Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Manjimup the Return

Sadly all good thing must come to an end and my holiday in Perth was over before I knew it. On arriving back at the hostel I was allocated the room I had last inhabited and even ended up in the same bed. Fortunately I didn’t have to stay there too long as not long after my return one of our roommates moved rooms and I was able to claim a bottom bunk.

I arrived back in Manjimup with just over a month left to complete of my mandatory regional work and whilst it had been lovely to be in Perth and hget a break I was happy to be returning to work and to be making money once more. On my return to the hostel I noticed some new faces and a fair few familiar ones. It was nice to see so many familiar faces and good to know that despite my previous reticence and my decision to not join in the drinking most weekends I was still remembered my most of them who stopped to say hello. After dumping my stuff in my room my first job was ti stock up on food. As I was filling my fridge bag on my return from the supermarket it felt like I had never left as I easily slipped back in to hostel life. The next day I was back at work and it was truly like I had never left.

Though I don’t make new years resolutions having long ago learnt that they never stick I did find myself making some changes. In the middle of my second week the temperature soared and as we were well ahead in the orchard where I was working I finished as midday. Everyone else seemed to be quite busy so I opted to walk home. It turns out it’s only a 15-20 minute walk and I quite enjoyed walking along listening to my iPod. From then on I decided I would walk to and from work and so far most days I have done just that. As well as adding a daily walk to my life I have also started to fit in some random exercise in the evenings. Our newest roommate arrived in our room just after I had swapped bunks and despite finding herself in a top bunk due to my manoeuvrings she was very friendly and immediately asked if any of us wanted to go to some classes with her. I was keen and that week we threw ourselves in to different forms of exercise to kick start. We started with a swim followed the next day by a body pump class which, surprisingly, I really enjoyed. For our week finale we ventured to a local park and did an improvised work out using a football and some convenient benches as our gym. By the weekend I was aching all over and was glad of a couple of days rest.

The following week I took it a little easier. My friend and I returned to the park and I enjoyed the amazing swimming pool again but we failed to make it to the body pump class. During the weekend a discussion on cooking and curry had led us to a pact that each of us would cook a meal for the other one night that week. All the meals were lovely and it was great to arrive home one night to fins dinner was just being lifted and put on the table. We did discover though that it was harder to exercises after the meals and decided to give the class a miss and instead went for an evening run, giving our tasty meal plenty of time to digest and allowing the temperature to cool. It was a nice change to eat proper meals but personally I don’t like eating to others peoples schedules and I found it difficult and unpleasant to prepare and cook a proper meal in the hot unfamiliar kitchen without the tools, herbs and spices I was used to having when I’ve attempted to cook in the past. All in all it was pleasant for the week but not something I want to repeat anytime soon.

Since I have returned I have found myself keeping more to my room, not because the people here aren’t lovely, they are, but because our room has air conditioning and it’s been very hot. I also still do not feel inclined to join in the weekend drinking. Our room is very close to the common area so I can hear the festivities quite clearly but I don’t feel the urge to join in. Maybe I’m getting old. At one point in my life I would have been too shy to go out and felt left out and upset, later I would have made sure I had a bottle of Jack and a bottle of coke and thrown myself in to the drinking games and dancing but those days are well behind me. Don’tt get me wrong I still enjoy the occasional night out and there has been more than one night in Perth where I’ve managed to knock back a few bottles of wine but when it comes to sinking spirits with the one and only aim being to get drunk I think I’m just over it. Usually I’ll retire early with my iPod and using the kindle application I’ll read a book. The noise doesn’t usually bother me. I remember when I would have been out there and it makes me smile. I think that round here I have the reputation for being quiet and keeping to myself but as far as I know no-one minds and the ones who know me still stop and say hello and will pass a few minutes in chat of I’m about. It’s nice. It’s good to know that I don’t have to conform or fit in here that I’m accepted for who I am because everyone here has their own story and we’re all living our lives as we want to no-one is going to judge anyone else who’s doing it a little bit differently. 

