Hello all, so I thought it was about time I updated the blog seeing as the last post was 4 months ago now. When I last wrote the world was just entering the start of the Corona Virus pandemic, countries were going into lockdown, borders were being shut, flights cancelled and everyone’s plans for the year thrown into disarray. (Unfortunately, 4 months on, not too much has changed). I had planned to leave Sydney on the 6th of April, fly to Melbourne for 2 weeks and then head over to New Zealand for a ski season. These were all cancelled, and I was left with two options. Seeing as my first-year visa in Australia was due to expire on the 23rd of April, option one would have been to book a flight and return to the UK, seeing as nowhere else would let me in. Option 2 was to apply for my second-year visa and look to ride out the storm in Sydney. I should add option 2 was only possible due to the fact I had completed my 88 days of farm work enabling me to be able to apply for my second year. All the days slaving away picking peppers certainly paid off. After weighing up my options I elected to go with option two, reasons being, flights back home towards the end of April were like gold dust, well overpriced and often cancelled at the last minute, so even getting home would have been a nightmare. Then once finally home safely, what would I have done? Sit on the sofa watching TV and reminisce of good times on my childhood bed, no offence mum and dad I miss you loads, but moving back home for months on end with no job and no social plans didn’t seem that appealing. The company I work for in Sydney installs internet, so my job here seemed safe and they even offered to promote me to Team Leader if I stayed. Therefore, the most sensible choice was sticking put down under and I elected to stay in Aus a little longer. I applied for my second-year visa (and after completing another medical in the exact same place as the one for my NZ visa and paying once again) I was granted a second year visa allowing me to stay in Aus until the end of April 2021. As I said work wasn’t an issue as I could stay employed with my current employer until the end of October 2020, so I felt secure given the circumstances. Lots of friends I had met travelling were forced home or forced back to the farm due to losing their jobs in the city, so I had lots to be grateful for, even though plans had dramatically changed. I was able to keep my job and would just try to save as much money as possible with the hope of being able to use it soon to continue my travel plans and adventures once everything has settled down.
I did, however, need to move to a new house if I was to be staying in Sydney for the foreseeable future. Originally when I first arrived in Sydney, I had only planned to stay 4 to 5 months. Plus, having been on the road in dorms and sharing rooms I wanted my own space so initially moved into a place where I rented a room off this middle-aged woman who had two cats. Don’t get me wrong it served its purpose but there was no way I could stay there in lockdown for another 6 months. Luckily the perfect opportunity arose for me to move in with my friends Louise and Ryan. They live on the 20th floor of an apartment in Double Bay which has unbelievable views of the harbour. Thankfully at the end of April, a room became available in their 3-bedroom apartment and due to COVID, their rent was reduced meaning the room was within my price range. I snapped at the opportunity and moved in at the start of May which instantly just made me feel so much better about the situation. Although it wasn’t the fresh start and change of scenery I had envisioned when planning New Zealand, it was still something and acted a bit like a reset button for my time in Aus. It’s hard to feel bad when this is your view from your living room and balcony every day and the home office views from your window. Plus, it meant a bit more company to endure lockdown with other than the two cats who I don’t miss.
Even though Australia imposed tough restrictions, such as shutting its internal, as well as international borders. Lockdown in Australia didn’t seem as bad as that in the UK. During April, I probably only left my house once a week to do my food shop. But with it being the middle of winter the days were short and the weather a little chilly too meaning not being able to leave the house wasn’t all that disheartening either. Saying that the Aussies winter isn’t like the winter back home haha, I think the coldest it got is like 10 degrees and its still hot and sunny some days too. Come May, we were still in lockdown, but the cases and deaths were still low, and it appeared Aus was on course to eradicate the virus, my main activity was working out in the local park or going for runs with Ryan. Come June however things had eased up, and places started to open their doors a little more and life seemed to be returning to normal a bit.
Since arriving in Sydney I had always wanted to catch the sunrise at one of the eastern suburb beaches and seeing as I had now moved much closer and the shorter days meant the sun didn’t rise until 7 am, June was the perfect time to tick this activity of the list. I ended up making the trip to Bronte beach for sunrise several times at the start of June and even took a morning dip with Fred in the local seawater pool. It was bloody freezing but also well worth it and highlighted to me the appeal of the Australian lifestyle and why so many people decided to move here. Can’t quite see many people getting up and going for a sunrise swim in the middle of winter down Clacton or Jaywick haha.
