My Agricola farm

My Agricola farm

Liking: Living in the new flat. There are lots of birds, its very green around, and apart from the trains its pretty peaceful. I’m also enjoying being able to walk to work, which takes about 25 mins. I see a lot of birds, including parrots, kookaburras and even a couple of bush turkeys!

Disliking: I was ill with a horrible virus and off work for a few days. It really knocked me out and I slept for 16 hours one day!

Watching: While I was ill I watched a lot of Wire in the Blood on my iPad. I really like that show. now we have the internet back finally I’m back on the iPlayer, and we’ve started Coast Australia seeing all the places we need to go and visit!

Playing: We bought a new game called Agricola – all creatures big and small. We already have Agricola which is a farming game where you collect animals, grow crops, feed your family, improve your farmhouse all to get points. This version is for two players, and mainly all abut the animals. That was my favourite part of Agricola anyway, so I like the new simple version.

Consuming: I have found a new exciting kind of biscuit through work. Its called a Monte Carlo, and is like a jammy dodger only much better becasue instead of shortcake the biscuits are oaty like a hob nob. And inside as well as chewy jam they have a creamy filling. Tasty! The new oven is much more powerful than the last one. The last one needed you to cook things for at least double the recommended time for them to be anywhere near done. This one, even with it adjusted for the fan its about half. So since moving in we’ve had a few meals on the slightly well done side! We’ve tried out the café down the road which does a yummy brunch.

Buying: In the old place we had two outdoor chairs and a small table. Now we have a giant table on the big balcony, so we bought six more chairs and cushions to go with it. We also bought all the chemicals for the spa so have been learning some chemistry about that, and got an almost free rubber duck thermometer!

Thinking about:  Holidays. We’re doing some planning about holidays at the moment, to see about buying leave for next year. We only get 20 days basic, and have to use 6 at Christmas for the shut downs, which doesn’t leave a lot, especially if we come back to the UK for a visit.

Visiting: In early June we had a Bank Holiday for the Queens’ Birthday – huzzah! We got invited away with our friend Paul and a bunch of his friends, who hired a big house down the south coast near Nowra. In the area there is good sea cliff climbing and awesome beaches. We had a great weekend including cream tea, a visit to kangaroo valley, climbing (of course), BBQ, roast dinner, walk on the beach and a game of sardines in the big house.

Missing: My old job – sad I know. My new job is fine, but I really liked my old one. We also missed some good friends weddings this month which we would have loved to be at. All the bets Mr and Mrs Frame! 🙂

Looking forward to: At the end of June we’re going to the Dubbo Western Plains zoo, way out west. You hire bikes and cycle around as its a big safari park, so I’m looking forward to seeing all the animals. We also have Ellie from the UK visiting for ten days, so we’ve got some exciting plans lined up for that too.

25. June 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Video · Tags:

As promised, here’s the first video tour of our new place.

In case you’re wondering, it’s in Waverton / Wollstonecraft, north of the Harbour and about 5 mins from the train station. It’s about 15 mins on the train to the city, so very convenient. Stay tuned for part 2!

Vivid1

It’s weird that now we have been here over a year, the same major events are coming around again. The Vivid light festival is one of my favourite Sydney events, which I wrote about before, here.

This year I went twice, once on my birthday and then again the following weekend with my friend Toby. Again the projection onto the Opera House was my favourite part. The Opera House is very cool anyway, and when its transformed with the lights and music I find it amazing. The show had animal patterns, a video game, a section about the construction of the opera house where they built and took it apart, it got splatted with paint and had lightning hit it.

Customs House and the Contemporary Art Centre both had big projections on them too, as well as other installations like giant inflatable white rabbits, lit up boats around the Harbour and a musical fountain in Darling Harbour.

I didn’t take my tripod along but managed to get some relatively good pictures hand holding my F1.8 fixed 50mm. Here’s some of my favourites.

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vivid2

 

VividRabbit

 

vividdog

 

18. June 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Ramblings · Tags: ,

Back in late May we moved house. The two part video tour of the new place is coming soon. Ahead of that I thought I’d just write a little bit about moving.

Firstly, terminology. I always say moving house – I guess because I have generally lived in houses. But actually we moved from a flat to a flat. But you know what I mean. (In fact, taking the terminology thing even further, the technical Aussie term for our place is a unit. Someone once explained the difference to be between a unit, flat and an apartment, but I don’t remember. Feel free to enlighten me if you know).

When I got back from the UK in early May we started looking at places as we we’re bored of our view of other flats, the noise of the builders, and paying for a third bedroom of space that we didn’t really need. I explained before, flat hunting in Sydney is a horrible process of looking around places in a 15 min window, with a ton of other people, generally on a Saturday morning.

