Thursday, 30 August 2012

Hitting the Ground Running

It feels like I’m doing things back to front as per usual. When I arrived in Perth I took it easy. I’d had three weeks of not working before flying out so it wasn't like I was in need of a holiday but I had been there before and seen much of the sights so I wasn't anxious to explore nor was I looking for work at that time. So there I was in a busy city taking it easy. In contrast as soon as I arrived in Broome I asked about work. I knew I had enough money to survive for three weeks without employment but obviously the sooner I started earning the better. Therefore my first day in Broome was spent checking out the local restaurants, cafes and bars and handing out my CV. This also allowed me to familiarise myself with the town layout and get a feel for the place.

My job hunt was successful. I had a trial at my first choice place and it went really well. It was quiet but they liked me well enough to put me on the books and give me some weekend shifts. In fact I worked every day for the next week.  Though I have the basic skills it’ll take me time to learn the menu and how this place does things. It’s not fine dining but it is the most formal place I’ve worked so far and I like it. It’s got the small town feel I liked at the restaurant I learned in back home and I prefer the formality of this place to the casual dining of The Restaurant I worked in whilst in Perth. The staff here are more of a mix than The Restaurant.  There are some long term staff but mostly its backpackers filling the part time rolls where as in The Restaurant it was uni students. Don’t get me wrong I spent enough time as a student so I have nothing against them but these days I have more in common with the backpackers. I don’t think it ever occurred to the girls in The Restaurant that I might be educated never mind to what level. Anyway this place did ask how long I planned to stay and I said as long as there was work but really all they asked was that I give them notice when I plan to go. Since I have never left a job without giving notice this is one commitment I am happy to make.

One of the staff mentioned that there might be a room available but I found myself reluctant to take it. I like the hostel. I have made myself at home in my room and already I’ve grown used to the comings and goings of the other guests.  I’ve not had the chance to get to know any people yet but I’ve started to say hi to folk and swap small talk with some of the more obvious long term guests. I think if I moved now I would regret it and would miss out a large part of what I love about travelling, meeting folks. There is one girl in my room who is here long term. She works a lot but is friendly when our paths do cross. The girls passing through have been a mixed bag. There was an older Swiss lady who was on her 16th visit to Australia and was stopping in Broome between tours. She was lovely and was happy to give advice on which tours to take and when to take them to get the most from the region. There was a younger Swiss girl who was also stopping between tours who I also got on with but after I started working I hardly saw her. Then there was an Asian, and English and Australian girl. Out of thee I only really had a chance to talk to the Australian. She was visiting from the east coast and had a week of day tours lined up. I would loved to have heard about them but again I’ve hardly seen her as I’ve been working most evenings! The English girl was stopping for a week of sun and fun and the other girl I didn’t get a chance to talk to except to complain that the hostel hadn’t fixed the fan in our room, prematurely it turned out as the engineers turned up within the next hour to fix it. We have two empty beds now and I am looking forward to see who will take them over next.

Though I have been working it’s mostly been evening shifts thus allowing m the chance to do some exploring during the day. The older Swiss lady told me about a market that was held every weekend and said it was worth visiting so I decided to walk there on Saturday morning. On my way out of the hostel I met the younger Swiss girl and we walked there together. It was nice to chat but we parted way on arrival as she was meeting friends and I had other plans. See, Saturday is my naughty day. It’s the start of my weight watchers points so I usually allow myself a treat out of my weekly points. I had decided to walk to McDonalds to treat myself to a Malteser McFlurry after the markets. Not a great plan I admit but one I was looking forward to. The markets were indeed worth seeing and I could easily have spent a fair whack of my money there but I was restrained and contented myself with looking for the moment. I then went for my McFlurry and internet fix since McDonalds also has the virtue of free wifi. Usually I don’t need it but when I went to top up my internet I discovered the sim had been disconnected the day before as I had not topped it up for the last six months. A quick call and a new sim was on its way but I would have to wait a few days before it arrived. Until then it was McDonalds and hostel internet. Since the hostel internet is extortionately expensive my online activity was severely restricted for my first week in Broome. As usual I got caught up in facebook and before I knew it I had to return to the hostel to get ready for my evening shift.

