Sunday 1st May 2016

April is over and so is the collection for donations to Simo’s family. 

I am thrilled to say that the final total is £1049/$2015!!

£414/$795 came from the customers and staff at Caffè Nero Tunbridge Wells, £445/$855 was raised online, £50/$96 came from the sale of my hair and the rest was given to me directly from friends and family. 

I am overwhelmed by everyone’s love and support for me and a family that they do not know. I have already told Simon’s family who I have come to love dearly and cannot wait to meet face to face. 

Thank you!! Thank you!! Thank you!!

Saturday 30th April…19 days since Shave

Well, here it is, the last day of the Shave!

I have shaved my head one last time this morning before coming to work and I am feeling almost as nervous about growing it back as I was about losing it all in the first place. This has been my anchor and my distraction, the thing that has help me focus on something other than the pain over the last month and I will miss the funny looks (although I’m sure I will still get a few) and writing this blog everyday.

I will be publishing one last post tomorrow once I have all the final totals but right now it is looking close to the £1000 ($1950) goal I set, if not then slightly more, and I am so excited to be able to tell Simon’s family what all my wonderful friends, family and even total strangers have given for the love of their “Celebrity”.

The music of Passenger, an acoustic artist from Brighton here in the UK, has been played a lot in my car recently. The song “Let Her Go” came out just before I first travelled to Australia and we listened to it a lot in the bus on the Nullabor, the album “Whispers” came out just before my trip to Alice Springs and was what Simon and I listened to while cooking, and a lot of the songs have wonderful lyrics that mean a lot to me, especially now.

It’s a close call between two songs for my favourite right now, Hearts on Fire is heartbreaking but beautiful so have your tissues at the ready if you’re going to listen, and Rolling Stone which has always sounded like a conversation Simon and I would have.

My life has been changed by knowing Simon, by loving him and being loved by him in return. I have changed even more throughout this last month, I am finding the courage I have never thought possible because there may not be a tomorrow and I have lost too great an opportunity to let others slip through my fingers. For Simo, I will live every breath I have to it’s fullest.

So for the final time, here is the link to donate online https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/Send-Simo-Home

Thank You

Friday 29th April…18 days since Shave

Yesterday I overheard some customers discussing David Bowie, in particular his role as the Goblin King. This brought a smile to my face as I saw the image of Simo huddled up in a tangle of tree roots pulling his best “Goblin Face” (when I shared this with his cousin she said “when wasn’t he being a Goblin?!”).

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This was taken at Snotty Gobble Loop on the evening I first tasted the heavenly carbonara.

I may have had slightly too much Goon that evening and most of it is a blur although I do remember that Simo had lit us our own little fire by our tent which was a couple of pitches away from everyone elses and that when I did eventually wake up in the morning he was laughing because I had snored so loudly it had been heard by the others and when he had tried to wake me because there was a Kangaroo just outside the tent I had rolled over and told him “just 5 more minutes…”

 

Thursday 28th April…17 days since Shave

Part of the Nullabor tour took us past lovely green fields and I remember Simo commenting that it’s how he imagined the English countryside. I could see why he would have thought that but to me it still had a very different quality, I think it was mainly the trees.

This week the weather has been typically English too, we’ve had snow, rain, wind and sun but never much heat. A lot of the trees are still bare but the bluebells and tulips are out and there are lambs skipping around the fields pretty much everywhere you look.

I feel privileged to have grown up and still live in the English countryside, this is the land that romantic poets such as Keats, great novelists such as Jane Austen and all three Brontë sisters, and artists such as Turner and Contsable depicted. It has it’s darkness but also it’s brilliant radiance, for such a small island, Great Britain has such a wonderful variety of country to offer, all of which I had dreamed of sharing with Simon.

