Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Riverina Roadtrip - Junee & Wagga Wagga

Over the Easter long weekend, I went on a solo road trip to the Riverina Region in NSW. Originally I had planned on driving to Mount Kosciusko however with my healing ankle, I decided against it. I have also decided to incorporate as many maps as I can just to paint a clearer picture of where I went.


I picked up my rental Hyandi i30 at 7.30am in the morning and headed towards Wagga Wagga via Lithgow in the Blue Mountains. It was a dreary morning and my key reason for leaving so early was to avoid the usual long weekend traffic. At Lithgow at around 10.20am, I got pulled over for a random breath test or Operation Tortoise as the police called it. Funny story, as I pulled up for my test I almost knocked the traffic cone over and the police officer found it absolutely hilarious. Probably as hilarious as when he asked where I was going and I said, "to Maccas. I need to make it down the road in time for the 10.30am breakfast cut off". Ha. I always have this guilty feeling whenever the police/ anyone of authority talks to me and I ended up blurting the most honest truth.

I went to Wagga Wagga via the back roads partly to avoid the traffic on the motorways and also because it's a lot prettier. It was quite enjoyable as I had Pandora playing with the latest country music and this time I had reception since I changed to the Telstra network.

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The landscape was so dry as evident by the yellow grass. Everything was yellow.

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Spot the sheep next to the old church

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I had every intention of reaching the town of Junee to visit the Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory before 3pm for their factory tour and the giant Freckle making session. However, the drive took a little longer than I had anticipated and I was also stuck behind a car that was cruising at 70kmph on the 100kmph roads. Although I didn't make it in time for either the freckle making (this is what it is) or the tour, I did make some purchases for my family and friends.


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There was also this ride for children that seemed like tubs were cut out and then joined together to make a train. The kids seemed to have a lot of fun, especially when the driver was going around in circles.

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I finally arrived at Wagga Wagga at the free camp ground which was a blessing. After around 8 hours (with my breaks and visits at small towns) I was very happy to have time to just chill. Once again, I decided to sleep in my car to save some money and also because ... why not. This time, I was more prepared and even brought my Kindle (didn't want to have to resort to reading the car manual again). The free campground had toilets and no showers however I was more than happy with facilities. There were around 8 other caravans and although it was next to the main road, it really wasn't that bad.

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I also saw so many stars and tried to take some photos. My camera really isn't the best and I did do post processing however I try to work with what I have.

This is my fourth trip as part of #take12trips. To see previous trips please click here
Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Blackwood Pantry

There are always so many new cafes popping up in Sydney that it makes it really hard to keep up with them. That being said, it does get to the point where they are a little bit interchangeable. I guess at the end of the day, cafe food are all kind of similar.

When I visited Cronulla, I popped into the newly open Blackwood Pantry.

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Similar to a lot of new cafes, it had a very clean, simple and beautiful interior with lots of natural light. I ordered the Buddha Bowl.

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Fried eggs, quinoa, kale, roasted cauliflower, pickled red cabbage, toasted almonds, lemon & buttermilk dressing - 17

It was amazing and it was so filling. I really loved the picked red cabbage (I am in a bit of a 'pickled' phase right now).

My dining partner ordered the Morning Glory.

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Soft boiled Egg, Chorizo, Tandoori roasted Sweet Potato, Kale, pickled Red Onion, whipped Goat Cheese, Avocado - 18

Funnily enough, my dining partner and I usually end up picking the same item and the Morning Glory was my second choice after the Buddha Bowl. I also really enjoyed it, especially the chorizo. However the highlight of the entire dish was the avocado! There has been an avocado drought which has meant that I have not been able to afford avocados lately. $4 for one? No way.

I would definitely recommend Blackwood Pantry if you are in the area. It's really simple, delicious and not overly expensive food.

Blackwood Pantry Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Cronulla & La Perouse

Another weekend, another day spent chilling by the ocean. I started off my day having brunch at a new cafe in Cronulla. I hadn't actually been to Cronulla since .... forever. I think I might have visited back when I was in primary school, however I am not certain. It reminded me of Manly in some senses, except Manly is a lot bigger. I guess it's the very laid back vibe of the place, unlike the super crowded and busy Bondi Beach.

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I ended up also heading to La Perouse in the eastern suburbs. Bare Island is a military fort built in the 19th century to protect against Russian invaders. However, the concrete was inferior and it was decommissioned around 30 years after it was built.

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Another sunny day in Sydney, however I feel like it sometimes becomes a little bit of a cliché. Although the sun is setting earlier and earlier now which makes me a little sad. This was never something that bothered me, but for some reason, seeing the days become shorter and shorter is affeecting me a little. I also can't believe that we are in the middle of March. Where has the time gone?! I will leave on my roadtrip in two weekend's time. Crazy!
Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Wollongong

Wollongong or 'The Gong' is located around 1.5 hours south of Sydney. It is the third largest city in New South Wales and an easy day trip from Sydney on the train.

I had been itching to head out of Sydney however with my still healing ankle, my options have been quite limited. I am not sure if I actually have been to Wollongong before but on first impression, I thought it was gorgeous. The proximity of the Illawarra escarpment to the city made the place feel very different to the other big cities in New South Wales.

