All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


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Ten things that never fail to perk me up…

Well, the journey has come to an end. Today marks the final installment of the Ten Times to Be Happy challenge and, truth be told, I’m a little sad. I’ve enjoyed sharing my happiness over the last ten days, and hope that you’ve enjoyed joining me on my journey. Today is all about things that cheer us up, as I share ten things guaranteed to brighten my mood on even the darkest day.

~1~
Literature

Books

My first memory of being on this earth was walking to the library alone. My parents, in their infinite awesomeness, would watch from the front door of our house as I walked the two hundred yards to the local library. Once there, I would fill my satchel with books and then rush home to begin devouring them.

In the intervening years I have developed a passionate love of both libraries and the books contained within them. I cherish good literature above all else. It fills me with joy. Reinforces my hope for a better, more kinder world. And fills me with happiness like nothing else can.

“She would have liked to sit upon a rock and listen to words, not of any man, but detached, mysterious, poetic words that she alone would interpret through some sense inherited from sleep.”
~ Patrick White, Voss ~

~2~
Serena Ryder

serena19

With a tremendous vocal range, intelligent lyrics and a knack for getting the best out of the guitar, how could you not fall for this Canadian singer-songwriter? Her music has been the source of tremendous solace throughout my life, scoring several pertinent moments (e.g. my breakdown, my homelessness) and filling me with joy on even the darkest, most brutal of days.

Would you mind if I pretended we were somewhere else
Doin’ something we wanted to?
‘Cause all this livin’ makes me wanna do
Is die ’cause I can’t live with you
And you don’t even care.

Would you mind if I pretended I was someone else
With courage in love and war?
I used to think that’s what I was
But now this lyin’ hurts too much
And I don’t know what for.

I’m weak in the knees for you
But I’ll stand if you want me to
My legs are strong and I move on
But honey I’m weak in the knees…

Would you mind if I walked over and I kissed your face
In front of all of your friends?
Would you mind if I got drunk and said
I wanna take you home to bed
Oh, would you change your mind?

~ from ‘Weak in the Knees’ ~

~3~
Scotland

Skye

The heart stopping landscape of the Isle of Skye.

When I was a child, growing up in the small village of Portlethen, on the eastern coast of Scotland, I was more concerned with being a brattish schoolboy – playing practical jokes on my family and getting into as much mischief as I could – than being aware of the country I was living in. But all that changed when my parents took us on a day trip to Loch Ness, a couple of hundred miles west, in the heart of the Highlands. I can vividly remember gazing through the car window at the luscious landscape all around me, feeling a pull on my heartstrings that indicated all was well in my world.

After moving to Wales when I was eleven, I felt like a part of my soul was being ripped out. I missed Scotland with an intense passion, and couldn’t wait to return. Several years and one hypomanic episode later, I did, returning to my childhood love of the Highlands with a twenty-six mile hike down the shores of Loch Ness. From there I went to Fort William, where I experienced the grandeur of Glen Nevis and breathtaking Glenfinnan, on the shores of Loch Shiel.

Every day I spent in Scotland made me feel complete. The country fills me with a passion unlike anything else on this earth. I feel connected to Scotland. I experience physical pain when I am away from it. It is, without question, my home on this earth. Living in Australia, being so far from my home, fills me with sadness. But I have made my home a shrine to this magical, mysterious country. Maps of Skye, of Loch Ness, of Torridon adorn my walls. Photographs of the Highlands, of the islands, of the cities, decorate every nook and cranny.

Scotland, its people, its culture, its folklore, fills me with a happiness unlike anything else on this world. It soothes my soul. It completes me.

Caledonia
by James Hogg

Caledonia! thou land of the mountain and rock,
Of the ocean, the mist, and the wind-
Thou land of the torrent, the pine, and the oak,
Of the roebuck, the hart, and the hind;
Though bare are thy cliffs, and though barren thy glens,
Though bleak thy dun islands appear,
Yet kind are the hearts, and undaunted the clans,
That roam on these mountains so drear!

A foe from abroad, or a tyrant at home,
Could never thy ardour restrain;
The marshall’d array of imperial Rome
Essay’d thy proud spirit in vain!
Firm seat of religion, of valour, of truth,
Of genius unshackled and free,
The muses have left all the vales of the south,
My loved Caledonia, for thee!

Sweet land of the bay and wild-winding deeps
Where loveliness slumbers at even,
While far in the depth of the blue water sleeps
A calm little motionless heaven!
Thou land of the valley, the moor, and the hill,
Of the storm and the proud rolling wave-
Yes, thou art the land of fair liberty still,
And the land of my forefathers’ grave!

~4~
Doctor Who

doctorwhoowls

Even owls like Doctor Who! :)

My favourite television series – bar none! It has been part of my life since 1988, cheering me up and filling me with confidence for over twenty-five years. The good Doctor never fails to lift my spirits and his confidence in the face of danger pushes me to victory against whatever demon has decided to raise its ugly head.

My top five NuWho stories that never fail to cheer me up:

1. Utopia
2. Vincent and the Doctor
3. Partners in Crime
4. Human Nature/The Family of Blood
5. The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang

“I am and always will be the optimist.
The hoper of far-flung hopes and the dreamer of improbable dreams”
~Eleventh Doctor~

My top five Classic Who stories that never fail to cheer me up:

1. Remembrance of the Daleks
2. City of Death
3. Doctor Who and the Silurians
4. Inferno
5. The Evil of the Daleks

~5~
Blog Comments

comments

It’s funny how such a simple thing can fill me with happiness and perk me up on overcast, depression filled days. Just the sight of that orange notification button causes my heart to flutter. I hover the cursor upon it, overflowing with curiosity for what post has inspired some beautiful soul to share their thoughts with me. And then smile sweetly as their words stoke my heart, filling me with joy and contentment.

“In the midst of feeling completely desperate and totally compelled to hurt myself, I came across a picture of your safe box then followed the link to your blog. Just reading the facts about you has calmed me down enough to not. Thank you.”
~ from Anna, on About Me ~

~6~
Smoking

roll-your-own-cigarette

Rolling your own cigarette. One of the most gloriously relaxing pastimes imaginable! :)

I don’t know whether it’s because it’s on my mind at the moment, given we’re in day two of my quit smoking campaign, but smoking a cigarette is one of life’s only joys. I don’t know whether it was simply the inhalation of relaxing chemicals or the glorious routine of making the cigarette, but smoking never failed to lift my spirits and put a smile on my face. But that’s all in the past now. I’m not allowed to smoke again. I’m determined this time!