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Thoughts on Turning Thirty

I’ve never been that bothered about birthdays; never been one for celebrating them extravagantly or the kind of person who dreads being another year older. Since Jonathan died though they have taken on a new significance. Turning twenty eight hurt because he never even made it to twenty-seven. My twenty-ninth birthday was a month before I left for Australia so I was more focused on my trip than anything else. Turning thirty though is special. We didn’t have much of our future mapped out, get good jobs, buy house, travel to Australia, go salsa dancing in Cuba, have kids. There was no timetable as such but we did say we’d discuss kids when we reached thirty. I am 4 months older than Jonathan so if you knew him then you would know that would mean we’d start talking around my birthday and by his I’d be pregnant. How weird to write that, my life now is so different from what we planned. So thirty is hard because after thirty there were no plans. We didn’t know where we would want to bring up our kids or which one of us would be at home more. We didn’t plan if we would travel more that Australia and Cuba and though we discussed wedding plans we didn’t actually plan on getting married. I can imagine what our future might have been but I will never know if it what he would have imagined for us or if together we would have come up with something completely different.

I remember my parents gave me a dragon statue on my twenty eighth birthday and sorry mum but I hate it. I remember it reminded me of Christmas and thinking that every time I saw it I would remember my first birthday and my first Christmas without Jonathan. I don’t need any reminders, I’ll never forget them. I guess thirty is like that. I know I should celebrate it but I don’t know how I’ll feel on the day. I know I don’t want presents not just because I don’t need anything but because I don’t want any reminders of the day because it will hurt. No matter how good the day itself is and how much fun I have it’s going to hurt like hell that I’m turning thirty and he won’t be and that the kids we planned for this year (and we planned so little) will never be.

I guess we thought we’d be grown-up enough by thirty to handle being parents, I could never have imagined how true and yet how wrong that would be. I grew up a lot in 2009 and more in 2010 then I kinda of grew down in 2011 but in a good way. Even with this backslide and the fact I have no permanent residence and no career I still think I am a lot more responsible than I even was before. I know I’ve come a long way in the last two years and ten months and that everyone who knows and loves me is proud of me. I have a hell of a lot to celebrate and be grateful for which is why I think I would like to celebrate my birthday. I’d like to celebrate the people and the things that the next decade will bring me because I don’t know what they will be. I’d like to remember and celebrate the people and the things the last three decades have given me. But I don’t want any reminders. I do well living in the moment. I’m pretty good day to day but I still dread and hate the milestones. I believe I am capable of celebrating the day but I know when I’ll look back I’ll always shave the thought that it wasn’t right because Jonathan wasn’t there and it wasn’t what we planned and like my first birthday without him, I’ll never have to be reminded of it. Like that day and all the milestones that followed that are etched forever in my mind, I'll  never forget.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

My First Australian Christmas

I hadn’t planned to be in Perth for the festive season, it just kind of worked out that way. When Jonathan’s family invited me for Christmas I was at first apprehensive but they were so welcoming I was soon looking forward to returning to them for the festivities.

The run up to Christmas had been very low key in Manjimup and that combined with the hot weather made the reality of Christmas very easy to ignore. The week before hand I started to get anxious and I did avoid the Christmas songs where possible. I started by telling people I was looking forwards to it but the strain was too much and soon I was admitting I didn’t really like Christmas and wanted it to be over. I was however looking forward to seeing Jonathan’s family again and spending time with them after Christmas. Therefore when I was collected from work the Thursday before Christmas I was very happy to be going back.

The thing is as much as I was dreading Christmas I knew they were looking forward to it so I tried my best to go along with it. After all I didn’t really want to be a Grinch, that’s just mean. I am sure if I had explained things then I would have been excused joining in but I didn’t want that either. These people were kind enough to include me in there celebrations so I was damn well going to join in.

The first Christmas dinner was on the Friday. One side of the family all came over and we had a traditional Christmas dinner with Christmas music provided most willingly by yours truly; well I had to contribute something! It was great fun. Everyone had been warned about my presence previously and I had some great conversations not to mention a lovely meal. The evening was without a doubt a success and I was rather pleased with how I was handling Christmas so far.