We were aiming to get a water view, or at least a better view. On the first Saturday we looked at three places, the current one we got being the last we saw. There were probably about 20 other people nosing about. I instantly liked it, and thought maybe it was even a bit under-priced, even though the sneaky agent arranged the viewing when there were track works so you couldn’t hear the noise from the train line out the back. We put in an application, but expected someone else to pay over the price so we wouldn’t get it (but we did!). It has a very green outlook, not the water view we wanted, but it’s very good and having a hot tub is very cool!

We said we would get someone to move us to avoid the faff of lifts, but in the end the process were too high, so we bribed some mates with beer (thank you!) and hired a van. We also decided to hire these Boomerang Boxes, so we didn’t need to bother buying and selling or scavenging a load of boxes. They were very convenient and the two sizes stack nearly together, they are nice and tough and they came with wheely dolly which made moving 4 or 5 of them at a time nice and easy. I’d definitely use something like that again. We also hired a trolley with the van for $15 which was great for the stuff like the fridge and washing machine.

Boomerang Boxes

Boomerang Boxes

 

When we moved into our first flat we had two suitcases each, so it was very easy! The removal people bought the things off the ship and we gradually bought things ourselves or ordered big things and had them delivered. On actual moving day there were a few differences with moving in the UK I noticed, like:

  • In the UK you hope it won’t rain. Here we hoped it wouldn’t be too hot. It was late autumn and I was still in shorts and a t shirt
  • We moved from flat to flat so had to take all our stuff don in the lift which was a pain. Luckily our new place is entrance level so we only had one set of lifts
  • You often can’t park outside your place because in a flat you don’t get your own drive way. We did fairly well with parking spots, and for once being near the builders paid off when we moved one of their cones and snuck into a space next to their work site once they had finished for the day.
  • When you’re happily driving your van, remember not to park in a convenient space against the direction of traffic or you’ll get a $165 fine

Apart from that it’s still a lot of effort and you’ll end up needing wine and a take away by the end!

Stay tuned for the video tour.

Hot tub!

Hot tub!

Unemployment = baking!

Unemployment = baking!

Following on from my first two posts about redundancy and unemployment, here and here, the final one in the series is about careers and job hunting.

As most of you will know, I’m very career focused, driven, motivated by work and probably at times a workaholic (which is pretty helpful in bidding really). I didn’t just want another job, I wanted to progress my career. When I took redundancy I had the option of either relocation money or ‘Career Transition Services’ which was basically help with things to get a new role sorted. I took this up as we were trying to stay in Oz, rather than relocate back to the UK.

I had a helpful coach called Brook, and we covered a lot of useful things including career planning, doing a Birkman psychological profile to delve into my work styles, practice interviews on video, having my CV ripped apart and negotiations. As well as the one on one sessions, the service included a series of seminars which I attended, covering recruiters, business information on the internet and networking. The business information one was particularly interesting and I learnt about some services to get good background information on companies.

Alongside the career services, I spent a lot of time hunting down a new job both using official job adverts and other channels. In between all the meetings, calls and CV updates I didn’t really have much time for dossing at all!

So here are some tips about job hunting, from my experience and the coaching I had:

  • Don’t wait until you’re redundant or quit to look for a new job. The sooner you can start the sooner it will be sorted. For the last few weeks in my old job, I literally had nothing to do any more, so made the most of the time to get on the case sorting out a new role (both internally or in a new company).
  • Work out what you value in a job / career. What’s important to you? It might be making achievements, helping others, having a lot of autonomy, working in a team, being able to be a leader, having a great work life balance, all sorts. Once you know what’s important to you, you can ask the right questions in interviews (yes, definitely go to interviews with questions to ask them), and assess each job against these values.
  • Most jobs are actually found not through official channels like job adverts. I was told this, and thinking back on my career it rings true for me. So when you are hunting for a role make the most of your network as well as job adverts. Its the old thing about who you know, not what you know. Ask your contacts if they know of any jobs in their company. Or do they know anyone in another company it would be worth you talking to? Go and drink a lot of coffees with people who might be able to help you. I got my new job through working my network.
  • Update your Linked In. Make it focused around your responsibilities, so recruiters and head hunters can easily match it to any job specifications they have. Make sure it has a photo as they’re easy to ignore otherwise.
  • Know that sometimes you will have to turn things down and have the conviction to do it. Sure, you need a job. But set a time limit where you will go for the right job, and only if you’re struggling to find that, then accept something else. You don’t want to get stuck in an organisation or role you’re not going to want to stick with if you don’t have to. (But remember, even if you turn something down, keep in touch with the people, and thank them for their help as who knows when you might meet in future!)
  • Sometimes you have to be really patient. This isn’t a strength of mine, but a few times I got to a point where all I could really usefully do was wait for people to phone me back. It’s incredibly frustrating as you want to be proactive, but sometime you just need to go and meet a friend for lunch or sit on the beach! Embrace the opportunity to not do a lot – once you;re back in a job you’ll miss it!
  • Try and keep positive. Enough said on that really.
One of my unemployed hangouts

One of my unemployed hangouts

Welcome to part 2 of the redundancy series, this time on being (temporarily) unemployed.