“After some time he felt for his pipe. It was not broken, and that was something. Then he felt for his pouch, and there was some tobacco in it, and that was something more. Then he felt for matches and he could not find any at all, and that shattered his hopes completely.”
~ J.R.R Tolkien, The Hobbit ~

~7~
Binge watching television series!

24:  LIVE ANOTHER DAY:  Cast L-R:  Michael Wincott, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Giles Matthey, Benjamin Bratt, Yvonne Strahovski, Gbenge Akinnagbe, Kiefer Sutherland, William Devane, Kim Raver and Tate Donovan.  24:  LIVE ANOTHER DAY is set to premiere Monday, May 5 with a special season premiere, two-hour episode (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2014 Fox Broadcasting Co.  Cr:  Greg Williams/FOX

Binge watching 24 is one of my favourite, most cherished pastimes!

I’ve been doing this long before it was fashionable to do so. Back in the day I used to binge watch Alias, 24 and all manner of British dramas and situation comedies. On my days off work I would settle in with whatever show had taken my fancy and, for several hours, immerse myself in the fictional world. But now everyone does it, and they think they invented it. But they didn’t. I did! :p

“Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!”
~ Mae West ~

~8~
Runrig

Runrig

I first discovered Runrig when I purchased the album The Stamping Ground. It was one of those on-a-whim purchases that we all make from time to time. I don’t know what drew me to the CD. Perhaps the colourful artwork. Perhaps the fact it was filed in Scottish Folk/Rock. Perhaps it was just a moment of destiny; one of those instances of happenstance that change your world. From the very first listen of the CD I was hooked. The music spoke to me like no other musician had ever done. It touched my heart, filled me with hope and soothed my troubled soul.

Runrig are my favourite musicians. They have been producing heartfelt folk/rock music for over forty years. Their music features heavily on the soundtrack to my life and it never fails to lift my mood during moments of darkness and depression.

There’s thunder clouds
Round the hometown bay
As I walk out in the rain
Through the sepia showers
And the photoflood days

I caught a fleeting glimpse of life
And though the water’s black as night
The colours of Scotland
Leave you young inside

There must be a place
Under the sun
Where hearts of olden glory
Grow young

There’s a vision coming soon
Through the faith that cleans your wound
Hearts of olden glory
Will be renewed

Down the glens where the headlands stand
I feel a healing through this land
A cross for a people
Like wind through your hands

There must be a place
Under the sun
Where hearts of olden glory
Grow young

 ~ from ‘Hearts of Olden Glory’ ~

~9~
Friendship

friendship

I miss my friends. I miss spending my afternoon sharing a jug of beer with Grace. I miss playing pool with Kathy, hiking the Canadian wilderness with Annie and indulging in kinky, slightly perverted, acts with Samantha. I miss how my friends made me feel; happy, contented, invincible. Being alone is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Not even giving up cigarettes comes close to the pain and distress one feels when they know they are spending their life alone; unloved, uncared for, forgotten.

Although I have several online friendships, all of which I am thankful for, it isn’t the same as having people you can spend time with in real life. There isn’t the camaraderie, the instantaneous gratification or sharing of wit that is part and parcel of real life conversation.

If I had three wishes granted to me, my first wish would be to have friends. Not many. Just one or two. That would make me happy. It always did.

“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.”
~ Elbert Hubbard ~

and

~10~
Spanking!

HNI_0035lp

A picture Meadhbh (and I) drew. It apparently depicts us being soundly spanked! :p

Hey! Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it. A good spanking has the power to lift anyone out of the deepest, darkest quagmire. Don’t believe me? Then toddle off to your significant other (or BFF or bestest, most nonjudgmental friend) and request they put you over their knee for a sound spanking. Done? Your bottom’s all nice and toasty now? See. Your spirits have lifted, haven’t they? Told you they would! :p

“Of course it hurts, it’s a spanking. How else would it work?”
~ Breanna Hayse ~


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Ten of my favourite photographs…

Today’s installment of the Ten Times to Be Happy challenge is all about photographs. Photographs that fill us with joy. Photographs that render us speechless. Photographs that have our minds buzzing with all sorts of happy chemicals. As is my prerogative, I’ve decided to split today’s challenge into two parts. The first part being ten photographs that I have taken:

and the second part being ten photographs from established professionals:

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Ten of my favourite foods…

And we’re back. After running out of internet credit two days ago there’s been a slight pause in the Ten Times to Be Happy challenge, but I’m stocked up on GB again and raring to go with day eight: ten of my favourite foods.

Now, I’m not a very adventurous eater, nor am I a person who considers food to be something magical and delightful. Food, for me, is a necessity. It is something I must eat to stay alive. But saying that there are things I prefer eating above others…

~1~
Poached Eggs on Sourdough Toast

The best breakfast in the world. Ever. Nothing beats the poached egg on sourdough toast. Not even bacon.

poachedeggs

Ingredients

2 teaspoons white vinegar
4 eggs, at room temperature
Bread, toasted, buttered, to serve

Step 1: Pour cold water into a large saucepan until 8cm deep. Add vinegar. Bring to the boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low (water should still be simmering around the edge).

Step 2: Crack 1 egg into a shallow bowl. Using a wooden spoon, stir water to create a whirlpool. Tip egg into water. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes for a soft yolk or 3 to 4 minutes for firm. Using a slotted spoon, remove egg from water.

Step 3: Skim foam from water. Poach remaining eggs. Serve eggs on toast.

~ from Taste.com.au

~2~
Jacket Potato (with butter and cheese)

My idea of comfort food. I’m a huge fan of the humble potato. Especially when cheese is melted atop it!

jacketpotato

Ingredients

Sebago potatoes
Cheese (to taste)
Butter (to taste)

Step 1: Preheat oven to 200°C. Scrub potatoes with a brush. Pat dry with paper towels.

Step 2: Using a fork, pierce potatoes in about 6 places. Place directly on oven rack in the centre of oven. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until tender when a skewer is inserted into the centre.

Step 3: Cut a deep cross in top of each potato. Using a clean tea towel to hold potato, squeeze base gently to open up top. Add your choice of topping and serve.

~ from Taste.com.au

~3~
Pesto Pasta

Simple. Easy to make. A refreshing, delectable meal.

pestopasta

Ingredients

375g dried linguine pasta
1 cup fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Shaved parmesan cheese, to serve

Step 1: Cook pasta in a saucepan of boiling salted water, following packet directions until tender. Drain. Return to pan.

