Monday, 23 July 2012

Back to Work

Well I’ve been here for a whole month now and all of a sudden I feel more like I’m back in the UK. Two weeks in Perth drained my bank account more than I had planned so since the temp agencies weren’t getting back to me with shifts I got myself an actual job. Three months waitressing and my barista course paid off and I was offered not one but two jobs on the same day. Though one was closer I accepted the offer for one further away on the basis that they could offer me more hours straight away and I would get a chance to waitress, make coffee and work on the bar. I can’t say where it is even though most people wouldn’t recognise the name as they make all their employees sign a confidentiality and code of conduct agreement with an online clause in there. I guess it’s not good for business if people moan about work online so it makes sense so from now on it shall merely be referred to as “The Restaurant”.

The other big decision in my life recently has been to change my New Zealand visa from a 23 month application to a 12 month one. However within hours of making this decision it felt wrong so I decided to go ahead with the medical and apply for the 23 month one after all. I started work 3 weeks after arriving back in Perth and had two days off. My first was spent learning the menu and a visiting another franchise of The Restaurant to see how it feels to be on the other side of the menu. My second day off was spent getting a 2 hour medical for my NZ visa application and watching Dr Who.

My days in work were spent learning as I went. I had 4 hours intensive training on a computer then they put me on the floor to learn the layout and run food and drink. I also got a chance to try my hand at the bar before they let me loose on the customers.  The work is hard and they’ve thrown me in at the deep end but I’m loving it. It’s good to be working again and I’m looking forward to getting paid and seeing my bank balance go in the other direction. I’m also looking forward to putting my newly learned coffee making skills to the test during a few of the quieter shifts. With any luck by the time I’m done I’ll not only be an experienced waitress but also Aussie bar tender and barista and extremely employable in my future travels.

It’s not all work, I managed to fit in a quick hot chocolate with a friend between one of my split shifts and I’m off to see the new Batman film later today.  Also as I have a few late starts I’ll have a few days to myself so I’ve arranged to meet a friend for lunch on one of them and am looking forward to chilling out on the others, not to mention planning where I can go with all the money that I’m making now once I’m ready to leave Perth.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Thoughts on the Best Laid Plans

Well a wise man once said that “The best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men, Gang aft agle”. Well my plans were not best laid and they have certainly gone agle! First there was my brothers wedding which meant I had to re-write my plans to go home before going to New Zealand next year. At first this freaked me out but once I worked out the details and realised I could afford to come back to finish my Australian visa before going on to New Zealand I managed concentrate on the wonderfulness of him marring the woman he loves and not panicking about choosing between living the dream or attending their wedding. Then there was Josh’s sister. Originally I had wondered if I should come home or stay on. I decided to come home for a few weeks and then head back out once I had my second visa. This plan was changed when she asked me to wait a month or two and go back with her instead. I agreed and decided it wouldn’t hurt at all to take the chance to earn some much needed cash since I would be home long enough to seek employment. She did ask if I would stay in Perth with her but I explained that I’m not the kind to get a proper job and settle anywhere. If I were I wouldn’t be out here in the first place. I think this really hit me the other week when she talked about how she was on holiday. See I’m not on holiday. I am trying to make this lifestyle my life. It’s not a break or a time out anymore it’s my life. Which is why the last plan didn’t work out either.

I was fortunate enough to have some money in my Australian account which I had earmarked for going north and finding work but a couple of weeks in the city made quite a dent in it. After two weeks I made a decision. I could have risked going north and looking for work on what I had but instead of meandering up I would have to take a more direct route. That wouldn’t have been terrible but it would have been a shame. My other option was to stay put for a while longer than planned and build up my financial reserves. I choose the latter option for a few reasons. One it’s always nice to be earning money when you aren’t paying for your accommodation, it does make it so much easier to save. The other was the sister-not-in-law. She knew when we came over that I always planned on leaving but she wasn’t getting work as easily as we thought she would due to the differences in the way her job is carried out over here. She tried temping but she’s really more a permanent kind of person I think. Though technically she has asked me to stay I know she would understand if I left but if the wedding panicking fiasco taught me one thing it is this: People are more important than plans. I may not be one of her friends and I know it’s not fun that I’m not drinking at the moment and now I’m working too, actually..... I’m pretty sure I’m the world’s most boring companion right now, but for the next wee while anyway I’ll hang about a bit. You never know I may yet come in use.

It’s a shame I’ll not get to travel the west coast in the dry season this year but if I don’t manage it this trip then maybe I can do it next May when I return. I haven’t checked out where I’ll go now when I leave now. I want it to be warm and sunny yes but most importantly I want it to be somewhere new. Australia is a massive place and it’s won’t be surprising if I don’t get to see it all. The wise scot also said that plans “lea'e us nought but grief an' pain, For promis'd joy!” which is why I think I stopped making plans in the first place. Making a plan was an interesting experiment but I think on balance I’ll go back to having intentions. I get too annoyed when the plans don’t work which they rarely do. So now I intent to see as much of Australia as I can over the next 8 months, I intend on going home for my brother wedding and I sure as hell intend on returning afterwards. But plan? I think not. I think the planning I’ll leave to the grown-up from now on and go back to enjoying the randomness of the unplanned backpacking life. After all the way I live my life and the choices I have are luxuries that not many people have so I think it is only right that I embrace them and remember to be thankful for all the amazing opportunities they bring me.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Back in Oz

I’ve been back in Australia for two weeks now and in many ways it feels like I never left. I flew in to Perth this time and am staying with the same family who looked after me so well on my last few stays here. It’s a lot colder than I remember it being since they’re in to their winter now but it’s still warmer and drier than home so I’m not complaining. During the day when the sun is out it’s been around 20 degrees C recently but the nights are still pretty cold, getting down to 2-4 degrees C. I ventured out without my jacket one day and was very thankful that the folks we met for dinner brought along a jacket I could borrow otherwise I would not have enjoyed my evening stroll round Fremantle as much.

There are a few noticeable differences this time round. The main one is of course the fact I have company in the form of Josh’s sister. It’s nice to have someone to chat to and explore with. We’ve spent a lot of time relaxing at home but we have made it in to Fremantle a few times. Once we went in for a few drinks with  a friend then another sunny day we had lunch and explored the jail before meeting our afore mentions friends with the jacket for dinner. Another difference is that I’ve actually managed to get in to a jogging routine. The colder morning and evenings mean that it’s a lot easier to run this time of year. The plan is that when the hot weather comes I’ll be fit enough to keep it up and only have to adjust the heat.

It looks like I’ll be in Perth for the next month and a bit so I’ve signed up with a couple of hospitality temp agencies. I’m also going on a barista course to learn how to make a decent cup of coffee. I can’t stand the stuff but the Australians take it very seriously so this course should make me much more employable. I’ve also been assured that it won’t hurt me to have in New Zealand either do hopefully I’ll get my moneys worth over the next few years. Well two years at least. My New Zealand plan seems to have hit a small road bump in that I need a medical for the 23 month visa. At $640 it’s not worth it right now so I’ve applied for the 12 month visa instead. I have heard of other people getting extensions granted after they turn 31 but the people I spoke to were adamant it wouldn’t be allowed. I guess I shall have to wait and see. Right now I’m concentrating on staying in Australia and making enough money to see all the amazing places I missed last year.