Oh hi blog! Remember me?
I had every intention of posting regular updates, keeping everyone in the loop with what’s going on over on this side of the planet, etc…but now I’m sitting here and it’s the 23rd January already and I realise I haven’t posted a blog in quite a while. Here are my excuses:
- When there’s a lot going on (i.e the interesting blog-worthy stuff) I don’t have time to sit and write it all down;
- When I have a mundane not-a-lot-happening day (and yes, no matter where you live in the world those days will happen) there isn’t anything to report and I’m not feeling inspired to write;
So really there’s no excuse, but there you have it. I hadn’t blogged, now I’m blogging aaaaand moving on…
I’ll begin with the briefest of re-caps; not doing the experiences justice, but at least covering the lead up to today:
- An Upside-down Christmas. Following and amazing (almost) week with my sister and parents up in Hamilton Island, we picked up a car in Sydney and drove three hours north to Port Stephens to stay with my Gt. Uncle and Aunt for a few days. To say it was action packed would be putting it mildly! My Aunt has always been one for lists and schedules, so to see her poster-plan for the duration of our visit was more of a comfort than a surprise! It was certainly a different Christmas to anything we have experienced before (though there was that one year we visited family in Spain…) and we enjoyed all sorts of delicious foods throughout the day in between pre-organised activities. For the purpose of this blog we’ll say my team won, though “basket golf” may not have been our strongest game. In addition to the fun and games at home, we were shown around their local area (which included some beautiful scenery, multiple beaches and the odd sand dune), met some of their friends and also encountered the occasional wild inhabitant in the form of dolphins, kangaroos and that one huntsman… Fab time was had by all, but before we knew it we were packing our bags again and heading off on the next segment of our adventure.
- Hunting the Valley. Our drive back to Sydney naturally had to include a detour through Australia’s best known wine region. Vineyard after vineyard after vineyard…due to time restraints we obviously couldn’t pay any of them a proper visit, though we did take time to admire the views and stopped off for what turned out to be a delicious lunch accompanied by a few tasters. Well, you can’t go to a wine region and not try the wine. Sacrilege! A good day was had and once again we were back on the road – this time with me behind the wheel – heading in to Sydney.
- Sydney avec le fam. Early evening on the 28th December we arrived at our cousin’s house in Sydney. Now just to clear this up, Kerry is my mum’s cousin, mine and my sister’s second cousin…but who has time for formalities etc? Family is family. So we arrived at our cousin’s house, where we stayed with him, his lovely wife and two children (I say children, well, yes they are their children but one is 16 the other is 20 and…FORMALITIES…). They live in a stunning house with views over the city – designed by Felicity (Kerry’s wife. Still with me?). The days that followed saw us venture off to do our own thing, Lou and I showing mum and dad the sights – with Lou acting as our tour guide c/o her time spent here in 2013 – as well as embarking on new adventures with them. We had a great time seeing in the new year, with K’s house having an incomparable view! You may get more atmosphere being down in the middle of it all, but who wants to be sandwiched between drunk tourists for hours on end and then play the “midnight public transport game” when you can get just as good an experience from the comfort of home, where you have the benefit of having wine a-flowing whilst also being surrounded by people who respect your personal space?! Fab. Mum, Dad and Lou jetted off to Uluru for a few days (my budget isn’t that cosy, not yet anyway…) leaving me to catch up on the ol’ folks tale that is beauty sleep. Because holidays are tiring.
Their final full day in Sydney saw us venture out to the…
- Blue Mountains! We took the two hour train journey west to Katoomba only to be greeted by the thickest fog/low cloud I’ve ever seen in my life. We all laughed as, really, what else could you do? Still, we carried on with our plans. A brief but steep “train” journey takes you down deep in to the rainforest where there are numerous routes you can take through what was an old mining area. It honestly felt like a scene from Jurassic Park – I was expecting (and secretly hoping) to see something prehistoric trudging through the trees at any moment. A cable car would take us back up into the clouds where we had lunch, before hopping aboard yet another cable car across the cloud-filled canyon to what we thought was Echo Point. It wasn’t Echo Point. There was a thirty minute walk to Echo Point. My sister wanted to go the road-way and attempt to find a bus. Me? Well, I dug my heels in somewhat and suggested we took the “scenic” route. Lou did point out that there wasn’t an awful lot to see, but still, I persisted and won. She would never admit it, but in the end Lou was glad we went the way we did. We all were. Barely ten minutes in to our walk, the cloud began to lift – rapidly! The expanding views were beginning to creep in to vision and became clearer by the second. To compare it to the excitement of Christmas would be justifiable. You know there will be views, you have google imaged the place in the past so you think you know what you’re going to see…but oohhhh my. You have no idea. As far as the eye can see, valleys and hills, all covered in trees. Vast, but with a strangely comforting cosiness. There are beautiful views the world over, but nothing beats setting your eyes on one for the first time. It did not disappoint and the photos, postcards, documentaries, etc. most certainly do NOT do the place justice. If the blue mountains – including the “three sisters” – do not take your breath away or at the very least conjure some sort of awe-like emotion in you then…well…you’re boring. There, I said it. Not sorry.