I first visited the Botanic Gardens which was super nice!

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I then headed out to the ocean and walked along the coast until I reached the lighthouses.

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I didn't spend as much time in Wollongong as I would have liked and actually didn't even visit the city centre. I guess this can only mean that another visit will be in the near future. Next time I would like to visit Nan Tien temple which is the largest Buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere.

Also thank you everyone who wrote such kind words and advice on my previous post.

This is my third trip as part of #take12trips. To see previous trips please click here
Friday, 4 March 2016

Work Aggravation

Well this is something new.

I haven't done a spur of the moment post in .... well forever basically. Actually not sure if I have ever done one. It is currently 11pm as I am writing this on a Friday night. This will be a post about my work life. Yes, my infamous work life. I keep hinting about it and I actually had a post scheduled this morning but I decided against it. I figure that I might actually never get around to posting about it so here I am.

My attitude has definitely picked up this week after my chat with the general manager about my unhappiness/dissatisfaction. This afternoon, I had a chat with the project manager in charge of the project management office as part of a mentoring session. In short, it went horribly. I actually left the 1.5hr chat completely drained, upset, stressed and distraught. It was horrible. It was so intense and felt like a job interview. A grueling job interview at that.

I introduced myself to this guy in my second week of working and we chatted after our Christmas party. I currently sit with his team, and even though I don't report to him, I am on the periphery of what he is involved in. But he is a friendly person and we have chats and jokes.

Here is the thing. I don't know where I want to work. I don't know what I want to do. But I know which industries I don't want to be in and I know what I don't want to do. The entire mentoring session, he kept talking to me like I was an absolute idiot. And if he wasn't doing that, he was grilling me on all my answers. He kept asking what I wanted to do, and I kept telling him I wasn't sure since I hadn't had varied experiences at the company thus far. He would then repeat the question over and over and over again until I got to the point where I was just so fed up and ended up answering quite bluntly - in the most polite way possible - that I didn't know. Basically all my answers ended up being a variation of 'I don't know' and it's really because of my experience at the company thus far. He interrogated me about why I studied law and am not pursuing a career in it.

He talked/ criticised about a whole host of things. Honestly, too numerous to mention here. And here is a direct quote:

We can't guide your experience. You have to drive it because we can only guess what is beneficial. And if you do fuck all, then you won't achieve your outcomes.
His point is completely valid, but I've only been in that rotation for 2 months. Additionally, the graduate programme is beyond problematic and we haven't really had a proper experience or exposure... to well anything. So demand that I know what I want to do and where I want to go at this point in my career is absolutely ridiculous. Of course I phrased that in the nicest way possible but per his interrogation techniques, I ended up just saying, "I know. I just don't know right now" and shutting up. After a while, everything he said I either ended up justifying/ defending myself or telling him I knew [but that didn't stop him from talking down to me like I am an idiot] or just saying, I don't know.

But like any job interview, it's all about pushing through and trying to remain neutral. But I know he knows I wasn't neutral; I am sure he knew I was uncomfortable with the conversation. What he just didn't know was the extent of my anger/ frustration/ sadness at the situation. I ended up questioning myself after the mentor session and cried on the bus home.

During and immediately after, I was really upset. I've been asked similar questions before and people are quite understanding of the fact that I don't know where I want to be. They think it's normal and it is why I am in a graduate program rather than a specific permanent role. The career advice is not new information. My work friend is a big believer of that and she actually has shaped me a lot since I started. In fact, that is why I had that conversation with the general manager. Because I was wanting to drive my career. But the way he did it was so unreasonable and unreasonably harsh. Every time I had something to counter, to prove that I wasn't just sitting there willy nilly, he just dismissed and kept talking down to me.

Now in hindsight, I am just pissed.

Ever since I started this full time role, I have changed. I have become less of a wallflower. I am not sure if it is because of my work friend, my frustrations at work or if I've just changed organically. I believe I am lot stronger, maybe almost hostile and with very much a honest attitude. Not too honest bear in mind, but a lot less fluff.

I have this issue where if I don't like someone because I think they are an absolute idiot, I struggle to keep a neutral/ friendly face. It shall be fun on Monday.
Tuesday, 1 March 2016

D'VineRipe Longest Tomato Lunch

The Tomato Festival 2016 was held at the Botanic Garden and I had booked two seats at 70m long table for the longest tomato lunch.

This was an event that I randomly stumbled upon and as a fan of tomatoes, why not? I have a funny story about tomatoes actually. When I was a child, I loved tomatoes and I must have pestered my mum about being hungry. So she gave me a tomato to eat just like an apple. After that tomato, I really didn't like tomatoes for quite a while. But the dislike eventually passed and I found myself at the tomato festival!

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The weather was pretty miserable on my way to the lunch but luckily it cleared up momentarily during the lunch. However it started bucketing shortly after I left.

There was so much food, almost too much in fact. There were 6 different items and in generous servings! My favourite were: the chutney with the cheese (I love cheese), the caramel tiramisu and the 65 degree salmon fillet (not pictured).

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A slightly too dry and too salty focaccia. 

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By the end of it, I was pretty sick of tomatoes and really full! It was a very lovely experience and a lot of fun. It was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon and of course, there was an amazing view, with good food and great company!