When I think of Australia the first thing that comes to my head after Lou Carpenter, Kylie Minogue and Harold Bishop is Sydney and the famous image of the bridge and the Opera House. I guess from always watching TV and hearing about other peoples adventures here I have always wanted to visit here. And I had made it, after a mental trip down the coast crossing many obstacles, doing random insane things and meeting great people. I had one of the best times of my life traveling the coast, but now as I said at the end of my last blog it was time to start a new challenge. My first impressions was that it was like a big city in England, maybe not quite London but somewhere like Birmingham. To be honest at first I preferred Brisbane, it semt to be cleaner, Sydney semt very dirty and not a fun place to be, but I wanted to give Sydney a chance!
I checked in at the hostel, this was only going to be for a night as we were moving into a flat the next day! It was getting on so we decided to meet Tom's love interest Haruka who he met in Innisfail on the Banana farm and Alessandra who also stayed at the Crown Hotel. We had a few beers and caught up with tales of traveling and then headed back.
We got up early the next day as we had to move Mitzee and take her back. We used her first though so we could take our stuff easily to our new flat. We were sharing with a Chinese couple in a tall building called Central Tower. It was $175 per week. The room was basic, just two mattresses on the floor, but we had free internet and a long balcony which overlooked Sydney. The Tower also had a gym and swimming pool we could use free of charge. I liked it! We settled in and treated ourselves to a big breakfast. I washed my clothes in the free washing machine, something I haven't seen since I've been traveling. Like I said I was well happy with it. The rest of the day I spent mainly updating dream team I had fell behind on and then before you knew it, it was time to meet up with some of the other Crown Banana Farm workers for a bit of a reunion party. This was going to be messy! First though I had to wait for my washing to dry! This wasn't happening. The Sun, wind or nothing was drying my clothes; I had nothing to wear either so I was sat around the flat in just a towel or my water proof trousers. I looked an idiot, even more than usual! It was getting beyond a joke now so I sent Tom to Haruka's with some clothes so we could use their dryer. Finally I had some dry clothes and it was off to get a bit tipsy! It was great catching up with some of the old gang again there was a few of us there Adam, Ryan, Flo, Ben and Steph had made the trip over from Bondi. Then Bobby and Vicky were in town for a few nights before they headed on to Melbourne, and there was Tom, Haruka, Greg and myself who made the trip from the city. And of course there was Claire who was hosting the party at her flat. Needless to say the night lived up to expectations; we all got a little drunk and shared tales of our travels. Eventually we stumbled home about 4am.
The next day we woke up surprisingly fresh. We did sleep in until midday though. Tom really wanted to go Market City to get some food so we did. I ended up having a three curry combo, with rice and a naan bread which come to a bargain price of $11! Tom got a similar sort of combination from the Chinese. We weren't feeling particularly Christmassy, Sydney didn't have a huge display of decorations like any city or town in England would, I think any Australian would laugh at the idea of a Christmas Light switch on. So we thought the some fairy lights, tinsel and a Christmas tree would get us bang in the Christmas spirit. We went every where Target, K-Mart, The Reject Shop, We managed to find some fairy lights but it wasn't enough we couldn't find a Christmas tree at all. Well we did but they were either massively expensive or way to big for our flat. We were just about to give up hope and just settle for our fairy lights when we stumbled across a shop, I never got the name of it but it was like a small Home Bargains, or Wilko's. We found Tinsel for $2.50 a strip and yes a $5 Christmas tree! We rushed home to set up the decorations. Tom had purchased a Steve Irwin figurine from Australia Zoo and it was just the right size to fit on top of the tree. We covered the windows, walls and tree with the fairy lights and before you knew it we were right in the Christmas spirit.
