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…


Melbourne 2015: Day 01. I am come home

Well, after seven blissful days in Melbourne I have returned home to find the inevitable depression gripping my soul. I’ve found over the years that I will often go through a period of depression following a holiday. I guess many people do. But however deep the depression gets it will not take away the awesomeness of the holiday.

Unlike my time in Melbourne in 2013, which I spent mostly encased in the motel watching Doctor Who and playing Zelda, this time I was a super-busy bee the entire time I was there. Out the motel before nine each morning and not returning until at least six in the evening. I visited galleries and museums, stalked the city and inner suburbs and relaxed in parks, gardens and on the beach. It was a most blissful time that saw me relaxed, calm and – surprisingly – mostly anxiety and PTSD free! 

Over the coming days I will be sharing my numerous adventures with you. The text of the posts will be taken from the journal entries I wrote whilst on holiday and the pictures will be carefully chosen from the 730 photos I took throughout the week. So settle back and enjoy Addy’s Adventures in Melbourne…fun for all the family! :)

19th August 2015, 7:03pm
Room 211, Flagstaff City Inn

I’ve stayed in this motel so many times that returning here feels like I’m returning home. I first stayed here in 2008, shortly before returning to the UK, after my parents booked me accommodation so I would have somewhere to rest and recuperate before the epic flight home. I stayed here again a few months later when I returned to Melbourne and again in 2009 shortly before I became homeless. Then, throughout my homelessness, courtesy of money raised through numerous activities too traumatizing and shaming to admit to, I stayed here several times. And each time I stayed, it soothed my troubled soul and offered all sorts of comfort and solace. It is, without question, my ‘home’ in Melbourne. It is quiet. It is comfortable. It is a blissful, wondrous place that will forever live in my soul as one of my happy places. Without the Flagstaff City Inn, I don’t know where I would be in this city. It is the only place I want to stay when I come to this multicultural wonderland.

Room 211, Flagstaff City Inn

Room 211, Flagstaff City Inn

So far the day has been pretty good. My train trip was free from the IBS dramas that plagued my last trip and, courtesy of an el cheapo MP3 player, full of laughter and merriment as I listened to classic Fawlty Towers episodes. It should be noted that the train system in this part of the world is third-world in nature and has some of the shoddiest service I’ve ever witnessed in the locomotive industry! The seats are uncomfortable. The carriages dirty and dilapidated. And the toilets…the less said about them the better! But I made the most of the situation and tried to enjoy the tedious, uncomfortable start to my holiday. It was a four hour trip, but a four hour trip that – due to my perkiness and determination to have a good time – harked back to my train journeys of old.

Once I arrived into Melbourne I meandered the fifteen minutes from the train station to my motel and checked into my home-from-home. I had a refreshing glass of water before deciding to brave the chaos of the city to re-acclimatise myself with the people heavy insanity that this city offers. I didn’t spend long in the city, just enough to be happy, just enough to enjoy a plate of Lord of the Fries (an eatery that offers home cooked chips with a variety of sauces; I opted for French Canadian, which consisted of drowning the chips with shredded cheese and gravy! Delicious!) before exploring Bourke Street and Melbourne Central (a shopping centre).

Bourke Street, Melbourne

Bourke Street, Melbourne

It was in Melbourne Central that I made my first discovery; a gorgeous little book shop that is both unique and delightful. Rather than selling books, they offer them on an honor system. If you want to read a book you can take it and then return it once you’ve finished. Alternatively, you can take the book to keep, but have to leave another book in exchange. They didn’t have many books, only a few dozen, but I love the idea behind the shop and can imagine me returning here regularly over the coming days to see what books are on offer.

The Little Library, Melbourne Central

The Little Library, Melbourne Central

After an hour or so in the city I decided to return to the motel and leave the rest of the exploration until tomorrow. Truth be told I’m really looking forward to this trip. I need a break from my routine. I need a break from my mental health. I need to spend some time chilling out, having adventures and loving both life and me again. I need to be happy. And I’m hoping Melbourne still has the power to make that happen!

