The Beautiful People We Meet #3: Tallulah

Tallulah seat dancing
Tallulah seat dancing

I know it sounds cliche, but one of the most exquisite things about travelling is the people you meet. I mean, that was the inspiration behind this column in the first place. Travelling opens your heart and mind and as a result you meet beautiful people wherever you are. On Ios I was fortunate enough to meet Tallulah, although I suppose it’s not surprising as she seemed to know everyone on the island. Tallulah is originally from South Africa but has been a woman of the world for several years. She even worked with a circus for a while! My story of Tallulah is only a small snapshot of the beautiful person that she is. I am writing about her this month because in the short time that I have known her she has inspired me to be more open and spontaneous both with myself and with others. Tallulah’s outlook on life is magical, she exudes positivity.

As many people do on Ios, Talullah was sharing accomodation with another person. Tallulah and Sophia’s house was just one room with two beds, a small kitchenette and a bathroom. Their room actually reminded me quite a lot of my George Street home back in Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia. Tallulah had brought fairy lights with her to the island, those who know me will know that I find that very impressive. They always had such lovely food and their door was always open, literally, they had a shoe shoved between the door so that it wouldn’t close and friends just dropped by whenever they liked. The first thing that struck me about Tallulah and Sophie was their down to earth beauty. Both girls, in their individual way, exude confidence, with open hearts and smiles.

tallulah sebastian and sofia
Tallulah, Sebastian and Sophia

Half way through our stay on the island we heard that Talullah had broken not one but both of her ankles after falling from the roof of one of the many churches on the island. She had ventured up to see the sunrise over Ios. I went to visit her with a block of dark chocolate and a watermelon in hand and I must admit, I was expecting to find a broken girl ready to pull the pin and find a way home. Instead I was met with the same beautiful smile and carefree attitude I had come to know from her, she pursued happiness and positivity with complete dedication and grace “mostly, it just reminds me of how lucky I am to be able to walk in the first place” she told me. When people asked what had happened she responded with a cheeky “I fell from heaven”. Luckily, and I say that somewhat trepidly, it turned out that only one foot was broken, the other just badly sprained. It still meant walking was a massive inconvenience but it didn’t stop her. Being as magnetic and beautiful as she is there were always a few handsome gentlemen who were willing to give her a lift and she would do the sitting down dance all night long. I should mention here that she did not want to be seen as ‘unable’ and so was fiercely independent even with one broken and one sprained foot. An accident that would cut a lesser persons holiday short without a second thought, barely even slowed her down. Her brother Sebastian, who was half way through an adventure of his own was quick to drop everything to come and be by her side. He deserves a special mention in The Beautiful People We Meet. Within hours of his arrival on the island we became what felt like long time friends. The strong sibling love was a special thing to witness on an island of strangers.

Tallulah Robbie Simon
Tallulah and Robbie with Simon taking a #looptheworld photo opportunity in the background.

Thank you Tallulah for being such a wonderful positive person, the world could do with a few more people like you.

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A moment on Ios

Ios dreaming

I am living on the top of a very large hill looking out over Ios village. It is a lovely place to stay, slightly out of the hustle and bustle. The sky’s here are calm, hardly ever a cloud to be seen. I love to sit on our balcony and soak in the dry serene beauty that is Ios. The view certainly is quite a juxtaposition to the crazy night life here. The walking streets of Ios village are a beautiful maze. Lined with white walls, blue doors and paved in old stone rich with history, they tumble and collide in amongst each other. The first time we weaved our way through the village we were not entirely sure of what we would find and then, all of a sudden, we were there in amongst it. Streets seemingly on top of streets, bars on top of bars. Music pumping. Humans everywhere. Ios nightlife is unlike anything I have experienced and it took me a little while to aclimatise. It’s as if it has ADHD. Generally the bars are quite small, 50 people and it feels packed. One minute the bar will be packed to bursting and then in the next moment, everyone has disappeared, skipping, dancing, shouting and laughing their way to the next bar and thus the cycle continues, people bouncing from one bar to the next, all night and then some. It is not unusual to find yourself stumbling home with the sun glaring at your eyeballs after a crazy Ios night. But not before stopping to grab a famous gyros of course. Club SandwhichMy favourite late night food on Ios was introduced to me by Tallulah, who you can read about here, head to Club Sandwich and instead of ordering the normal Gyros, which are wonderful as well, order a chicken gyros without chips on a pancake instead of the pita bread and with special sauce. Trust me, it’s amazing!

