Packing Up…

Packing Up

It’s been a busy few weeks…!

As most of you know, we made the decision to move to New Zealand in January. It has been no mean feat to finish up working, pack up an entire flat of contents and pack for a significant extended time in a new country! Suffice to say there has perhaps been a few miscalculated decisions…!

A lot going on, but now finally a bit of space to allow those blogging fingers to put themselves back into action… (it’s been a wee while, I really haven’t done our adventures in Scotland enough justice!) I thought I would share some Edinburgh packing up tips:

  • It takes you longer than you think to sell all your belongings.
  • We had stuff in the flat listed on Ebay, Gumtree and many Facebook groups. All with their different pros and cons. Always get proof of postage for Ebay in case of a dispute. The benefit of Facebook – you don’t need to pay seller fees.
  • Edinburgh based facebook groups if you are trying to sell (or looking for something) – Get Rid of it Edinburgh; Edinburgh Just Furniture; For Sale or Wanted Edinburgh & Lothians; Edinburgh and Lothians Ultimate Bargains; Free stuff/for sale in Edinburgh; Free items offered and wanted Edinburgh & Lothians; Edinburgh Buy and Sell plus many more. I’m sure many regional variations!
  • These groups need to be treated with caution and persistence. We had some lovely people that came and picked stuff up no problem but there was frequently people who said they would come and collect and never showed, people would ask you to deliver, one guy even asked to post all our kitchen stuff to Haddington (?!), you wait because someone says they will collect and tell two other people who are interested you need to let them know (our advice – just say sold to whoever collects first), people frequently change their minds, you provide location and postcode on the item you’re selling then have a whole conversation to be told sorry no too far away (surely evident from the post itself), towards the end of our tenancy coming up I even offered to deliver two things just to get rid of it for the girl not even to reply to me… When you’ve offered to deliver for only £10 for your items… Persistence eventually paid off and I think we did well. Happy that our belongings have made it into a few different households and the rest went to charity. You will need to be able to find your ‘other messages’ folder on facebook to facilitate conversations though!
  • Bedding, sheets and towels are only accepted by a few charity shops. Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home will take them but if you would like them to be used by people try Barnardo’s on Ferry Road or the Edinburgh Clothing Store.

A very busy 48 hours prior to our departure, still running around cleaning the flat, still trying to pack, see people and try and get some sleep, we flew out of Edinburgh with a little stopover in Sydney. Chai latte’s – how much i’ve missed you. A week down in New Zealand with some variable weather, sussing out the way of the land, having spent the weekend being tourists, I’ll be sure to keep you updated of what we get ourselves up to :-).

Travelling With Integrity

This is my new view…

image

 

Not too shabby is it?! Carnarvon so far is a very peaceful place. Not too big, not too noisy, beside the water, with a breeze in the air, I am very much enjoying the change from Sydney's busyness. My first few days of settling in very much reminding of starting at the roadhouse in Renner Springs, where I worked every back shift, I didn't know quite what to do with myself when 5pm rolled round and I could finish and have a drink poured by someone still working…! Perhaps Renner has made me inherently nocturnal…! Made me not a day shift person… Maybe I just need to get used to it ;-). But I digress, let me first share with you the story of getting to Carnarvon including an interesting journey with integrity bus lines…

I got to Sydney airport. My bag very heavy, I asked the man on the bag drop desk what weight it was. Only 19kg… I felt sure I'd gained weight… He looked at me and smiled and joked about me putting on weight… I smiled back and said that carrying the bag alone had helped me lose weight! Looking for a chai latte, some Tia Maria was found by my feet first :-). I settled down with some wifi. Not to be caught out as I was last time with Virgin, my virgin entertainment app was installed and ready for action for the flight. A few options, toying between the never seen Casablanca and wanting to watch again Romeo and Juliet, I ended up opting for the internship, a film that I hadn't seen. Not too bad though most predictable… An easy watch on a plane. We reached Perth 45 minutes early… Waiting for the bus to my hostel, I really wasn't too sure about being back at all…

Having a pretty awesome sleep I woke up at 7 and decided to make the most of the day. Some sad memories associated with Perth for me, I decided it was important to tread some new happy footprints… I headed to Leederville farmers market to meet a Scottish friend for lunch. We ate in the dome, talking about Edinburgh's own dome. I also met a friend made on the chicken farm for coffee and a mcdonalds. We had a lot of catching up to do! I can't believe how much has happened and changed over the last six months… She gave me a gift… I am most touched by what she gave me.

