Sunday, 17 June 2012

Perth, A Home Away From Home, 2 July 2011 - 29 January 2012

Perth's dramatic cityscape during Australia Day celebrations.

The sun floods the buildings of Perth in a deep red glow as it quickly and solemnly disappears marking the beginning of our final night in the city as the Awesome Australian Adventure commences the next day.  Our bags are packed and memories of the fantastic six months we spent in the wonderful city of Perth came flooding through my mind.  Not many travellers make it over to Perth as they only spend their time on the East coast where the major cities of Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns are and the natural attraction of the Great Barrier Reef.  That was one of the main reasons I came to the West coast, the other was that I have family over here. 

Getting Employed

My colleague Vicky and I with HCN's Salvo's donation
As soon as I hit the ground I began hunting for jobs through websites, newspapers, shop windows and singing up to every employment agency in the city.  Adam Yaxley, a school friend of mine had suggested that I tried Integrity as he had got a few jobs from them when he was in Perth.  Ally, who was my consultant at Integrity Staffing was fantastic, she had offered me a position within the first week as an Administrative Assistant within the mortuary at one of Perth’s largest hospitals.  This position fell through and I am now relieved that it did as the job would require me to deal with the dead bodies, organise viewings of the bodies which includes Sudden Infant Deaths which I don’t know I could have coped with.  It would have certainly been a depressing job.  Nevertheless I continued my hunt until I received a phone call from Ally saying that she had found me a position at Health Corporate Network which was part of the Department of Health.  I went for an interview and was employed. 

A view from my office on a dramatic day
My work at Health Corporate Network (HCN) couldn’t have been better.  I started with the company as a Personal Assistant for the Directors of Finance and Supply and providing administrative assistance to the Communications Coordinator.  The executives I was working with and the wider team were a fantastic group of people who I shared many laughs with during my time.  Despite my contract initially finishing in October, it got extended until the end of the year and with my line manager, Monique leaving in December to get married and go to follow her dream studies at university, I stepped up into her position as Executive Assistant for the remainder of my time there.  I was with HCN for my total allowance of six months and left behind a completely new team whom I had the pleasure to meet and handover. 

Matthew Duncan Esq

My official photographer arrived!
A few weeks into August saw a reunion as Matt Duncan joined me on my Epic Voyage for the third time.  Rather symbolically he had begun the voyage with me in Tallinn, experienced the middle when he joined me in Hong Kong and China and now joined me for the end of the first leg of the Voyage.  I saw landing in Perth as the end of a rather long firs leg as I had managed to follow the land and sea route all the way across to Singapore until I had to fly.  The second leg of the Journey is aptly named ‘Awesome Australian Adventure’ will begin as soon as we hit the road again.  Whilst Matt was visiting, we hired a car and drove down to the South West, Margaret River.  My first trip of many to the region and I absolutely adore the place.   The sun was shining over the wonderful green landscape, the turquoise ocean as the whales come up for breath during their migration to Antarctica for the summer and most importantly the numerous wineries, breweries, chocolate factory, cheese factories and ice cream factories.  

Whale spotting at Cape Naturalist
The weekend began a little strangely as the hostel I wanted to stay in was fully booked so we ended up in another which was filled to the brim with what we called ‘angry grape pickers’ who had marked the walls counting down the eighty-eight day regional work sentence to make them eligible for a second year visa.  Not one person spoke to us, not one person responded to our presence it was as though we weren’t there.  Not very much like hostels we had experienced in other countries.  We were fed up almost straight away so decided to go to the bottle shop and buy some beers and grab something to eat.  With the beers in hand, we sat down at the burger/kebab place where we started talking to a couple of blokes that were in there.  They had been mates for a long time but were down in Margaret River to see a hip-hop band.  They invited us back to their hostel to drink beer which was a little strange but with the option of going back to the hostel, we decided to just go along with it.  Once we were in their room, they began to get out their stash of drugs.  Began on the splifs and then the crack pipe came out.  They could do those drugs but when it came to drinking beer were absolutely useless.  Anyway, we drank our beers and pretty much left them crashed out to find the hostel pretty much deserted.  The following day we moved to a beach house in Dunsborough which was fantastic. 