Harmony looptheworldIt was a very busy month this past month, Simon was gigging nearly every night at Harmony. The staff there have become my Ios family, they are such a friendly bunch of humans and they certainly know how to party. If you are ever on Ios I would highly recommend a visit to Harmony, the food is excellent, the people are excellent, they have live music and the view….. the view is spectacular. Just be sure to book a table as they are booked out most nights.

lotus imageOn the few nights that Simon did have off he ended up playing at another wonderful bar called Lotus. I loved Lotus for it’s chill vibes, the old wooden flooring, the palm trees, the stars overhead, the tunes, a game called ‘shut the box’ and of course, the absinthe.

This month has been a slightly difficult month. The main focus for me on Ios was my diving. I am currently only a few days away from becoming a qualified dive master, which is very exciting because not only do I feel that it will open up a lot of opportunities for me but mainly, I just love diving! Unfortunately I did not have a wonderful experience at the dive school that I chose to study with and as I was there nearly every day it did have an impact on my time here. However, as the saying goes “what doesn’t break you will only make you stronger” and so, as in all things, I will learn from this experience.hannah mylopotas

My favourite part of each day is taking the 20 minute walk down the hill to Mylopotas Beach which is where both the dive school and Harmony are situated. The view on the way down is spectacular, there is something very special about it, the dry rocky mountains of Ios climb up to my left and the calm, deep, endless blue of the Aegean stretches to meet the horizon on my right. It inspires a sense of calm and contentedness and it certainly reminds me each and every day of just how blessed and lucky I am to be here with Simon on this #looptheworld adventure.

simon ios walk

If you have any comments or questions please let me know, I’d love to hear from you.

. c r a z y . b e a u t i f u l . k o h t a o .

Leaving Koh Tao is bitter sweet. I am sad to be leaving this beautiful paradise where I have had some excellent experiences, made some wonderful friends and also learnt so much about myself. However, as the saying goes “Where one door closes, another will open.” and I believe it is quite an important motto to live by when on the road. Keep your heart open to possibility and you never know where it might take you. And let’s be honest, as anyone who has stayed on Koh Tao before will know, I’ll be back, the door is never closed, I’ll just be exploring another room (or two or three) for a while.hannah underwater

Whilst here on the island I’ve been lucky enough to get a few more dives under my belt. I love diving! I love the breath awareness, the weightlessness, the flow and of course, the whole under water world. I find diving to be a wonderful form of meditation. I chose to dive with Mojo Divers and I’m so pleased I did. The crew there are like a family, perhaps a slightly crazy family but a happy, fun and knowledgable one. Mojo Divers has been my introduction into the diving world and now I’m hooked. I want to dive everywhere! Simon and I are travelling to Ios in Greece next where I will be doing my Dive Master Training (DMT). For so many years I have been searching for my passion and, outside of life, I think diving might be it….. But I’ll get back to you about that after I’ve at least completed my DMT and hopefully I wasn’t speaking too soon. I would like to thank every one at Mojo Divers for your knowledge, kindness and friendship. You have been an excellent introduction into the diving world.

For me, Koh Tao is an island where I instantly felt at home. I love the heat and the humidity, the diving and the parties, the relaxed atmosphere and the food and I particularly like the type of people that this island attracts. As we all know, travelling is good for the soul, it feeds our imagination, dreams and sense of self. I believe that as travelers we allow ourselves to be the person not only that we want to be, but who we truly are. We allow ourselves to let go of all the bullshit that we carry when we are slogging away at the daily grind, which creates a contagious happiness.
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Simon had a busy gigging schedule playing nearly seven nights a week. Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s he played at Choppers for the Koh Tao Pub Crawl nights and you could find him at Fishbowl nearly every other night. For anyone who hasn’t experienced a Koh Tao Pub Crawl they are raucous and sweaty events. I have never actually participated in a Pub Crawl because I am always at Simon’s gig but from what I understand this is how the night plays out: It starts at Choppers at 8pm where each participant receives a T-shirt and a bucket of cheap alcohol, from there the hoard of humans who are still getting to know each other spill out onto the street and head off down the road, still sober I might add. They visit a pool party, the Queens Cabaret (which is exactly what you think it is) and then back to Choppers for the live music part of their night.