Agreeing to skydive together later in the year in Cairns, we said our goodbyes and I headed for some last wifi before I got on the bus. Using time to Skype, I didn't have enough time to give my phone a lot of charge… Sitting trying to charge it as much as I could, my backpack and small rucksack beside me, I heard the hostel receptionist warn a boy carrying a small green rucksack 'not to look like a tourist'; that people would steal his bag because it looks like it contains valuables… I was already worried about my walk along to the bus. I'm genuinely carrying all my belongings… Not that many valuables, just carrying a lot of stuff, I asked him if I should be worried about carrying my entire belongings to the bus station… His response was genuinely that I would be ok because I spoke English… Not sure if that would stop someone that had their hands on your backpack and heard you say 'get your hands off my backpack' in English rather than any other spoken language…! Setting off with the fear of death in me, but pretty sure I could use either as a weapon due to their heaviness, I safely walked the three blocks to the bus stop. Phew. A little sceptical the bus was even going to turn up I was pleasantly surprised when it rolled past…

I got on the bus and sat in my allocated seat. Our welcoming message was a novel list of rules and regulations for our time on board:

  • No smoking or drinking on board (seems fair)
  • That the toilet is for emergency use only… We were asked to close the lid and flush using a pedal in front of the toilet which we needed to press four times… We were then told not to make too much noise as the second driver bunk was just behind it… I think we can safely assume that if you have decided it's an emergency toilet situation you perhaps might not be the quietest…
  • We were then told to keep our bags and body parts out of the aisle!!! To clarify, he then stated that heads, arms and legs should be kept on your side of the aisle… Just as well I'm little and can curl up quite comfortably on two chairs :-).
  • No hot food, milk or fruit juice was to be brought aboard. There were to be no cans or cartons on board. He then said if you have a water bottle to not consume it on board the coach…. I think I must have misheard this one though… 11 and a half hours… You're going to be a bit thirsty!! What can you do? Just sleep?!

There was no mention of seat belts… Which incidentally were not even present on the coach… Ah well. Thus educated on the rules and regulations, we began our 11 and a half hour journey… Asked to turn off our reading lights if not using them, the whole bus was in darkness… I watched out of my window. The driver went to put a movie on… I heard the opening tones of the chipmunks… Surely not I thought, reaching into my bag for my headphones… Apparently he didn't think so either… He went for an Elvis movie instead… I zoned in and out of it. We reached a '25 hour' diner in Cataby… Don't even get me started on this one… My phone one with amazingly held charge was nearly dead. I spent time at the next two roadhouses giving it a boost cursing myself that I chose it over the htc… It died about ten minutes later…

People sleeping, I decided to read on kindle rather than wake anyone with a light for my book. With tired eyes, I then joined the sleeping masses… Not very comfortably I might add… Knowing I had a pillow case and a whole heap of clothes that I could have utilised to fashion into a pillow in the luggage container, and even more that I could put on and wear (word up if you are doing this journey… The bus is pretty cold…), I was more than a little bit jealous of the woman across the aisle with a pillow and blanket… She had obviously done this journey before…! Reaching Carnarvon at 7am, meeting my new boss, introduced to the bar, I then promptly crawled into bed for a few hours nap before I got up to explore. I'm sure there will be many an interesting tale to tell from here for sure :-). Until next time! 🙂

The Lure of a Place Not Yet Visited…

I'm moving to Western Australia… Conscious that last year I spent time in Melbourne job hunting and just spending money, with not an overly large sum of Australian dollars left I decided it would be wise to find a job to go to rather than just arriving having left a perfectly good job… My job search so far focusing on Broome, on Saturday I widened my search area to all of north west Australia. Applying for a couple, I got a phonecall Saturday night offering me work in Carnarvon. Here to explore, feeling like I need to move on, it feeling right, I have said yes. Even if it is terrible, I will at least be earning money whilst I look for something else in a location that is significantly nearer to Broome than Sydney…! Having reached Shark Bay last year when I did my tour north, Carnarvon puts me in a pretty good spot for onward exploring round the north west Coast :-). I am very much looking forward to a change… and some sunshine!!