Tanwyn Smith-Meek and City West Receptions

Reece, Juliana and me
In the midst of September, Tanwyn joined us in Perth.  I have known Tanwyn for a few years as we have worked together at the Maddermarket Theatre back in Norwich.  He had finished college and struggling to find employment as many young people in the UK are.  I had invited him out before I left and he took me up on the offer and flew out to Perth.  Within a week both Tanwyn and I had found a job (A second job for me to pay for my dental treatment) at City West Receptions where we were waiters, bar tenders and assisted in the setup of functions.  I had previously done a trial at an Italian restaurant in Mount Lawley as a runner.  That was hectic and needless to say they got someone with more experience than me… thankfully.  City West receptions was a little less hectic as it was near enough all standard and you knew what you had to do.  I stayed there for a couple of months before leaving as I felt I needed more time for myself, especially over the Christmas period and with the pay rise at HCN, I didn’t need to second job anymore.

Housemates from Heaven and Hell

Our house on Beaufort Street
Our time in Perth was fantastic, the sun mostly shines whether it’s winter or summer and the laid back atmosphere has you calm the moment you step onto the streets.  The only downfall with Perth was our accommodation.  Two weeks after moving into our comfortable flat in Inglewood, we had to move as the landlady wanted to rent the place out to four people instead of just two.  Mike and I really didn’t want to move to her other property next door as it was clearly cramped with six people staying in three rooms.  The room which was earmarked for us was more like a broom cupboard.  No matter how hard we tried to find another place to stay, we couldn’t and had to decide whether we should move back to a hostel or move temporarily into the house next door.  Needless to say we chose the latter and it wasn’t temporary.  Our original housemates were fantastic, Frenchman Vince and his Australian wife Kylie and an Irish guy called Daniel.  Daniel was only there for a couple of weeks before landing his dream job in the mines and was off which was a shame but also good news for us as we got to relocate out of the broom cupboard into a bigger room with a window.  With the departure of Daniel opened up two beds that two more Irish people filled, Eoin and Kate who were both superb. 

Us with Kylie and Vince on our tree swing
We were only going to stay in the house until Mike found a job and we had enough money to afford something a little better but with Mike finding a job literally two minutes down the road at the Civic Hotel as a barman made it a little more difficult for us to find another as we had to search for accommodation around the same area.  We thought it didn’t really matter anyway as we were planning to leave in November anyway.  It was fine until the end of November when Eoin, Kate, Vince and Kylie all moved out paving the way for three more Irish people to move in.  It is incredible how many Irish people there are in Perth.  With the three girls came their friends whom stayed over for days and were incredibly inconsiderate.  We felt as though we were being forced out of the house and several times I had to tell them to ‘shut the funk up as I had work in four funking hours!’ Needless to say we were so happy to get out of there away from those and away from the landlady who took it upon herself to rip anyone off she pleased.

Old Friends and New Friends

Tahir, Tanwyn, Mike and I on Mustang Wednesday
We had many nights out with my friend Tahir, whom I had taught with in Poland back in 2006, now lived and worked in Perth as a Hydrogeologist.  Wednesdays were our special nights, Mustang Wednesdays!  First to the Couch Surfing meet up at the Brass Monkey in Northbridge followed by Mustang where there were jugs of beer for $10 and a live band.  Not forgetting the odd Tequila which always seems like a good idea in the evening but is definitely regrettable when your head is slumped over the desk at work foggy and aching.  The worst hangover was during my final week at HCN were Tequila was certainly not a good idea, my eyes were straining, gut wrenching and head banging as I facilitated a meeting between the Communications Coordinator and new executive support team.  I will never drink before work again!!!!  It was great to see Tahir again and without him Perth wouldn’t have been the same.  Cheers mate!

