Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Perfectil: hard as nails?

Last summer, before my brother's wedding, I decided to have bio sculpture gel nails done. I figured I'd have enough to do in Bali without worrying about chipped nail polish and broken nails – so a friend suggested I try the gel nails. She gave me the number of a lady who came home so I decided to give it a try. It took about an hour and I had a natural French manicure at the end of it. I could even use nail polish on top of it, remove it and I would still have a French manicure. 

It looked good. It felt… weird and like I had something permanently stuck under my nails. Because I had an extra layer on top of my regular nails, my nails were much thicker than they used to be and I felt clumsy.

The wedding came and went (and not a broken/chipped nail in sight) and I was back in London before I knew it. Three weeks after having the nails applied, I decided to have the infills done. I went to Nailspa in Clifton Road and one of the girls there sorted out my nails. Another three weeks after that and I was ready to remove them. I think I just got bored.

I went back to Nailspa (Paddington Street this time). In order to get the nails off, I had to soak my hands in a bowl of hot acetone. It was hotter than I would have liked and the smell was terrible – but 20 minutes later I was done. And my nails were as thin as paper. I could literally peel them off if I wanted to. This continued for months. 

Earlier this year a friend of mine told me she had started taking Perfectil – a supplement for hair, nails and skin. I'd never really considered doing something like that and my interest only peaked when she said she was sure the Perfectil tablets were making her hair straighter! Naturally I went to buy some of this miracle hair straightener from Boots and started taking one tablet every weekday. I say weekday because I leave them on my desk where I can see them and remember to take them – on weekends I just forget.

Well. My hair didn't get any straighter (dammit!) but it did grow much faster (which meant I had to colour the roots more often – dammit!) and less coarsely. I did notice that my nails were much stronger than they were before. They no longer tore at the slightest touch and I could open cans without breaking them. And what about my skin? I haven't noticed anything different. I get better skin by going to a Bikram yoga class (dammit!).

I don't know if everyone has the same results, but I'd recommend it – it did make me realise what a state my nails were in and what normal nails should feel like!


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It’s all in the (Tarot) cards

I’d been curious about the tarot since I was about 18 years old. I was fascinated whenever anyone read my cards (whether they were right or wrong) and I remember buying a book written by Emily Peach about tarot cards – I didn’t get beyond Chapter 1. In fact I don’t even know where that book is now (and I keep track of ALL my books)!

The first tarot deck I bought was the Legend of the Arthurian Tarot. I was at a shopping mall in Sydney (well, Parramatta actually) in 1993 and was wandering through a book shop and came across the tarot shelf. It was the only deck available in the store so I decided to buy it. Again, I don’t even know where that deck is – if I go through everything in storage it might show up again… When I did a Google search for some of the images, they didn’t even look familiar – that’s how long ago it’s been since I’ve looked at this deck. I didn’t get very far with this deck – I was in Indonesia and wasn’t able to get hold of any books and soon lost interest in the cards…

Fast forward to 2001. I’d been in Madrid for a friend’s wedding and was at Madrid airport when I spotted the Salvador Dali Tarot deck for sale at a shop in the airport. I just had to have them.

The deck came with a thin booklet which didn’t really tell me very much about how to read the cards. I just knew that I loved looking at them, loved the gilded edges and loved how they felt in my hands… I did a couple of online courses and also managed to find some courses on tarot reading at the College of Psychic Studies in South Kensington (yes, it really does exist). I even did a course on finding your spirit guides – I remember sitting there with my eyes closed wondering if I was wasting my time because I couldn’t sense anything, when I felt someone push me from behind. I turned around in surprise but of course there was nothing there apart from the wall, which was about three inches behind me. I sat up and started paying more attention at that point.

But back to the tarot courses, I went to three courses – for three different levels – all on Saturdays. They were brilliant. While I loved my Dali Tarot deck, I learned that they were just too awkward to shuffle if I was going to use the cards regularly – they’re a little bigger than the other decks I have and those fit in my hands perfectly. One Saturday afternoon I went to Mysteries, a shop in Covent Garden to look for another deck. I spent ages in there and eventually decided to go for the more traditional Rider Waite deck (of which there are several versions)… And over the years, I’ve seen my tarot card collection grow as more and more interesting and unconventional decks are created.

What do I like about the tarot? I like pulling a card for myself every morning – just to have some guidance for the day. I also like reassuring people that they’re moving in the right direction. I believe that when people come to me with questions for the cards, they already have the answer within but are looking for that extra validation. Also, a tarot reading isn’t written in stone – if you don’t like the outcome, change what you’re doing. It’s as simple as that. Your destiny lies in your own hands.

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Wasted days and sleepless nights…

I was telling a friend of mine on Saturday night that I really can’t remember a time when I wasn’t tired. 