Street Angel, Melbourne

Street Angel, Melbourne

On the agenda tonight is The Day of the Doctor. Last time I was in Melbourne was the weekend of the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who. I stayed specifically to watch the Matt Smith/David Tennant starring special. So it’s destiny or fate or happenstance that my first night back in Melbourne, they are playing the exact same special on television. After that I’ll just chill in the motel; watch TV, read, write in my journal, merrily anticipate the numerous adventures I will be having over the coming days.

On the agenda tomorrow: NGV Australia, NGV International, exploring the city and a return to my ‘home’ in the Kings Domain.

Much to look forward to. Should be a cracking time! :)

~ All photographs are © Addy Lake ~


The day has finally arrived!


Well, the day has finally arrived. In just a short few hours my support worker will be picking me up to drive me to the train station, where I will board a train that departs for Melbourne, and then…I will be on holiday! For one whole week I will be able to gallivant around Melbourne doing all sorts of exciting, bizarre and wacky things. Art galleries, museums, aquariums…they will all be my oyster! I will get to take random photographs of street art, architecture, the hustle bustle of city life and (of course) the occasional selfie! For seven days I can do whatever I like – or rather, I can do whatever my anxiety and extremely strict budget ($15 a day) allows!

Meadhbh is super excited about the trip. She’s been squealing and babbling for days about all the things we can do in Melbourne. She doesn’t understand the budget may interfere with some of our plans, so there may be a chance she’ll be let down throughout the trip, but it’s nice to have her happy and excited. Audrey, too, is longing to walk the galleries of the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria) and check out the numerous laneways that mark Melbourne as the place to be. It’s rare for Audrey to be so excited about something, so it’s nice to know she can get giddy and overwhelmed, instead of being the staunchly stoic person she usually is. Shay, meanwhile, is gagging at the mouth over the sheer number of “quality totty” (his words) that he’ll get to check out (read: perve on) throughout our adventure. Despite his misogyny, it’s wonderful to have him focused on something positive, rather than endlessly pointing out the negatives which is his standard.

Vanessa, however, has been in overdrive. Over the last few days, in the lead up to our holiday, her abuse has been escalating. She’s been quick to point out all the bad things that happened to me in Melbourne, bad things that I will be reminded of as I roam the city and revisit locations from my past. These triggers are things I know she will seize upon; they will cause her to abuse me, to bombard me with critical comments and hurtful words, but I’m hoping my anticipation of her abuse will allow me the strength to ignore it. After all, I’m determined not to have anything (especially Vanessa) ruin my holiday.

Because I don’t have a laptop or smartphone capable of accessing the internet (abject poverty, remember!) it’s doubtful I will be online much over the next several days. I may visit an internet cafe if time (and money) allow, but don’t go expecting many updates or photographs over the next seven days. Know that I will be okay. Know that I will be having a good time. And I promise I’ll update you all on my adventures upon my return. And yes, you can expect a plethora of photographs to decorate your screens when I do have internet access again!

I have a few finishing touches to add to my packing, so will sign off now. Suffice to say, I am exceedingly excited, and can’t wait to board the train!

Wishing you all a happy, safe and healthy week. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do! ;)


Finally, something to look forward to!

The last time I left Wodonga – the town I reluctantly call home – was in November 2013. I have wanted to leave it again ever since.

You see, I’m not the biggest fan of this rather desolate, uninspiring town. There is nothing to do. Nothing to see. Nothing to become passionate about. There are only a scattering of shops selling the same mundane, unessential items and an arts scene so miniature it barely registers. For a place to mean something to me, it needs to challenge me, it needs to inspire me, it needs to take my passion and multiply it ten fold. London does this. Inverness does this. Vancouver does this. Wodonga does not. All Wodonga does is suffocate me. All this insipid, uneventful town does is squeeze the passion from my soul leaving nothing but a hollowed out husk of nothingness.

So, it is with great relief that I can announce I will be leaving Wodonga.

Alas, not forever.

Just for a holiday.

But it is a holiday I’ve been waiting over eighteen months for, and a holiday that I cannot wait to begin. Last week, after months of trying to make it work, I finally got my finances in order (with a lot of help from my parents) to afford a seven-day break to Melbourne. I leave on the 19th August for seven days of fun and frivolity in the capital of Victoria. For seven whole days I get to explore the city, bathe in its culture, soak up its arts and feed the passion that has gone hungry for far too long.