During the week I discovered that the laundry here is closed in the morning. On questioning the receptionist about alternatives I discovered that there was a Coles in town. Coles and Woolworths are alike Asda and Tesco back home and like most folk I have my preference and for me it’s Coles. I think it’s cheaper and their fruit and veg selection is better.  Therefore before work on Sunday I was happy to wander up to Coles to do a weekly shop. On my way I realised I had missed out a large part of the town in my previous wanderings. The town isn’t large so that meant maybe a dozen shops but still it was half the town centre! I shall definitely be returning once I get paid to try out some of the cafes and visit some of the more interesting shops. Of course that could take a while. I get paid fortnightly and since I started just before payday I have to wait just over two weeks for my first pay. Thanks to my savings from The Restaurant I won’t have to sleep on the beach and I won’t starve but neither will I be dining out or buying anything new for a while. I guess it’s enforced savings which in all honesty isn’t a bad thing. 

I was suppose to have a day off on the Monday but agreed to do a small evening shift which allowed me enough time to do my laundry and since I couldn’t do that until the afternoon it gave me the whole morning to explore. I was woken at 7am by the garbage trucks which suited me fine as it meant by 8am I was up, dressed, fed and out of the hostel. I had to make a quick stop at work to get my phone but then it was back to town beach where I gave my camera a proper workout. In fact I spent so long photographing the beach and the walk to it from my work that it was 10am before I was on my way to my actual destination for the day, the dinosaur footprints. If you know me well then you will know that I love dinosaurs, I’m like a 5 years old kid the minute you mention them. Unfortunately because I took so long getting there the tide was coming in so I couldn’t see them however the stunning scenery kept me entertained and it was still worth the walk. The nice thing about being here for a while is knowing I can go back and time my journey better next time so that I have a better chance of seeing them. I also saw an Osprey nest and again put my camera to good use zooming in as close as I could to try get a better look and capture it. So entranced by my surroundings was I that it was 2pm before I was back at the hostel and I had to rush to get my washing on. Fortunately there was a free machine and space on the line. I also took the opportunity of the hot weather to wash out my small rucksack which was definitely overdue. The hot weather also meant that despite my late start my uniform was ready just in time for work. You gotta love a tropical climate.

The next day my system got a double shock. The first was a 6am start as I had my first breakfast shift. We were down a member of staff but I think I did ok and I got to finish at 3pm leaving me at a bit of a loss at what to do with myself. It was at this point my system received its second shock as I used my staff drink to taste all our speciality beers. I only had large shot of each beer but seven of them was enough to make me feel decidedly light headed and I felt quite ‘floaty’ on the walk back to the hostel. Once there I had an early dinner and decided to take myself off to my room to read a book. It might not have been the most exciting evening ever but after my hectic week it was a well deserved rest.  

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Broome: First Impressions


Having experienced my first airport delay you might think I would be wondering if the world was trying to tell me something but the thought never crossed my mind. I arrive in Broome at 8pm at night and walked across the road to the hostel. It is a licensed YHA so I was warned not to bring in any alcohol. Of course that would never be a problem for me but since I am on my dry kick it amused me slightly. The people I saw whilst checking in were mostly young and were obviously on their way out to a local club. The receptionist was very friendly so I asked her about any work going in the area or if they were looking for staff. She said they were looking and offered to point out a few places I might try in town. So after dumping my stuff and unpacking the bare minimum I went back downstairs to the bar for a diet coke and some information. She said they manger was looking for a six month commitment. I am sure you can imagine my response to that but on reflection I thought it might work. If I were able to explore the nearby national p arks and surrounding area and even take a week or two off to go further afield then maybe staying in Broome for six months could be just what I needed. Since I wasn’t sure what the hostel would be looking for I also gratefully took the map with some local bars and cafes marked on it. During our conversation I also noticed a more eclectic mix of people coming and going which relieved me slightly as I am definitely not looking to hang out with the young drinking and dancing crown,

One of the problems with arriving at night is that sometimes your roomies are asleep and this makes organising yourself difficult. I had managed to find my pj’s and sort of make my bed on arrival but decided that would do for my first night. I therefore spent the rest of the night sitting in the common area watching the world go by whilst working through a book I had been given on my birthday during a previous visit to Perth. I only meant to flick through it but ended up reading it for hours. I now have an even longer list of places to go and things to do including learning to kayak. I wonder, should I place that before or after the scuba diving? I have to learn to kayak because there were too many great adventures suggested by this book that involved it for it not to be an essential skill that I must one day learn.