My last week of work very busy, going far too quickly, enjoying being busy, it nearly made me feel guilty about leaving… Moving on always offering some time for reflection, Sydney has provided yet another interesting experience for me. A change from roadhouse and farmwork, it has been nice to be be back in the 'office banter' environment, feel useful, learn new things and then feel like you know about the things you are talking about… :-). Getting to know the North Shore train line well, I'm sure there are not too many backpackers that can say they know the geography of tennis courts and council buildings within one of Sydney's council areas! Working with a good team, my colleagues very friendly; their banter has been most fun. Of course sharing some Scottishness, some new memories have been added to my Australia scrapbook :-). The banter of Granny Joyce, line dancing, guinea pigs, time capsules, ‘b’ for ‘bottle’ and being asked if we play sport in the rain back home (us hardy Scots often play in the snow!) have all put a smile on my face :-). The best memory though is undoubtedly commuting over harbour bridge. Whether in sunshine or lit up by night, I love that I can say that I did that :-). Amazing!

Banter held also in non working hours, my Irish roommate, Sinead, has made this last week so memorable for me. With only an Italian roommate for two days and a very nice Hawaiian man for one night, we have had our three share dorm to ourselves. I am really really going to miss our chats. We have laughed. A lot. Her window stuck open, much banter about a raccoon will be remembered with fondness :-). We are going to continue our friendship via viber voice message :-). I can't wait to get her updates :-). With some awesome skyping, receiving gifts from Belgium, a tour of and visit to the opera house to see Pinnochio, chocolate drinking and eating at the Lindt chocolate cafe, a last movie night of ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel‘ and the addition of some new 'Sydney' music to the Australia playlist, it has been an awesome last week. I will certainly be leaving Sydney with a smile on my face looking forward to my new adventure :-).

Some of the new songs added to my Australia playlist: 🙂

Sunshine, Sushi and Easter Fireworks

Latest realisations:

  • I really really want to eat my dad's homemade curry and a roast beef dinner. Perhaps not at the same time though…
  • That I am now calling trousers 'pants'… A little worrying for what I might say in error when I get home…
  • That apparently speaking English in a native English speaking country does not help people understand you…
  • That it's a bad ratio when your umbrella gets used more than your sunscreen…
  • I now click Australia as my home for anything I book online…
  • How much I love sunshine… 5 whole days of uninterrupted sunshine… Thank you Sydney. It has been most nice to have a break from the rain!!
  • I chose the wrong month to temp in the public sector… Two public holidays for Easter plus one for Anzac Day does not a full week of work make…

Yes Easter public holidays. Holidays that everyone who is working looks forward to and anyone working on a temporary basis wants to work… Gaining a higher base wage here as a temp in contrast to back home, here there is no holiday accrual. Back home, I had holiday accrual but a low wage… Obviously wanting to be working as many days as possible, by the time Thursday rolled round I was actually quite thankful I had a day off!!!

Making good use of these days off, throwing myself into exploring the city, spending more time with Sarah, we tried out a sushi restaurant called Kura Kura. With iPads on hand to aid the ordering process, I did my best to introduce Sarah to sushi and sashimi. Sushi a hit, sashimi not so much… A dangerous process of just tapping what you want, it was very speedy and efficient. I know for sure my sister would like the button that said 'request bill' :-). Ending our night with frozen yoghurt, I tried sweet potato yoghurt for the first time… Not too bad at all…

The sun appearing as if by magic, Sarah suggested a scenic walk that runs from Manly beach in the north to middle harbour near harbour bridge. Taking the ferry from circular quay, it was nice to appreciate Sydney's skyline in the sunshine :-). Powering up on lunch beside the sea, we were welcomed onto the 9km walk by a penguin… ;-). The walk curving along the Coast, we watched families out enjoying themselves, many people walking the track (albeit in the opposite direction which we later realised was because William and Kate were heading to Manly that afternoon!) and lots and lots of water and blue sky.