I will be going to the art galleries. I will be going to the museum. I will be going to the ocean. I will be going to Lord of the Fries! I will be going to a gathering on the 21st that will challenge my social anxiety to its core. I will be doing anything and everything my heart desires; everything that it has wanted to do, but Wodonga has prevented, for the last eighteen months.

I cannot wait!

And I’m not the only one.

Meadhbh has been exceedingly excited ever since I booked the accommodation. She’s been throwing in her two cents worth about what we should be getting up to. She’s eager to spend time looking at the awesome street art that decorates many of Melbourne’s alleys and laneways. She’s keen to window shop all the elegant clothing stores that she knows we can’t afford to buy anything from. And she’s made me promise we’ll go to the aquarium to wave at all the fishes, penguins and turtles.

Audrey too is excited about the impending excursion. She, more than me, feels culturally hungry due to the dearth of options available in Wodonga. She loves art and everything to do with this avenue of life, so she cannot wait to roam the corridors of the NGV again, soaking in all the fantabulous art that is on offer. Shay, is keen to check out all the hipster chicks and professional totty (his words) that populate this international destination. He believes there is far more feminine talent on offer in Melbourne than Wodonga and is eager to perve on as many people as he possibly can. Whilst Vanessa, ever the abusive sociopath, is looking forward to reminding me of all the pain and torment that I’ve experienced in Melbourne throughout my years there.

And she’s right. However excited I am about visiting Melbourne, however overjoyed I am at being able to spend some time away from Wodonga, it is not going to be easy. I will be bombarded with memories of not only my abusive relationship but also the years I spent homeless, destitute and forgotten on Melbourne’s fair streets. Those memories may overwhelm me at times, so I’m going to have to be careful, to be alert to triggers and potential minefields, but I refuse – stubbornly so – to let this impact on my first holiday in over a year and a half. Melbourne has been bad to me – but for many years, it was good to me. And it is these memories I hope will float to the surface. After all, I need – nay, deserve – to have a good time.

For it’s been far too long since happiness visited me.

Nine sleeps to go…



Nine places I’d like to go in 2014

One of the hardest things about living in poverty is how hard it is to actually go anywhere. Most of the time I’m thinking exclusively about food and survival, not where my annual vacation is going to be. But after last year’s Melbourne trip, I realise the power that having something to look forward to can provide. As such, I haven’t simply chosen destinations that I know I’ll never get to, but rather a mix of the highly unlikely and absolutely doable.

I may as well kick off this list with the places that, if money were no obstacle, I wouldn’t hesitate to visit over the next twelve months, beginning with Canada. Ever since visiting this wide, luscious land in 2000 I’ve wanted to return. I’ve wanted to hike the great lakes and forests of Jasper, meander the endless streets of Toronto and visit, for the first time, the provinces of the Northwest Territories and Newfoundland. But as such a trip would be a mammoth (and expensive) undertaking, I can’t see it happening unless I happen to win the lottery. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop dreaming! :)

Up there with Canada as dream destinations would be a return to my home away from home, Inverness, and a couple of weeks in the European city of Greece, not because I want to help them fiscally but because in October they are hosting the World Hearing Voices Congress, which I would rather like to attend.

But like I said, in order to succeed in some of these destinations, I’ve had to think a little closer to home, with the obvious starting points being Woolshed Falls and Tasmania, the latter of which I’ve wanted to visit since before I arrived in this sunburnt land.

Two more places I’d like to visit over the next twelve months are rather non-specific, as many destinations all over the world would suit my purposes. Following last year’s regret of not visiting the ocean when I was in Melbourne, I am more resolved than ever to paddle in the cool sea this year. I’d also very much like to attend a pub trivia night so will need to manufacture a trivia team to compete at any of the plentiful local venues who offer such entertaining evenings! :)

And lastly, I have chosen a place that is far more spiritual than geographical, for I would very much like to pay a visit to the state of complete relaxation; where none of life’s stressors, worries and frustrations are invited.

