#ilovemcr

First post-10

The tram lines are open, city blockades have lifted and Manchester is stronger together than ever before.

When we were moving to the UK it was important for me to live in a place we wouldn’t feel like outsiders. I wanted to walk amongst the locals and feel like I was one of them – especially since we are here for 2 years at least.

The moment we were settled in our house, Manchester was home. If we mention we are from Australia we are told about these amazing local gems to discover, how beautiful Didsbury is, or end up talking over a pint about the weather and the Mancunians.

The most “Manchester” thing about the people is their immense capacity to keep on working and supporting the people around them whether they’re friends or strangers – they just do and don’t think twice about it.

There is never a sense of “other” to the Mancunians.

The terrible tragedy that was the Manchester attack happened two weeks ago now, and has taken 22 lives with repercussions to families, friends and complete strangers across the globe. As someone who relocated to the city three months ago, it was a real shock to wake up to worried messages from home in Australia and really put into perspective for me how connected the world is.

Today, I was absolutely taken aback by a video from Business Insider UK, courtesy of The Life of BakoThis guy standing in St Annes Square where we strolled through the weekend before the attack blindfolded and asking for people to trust him enough for a hug. While the gesture of Bako standing there is already heartwarming – it is the words of those who are hugging him that truly inspire me.

It is just another example of how close the city really is – for locals, expats, and people passing through. What a town.

#ilovemcr

ANZAC Day as an expat

First post-9

ANZAC Day is a sombre experience. Children grow up learning April 25th is not a happy or heroic day in Australia. It is a day of remembrance and reflection. Each year city streets are lined with volunteers selling small poppy flower pins and brass broaches to raise money for veterans. And on the day we hold our breath as the beagle plays at dawn, trying to imagine how it would feel being surrounded by your mates and war on a beach.

There isn’t as much a sense of patriotism as there is mateship for your fellow man and woman. There are sporting, religious, cultural, fashion and foodie differences that may divide us on varying levels of friendly banter to hateful misunderstandings, but what shines through is our open – maybe not always agreeable – but open nature to stand by your mate. We cheer for the underdog and don’t need an excuse to hang out over a beer – perhaps that is why one of the most popular Prime Ministers was the one who could skull a scooner whilst being cheered on.

Living abroad for the first time and experiencing ANZAC Day from the outside, so to speak, reminds me of how lucky I am to call Australia home. Australia has provided me with endless beaches to explore, too much sun, an education that lead me to university to study in a field I am passionate in, and a safe place to come back to when I have quenched my thirst for travel. It keeps my family and friends happy and healthy and provides a good laugh to strangers when you joke about riding kangaroos to school growing up. Which is all you could want really – to laugh like a silly galah with new and old mates.

It was the first year away, and it may not be the last, but I will always remember the ANZACs. With the coming of the day and the going of the night their legacy will live on so we can remember the sacrifice others made in the hopes of our futures above their own. So don’t waste it. Lest we forget.

The Ode, by Laurence Binyon

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Sweet potato and cranberries

First post-2.png

You would think that after moving overseas I would be more excited about the 17th century church down the road rather than grocery shopping. But, then again, for those that know me and my obsession with markets and local produce this may not come as such a surprise.

While some of my cooking (mainly baking) can be pretty shocking, I am becoming more and more aware of how my style of cooking and use of ingredients is changing – and improving! Sweet potato and cranberries are not foods I would put together in Australia, but when it came out of the oven tasting amazing here in Manchester I did a little research and found it is a popular combination! Maybe I had been walking around and subconsciously saw a dish where they were combined?

Sweet potato and cranberry bake is the most common recipe found online with different complementing ingredients, such as maple, apple, walnut, cinnamon, and raisons. You can also find it as a stuffing recipe or salad with spinach, quinoa, and pine nuts.

I kept mine simple and savoury as a bake adding a few herbs and extra virgin olive oil to the dish and roasting it for an hour. I served the potatoes with a marinated Spatchcock (poultry or game bird that has been split open and prepared for cooking) that I roasted for the same time and temperature with the potatoes as a source of protein. It also saves power using just the oven for one meal. It was delicious, so I’ve put the ingredients below to share with you!