It was on to business now, we needed jobs. I browsed gumtree, SEEK, Australian backpacker Jobs and applied for literally anything car washing, eBay selling, tele sales, office jobs, laboring, sales, fundraising work, working in fast food restaurants, bar work. You get the idea literally anything. Tom was far more picky though and lazy. He kept moaning that he didn't want to do certain things, this annoyed me a bit, I didn't really want to work on a Banana Farm but sometimes you just have to do these things and they also might be better than expected. I had a great time on the Banana Farm, ok maybe not working but meeting all the people and having good times. I took a break from the job hunt and decided to get out of the flat and have a walk around city. I got out and walked around George and Pitt Street checking every window along the way to see if they had any vacancies. There wasn't anything. So I headed back to the flat where Tom had taken a call for me. It was to call the car washing place back. I quickly called and they told me to come down the next day at 9 am and bring any friends if I knew any. I told Tom the good news and said he can come too if he wants. He said he would come to. But wait what day was tomorrow Christmas Eve. s*** we had been invited by my sister's friends who had emigrated over for a big Christmas Dinner. We would be working 9-5 so we wouldn't make it. Begrudgingly I text Nina, my Sisters friend and cancelled. Looked like there was no Christmas dinner for us this year. That night though we went out for a few beers to watch the Swansea vs. Man Utd game. We went to a place called Cheers and another place near Market City which did free bar snacks. It was a bit dingy in there but what the hell it did free snacks! We eventually got back at about 3am, not great when you have to start work at 9 the next day. The things I do for football eh.
The next day my alarm went off and I immediately hit the snooze button. I didn't want to work, I wanted to sleep. I was very close to pulling out telling Tom I was sick but I needed the money and got myself prepared for a day of washing cars! We caught the bus to the place roughly about twenty minutes out of town. It turned out to be a big waste of time and I should have stayed in bed. We got there and talked to a chap for two minutes who told us to come back at 8am on Boxing Day for training. I was gutted to be messed around but on the plus side we could now go for Christmas Dinner! We mad our way back and I had a cheeky check on gumtree to see if there were any jobs. There was, one had been posted for a Night Manager around five minutes after I logged on. I called immediately, he asked if I had experience and I blagged that I had. He asked me to come down and if I could come straight away so I accepted. s***! I had text Nina saying that we were back on for dinner and now I might not be, it said immediate start on the advert. I was worried that I would miss Christmas dinner and I didn't like messing Nina and Dean around like this. A job was more important though so I headed off on a 25 minute walk to Saunders Street where I would meet a chap called Peter. Peter was a bloke I'd say in his early fifties. He was a nice bloke and I already felt comfortable talking with him. It was a pretty unformal interview. He asked if I had previous experience. I assured him that I had, I hadn't but how hard could it be, I've seen people night manage at hostels and you just have to tell people to be quiet and stuff. Easy. After about a fifteen minute chat. He offered me the job. Result, now when would I start? Wednesday! That was Boxing Day. Another result I'd still get a Christmas Dinner and to meet Nina, Dean and their little girl Erin. He even said I could wear my flat hat to work. The results were flying in my favour. I thought I would quit while I was ahead though and never asked his opinion on beards. My tiredness had faded away now and there was a spring in my step as I walked home. I told Tom the good news, he was happy with me through gritted teeth. I think he felt a bit hard done to that he didn't have a job and he had been in Sydney a week longer than I had and I had found a job after a few days. But he had no get up and go, and he still had the car wash he could go to on Boxing Day. We got ourselves ready and headed out to meet Nina and Dean, it turned out it wasn't Nina and Dean hosting a meal but their friends for 29 people. Wowsers! Lance and Roz were the hosts and lived in a beautiful house! Lance and Dean new each other from the navy. Soon we were filled with more families and all the blokes' semt to be in the navy. Tom and I didn't really know what to do so made polite conversation and drank our beers. Starter was up and it was fresh prawn, Tom had no idea how to de-shell them and a woman originally from Derby taught us how to de-poo a prawn. I then challenged Tom to eat some of the prawn poo, and he looked like he was going to bottle it again until I said I'd do it with him. We only had a little bit but Tom nearly threw up, I think it was just the idea of eating poo that got to him as I found mine pretty tasty. After a bit more chit chat and a few more beers it was dinner time. Roz had a strict policy that everyone must eat at least one brussel. This was torture. I found the smallest brussel I could and put it on the plate. The dinner was fantastic it was just like an English Christmas dinner but the Turkey was cooked outside on the barbeque. The dinner was nearly as good as my parents back home and was well eating a brussel for. The only disappointment was that there was no mash potato! A few more beverages were drank and dessert was out. Three different kinds. I tried a bit of each. There was no cheesecake but all three desserts were fantastic. There was a sponge trifle thing, a chocolate ice cream and nut thingy and a raspberry Pavlova. Like I said they were all fantastic. Lance and Roz certainly knew how to put on a spread. A few beers later and it was time to go home. Nina's friends a lad called Adrian (great name) and his missus Diane (Also from Mansfield, Forest Town to be precise) were heading back into the city and were kind enough to give us a lift. We contemplated heading into town but we were too tired. We had already had a great day. So we decided to chill out with a film and wait for Santa to come.