Complete Relaxation


Previous installments of the Twelve Days of Christmas Blog Challenge:

| Day One | Day Two | Day Three |
| Day Four | Day Five | Day Six |
| Day Seven | Day Eight |


Other wonderful bloggers participating in the Twelve Days of Christmas Blog Challenge:

| Marci, Mental Health and More | Many of Us |
| Looking for Lucy |

If I’ve missed you from the above list, please let me know in the comments field below and I’ll add you as soon as humanly possibly so everyone can read your magnificent responses! :)


And so it begins…

*Trigger Warning*
~ Please note that this post may be triggering to some ~


Every year it’s the same. The shops will begin filling with sparkly tinsel, oversized boxes of chocolate and all manner of snowmen, Santa Claus and reindeer covered merchandise. Turkeys will take over the frozen food department and ridiculously large legs of ham will fill the deli. The in-store music will begin playing carols, Slade and Cliff Richard, whilst everyone in them will run around like headless chickens preparing for a season of festivities with their friends, family and loved ones.

Every year it’s the same. A few weeks before Christmas I will begin isolating myself; I will begin contemplating self-harm; and I will begin questioning whether this holiday season will be my last. For whilst everyone else is relishing the opportunity of celebrating another year gone with those they hold most dear, I am dreading another holiday season with no-one to care for but myself.

This weekend marked the beginning of this year’s pain.

On Saturday I rose from a fitful slumber at 4pm, staggering to my couch for a good cry before self-harming with a kitchen knife to help me through the evening. My mind was swamped with daymares of snow covered scenes, scary Santas and another holiday season with no-one to hold. I remained on the couch until 10pm before retreating to the safety of my bedroom for another crying session and another night’s fitful sleep.

Sunday was much the same. Even though I rose earlier, at 12pm, the invasive thoughts of self-harm and suicide were with me from the moment I woke. I cleaned the apartment, sat in sadness on the couch and convinced myself that I needed to venture into the outside world. A trip that filled me with sorrow as people maniacally rushed around the shopping center stocking up for C-Day, a mere three weeks away. By the time I returned home I was back in full-on isolation mode. I couldn’t have the radio on because of the wall-to-wall Christmas music. I couldn’t surf the net without being inundated with pop-up Christmas ads and festive season themed news reports. All I could do was spend another evening staring at the television whilst self-harming with creams and the occasional blissful knife.

All I could do was dread another season of pain, another season of isolation and another season wishing that people would understand that, for some, the holiday season is not about love, happiness and togetherness. It is about pain, despair and loneliness.

With three weeks to go I realise I need to concoct a safety plan, I realise I need ways to counteract the oncoming storm and I realise that no matter how hard I’ve worked this year, the triggering effect of Christmas is still as strong, overwhelming and powerful as ever.

Note: this post was freewritten between 11:10am and 11:30am on Monday, 8th December 2013. Please excuse any spelling and/or grammatical errors that may appear within as they are all part and parcel of this style of writing.

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Addy’s Adventures in Melbourne, Part 02

The Yarra River, Melbourne

The Yarra River, Melbourne | © Addy

Yesterday’s jaunt through my recent trip to Melbourne ended with a day of stress, triggers, anxiety and bottoms so spectacular they make you glad to be alive. Today, we pick up on Wednesday 20th November, the first day of the World Hearing Voices Congress.

This was the first time the congress had been held in Australia and, with over 700 people in attendance, was the largest World Hearing Voices Congress so far. It has to be said that, for someone who doesn’t like being around lots of people, the congress was a very stressful, overwhelming and exhausting experience for me. But regardless of these negative issues, I am immensely glad that I attended as being around hundreds of people who accept hearing voices as simply another characteristic of being human, rather than a symptom of illness, was a truly liberating experience.

However, as we pick up my journal entries, one of my people was somewhat miffed by my actions of that day:

20th November 2013, 10:46pm
Room 806, Darling Towers

For the last forty-six minutes Meadhbh has been feral. I mean chomping at the bit, hurling abuse, potty-mouthed feral! The cause? Well, it’s four fold:

1) We didn’t say goodbye to Emilia after the Mad Hatters Party this evening
2) We didn’t really talk to anyone at the Mad Hatters Party this evening
3) We didn’t really talk to anyone at the Congress today
4) She’s decided that I should hook up with a woman who was presenting at the Congress. A woman who Meadhbh believed was wearing a “splendiferously awesome green dress” and was the most beautiful creature she’d ever seen.

