Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 kicks the bucket

Everyone has a list of thing that they want to do before they kick the bucket, a list of places to visit, things to do, people to meet, films to watch, festivals to attend and books to read.

For me 2013 was a so memorable, so rewarding and so much fun as well as challenging in so many ways.

It opened with an amazing trip to China and to India – a kind of trip that has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. Spending 4 weeks interning in Shanghai (with a local company that imported fine Spanish food and wine) was amazing and an experience that I will never for forget.   

Going to India was another dream come true. I went to India as a child and I always dreamt of going back and this year I got my chance.

I was lucky enough to participate in an International Journalism Project meaning that I got to spend two and half weeks discovering India in ways that I wouldn’t normally get as a standard tourist. Of course, as a massive fan of the written word getting to write about India was a complete bonus.

Visiting two of the great wonders of the world were so incredible. The Taj Mahal’s beauty was mind blowing and visiting the Great Wall of China was staggering.    

But all holidays must come to an end and going back to work was a little difficult.

But luckily, I managed to moonlight for a few months as a ghost writer (officially as a Graduate Research Assistant) for Cancer Research. Combining this with the day job meant often working 13 or 15 days in a row but that was all part of the challenge.   

However, life is not all about work.

There were visits to Sydney Writers Festival, Perth International Arts Festival and to Malaysia for a friend’s wedding as well as a skydive. These were all great experiences and seem to be pertinently (maybe not the skydive) on the bucket list.

Singing was another great pastime and singing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was loud and high but great fun. Also singing in a smaller Choir in a catholic church was amazing and singing the great Christmas Music (including descant ;)) at Midnight Mass was increasable.

Finally, 2013 saw the buying a house. This was never really on the bucket list but it is almost a necessity these days, so now we have a mortgage.

Looking back, it seems that things weren’t really crossed off but heavily underlined things to do again. I hope 2014 will see more adventures of so many descriptions. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Trade union hack is a label proudly worn

Ever since becoming a work place delegate for my union and attending one of their training courses last month my passion for the trade union movement has been recharged. It was great to learn how to contribute to a fairer workplace and how we can make a difference.

If that makes me a trade union hack, it is a label that I proudly wear.

There are so many things that the union movement has fought for that I now take for granted and if these things were taken away, my life would be a lot harder and defiantly more complicated.

There were so many simple things that were negotiated for by the union movement that a person in permanent employment enjoys; things such as sick/personal/carers’ leave, holiday pay, and job security. There are also many other things that unions worked to set in legislation, such as workplace safety, penalty rates,  holidays, overtime and a minimum wage.   

As delegates, we were reminded of the consequences of casual and insecure employment such as poor financial security that could make secure a car loan or mortgage difficult and securing a rental property even harder. As with casual employment, there is no sick pay and no guaranteed work from one week to the next, meaning that supporting yourself becomes a lot more difficult.   

Casual employment also affects people’s social lives, families and communities. When you don’t know when you have to work and you have to take any job that comes along, you can’t plan your social life ahead of time. You can’t commit to play sport, do things at your kid’s school or regularly attend interpretive dance classes. All this makes managing a work/life balance really difficult and has the potential for alienating people from the things that give meaning to their lives.

This is why the culling of penalty rates is so wrong. When people working in industries such as hospitality and in the health care system which requires them to work when the majority of the community are enjoying communal time off such as evenings and weekends so shouldn’t they be compensated for their sacrifice?

Having spent years in casual employment and juggling multiple part time jobs I remember how hard it was to do the things I loved when I had to always be available to work and any expense like music lessons, book clubs, going out with friends and attending sometimes pricy political and NGO events were a little hard to justify.

So as the state and federal governments work towards their agenda of privatisation and liberalisation, I will continue to be a union hack so that we can preserve things like penalty rates for those who work unsociable hours and permanent jobs over casual employment and fixed term contracts as well as deal with many of the other issues that people face when they go to work.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The freedom to put nails in the wall

When I first brought my apartment, one of the first things that everyone said that I now was allowed to put nails in the wall.

After spending several years renting and sharing it will be the first time that I have the freedom to put things up on the wall without having to ask anyone’s permission or worry about managing a difficult landlady.

The idea of becoming a home owner was a little scary at first, I wasn’t really sure that I was ready for the financial commitment or that I was able to give up (rather postpone) any epic overseas adventures but it is for the best. I can’t imagine being 65 and still having to rent or share.  I am determined to make it work, even if it means getting two jobs.

They say that you fall in love with your house almost instantly and I could see myself living there within a few seconds.

Not only was it a couple of hundred meters from where I was renting but I loved the pine floorboards that would be perfect for my Persian Carpets and the white walls were perfect for hanging my favourite photos and prints.

Better still, the kitchen was perfect and the bathroom needed no renovation.

Sure it wasn’t perfect. It did come with furnishing that weren't really my thing but making the apartment my own was part of the fun.

So far, my love for my place has grown, especially since it is now all organised and all the boxes are safely in the recycling. I love having my own space, being so close to the city (no city views this time around but that doesn’t matter) I look forward to create new memories in my little apartment and can’t wait to spend many happy hours here with family and friends.  

High Five

Five Bar in Mount Lawley is relatively new and but is already a favourite with those who enjoy Beaufort Street vibe and ambiance. I really enjoy this part of Perth, with its proximity to the CBD and the verity of places to grab a bite to eat or to enjoy a cheeky mid week glass with friends without having to go into seedier parts of the city. 

I’ve visited a few bars recently and there is one bar that deserves a High Five, just based on its décor, service and food.

Both times I’ve been there; the staff have been great in providing recommendations depending on what we felt like and the food always came out quickly.    

Having done a bit of research I already knew that their chips are to die for and I can guarantee that they were amazing. They were fresh as well as full of flavour and so much better than others that I’ve had in the past.

Their Barman’s platter was also great and a good accompaniment to a glass of wine as well as perfect to share among two or more not-so-hungry people.     

But what I loved the most was that it had such nice atmosphere to it without it feeling boring, old or daggy. With plenty of natural light and the space to have several seating arraignments, you could choose where you wanted to sit depending on how many of you there were and if you wanted to sit at a table or in a comfortable couch.  While we were there, there were several people working way on laptops and several more taking part in uni group projects. There was even a knitting group that were enjoying a drink while making progress on their knitted garments.

While I waited for my friend I really enjoyed checking out the many photos that adorned the walls and didn’t at all feel self-conscious waiting alone.

Five Bar completely deserves a high five as they have created a venue that has great décor, good food and service. It is light, relaxing and the perfect backdrop to a great evening with friends.

Five Bar on Urbanspoon
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