Simon and Casey onstage at Choppers for Koh Tao Pub Crawl
Simon and Casey onstage at Choppers for Koh Tao Pub Crawl

Now I understand that my explanation of it so far makes it seem relatively tame, however I didn’t include the number of buckets, shots, free shots and drinks that each person has probably consumed by the time they stumble, bump and grind their way back into choppers. Man, do pub crawlers know how to party! As an avid people watcher this is possibly my favourite part of the night. I like to find myself a seat overlooking the crowd and observe. The energy of the room is almost feverish, the atmosphere is thick with expectation, pheromones bounce off the walls, it is hot, it is sweaty and everyone is having the time of their life. By the time the Pub Crawlers stumble out of Choppers and onto their final party destination for the night Simon has been playing for over an hour. He is completely exhausted. I’m becoming quite the roadie/pa and I try to always have a beer and a water with electrolytes ready because the golden rule is always “one beer, one water.”

It hasn’t been all diving and parties. We’ve had some chill days (ok, quite a few of those), we’ve been snorkeling and swimming, we’ve enjoyed adventure days where we explored the island via scooter with old and new friends and we’ve eaten well, really well! thailand sunset

I would like to thank everyone who I met and signed up to this letterbox at Simon’s gigs. Thank you for your words of encouragement, your travel hints and tips, your appreciation of music and for sharing in this #looptheworld adventure with us. I am genuinely excited to find you all again in different parts of the world. If you do have any requests or recommendations of places we should visit then please do get in touch, we would love to hear from you and will definitely make a special effort to visit you in your country where we can.

The beautiful Sofi who travels the world living life to the fullest and me.
The beautiful Sofi who travels the world living life to the fullest and me.

The Beautiful People We Meet #2: Josh Allen

Josh allenWe didn’t meet Josh on this particular #looptheworld adventure. We met him on our last trip to Thailand in February earlier this year. However Josh is one of the beautiful people that we met on that holiday who inspired us to stat this column. We had just stepped off the airplane in Surath Thani, Thailand, which is not a glamorous airport and we were looking to book our ferry ticket over to Koh Tao. Alas, each counter that we went to were sold out. Standing in the line at the last counter we discussed that if we couldn’t get the ferry to Koh Tao we could head to Koh Phangan for the night instead. I mean, a night on Phangan is always a good adventure. We were interrupted by a tall handsome man standing behind us who commented on Simon’s guitar. The normal “oh you play guitar? Me too…” conversation followed and pleasantries were exchanged.
Koh Tao, sold out. We purchased our  tickets and a Phangan sticker was placed on our shoulder. With no accommodation booked and the full moon party only a few days away we did wonder if it was going to be difficult to find a place to sleep but didn’t stress on it too much because “the universe works wonders”.
We’re piled on to a bus and drive for about 45 minutes. Anyone that has travelled will know as soon as you have had even one small exchange with someone it seems that the next time you bump into them it’s like seeing an old friend. At the dock Simon, Josh and I got chatting about our travels, music and life. A few beers in and we’re on the ferry bound for Phangan. A few more beers and we’re talking religion, philosophy and music and just for good measure we talk a little more music. I love those moments, which seem to happen more frequently whilst travelling, where there is an instant connection between people and it truly does feel like you  are old friends. By the end of the ferry ride Josh had graciously offered us a bed in his room and we were all looking forward to a night out on the infamous Phangan.
We were sad to leave Josh the next day but managed to convince him to come to Koh Tao after the full moon party.

From left: Hannah, Josh, Terry, Simon, Lia, Tanya, Reeve,  Ethan, Jordan.
From left: Hannah, Josh, Terry, Simon, Lia, Tanya, Reeve, Ethan, Jordan.