Step 2: Meanwhile, process basil, pine nuts, garlic and parmesan, scraping down sides occasionally, until almost smooth.

Step 3: With motor running, add oil in a slow, steady stream. Process to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Step 4: Add pesto to pasta. Toss to combine. Serve.

~ from Taste.com.au

~4~
Coconut Rice

Is there anything better than rice? Of course there is. Rice that tastes of coconut!

coconutrice

Ingredients

2 cups Thai jasmine-scented white rice
2 cups good-quality coconut milk
1 3/4 cups water
2 heaping Tbsp. dry shredded unsweetened coconut (baking type)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. coconut oil, OR vegetable oil

Step 1: Rub oil over the bottom of a deep-sided pot. You will also need a tight-fitting lid.

Step 2: Place rice, coconut milk, water, shredded coconut, and salt in the pot and set over medium-high to high heat. Stir occasionally to keep rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot and burning.

Step 3: Once the coconut-water has begun to gently bubble, stop stirring and reduce heat to low (just above minimum). Cover tightly with a lid and let simmer 15-20 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. To check, pull rice aside with a fork. If most of the coconut milk-water is gone, go on to the next step.

Step 4: Replace the lid and turn off the heat, but leave the covered pot on the burner to steam another 5-10 minutes, or until you’re ready to eat.

~ from Thaifood.about.com

~5~
Lasagne

Ever wanted to pretend you were a loveable cartoon cat?

lasagne

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1kg beef mince
160ml (2/3 cup) red wine
2 x 700ml btls passata (tomato pasta sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 x 250g pkt dried lasagne sheets

Besciamella (bechamel sauce)
125g butter, chopped
115g (3/4 cup) plain flour
1.5L (6 cups) milk, warmed
40g (1/2 cup) coarsely grated cheddar
55g (1/2 cup) coarsely grated mozzarella
40g (1/2 cup) finely grated parmesan
Pinch of ground nutmeg

Step 1: Preheat oven to 180°C. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 6-7 minutes. Increase heat to high. Add the mince. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up any lumps, for 4-5 minutes or until the mince changes colour.

Step 2: Add the wine. Cook for 4 minutes or until the wine has almost evaporated. Add the passata, tomato paste, oregano and thyme. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 30 minutes or until sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper.

Step 3: Meanwhile, to make the besciamella, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Remove from heat. Stir in the flour. Place the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly, until smooth. Place the milk mixture over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat. Add half the cheddar, half the mozzarella and half the parmesan. Stir until well combined. Stir in the nutmeg.

Step 4: Spread about 2 cups of the mince mixture over the base of a 3L (12-cup) capacity, 5cm-deep, 21 x 32cm (base measurement) ovenproof dish. Arrange 3 lasagne sheets on top. Spread with 2 cups of mince mixture. Pour over 21/2 cups of besciamella. Top with 3 lasagne sheets. Continue layering with remaining mince mixture, lasagne sheets and besciamella.

Step 5: Bake for 30 minutes. Combine remaining cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan. Sprinkle over the lasagne. Bake for 20 minutes or until tender and golden. Set aside for 15 minutes to stand. Serve.

~ from Taste.com.au

~6~
Potato Bake

Second only to the jacket potato in the comfort food stakes.

potatobake

Ingredients

Melted butter, to grease
1 x 300ml ctn thin cream
125ml (1/2 cup) milk
1.25kg sebago (brushed) potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced
2 large brown onions, halved, thinly sliced
100g thinly sliced prosciutto
60g (3/4 cup) finely shredded parmesan

Step 1: Preheat oven to 170°C. Brush a 2.5L (10-cup) capacity ovenproof dish with melted butter to lightly grease. Combine the cream and milk in a saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes or until heated through.

Step 2: Arrange half the potato slices over the base of the prepared dish. Sprinkle with half the onion. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over half the cream mixture. Continue layering with the remaining potato slices, onion, salt and pepper and cream mixture.

Step 3: Cover with foil and place on a baking tray. Bake in oven for 1 hour or until potato is tender. Scatter prosciutto over the potato bake and sprinkle with parmesan. Bake, uncovered, for a further 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and the potato is very tender.

Step 4: Set aside for 15 minutes to cool. Serve.

~ from Taste.com.au

~7~
Potato and Rosemary Pizza

You may overdose on carbohydrate, but at least you’ll die happy!

potatoandrosemarypizza

Ingredients

Dough
4 ½ cups organic plain four
1 ¾ tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
¼ cup olive oil
1 ¾ cups ice water
oil for brushing

Potato and Rosemary Topping
½ cup mozzarella, grated

¼ cup parmesan, grated
4 kipfler or dutch creams, peeled, boiled whole and sliced
1 sprig rosemary
sea salt + pepper
sprinkle of nutmeg

Step 1: Mix all dry ingredients together in bowl with a wooden spoon. Mix oil and water into the flour till all flour is incorporated. Continue mixing until the dough is of a slightly sticky consistency and sticks a little to the bottom of the bowl, but not to the sides. If dough IS sticking to the sides of the bowl, more flour is required. If it is not sticking to the very bottom, a little water (one to two teaspoons) should be added but make sure you add a little at a time. You can mix by hand or machine.

Step 2: Flour the bench surface before turning dough onto it and then shape into a rectangle and slice into six pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, flouring hands to stop sticking, then coat the surface with oil and wrap each ball in food grade plastic wrap. These will keep in the fridge for a maximum of three days and about 30 days in the freezer.

Step 3: Stretch dough to two centimetre thick and ten centimetres in diameter circles, or stretch to fit the pizza pan. The best way is to stretch to a smaller circle and then toss in the air, but a rolling pin will do the job, if not as well! If the dough is very elastic and keeps springing back to its original form, let it rest for a further 10 to 20 minutes to allow the gluten to relax.

Step 4: Scatter the cheeses over the pizza and place in the oven at 230°C until the cheese has just melted. Take the pizza out of the oven and add the sliced, par cooked potato, rosemary leaves, and a little more cheese. Season with salt and pepper and nutmeg and replace in the oven until the dough is cooked.