The next day was Christmas Eve and I had to go in to the city as I hadn’t bought a single present. I had one of the family with me for guidance and we managed without too much drama to get presents for everyone. That evening we watched a very bizarre Finnish film called Rare Exports which despite its weirdness was quite enjoyable. We did stay up until after midnight but not too long after as the next day was to be rather busy.

Christmas day arrived and though there were marked differences it was also remarkably familiar. One major difference was the weather, it was close to 30 degree and there was not a drop of rain in sight. We all got up in the morning for breakfast and present opening. You’d think that being a backpacker so far from home I’d have not a lot to do but both my families back home were well prepared and had sent me presents aplenty, not to mention the generosity of my Perth family. After much mess and ooooing and ahing it was time to go to the first family gathering where there were silly presents to be shared and a late breakfast to munch on. I still think my favourite was the parachute man possible because it’s a family tradition and I got one making me feel all included and warm and fuzzy inside. Once again I was not left out and though it was a family occasion I was often chatting with one family member or another. Silliness over and it was back to the house for a light lunch and a swim. In the evening it was time to gather with the other half of the family and we all headed over to another family members house where once more I was warmly welcomed and made to feel included. This was probably the hardest part of the day for me. This was Jonathan’s family and it was a very traditional dinner. One of the ‘children’ was missing as he was working abroad and his cousin raised a toast to absent friends naming him of course. My mind though went to Jonathan and I raised a silent toast to him, letting him know as always that he wasn’t far from my thoughts. I had a quick look around and I don’t think anyone noticed. Thankfully it was then time to eat and we were all preoccupied with the delicious food. After dinner we moved into the garden to sit by the pool. As everyone else moved off I took a few minutes for myself to think of my friends and family back home and those we have all lost. It was a sad moment but something I needed to do. After that I was able to collect myself and rejoin the festivities by the pool. The rest of the evening was as pleasant as the rest of the day had been. We eventually felt we had room for desert before moving back to the garden for more drinking and chatting. I took the time to call Jonathan’s parents as it was obvious we would not be home in time to skype them before they left for their own Christmas dinner. It was hard to be apart from them but doing something completely different did make the day easier and I think they were pleased for me even though I know they missed me too. The fact I called from the party meant that a few other were also able to chat to them and I think everyone was happy to be able to chat even though we were separated by physical distance. Eventually the night came to an end it was back home where most went to bed but I stayed up a little longer.  I  skyped my parents to thank them for the fabulous presents and wish them a merry Christmas. It was lovely to see them and I was very impressed with their laid back day where they organised the meals around the TV schedule. I was also pleased to see my dad looking well, no doubt grateful for the break in his treatment as well as the tasty meal my mother was preparing.

Boxing day is always a laid back affair in my parents house but not so in Perth. There was a big barbeque organised with loads of seafood and drinks by the pool, a proper Aussie Christmas. It sounded fabulous but the strain of Christmas and too many late nights caught up with me and though everyone who came was again warm and inclusive my head decided it had had enough. My headache came and went all day and I spent most of it inside with the air con. Late afternoon I gave up and went for a nap. I did get up and try again but I felt like I was sleep walking and decided to call it a day and head to bed. I felt bad that I had been rude but trying to make coherent sentences was harder than it usually is and I found it difficult to concentrate. Typically after thirteen hours sleep I woke up the next morning feeling great and raring to go.