Josh is one of those magnetic people that you meet who are happy and comfortable within themselves and so always attracts other good humans. When he arrived on Koh Tao a few days later of course he brought with him more lovely friends who he’d just met. For the next few days we explored Turtle Island via scooter, snorkel and foot. Josh is a musician, photographer, videographer and film maker. When we met him he was on his way home from a pilgrimage style trip in India were he traveled to small towns and large cities filming a documentary on Indian music and learning as much as he could. I’m really looking forward to the finished product.
Josh generously suggested that he make a video clip for Simon. One night at Fishbowl Beach Bar we filmed a set with one GoPro and one DSLR. He edited the clip upon his return home in New York.
This is what he created. Enjoy!

Thank you so much Josh. We are so pleased that we met you and look forward to more adventures somewhere else in the world.

Check out some more of Josh’s work at http://www.vimeo.com/joshallenimages

The Wonders of Childbirth and Childhood memories.

The first month of our #looptheworld adventure has been huge, so much so that I have spent hours, days. sitting at this computer typing and deleting, typing and deleting as my thoughts and memories all collide in on one another. I have decided to keep it simple and share just a couple of those moments with you.

Pottsville, NSW
Pottsville, NSW

Life.
Megan, Simon’s younger sister, and myself went for a casual stroll down to the beach at Pottsville. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon. She was very pregnant. We were chatting away catching up on each others news when Megan asked me if I would be a support person at her birth. I was speechless. My mouth moved up and down a few times but no words came out. What an honour to be trusted with such a momentous life event. Ever since I first met Megan she has been quite an inspiration for me. I have always admired her strength, sense of self, sense of adventure and her ability to always find and share the magic. She is a beautiful, magnetic human. This experience was no exception. As humans, we have all experienced childbirth yet of course none of us remember our own. As a female, I have always known and imagined that someday I will give birth to my own child and so I have tried to conceptualise what childbirth might be like. I imagine many girls and women have done the same. When the day came I was nervous and excited. I hoped that I would be able to offer the support that Megan might need but I must admit that I felt a little out of my depth. The only thing I was certain of was the love in my heart and that I would be there for whatever she needed.

Childbirth is an intensely personal experience and so I do not feel that it is my place to share all the details here on this public platform, all I will say is that I will forever remember the birth of Malakai Storm Wright. I witnessed the strength, power and primal understanding of the woman’s body and it is extraordinary. Megan, thank you for trusting me.

x x x Megan and Malakai x x x

A magical day.
When I was still a little Hannah I lived for a time on a community called Sphinx Rock; named as such because it is nestled at the bottom of a mountain that looks like a Sphinx, it is about 20kms north west of Nimbin in New South Wales. I have such beautiful memories of that time.

In the magic garden
In the magic garden

There were several families living on the community and so we created quite the hoard of children. We had such fun. We played statues at the bus stop, for those of you who don’t know this excellent game the rules are simple, if a car comes – freeze! I think I legitimately believed for a time that the passengers in the cars passing by actually thought we were statues. We’d ride on the bonnet of mums big old yellow station wagon, make cubby’s in the wild lantana, explore crystal clear creeks, play lego and tremble at terrifying stories about The Hairymen who lived up in the mountains (if you do ever have the bad luck of running into a Hairy Man then just bend over and look at it from between your legs, that way it will know that you are not scared of it and it will leave you alone – fact!). So as an adult it is nice to go back and revisit those memories, it’s like giving them a shot of coffee.

My granddad (aka Abba), Simon and I made a day trip of it, leaving at about 10am on a Tuesday. We had lunch in town with the infamous and wonderful

Abba, Michael and Hannah
Abba, Michael and Hannah

Michael Balderstone who is an old family friend of Abba’s and a central figure in Nimbin’s anti-prohibition movement, he was very busy in the wake of the annual Mardi Grass festival but we were lucky enough to steal a moment with him. After lunch, we took the reminiscent road out to Sphinx Rock. It is much the same as I remember it although due to the sub tropical environment everything grows so quickly. Where there was once a view of Wollumbin, which was known as Mt Warning when I was a child but has been returned to it’s traditional name in respect to the First Nation people, there is now a rainforest. We bumped into Burry who is still living on the community, he took us to a magical garden where there was a huge old satellite dish bursting with cherry tomatoes, an abundance of banana and mango trees, tamarillos and the sweetest passionfruit hanging from the sky and the ever present gentle chorus of the frogs chanting their life song.