~ from Poh’s Kitchen

~8~
Spanakopita

The most adventurous food on my menu. But with something so delicious, how can you resist?

spanakopita

Ingredients

1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 bunch shallots (spring onions), finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1.2kg baby spinach or silverbeet
2 tablespoons chopped dill
250g feta cheese, crumbled
150g full-fat ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons grated kefalotyri or parmesan cheese
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
12 sheets filo pastry
120g butter, melted

Step 1: Heat oil in a frypan, then add onion, shallots and garlic. Cook for 1 minute until softened, then add spinach and half the dill. (If using silverbeet, remove leaves, and chop before adding; discard stalks). Cook, stirring, over low heat for 1-2 minutes or until spinach has wilted. Drain in a colander and cool, then combine with cheeses, egg, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Step 2: Preheat oven to 180°C. Brush a 2 1/2-litre baking dish with butter. Lay one sheet of filo on base and sides and brush with butter. Repeat with 5 more sheets. Spread cheese mixture over top. Cover with remaining filo, brushing each sheet with butter. Trim excess pastry with kitchen scissors and tuck edges into sides of dish. Brush top with butter and score in diamond patterns.

Step 3: Bake for 45 minutes or until golden. Rest for 10 minutes. Warm remaining butter, add remaining dill and, when serving, pour over sliced spanakopita.

~ from Taste.com.au

~9~
Chicken Schnitzel

Chicken. The only way it can be improved is to slather it in herbalicious breadcrumbs!

chickenschnitzel

Ingredients

2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup plain flour
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
550g chicken breast schnitzel (uncrumbed)
Vegetable oil, for shallow-frying

Step 1: Combine breadcrumbs, parmesan, lemon rind, parsley and garlic powder on a plate. Season with salt and pepper. Place flour on a plate. Whisk egg and milk together in a shallow bowl.

Step 2: Coat 1 piece of chicken in flour, shaking off excess. Dip in egg mixture. Coat in breadcrumb mixture. Place on a plate. Repeat with remaining chicken, flour, egg mixture and breadcrumb mixture.

Step 3: Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook chicken, in batches, for 4 to 5 minutes each side or until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain. Serve.

~ from Taste.com.au

 

and

~10~
Chocolate Caramel Slice

Because we all need something sweet in our life. And with this delicious dessert, there is nothing sweeter!

chocolatecaramelslice

Ingredients

1 cup plain flour, sifted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
125g butter, melted

Filling
400g can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons golden syrup
60g butter, melted

Topping
60g copha, chopped
125g cooking chocolate, chopped

Step 1: Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a 3cm deep, 28 x 18cm (base) lamington pan.

Step 2: Combine all base ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. Press into prepared lamington pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until light golden. Remove from oven. Cool.

Step 3: Make filling: Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, whisking, for 8 minutes or until golden. Pour over cooked base. Bake for 12 minutes or until firm. Cool completely. Refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours, or until set.

Step 4: Make topping: Place copha and chocolate into a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until melted. Pour over caramel. Refrigerate to set. Cut into squares to serve.

~ from Taste.com.au


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Ten historical moments of epic magnificence…

In today’s installment of the Ten Times to Be Happy challenge I’ve been tasked to pick ten of my favourite historical moments. For a history nerd, the difficulty isn’t thinking of historical moments, it’s in picking just ten from the millions of possibilities. But let’s see how we get on!

~1~
Callanish Standing Stones
2900 – 2600BC

The Callanish Stones (or Clachan Chalanais or Tursachan Chalanais in Gaelic) are an arrangement of standing stones placed in a cruciform pattern with a central stone circle. They were erected in the late Neolithic era, and were a focus for ritual activity during the Bronze Age.

Callanish

~2~
“I have a dream”
28 August 1963

I Have a Dream” is a public speech delivered by American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. in which he calls for an end to racism in the United States. Delivered to over 250,000 civil rights supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, the speech was a defining moment of the American Civil Rights Movement.

~3~
The Beaumont Children
26 January 1966

Jane Nartare Beaumont (aged 9; born 10 September 1956), Arnna Kathleen Beaumont (aged 7; born 11 November 1958), and Grant Ellis Beaumont (aged 4; born 12 July 1961) were three siblings collectively known as the Beaumont children who disappeared from Glenelg Beach near Adelaide, South Australia, on Australia Day, 26 January 1966.

Their case resulted in one of the largest police investigations in Australian criminal history and remains one of Australia’s most infamous cold cases. The huge attention given to this case, its significance in Australian criminal history, and the fact that the mystery of their disappearance has never been explained, has led to the story being revisited by the press on a regular basis. It is also viewed by many social commentators as a significant event in the evolution of Australian society, with a large number of people changing the way they supervised their children on a daily basis.

beaumont children

For baby boomers growing up in the late 1960s, and for those who came after, the subsequent police investigation into the abduction and probable murder of the Beaumont children has been both repelling and haunting. On the fortieth anniversary of the children’s disappearance, many questions still remain: What happened to Jane, Arnna and Grant Beaumont at Glenelg on the day they disappeared? Who was the man last seen with the children that day? Why has there never been a public inquest into the children’s disappearance? What links are there to the abduction of two young girls from Adelaide Oval in 1973 and the infamous Family Murders in the early 1980s? Are the Beaumont children still alive, as many still believe, or buried in some unmarked spot?

The mere mention of the words ‘the Beaumont children’ brings so many memories of that time flooding back. For those who have come after, and know only the half-truths and the urban myths, there is a yearning to know more – to understand the unimaginable and try to answer questions that may never be answered.

For over four decades now, we have all been searching for the Beaumont children.

from ‘Searching for the Beaumont Children’
by Alan J. Whiticker

~4~
Feminism
1837-Present

Charles Fourier, a Utopian Socialist and French philosopher, is credited with having coined the word “féminisme” in 1837. The words “féminisme” (“feminisme”) and “féminist” (“feminist”) first appeared in France and the Netherlands in 1872, Great Britain in the 1890s, and the United States in 1910, and the Oxford English Dictionary lists 1852 as the year of the first appearance of “feminist” and 1895 for “feminism”. Depending on historical moment, culture and country, feminists around the world have had different causes and goals. Most western feminist historians assert that all movements that work to obtain women’s rights should be considered feminist movements, even when they did not (or do not) apply the term to themselves. Other historians assert that the term should be limited to the modern feminist movement and its descendants. Those historians use the label “protofeminist” to describe earlier movements.