So her incessant abuse, coupled with another all out stressful day, means I am ending the fifth day on the trot in a stressed out and anxious way. I’m sick of not feeling relaxed. I’m sick of hating myself. I’m sick of not being able to show my awesome self to the world. And it seems Meadhbh is – once again – sick of it too. Right now, I just want to curl up and hide from the universe.

Before I go any further with the journal entries, I feel I should explain what I mean by the Mad Hatters Party. On the evening of the first day of the Congress, a party had been organised at a pub in the city, a pub that (just by chance) held triggering memories for me. To make the party more “fun”, it had been decided that the theme for the evening was Mad Hats (as in Mad Hatter, as in Alice in Wonderland) so everyone who attended had to be wearing a hat of some description. Not being one who can pull of hats, I opted for a fluffy wombat hat that we found in a tourist shop a few minutes before the party, a hat that was dubbed the Warmbat Hat given it was bloody hot to wear!

Thus, it should be fairly obvious which one I am in this image below!

At the Mad Hatters Party

Addy (with some of the Gateway entourage) at the Mad Hatters Party. Alas, we’re all suffering from a severe case of Pixelitus! | © Addy

A photo that further increased my stress and anxiety!

To top off the day, I saw a full body photograph of myself for the first time in years tonight…fuck me am I an ugly, grotesque, lump of an overweight fugly person! (Note: I suffer from body image issues, remember!) So year, feeling really really crap tonight. And I mean really crap. Really, really really crap!

But, like yesterday, I’m going to try to focus on some bright spot(s): Emilia was, as always, super awesome in helping me deal with my stress and anxiety, the congress is really interesting (even though I can’t focus because of the stress) and Shay saw a woman this evening with the bounciest breasts he’s ever seen and wishes this incident to be recorded for posterity.

Methinks it’s gonna be a bad night! :( Grrr!

It was a bad night. Because of the stress I forgot to take my medication, which led to a sleepless, flashback laden night.

21st November 2013, 10:23pm
Room 806, Darling Towers

Because of the continuing stress, I haven’t felt all that good today. I couldn’t focus at the congress, so panels, featured speakers and life stories when in one ear and out the other. Fortunately, to offer an olive branch for last nights feral-ness, Meadhbh kept detailed notes – especially during the talk from the woman she has a crush on, so I’ll use these to catch up with all the learnings when I’m more ‘with it’.

As for bright spot(s)…I did purchase a book at the congress, Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation, that I’m looking forward to reading and…ummm…I’m in my own room again tomorrow night! :D

By the third day of the congress rolled around I was full-on, out-of-my-mind exhausted. Every muscle in my body was aching after days of little sleep and mustering as much concentration as I could. Unfortunately I couldn’t go straight to the hotel to relax as I first had to cycle backwards and forwards around the city to collect my backpacks, a five kilometre round trip that well and truly knackered me out.

22nd November 2013, 6:57pm
Room 217, Flagstaff City Inn

It (literally) feels like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. However much I like the people I was sharing the accommodation with, being in my own room – with my own bathroom – for the first time in days feels as close to bliss as I fear is possible this week. Well, Doctor Who and Zelda aside!

At this point in time I’m lying in my undies watching ABC2 whilst I try to decide whether to go to the midnight opening of EB Games tonight. My copy is all paid for (yay!) but I’m fearing the event may kill me, given my total lack of energy.

I may just chill for a bit and see how I feel after The Name of the Doctor has been watcher! :)

23rd November 2013, 1:51am
Room 217, Flagstaff City Inn

Well, you can probably guess from the time that I did indeed go to the midnight Zelda launch. Although I didn’t really participate, I did get a free Windwaker poster (which just makes me want to play the game even more), a copy of the game (yay!) and the opportunity to perve on several cosplay goddesses and gods. My personal fave was a delightfully cute woman dressed as Marin and a woman who – rather disturbingly – thought dressing as Tingle was a good idea!

From the 45mins I’ve played of the game thus far:

It is beautiful to look at. Seriously good frame-rate, gorgeous design and wonderful resolution.
It plays like a dream.

It’s sooooo nice to drop back into the world that made me a Zelda fan in the first place!

