The peel is on. I have got to have the most Irish skin going. It’s pale and freckly, and burns lobster red even on an overcast day. Because it’s so Irish, I thought it best to go with a factor 20 sunscreen to avoid the burn. And then nothing, not even a slight bit of tan, just more freckles.

So I lowered to a 10 SPF. Still nothing, except more freckles.

So, yesterday I went and bought factor 4, just as a little experiment to myself. Now all I need is the sun to come out and no more Vancouver summer-disguised-as-winter to see if I can actually get some tan out of this Celtic skin.

I remember tanning as a kid. Although everything I did as a kid has taken on a shiny sheen in my memory so all I see is Ireland basked in sunlight, reveling through Italia ’90 and ’94, without a cloud in the sky. Going out playing in the endless summertimes from 7am – 10pm without interruption and without having to worry about getting snatched off the street.

Running around in underwear or butt naked was par for the course. The friendly local policeman used to give me 50p to sit on his lap and give him a kiss. This was normal (in retrospect, my parents have started to question if they should have allowed this to happen, but I’m not scarred by it and luckily that’s where it ended – all innocent delight I’d 50p more towards my candy collection.)

I’m sure it couldn’t have been like this all the time, I mean it had to have rained sometimes (but when it did we even made the most of it. Myself and my friends used this time to peel chewing gum off the roads to eat. Yes, you heard right, already chewed chewing gum.

You see, we weren’t allowed to buy it as we were too young, so we found ways around it. For some reason we thought the rain would clean the gum so it was fit to eat. And we always went for the red stuff as this was strawberry and didn’t taste so much of…road. We picked the stones out - God help me when I think about the rat’s pee or other poisons I willingly ingested - and chewed it until it tasted normal. That was our rainy day.

And yes, somehow, miraculously, I’m still alive!

Funny that at the time I was so scared to swallow apple pips in case a tree grew in my stomach, yet I recycled other people’s chewing gum. Oh, the innocence of childhood - now I eat apple seeds to my heart’s content, I dare you tree to grow in my belly!)

I’ve also noticed that I’ve developed more freckles as time has gone on. What’s that about? It’s not fair. None of the super hot celebs have got freckles, unless it’s a charming little smatter across their nose and a dainty sprinkling on their perfectly blushed cheeks. Cherub-like. Mine are huge brown yokes that nearly join up to form an amazing Brazilian tan, but only almost. Sans make-up, people laugh that you could join the dots but I wouldn’t advise you to as you’d be here for hours.
I’ve noticed that everyone who doesn’t have Irish skin loves it. Typical, grass is always greener ‘n’ all that. They come close and exclaim, “Ooo, look at all your freckles!!” while gazing at me like a foreign object. Whereas I spot their beautifully blank canvassed skin bathed in an olive glow and wish I’d come from the west coast of Ireland where at least they had some Mediterranean influence in the blood. No, no, I’m full Irish. 
Like the breakfast only easier on the hips!
My father always loves to tell me how the Healys are one of the original Gaelic ‘Septs’ or clans in Ireland. Apparently the O'hEalaighthe or O'hEilidhe (in Gaelic) come from the provinces of Munster and Connauaght in the west, meaning ‘ingenious’ and ‘claimant’ respectively. Too right!

Unfortunately, our crest is the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen – three hogs with vicious protruding teeth, all stacked in a row – with the words "Saepiens Dominabitur Astris" (The wise man will be governed by the heavens) underneath, which makes up for it I guess.

Oddly enough, in my research I discovered a healyclan.org site dedicated to the ‘Healy Family Network’ worldwide. Who knew we were so prolific?!

At the moment, my “tan” or, more precisely, my various sunburn patches have left me looking like a jigsaw of white and red pieces, with the Sun Gods having a good ol' laugh at my expense. Oh and the one patch of tan I did have on my back – with visible bikini straps in pearly white of course – has started to peel, badly.

I asked my boyfriend to peel it off but he just recoiled in disgust. What?! I used to peel my mum’s skin all the time as a kid, in fact she paid me to do it! There’s no nicer feeling, like you’re a human snake shedding your winter skin. Okay, okay...it's a pretty sick image I’ll admit!

However, in true 'beauty is pain' fashion, I’ll keep trying. And, if all else fails, there’s always Fake Bake to make me look like the next Jersey Shore castoff, right?!

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