Back in the real world and the next morning it was time to go job hunting. I got up reasonably early as I had not slept too well. Though Broome is warmer than Perth I only had a light sheet and the absence of a blanket makes sleep difficult for me. Surprisingly the noise didn’t bother me as much and I found myself strangely happy to be back in a hostel.  Once I was showered and dressed in my summer clothes my first stop had to be the supermarket. On my way out the manager was at reception so I stopped to say hello and give her my CV. I’m not sure this was a good idea as I was sleepy and hungry and therefore don’t think I made the best impression. Still she took my CV and said she’d have a look at it. The next stop was more successful. I bought food and stopped on my way back to ‘hire’ some utensils from the front desk which allowed me to finally get some breakfast. I must remember in future that a late arrival means no food in the morning.

Fed and watered I headed out to explore the town and visit the two most promising places on the map for work. The first place I went to was nice with a friendly comfortable atmosphere. One of the staff took my CV and asked me some questions before going to find his boss. He was unsuccessful but told me he would pass on my CV and to call back in a few days if I hadn’t heard from them. The next place was a more typical bar and for the first time in years I was required to pour a pint, well a middy which is kind of like an Aussie half pint. It wasn’t my best effort but it also wasn’t my worst and I think I came off as out of practice rather than inexperienced which is as well considering how many pints I pulled in my youth in between university terms. The girl I spoke to was friendly and asked me to drop back with a completed application form and my RSA attached to my CV. I wandered round the area seeing if there were any other likely employment opportunities. There wasn’t really but there were some interesting shops and some places I would try if nothing comes of my first round of CV dropping.

After a quick stop for some lunch I returned to the hostel to print my RSA and fill out the bar application form.  I also took the opportunity to get a blanket for my bed in the hopes it would help me sleep better. I’m pretty sure the staff here think I’m stalking them as I kept returning to the reception desk but with blanket, internet, utensils acquired and food bags labelled I think I can leave them in peace from now on. I decided to take advantage of the nice weather and walk the five kilometres to cable beach. I took my CVs with me but I was more interested in the walk than looking for work at this point. On my way I got a call from my first and preferred venue and we organised a trial for the following day. I then enjoyed my walk helped by the sun disappearing in the foggy sky lowering the temperature making it a great day for walking.

At Cable beach I handed in my CV to the cafe I stopped at to buy a cool drink. They weren’t really looking and at that moment neither was I but it did hurt to leave it with them since I was there.  Rested and watered I walked back to the hostel feeling that I my first twenty-four hours in Broome had been pretty successful. Now all I need is a friend or two and I think I shall like it here quite nicely. 

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Moving On

My last week in Perth turned out to be rather eventful. Wednesday and Thursday were filled with work as I had two split shifts though I did manage to get home on Wednesday for a nap as Jonathan’s sister kindly chauffeured me home for my break. My last two shifts were to be 6pm until close Friday and Saturday. Friday dawned a bright and sunny day so I got up at a reasonably early hour and did some washing before heading back to the marina with Jonathan’s sister for our last voucher meal. This time it was curry for two and the meal was as tasty as the others. On the way home I detoured to the local fruit and veg man for the last time. I bought plenty of bananas not just because we all love them but I also thought to make some banana bread. Unfortunately since I have never made it before it wasn’t until I got home that I found out you are supposed to use over ripe bananas. Since no banana has lasted long enough to become over ripe in the last two months I set a few aside to ripen so I could bake it on the Sunday. I used my spare time to sunbathe and sort my now clean clothes into staying and going. Very excitingly most jumpers went in to the going pile as I hope to stay only in sunny places for the rest of my trip.