The days following Christmas were very low key and relaxed. I worked my way through two books though I did manage to drag myself away on the promise of Turkish food one night which was totally worth it. Having read two books I then got my act belatedly together and arranged to meet up with some friends. I enjoyed one friends pool whilst we compared the sunny weather to the vastly different conditions we had met in during the snow storms of 2010. From there I made my way in to the city to meet up with a friend I had made in Sydney who was working in Perth. Typically one drink turned into many and though it did eventually occur to us to eat it was too late. We made our way to our respective home knowing we had indulged a little too much. Being me I then continued to indulge and have been assured I drank an impressive amount of wine before someone decided i needed food and kindly provided chicken nuggets. I wish I could remember this but I don’t, I only know what I was told. I paid for it the next day though thankfully I was able to convince my body to sleep through most of the hangover. Of course I would do this on new years eve eve! New years eve was a lovely day. I was taken to Freo for a wander round and I finally got to visit the Little Creatures brewery, they don’t make a the tastiest cider in Australia but the view and surroundings were fabulous. From there we went for some fish and chips before heading home to bring in the new year watching the Sydney Fireworks (three hours delayed) and toasting the new year with some Gentleman Jack and whiskey and coke. I always say I don’t want people to put themselves out for me and if everyone else had gone out and left me I would have been perfectly happy however I felt very well taken care of and that made the new year easier to bring in than it has been previously and I am very grateful that these kind people took it upon themselves to make sure I was ok.

2012! It started wonderfully. I had some very quiet days and made sure I got in to the pool at least once day whilost I was still in Perth. On new years day we had steak pie which had been made especially for me as its traditional with both my and Jonathan’s family. Sorry folks back home but it was a pretty awesome steak pie. On the second I tagged along with my friends to her friends for dinner where I had the most awesome paella made to a genuine Spanish recipe. The company was as good as the food and I was sorry that we had to rush off but we had tickets to see a film at an outdoor cinema so it couldn’t be helped. The experience was fun. We had cheese and biscuits and chocolates and wine and I was glad of the wine since the film was less than impressive. It was called “the kid with the bike”, had received five stars and was supposed to be a moving film about the relationship between an unwanted child and his unlikely friendship with a woman who eventually becomes his foster mother. Personally I found it hard to feel for the characters, maybe something was lost in translation as it was a subtitled film or maybe I am just a philistine but either way I was disappointed. Disappointing film aside it was a lovely evening and a good end to my holiday in Perth. The next day I was being chauffeured once more back to Manjimup and the farming business that is necessary for my second year visa.  Before I left my friend (and driver for the day) and we had brunch at a local marina where I enjoyed a decadent breakfast of smoked salmon scrambled eggs on toasted muffins knowing I was about to return to my monotonous diet of sultana bran, sandwiches and rice with assorted vegetables. It’s not exciting but it’s cheap, easy and more or less healthy. My friend invited one of her friends along so she would have company on the way back and we had a lovely drive south. We stopped at Bridgetown for afternoon tea and scones but too soon we were in Majimup and it was back to reality for me. 

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Thoughts and Memories on Christmas Past

Traditionally Christmas is a time we spend with the people we love most in the world so when one of those people dies it can really put a damper on the whole festive feel. I remember my first Christmas without Jonathan. I spent most of it with his family as I knew they were the most likely to share my sentiments regarding the ignoring it as much as possible method of survival. I know my own family were hurt that I didn’t want to be with them but that was only part of it, I knew I didn’t have it in me to really celebrate and I thought at least this way they could get some joy though I know they missed Jonathan too and that it was a hard day for them. Thing is we have different coping mechanisms. My parents were considerate enough to come south and spend it with my brother as he lived close to Jonathan’s family. I therefore only had a short drive on Christmas day to have dinner with them. I was there for two hours. For the whole two hours my brother insisted we have Christmas songs. I know I failed totally in the Christmas cheer aspect. I know it wasn’t all about me and I tried but I also know I failed. I didn’t want to celebrate Christmas. I didn’t want to listen to Christmas songs. I didn’t want to pretend everything was normal when it blatantly wasn’t. I comfort myself with the fact I know I did my best yet am human enough to wish my best had been better. After two hours I returned to Jonathan’s parent’s house, lit a candle for Jonathan in his garden then watched one of the Final Destination films. The day had a slight moment of amusement when I decided to recite a poem I had written for Jonathan previously and got the words wrong, I know that would have amused him more than if I had got it right.By bed time I was just glad the day was over and I had survived. The next day though my feeling of achievement took a bettering when I woke up and immediately I fell to pieces the next morning, However I eventually pulled myself together enough to visit my parents and brother then my Aunt and cousins where I actually had a pretty good time.

