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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Melbourne 2015: Day 02. A good day in the Victorian capital

So after yesterday’s arrival in Melbourne, it was on Thursday 20th August that the real fun began. My first full day in Melbourne since November 2013 was jam-packed with beautiful art, nostalgic reminiscence and photography sessions by the Yarra river. So why not join me as my adventures in Melbourne continue…

20th August 2015, 6:19pm
Room 211, Flagstaff City Inn

BIG day! I was über-keen to leave this morning. Up and out by 8:45am – in the city by nine! Seriously, I couldn’t believe how early I got going this morning. It was nice. I had an early (unhealthy) bite to eat at Hungry Jacks (which reminded me of my homelessness as, when I could afford it, I would treat myself to a sausage and egg muffin to kick-start my day) before chilling in Federation Square whilst waiting for the The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia to open. Once it did I was in the door and rampantly seeking out The Pioneer. It wasn’t on display last time I was in Melbourne but today it was – and it was magnificent! Easily one of the greatest paintings of all time. After snapping off several photos (including some hideous Pioneer selfies!) I embarked on a tour of the rest of the building. Some of the galleries were closed but there was still a plethora of beautiful art on display including several Fred Williams and Sidney Nolan’s.

Pioneer Selfie!

Pioneer Selfie!

Various (Sidney Nolan)

Various (Sidney Nolan)

Fred Williams Selfie!

Fred Williams Selfie!

After having my fill of the gallery I set off on a walk around the city and – shock! – discovered a second-hand bookstore hidden away down a rickety flight of stairs on Flinders Street. I didn’t buy anything – there will be time for that later – but I did savor being around so many lovely, beautiful books again. It made me realise how much I miss bookshops. Wodonga, alas, has none – which is yet another reason I hate my adopted ‘home’.

City Basement Books; the only second hand bookstore in Melbourne CBD!

City Basement Books; the only second-hand bookstore in Melbourne CBD!

With literature on my mind I strolled across Princes Bridge and began my tour of the NGV International. I’ve noticed over the years that the collection doesn’t change as much as the Ian Potter Centre, but what a collection! I couldn’t see The Banquet of Cleopatra all that clearly as a school group was camped out in front of the painting, but I fell in love with a painting depicting the aftermath of the Glencoe Massacre and then fell in lust with a ravishing patron who was studying a painting in the 20th Century section. Shay took great pains to inform me of her spectacular arse, which I had already noticed as, last time I checked, I had eyes!

After the Massacre of Glencoe (Peter Graham)

After the Massacre of Glencoe (Peter Graham)

After I’d suffered art overload it was time for a comedown, so I meandered over to my old home at the Kings Domain and spent half an hour wallowing in memory and nostalgia. The bridge under which I slept is now awash with water but all my other sleeping spots were relatively unchanged. Various fences, however, have sprung up and the only reason for them seems to be as a homeless deterrent, which is a shame, but it was exceedingly strange being back in my old stomping ground. It’s been five years since I was living in the Kings Domain. Another life. Another Addy. Sometimes I can’t believe I actually survived that brutal, unforgiving time. Perhaps I’m stronger than I think I am.

To ease my mind after the onslaught of memories I took some time strolling around the city: Swanston Street, Collins Street, Bourke Street. Amazed at how much it’s changed. Stunned by how similar it is. I did break my budget by buying two DVDs from one of my old haunts (Jericho and The Guild) but they were super cheap ($12 for the two) and I’m not able to get them in Albury/Wodonga so I don’t feel too bad. After a miniature coke break it was time to wander Birrarung Marr, take photos along the Yarra and then a mini jaunt through ACMI and its two free displays. By this point I was pretty tired so window shopped down Elizabeth Street on my way back to the motel.

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It was bittersweet being in Melbourne today. I’ve always loved this city but is has has changed. It’s more posh, more hipster. It’s lost some of the cheap and cheerful vibe it used to have. Presumably so Melbournians can continue their pointless quest to prove themselves better than Sydneysiders. The sad fact is they don’t need to try so hard. Melbourne is better than Sydney. Always has been. Always will be. But if it keeps changing to placate the will of the hipster brigade it’ll screw with what makes it so beautiful, so unique, so charming. Anyway, what I did notice today was that the only happy people I encountered were tourists. Locals – Melbournians – were a right miserable, grumpy lot. All frowns and despondent faces. They’re supposed to live in the most livable city in the world. Surely they should be happy about that. But no. Grumpy, grumpy, grumble bums – the lot of them!

Looking down the Yarra River toward Melbourne CBD...