The history of the modern western feminist movements is divided into three “waves”. Each wave dealt with different aspects of the same feminist issues. The first wave comprised women’s suffrage movements of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, promoting women’s right to vote. The second wave was associated with the ideas and actions of the women’s liberation movement beginning in the 1960s. The second wave campaigned for legal and social equality for women. The third wave is a continuation of, and a reaction to, the perceived failures of second-wave feminism, beginning in the 1990s.

feminism

“I hate men who are afraid of women’s strength.”
~Anaïs Nin~

~5~
The Battle of Bannockburn
24 June 1314

The Battle of Bannockburn was a significant Scottish victory in the First War of Scottish Independence. Stirling Castle, a Scots royal fortress, occupied by the English, was under siege by the Scottish army. The English king, Edward II, assembled a formidable force to relieve it. This attempt failed, and his army was defeated in a pitched battle by a smaller army commanded by the King of Scots, Robert the Bruce.

bannockburn

Scots Wha Hae
By Robert Burns

‘Scots, wha hae wi Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome tae yer gory bed,
Or tae victorie.

‘Now’s the day, an now’s the hour:
See the front o battle lour,
See approach proud Edward’s power –
Chains and Slaverie.

‘Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha will fill a coward’s grave?
Wha sae base as be a slave?
Let him turn an flee.

‘Wha, for Scotland’s king and law,
Freedom’s sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand or Freeman fa,
Let him on wi me.

‘By Oppression’s woes and pains,
By your sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free.

‘Lay the proud usurpers low,
Tyrants fall in every foe,
Liberty’s in every blow! –
Let us do or dee.

~6~
The Glencoe Massacre
13 February 1692

Early in the morning, in the aftermath of the Glorious Revolution and the Jacobite uprising of 1689 led by John Graham of Claverhouse, a massacre took place in Glen Coe, in the Highlands of Scotland. This incident is referred to as the massacre of Glencoe, or in Scottish Gaelic Mort Ghlinne Comhann or murder of Glen Coe. The massacre began simultaneously in three settlements along the glen—Invercoe, Inverrigan, and Achnacon—although the killing took place all over the glen as fleeing MacDonalds were pursued. Thirty-eight MacDonalds from the Clan MacDonald of Glencoe were killed by the guests who had accepted their hospitality, on the grounds that the MacDonalds had not been prompt in pledging allegiance to the new monarchs, William and Mary. Another forty women and children died of exposure after their homes were burned.

~7~
The 1745 Uprising
1745

The Jacobite rising of 1745 was the attempt by Charles Edward Stuart to regain the British throne for the exiled House of Stuart. The rising occurred during the War of the Austrian Succession when most of the British Army was on the European continent. Charles Edward Stuart, commonly known as “Bonnie Prince Charlie” or “the Young Pretender”, sailed to Scotland and raised the Jacobite standard at Glenfinnan in the Scottish Highlands, where he was supported by a gathering of Highland clansmen. The march south began with an initial victory at Prestonpans near Edinburgh. The Jacobite army, now in bold spirits, marched onwards to Carlisle, over the border in England. When it reached Derby, some British divisions were recalled from the Continent and the Jacobite army retreated north to Inverness.

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which culminated at

~8~
The Battle of Culloden
16 April 1746

The Battle of Culloden was the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1745 and part of a religious civil war in Britain. On 16 April 1746, the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart fought loyalist troops commanded by William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands.

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Culloden
by Andrew Lang

Dark, dark was the day when we looked on Culloden
And chill was the mist drop that clung to the tree,
The oats of the harvest hung heavy and sodden,
No light on the land and no wind on the sea.

There was wind, there was rain, there was fire on their faces,
When the clans broke the bayonets and died on the guns,
And ’tis Honour that watches the desolate places
Where they sleep through the change of the snows and the suns.

Unfed and unmarshalled, outworn and outnumbered,
All hopeless and fearless, as fiercely they fought,
As when Falkirk with heaps of the fallen was cumbered,
As when Gledsmuir was red with the havoc they wrought.

Ah, woe worth you, Sleat, and the faith that you vowed,
Ah, woe worth you, Lovat, Traquair, and Mackay;
And woe on the false fairy flag of Macleod,
And the fat squires who drank, but who dared not to die!

Where the graves of Clan Chattan are clustered together,
Where Macgillavray died by the Well of the Dead,
We stooped to the moorland and plucked the pale heather
That blooms where the hope of the Stuart was sped.

And a whisper awoke on the wilderness, sighing,
Like the voice of the heroes who battled in vain,
“Not for Tearlach alone the red claymore was plying,
But to bring back the old life that comes not again.”

~9~
Sabina Spielrein
1885-1942

Sabina Spielrein was a Russian physician and one of the first female psychoanalysts. She was in succession the patient, then student, then colleague of Carl Gustav Jung, with whom she had an erotic relationship during 1908-1910, closely documented in their correspondence from the time and her diaries. She also met, corresponded, and had a collegial relationship with Sigmund Freud. One of her more famous analysands was the Swiss developmental psychologist, Jean Piaget. She worked as a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, teacher and paediatrician in Switzerland and Russia.

In a thirty-year professional career, she published over 35 papers in three languages (German, French and Russian), covering psychoanalysis, developmental psychology, psycholinguistics and educational psychology. Her best known and perhaps most influential published work in the field of psychoanalysis is the essay titled “Destruction as the Cause of Coming Into Being”, written in German in 1912. Although Spielrein has been mainly remembered on account of her relationship with Jung, she is now increasingly recognized as an important and innovative thinker who was marginalized in history because of her unusual eclecticism, refusal to join factions, feminist approach to psychology, and her death in the Holocaust.

Sabina Spielrein’s relationship with Carl Jung was explored in the motion picture ‘A Dangerous Method’:

and

~10~
An Unearthly Child
5:16pm, 23 November 1963

Doctor Who first appeared on BBC TV at 17:16:20 GMT, eighty seconds after the scheduled programme time, 5:15 pm.

And now it’s over to you. What are some of your favourite historical moments?


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Ten works of art that have changed my life…

In today’s installment of the Ten Times to Be Happy Challenge we turn our attention to works of art – paintings, film, television, books, music etc. – and look at which ones have had a particularly life-altering impact on my life. Starting with the obvious…

~1~
Doctor Who (1963-Present)

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My love affair with Doctor Who began during the show’s twenty-fifth anniversary, when I watched the story The Greatest Show in the Galaxy. Little did I know then that this television series would go on to become one of the most important works of art in my life.

For twenty-seven years now this show has been the source of tremendous comfort, inspiration and excitement. It has soothed my soul through countless depressive episodes, been there to support me when I’ve contemplated suicide and stood by me during periods of intense self harm.

For two-thirds of my life I have had the good Doctor and his assortment of companions to guide me through life’s ups and downs. I seriously couldn’t comprehend my life without Doctor Who. It is in my blood. It is part of my DNA. And I will love it until my final, dying breath.

