Recipe – Andrew and Corinne’s amazing Chocolate Fudge Cake

125 g Flour
190g Sugar
3 Eggs
125g Butter
155g Dark chocolate
1­‐2 Table spoons of Fruit schnapps

  1. Mix the flour, sugar and eggs in a bowl.
  2. Melt the butter and the chocolate in a bowl above a pan full of water on the stove top.
  3. Mix chocolate and butter with the flour, egg and sugar batter.
  4. Pour into a cake tin (diameter 25 cm) and bake in the oven at 250 degrees for 11 mins.

When the cake is cooked it should still be wet in the center.
Easy….. and so so yummy.chocolate fudge cake

The Beautiful People We Meet #4 & #5: Andrew and Corrine

This is a particularly special edition of The Beautiful People We Meet. Not just because there are two beautiful people but also because this is the second time we have met this supportive, sweet and generous couple.

Corinne at the Gallery in February when we met. Amazing food!
Corinne at the Gallery in February when we met. Amazing food!

The first time we met was in Thailand at a cute little wine bar out the front of The Gallery, a restaurant/photo gallery/spa on Koh Tao. I was playing a show for a mutual friend of ours, Chris Clarke, who owns the Gallery with his lovely wife Pou and is also the photographer responsible for the amazing work all over the walls. Not only did Andrew and Corinne buy me drinks while I was on stage but afterwards they bought my CD and gave me a very generous tip of 500 baht ($20 AUD). This amazing display of support and generosity didn’t stop there. Hannah and I got chatting with them and within minutes they offered us a place to stay in Switzerland once our #looptheworld tour brought us to that part of the world. It’s not uncommon for us to be offered places to stay but what was unusual was the enthusiasm in which they followed up their offer.

For the next two weeks while we were both still on Koh Tao Andrew and Corinne attended as many gigs as they could and a friendship began to blossom. After leaving Koh Tao Andrew stayed in regular contact. Often sending pictures of the room we’d be staying in, the food we’d be eating and the friends we’d be meeting if we were to make it to Switzerland. As the European leg of #looptheworld came closer I assured Andy that we would be coming and we’d be arriving around mid August. Next time he got back to me he’d lined up a hand full of gigs at a picturesque little bar called Aifach Lakeside. It is people like this that make #looptheworld possible.

Afiach Lakeside, where Andy got me gigs. Possibly the prettiest gig location ever
Aifach Lakeside, where Andy got me some shows. Possibly the prettiest gig location ever.
Beers by the lake in Lucerne.
Beers by the lake in Lucerne.

Andrew and Corinne live in a small city in Switzerland named Lucerne. A beautiful old city nestled among the Swiss Alps on the edge of a huge, crystal clear lake. Picture perfect, the kind of landscape you see on one of those 1000 piece puzzles you did with your grandmother as a child. To get there I flew from Santorini in the Greek Islands to Milan, Italy then caught a train up the mountains into Switzerland. Hannah should have been with me but had lost her passport on Ios somewhere and had to detour via Athens to pick up an emergency replacement. Upon arriving I was greeted at the train station by Corinne who had just finished work and shortly afterwards Andy picked us up. That night we ate steak, drank wine and caught up ’til the early hours of the morning.

chocolate fudge cake
Simple and so, so yummy.

Eating and drinking was something we indulged in a lot while staying with Andy and Corinne. Andy works in a large wine boutique so a fine selection of wines was always on hand and all of us enjoy a good meal. Hannah and I tried our best to return the hospitality by cooking up a few hearty home cooked meals and Andy and Corinne were keen to show us a few traditional Swiss dishes; Fondue, Raclette and Älpermagronen and of course their amazing chocolate fudge cake (Corinne gave us the recipe you can find it here). Yum.

Those of you that travel will know it is not uncommon to make close connections while on the road and a place to stay on the other side of the world is offered every couple of days. You will also know that as close as those connections were at the time, they often disappear days after you part ways. Sometimes never to be heard of again. It’s not that the connection was insincere, it’s just that relationships take effort and attention. We can’t remember everyone we meet, nor could we stay in contact. There is not enough time in the world. Every now and then though a chance meeting moves past a drunken night, an enjoyable weekend, a few dinner dates and turns into a real friendship.