Looking down the Yarra River toward Melbourne CBD.

As for the rest of my evening, it’s just gonna be a quiet one in front of the TV I’m afraid. Which is a luxury in itself, given I don’t get reception at home! Doctor Who is on, followed by The Weekly, The IT Crowd and Good Game. All in all though today’s been a good day – one of the best for quite some time, in fact!


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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 ~


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It is never too late to be what you might have been…

The final prompt in the 30 Day Self Harm Awareness Challenge asks
Post your favorite picture of yourself and write a positive message to look back on.

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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 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!

1981 licking the bowl

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.

leavingparty

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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and

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 ~


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Ten places that make me feel positive, inspired and happy…

In today’s installment of the Ten Times to Be Happy challenge I take you on a whistle stop tour of some of the places that make me feel positive, inspired and happy. And surprisingly, most of them are in Scotland! :p

~1~
Glenfinnan, on the shores of Loch Shiel

Glenfinnan-GeneralViews-2008-0023

~ Glenfinnan, on the shores of Loch Shiel ~

I have Highlander to thank for this. My obsession with the TV Series during my teenage years was instrumental in my decision to run away from home in 1997. For some reason I needed to visit the location of my fictional hero’s birth. I needed to walk the glen that had featured so prominently in the episode Homeland. When I arrived in Scotland I walked twenty-six miles to Drumnadrochit, on the shores of Loch Ness, before catching a bus to the quaint town of Fort William (see 4). Once in Fort William I hopped on a train for the twenty-minute journey to Glenfinnan. And as the train weaved across the viaduct (made famous in the Harry Potter films) my heart skipped a beat at the most beautiful view I’d ever seen; the glen opened up, all eyes leading toward the loch, and the Highlander statue that stands at its tip. I was instantaneously smitten.

I have returned to Glenfinnan many times in my life. After that first visit it quickly became my favourite place on earth. I loved the serenity of the glen. I loved the beauty of the loch. I loved that it always provided me with such peace and solace. Although it is tinged with sadness (it being the site of a suicide attempt in 2000) it has never failed to bring me positivity, inspiration and happy fuzzy bunny feelings. I cannot speak highly enough of this magical place. It is a location that everyone needs to visit at least once. It is a site of such majesty, such ravishing beauty, it cannot fail to move you.

The following video was made in 2008, during my return to Scotland (and Glenfinnan) after six years in Australia:

~2~
Berneray

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~ The Sound of Harris, Berneray ~

When I first visited Berneray in February 2000, I fell instantly in love with this far-flung island of the Western Isles chain. A tiny island off the coast of North Uist, Berneray is blessed with a rugged beauty that few places on earth can match. Home to otters, a flower covered machair, and miles of unspoilt white beaches, you could lose days of your life exploring this magical, inspiring locale. As I have done over the years. But Berneray means more to me than just another ravishing Scottish Island. It was the place my life changed when I met Louise at New Year 2000, and it was the place where I lost my virginity, one wind-swept New Years day. And ever since that magical moment occurred, I have loved Berneray with an intense passion.

~3~
Inverness

Inverness-2008-0021

~ Inverness, Scotland ~

My home in Scotland. My love affair with Inverness began in 1997, when I stopped off there during my ‘runaway’ period. I fell in love with the river Ness, that winds effortlessly through the heart of the city. I fell in love with the islands, a chain of small islets in the middle of the river. I fell in love with the cobbled streets and myriad of independent shops that populated them. I fell in love with Leakeys, the finest bookshop I’ve ever visited. I fell in love with the music that played in pubs and clubs on a nightly basis. I fell in love with Craig Phadrig, a forested hill that dominates the skyline. I fell in love so quickly, so hard, that I began dreaming of this fair city. In 1999, during my backpacking odyssey, it was always my final destination; the city that I had chosen to make my home, and for many years, it was. I attended college in Inverness. I fell in love in Inverness. I lost my soul to Inverness. Even now, tens of thousands of miles on the other side of the world, my heart yearns for that majestic city in the Highlands. One day, I will return. That much I know to be true.

~4~
Fort William

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~ Morning mist over Loch Linnhe, Fort William ~

If Inverness is my wife, Fort William is my mistress. Many times whilst I was living in Inverness I would travel the 66 miles to this quaint little town to spend night after night in its warm, loving embrace. I fell head over heels for its location on the shores of Loch Linnhe, for its arts scene, for its mountain festival, for its proximity to the mighty Ben Nevis and beautiful Glen Nevis. Fort William burns in my heart. It always will.