Unfortunately all that fruit, veg, spicy sauce and fizzy juice caught up with me not long after I got to work that night. Let just say I had an upset stomach and left work rather quickly after arriving. I then spent the night sitting on the sofa feeling rather sorry for myself. Luckily it didn’t last and though I wasn’t my usual ravenous self the next morning I decided not to risk it and called in to work sick. Not my finest ending to a job ever as it was to be my last shift but since I never really took to The Restaurant the guilt I felt at missing not one but two weekend shifts didn’t last especially as it turned out I could be useful at ‘home’.

The family were hosting afternoon tea and then a full on party for a family members 50th birthday. I spent the morning shuffling on my bum round the pool picking at weeds and then doing some sweeping and general tidying, helping out where I could. I did take some time to pack up my things and was relieved that they did all fit into my bag even if it was a little bit tight in there. Maybe, well definitely really, I should have sent more things home but I am just so sure I might want this top or that dress and I skimp on shoes so surely a few bags are allowed?! Once as I had packed as much as I could I returned to the party preparations. Once folk started arriving I set myself up as the ‘official’ photographer which allowed me to wander round picking at the cakes and snapping as I went. It was a good day for me. I mostly ate desert and bread, though I did squeeze in a couple of chicken drumsticks and some salad at dinner time before returning to yet more deserts. After everyone had gone and the place was more or less clean and tidy again I even allowed myself to ask my host for a wee dram of whiskey to finish my day of decadence off. It wasn’t just Scottish whiskey it was from the distillery at the back of my parents’ house so it really was a true taste of home as well as being a rather fine dram.

My wee dram helped me sleep well and I had a lovely long lie. So much so that by the time I was ready to leave for lunch everyone was waiting on me. On various trips to Freo I had heard about the Monk Brewery’s paella and how it was just the thing on a winters Sunday. When we ordered we were given a ticket and told to head up to the terrace area where a chef was cooking up a large pan of paella which smelled divine. It lived up to its reputation and aroma. The only down side was that one of our group had to wait over 20 minutes for his as he decided to come up a few minutes after us and by the time he reached the head of the queue the current serving was finished and he was told to come back for the next one. As he arrived back empty handed the dishes from the regular menu arrived and the rest of us dug in to our lunch. The wait did allow me to get some snaps which was fortunate as I had planned to get a group shot to put in a frame as a thank you present, an idea given to me by Jonathan’s sister earlier that week. Eventually we had all been fed and decided to walk off our meal with a wander round the Freo markets. I am glad I have visited them before when they were quiet as Sunday lunch time was the worst time to visit them. They were so busy it was difficult to see anything though we did manage to purchase some delicious cupcakes and some UK sweeties. Despite the crowded markets it was a fun day out and was finished off nicely with a skype home to the in-laws and a lazy night in front of a film.

My last full day in Perth was spent packing and washing before an early lunch with one of the first backpacker friends I made in Australia. We went to the marina where we visited one of my favourite restaurants before a last look at the shops there where I found the perfect frame for the previous day’s group photo. We stopped back at the house for a cuppa before taking a trip to a local shopping centre where I purchased a multi-photo frame to go with the group photo I purchased earlier. Before I knew it my friend had headed home and it was time for my last evening meal in Perth before watching a good film and then it was time for bed.

My flight to Broome wasn’t leaving until early evening so I had plenty of time to do the last minute packing. Every time we planned to go to the zoo it had rained so it wasn’t much of a surprise that on my last day it was no different. Since I was leaving that day we went anyway. I don’t think I have ever seen such a quiet zoo. A lot of the animals were hiding from the poor weather but we did manage to see a few of the hardier ones. Zoos are funny places. On the one hand it was great to see an elephant up close but on the other I always think the enclosures look so small. There was the usual information about endangered species and the zoo’s efforts to conserve the species through captive breeding and environmental conservation. Whilst I can see how zoo’s can help I always come back to how sad and bored the animals look.  Despite my internal debate on the propriety of zoos I still managed to have fun and due to the quietness of the place we were out in time for lunch. My last meal in Perth was a chicken kebab but it was a very good kebab and a good way to end my last visit.  From lunch it was on to the airport. We said our goodbyes and I sent my friends on their way knowing I was quiet good at entertaining myself at airports which turns out to be fortunate because for the first time ever my flight was delayed. Frankly I am surprised I have been fortunate enough for it to take this long and it was not a long delay. We arrived in Broome only an hour later than expected and it was a balmy and dry 20 degrees C. I definitely wasn’t in Perth any more!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Time To Go

