried it so I don't have an opinion other than to say that I've heard other bloggers say they love it.  THAT SAID... I also believe that plain ol' olive oil makes one of the best cuticle oils you can use, and it's probably already in your kitchen!  I try to apply this as often as I can remember, which for me ends up being only a couple times a day.

Last week I talked about using OPI Avojuice Skin Quenchers, and I have kept that in my routine as a once-to-twice a day application.  At night, I've started using a body butter on my hands.  I picked this up at Boots mostly because I just love the way it smells!  Basically, I apply a thinnish coat of cuticle balm (either Burt's Bees or my Glisten & Glow) around the cuticles and over the nail beds, and then I rub in a thicker layer of this body butter over my whole hand before bed.  I have thusfar enjoyed this product because it isn't too greasy and it absorbs fairly quickly, plus it just smells SO GOOD. 

Next Sunday I'll have another nail update, and I think it should be about the right time to talk about removing cuticles and filing the nails, so I'll show you the tools and products I use for that.  If I am feeling particularly ambitious, I'll make a video.  Woot.

A Trip to Somerset
Well, Glastonbury and Cheddar Gorge, anyway

I mentioned at the top of the post that Mr. Faff and I got away last Monday for the day.  We dropped Isis at her sitter's, and drove down to Somerset to see some new stuff.  Since I was the one in the driver's seat on the way down there, I feel really obligated to completely bitch about how ridiculous the route is to get into Glastonbury, which is a popular tourist destination with a well-known music festival every year!  Seriously... once we left the M5, it was only supposed to be another 15 miles to Glastonbury, but I swear it took us almost 45 minutes to travel it because it was the most ridiculously windy, narrow, bumpy, potholed, middle-of-frell-all "A" road I've ever seen, and we must have had to go through the center of a half-dozen towns along the way (slowing to 30 mph each time).  I was so miserable by the time we arrived, I nearly cried.  I'm usually okay on single-carriageways, but there were places on this road that didn't even have a center stripe!

After stopping to each a some lunch and popping into the Boots to fix the migraine that had started coming on, we were at least able to start exploring the town a bit.  

Glastonbury has a vibe very similar to Austin's - it's full of new-age mysticism, incense, dreadlocks, broomstick skirts, and all the other trappings of modern tree-hugging hippie crap.  This place is considered to be the heart of most of the King Arthur mythos and the portal to Avalon... and is also reputed to have hosted a trekking Joseph of Arimathea and St. Patrick for the first ever Easter egg hunt, except the egg was the Holy Grail.  We should be grateful it isn't a real egg, though, because how bad would it reek after remaining hidden for several hundred years?

The high street of Glastonbury reminds me quite a bit of South Congress (only thinner), with shop after colorful shop lining the street, filled with neopagan and new age arts, crafts, and clothing.  Thankfully I was able to find three new rocks to use as hand props for nail pics (because while I love it, my amethyst geode is a bit large to wrap my hand around for a 5-finger shot) in the shop pictured below.

Also quite reminiscent of South Austin are a number of large street art murals on the sides of the buildings.

Sat directly in the middle of the colorful and obviously modern-age high street, the almost anachronistic 15th century tower of St. John's Church overlooks all the crystals and essential oils.  Also, the front grounds of the church seem to be a popular place to take a nap after lunch.

Unfortunately because it was one of our first stops after lunch and I was still waiting for the ibuprofen and codeine mix to kick in, I didn't take any pictures of the Glastonbury Goddess Temple.  I really wanted to enjoy the the complex, but the overwhelming stench of incense and patchouli forced me to beat a rather quick retreat.  We decided to carry on up the high street towards the Tor.

For the record, we were going the other way.  It was like a Frost poem, f'real.

Rather than hiking all the way out to the Tor itself to see the portal to Avalon and Faery (because having been to Stonehenge already, I am now quite dubious about ancient English hills with big rocks on top), we elected to enter the Chalice Well & Gardens, which is reputed to be THE SPOT where Joseph hid the Holy Grail (according to the lady at the tourist information desk who gave me the directions up to it).  The Chalice Well is also referred to as the Red Spring.

In reality, this is actually a really lovely garden and place of quiet.  I can imagine if I were a local, I would want to spend a good deal of time here because it truly was quite peaceful, despite all the people meandering about. 

Pictured above is the wrought-iron cover of the Chalice Well, an iron-rich spring that is thought to have been in use for at least a couple millennia.  It's tucked underneath a very large and dense yew tree. 