The next day I woke up and Santa had been. Unfortunately for me Tom was Santa's elf. He got me a poncho, a fancy dress pipe and a visor which came complete with sunglasses and fan. Why? I have no idea at all. I on the other hand got Tom a learn how to make your own sushi set and some nerds. He was made up with his presents I clearly wasn't. Christmas Day was more like England too than I anticipated as we had a day full of rain. We were meant to meet the Crown gang on Bondi beach but the rain had stopped that so we decided to chill out all day. At one point I decided that I needed to get out so took to walking the streets of Sydney. I was surprised there were people about and loads of places still open, shops, cinemas, restaurants. Even buses were still running. The only thing that was shut was the pubs. How strange. I had a burger from McDonalds just to say I had a McDonalds on Christmas Day and was surprised with how busy it was. I headed back to the flat, nearly stacking it numerous times due to the wet floor and the rubbish grip on my flip flops. I got back and we watched the new James Bond movie, I then watched a few more films as I wanted to stay up as late as possible so I could be ready for my first night shift the next day. At 3.30am during A night of The Roxbury I finally cracked and fell asleep.
I woke up the next day at 11am, far earlier than I wanted. Tom was sat on his laptop, I asked him if he had been to the car wash and he told me he missed his bus. I said he should have still gone and its better late than never. I also realize I've had harsh things to say about Tom this blog, so I'll take this opportunity to even things out and give him some credit. He has been making us some great meals, including a carbonara, Sausage Curry and numerous full English Breakfasts. I chilled out for a bit and ten realsied I had nothing to wear for work so I popped off to K-Mart and Target and got my self some shoes, shirts, trousers and socks. And also a couple of new pairs of shorts because the looked nice. It took me a while as I was fighting the Boxing Day sales crowd which particularly annoyed me in Coles. I'm normally pretty placid but the shoppers in Coles weren't half making me lose my head. I got everything sorted though and returned to the flat where Tom had made his Sausage Curry I have already mentioned. I ate got ready, and headed off for my first shift at my new working establishment. I got to work, which I originally thought was a hotel, but it was infact a set of apartments for permanent residents. Peter shown me the ropes, it was simple just check the areas every once in a while and tell people off if they were noisy. I also had to check the roofs of the building which gave a great view of the city. Peter also noted that he thought I looked like a Jazz player because of my hat. I noted this one down mentally to tell the ladies in future. The only bad thing was Peter and Robert's (the former night manager who was leaving because he was being deported back to Slovakia) stories of the area. They said that it could be quite rough and knifes have been pulled on people and people had been beaten up in the streets. However, I wasn't worried I was from Notts, Sutton-in-Ashfield to be precise does it get much rougher than there? Plus I was locked in the complex and they had gave me a baseball bat anyway if things kicked off. So there is no need to worry Mother. Peter clocked off at 10 and I was on my own. It was a very quiet night and nothing happened. I spent the majority of my night talking to Paul Frith on Facebook and watching the football results come in. It was easy money! Peter came back at 6 the next morning to relieve me of my duties and asked how I'd got on. I said fine and I think he semt pleased. I thoroughly enjoyed my walk back to the city that morning and was falling in love with Sydney more and more each day.