As I sit here listening to the wind and rain on my window I think of 22nd April 2011, when I stayed with Becky and her family in the High Peak of Debyshire, where Pride and Prejudice is partly set, and we went for a ramble up Kinder Scout. The weather was glorious, everything was green with a golden glow, I was wearing shorts and a vest top and suncream!! My favourite image from the day is my desktop image and so am often reminded of the adventure. Those kind of days are the ones most like the day I spent exploring Murphey’s Haystacks in Australia. Those are the days too good not to share.

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2 DAYS TO GO!!!!

Wednesday 27th April…16 days since Shave

Last night I impulsively decided to go on a drive and stay with my dear “Muse and Bride”, Becky. Becky is living and working on a wildlife reserve in Surrey. The drive there took me through a storm of hail and snow and out to the early evening sun and a rainbow in the midst of the green fields and all the signs of spring starting to show. As we sat and ate dinner, we watched the birds in the garden and we remembered an incident at the beginning of March as we travelled to another friend’s wedding, we had been sat in traffic and Becky had been quietly staring out into space from the passenger seat when she suddenly sat forward screaming “DID YOU SEE THAT?! DID YOU SEE THAT?! THAT SPARROWHAWK JUST CAUGHT THE STARLING MID FLIGHT!!” I had been concentrating on the road and not the nature around us so had missed it but couldn’t help laugh at the suddenness of her outburst, when I later recalled this to Simo he also giggled but told me “don’t be cruel to the poor girl.” We raised a bottle to him and laughed all evening. 


The group of friend’s I know Becky and her family through are the people I wish most I had been able to introduce to Simo. There are 7 or 8 families in the group, which has grown over the years, during these years we have lost and gained friends and family, sometimes we manage to go 2 or maybe more years not managing to be in the same place at the same time but we are always close when we see each other, as if nothing has changed. We mainly gather to camp for 2 weeks in August in a beautiful spot in North Wales called Porth Colman, there is no phone reception, a tiny shop on the campsite and a beach just a stones throw away. It is our piece of Heaven (and yes it is ours, the group has become so large that we now monopolise one of three fields belonging to the site every year). Becky’s mum, Liz, told me she was crying for this man she had never met, Pip, who’s wedding we attended in March said I just had to say what I needed and she would do it, having only lost her own father recently, and Jess told me how brave she thought I am, just to name a few. These guys would have welcomed Simo with a seemingly endless supply of beer and singing around the campfire in the rain every night, they would have relished in creating a better “eggy bread and sausage” curry than he ever imagined to exist (seriously, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it) and would have cheered every single jump he took into the freezing cold water from our rock at the harbour.


Upon my return home today I set about doing the finishing DIY touches to my bedroom that I have been meaning to do for just over a year. I have managed to put up several new shelves, photoframes and my large world map without hurting myself, hitting electrical wires or getting them wonky. I’m very proud of myself, especially as my last DIY effort resulted in a VERY wonky book case that I’m still waiting to collapse any second, and through all his joking about it I’m sure Simo would be too. This is one of those small #LiveForSimo moments that are to be remembered along with the big ones.


There are now only 3 days left to donate on my Crowdfunding page so please, if you have promised a donation but not gotten around to it yet then now is the time!!

Love and Thanks as always

Tuesday 26th April…15 days since Shave

Today is my first day off work since Simon passed away and it is hitting hard. At work yesterday, all four of us were a little tired and delirious which made for an amusing shift but I was still looking forward to a day off. Today, I woke from a 15 hour sleep, bathed and got dressed and thought about all the things I need to get done today and tomorrow, and all the time there have been tears in my eyes. Despite the tears I have to say that I know Simon is looking out for me because at the moment I felt most low today the sun started shining and I received a message from his mum, Ann.

Simo used to always try and remind me not to work too hard but he knew it was pointless, especially as he would work with no rest between tours at times and when on Koh Tao, would rarely go a day without diving, so if he tried to tell me to take a day off he knew I would reply with “you’re a fine one to talk!”