“the sweetest passionfruit hanging from the sky “

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Simon enjoying a Tamarillo
Simon enjoying a Tamarillo

 
To finish off our magical adventurous day Abba drove us back to Byron Bay via the most exquisite route. My granddad is an adventurous grey nomad and always knows the best spots. We stopped for a quick photo opportunity off a dirt track on the crest of a hill and coasted over lush green hills soaking in the glory of magic hour. Driving back to Byron Bay I felt calm and happy, It’s good for the soul to take the time to remember these precious times in our lives. 

  Thank you so much for taking the time to read some of my words and also to those who have been in touch, it’s really lovely for me to hear your  feedback. If you do have any questions, comments or suggestions I’d love to hear from you and of course you can follow our every move via facebook and instagram.

Wollumbin. “off a dirt track on the crest of a hill”

An Introduction of Sorts – By Hannah Blake.

hannah

Where to start? At the beginning I suppose. Although, I am not entirely sure where that is, it feels as though the idea for this adventure crept into the consciousness slowly not wanting to alarm anyone and now here we are, in Byron Bay Australia on the first part of this musical adventure around the world that has only a few set destinations and no set end date. Our adventure, aptly named #looptheworld will take Simon and myself around the world on, what Simon likes to say, “a guitar string budget”. To prepare for this musical adventure into the world, first, I quit my job. I imagine we all dream of not working, I know I certainly had, but it was an interesting decision to make when it actually became a reality. Working provides security, a network of people, something to do with our time, it helps us to feel connected, useful and productive. In quitting my job I was surrendering to a way of life that I have not yet experienced. It is a little scary and also very exciting.Then, I gave away my possessions. Stuff! I love stuff! I have so many precious things, all with their own memory attached or perhaps it’s a precious thing purely because it’s pretty, either way, the precious things accumulate and become ‘stuff’. I have always enjoyed having beautiful, if sometimes a little odd, things in my home, I like that it fills me with memories and in a way it represents me. So I have taken this #looptheworld adventure as an opportunity do a bit of clearing out and it felt great! I have a few boxes which I claim as mine (thanks so much for all your help mum) but everything else I have let go of. If you’re thinking that I’ve had some kind of life changing epiphany you’d be wrong, I just figure I can get more stuff later. And lastly, we moved out of our beautiful Smith Street home.

Leaving the Smith St home. From left: Ellah Blake, Edan Chapman and Hannah Blake.
Leaving Smith St. From left: Ellah Blake, Edan Chapman and Hannah Blake.

Mostly I just glided through, once the decision to follow our wanderlust had been made, the excitement and promise of it all carried me. I must admit that I did cry twice, and by ‘cry’ I mean ‘bawled my eyes out’. The first time I cried I had just taken the last load of ‘stuff’ to the opp shop and I was sitting in my now very empty bedroom with my backpack in front of me on the floor. That one small backpack now represented everything that I owned. I think it was only at that point that I realised  “oh, this is actually happening”. The second time was when I left my mum. As I stepped out on to the tarmac my lip started quivering and then the flood gates opened. I had to laugh at myself, a 27 year old woman, sitting on the airplane bawling my eyes out, receiving sideways glances from nearby passengers, all because I’m going to miss my mum. Beautiful really.

Don’t let all this talk of crying lead you to believe that I am not ecstatic, I am. I feel light and happy and certainly very lucky! I am at the beginning of an adventure where the only plan is to follow the music. We will live off the money made through Simon’s music: gigs, busking and CD sales. I’ll be that chick selling CD’s next to the stage. The destinations will be chosen through gig offers and the people we meet. I’m excited for this next bit, this next adventure. I am excited for what I will learn, about myself, about the world. I am excited to meet new people and catch up with old friends.

I will be documenting the trip via our Instagram account #looptheworld (follow us here). I also hope to use this blog as a platform, if I may be so bold, to share some of my experiences, thoughts and stories with you. I’m not yet sure which direction this story will take but that is all part of the adventure and fun.

So here we are, the #looptheworld adventure has started and it is wonderful.

x Hannah

I’d love to hear your thoughts  so please email me any questions or suggestions or even just a hello! 🙂

Ps. I highly recommend you listen to this, I think it’s a pretty good soundtrack for this part of this story. Enjoy!