I woke up around 12 that day again earlier than I anticipated. So I watched Seven Pounds staring Will Smith. A good film although slightly emotional. I always remember falling asleep during this movie and waking up to one of my ex-girlfriends crying her eyes out at the film. I managed to contain the tears but it definitely pulls at the heart strings. I fell back to sleep again soon after the film had ended and woke up around 7am. I decided to make use of the pool facilities and did twenty laps of the pool. It was the start of me trying to get back in shape and some fitness. Walking around the apartment complex would help that too. I got to work at 10pm where I met George he briefed me on what had gone off and then it was time for the shift to start. The first hour was boners and it looked like it was going to be one of them nights. First an old Chinese lady was complaining someone was using oil in the swimming pool. I checked it out with her and it looked like just water and her footwear wasn't appriopate. But the customer is always right so I said all the right things and said I would check CCTV. The next complaint was that someone was parked in their spot so I made a sign and put it on the car. And then I got my first noisy neighbor complaint. It was pretty easy to deal with though as the people in the noisy room were just heading into the city for a night out. The night was plain sailing from there. The most strenuous thing I had to do was order John from Croydon a taxi home. He had obviously come back with a girl and was doing a runner. It was another easy night this form couldn't continue could it? Was it this early all of the time? The next day I had another shift so after the usual sleep, film, sleep pattern I trotted off to work. It was a Friday but yet again it was quiet and I spent most of my night catching up with this very blog. The biggest effort of the night was topping the spa up. It looked like I would only be getting three shifts a week though. This wasn't good. It would mean I wouldn't be able to save a great deal. Infact next to nothing. After accommodation, food, drink and other miscellaneous items like phone credit I wouldn't have a great deal left. Peter assured me there would be extra shifts, but could I take that chance. I had an interview the next week for a tele sales job 9-7 Monday - Friday so I'd see how that would go and then possibly have to make an important decision from there. I had an easy job, a job I liked although I did miss office banter. I was on my own most of the night you see and I missed interaction with people. I had no one to play pranks on. But this other job sounded crap. But at least I would meet people. The only thing I could do was see how the interview went. Tom also had an interview or the same place. He was still without work.
After the first thee shifts I had a few days off. The first was a Saturday night. I used this night to go to a place I had herd a lot about from people who had already been Sydney and also my Auntie Rita who told me not to order a steak their as they are like a sole of a shoe. The place was called Scruffy Murphy's. I had to go it was named after me. Tom had told me a lot about it and it sounded like your typical club in Mansfield, but I was open to see what it had in store. As it was named after me I had no choice in going anyway did I? It was an ok night, there was a live band performing, the band were pretty good, but the front man couldn't rally sing and he didn't please me at all when he murdered an Oasis song. We watched the football and then stumbled home.
The next day we mainly recovered. I was still on night shift pattern so was up all night and slept most of the day. I did however make it down to see the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House for the first time. I also got distracted watching several street entertainers. One a magician, another man riding about a 15 foot unicycle while juggling a knife, a baton and a baton set on fire, and then as I was walking back I stopped to watch a French dance act who were pretty good. When I got back Tom's missus Haruka had invited us to the Casino apparently her friends could get us a free $50 to bet with. At first I said no, then I thought about for a second, what was I thinking this was right up my street and quickly changed my mind. We got to the Casino and the place was rammed and would be at least a two hour queue to get our free money, so we decided against it and decided to head a round a few bars and pubs instead making our way back to the flat.
The next day was New Years Eve. It was the first New Years Eve I've been excited for, for a long time, besides London last year. Most of our friends from the Banana Farm had headed to North Sydney at a place called Cremont Point which overlooked the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. We decided to join hem and after about three hours we managed to find them through the chaos of people. We had a few drinks and watched the amazing fireworks; apparently there were seven tones of fireworks used and there were over 1.7 million People in Sydney to see them. My only disappointment was that I couldn't see Kylie Minogue from my position.
The next day was a recovery day, despite doing a weekly shop at Coles we stayed in and watched stuff on our Laptops. I caught up with Fresh Meat and watched the entirety of Season Two. It's a great TV Show and I recommend it too anyone. I dragged Tom out that night though to go and watch the Wigan vs. Man Utd game, he wasn't best pleased because we both had interviews the next day but he came along after a bit of nagging from me.