Spices 

  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Coriander seeds
  • Chilli powder
  • Salt and pepper

I used about half a teaspoon of each spice for one big sweet potato cut into chunks. Place into a baking tray and add 4 whole cloves of garlic (peeled), and a handful of cranberries. Drizzle the lot with extra virgin olive oil and use your fingers to make sure the sweet potato and cranberries are coated with herbs and yummy goodness.

Bake in the oven at 180°C for 60 minutes. If you’re cooking with meat don’t forget to let the meat rest for 10 minutes so the juices are retained when you cut into it. With a whole chicken I found an hour was a good time and didn’t try out the meat.

Food plays such a huge part in our daily lives – in a lifetime the average person will spend just over 6 years cooking and eating food!

Travelling overseas you get a snippet of the culture, but living somewhere else you are completely immersed, and while sweet potato and cranberries does not come close to a revelation I cannot deny the exposure of so many new cultures and cuisines is influencing my cooking – and I like it.

The one month itch

First post-4

Job hunting can take many shapes and forms over a number of hours, days, weeks, months and eons. Patience is a virtue that decides to wander a bit when it has been doing well for so long, and usually does this around the one month mark.

I don’t know where it goes or what it does. Maybe Patience catches up with Cool, Calm and Collected over a bottle of red. I just know that one moment it is there and the next a big, blaring neon ‘UNEMPLOYED’ sign you didn’t see before appears. We all know the sign was there all along, but because you were focussed on making your resume look awesome, good juju, and proactive action you had all those endorphins from making calls and sending emails coursing through your veins. There was no room for doubt!

But then you feel it. The one month itch.

I thought because I had been warned about the itch I would be able to slip past the worry. I thought that because I had received such great advice from fellow expats I would see the signs and be able to ignore them. But patience wanders, doubt on your abilities can creep in, and sometimes you just need a bottle of red.

When I moved over I was confident that within 2 months I would find a job. I have support from my friends and family, a UK phone number, and 5 days a week to contact recruiters and HR teams giving myself the weekend off so I wouldn’t burn out.

Job hunting is not easy anywhere around the world. One of the Aussies I have met so far has said it took her 2 months to start her job, and another friend 6 months of consistent job searching. My fellow expat The Roaming Blonde has also written about how New York City can push you in ways you didn’t know you could be pushed in work and life. It is no different here in Manchester. If job hunting was easy national unemployment rates would be a lot lower than 5% of the population and less tabloids about there being a skills shortage in the marketplace.

At the one month mark I still have a whole month to secure a job and achieve my goal. And yet, even though I am fully aware I still have another month, I am scratching.

The best piece of advice I have received is to watch out for this one month itch, acknowledge it is there, and acknowledge all of the things you have achieved up to this point. After all it has only been one month!

The itch can tempt you with the option of settling for less in the hopes that the job you really want will come along soon. This is the easy option and only the temporary solution to a long term goal. Don’t do it to yourself.

You can get to the point where you think you want to take anything. You want a job to keep you occupied, you want stability, you want an income. I get it, I am there with you, but eventually you move passed it.

Negativity has a huge impact on your frame of mind and confidence, so stop scratching, get the balm out and make a new move.

What can you do different?  
List the things you did that caught someone’s attention (I love lists and keeping them simple is key!). Look at what you’ve been doing over the past month. What has worked and what hasn’t worked at getting an interview or phone call?

  • Did contact via email, phone, or LinkedIn work better?
  • Was it when you attached a cover letter even when they didn’t ask for one?
  • Is there a particular job site you were able to find more roles to apply for directly to the potential employer?
  • Is a follow up call or email the best way to stay in touch with recruiters and HR departments about jobs?
  • How do you try something new – even if it is out of your comfort zone – to get your foot in the door?

When the going gets tough, the tough get going… again.

So crack on!