When New Years came my parents were back up north and I opted to spend it with Jonathan’s parents. Everyone was adamant that I wasn’t allowed to go to bed and ignore it. This was something else I had to do. As the bells drew closer I couldn’t stand it. I left their house and went to Jonathans friends flat. They were very kind but there were three couples and me. We toasted the bells in misery together then I left. On the way home I remember crying so much I was sick. I used to always cry when I left his friends, it was so wrong to be with them without him. After all that it is probably unsurprising when I tell you this was when I decided to leave the country. In the days following new years I just knew I couldn’t do it again. It was too hard and too painful and I wanted out. I knew that I would be hurting my friends and family but at this point I didn’t think I had it on me to do it all pver again

Nine months later I was unemployed. Ten months later I left the UK for the USA. Eleven months later and I was back in the UK. Despite my initial decision to bow out I had since decided to stay until the following March. I would do one more of every blasted hard day then I was out of there. Of course this was the year it snowed so instead of spending Christmas and New Year between both families I ended up being snowed in with my parents. It wasn’t so bad. It was very low key and I had my own room to go and hide in when necessary which had a candle burning in it all day for my Jonathan. My brother came up later on in the day so really it was a Christmas evening which suited me fine. On New Years I went for dinner and a few drinks with my cousin and some good friends. At the bells we toasted the future and Jonathan. I had asked my cousin but was touched when a number of my friend also wanted to toast him. It was a good start to the new year and it turned out to be a good indication of the year to come.

I can safely say 2011 was good to me. I had many wonderful opportunities and met some amazing people. I am more grateful for my family and friends back home than I have ever been and miss and love them dearly, even though I’m not ready to come home just yet. I’ve grown and discovered a lot about myself, some good some not so good but all worth knowing. More importantly I can look back at those first two holiday seasons and see the effort everyone put in to taking care of me even though they were hurting too and even though I couldn’t see it then.

Monday, 9 January 2012

The Visa Deal

It was easy for me to get a one year working visa for Australia and I knew before I got here that I would want to stay for two years therefore before I went to work in the mountains for the ski season I did one month WWOOFing at the lovely farm in Bundaberg. I was left with 2 months or 57 days of farm work that needed completing before I leave the country on the 21st of March next year. I had a great couple of months of travelling the country from the red centre to Adelaide and across the Nullarbor to Perth. I had a lovely relaxing time staying with the family in Perth but all good things must come to an end and by the end of November I found myself staying at a working hostel in Manjimup in the south of WA.

The Manji hostel is an ok place to stay and I was lucky that I had work arranged before I arrived so I was able to start the next day. The work isn’t exciting or difficult though it does require some common sense which can be a bit of a stretch for me at times. Some days I pack avocados and others I thin the apples trees in the orchard; removing the excess apples so that the remaining ones can grow big and tasty. I understand why the government requires the backpackers to do this work in exchange for the second visa and I fully support it. Fortunately for me I found work on a good farm with a decent boss who pays a good hourly wages allowing me not only to pay rent and eat properly but also to save a little bit as well. I know that not all the hostel guests are as fortunate. I am very glad not to be cutting cauliflowers or broccoli as it sounds like horrible work and the days on these farms are long. Life is pretty easy considering I’m doing my backpacker ‘time’. I don’t work long days and though I work hard when I am at the farm the work isn’t difficult and my boss is fair. If you work hard and he knows you are tying your best he’ll give you as many days as he can, if you don’t want to work hard then you find work elsewhere. Thank you mother for instilling a good work ethic in me!

When I first arrived at the hostel there were about thirty people staying here and it was a friendly quiet place. I did a lot of sleeping in my first few days as I wasn’t used to working proper hours anymore. I arrived on a Wednesday but by the following Monday I had kicked my need for the afternoon Nana nap on my return from work though all I am capable of after cooking dinner is watching TV or a film before getting an early night. Originally I kept to myself a lot, chatting with a few folk but not making any big effort to join in. I am glad I did make some effort though as by the following Monday the hostel population had swelled to over 70. All of a suddenly there were people everywhere and the next weekend the hostel was definitely a place to party as everyone let off steam form a hard weeks work. Sadly for me I was working on the Saturday so I restricted myself to a few ciders before falling asleep in front of the TV whilst watching a film. It was worth it the next day though as though I felt a little woolly headed when I first woke up I didn’t have anything like a proper hangover so was able to work at a decent pace for the whole shift.