- All alone (but not really). The following day it was time for my parents and sister to travel back to the UK. We had a very chilled day down at the harbour, watching the world go by over breakfast and a coffee. It was soon time to part ways though and whilst I tried my very best to keep it together, I failed miserably. Fortunately I could say goodbye in stages, as Mum and Dad were on an earlier flight than my sister. We sobbed goodbye at the train station (goodbyes are hideous, aren’t they?!) before Lou and I waddled off to a nearby gallery to keep us busy. Coincidentally, we ended our holiday together the same way we had started it. The first day Lou was here with me, we bought macaroons, went for coffee and eventually found ourselves at Bondi Beach – amongst other things, obviously. Well that pretty much echoes what we did with ourselves on what was the last day of our holiday together. Later I went with her to the airport for yet another coffee (to be fair there’s not much else to do at airports) before finally parting ways. This time I managed to keep it together!! Until she was out of sight, at least. I think the realisation that I wasn’t going to see them for a LONG time finally sunk in. Still, it was back to my cousin’s house and on to the next chapter of this adventure. photos to follow
- Induction week. This was an interesting one and the following speel will likely make me look a bit weird, but those who know me will not be surprised in the slightest. I was apprehensive going in to this experience as everyone else on the facebook travel group looked about 12 and still seemed amazed by the fact they could legally drink alcohol. I know it’s bad to judge before you meet people, but the vibes were all there and I’m pretty perceptive when it comes to people. So yeah, I was nervous. I decided that – as the offer was there – I would remain at my cousin’s house and commute in every morning, rather than stay in the hostel. The first day arrived and I got to the meeting place unnaturally early, armed with bubble tea, a chocolate croissant and a forcibly open mind. Slowly a crowd started to gather behind where I was sat, but it wasn’t immediately obvious that they were my crowd so I remained in my own little world, drinking tea and waiting for a welcoming fanfare, or something. Turns out that crowd was my crowd and now I found myself in the awkward “I’ve been sitting here all this time and not said anything to you but now we’re stuck with each other for a week so hi” situation. Now, I don’t know if the reservations I had beforehand jaded my experience of the day, but the fact that our introductory walk of Sydney took us the EXACT route Lou had taken me when she first arrived actually made me sad! That sounds so silly and I certainly wasn’t expecting to feel like that, but I did. I’ll be honest, I didn’t immediately click with anyone there, which I think was the main issue. There were a few really nice people (most – but not all – of them older/my age, funnily enough) who I got chatting to for a bit, but for the most part everyone seemed very cliquey and it felt like being back at school. Day one and there was already a fair amount of drama in the house. I’m not a big drinker, I’m certainly not a partier, I enjoy travelling to learn about new cultures, to see the world, meet (hopefully) like-minded people, visit museums etc. Call it nerdy or whatever, but that’s who I am. I’m not saying that’s not how any of the others were – but that’s not how they came across. They were young and they acted it. A lot of “trying too hard” and forced conversation, sny comments made when I decided against alcohol in the mid-day heat, etc. Which is fine, everyone deals with meeting people differently, but it’s not what I do. Now I’m babbling…and I’m not meaning to say anything bad about the people in the group…we just didn’t click. It kinda set the scene for the rest of the intro week. I decided to attend the information sessions – at the end of the day, that’s what I’ve paid for – and I went on the scheduled harbour boat tour/bbq, which was great! Even then though, my decision not to change in to my cozzie (I’m NOT a bikini person) on a boat full of entirely the opposite made me feel uncomfortable. I began chatting to one guy who – turns out – has seen my blog (which could now be awkward, though he falls in the “exception” category! backtracking?) but before I got much of a word in one of the girls made her presence known annnnd there went our conversation. So that was it, really. I opted out of the rest. That said, the itinerary mimicked things I’d already done in Oz – including a few days up in Port Stephens. The only thing I missed out on, really, was a chance to meet a tame kangaroo. That and it would have been nice to get to know the few people I did get talking to slightly better. Still, I was not enjoying it and would rather have done my own thing. Which I did…
