Monday, 29 December 2014

Arranging a Holiday from my Working Holiday

Since the money worries were looking more manageable and the flights had been sorted I had only to get two weeks off from my brand new job and I was sorted. I knew my request would be met with disbelief but once I explained myself to my manager and the owner both very understanding. If push had come to shove I would have given up the job to attend my friend’s wedding but it was a great relief to know that I would have a job waiting for me on my return (see previous post). In the intervening weeks I worked hard and impressed them enough with my work ethic that they became surer of me. At least I assume that’s why my hours steadily increased. In fact before long I was turning down work from the temp agency as the cafe kept me fully occupied. 

Life at the hotel fell into a settled routine. As mentioned in previous posts the six bed dorm was not ideal, especially with my early starts. There was the guy who ate in the room, which wouldn’t have been a problem if opening the widow didn’t let in all the smoke from the smokers area outside. There was the fact that others were out working late or partying late. Then there was the couple who insisted they weren't a couple but lay in bed naked together. Put it all together and finally I cracked. I liked the hotel but it was too much. I spoke to reception and fortunately I could change to a quieter six bed for the remainder of my stay before I left. They also promised that on my return I could move to a four bed all girls dorm! Life was looking up and I even managed to claim a bottom bunk in my new room the following day. It still wasn't ideal but the prospect of my fast approaching holiday kept me going, well that and arranging the hen night! You see on announcing that I would 100%, absolutely, bar acts of god be at her wedding I was immediately made a bridesmaid!!! I was incredibly excited about this in case it’s not obvious from the exclamation marks.....

This meant that when not at work I battled with the hotels less than wonderful internet to arrange a hen do in London, discuss dresses, hairstyles and of course shoes! It’s amazing what you can do with even the dodgiest of internet connections. We e-mailed ideas and photos back and forth. The bride and one of the other bridesmaids went dress and shoe shopping sending me picture texts of their successes and the same bridesmaid scouted out venues that we found online. We set up a facebook group and I only needed one international call to the London Gin Club to secure our evening booking, everything else was done online. Yet for the internet! Life was looking good again. 

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Thoughts on Money Problems

I wasn’t sure about the following post but every time I doubt about sharing something personal I remember that this is my diary and that usually the stuff I am most hesitant about sharing is the stuff that strikes a chord with you lot. This post was inspired by a friend who was very open about her money troubles. this helped me to accept and take responsibility for my own so I thought too would tell my story. After all in a society where possessions are everything, don't we all struggle? Well this post will show that even when you chose to live a life where experience not possessions is the goal money can still cause you problems if you don't keep your eye on it.

I always thought that nothing could stop me from going to my best friend’s wedding however I didn't account for her timing, the Australian tax system, and my terrible money management. It had cost me to go back for my brother wedding. I was fortunate that my family heavily subsidised my attendance and treated me to hotel stays and meals out but I do like to pay my own way and I knew I had tax owing to me from Oz. The tax and super annotation refund when you leave Oz is something I have heard many wonderful things about and was much looking forward to. Between these 'facts' I decided that it was safe and right to give the credit card a bit of a battering so I could get the most from my month at home. I can't say I regret my actions though I think I would more if I hadn't had an extremely generous gift later on but I get ahead of myself. So my trip home had left my credit card a bit more battered that was comfortable but I had money coming so it was fine except that now I needed a return plane ticket to London ASAP and that wasn’t going to come cheap. Now I could just about put it on my much maligned credit card but by this point I was in dispute with the Australian government. They said I owed them the best part of $4000 and I believed that they should owe be the best part of $3000. This meant that my promise to not miss my best friend’s wedding was in serious peril. I have to say she was being very understanding about my hesitation to promise to be there. As well as my money troubles I had just started a new job, which was a relief on the money front but I had promised them I'd stay at least 6 months. Life was looking less than sunny in more ways than one. At this point I did wonder how on earth I could have let this happen again??? It seems when it comes to money I just never learn. This time though I was determined. I would sort it out myself. 

Two things happened at this stage to make life a little sunnier. A chat with the tax people in Oz determined that if I filled out a form explaining that I had filled out my e-tax incorrectly and how they would reassess me and I should then no longer owe them money. This was a huge relief. The second was the offer of a loan so I could afford to buy the much desire plane ticket to London and back. Now there is not much that would have made me accept such a thing at this point but there was no way I could continue my friendship with my best friend knowing that I had the chance to attend her wedding but had refused it out of pride. The loan was accepted, the plane tickets bought oh and the tax people, they agreed that they owed me not I them Though it turned out to be less than I had thought I decided to quit when I was ahead. As for the super whilst I knew exactly what was in there and whilst it was all returned to me I also failed to account for the fact the Australian tax people would take almost half of it. 