In my usual well planned and thought out manner the other week I decided it was time to move on and booked my flight to Broome. I had been undecided about how and where to go and eventually settled on flying to Broome as this was the cheapest way to get there and though my funds are healthy enough I want them to stay that way. As I am not guaranteed work when I get to Broome I thought it would be more sensible to go with what I have rather than using it to get there by bus and stopping at every town along the way. From many discussions with my local friends I have decided that May would be the perfect time to travel the west coast and have decided to fly back in to Perth next May and tour the coastal towns then. I thought I was bad with Sydney but I seem to be even worse with my boomeranging back to Perth. I am quite sure the family here will be most relived when I finally fly to New Zealand and they are safe from my random unplanned stays!

Usually I like to take the bus since this is the most environmentally friendly and usually cheaper way to travel but I am sorry to say that I could not bring myself to pay more to travel for a day and a half on a bus when the cheaper flight option will only take me a few hours.  To slave my conscience I of course ticked the carbon offset box but I’m not entirely convinced that it dies any good. Oh well, one can but try. Anyway soon I shall be there and then I can go back to trying to being as frugal and green as I can manage.

Until then I have decided to enjoy my last few weeks in the city as much as I could. Though I did have to keep  working I was fortunate to get two days off on my last week. The previous week I managed to catch up with some friends from the farm over lunch in the city. They are both working in offices looking very professional and different from the farm girls I knew in Manjimup. It was lovely to catch up and hear their news and plans. Both would like to stay and though only one looks like getting sponsorship the other was being positive and talking about the other places she and her partner could go on the working visa. Fortunately from them they are young enough that they can take time exploring their options though of course I have my fingers crossed that something will turn up here for them both since they seem to love Perth so much.

My days off during my last week were for once not spent being entirely lazy. On the Monday I did have a lie in before myself and Jonathan’s sister headed out to the aquarium at the local marina. It was fun and though not as large or as impressive as the Sydney aquarium I still enjoyed seeing the different fish, especially as I’ve being playing a silly aquarium game on my iTouch which meant I could see the fish I had been ‘buying’ in real life. Afterwards we wandered over the commercial side of the marina and had sushi for lunch. I’m not sure if that was a little insensitive or not but it was certainly tasty. I will miss that sushi place when I leave.  The day only got better as Jonathan’s sister made steak pie for dinner and it was extremely delicious. On Tuesday we had another lie in before heading in to Freo for a late lunch and wander round with some friends. I took my camera on both outings and it was fun to see what I could do with it in the different settings. My two days off were finished off nicely with a tapas dinner in the city centre. This was another voucher attempt and this time it was tapas in a small bar accompanied by some wine for the others and diet coke for me as I am still on my not drinking kick and therefore volunteered to drive. The food was good and though there wasn’t much of it what was there was surprisingly filling, though we did stop off at McDonalds on the way home to get some desert.  I must say it was a very nice way to finish off my last official days off whilst still employed.

Thoughts on New Relationships: An update

Two years ago I wrote a post on my thoughts on new relationships. It was a rather short and slightly aggressive post. Jonathan was all I had ever known and 17 months after his death I was not capable of seeing anyone else sharing my life with me. I was completely honest in that post. I did want to learn who I was. I did need to find that out on my own without the influence of another person changing me before I had settle on who me was. However as true as all that was I also was not ready to date. This became patently obvious the one time I was asked out. There was badgering and teasing and eventually my life story was given because being only 30 repeatedly saying ‘I don’t date’ was understandably not really taken seriously. Now the good natured teasing continued and mostly I was fine with it but there were times I struggled with it. Despite all my lip service to being open to dating this incident showed that I wasn’t. The idea was completely and utterly foreign to me. It was like suggesting I start writing with my left hand, whilst it was theoretically possible I had no idea where to begin. Eventually I worked though it and realised that whilst part of it was a resistance to anyone else taking a place that belonged to Jonathan there was also a fear of dating. I met Jonathan at 17. I had never dated. I didn’t actually know how to date. What does one say? What does one do? What on earth does one wear?!

