The Salted Tail: My Story & The Name Explained

As The Salted Tail will be taking a slightly different direction over the coming weeks, I thought I would take this opportunity to re-introduce myself, to tell you a little of my story so far, and to explain where the name 'The Salted Tail' came from. A few people have mentioned that they've enjoyed learning more about me, so here you have it!

My name is Eleanor Rae Nickerson-Smith and I'm a twenty seven year old lifestyle blogger from Norfolk, on the East Coast of England. I grew up making things, and playing outside. My family spent our summers and bank holiday weekends camping on a farm, setting fires and building dens, and we had a messy cupboard in the kitchen which was the source of many an art attack. 

The happiness I found in making never went away, and in 2010 I graduated from Leeds College of Art with a degree in Fine Art. I've written lots about how important this time in my life was, and how I've struggled since graduating with something close to grief for my art student days. I didn't realise at the time how important for my soul the notion of playing was - I had total freedom to do anything (and I mean anything) that occurred to me just to see what happened. I had total confidence in myself as a maker too, and didn't think twice about trying to recreate something I'd seen, or begin to make real the things that I envisioned, solving any problems as I went along.

During my degree, I was aiming for a place on an art therapy course, imagining that I could use this love to help other people heal. After arguing vehemently with the university's suggestions that I was too young, and too inexperienced, I was offered a place on an MA in Art Psychotherapy. However, it didn't take long to realise it wasn't for me. There are lots of reasons why, but mostly it was my gut telling me it just felt wrong. The moment I entered the building I wanted to leave, and when I was asked to "make a piece of art" with a box of wax crayons, I (perhaps shamefully) recoiled, patronised at the thought that these broken crayons could be compared to the heart emptying, blister inducing joy I had felt over the last three years. So I left. 

I decided to take a break from art so I could figure out how exactly it fitted into my life as a graduate - I'd studied it exclusively for the last five years, and it was really all I knew. Something else I had become interested in while researching art therapy was autism. During my summer holidays I volunteered at a play centre for children on the spectrum, so I enrolled onto a postgraduate diploma in autism - something totally different, completely academic and without a whisper of a paintbrush.

It was absolutely fascinating, and I'd come home every week talking non-stop about theories and strategies and how I now better understood the children I knew. But it wasn't the creative outlet I was used to, that I needed. So, during this year I began to grow the blog I had started towards the end of my degree. I blogged to keep myself in the loop, and to create an audience that I could be accountable to, to make sure I had a reason to keep making - keep playing. If you've been reading for a while, you may remember that originally my blog was called "That is This, and This is Heaven", a name taken from a quote by Sophie Dahl.

When my diploma finished, my then boyfriend and I moved home to Norfolk, and I got the first job I applied for, as a teaching assistant at a local special needs school. Over the five years I worked there I was challenged and delighted in equal measure by the children I helped to teach. Although I only worked during term time, and finished at 3.30pm, the job was all consuming, both mentally and physically. It was filled with an overwhelming amount of emotion and as much as I loved the children, along with the rest of our lives (moving house, planning a wedding, general adulting!) it slowly but surely managed to crowd out the creativity I was desperately holding on to.

So, as you've recently read, I left! For the second time in my life I took a massive leap into the unknown, and here I am - author of The Salted Tail! 

I changed my blog's name to The Salted Tail a couple of years ago but haven't ever explained it's meaning. My little piece of the internet has always been a place for me to collect the things in life I love, to treasure memories, to showcase the things that make my heart full to bursting and to share the everyday joys around. When I decided the old name 'That is This and This is Heaven' was too long and didn't mean anything unless you had seen a very particular bit of a Sophie Dahl cooking programme, I set about deciding on something shorter and more memorable, and which summed up what I was writing about while still being ambiguous enough to be interesting. This proved near on impossible, so I tried brainstorming collections of words that sounded pleasing and was being really drawn to the word 'salted' - but nothing else was sticking so I left it for a while, hoping something would present itself to me! 

I can't remember who it was, but over the next few days, someone described our cat, Pastry, as having a 'salt and pepper' tail - and it sparked an idea. I did a little research and discovered a rather sweet piece of folklore about catching birds. The story goes that if you can get close enough to a bird to put salt on its tail, you can catch it and keep it forever. 

The story fit perfectly, and The Salted Tail, a place where I could 'catch' everything I loved in one place and keep it forever was born!  

So, where am I taking The Salted Tail next? Obviously, just as I did at uni, I will be doing a lot of the figuring out as I go along, but you can definitely expect a few things: My regular 'Wish List Wednesday' posts will be returning, along with DIY tutorials and recipes which document my return to exploratory making (while also giving you really clear directions too, because I'm sure I'm not the only person who finds unclear tutorials really irritating!) I'm planning to include interviews and insights into the shops, brands and people who inspire and delight me, and of course there will be the usual diary style posts too. Basically, everything I share will be something I wholeheartedly believe in, and I figure if I love it, some of you will too!

I hope you enjoy The Salted Tail and will keep popping back in to see it grow - the door is always open so please do make yourself very much at home! 


  1. Aah, now I understand! Should've known Pastry would figure in it somewhere! Lovely, lovely, lovely post x

    1. Indeed - the little furry monster does seem to crop up all over the place! Thank you - glad you enjoyed xxx

  2. Well, congratulations on this new era for the blog! I was one of those intrigued by the name. Now I'm up to date with your blogposts. keep up with the good work, young lady ;) See you!