I had met so many awesome people in Perth who are now friends.  Too many to mention here but you know who you are! 

Me, Suzanne, Lou, Mike and Matt during their tour of South West Australia

Christmas with Family

Us with the Surf Life Guards at Cottesloe during the making of our Christmas message
Christmas was a strange time of year for us as temperatures pushed up into the forties, it certainly couldn’t have felt any further away from the cold and snow at home in the UK.  Christmas Eve was completely different to what we were used to.  Back at home it was Crispmas eve, where Mike, Mark, Luke, Kev, Duncan and I would hit the pubs of Norwich for a few drinks and celebrate by buying a huge number and variety of crisps to share with the pub.  Here in Perth, we sat in Tahir’s Jacuzzi and swimming pool drinking beer out of champagne glasses soaking up the beautiful weather.  It didn’t feel like Christmas though, at all!  The next day, Christmas Day, we went up to Lesmurdie to spend the day with my family.  We sat outside by the pool, drinking cold larger and eating cold meat with salad.  Absolutely bizarre.  Christmas had its memories.  Mainly Nerf guns.  For weeks after I woke up sweating with fear as I imagined those foam bullets hitting my head every two seconds.  It was absolute carnage as Dave’s kid’s guns were taken over by the adults who raged all-out war against each other.  It is certainly a ‘You don’t know man, you weren’t there’ memory. 
Celebrating Christmas Eve in the Jacuzzi

One of my most treasured memories of my time in Australia was having the chance to meet my family out here.  They all showed me such generosity and helped me settle into Australia and for that I have to say thank you, I really appreciate it.  You’re all absolutely fantastic!

Final Goodbye

Nick, me, Ash and her friend playing Shithead
It was the night before we were leaving on our journey to nowhere, and we had arranged a gathering at the Civic Hotel to say goodbye and celebrate our time in Perth with friends whom we had met in the fantastic city.  Among those friends were Ash and Matt whom I met in Vietnam over a year previous.  You may remember me mentioning them in one of my blogs as I had an awesome time drinking with them in HuĂ© and they had beaten me so many times playing ‘shithead’ it wasn’t funny.  Especially as shots of arse was the penalty.  It was due time for a rematch and that we did!  The bonus being, I didn’t lose!!!  Matt and Ash had continued travelling after Vietnam and had ended up working in the UK for a few months before heading back home to Perth.  I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with them and it was immediately like old times… without the shots of arse!

As the night came to a close, Tanwyn and I sat in our back garden with a drink and some food to soak up the alcohol before heading to bed.  Suddenly we heard a scream and what seemed like a girl screaming for help.  Tanwyn and I stood silent for a moment until another scream was heard and we ran towards it and found a guy pinning a girl up against the wall.  It turned out that they were in a relationship of sorts and she had just broken up with him.  Once we intervened things turned ugly, his defences went up and obviously just wanted to let his frustration out on someone.  Tanwyn and I began the dance and tried to calm things down as much as possible but he was too high on adrenaline, wasn’t listening to us and just thought we wanted a fight.  I retrieved my phone from my pocket and call ‘000’ and lodged a call with the police.  It took ages for them to arrive and we didn’t know whether we could keep the peace for much longer.  A lady and her son turned up in a van and joined the peace keeping force.  I phoned the police again and told them that they really needed to get there as soon as possible because a fight was about to break out.  The guy was not getting anywhere with the girl and his anger was boiling out of control.  He came at all three of us trying to intimidate us into a fight, but thankfully nothing happened.  The police arrived and stepped in.  The guy wasn’t going without a fight which was unfortunate for him as the police weren’t going to take any shit from him and planted his face into the ground.  He was stuffed into the back of the police vehicle and unfortunately the girl seemed as though she didn’t want to press any charges, so he probably got out the next day.  It wasn’t the perfect end to our time in Perth, that’s for sure!

Us at Cottesloe, forgive the stranger's finger over the lens...