Well a fair bit of time has passed since that incident and I have actually come to terms emotionally with the terrifying idea of dating. I think I am open to the idea of meeting up with someone for a drink and chat and seeing if we could ‘date’. I have more or less got my head around the idea that Jonathan’s place is safe and someone else would make their own place in my heart. However life is rarely straight forward and now I have another issue. I like being on my own. I have 10 months left on my Australian visa and a 23 month New Zealand visa after that too look forward to. I have the travel bug and I have it bad. I don’t want to stay in one place for too long because I start to think of all the amazing places out there I haven’t seen yet. I’m only 30 but I’m set in my ways and don’t take well to anyone else trying too hard to influence my life choices. I have a long list of places to go and see and there is no time to date. When I do finally date I know there will be emotional issues to face so part of me is relieved that I won’t have to deal with them for a while but most I’m just not that bothered. I have a good life, in fact an amazing life. Unless I happen to stumble across a man willing to date me as we move from place to place then even though emotionally I have moved on practically I’m more or less where I was 2 years ago with one crucial difference. I’m not looking for a new relationship. I’m not looking for a new man. Not because I am looking for me and trying to discover who I am but because I worked it out already and am having too much fun being her! 

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Still in Perth

Wow is it really August already?! Where does the time go when we’re not looking? Well I am still in Perth but starting to think about moving on. I’ve been working for The Restaurant for just over three weeks now and though the folks are nice enough and the work isn’t too bad I’m not really clicking with the place. I’m working six days a week and though the shifts aren’t long I don’t like to make plans or do too much beforehand. Also I am trying to save as much money as possible and though I am working six days the short shifts mean I’m not making as much as I’d like. It just doesn’t feel worth it. I spoke to my boss yesterday and she’s going to see about giving me two days off on the next roster but I think I’ll be calling it quits about then and heading north. It's safe to say my heart was never really in it so I guess this turn of events is unsurprising but I still feel uncomfortable about my lack of success there. 

I admit I have trepidations about leaving. Life is very safe here. I have a job and a roof over my head and it’s easy to save what I do earn. The people I am staying with are some of the loveliest I have met and take good care of me. Also I haven’t met up with many of my friends in Perth yet and I’d like to see them all before I go but as comfortable as it is here I feel the need to be on the move. I am concerned about getting work as I have so many places I want to see but I am hoping that something will turn up in one of the places I land which will make me want to stay a few months to earn some more cash. However that is still a few weeks away so for now I’m concentrating on enjoying Perth whilst I can.

Last night I did attempt to take the folks I’m staying with out to dinner but the deal I got turned out to be for a food court not a restaurant!  The food was alright and the guy who owns it turned out to be a real character but it was not what we had in mind when we left the house that evening. C'est la vie. Still we got fed and my intentions were good and it'l be another story to add to my multitude of random failed plans stories. I have two lunch ‘dates’ this week with some friends from the hostel I stayed in down south when I did my farm work on my last stay and I am rostered for an early finish on Saturday so I am hope to get in to the city with some friends and have a proper night out with the girls too.  The fact that I’m thinking of moving on combined with my improved bank balance means I can go out and have fun without worrying about the cost and simply enjoy seeing my friends. Of course the improved bank balance has other temptations........ I did consider going shopping this week as I saw a pretty dress the other day but when I realised the cost of the dress was equivalent to a weeks accommodation in a hostel it quickly lost its appeal! I’m not sure what that says about me, maybe that the whole experience over things attitude is no longer a necessity but has become ingrained as a way of life for me which I would be very happy with. 

Of course some things cannot be so easily dismissed, I am still part way in love with my DSLR camera. It has been out for one or two outings but it’s mostly been neglected as I've concentrated on other things like earning money, I know I'm so boring. I think in the next week or two I shall make it a priority to get out there as much as possible in between shifts so when I do get back on the move I’ll be more familiar with it. For now though I am off to the city to enjoy lunch with a lovely lady and maybe even squeeze in a quick visit to the art gallery. Best take Zack and the camera with me just in case I end up some where interesting on the way.