Monday, 28 January 2013

My Working Holiday in Melbourne- Part 1

On visiting Australia as a tourist less than a year ago (more on that HERE) I absolutely fell in love with this country; I had an amazing time with friends in Sydney and Adelaide and more fun than is probably healthy travelling up the beautiful East Coast to Cairns, though it was the wonderful city of Melbourne that I saw myself returning to.

<3 This City

I was told by a friend that Sydney is like a glamorous trophy girlfriend, but Melbourne is the woman you spend the rest of your life with- a metaphor I think fits perfectly. Almost a year later, here I am in the bosom of my 'wife' on a Working Holiday Visa, (£240 in GBP atm) seeking full-time employment and a fun house-share for at least the rest of the year, and I'm one happy camper (well, lodger) for choosing to do so.

Aussies are like Northerners without coats on; they're friendly, they like to drink and they will go out of their way to help you (or so I have found). Luckily I have fantastic friends and their accommodating families who are letting me stay until I find my feet, and I've almost been having too much fun so far to sort my life out; getting to know the best places to eat and drink (more on that coming soon), attending the Tennis Open, exploring the city and its laneways, its suburbs and shopping districts, making friends and even going wake-boarding on the Murray River during an Australia Day camping weekend- yeah mate!

Having fun at the Open in the freebie and photo-op rich stalls :)

I have however done the basics, all in my first trip to the mall:

  • I got an Aussie phone number ($30/month for a pretty good Optus deal, do this first!)
  • I set up a Commonwealth Bank account (needs a $50 deposit to get it going for a $6 charge)
  • I applied for a Tax File Number (you need this for finding a job but it's super easy to apply for online)
  • I registered for Medicare (similar to the NHS but you pay a portion of your fees; Britain has a 'reciprocal agreement' with Australia so we get cut-price healthcare too).
Now my building-a-life activities include adding jobs to my rapidly-growing Seek shortlist, signing up for recruitment agencies for some temping work while I find The Job (TBC), and prowling Gumtree and house-share sites to find a friendly, non-creepy bunch of people I can move in with on a short-term basis. If you're staying in a hostel first you might meet like-minded peeps who you can find a house together with, just make sure they have some degree of personal hygiene first!

Moving to Australia for a year or two needn't be stressful if you adopt the laid-back vibe of those who surround you once you get here. Be prepared, do your research and keep on top of your to-do list once you get here and everything will (hopefully) fall into place, or so I hope :)

Apparently it's snowing in the UK. SHAME :p

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Feeling Crafty- Handmade Cards, Gifts and Jewellery

As a gift for my friend's adorable baby I made this little name plaque, to go with the awesome NY Yankees romper I got her in the states. There's loads of cool handcrafted gift ideas on sites like Etsy so why not give it a go, it might even be good enough to actually give as a present (unlike last year's decorated xmas candles that now gather dust on my loft!)
For the M- I punctured holes through thick textured card, threaded through pink ribbon and added a sequin.
A- I did a similar thing with pink beads threaded onto sparkly thread to form an 'A'.
C- I cut the motif from my Christening ribbon (sentimental!) into a 'C' shape.
I- Sparkly sequins threaded together to form a line were finished off with a heart sequin.
E- I cut pink tissue paper into the right shape and stuck on a duck shaped button.
Et Voila!
Also check out these cute handmade cards I made for friends and family this winter in moments of pure and unadulterated crafting bliss...

Mother Bear's card, pamper voucher and handmade leaf earrings (well, I bought the components and put them together!) 
Granda loves living in the Lake District almost as much as he loved my card :)

Metallics, sheer ribbon and buttons add texture to my fancy floral creations
Snazzy card I made for my last day at work.

I'm also partial to a bit of jewellery-making as you may have gathered in previous posts, but here are some of the friendship bracelets I made at camp, and a few necklaces made by my own two manicure-starved hands:

L-R: This tiny bottle and dried flower were a gift from a very creative CouchSurfing host I had the pleasure of meeting in West Philadelphia, which I added to a shoelace. Resourceful!
The swirly black pendant is a Fimo creation made at Camp in New York, as were the galaxy-inspired beads beside it, all threaded onto leather.
The hamsa hand (symbolising protection) and the monochrome amulet were made using copper enameling which I'll go into a little more detail on below, and the wooden cross was a rainy day project in Byron Bay on the east coast of Australia.

The back of the hamsa hand above shows the 'before' finish to these pieces of copper, but they look far more interesting with a little coloured enamel, especially in the ombre style I carefully created above. At camp we sprinkled the sanded copper shaped with coloured powdered enamel (more on that HERE- thanks again eHow!), VERY CAREFULLY carried to the oven and baked. I prefer the one on the suede cord but the beaded one has an ethnic charm I also quite like!

These heart earrings were also made using the copper enameling technique, I just stuck some earring posts to the back to make them functional!

Next I think I'd like to make these cool framed heart-shaped maps of places I love, or this Robert Indiana style 'Love' button creation (ha- love button) from Not On The High Street as I DO love buttons!