The lesson here was never to trust what other people say and to check out these things for myself. Also, don't spend money you haven't actually got not matter how sure you are that it's coming your way. Since I am writing this even more in retrospect than usual I can assure my friends and family that this is an issue which in now fully under control and is no longer giving me sleepless nights. In fact I currently have more money saved than I ever have in my life and am extremely proud of myself. Not only to I ahve enough to fully clear all my debt I’m on track to have a very comfortable budget for my future travels. I won’t say I didn’t have some help but mostly I managed this on my own and I honestly think it was a 
long overdue lesson that I have finally (hopefully!) learned. 

Friday, 26 December 2014


Finally I success! After applying online and in person to many places looking for staff I happened to ask a local bakery/cafe if they were looking. They were near the hostel and I had been in a few times for their lovely pastries and hot chocolate. The friendly staff said they might be looking for part time staff and to hand in my CV. The next day I took in the last copy of my CV and chatted with the supervisor whilst buying yet another pastry. I could tell even then that getting work there could prove dangerous. Before long I got a call and after a few questions about my experience and how long I could and wanted to stay in Wellington for I was asked to come in for a trial. It's conceited I know but I was pretty sure once I could show them I was capable I'd be employed. I'd been in the place as a customer and liked the vibe so the only problem would be if they didn't like me as a person. Now I know it's hard to believe but this does occasionally happen, my supervisor in Broome never did warm to me! Anyway I was hopeful and it turns out rightly so. After a “this is how things work now get on with it” style trial I was asked to start the following Saturday. It was stressed that it was part time work and I was happy with that as I had my temp work to supplement my earning from the bakery. Life in Wellington was looking up.

Not only had I found a work I was by this time living in a long term hostel which was actually a hotel. That meant that whilst I was still living in dorms the bathrooms looked quite swish and there was a bar/bistro attached. The staff were much friendlier and helpful than the YHA staff and I soon felt at home. The other guest seemed a little cliquish at first but once I made the effort to chat them they soon became friendly enough, especially once it became clear I would be staying around for a while. 

The six bed mixed dorm wasn't ideal but I thought I could live with it for the six weeks I was staying before moving to a four bed on my return from the UK. Oh yeah, no sooner had I arrived in Wellington than one of my oldest and closest friends announced her wedding date, almost exactly two months to the day from my arrival in New Zealand. I hadn’t planned on heading home quite so soon but this was one occasion I knew I had to make an effort for. All I had to do was work out the details.....

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

New Zealand Then and Now

Zealandia is an expensive day out and I would only recommend it if you are into walking. For my part I looked on the expense as my contribution to the conservation effort. Is the visit worth the money? Not if you think only of what you do whilst there but if you consider all the work they do and that the place is so much more than you see then I consider my money well spent. As well as having a lovely day out, the sun was shining and the wind was slight for a change, I took the opportunity to learn about New Zealand the land mass both as it is now as how it came to be. I am fascinated but how our planet has evolved. Even at my age I still love dinosaurs, dinosaurs are cool and anyone who says otherwise doesn't know what they are talking about. When I was in Australia I made a point of going to the museums in the cities I visited and whilst they had the usual dinosaur exhibits they had new marsupial dinosaurs! Animals I had never seen or heard of and they were also very cool. Therefore I hoped and was not disappointed to find something similar in New Zealand. Here it was massive flightless birds. I think of New Zealand as a couple of small islands but once it was a large land mass which at one point was almost completely submerged as it got smaller and smaller, before it became the real life Atlantis though it rose again as the tectonic plates moved and sea levels fell again until it became the islands we know and love today. 

 Though the Maori were here long before the Europeans settled here they have nothing on the aboriginals whose culture goes back over 50,000. That means that in historical terms New Zealand was uninhabited until very recently which in turn means that it was untouched and unique. Then people came along and tamed it but though much of the untouched beauty has gone it is still an amazingly beautiful place. The wildlife and plants are different again though the climate bears more similarity to home so some of it is strikingly familiar. Anyway the point of this is that Zealandia is a sanctuary where they are trying to eradicate the non-native species so that the native ones can once again flourish. It is an ambitious but I think worthwhile project and I was happy to donate to the cause in exchange for a chance to look around the place. In fact writing about it makes me want to visit it again and since it is summer (less rain, warmer wind) I may even look in to a year pass.....

As for the place itself it was peasant place to walk around. It was peaceful and the walks were not challenging but also not too easy as to be uninteresting. The scenery was like nothing I have ever seen and yet I was still in the capital city! I can honestly say that Welly is the least city like city I have ever been in and I love it. We didn’t see the reclusive Kakapo or Kiwi but we saw plenty of other birds and had a few quite sit downs in some lovely clearings whilst waiting just in case one should happen to come along. All in all it was a lovely day out and a great break from my unsuccessful job hunting.