Over the last few weeks I’ve rarely slept before 1.30am – for no good reason. It’s not as though I’ve been out having a good time – I’ve been home, watching TV, reading, just not sleeping… and then struggling to get to work in the mornings. Forget about getting there on time, I’m talking about getting there at all. 

There have been a couple of Saturdays recently when I’ve come home and it’s just getting to daylight (OK, on those nights I *was* out having a good time) but I can’t sleep when it’s already light out there! I’ve taken to wearing an eye mask when I wake up at 5am on most mornings just to get me back to sleep again.

These late nights aren’t really helping at work. I had a conversation at work today – my colleague was talking to me – I wasn’t focusing on a word she said and I’m not even sure how I responded. Or if I responded. And don’t ask me what the conversation was about – I can’t remember. I’ll be making tea in the kitchen at work, suddenly remember I have to email someone and by the time I’m back at my desk, I’ve forgotten all about the email. It’s a little worrying. I think it might be time to start taking some gingko biloba. 

My mum’s had a jar of the stuff in the kitchen for the last five years (I’m pretty sure it’s past it’s use by date). The same jar. She says she keeps forgetting to take it. She *really* needs it. 

I need a holiday.

Or a week of sleep…
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Silent Sunday 4


Silent Sunday

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Your week ahead (4-10 July)

This week I chose the Legacy of the Divine Tarot to do the weekly readings. Enjoy! 




Ace of Coins – using material force, prospering, being practical and using common sense, proceeding with trust, 



5 of Cups – suffering a loss or being defeated, grieving or longing to be reunited with someone, being disappointed or believing you made the wrong choice, experiencing regret



Knight of Coins – being unwavering and stubborn, cautious and unadventurous, thorough or obsessive, realistic/pessimistic, hard-working and keeping your head down



King of Wands – being creative and inspired, forceful, charismatic and bold – make gestures with flair and take chances where the stakes are high



Queen of Swords – honesty, being astute, forthright and witty – don’t take things too seriously and have realistic expectations



7 of Cups – indulging in wishful thinking, having many options, eating/drinking/partying to excess



Page of Coins – act on your dreams, be practical and stop daydreaming, go out to meet success, enrich yourself, having faith in others



10 of Coins – feeling financially secure, look for solutions that will last – seek permanence, trust in the tried-and-tested – follow convention



6 of Swords – feeling blue or a little depressed, getting over a tough time or beginning to get your health back, experience a change of scene



The Tower – expect sudden change or upheaval, eruptions in anger, burst of insight or suddenly realising the truth – chaos and disorder



Queen of Wands – appealing and popular, loaded with enthusiasm, inner vibrancy, have faith in your abilities



5 of Coins – experiencing hard times and feeling insecure, feeling run down and tired, feeling excluded

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The long and the short of it…

I decided to go for the chop today:


Yes, it's probably the shortest it's been in a long time… but I like it!! 

I've been going to HW Hair in St John's Wood High Street for the last six months or so – and they're good. 

There are a few things that annoy me though (as always!) – before I started going here, I used to go to a hairdresser in Gloucester Road. Toni would colour my hair, wash it, cut and blowdry it in about 2 hours – and I used to think that was a long time. Toni left and I decided to find somewhere closer to home. 

Every time I've been to HW Hair, I spend 3 hours there. Initially, the person with whom I booked the appointment did my highlights, a second person did the rest of the colour, and a third person  washed my hair (and gave me a head massage long enough for my hairdresser to fit in another blowdry) and then the first hairdresser cut and blowdried it. Is that really necessary? 

I actually really don't mind who does what, but at the end of my appointment when I have to hand out the tips, how much am I tipping? And to whom?? It gets too complicated. Luckily today, I only had to deal with two people: one doing my colour (who also washed my hair) and another cutting and blowdrying it. And even though I didn't have any highlights done this time, I was still there for 3 hours.

I had several compliments this evening, but let's see what happens after I wash it and the curls return (and make it even shorter)! I suppose it's just for a few days – I'm having my Brazilian keratin treatment done next weekend. But more about that later…
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July – my tarot reading

I do a monthly tarot reading for myself using the Legacy of the Divine Tarot by Ciro Marchetti. 

The monthly spread I do has two rows. The top row contains one card (the overview of the month); the second row has four cards, one for each week of the month. Here are the cards I dealt for July. Lots of coins = lots of money coming (and going)!


Overview – Ace of Coins – using material force, prospering, being practical, proceeding with trust


Week 1 – King of Swords – intellectual, analytical, articulate, just, ethical


Week 2 – Death – ending, going through transition, eliminating excess, experiencing inexorable forces (eliminate excess = detox? Er. I don't think so)


Week 3 – 10 of Coins – enjoying affluence, seeking permanence, following convention


Week 4 – 5 of Coins – experiencing hard times, suffering ill health, being rejected (clearly the girls' trip to Barcelona is going to bankrupt me)


Do you do a monthly reading? What spread do you use? 