My second full week in Manjimup was pretty much like the first. I packed avocado’s thinned the trees at work and in the evenings watched a lot of films. I did decide to let go a bit at the weekend and joined my new friends drinking on the Saturday evening, from what I remember it was a fun night even if I did pay for it dearly the next day by feeling extremely delicate. It was a good weekend to party though as it was the weekend before Christmas and I was leaving the hostel the following Thursday to head back up to Perth for the holiday. The week flew by and though I was anxious about Christmas and the hostel had decorations up the Christmas songs were limited and the lack of pre-Christmas hype did make it easier. Before knew it my first stint on the farm was done and one of the family in Perth kindly came to collect me and take me back to their home, it was time for Christmas!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Thoughts on my Dad's Illness

My dad has cancer. It sucks. I know that when people die there is guilt but I didn’t realise that you can get it when they are merely ill. Well maybe not merely but you know what I mean. Jonathan died in March 2009. Three months later my dad celebrated his 60th birthday. I remember it well. The celebration was very low key, just a family dinner. It hurt. I didn’t want to be there. My dad isn’t a bad person, in fact he’s pretty decent and honourable. He’s honest to a fault, it’s very annoying. He is a good man. He, like many others, doesn’t deserve to have cancer. He also didn’t deserve to have a resentful daughter at his 60th birthday. Yes I was grieving and possibly not responsible for my actions never mind my thoughts and feelings but as often is the case in life it wasn’t fair. I couldn’t help but think ‘why does he get to celebrate his 60th birthday when Jonathan didn’t even make it to 27’. Even writing that makes me want to cry. Jonathan deserved to make it to 27. And my dad deserves to make it to 60 and 70 and 80. Jonathan wasn’t perfect but three months in to my grieving you couldn’t tell me that. I admitted his faults but no man, no person, was close to being his equal. Thankfully I got over that phase. I remember his faults now and they make me smile. I don’t manage to celebrate my friends and families birthdays I rejoice in them, thankfully knowing they made it through another year.

My dad once told me that he was stubborn and my mother was stubborn which made me sheer bloody obstinate or maybe it was pig headed? Nope I’m sure it was obstinate. My dad likes big words as much as I do. Thing is he was right. It got me through and now I just hope his stubbornness means he will win his fight. I didn’t think it was fair that my dad reached 60 when Jonathan didn’t but I never wanted him to die and I sure as hell don’t want that now. I’ve considered going home but I know there is no point. I’m living my new life and I know that makes my parents happy even if my dad doesn’t understand it or my facebooking or my blogging or even my texting and e-mailing. I’m not even sure he has my Aussie number, I’ll have to make sure he does. I assume my mum told him it but just in case I best make sure. Thing is he knows I’m happy and that’s all that matters to him. He doesn’t need details. He doesn’t need to friend me or follow me as long as he knows I’m ok. So I guess I owe him the same respect. I have to know that he’ll be ok because I know how stubborn I can be and I know where I got it from so cancer you may have found a way in but you have one hell of a fight on your hands and I pretty sure your gonna lose, in fact you might as well just give up now. Good riddance to cancer and keep fighting dad. You may not be my hero and we rarely see eye to eye but I know you’ll always love me so I thought I should let the world know I love you to. Keep fighting dad, you’ve got everything to live for, I promise. Love you always.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Holiday in Suburbia