Andy, Corinne and Hannah at Lucerne train station the day we left.
Andy, Corinne and Hannah at Lucerne train station the day we left.

Andy and Corinne did just that with Hannah and I. I think we will be friends for a long time. I hope one day we can repay their hospitality and put them up in our house…. if we ever stay still long enough to have a house again.

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.

Ios not iOS… Damn auto correct!

I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again. I love my job. Lately I’ve noticed a number of posts while scrolling through social media, they are often worded differently but the main idea is the same. They posed the question; If money was no issue, what would you do with your life?

I can honestly say that I’d still be doing this.

I’m lucky enough to be financially supported by my vocation. At times is does get a little economically stressful but I think those moments are shared by even those that have a lot of money. Being able to pay my own way, and that of my partner, is only a small part of the satisfaction I get from my work. When we first arrived on Ios, a small island in Greece, we were met by a smiling Greek man named Nikolas. He drove us into town and put us in a very large room for a discounted price as he was aware that I was on the island to play music. Within hours I was being greeted by business owners and staff that had heard that I was coming. Hannah and I almost never paid full price for anything from then on. We were treated as part of the Ios family before they had even heard me play. There were a handful of people on the island that had heard me play before my arrival and they quickly spread my reputation among the Ios crew. Many of them made the effort to come check out this “loop guy” and by the time I finished my first week of shows I was being recognized on the street as if I’d lived there my whole life. Next we were offered a house by a couple of lovely Swedish brothers, Nikolas and Lars. They were leaving the island for six weeks so had an empty apartment. The rent was much cheaper than even the staff quarters and we had a lot more space, a beautiful view and a kitchen. Hannah cooked me some delicious meals. It was so good to have a little home cooking again, it had been a few months.

There are a lot of perks that come with the job but the best of all is the way people open up to me after they witness a show. I’ve spoken about it in depth with my father as he was also a performing artist and has shared many of the same experiences. It’s as if people become your friend while you are on stage, they bond with me quite closely while I’m completely unaware. By the time I get off stage they address me as if they have known me for years. I do perform with all of my heart and soul and I guess my song writing and story telling do give a lot of insight to my personality but it’s more than that. People love music. It’s like a drug and I’m the dealer. We met so many lovely people on this island. They all treated us with such kindness and respect. There are too many to write about here but check out this month’s installment of “The Beautiful People We Meet” by Hannah or Chris Penner’s guest blogger piece “Searching For John Stamos” if you’d like to be introduced to a few of them. I’ll miss them but I believe that, at least for some of them, it won’t be the last time we meet.

My main gig on Ios, Harmony.
My main gig on Ios, Harmony.

My main gig on Ios was a popular Mexican restaurant on the headland of Mylopolos Beach named Harmony. It’s owned by a bubbly, blonde, mid thirties, Australian woman named Kathleen that has turned her love for travel and adventure into a business venture. Every season, which lasts from May till September, her and her cute little one year old son Jax make their way back to the other side of the world and continue living the dream. Most nights were quite busy with a great vibe. It was the place to be after beach time and before town kicks off. They had a great team in the kitchen pumping out massive servings of delicious Mexican food. My two favorite blokes on the island Red and Omar manning the bar and a bunch of gorgeous Australian, Irish and Greek girls running the floor that would always have a smile and an ass wiggle for me every time I played that song they like, but it was a seated dinner crowd so I missed a dance floor for most of the time I was there. In fact the one time I finally got that dance floor I’d been craving was the last gig I ever did on that crazy little island at a bar called Lotus. It really was a lovely night. All the crew that we had become close with, well at least the ones that didn’t have to work that night, came down. (Actually one guy that was supposed to work, pulled a sickie so he could come… champion!) Including, once they had closed up, all the staff from down at Harmony. Lotus is an Absinthe bar so as you’d imagine the drinks were flowing and we also had a little help with party inspiration from Mandy, if you know what I mean. It was a magic night and such a perfect way to say goodbye to the island. I started playing Lotus half way through my stay but my hectic schedule at Harmony meant I was only available one night a week. Lotus is owned by a young Greek/German fella named Nikolas and his mother who is one of the rare people that live on the island permanently. I really enjoy Lotus. Every night after I finished my gig at Harmony you could find me down there groovin’ along to Snello’s mixes, having a yarn with Nicko or playing Shut The Box with Lulah and Chris. Poppy would always greet me with a smile and a kiss (both cheeks, we are in Europe now, I must remember) and Antonis would whip up the perfect Espresso Martini.