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The Spaniards Inn

In a couple of weeks, five of us girls are heading to Barcelona for a weekend to celebrate a friend’s 40th birthday. To be honest, I really didn’t think this would happen at all, given their husbands’ and kids’ schedules but it’s all been bought and paid for. We’re actually going!

We decided to meet last night to talk about the trip, what we wanted to do, where to go – we’re only there for two nights and it’s going to be difficult to do everything – eating, drinking, sightseeing, shopping, relaxing. Where do you start? We’re flying with Easyjet – none of us is happy with the baggage restrictions, so instead of taking just hand luggage we’ve decided to share a suitcase or two – that way if we do end up shopping (which I’m sure some of us will) we won’t have to worry about how to bring things back. But, I digress…

We decided to have dinner at The Spaniards Inn (isn’t that appropriate?). I’ve gone past it countless times in the last 25 years but had never actually been inside.


The Spaniards Inn, dating back to 1585, is one of the most famous pubs in the world. It’s located by Hampstead Heath and is popular with tourists and locals alike. The pub is quaint – with oak panels and lots of nooks and crannies. I can imagine the pub garden being full on a hot summer’s day! On a clear day you can apparently see all the way to Windsor Castle.

The pub also hosted many great literary figures – Keats, Shelley, Byron. It’s mentioned in Bram Stoker’s Dracula and also in Dickens’ Pickwick Papers (which I intend to read some day)… 

Across the road from the pub is the tollhouse on the Finchley boundary. Interestingly, the pub is in Barnet and the tollhouse is in Camden! 

The menu is traditional British pub food – sausages and mash, Shepherd’s pie, fish cakes, and so on – which I thought was just average. None of us was particularly wowed by the main courses, and the dessert menu didn’t appeal at all. 

But I’d definitely go back for a pint… and some ghost-hunting! Any building as old as this is bound to have a resident ghost or two – the cloaked figure of Dick Turpin is said to appear inside the pub (legend has it he was born at the pub; his ghost has also been seen on Hampstead Heath on a black horse) and horses have been heard galloping across the car park in the middle of the night. How exciting!! 
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Passenger (mis)treatment on London Transport

Almost two weeks ago, my mum had a horrible experience on the number 74 bus heading towards Baker Street. She was waiting for a bus at Park Lane – sometimes the traffic is so heavy that buses don’t always stop there unless someone is getting off – but she spotted the 74 and managed to stop it. As she got on, the bus driver muttered something which she ignored. Instead she thanked him for stopping.

As the bus headed down Gloucester Place, she pressed the bell. She wanted to get off the bus at Dorset Street as that’s the last stop on Gloucester Place before it turns on to Baker Street. At this point, she was on the bus with just another woman and a man who was sitting right at the back. The bus driver ignored the bell and moved into the far right lane. Once he was in the right lane, he stopped the bus, opened the door and told my mum to ‘Get out’. She said she wouldn’t – there was traffic coming in on the left and it wasn’t safe. He got out of his driver’s seat and told her and the other female passenger to get off the bus. As he approached them, he saw the male passenger sitting at the back watching what was happening. He promptly shut up, turned around and got back into his seat and continued driving to Baker Street Station.

When I got home from work, my mum told me what had happened. I was outraged – his threatening behaviour was completely unacceptable! We drafted a letter of complaint to London Transport and filled in the online complaint form – it was very detailed and fortunately Mum remembered what the driver looked like as he had a white plaster up one of his nostrils! Also, because he’d left his seat, she knew exactly how tall he was. As I pressed the ‘send’ button, I wondered if we’d ever hear back from them.

Three days ago, Mum received an email from someone at London Transport saying that they were shocked at the driver’s behaviour, that it was a serious incident, and that they’d managed to identify him and dealt with him appropriately. I don’t know what that means – they said that because it was a personnel matter it was confidential. But at least they responded – and sooner than we thought they would.

If you ever experience similar incidents on the bus or Tube, I’d strongly advise you to complain. The more people there are that complain, the sooner something will be done about it. There’s no point suffering in silence!

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What do I have to say??

A couple of weeks ago my friend Kiran wrote a post on her blog about my sister and I, and our blogs.


(Image from Virtual School Meanderings)

She mentioned that a year (and a bit) after starting her blog, she struggles to find things to write about. Well, it's been four weeks for me and I'm already struggling! 

What do people write about?? 

The burst water main on Baker Street on my way to work this morning which held up the traffic? No, I'd start ranting about the state of London these days – and what *is* with all the roadworks everywhere?? 

Work? No, I couldn't bring myself to write about it. 

People I know? No, not a good idea – I'd be accused of gossiping and no longer be known as 'The Vault'. 

Books? Concerts? Movies? Plays? Alex O'Loughlin? Hmm, there's a thought… Hmmm… 

Now, where was I…?

I sometimes wonder whether there's an original idea anywhere in my head… 
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