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