Ios is a crazy place. I’m a night life kinda guy but this night life was next level. Most of the bars and clubs on the island don’t even open before midnight. The biggest ones don’t open till 3 am and they go all night winding it up around 10 am. The crew that live and work here for the season are all quite youthful, they need to be. They work hard all day and party hard all night. A decent nights sleep is not high on their agenda. I only have to work for 3 hours a day but I still found it difficult to time my siesta right so I didn’t end up walking around glassy eyed and unable to finish a single thought. A lot of the nights kind of blur into one after a while but the 17th of July I remember well as it was the only night I had off the entire time I was on Ios. 41 shows in 42 days. For the past 7 years or so I’ve been performing about 120-150 shows a year. This year I I will well and truely beat that. Last night I played the 85th show of the #looptheworld tour, in three weeks time I’ll be clocking up my 100th. If i keep this up it’ll be about 250 shows by the end of the year. I’m looking forward to Switzerland, I only have to work three nights a week there. I’m craving a few quiet nights in with a pizza and a movie.

The train ride from Milan, Italy to Lucerne, Switzerland. Postcard perfect.
The train ride from Milan, Italy to Lucerne, Switzerland. Postcard perfect.

I’m writing this while sitting on a train traveling from Milan, Italy to Lucerne, Switzerland. The locomotive is slowly winding it’s way up into the Swiss alps along side a river that has carved a pass through the towering mountains over millions of years. The scenery is breath taking. Unfortunately Hannah is not with me as she lost her passport and needs to go to Athens to get an emergency replacement. She’ll catch up in a couple of days. I’m being picked up in Lucerne by Andrew and Corinne, a lovely couple that I met with Hannah in Thailand. Not only did they book me a bunch of shows but they are also putting us up in their wonderful home. I’m tiered after the transit and missing Hannah’s company but deep in my soul, I am so very happy.

Did I mention that I love my job?

Hannah tells me she always wanted one of these maps.
Hannah tells me she always wanted one of these maps.

Guest Blogger: Searching for John Stamos in Ios – Chris Penner

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Mike and Chris looking for John Stamos in Athens.

Each month we have a guest blogger write an article for the #looptheworld Letterbox. This month we have the wonderful words of Chris Penner. We first met Chris at one of my shows at Harmony on the island of Ios, Greece. We instantly got along really well, as I often do with Canadians. After we’d hung out a few times, Hannah and I agreed he would be the perfect candidate for our guest blogger this month. He confirmed that with his enthusiastic response when we asked if he’d be interested. Thank you so much for your words Chris. I hope you all enjoy this colourful perspective of the beautiful island of Ios.

image02For those highly unfortunate souls who are unfamiliar with John Stamos, he is an actor who portrayed Uncle Jesse in the 90’s blockbuster television show Full House, alongside the Olsen Twins and Bob Saget; however, more importantly John Stamos is the most handsome Greek man of all time.  Even before I wrote this I did a quick google search on the Greek god and one of the first articles was “John Stamos still has amazing hair and side burns”! Have Mercy!!

On June 8th this year my close friend Michael Budd and I decided we would venture to Greece in the hopes of finding this “ómorfo ándra” (beautiful man). It was less of a hunt considering we had jobs lined up on the island of Ios to teach watersports for Mylopotas Watersports on Mylopotas beach, so much repetition in that sentence, my English teacher would be so proud.  So! We spent two nights searching the bars in Athens, knowing full well he lives in the U.S.A., we hopped on the ferry to Ios, with an Irish guy named George who we’d convinced to join us, and started our summer in Ios.