The next day we both had an interview with the same company, we both thought it was for tele sales but it turns out its actually for face to face sales, door to door type thing. Tom was up first and said it was a relaxed chat and he thought it went well. It gave me some confidence but I was to be interviewed by someone else. A young lad called Jessie, he looked like an arrogant p****and I wasn't looking forward to the interview. As soon as we sat down though I realized I was wrong to think that and he turned out to be a nice chap. The interview went well, I blagged my way through many questions as I do in interviews and I was instantly called back for the next round of interviews a day later. When I came out of the interview I had had another call from The Fundraising Call who also wanted to interview me the next day too. I had two interviews and could make them both. Things were looking promising about earning more money. We went back to the flat and had dinner and then I went to meet my friend Laura from back home who was in Sydney for a bit visiting some friends for New Year. We caught up over a few drinks and then it was time for me to resume my position of Night Manager. It was another slow night where nothing happened. It was pretty easy money!
The next day I woke up and had my second interview, I was still shattered from the previous night's night shift. I didn't really want to go but decided I would anyway, besides I had spent $5 on a tie for the occasion which Tom had to tie for me. I headed to the interview and found out it was a group interview of twenty. I couldn't really be bothered with this. The managing director was doing thee group interview and he informed us that we would be assessed on how we were in the group as well as our knowledge in a little test at the end. The interview lasted two hours and I said nothing apart from introducing myself and said what I did back home. I completed the test and walked out knowing it would be a miracle if I got that job, truth be told I didn't really want it anyway, the pay was 100% commission and I wasn't really up for that. I headed straight o my next interview for The Fundraising Company. I didn't get off to the greatest start by mixing up my interviewers name calling her Michelle when her actual name was Claire. She was a nice Scottish girl though and I felt relaxed while she was interviewing me. I think I dazzled her with my charisma and boyish charm as well as my natural talent and was very confident I would get that job. But saying that the last time I was confident of getting a job was in Mackay and I'm still waiting for Roger to call now. I went back to the flat and told Tom how it went, I even followed up The Fundraising Group by emailing Claire and asking her a few questions I didn't ask in the interview like how she randomly knew Worksop. I thought this would definitely put me as a front runner for the position. I skipped off to work in buoyant mood. I had a plan I could fund raise Monday to Friday and night manage at the weekend, it would be perfect for saving money. I got to work and again everything was quiet, but this time I had another dilemma to deal with. I had no internet! How would I entertain myself? Solitaire of course!
The next day I didn't sleep much both jobs said they would let us know by around 2pm if we had the job. I was restless. I was keen. 12pm went, nothing, 1pm nothing, 2pm nothing. I was gutted I didn't have the job I was so confident too. Meanwhile James and Lauren who were working on the Banana Farm with us in Innisfail had made the 16 hour bus journey from Surfers to Sydney. We told them they could sleep on our floor for a couple of nights so they came round we caught up and went out for some food. Just as we got outside the flats my phone rang. It was a number I didn't know. I answered. It was Maz from Van Eyk (The Sales Job) I had only one and got the job! I barely said two sentences in a two hour job interview and they gave me a job. It was crazy; I didn't know what was happening. I accepted even though I didn't really want the job. It also made me frustrated that these would give me a job and The Fundraising Company wouldn't. We had food at Market City. I had three curries, rice and a naan bread or a bargain price of $11.90 which I might have already mentioned in this blog. But it is really nice! Then we trotted off to the pub, just before we got there I had a call, another number I didn't recognize! It was Leoni from The Fundraising Company, I had the job and they wanted me to start Monday! Get in! I was in a great mood so decided to get the round in at Three Monkeys. I couldn't believe it technically I had three jobs. Of course I would dump the sales job, and then I had to ask Peter if I could change my shifts to the weekend for my plan to come a reality.
I headed to work in a great mood, Peter wasn't on today so I thought the best way to tell him I had a new job and wanted my hours changing was by text, it was the cowards way out, he had gave me a chance and I couldn't help thinking I had let him down somewhat and was messing him about, still I thought he would be happy that I could still work weekends. I wrote a message and saved it, it was late so thought it was best to send it the next afternoon. The s*** was again quiet nothing had happened at all, six shifts and not one real thing had happened where I had to tell someone off, it was all too easy. Although again I had no internet. I did find a TV under a desk though so I watched some Celebrity Juice, Desperate Housewives and My Family to pass the time as well as playing Solitaire and Pinball 3D. Not bad work for $19.50 an hour is it.