The site also contains one of the few descendants of the original Holy Thorn, which legend says was miraculously grown by Joseph when he visited.  The original tree was killed by vandalism in 2010, which only draws a further parallel for me to Austin's Treaty Oak, which was similarly destroyed in 1989.

The Holy Thorn stands over the Lion's Head fountain, where the spring waters are purest and the only place they are considered safe enough to drink.  The waters reported have healing abilities.  Having only recently been through that viral infection thing, I didn't really think it was a good idea to drink from one of the two cups there at the fountain, so regrettably, I refrained from taking the water myself.

The water carried on down the hill through a series of beautifully landscaped fountains, where you can see the red-brown staining from the iron in the water.  This also may give birth to the part of the legend about the Holy Grail being buried here, what with it having caught the blood of Christ and all.

The signs here say that you are free to bathe in the pool, but only with your clothes on.  Party.

Pictured above is the Healing Pool, which the literature says has been here since the middle of the 18th century.  Not wanting to have to stop and take off my socks and shoes, I did not go wading. 

At the base of the hill, the water falls into the Vesica Pool, which may well have been my favorite spot of them all.  I love all the landscaping around the pool, and I thought the rock sculptures that guide the water into the pool here were really pretty.

After exiting the Chalice Well Gardens, we trekked around the corner to the temple of the White Spring, fed by a second aquifer and so-named for being rich in calcite.  Because it was nearly pitch dark inside, I wasn't able to get any pictures, but... it was quite an experience.  Also, a quick websearch for "White Spring Glastonbury" will give you their website, which has pictures of all of the spots I'm about to describe.  Basically they've built a temple over this spring with several pools inside, and the water runs off in shallow trenches in the floor that you can't really see as you walk through them (because, again, pitch black inside).  Some of the pagans had graciously lit candles around the edges of the pools, but I suspect this had more to do with their worship than to help visibility.  We were also treated to the dulcimer intonations of two of the faithful inside, who each seemed to be hymning different songs which resonated quite loudly through the temple.  Mr. Faff later speculated that the place is actually a re-purposed underground station, though I imagine such a building would have better (though not necessarily drier) footpaths.  Equally exciting as all of the singing and candle lighting was the white guy with dreadlocks who stood inside the entrance, paying quiet homage to the Goddess by draining an entire bottle of vodka directly into his throat.  It was magical. 

After exiting the temple and beginning our walk back to the center of town, a very American accent hollered at us across the street, "Are you really from Austin?"  Out of instinct, I hollered back "Yes," before realizing she was talking to Mr. Faff who was wearing his "Keep Austin Weird" shirt.  Turns out, she was from Houston and now lives up in Newcastle.  After exchanging a few common Texpat grievances (horrible excuses for Mexican food and tiny roads) across the street linking the two holy sites, we parted ways and carried on our way. 

I give Glastonbury a hard time here, mostly for comedic effect, but in truth it was actually a lovely place.  Tree-hugging hippie crap is actually a goodly part of my vibe, but I still prefer my  jeans to broomstick skirts and I enjoy washing my hair at least once a week.  This town seems a bit more hardcore new-age than I, and I suspect most of its residents probably have access to some great weed, as well. 

Not wanting to repeat my frustration of driving TO Glastonbury, we elected to let Mr. Faff take over the wheel duties home.  He navigated over a very similar piece-of-gos-se "A" road to Wells (where they filmed Hot Fuzz) though we didn't stop or look.  Instead, we headed to the town of Cheddar, home of Cheddar Gorge.

I should mention at this point that Mr. Faff has talked to me repeatedly about Cheddar Gorge (which is not, in fact, full of cheese) and Wookey Hole (which does not, in fact, contain Chewbacca or any of his kin), and I have repeatedly given him the stare as he excitedly talked about visiting these places.  He finally got his chance to drive me through Cheddar Gorge to look at, I mean, let's be honest... a little valley. 

However, it was a good excuse to roll back the top on the car and look up as we drove through.  Unfortunately water spots on the sunroof kept me from getting any good pics from that angle, so all of these are through the windshield, which explains why they're kind of hazy. 

The speed at which he insisted on whipping us around the bends, however, explains the blurriness.  Believe me when I say, these were the best pictures I could get.

All in all, it was a fair day out of the house, and for that I am always grateful.  We managed to do a lot of laughing, a minor amount of arguing, and an almost negligible amount of crying, so that's a success by any other definition.  I maybe also shouldn't try to see exciting new towns when I'm PMSing... hindsight.

Hope you are all having a great weekend, and I'll see ya soon!