Simo always gave everything he could to his work, as you can tell by the amount of messages from people who knew him because they were a passenger on one of his tours, even those who had little to no contact with him since then have said how much of a loss this has been. Simo sometimes carried books around in the bus with him about the history of whichever corner of Australia he was in, not that he  needed them, he could probably have written his own with all the knowledge and experience he had gained. He loved finding little secret places and sharing them with locals, he loved the thrill of a group who would be as ridiculous as badly behaved as him and he loved knowing that his passengers would spread the love of his great country (and him) with others they met. He knew how to push limits but not put anyone in danger, I’m sure this goes for his diving as well as guiding. Wherever he worked he was part of a family, he would give as much love and cause as much annoyance as you can expect from any sibling (although I would hope not many siblings take their clothes off around each other as much).

The Guiding Family at the Alice Springs sign on “Simo Night” knowing if he had been there he would have led the way.

Simon’s sister, Sam, has lost her only sibling, and his Parents, Ann and Jeff, their only son, but as they were lucky enough to be related to a man with such a magnetic personalty, there are many more people out here on this big rock who call him family and therefore call them family too. I know nobody will ever be quite like Simon but if we can all live and love like he did then none of us will ever be alone, we will always be part of his massive and crazy family.

4 days to go!!!

Monday 25th April…14 days since Shave

The currently total of funds I have managed to raise is £804.02, which is approximately $1509.01!

The way that people who don’t know Simo, and some who barely know me, have shared their love to not just me but Simon and his family has been overwhelming!! £279.02 ($524.09) have come from the staff and customers at Caffe Nero Tunbridge Wells who all bring me joy on a daily basis.

£50 ($93.90) came from the sale of my hair to Bloomsbury Wigs, a Cancer Research recommend wig company.

£100 ($187.85) has been from anonymous donations online which is a shame as I would love to be able to thank them. So if you are reading this then please know how grateful I am to you as well as everyone I have been able to thank personally over the last 25 days.

There are still 5days left to donate on my Crowdfunding page and in store at Caffe Nero Tunbridge Wells, I would absolutely LOVE to hit that £1000 mark!!

Sunday 24th April…13 days since Shave

A lot of people who met Simo would probably describe him as an extrovert and I can see why. He loved dancing on tables, having large groups of people listen to his every word and, from the amount of times he seemed to run around naked he may as well not even have owned clothes. For the first year of our friendship I thought this too. I had seen more to him than just his public face by then by it had never really occurred to me to class him as anything other than an extrovert until we were standing on top of ANZAC Hill in Alice Springs. We were just staring at the view, neither of us having said anything for a few minutes when he broke the silence, “I think you’re like me too. You’re an extroverted introvert. You’re an introvert really but you don’t want people to know so you play the part. Just like me.”

Anzac hill lookout, Alice Springs

I had never thought of us as being similar before, I had always enjoyed time we spent together but our similarities were often hard to find until then, and once I knew that he felt like I did things seemed to make more sense. Now, just to clarify, I am not one for dancing on tables and running around naked in public but I do have two personalities, my public one and my private one. My private one is becoming slightly less so over recent years and is shown to three people regularly and another three on occasion, more people get glimpses but are likely never to see it all.

You may have thought of me as extroverted considering how much I have opened up over the last 24 days but I am still only giving away a small amount of my thoughts and feelings. There are still dreams, pictures and messages I will forever keep to myself, between Simon and I, introvert to introvert.

I expect that there are an aweful lot of people who feel like this, that maybe they don’t fit into either category and don’t realise you can be both.

There’s still time left on the Crowd Funding!!!! Please keep telling your friends and family about this legendary man!!

 

 

Saturday 23rd April…12 days since Shave

As I’m sure many of you may know, Simo was an amazing chef! One of regular tour meals was Carbona and he frequently got requests for the recipe which he posted on Facebook to avoid repeating himself again and again. I, on the other hand, am not normally a good cook, let alone an an amazing one…until Simo taught me this wonderful dish. 

In reality it’s pretty simple but the result is exquisite and gives the illusion that I have some sort of skill in the kitchen. 