And now a flashback to 1988, and a clip from the very first Doctor Who story that I remember watching:

~2~
Quest for a Kelpie (1986)

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It began, as far as I was concerned, with the fight.

At midday one Friday, about the beginning of September 1743, a month before my tenth birthday, my mother called me in. As there had been no fishing for a week because of storms, there was no fish to take up the country, and I had a bit leisure to play with my little brother Isaac and the twins. Not Ellen, of course. She had her own friends, always.

“Come in, Jeannie,” mam called. “Away over with your dad’s bite. You can take the wee one with you, an’ be sure he takes no harm. Now mind an’ dinna spill it or I’ll skelp you.”

“Aye, mam,”I said. I knew fine she wouldn’t – if anybody skelped me it would be my dad.

How did this work of art change me? This book made me want to be a writer. What more can I say?

~3~
Psycho (1960)

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This filmed changed my understanding of what great cinema is. Before I watched it I was gorging on a diet of Hollywood blockbusters and cheesy romantic comedies. Until I watched this, film was just a sugary snack, something to munch on when you felt depressed. But watching this masterpiece of direction made me realise that film didn’t have to be a snack, it could be a hearty main meal. This film set me off on a journey that took in some of the great artists of motion picture history; Welles, Altman, Truffaut, Wilder, to name but a few. This film began my love affair with Hitchcock, a relationship that has been ongoing for twenty odd years now. It changed the way I viewed film, and for that, I will be forever grateful.

~4~
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)

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Is a video game a work of art? Let’s end this insipid date here and now: of course it is! And this video game, this inspirational, incredible, breathtaking journey, is without question, without argument or debate, the greatest video game ever made. From the moment I placed the cartridge into my trusty N64 back in 1998 I was blown away by the commitment put into this work of art by its talented team. The graphics, the music, the design, the everything!

This is one of those journey’s that you simply have to take in life, so if you haven’t already done so, do it now. Stop reading this blog post this very second and travel to your nearest video game store, pick up a 3DS and copy of the game, and play it immediately. You will not be disappointed.

~5~
One Tree Hill (2003-2012)

One Tree Hill

In late 2010 I had been sleeping rough for eighteen months. Throughout that long, brutal period of time there was little in my life worth writing home about. Joy, happiness, inspiration…everything had deserted me. It was just me, surviving through each horrible, endless day. Then a homeless service offered me a place in a boarding house. I jumped at the chance to get off the streets and merrily made my way to the northern suburbs of Melbourne to check out my new ‘home’. It was a cupboard. There were no windows. No natural light. But it was a room to sleep in. A chance to get off the streets.

Shortly after moving in, depression took hold. I found it difficult to rouse myself from bed, spending entire days laying face down in my cupboard, unable to summon any strength for normal, day-to-day activities. I took solace in a succession of DVDs that I’d borrowed from the local library. Veronica Mars, 24, Supernatural, all were devoured as time-killing measures, all acted as white noise for my pointless existence. Until I placed into the drive the first disc of season one of One Tree Hill. Within six episodes I was hooked. Within one season I was a rabid fan.

I fell head over heels in love with the lives and adventures of the high-schoolers of Tree Hill. Peyton became an object of intense lust and admiration. Hayley, and her singing, soothed my troubled soul. Whilst I promptly decided that, were it possible to date fictional characters, Brooke would be my soul mate. But it was the shows writing that enticed me more than my carnal desiring of its female stars. Episode after episode the dialogue and interaction of the characters blew me away, with entire episodes devoted to exploring character and their relationships. Something I had never seen in a television show before.

After watching four seasons back to back, I left my cupboard for the first time in four weeks, desperate for seasons five and six. Watching that show provided me with a renewed zest for life. It inspired me to return to writing. It forced me to reevaluate my decisions and where I was heading. Without One Tree Hill I would be dead. I’m not saying that to be over dramatic, I’m saying it because it’s true. One Tree Hill saved me from myself. And for that, I will forever worship and adore Mark Schwahn’s poignant creation.

Not my top 10 One Tree Hills scenes, but the top 10 scenes of a fellow YouTuber:

~6~
The Pioneer (1904)

thepioneer

This is my favourite painting of all time. I first saw it not long after arriving in Australia, whilst exploring the lengthy hallways of the National Gallery of Victoria. From my first viewing of this intricate, soulful piece of art, I was transfixed. I wanted to know more about the couple, about their life and family. I wanted to know how they survived each day and what drove them toward a better, brighter future.

When I became homeless in 2007 it took on an even deeper meaning, for I could relate to the various stages of their life. The first panel with them sleeping rough, dreaming of a better future, was exactly how I felt during those first months of being homeless. Whereas the second panel, and the start of the couples family, reflected my own dream of family and togetherness. Whilst the grief (and change) reflected in the third panel mirrored the changes and grief that I knew would follow me throughout my life.

It is a magnificent piece of art and, in my humble opinion, should be regarded alongside the Mona Lisa or The Kiss.

~7~
Memory and Dream (1994)

memory_and_dream

But that’s what we all are – just stories. We only exist by how people remember us, by the stories we make of our lives. Without the stories, we’d just fade away.

How did 50pence change my life? It’s not a huge amount of money, it’s pretty negligible, if truth be told. But in late 2001, my life was changed by this paltry amount of money.

I was perusing a charity shop in Inverness, on my way to work another tedious shift at the YHA, when I saw Memory and Dream peeking at me from the bookcase. It was only 50pence, a bargain, so I took it to the counter and purchased it immediately. The author, a Canadian, had been recommended to me by my friend Deborah, and I had been on the lookout for him for months, so finding such a bargain was a stroke of good fortune.

That night at work, given it was quiet because of the off-season, I settled down to read my new purchase. Within minutes I was spellbound. Charles de Lint has a way with words that few other writers can match. He is lyrical, spinning wondrous stories populated by charismatic, compassionate characters. You genuinely care about the people de Lint writes about. They get under your skin. They make your heart hurt.

But it’s not just because Memory and Dream is a remarkable story that it makes this list. No. Memory and Dream did something no other book had ever done. It made me realise that there was a market for the sorts of stories that my soul wanted to tell. I was forever blending the mythical and magical with the humdrum of contemporary life, but until I read Memory and Dream, I didn’t realise there was a name for it; Urban Fantasy.

That’s how 50pence changed my life.