~5~
Orkney Mainland

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~ Me, at the Ring of Brodgar, Orkney Mainland (1999) ~

I’ve only been to Orkney twice. Once in 1999 during my backpacking odyssey around Scotland and once in 2001, when I visited it with Louise and her parents. On both occasions I was overwhelmed with the beauty of this fair isle. I fell head over heels for its history, for the neolithic sites, for the serenity of Scapa Flow and its turbulent, tragic history. I fell head over heels for its fishing villages, Viking lineage and treeless landscape. This love was cemented when Louise and I appeared in the Orkney tourist brochure; gleefully smiling away in the shadow of Kirkwall Cathedral. Of all the Scottish islands, this is my favourite. It has always been inspiring. It has always filled me with joy and happiness. I love it. Truthfully and totally.

~6~
The Western Isles

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~ Callanish Standing Stones, Isle of Lewis ~

Berneray (see 2) is the jewel in the crown of this archipelago. But it has stiff competition. My first visit to this island chain was in February 2000, when I traveled the length and breadth of it with Deborah and Elle, two friends I met in Inverness. I was overwhelmed by the Callanish Standing Stones. In awe of the mountainous Isle of Harris. And moved by the majesty of North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist. To this day I regret visiting Barra, the southern most island of the archipelago, but deep down I know that one day I will walk upon its unspoilt beaches. Like the Orkney Mainland, I carry the Western Isles in my heart, and regret living so far away from this magnificent collection of islands.

~7~
London

And so we leave Scotland and travel several hundred miles south, to the greatest city in the world. I have loved London for as long as I can remember. When I was in my late teens I would house-sit for my Aunt and Uncle, traveling the thirty minutes into the heart of the city each day to explore the history, architecture and art it had to offer. I would spend days of my life walking the stone streets of England’s capital, my heart singing with every mile walked. I would visit its plethora of theaters. I would wile away the hours in its shops, stores and shopping arcades. There is nothing you can’t do in London. There is nothing you can’t help but fall in love with. From the mighty river Thames, to the back streets of Soho to the expanse of parkland in the heart of the city. It is a wonderful, inspiring and altogether glorious city that burns in your soul whenever you are apart from it.

~8~
Melbourne

Melbourne

~ Melbourne ~

My home in Australia. For the first ten years that I was in Australia I lived in Melbourne. It’s laneways, coffee shops, wide streets and intricate inner suburbs were my home. And later, it’s parkland, alleys and litter strewn streets, my bed. My homeless period in Melbourne has stained my love of the city to some degree. The memories of this traumatic, brutal life tingeing my memories with sadness and rendering me unable to love the city as much as I once did. I used to be able to spend days exploring the laneways and streets of the city, engaging in the vibrant arts scene and wiling the hours away in its beautiful art galleries and museums. But now when I think of Melbourne I think of curling up on stone concrete for a restless nights sleep. I think of the abuse I received from its residents; words and actions that made me think I was less than human. I think of the pain and trauma that my mind and body went through during those dark, joyless years. But I still love Melbourne. I still miss is. It is, after all, my home in Australia. It always will be.

~9~
Port Fairy

Port Fairy East Beach

~ East Beach, Port Fairy ~

This quaint little fishing village on the southern coast of Victoria, Australia, has always shone in my soul. From my first visit there with my parents in 2004, through to the traumatic breakdown I experienced on my last visit there in 2007, it has always been held with high regard in my mind. I love the wide streets. The expansive beaches. The plethora of outdoor activity. And the annual folk festival that fills the town to bursting. I love how the quiet allowed my soul to sing as I explored the township and fell in love with the inspirational arts scene that runs through the village. I miss Port Fairy. I used to go there often. Two, three times a year I would leave Melbourne to refind myself in this delightful town. But since the breakdown. Since the darkness that clouded my last visit. I don’t think I would ever return. Too much pain. Too many bad memories. But not even to dampen my love for Port Fairy. It will always be one of my favourite places in Australia.

and

~10~
The Wodonga Public Library

This is the only place in Wodonga, the town I currently call home, that I like. I visit it several times a week, losing myself amidst the stacks of books and piles of DVDs, allowing the knowledge and intellect contained within them to wash over me. I cherish how it soothes my troubled soul. I love how it calms my anxiety. I love how it provides me a moment of solace from the usual chaotic nature of my life and illness. I have always loved libraries, ever since I was a child, and Wodonga library will always be one of my favourites. And not just because I have a crush on one of the hot librarians who works there! :p

~ All photos in this post are © Addy Lake ~