In Simo’s honour, I made this heavenly dish for my families dinner tonight, with the mushrooms we so often disagreed over, even now I can’t let him win. Morgan stood next to me stirring the cream, egg and cheese together asking what was in the pan on the stove, when I told him he said “I don’t like mushrooms and eggs don’t agree with my taste buds” yet he was still the first to finish his meal. My dad’s friend Paul, a chef, was joining us for the evening and said that the dish was better than a lot he’d seen served in restaurants which would have filled Simo with pride, knowing that not only was his recipe a success but that his time spent guiding me along the way has paid off. 


Due to my work hours I hadn’t seen the Smalls yet this week and loved having excitable hugs from them. Arran stuck with “hello Hannah, why aren’t you at work?”, Isla thanked me for wearing my hat and Morgan squeezed tightly and asked “is Simo with his family yet?” “Yes, they got him home. Thank you for asking” “Is he any better?” “Sadly not, no Morgan” “Did he die.” I nodded and he squeezed tighter. Not all heroes wear capes, sometimes they are eight year olds with massive hearts who understand how much loss hurts. All of my siblings are my heroes but this munchkin was especially wonderful today. 

Please keep up the amazing work sharing and donating!! https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/Send-Simo-Home

Friday 22nd April…11 days since Shave

I find names fascinating. I love hearing reasons behind someone getting their name no matter if that is family tradition, “my parents just liked it” or “We were to call you Naomi but was on so many medications when you were born that I couldn’t say it…” (yes that last one was my Mum! I think I suit Hannah better than Naomi anyway).

It does surprised me however that a lot of people don’t know what their name or they name they are choosing for a child means. I don’t intend on having children but I have planned what to name the 3 Husky dogs I dream of.

  • Heathcliff. Although this has no official meaning, the quote “He is more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” gets me every time.
  • August. A German name from the Latin Augustus. Meaning majestic dignity, or venerable. It is also often the one nice month of the year here in England.
  • Daisy. For the flower and many of it’s variations such as the gerbera, my personal favourite. The word Daisy itself comes from the old English meaning “Day’s Eye”.

Simon, as a name of Hebrew Origin means “The Listener”. It is said that Simon is “quietly confident and easy to talk to. A true and loyal friend.” That just about sums him up perfectly I think…Although once he’d finished listening he would give you all the pros and cons of whatever you’d just said in great detail…I got a half hour lecture on why I’m not allowed mushrooms in carbonara once until he cracked and put the who packet in after I responded with “But I like them”, those little moments of admitting defeat are the ones that show me his love most.

  
Hannah means “Grace/Favour of God” in Hebrew, “Happiness” in Arabic, and “Flower” in Persian, it is said she is a true and compasisonate friend and is able to weather any storm. I can only hope that I live up to these expectations, but I certainly intend to come out of this storm stronger than ever before.


I am finding things difficult since Simon’s death. I am crying when I need to and getting on with my life, determined to make him proud, the rest of the time. What struck me this morning however is how very alone I am in all of this. My family and friends didn’t ever have the pleasure of meeting him, I didn’t ever get to meet his friends, for which there were lots of reasons (mainly that we always seemed to time things poorly). I know of a few people around in the UK who have been in contact and I hope I get to meet them some day soon but right now they are still effectively strangers.

My work colleagues have been amazing, as always, greeting me with huge hugs and distracting me as much as possible by giving me lots of jobs, letting me send the hoards of teenagers away and pointing out attractive customers. After a count yesterday morning I now have a total of £217.02 from the customers and staff at Caffe Nero Tunbridge Wells and saw a further £10 at least go in the pot yesterday too. I decided after counting the donations that yesterday was one to focus on being in the here and now and to not check my phone or talk about Simon for fear of breaking down in tears and yet more people asked about him yesterday than ever have in one day all month, I can’t help feeling he had something to do with it…cheeky bastard!!

Crowd Funding still has 8 days to go, don’t let them be wasted!!