~8~
The Virgin Spanking the Christ Child before Three Witnesses (1926)

ernst-spanking-of-the-christ-child-in-front-of-three-witnesses

This painting used to fascinate me when I was younger. I was drawn to it by the vibrant colours, sharp angles and subject matter. For better or worse, this piece of art has probably changed my life more than any other, for it was instrumental in setting me off on my journey with kink; a journey that I have been traversing for over thirty years now.

~9~
The Stamping Ground (2001)

thestampingground

The first single I ever brought was Naked, by British pop starlet Louise. A particularly loathsome piece of music that I purchased only because my teenage self wanted to imagine Louise stark naked. The first album I ever brought was Naked, by British pop starlet Louise. A particularly loathsome collection of music that I purchased only because my teenage self wanted to imagine Louise stark naked. But the first album I brought that actually resonated with me, that I brought for reasons other than teenage lust, was Runrig’s The Stamping Ground. And it blew my mind. There was actually music out there that spoke to me, that made my soul sing and my heart quiver. Runrig has gone on to become my favourite musical act of all time. Their songs resonate within me more than any other. Their music has formed the soundtrack of my life. Without them, I wouldn’t be Addy.

My favourite song from the album The Stamping Ground, performed live in 2014:

and

~10~
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)

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Little did I know that wintry January day that reading a magazine would change my life. I was browsing the shelves of Forbidden Planet, a comic and genre store in Cardiff, when I picked up the latest issue of SFX. Flicking through the pages I stumbled upon a review for a brand spanking new television series called Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The review was favorable so I decided to keep an eye out for it.

A few days later I was flicking through the various television channels when I came upon an episode of the said television series. It was the fourth episode – Teacher’s Pet – so I watched it to see if I agreed with the magazine review. I did. I was taken by the characters, the sparkling dialogue and blend of fantasy and reality. So it became weekly viewing and, by the end of the first season, I was obsessed.

Like Doctor Who, Buffy has changed my life because it saw me through some of the trickiest, more painful, chapters of my life. It was there for me during the loneliness and depression of post-school life. It was there for me when I decided to take a chance and go traveling. And it was there for me when I made the even bigger decision to emigrate to Australia.

But after it played an integral part of my abusive relationship, I wasn’t able to watch Buffy. It became a trigger for me. A source of pain and frustration. An endless reminder of the trauma my abuser had put me through. For years I wanted to watch it, but couldn’t. And I thought it would be relegated to the dusty archives of my life; the show I used to cherish but can no longer relish. But earlier this year I decided to face my trigger head on. I missed Buffy. I missed Willow and Tara. I missed the sage-like advice of Giles. So I curled up with some chocolate and endeavored to watch every episode; to relive one of the greatest television journeys ever made. It did trigger me, I’ll be honest about that, but I got through it. All 144 episodes were watched, all 144 episodes were enjoyed. And I found my love of this show hadn’t dwindled.

It will, like Doctor Who and One Tree Hill, remain one of the most influential television series of my life.

A fan’s collection of favourite Buffy the Vampire Slayer moments. let’s be honest. All moments are awesome!

So there we have it. Ten works of art, picked out of millions, that have changed my life. But what about you? What works of art have changed your life for the better (or worse)? I’d love to know! :)


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Ten people who inspire me…

In today’s installment of the Ten Time to Be Happy Challenge I’ve been tasked with sharing ten influential people. People who inspire me. People who fill me with joy. People who make me happy. The only catch; they have to be people I don’t know!

~ In no particular order ~

~ Click each image to enlarge ~

What about you? Are there any famous people (or not so famous people) who inspire you toward greatness?


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Ten positive memories…

After the darkness and depression of yesterday, I’m due some happiness. So brace yourselves for another installment of the Ten Times to Be Happy challenge. Today, we take a look back at some of the happy memories scattered throughout my life! :)

1. Licking the bowl

Some of my favourite memories in life revolve around licking the bowl. Is there anything better in life than being handed the dregs of a cake mix and being allowed to spoon the sugary, doughy mixture into your mouth? Whenever my mum or dad made a cake when I was younger, I was the first of us siblings in line to munch on the remnants of whatever recipe was being made. And nine times out of ten, it tasted better than the actual end product!

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A young Addy, loving every second of his cake mixture munching! :p

2. This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time…

It had been a particular brutal and boring day at the North of Scotland Water Authority. I’d been working there for several weeks as a general office dogsbody. I hated the work. I hated the boring monotony of it. As the day drew to a close I decided I needed to end it with some excitement, with some happiness, before doing it all again the following day.

So after finishing work I walked the three miles to the nearest cinema where I chose to watch the film Fight Club. It felt strange watching such a film wearing a suit and tie, but as the movie progressed, I became spellbound. I didn’t care about what I was wearing or the banality of my pointless existence. I cared only about the story that was unfolding before me. When the movie finished I left the cinema dumbstruck. I walked back to the hostel that night in awe of what I had witnessed; the greatest piece of cinema that has ever been made.

3. Why does it always have to be snakes?

One of the happiest periods of my life were the three months I spent traveling the length and breadth of Canada. From May 2000 to August 2000, via VIA rail, I journeyed from Vancouver to Halifax to Vancouver to Montreal, having all manner of adventures and escapades along the way. Featuring heavily in these escapades was Annie, one of the brightest and most loveable human beings I’ve ever encountered. We met one balmy evening in the Rocky Mountain town of Jasper and became firm friends.

For a week we trekked, drove and swam our way around the various locations that made up this stunning part of the world. We boated on a crystalline lake, we bathed our troubles away in hot springs and, on one occasion, threw ourselves into a lake only to find some snakes enjoying their own dip in the water. They startled us, but fortunately, didn’t attack us. It was remarkable fun, hanging out with Annie, hours spent laughing, smiling and cajoling our way through waves of happiness. When the time came to part, it was painful, but inevitable, for nothing can last forever.

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Annie and I, moments before we discovered snakes in the water! :)

However, a month later, I decided to spend six days straight on a train in order to journey back to Vancouver to spend more time with her. It would be truthful to say that this was partly because I had fallen head over heals in love with her, but true to form, didn’t act on my desire because I found out she had a boyfriend. Such heartache, however, didn’t stop us from having fun. For seven days we tore up Vancouver. Relishing the Vancouver Folk Festival whilst sitting on a beach at sunset. Hurling seaweed at each other as we basked in the ocean. Hiking the stunning, breathtaking, Garibaldi Lake trail at Whistler and playfully threatening each other with spankings if our behaviour descended into mischievous territory.

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Annie and I; posing like the awesome pair we were at Garibaldi Lake! :)

I will never forget my time with Annie in Canada. She turned my vacation from spectacular to special and I will never forget the friendship we had.