I woke up the next day and instantly sent Peter the message. It was now a waiting game. How would he react? For the next few hours I did some washing, updated Dream Team and caught up with other bits and bobs but there was still no news from Peter. I wasn't too worried though and we headed out to Scruffy Murphy's where we had a few drinks.
The next day Tom, James, Lauren and I had what is commonly known as 'A Tom Basford Day'. Basically it's just a lazy day, but Tom has perfected it in the last few days down to an art, lying on his bed, with a slight lean on the wall, laptop in hand either surfing the web probably looking at porn or playing games. I even think Tom has done this that much that he has made an indentation in his bed. Therefore the lazy day was named after Tom. So we chilled out, I still hadn't herd anything from Peter so decided to grin and bear it and give him a call. He didn't sound too happy and said it was unlikely he could give me weekend work but he would let me know during the week. So after a day of chilling we got up and went to the pub to watch the Mansfield vs Liverpool game. I think it was the first time Tom had left the flat in three days. It took us a while to find a place to watch it not because nowhere wouldn't show it but because it was now 3am in the morning and all the pubs were closing or not allowing anybody else in. ventually though we found a 24 hour bar and they put the game on there for us, and it was no surprise we were the only people supporting the Stags in there. In honesty I don't particularly like Mansfield Town but my hatred for Liverpool is quite well known so I was firmly backing them and they were desperately unlucky not to get anything ut the game. We eventually rocked back up home at 6am. This wasn't good as I had to be up at 8.30am for my Training Day!
The alarm sounded. It felt like I hadn't been to sleep, maybe I hadn't. But I got myself ready and made my way to the office for my training day. I was really looking forward to finishing so I could catch up on my sleep. I got there and met all the other new starters, there was 20 of us in total. A Polish woman called Joanne took th training session and taught us about Fundraising in the street. After lunch we were then split up into our three campaigns. I along with an Aussie called Forde and a English girl called Katy were representing Unicef. We went through some stuff and got given a pitch we had to learn by the next day! It was a full side of A4. There went my plan of an early night. I got home and after practicing with Tom, James and Lauren I finally nailed it at 2am.
The next day I woke up feeling like I would die of sleep deprivation. But I got ready and headed for my first day out on the street fundraising. I was in a team with a German girl called Pia and one of the Team-Leaders called Chris who was Australian. We ran through my pitch and it went well. Chris told me just to go out and have fun! The first thing he made me do was dance in front of a girl listening to music. He said it was the only way to make the stop or acknowledge you. I did it maybe a bit awkwardly but it worked she didn't talk to me but at least she acknowledge me. I pitched a few people they were either too young though or unemployed. Then I got a Chinese woman to sign up and a middle aged female Maths teacher. Two sign-ups in my first day everyone was pretty impressed and I was buzzing! I even got the nickname champion man! Just a note on the job, I know I was guilty of it myself but I can't believe how rude some people are not even saying hello or nothing. Anyway I had had a good day so went out for what was meant to be a catch up beer with a friend from back home. Mr Simon Coope. A beer turned into two and two turned into a few as his workmates, girlfriend and others joined us. I stumbled home at about 2am again.
If I was feeling like I was dying the previous morning the next morning I felt dead! I was that dead I even missed the train stop I should have got off at. It was ok though I still got there early. The next day I managed to acquire another start up and also passed my assessment with flying colours. I was beginning to get the knack of this. I was also ear marked for going on a road trip the next week as I was performing so well! That night I finally managed to catch up on a little bit of sleep.
The next day I was based on my street. The honeymoon was over and I struggled. For the first half of the day I couldn't even get a conversation. I did manage to get one sign up though but it was hard work. The next day wasn't much better either and I didn't get any. The whole team only got one between the three of us though and it didn't help that we had to move locations so many times. The good news though was I was on the road trip the following week. And after work on the Friday our campaign manager took us to the pub for a few jugs of beer! Saturday was also fun has work put on a bbq with free beer and food! The job definitely had excellent perks!
So I realize this is like a mini essay so I will end it here and update you again after my road trip!
So until then stay safe and take care!