The signs causing no end of banter, we noted that we were prohibited from playing golf on the first section, then nude bathing on the second (presumably meaning we could have at the first?!) and a sign informing we that we shouldn't swim after a lot of heavy rain as it washes pollution to the shore… Fair enough. Our tired legs finishing the walk, we rewarded ourselves with a pint of cider in the Edinburgh Castle Hotel bar. Fittingly of course with missing George's, we recorded him a video. This still makes me laugh when I watch it back :-). Sarah unfortunately leaving the next day, wishing her well with her onward journey up the east coast, I think we really enjoyed each other's company :-). It was awesome to spend time with someone who you can properly talk to beyond the usual polite 'how long have you been in Australia' chat… I am very much looking forward to the Sarah, George and Jane renunion in the UK…


On a recommendation from my colleagues, I ventured to the royal Easter show with a friend from my hostel. Tickets costing $38.50 including transport to and from the regenerated Olympic Park we made sure to get our money's worth… Especially after Granma's kitchen charged us $5 for a 450ml bottle of coke… $5… Actual madness. Many agricultural stalls, food, animals and fayre rides, there were also shows on throughout the day. We both got very involved in the Australia vs New Zealand wood chopping relay… Very competitive and strangely compelling!!! Wow.

Enjoying a rodeo and a celebration of 'Australia', we were treated to a more than life size Dame Edna, Vegemite dancing to Kylie, some awesome moto tricks, an uplifting standing ovation for Olympic gold medalist swimmer Dawn Fraser and Ned Kelly dressed as Sidney Nolan. Yes really! Finishing the night with some awesome fireworks, having been not sure whether to go at all, I am really glad I did. It was an awesome way to spend Easter.

Banter of course, here are just some of the things we noted during the 9 hours we spent there:

  • There are some very pretty looking chickens. There are also some unfortunately not so pretty, very scary looking ones… One genuinely looked like predator!
  • That a man trying to fish in a tank of water filled with barramundi probably has a pretty big chance of catching a fish…
  • Parents really do need to watch their children at all times. We watched a child in the sheep pen pick up a chain and put it round his neck… Hmmm.
  • Lots of ducks and lots of hay in their cages I asked Zak what ducks ate… His response? Bread…
  • New South Wales farmers apparently produce the highest proportion of eggs in Australia
  • Cows apparently get haircuts…
  • Corn is very popular at the Easter show. Lots of corn on the cob and corn dogs, I will really have to try a corn dog some point…
  • New South Wales apparently has drinking measures called a schmiddy (halfway between middy and schooner (half pint and 3/4 pint to those back home!)) and a pony (140ml). We wondered if anybody ever genuinely walks into a bar and asks for a pony…
  • They make most of their money on soft drinks… $5 for a 450ml bottle of coke. About £3.50 my friends… I still remember the days of 79p bottles and two for £1…
  • Olympic Park holds spotless stadium. Its name, not an adjective of its condition…
  • Despite watching for an hour we still have absolutely no idea how the scores of a rodeo work…

My weekend not done quite yet, I also managed Sydney's Westfield tower. Meeting a friend I met working at the roadhouse and her sister, we looked out over Sydney's bounds. Not quite as impressive as Melbourne's eureka tower, I don't think we were high enough to see beyond the realms of Sydney's suburbs. It is a very vast, sprawling city. Always good to view a city from many perspectives though my heads up for this attraction is to book it online… You can save up to $8 off general admission and $14 for a skywalk.

Also enjoying book reading, firing through books at many a pace here (heavy, I am determined to read all the ones I've been carrying and revert to kindle), opening my next choice, 'A fortune teller told me', a very nice message on the inside cover made me smile.

Messages of travels...

I really really like that this book has a story attached… It reminds of my own unforgettable adventures. I really hope that their paths did cross again.