Anyway, bright spot(s) for today included: my own space again, Zelda and meeting Marius Romme (grandfather of the Hearing Voices Movement)


Only ten hours until The Day of the Doctor! :D As part of the fiftieth anniversary the ABC is screening a (pretty dodgy) documentary about the show. It’s all ham-fisted humor, fast edited montages and inappropriate dance music. But, it’s Doctor Who, so I love it! :p

The rest of the day has been rather bland and unexciting. I had a rush of energy this morning that saw me spin around the NGV’s new Melbourne Now exhibition (moments of sublime inspiration but I’m not a fan of contemporary art) before picking up some new undies at Big W before returning to the motel to enjoy the land of Lorule a little more.

After the hectic nature of the last five days it’s been rather wonderful to just kick back and enjoy some quiet ‘me’ time today. So, bright spot(s) for today? I guess the solitude (not the loneliness), exploring old/new Hyrule and anticipating tomorrow’s festivities. :)

Now, in August of last year I shared my things to do before I die list on this blog,and I’m ecstatic that – for the first time in years – I’m able to cross an item from this list, for the sixty-ninth item on this exhaustive list was: live to see the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who!

At 6:50am on Sunday 24th November 2013, I tuned in to the worldwide simulcast of the 50th anniversary special: The Day of the Doctor! And it was magnificent! So magnificent in fact that I tuned in to watch it during an encore screening that night. So magnificent that, for the only day I was in Melbourne, I was too psyched to actually write in my journal.

Aside from Doctor Who, the penultimate day in Melbourne saw me visit the NGV International (where I was reminded how obnoxious and self-centered some Melbournians are) before taking a trip to Sexpo with Shay and Meadhbh.

Although I have no problem with sex, people expressing their sexuality or celebrating all things sexual, attending Sexpo on my own – with my somewhat acute anxiety – was a confronting experience that tainted an otherwise enjoyable venture. However, as I wrote last week, my two companions did work together to purchase me a birthday present that I hope one day to get some use out of.

Now, initially I was due to return home on Monday 25th November. However, a vicious panic attack about the train ride home caused me to miss the train and, as a result, forced me to stay an extra night in Melbourne. Something Meadhbh had no issues with considering we had yet – due to my lack of energy – to go to the zoo.

25th November 2013, 8:12pm
Room 217, Flagstaff City Inn

Currently the Zygons are implementing their plan for Earth-domination and the Doctor’s are bickering their hearts out in the Tower of London. Yes, due to my extra night in Melbourne I am able to watch The Day of the Doctor for a third time courtesy of a repeat screening on ABC2! :)

Anyway, for my (hopefully) final day in Melbourne I kept my promise to Meadhbh and went for a mosey around Melbourne Zoo. She was sooooooo excited about the whole thing! Every time we passed an exhibit she would squeal loudly and want to know what was inside. Her favourite animals were: wombats, koalas, platypus, giraffes and turtles. She also loved the pelicans, meerkats and giant tortoises. However, she didn’t like the emus one bit because they scare her something awful!

After this wholly enjoyable excursion I ummed and ahhed about visiting the aquarium (I didn’t) before perusing Fed Square, ACMI and various city landmarks for the final time.

What with the massive panic attack this morning and all this activity I’m now exceedingly exhausted and completely unsure what to do for the rest of the evening. I think I’ll try to get an early night and do lots of grounding in the hope I won’t freak out too much about tomorrow’s train ride. I don’t really want a repeat of today’s attacks! :/

Fortunately, despite a heightened state of anxiety, I was able to board the train and complete the four hour journey back to Wodonga incident free. Since then I have been somewhat out-of-sorts, mostly as a result of exhaustion, but also as a result of ‘what next?’

I’ve spent the better part of twelve months looking forward to both the Melbourne trip and Doctor Who’s anniversary. Now that both are over I’ve been left wondering what I have to look forward to now? Christmas? Yuck! Another year of nothing much happening? More stress and anxiety? Yet more loneliness?

At some point in the near-future I will need to work out something to plan for next year otherwise who knows what chaos will befall me. After all, we all need something to look forward to, don’t we?

Regardless, the time I had in Melbourne, however stressful, was a wonderful holiday and one I’m glad I found the courage to undertake.

Watching 'The Day of the Doctor'

Watching ‘The Day of the Doctor’ (sorry about the unappealing hairy legs! :p) | © Addy