As a very sheltered Canadian from outside Toronto, whose travel experience includes all-inclusive resorts in Costa Rica and Mexico with my family, the move was a bit of a culture shock.  Not in any dramatic fashion because Ios is still a tourist destination, it’s not like we were shitting in pots or practicing Ainu Bear Worship, it was the little things.  The pace was much slower than Toronto, which should go without saying, and in no offence to Greece, but we realized once we were on the island that we were on Greek time.  Meaning if we sat down for dinner expect to wait a bit longer, if you’re told something will arrive in 5 minutes, expect it to be a about 15. This concept wasn’t very difficult to grasp considering the beauty of this island, you can sit, relax, tan, soak in the majesty of what is Ios and colour me surprised, I learned to love it. Furthermore what really shocked me were the showers.  Never in my life did I think I would yearn for a showerhead. For those in Canada reading this you’re probably thinking “Cant wait for hockey season to start” but after that you’re thinking “what do you mean lusting for a shower head?”.  While I was using the washroom in the first place Mike and I stayed at, I asked where the showerhead was, not realizing it was stuck to a hose in front of me.  If you’re lucky the water is hot but you have to spray your body, soap up then hose it all down like you’re getting rid of all your change at a cheap car wash.  But that is the extent of my displeasure.

“I’m Living in Paradise” This is a sentence I repeat to myself everyday.  I say this to myself on the walk down to work from the village, when times get a bit frustrating at work and mostly when I see the sun set on this island and I truly believe that. I have never been to a better place in the world.  It’s sunny everyday, the temperature is perfect, there are never any clouds, and it’s acceptable to drink every night.  But beyond the weather and the acceptance of alcoholism are the people.  Before I left I had my very tight group of friends that I was content with, more than content to be honest, I never considered travelling and as much I love meeting new Canadians I was a bit apprehensive of experiencing new cultures and people.  Will it be difficult? What are they going to think of me? Will we get along? Will they be rude or closed minded? Which turned out to be the complete opposite and my absolute favorite part of travelling, besides the late night wakeboarding, sunset cruises, smashing drinks and skinny-dipping as the sunsets over the Mediterranean.  I had met so many wonderful people, friends I will have for life, which I believe is the greatest part of travelling. Opening up to stranger and discovering what it is they love, what are their struggles, their future plans and experiences is like food for the soul.  Finding common interest with a person born on opposite sides of the world is exhilarating and I’ve fallen completely in love with it. Which brings me to Simon Wright and Hannah Blake.

July 2008, Molson Amphitheater with Mark Hubner was the first time I saw Dave Matthews Band live. February 2010, Dan Hammonds basement with Sam Statham I watched Sidney Crosby score the golden goal for Canada to win the Olympic gold medal and June 2015 at Harmony restaurant with Mitch Bolton and Mike Budd, I saw Simon Wright play for the very first time. There are moments in your life that are burned into your memory with a cattle prong and watching Simon perform was certainly one of them.  I am a music lover and a live music fanatic and there aren’t many words in my limited vocabulary to describe how I felt that night: Shocked, awed, amazed, blown away and chills.  At one point during his performance he did a remix of the Game of Thrones theme song and being a GOT nerd I could barely contain the little girl scream I wanted to release. I kept it totally cool and just looked across the table at Mike showing him the hairs that were standing up on my arm and he returned the same gesture.  I had never experienced a looping machine before and to be honest I wasn’t really paying attention during the first song until I thought there were about 6 people on stage only to glance over and to my great surprise there was just one dude. It was incredible! After meeting Simon and Hannah and discovering that their spirits and personalities outshined his talent was mind blowing.  Here are two incredible people, talent and kindness taller than the CN Tower (had to get a Canada reference in here somewhere) and so down to earth. I feel extremely lucky to have seen Simon perform his music and extremely privileged to call them my friends!

At this point I’m sure you’re wondering “what happened to George who you convinced to come to Ios with you?” as you should be! Well, George got a 600Euro ticket and had to go home after 3 weeks, I miss him but Ios got the best of him as it does of many people.  I myself have felt at times that the island is beating me, which is nearly impossible cause I’m a 6’5 man stuck in a 5’8 frame.  Thankfully I’ve met the best people in the world to share my first summer abroad with and I enjoy everyday a little bit more than the previous, meaning to say everyday is the best day of my life on Ios!!
Thanks for reading,

Sincerely Chris Penner
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What time is it?….. Who Cares. Koh Tao.