Post weekend, experiencing some pretty ridiculous mood shifts, feeling a bit in limbo and momentarily stuck I was nearly tempted to just get on a plane to Broome. Crying proper huge silent tears on Tuesday, just wanting to lie in bed and feel sorry for myself, I walked into my dorm to find the loveliest Irish lass who in the space of 5 minutes turned me from flying out of Sydney the next day to happy and contended again :-). Bonding bizarrely over shared experiences with powdery mildew, I actually love this girl. We’ve just clicked :-). Between her and some other awesome hostel friends, they have made me content to spend another couple of weeks here and and to find new work before I move. Finding words on a blog called 'Yoga to be kidding' they reminded that at times it is important to be still on your journey… That it is important not to be overwhelmed… Exactly how I felt when I arrived back into Sydney… A different, slower pace is sometimes important, facilitating the achievement of different goals. Achieving book reading, lightening my load, making new friends, catching up with old ones and also immersing myself in city culture, Sydney certainly has offered a different experience… It is though, still getting pretty close to needing to move on… Soon…

Til next time… 😉

Cockles and Mussels and in Need of an Umbrella…

I wake in the morning… I look out the window with some trepidation… The ever familiar sound of raindrops can be heard… My newly bought umbrella has become a staple item in my bag in Sydney!! Whilst still probably a little warmer than home, the relentless rain is certainly reminding of the UK… Making me want to go north pretty soon… I'll wait until I have a little more money to get me there though…

Spending my weeks working and my weekends exploring, I have settled into somewhat of a routine. Tuesday has become movie day. Cheaper tickets on offer at the cinema, it is my night of escape from the hostel, where I just relax and don't worry about cooking. Helping to also reduce my cost per use of my weekly train ticket, I get treated to the lights on the harbour and harbour bridge on my way home. It still makes me smile when I cross the bridge :-). Saturday has become lie in day… As has Sunday… :-). Then I try to explore and see different things… Last week I managed Glebe market and had an amazing chai white chocolate in Max Brenner. With plans to go west down the river last Sunday, admitting defeat to the rain, I chilled out and finished my book instead. Making Sydney the most readable city so far.

The Museum of Sydney and Sydney's fish market my exploring choices this weekend, the museum taught of the construction of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge and told how the bridge was catapulted to worldwide fame by a paramilitary horseman beating the labour premiere to cutting the tape…! Hereafter, the bridge became synonymous with visions of 'Australia'. Learning of the aboriginal history of Sydney's land I also spent time wandering through an exhibition called 'Celestial city: Sydney's Chinese story.' Detailing the Chinese Restriction and Regulation Act 1888 and the subsequent 1901 Immigration Restriction Act (wanting to keep Australia 'white'), this Act excluded non Europeans by requiring them to pass a language test given in a European language before they could be admitted to Australia. Funnily enough most non Europeans failed. The Chinese living here were denied citizenship, the vote and the freedom to travel between Australia and China. Many were exiled in Sydney. Eventually phased out after WWII then abolished in 1973, I got back to my hostel feeling even more sympathy for aboriginal and cultural heritage and somewhat surprisingly walked into a conversation with a boy who has been here just a couple of weeks who asked what I thought of the 'British making Australia…?' Wow. I used some of the things I had just learnt in the museum with my reply…

Wandering my way to Sydney's fish market in Pyrmont, joining the throngs of people with the same idea, I explored one of the world's largest fish markets. Many colours and varieties, having been meaning to try since I got to Sydney, I dived in and tried oysters for the first time and bought a fillet of salmon for $6. Not too bad at all.

A nice interjection to routine, on Friday I had a reunion with my Western Australia road tripping buddy Sarah :-). With a lot of rain covering Sydney I suggested Govindas, an Indian restaurant with a cinema upstairs; a recommendation on a 'what to do in Sydney if it rains list.' Offering an all you can eat buffet for $19 there was only one problem… We genuinely talked so much catching up on the last six months we each had only one plate… Madness. Therefore not seeming the best value for money, it was entirely my own fault. I should have booked an hour earlier and eaten more!! Never mind I said… Better to have talked and managed only one plate than sat in silence and eaten four plates… 🙂 It was most nice to catch up :-). The movie theatre was awesome. Comfy Chaislongue seats covered in comfy cushions, we relaxed back and enjoyed ‘The Monuments Men‘ :-). The movie cutting out near to the end the whole room started talking about what George Clooney might have had on his bagel and what was going to happen next ;-). Rather than being annoying it just added to the character of the movie theatre. It is a really cool cinema there. I recommend if you're looking for something different :-). Not overly impressed with the restaurant maybe I'll try again with someone I don't have so much to talk about with ;-).