4. Parental leave

I had been in Australia for two years. It was weird, being so far apart from my family, so when my mother and father decided to come for a visit, I was over the moon. I promptly organised for three weeks off work so I could spend as much time with them as possible.

We visited Melbourne Zoo, where my mum fell in love with the wombats and koalas. We visited the aquarium, where we all fell in love with the octopi and sea horses. With my girlfriend, Louise, behind the wheel of the car we traveled across Victoria; taking in the Great Ocean Road, Port Fairy, Halls Gap, the Grampians and Daylesford. We went for a two-day sojourn to the island of Port Fairy where we saw more koalas than you could shake a stick at and marveled at the gorgeous Fairy Penguins who come home to roost, night after night.

For three long weeks I relished the chance to be with my parents again and it showed. They informed me that they had never seen me so happy. And at that point they were right. Things were working in my life. My relationship was strong, my job enjoyable and I had been granted the opportunity to show my parents around my adoptive home. It was happiness personified, those three blissful weeks.

5. Babe, I’m on fire…

This list wouldn’t be complete without the delectable Samantha. She whom I spanked in Adelaide. She whom I spanked even harder in Glasgow. But don’t worry, she was a kinky wee thing and loved every second of her butt roasting sessions. However much I loved our time together in Adelaide, my mania riddled mind means I don’t remember it very clearly. But I remember every second of our time together in Glasgow. I remember the one liners and sarcasm that flowed freely from her mind. I remember the atrocious karaoke session to Common People. I remember her obscure way of eating Sausage and Egg McMuffins. I remember how utterly peaceful and serene it was curling up on a hotel bed to watch My Neighbor Totoro together. And I remember with crystal clarity, the fifteen minutes I spent fulfilling her lifelong fantasy to the score of Nick Cave’s seminal Babe, I’m on Fire. Which is, without question, one of the happiest fifteen minutes of my life! :D

6. The Stornoway Way

I had never been to the Western Isles before. During the months I had spent backpacking around the country this particular district of Scotland had evaded me. So when Deborah and Elle invited me to travel with them when we decided to leave the hostel that we’d been long-terming at, I jumped at the chance to visit this beautiful, rugged and inspirational part of Scotland.

We rose early one day to catch the bus from Inverness to Ullapool, where we hopped on a ferry that carried us across the Sound to the port of Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis. The hostel we checked ourselves into turned out to be a stinking dive, so a group decision resulted in us finding B&B accommodation for the second night of our stay.

We spent the second day of our adventure touring around the Isle of Lewis. Visiting the Butt of Lewis. Feeling awe-inspired by the Callanish Standing Stones and generally falling in love with this neck of the world. I loved Deborah and Elle. Not love as in sexual love. But love as in friendship love. They made me a better man. They made me like myself. And I don’t think they ever really knew of how deeply and firmly I cared for them. But they knew they made me happy. That was impossible to hide!

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Deborah, Elle and I; larking about in a Stornoway B&B! :)

7. A Link to the Past

I don’t have many happy memories of my teenage years. They were a particularly brutal, unforgiving and morose time. But I do remember with tremendous fondness the days I spent playing The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past with Meadhbh by my side. We both relished exploring the world of Hyrule, rescuing the princess and saving the land from the machinations of Ganondorf, so much so, that we replayed it almost instantly.

It was the first time I had played a Zelda game and it began a lifelong love and fascination with this stellar video game series. To this day, Meadhbh and I play at least one Zelda game a year. Reliving those heady days of old where we had nothing to worry about bar what minion was going to attack us next! :)

8. Elephant Love Medley…

People think I enjoyed managing the backpacker hostel I was once in charge of. To some degree, I did, but it was never what I wanted to spend my life doing, and as such, I spent a large portion of that period of my life seriously depressed and borderline suicidal. However, the leaving party that marked the end of my tenure in charge is one of the happier occasions that occurred during that period.

Myself, my trusty crew of employees and several special guests from head office, gathered in the hostel’s back gardens for an evening of sausage sizzles, music and merriment. I danced like a diva to Britney’s Oops, I Did It Again. I made a fool of myself during the (expected) leaving speech. I sung a killer duet of Elephant Love Medley with Grace. However much Kathy, and her subsequent abuse, has tainted my memories of that time, she will never take from me the awesomeness of that night. The smiles, for a change, were genuine.

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Grace, Kathy and I; impressionism style! :)

9. I am come home!

After six long years baking in the unforgiving Australian sun, I returned home to the UK in January 2008. It was a return borne out of necessity. My time in Australia had descended into a pit of mental illness, loneliness, poverty, homelessness and chaos. I needed the warmth of the UK winter to soothe my soul and renew my vitality to keep fighting this crazy little thing called life. After weeks of living in my parents house I decided the time had come to return to Scotland; the country where my heart lies. I sold my possessions like a crazy Ebay obsessed person in order to afford the two weeks I wanted and, on 14 February 2008, boarded a plane at Bristol airport to fly me to Glasgow, where I would catch a train to Fort William.

This is the second blog video I made during my trip to Scotland in 2008. The first can be viewed here.

The two weeks I spent travelling my old haunts (Fort William, Glen Nevis, the Small Isles, Loch Ness, Drumnadrochit, Inverness and Stirling) were manna from heaven. They were exactly what my ravaged, lonely soul needed. For fourteen days I walked the glens, explored the festivals and threw myself back into Scottish culture. I let the music of the nation soothe my soul and the literature of the country warm my heart. Being back in Scotland, after so many years apart, felt perfect. It has, and will always be, my home. And even though we’re apart once again, I know deep down I will return there one day. It is a source of tremendous happiness, serenity and inspiration; and it will live on in my heart forever.

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10. Mummy and baby…

There weren’t many happy times during my homelessness years. It was a constant battle to survive each day, so there really wasn’t much time or opportunity to crack a smile and enjoy life. But amidst the pain and torment, there were moments, moments that thrilled me, moments that made me giggle, moments that reminded me that we must always seek out the joy in life.

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Mummy and baby possum

One such moment occurred late one night as I was bedding down in my park. Out the corner of my eye I spied something moving, and sat back to watch a mother possum with her baby nonchalantly roaming through the undergrowth, seeking out tasty grass to nibble on. I watched that possum for nearly twenty minutes, merrily going about its business with scant regard for the smelly, bearded man sitting a few metres away.

~ All photographs in this post are © Addy Lake ~

~ You can read thirteen more of my happy memories here ~