In the end I was unemployed for about two months, plus a couple of weeks in my old job where I technically had nothing to do apart from sort out my (potential) redundancy. The time went very quick, although seemed to drag at the beginning. It took 5 weeks from applying for our new visa for it to come through, during which time I couldn’t work. We didn’t know how long it would take, and it could have been 4 or 5 months. About two weeks after officially getting my redundancy I was signed and sealed for my new job which was great, but I couldn’t start until the visa came through. I used the time to visit the UK for a good few weeks, which you can read about over here. Once the visa got granted (while I was on holiday in the UK) it was a huge relief, and I could make the most of my time off as I knew when it would end.

Whilst I was still in Australia, the job hunting and career planning sessions kept me very busy, with all the prep and follow ups. At first I also kept pretty busy around the house, cleaning, tidying, sorting out cupboards and that kind of thing. That got old pretty quickly though so I managed to fit in some nice lunches, baking and trips to the park and beach as well. Although I did get a redundancy payment, we didn’t know when I’d be able to start work again, so I didn’t really want to sped much money. It was pretty scary to not know when we’d be back on two incomes again.

I am a very achievement focused, hard working kind of person, so I thought I might get quite fed up not working. In truth I did, and I’m glad there was a light at the end of the tunnel pretty soon when I knew I had a new job lined up. It was odd not really having any particular purpose and reverting to getting the dinner on the table, which didn’t really use enough brain power or include enough social interaction for my liking. But then now I am back a work and I do have a purpose, its really just making money for a big company. But it does pay the bills, which looking after rescued wombats wouldn’t so I’ll just get on with it!

Even with my temporary taste of unemployment, I got an insight into the world of the long term unemployed which must be totally rubbish. Sometimes I’d be in the city in the day time and see all the people in suits rushing about. It seemed a bit like an inaccessible different world. I missed having people to talk to during the day at work. I wondered if they were looking at me wondering why I wasn’t working, like I used to do when I saw people out having long lunches and sitting in the park in the day time.

Overall I managed to mask being fed up pretty well and enjoy the break with low-cost adventures around Sydney and then in the UK. I enjoyed the lack of stress not working, and felt very relaxed. It made me realise how much I think about work even when I’m not at work. I’m going to try and get better at separating the two. I was slightly nervous about going back to work after nearly 3 months not working properly, but it turns out its all fine. The hardest thing is getting up in the morning!

 

Rosie and me

Rosie and me

May has been pretty busy with some big stuff – starting a new job and moving house. Here’s a run down.

Liking: Its good to have a purpose and some work to do again.

Disliking: The expense of moving has added up more than I thought too and I’m hoping we get most of our old deposit back. Also spending too much time on the phone to utility companies.

Watching and playing: We’re on Breaking Bad Series 3 now. We also subscribed so we can get iPlayer and with the Chromecast we can put it on the telly, so we’ve been watching some Top Gear, Have I Got News for You and the Australia documentary too. Board Game wise we have the Alvin and Dexter expansion for Ticket to Ride which is pretty tactical and also pretty silly. 

Consuming: Everything in the freezer! We need to defrost it to move, so recently we’ve had a lot of frozen things to eat.

Buying: Flights – we are booked up for a week on the Barrier Reef in November, with friends from the UK, including 2 nights out on a boat which I’m super excited about.

Thinking about:  I’m a bit worried we won’t fit all our things well in the new place, as it has one less bedroom and the other two are both smaller. We’ll see! I’ve been busy organising moving the utilities, sorting a van, boxes and all that moving stuff.

Visiting: We went for a day trip climbing in the mountains. After we hit the pub for some dinner before driving back, and I met Rosie, the 1 year old rescue wombat.She was being looked after there until she was big enough to go to the sanctuary. I got to pat her a lot and then got to hold her for a nice long time too which was amazing! I still have a big grin about it.

Missing: I’m definitely missing having a lie in like I did when I was unemployed. The first two weeks of work weren’t too bad, but it really hit me in the third one.

Looking forward to: Getting into the new place. It has a walk in wardrobe, and a hot tub which I’m pretty excited about sitting in! There;s a nice big outside balcony so we’ll be having a house warming and entertaining out there. In June there’s a long weekend which we’re going away for down the coast to Nowra, and later in the month we’re heading to the Western Plains zoo at Dubbo, on the edge of the outback.