In other news, a cyclone brewing on the north east Coast as well as a feeling that Cairns will be a money sinkhole has now set in motion a northwest Australia stop next with a view to work back east before flying home in August. For there are weddings and birthdays to be attended to… Informing one of my best friends that it is only approximately 118 days away, this thought is more than a little bit scary!!

A view of Harbour Bridge by Daily Commute

The view of Harbour Bridge from the train on a usual Sydney overcast day

My feet walk. They wait at the traffic lights to cross. Down stairs, through central station's tunnels, joining the herds of feet pounding the ground, the musician of the day's choice of music fills the walls as I walk. I pass through the barriers awaiting my train. The same platform everyday, speeding away from central station, we cross harbour bridge, looking back on its gaze. Sydney harbour the view to my left; the opera house is to my right. Sometimes I forget to look, other times too busy, on others the return journey reminds. Every day I think wow, how cool that I get to cross harbour bridge with my daily commute!

Central Station's tunnels...

Yes the word commute. Back in Sydney, it surprised me with several potential job offers… Offered one by a recruitment agency first, starting the next day, not having worked for six months and in need of money I said yes. Providing administrative support to a local council, learning new things and with familiar systems to back home, joining a friendly team, it is very much reminding of my job before I left Scotland. Not wanting to spend too much money or gain too much weight (my trousers are a little tighter than when I bought them in Sydney in January!) I have fallen easily back into the healthyness I had at work before leaving Scotland and with salads, fruits and nuts making up my day, my body is appreciating being healthy again. Office banter of course, learning that toasties are referred to as 'jaffles' here and hence jaffle makers instead of toastie machines, I have been also asked about my Australian travels, about Scotland, Scottish 'soccer' and all about Scottish independence. I gave a very diplomatic, balanced response ;-).

Back in a hostel (thought it might be nice to be in the company of lots of people), choosing a smaller, quieter place I ended up in the first twin dorm that I've slept in on my travels. Certainly different from a 10 bed mixed dorm, it reminds that they all have their pros and their cons :-). Seemingly not making too bad a choice with this hostel, I am quite enjoying the cosyness and being able to sit on a sofa and watch telly. Meeting an interesting, friendly bunch of people, including an Italian I helped make pizza (!), with a cool atmosphere I ended up extending my initial two day stay to two weeks… Still there as we speak, toying between finding a room in a flat or something else, for sure this hostel is one of the favourites on my travels.

The pressure of job hunting removed, able to chill out by myself, exploring, venturing to paddington market – most quirky; I found some nice little trinkets. I recommend if you're looking for jewellery and 'something different'. Enjoying Maria Vantsos's pictures, I absolutely loved Vetro e Metallo's copper necklaces :-). So much that I bought a customised one :-). Also spending time people watching in Hyde park and Centennial park, I found a pretty good view of the city.

Venturing to see Noah on cheap cinema day, hmmm, I’m not too sure about it at all. A missed opportunity with the animals entering the ark for sure, not finding it the happiest of films, it certainly made me look at the parable of Noah in a different light… In books, Dracula finally put to rest, concluding that it would be interesting for him to meet the cast of twilight, true blood or vampire diaries, I found the dice man in the hostel book swap which has been on my list for a while. An interesting book… Not what I expected at all. Finding the first 200 pages whilst filled with some crazy dice options very readable, the next 200, not so much… What a trudge to the end… Why so long? Definitely good to roll the dice for some decisions for sure, for everything just seems a bit stupid… Not one of my favourite reads on my travels…

Staying here for a couple of weeks to get a feel for working in the city, with somewhat itchy feet as always, conscious it will get cooler here, I'm in the process of making plans for Cairns to be the next stop on the journey. Until then…