One Saturday Lisa, Fred, Louise, Ryan and I also went on a big coastal walk around Cronulla which is south of the city on the train. It was whale migration season and the walk around the headland offered the chance to see the whales swimming on up the coast on there journey to warmer waters. The hike was quite something and I think by the time the day was out we had covered around 20km even walking along the whole length of Cronulla beach at dusk/sunset. It was quite the day and given it was the middle of winter was a beautiful day out exploring after being locked up for a few months. By this point bars and restaurants had also re-opened so we enjoyed a socially distanced pint or two before catching the train back to the city.
This was pretty much the modus operandi for much of the time between May and now, little outings on the weekends with various walks or booking a table at a pub for the night, nothing too extravagant but a slow return to some kind of normality. The only real big trip of note was heading away for Fred’s Birthday. We had booked an Air BnB about 2 hours south of the city in a small quiet town called Shoalhaven Heads for the last weekend in July. The weekend before this the lads had also gone to an indoor paintballing place in the city before going back to Fred and Lisa’s house to celebrate Fred’s actual birthday. (Don’t ask for much do you Fred). 10 of us went away for the weekend which was a good laugh although we didn’t get up to much. The first night we spent just playing games and drinking, then on Saturday, Chris Ollie and myself were the only early risers and went for a paddleboard on the estuary outside the house before heading down to the beach for a few hours, before making it to the local pub for lunch. By the time the rest of the gang joined us, the 3 of us were well on our way again and the rest of the crew had to catch up. Sunday came around and everyone was a little worse for wear, so we just tided the place up before taking the slow ride back to the city. As I say we didn’t do loads, but it was nice to be out somewhere new and having a laugh with friends. Something that before now was easily taken for granted.
I guess the final real point of note from the last 4 months or so is that at the end of June I got promoted again at work. Unfortunately, even though the company is working in the telecommunication sector and is a pretty essential service, it like so many over companies hasn’t been immune to the economic impacts of COVID-19 and therefore a large proportion of staff were sadly made redundant including my manager. Now I have nothing but sympathy for my colleague that lost there job and wish them all the very best for the future, but as the saying goes, one man’s loss is another man’s gain and fortunately, I was one of those to gain out of the large scale restructure of the company. With my manager and several colleagues in a linked team being made redundant, I was offered the opportunity to be promoted again, from the Team Leader of my current team to Senior Team Leader of a second team as well as the current team and would be responsible for the management of 8 staff members across the two teams. It came as quite the shock and was a little stressful to start with but having now been in the role around 6 weeks I think I’ve settled in well. Although I won’t bore you too much with any more details after all the blog is Everitt’s Adventures, not Everitt’s Career Development. Still considering everything that has happened over the last 6 months I have a lot to be grateful for and feel incredibly lucky given the circumstances. Don’t get me wrong I would have loved to have been writing blogs about my time skiing in New Zealand or other great adventures I’ve been able to have this past 4 months since the last blog, but that isn’t our current reality. The whole world has been thrown upside down and I think I’ve come off pretty well, I still have a roof over my head, in fact, a very nice roof and also have a job where I have essentially been promoted twice during COVID. I’m not trying to gloat but rather just framing my current state of mind and situation. I know I’m lucky and things could have been far worse, and I tell myself that on the days when I get fed up and wish I could be jetting off on a plane somewhere new. Or when I think about the fact my parents should have been coming to Australia at the end of the month and I should have been seeing them for the first time in 18 months. But life happens and things don’t always go to plan and that’s what allows us to grow as a person. This period has also allowed me to learn more about myself and reflect on the things that really matter to me. Not wanting to look too far ahead into the future as who can be sure what state the world will be in but I hope I’m able to come home for Christmas and catch up with all the people I miss dearly. By then I shall have been away from home for 25 months and I am hoping things will have settled down a little to allow me to see my family and friends who I miss. I hope that next year I can travel to Thailand and completed my divemaster course to become a professional scuba diver before hopefully heading to New Zealand next winter to attempt the ski season for a second time. But regardless of what happens and if my plans change drastically again, I know I’m not ready to settle down and start real life just yet. I’m so grateful for my job and the opportunities the company has offered me, but it’s also reinforced I’m so not ready for that part of my life to commence yet, I know I’m so privileged to be able to say that and not everyone has the opportunity to be able to do that. But if this pandemic has taught me anything it’s that you have no idea what’s around the corner, so life is far to short to be doing things you don’t want to do for any longer than you need to be doing them. Therefore, I’m going to live my life to the very best of my ability and not have any regrets when the time comes to look back on it all.
I hope everyone who is reading this is safe and well and have been able to get through these tough times the last few months. To my family and friends, I miss you lots and look forward to hopefully being reunited with you soon! I guess we shall see where the world stands in another 3 months and if my plans need to be changed again until then, stay safe and keep enjoying the little things in life.