I should have written this weeks ago. It’s not that I’ve been avoiding it or even putting it off, actually I’ve been looking forward to it. There is an explanation to my laziness but only those that have spent a bit of time on a tropical island will truly understand. Hannah and I have come to refer to this phenomenon as Island time. Tomorrow doesn’t actually mean tomorrow on Koh Tao, it more accurately translates to eventually. The hands on a Koh Tao clock don’t point to specific hours of AM and PM but more a rough target at which we’ll aim. Those that refuse to give up their slave to the routine ways of the cities we live in find it extremely frustrating, but being frustrated will do nothing to change island time. It’s best to give in and let the island dictate your schedule. Today the island decided I’d write my blog post. So here it is.

My new Thailand band
My new Thailand band “Simon Wright and the Choppettes.”

We have been here on Koh Tao, a tiny little island in the middle of the Thai Gulf, for almost 6 weeks now and I have enjoyed every second of it, even the Thai belly, it’s like a constant reminder I’m on an adventure. It does make me worry occasionally when I’m on stage in the middle of a set and I get that turning feeling in my gut, but luckily, so far, I’ve not had to drop my guitar and make a b-line to the closest lavatory.

 This gig is mental. 3 nights a week I rock out to 300 sweaty, excited backpackers.
Choppers Aussie Bar and Grill. This gig is mental. 3 nights a week I rock out to 300 sweaty, excited backpackers.

My gigging schedule has been hectic. Easily the most busy I’ve ever been as a musician. I’m performing a three hour show every night except Fridays between two venues. 3 nights a week at Choppers Aussie Bar and Grill and 3 nights a week at Fishbow Beach Bar. I’ve also done the odd show at Banyan Bar and Maya Beach Club. It’s getting me fit. I’ve lost about 10kgs and I can now manage the hot, sweaty shows without the assistance of an M-150 or the need for a power nap post performance. Playing every night also does wonders for my progression as an artist and a looper. And though I am working hard, I love my job. It sends me to tropical islands and attracts me to beautiful people. It pays my way and supports my partner. It never boxes me in, rather it encourages me to push the boundaries. And it’s got to be one of the only occupations in the world that inspires the boss to buy you a shot when you’re doing a good job.

Tropical hang overs are like tropical storms, they come on hard and fast and no matter how many times you see one the intensity is always awe inspiring.
Tropical hang overs are like tropical storms, they come on hard and fast and no matter how many times you see one the intensity is always awe inspiring.

Which brings me too the drinking. Hang over management is a big part of Koh Tao life. If you are not careful you will end up with the worst hangover you’ve ever experienced. Tropical hang overs are like tropical storms, they come on hard and fast and no matter how many times you see one the intensity is always awe inspiring. The cheaply brewed Thai alcohol mixed with the humid, hot nights of sweating means hydration is a constant battle.

“One beer, one water”

These days I steer clear of the cheap Thai whiskeys and just stick to beer. “One beer, one water”. At first I get laughed at like I’m some kind of amateur but the tide turns when I bump into those that were laughing at the 7-11 at 3am and I’m still clear headed and walking straight while they are hunched over a bin throwing up the cheap buckets and late night street food. I can’t help myself but to remind them. “One beer, one water”.

Casey and Edan crash the stage at Banyans.
Casey and Edan crash the stage at Banyans.

One thing that has been so beautiful this month is the visits we have received from back home. A big shout out and thank you has to go to Danielle, Jonno, Mikey, Edan, Casey, Hayley, Dave, Mick and Anthea. It was so amazing sharing this little island with you all. I hope you fell in love with it as I have and it continues to be a destination for you all for many more years. Then from old friends to new friends.

Jonno, Danielle and Hannah.
Jonno, Danielle and Hannah.

I’ve met so many beautiful people on this island and formed some amazingly close bonds. I hope I can keep those relationships as close to my heart as they are now as we move on to the next leg of #looptheworld. Hannah and I will be back on the island in January we think. For those of you that will still be here I look forward to seeing you again. For those of you that will have left Tao, stay in touch. Maybe we’ll come visit you in your country.