My first day with the family after my friends had left Perth I slept in and it was fabulous. Having had a lovely long lie I got up had breakfast in my pj’s and then had a leisurely shower before putting on my shorts and a top and setting myself up at the kitchen table. The weather was lovely outside but I had been outside for over a week and I relished the chance to send a day indoors. I can’t even tell you what I did that day of the few following them. I spent time on facebook, I e-mailed friends and family, updated my CV, caught up on some of my blogs and edited and started going through the many photos I had accumulated over the last two months. It wasn’t exciting but it was fun. I loved having some time off being a tourist to catch up and remember my time being a tourist. On the Wednesday night I did join one of the family for a mini pub crawl and meet her work mates which was great fun especially as we discovered a fabulous little whisky bar at the end of the night where I finished the evening with a cocktail called 'Blood and Sand' that was far tastier than it sounds! At the weekend we took a trip to a winery where there was the possibility of some farm work stopping at a gallery and a bigger winery on the way. Though the work turned out not to be what I was looking for the smaller Avondale winery had some lovely wines and we purchased a few bottles to take home with us.

The following week was very much the same as the week before with the main difference being that I ventured outside more and even managed to fit in a swim or two as we had a few days where the temperature was over thirty degrees Celsius. As lovely as the heat was for me for the community of and surrounding Margret River it was bad news. A bush fire stated and soon got out of control due to adverse weather conditions. After a few days they got the blaze under control and thankfully though many homes were damaged no lives were lost. It was horrific to watch and brought home to me what a fabulous boring country the UK is. Ok we get some annoying snow but there are not fires, hurricane, earth quakes or anything like that. A sever gale force wind makes the news and though they can cause damage and be dangerous it’s nothing compared to what a lot of countries deal with on a regular basis.

As well as being concerned for the people caught in the fires I did have the concern that it would mean farm work would become scarcer. Fortunately for me I was to remain unaffected by the fires. My second weekend staying with the family we spent a day in Fremantle. Two of us stopped to speak to a very helpful lady at the Camera House shop there (if I had a spare $1400 she would have had it) and finding the perfect camera which I could in no way afford and being told of some free software editing programmes that will hopefully help me make improve my photos. After I had finished drooling at the pretty cameras we met up with the rest of our friends who were finishing their coffee when some of their friends stopped to say hello. By the time we had left the shop I had the number of a farmer in Manjimup who often hired backpackers looking for work towards their second year visa.  The next day we gave him a call and he had work available, yay! I arranged to be at the local hostel by the end of the month and he said that I should book in to the Manji Hostel and that the manager there would sort me out a room and transport to the farm. I could have offered to be there a few days sooner but I had a very important prior arrangement. I had been offered the chance to work at the Foo Fighters gig on the Monday night. I had to work through all the support acts but as soon as the Foo’s came on the crowd cleared and not long after I was set free to enjoy the gig. It was amazing and awesome and oh so very cool. They really are great live and I left loving them more than ever. It was completely unexpected, I didn’t even know they were touring but it turned out to be one of the most amazing nights in an Australian city so far.

The day following the gig we headed south to Busselton, listening to the Foo Fighters as we went of course. One of my friends had been at the gig but as she had paid for tickets she had been right at the front and we were both still on a high from the amazing gig, even if I was jealous of how close she got to be to Dave. We arrived in Busselton late in the afternoon and met up with my friends’ dad and his friends. He was down there for the week doing some sheep shearing and they were glad of the opportunity to catch up and hear about the dramas that had been going on including a truck going on fire earlier that day which had thankfully been put put without anyone being injured. During our catch up we also collected the keys for the house we would be spending the night in so that was our next stop. The house was lovely and we soon sorted out our sleeping arrangements, I dropped my bag in one of the rooms claiming it for me and the other female member of our group leaving the guys to fight over the remaining beds and couches amongst themselves. 

There isn’t much to do in Busselton but we managed to have an enjoyable evening. It started with some delicious Indian food followed by visiting two nearby pubs on the way home. The next day we headed up to the farm to see how the sheep shearing was progressing and lost one of our group as he was required to stay behind and help. The remainder of our groups then headed south to Margret River for a leisurely lunch before moving on to Manjimup. We found the town and hostel easily and my friends dropped me off before starting on the long drive back to Perth. A quick phone call from me to the manager and less than an hour later I was settled in to my room with an all important bottom bunk and instructions to be at the bus in the car park at 7:45am the next morning for my first working day in Manjimup.