- Escaping to the Bay. Sadly Felicity’s mum passed away during my first lone week in Oz. I had been planning on visiting my Gt Uncle and Aunt when up in Port Stephens anyway, but now it seemed necessary to stay there a while. I didn’t want to be in anyone’s way during what was a difficult time for their family and, at the same time, I was in need of a bit of a pick-me-up. My Uncle and Aunt have lived in Oz on and off for about 21 years now, but they were also a huge part of my childhood – more so than I think they realise. Staying with them felt like staying with my Grandparents (who I am very close to) and following my unfortunate start to the “life” part of my trip (as opposed to the holiday part) some time with them was just what I needed. In between baking and cooking, meeting more of their friends and becoming increasingly masterful at scrabble, I was able to experience more of “the bay” – even encountering their “resident” wild koala*. It was a lovely week, lots of laughs and a proper catch-up had – I even found a job to cover me for the second year visa application (which starts in March)!! Put me back on track and I caught the coach back to Sydney feeling ready to take on the next challenge. photos to follow
Which brings me to this week…
Jobs are VERY hard to find in Sydney. Especially when you are only on the Working Holiday Visa. ESPECIALLY when you have a job lined up to start on the 1st March so only have 6 weeks to spare.
“Hi, please give me a job. I’ll leave after a few weeks, but I’ll work hard whilst I’m here…”
Doesn’t exactly sound enticing. So you lie. Which is horrible and makes you feel bad, so you look for casual jobs, contracted jobs where the employer only wants you for a month…only this narrows your options. You complete the RSA training that came as part of your booked package, but then realise it doesn’t cover you for New South Wales or Victoria, so unless you move somewhere else, it’s useless. That’s bar work out of the running.
As this week has gone on it seems to be one thing after another after another.
(I realise the latter end of this blog is sounding really down-in-the-dumps, but it’s the reality of doing what I’m doing!)
Applying for jobs is basically all I have done this week, which means I’m now down to 5 weeks availability. It’s seriously disheartening not having a job; not having the structure in your life, not earning money, not meeting people, etc. I’ll be honest and say this is not how I thought my time out here would be spent. I’m trying really hard to hold on to the memories and enjoyment from the holiday, to keep spirits up until I do find a job, but it is difficult. I’m not myself. Having spent all day today trying to find somewhere in town to print more CVs off whilst also speaking to people about jobs, walking miles in flip-flops in the heat (I’ll never call them “thongs”), I ended up FORCING myself to forget about everything. I boarded a boat down at Circular Quay, forgot about the job situation and enjoyed being where I was for a couple of hours. It’s very easy to get caught up in the pressures of finding work, but that’s not what I came out here for. If I wanted that I would have saved myself a LOT of money and stayed in the UK. I’m here to see Oz so – following conversations with home – I’ve decided to dip in to my “travel home” money. Let’s face it, I’ll recoup it over the months I will be working on the farm (as a nanny, I might add – VERY much looking forward to it!!) and there is absolutely no point in me being here if I am cooped up in the house all day feeling all down and out because no one has hired me yet. Obviously I am still going to work hard towards finding work, but I am also going to dedicate time to seeing something new. Going somewhere different and experiencing what this great country has to offer! I am going to do WHAT I WANT TO DO!!!
That is the plan, at least.
So there you have it. You’re all updated. As is life, there have been many ups 😀 but there have also been some downs. That is the reality of things and I’m not going to sugar coat it just because I’m writing a blog that other people may or may not read. If other people read this who are thinking of doing a similar thing, they need to realise what they are going in to – an incredible experience but not without some of the hardships of home. Some people reading this have likely experienced similar things and felt a similar way to how I have been feeling this week. It’s all perfectly normal! I just need to remind myself of this from time to time.
On to another day of job hunting tomorrow. Wish me luck!!
* have you ever heard a koala? In Australia, even the cutest, fuzziest of creatures posses some rather horrifying traits. This is a milder, more gentle example of my first “encounter” with their resident koala…whilst I was trying to fall asleep…