We are three months in now and the idea of living life on the road still feels fresh and exciting. Sadly, on Thursday this week, I play my last show on Koh Tao. Friday we go to Bangkok, Saturday we Fly to Moscow, Sunday to Athens then a ferry out to the island of Ios where I start my Greek Island gigging schedule. 7 Nights a week this time, wow.

If you haven’t already please sign up to the #looptheworld Letterbox at http://www.thesimonwrightband.fanbridge.com and don’t forget to leave a comment or write us back.

Who's a good boy?
Who’s a good boy? Photos by Edan Chapman Photography.

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!

What’s this bloody #looptheworld hashtag thingy all about then?

looptheworld pedal on grass

If you’re reading this then I guess you’ve noticed #looptheworld popping up on my social media pages recently. In short, it is the name of the tour I am currently on with my partner Hannah, my loop station and my guitar. However this is not the Rock-Star World Tour that most people imagine. My hope here is to give you a little insight to what it is, where it all began and the plan, or lack thereof, I have for this adventure.

#looptheworld is a story, mostly unwritten, that will be told over the coming months…. maybe years. To be entirely honest the story began many years ago. I did not play music as a teenager and never imagined myself to become a working musician. However, I did dream of a job that would take me around the world and allowed me to be my own boss. I guess you could say I’ve been unconsciously planning this adventure since then but for this particular tale let’s say the story began in February earlier this year.
I was on Koh Tao in Thailand on another working holiday. I’ve done this many times before, only this time I brought with me my beautiful girlfriend Hannah. Hannah quickly fell in love with the island and the lifestyle and we began talking about taking it on full time. She also managed to complete her Open Water and Advanced Diving courses which inspired a career change that will suit the endless summer #looptheworld existence. Hannah plans to qualify herself as a dive instructor along the course of the adventure. By day she’ll teach ‘em to dive and by night I’ll get ‘em to dance.

I started saving, Hannah quit her job, we got rid of everything we own, leased out our room and bought some airfares to places we’ve never been.

We started the trip in Melbourne at our local pub, The Birmingham on Smith St in Collingwood with a #looptheworld launch party. Next we flew to Byron Bay where I was a semi-finalist in the annual Blues Festival Busking Competition. Unfortunately I didn’t win however they gave me a spot out at the festival as a wild card anyway. Since then there have been two more shows (The Rails 08/04 and The Beach Hotel 16/04) and there are two more shows to go in Byron Bay (The Treehouse 24/04 and the Rails 01/05) and a radio interview on BayFM (26/04). On May 7th we head up north to the Surfers Paradise Live Festival where I will be performing live both Friday 8th and Saturday 9th May.
Sunday the 10th of May we fly to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, then Surat Thani Thailand. From there it is a bus and ferry out to Koh Tao where we will be staying for seven weeks. I’ll be gigging seven nights a week between three venues – Choppers Bar and Grill, Fishbowl Beach Bar and Banyans Bar and Hannah will be working and diving with Mojo’s Divers.
After Koh Tao we fly to Athens then a bus and ferry out to Ios where we will be staying for the month of July. Again I’ll be gigging seven nights a week but this time just in the one venue – Harmony Mexican Restaurant and Bar. Next is where the plan gets a little vague but also a little more exciting.

We plan to meet up with my good friend and fellow musical warrior Andy V in Romania where we will purchase a van, deck it out with a bed, a stove and a PA, and hit the road with no destination in mind, driving across Europe.

We’ll be paying our way with street performances (busking), the odd gig here and there, and whatever opportunities come our way.

We plan to document as much as we can through this here blog, my Youtube channel, my Facebook Page, our Instagram account and the #looptheworld newsletter. – Sign up here. If you’d like to contribute to the narrative simply use the #looptheworld hashtag in your online posts.

I won’t be playing to stadiums full of people, we won’t be trashing five star hotels, I won’t be in trouble for punching the paparazzi or getting groupies pregnant that’s not to say there won’t be the odd drama along the way. This is a real tour, two people on a guitar string budget taking on the big bad world, living simply the best we can.

And that my friend, is far from the end of the story, but as far as the story goes.