‘Out of unconditioned emptiness
comes this planet with all its qualities.’  ~ Rumi (Soul Houses)

01/04/18 – 31/05/18, Marrakech to Porto

(Morocco) Marrakech – Marigha/Atlas Mountains – Essaouira – Fes – Chefchaouen – “Rueda” (village with no official name) and Talassemtane National Park – Tangier – (Spain) Tarifa – Cadiz – Seville – Trevelez/Sierra Nevada National Park – Granada – Cordoba – Valencia – (Portugal) Lisbon – Ericeira – Lisbon and Sintra – Porto.

2016, Picos de Europa

‘Mastering others is strength.  Mastering yourself is true power.’  ~ Lao Tzu

Years of struggling with severe depression saw a return of a debilitating anxiety disorder that plagued much of my teens.  It got so bad that I could not even ride a bus out of town and I found myself confined within the walls of Exeter for over a year – soul destroying to say the least.  Fortunately, at the time, there remained a stubborn desire to find a way through it and, after years of trying various therapies and medication (while continuing to hold down jobs and maintain a studio), I took what was my first trip abroad for over five years!  I had long wanted to visit the Picos de Europa, which turned out to be significant as it was here that I finally put pen to paper for my novel (an idea that had been in my head for at least two years during which I could barely think straight enough to write a sentence let alone a book!).  I camped in the lovely Arena de Cabrales of which the surrounding landscape became a significant influence for the magical world of Cabras in Adrift in Amnesia.  The trip also included visiting San Sebastian (one of my favourite cities), Bilbao and riding the Atlantic Feve train from Llanes back to Bilbao.

The Noughties: Travelling Europe

During the noughties, I inter-railed Europe a few times taking in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal.  I visited numerous galleries and museums and was often blown away by the beautiful architecture of the Continent’s cities and especially some of its landscape, particularly in Italy and Spain.  Highlights were numerous (too many to mention!), be it visiting Bilbao’s Guggenheim, strolling Paris at night after watching the sunset over Notre Dame, swimming across Mundaka’s estuary with a mate, Barcelona (where I got to see Barcelona play Athletico Madrid at Camp Nou), Lisbon, Italy’s charming Cinque Terre or being blown away by Michelangelo’s Basilica in Rome.  It was also a largely pre-digital time and I especially enjoyed discovering little record shops and getting a feel of the underground vibes of each different place (I recall one shop in some back street of Madrid that was really cool though the name escapes me!).  Alas, as with Aus’ and NZ, I don’t have any photos – just the memories.

1999-2000: Travelling Australia and New Zealand

After finishing college I lived rent-free in a village pub where I saved money to go travelling.  I was only 20 at the time and didn’t plan it very well, but nevertheless had a fun time travelling for about 7 months around New Zealand and Australia.  Some of my favourite spots were Paihia Bay of Islands a few hours north of Auckland, travelling by train to Wellington, which cut through the breath-taking countryside of the north island, before heading to Aussie which included taking in Sydney, Surfer’s Paradise and camping in Byron Bay where a Brazilian friend taught me to bodysurf, and we hitched to Lennox Head to swim in tea tree lakes.  I loved Victoria, travelling from Melbourne down the Great Ocean Road to Adelaide and trekking in some of the national parks of both Victoria (where I nearly stepped on a snake trekking back from a waterfall!) and South Australia (where my friend got pooed on by a parrot).  Melbourne is a crazy city – I barely slept the entire time I was there!  It’s hard to believe going travelling to the other side of the world by yourself in a pre-mobile phone era, I didn’t even have an email address at the time!  I remember taking some photos with a cheap camera but think I lost them all.