Monthly Archives: June 2010

A ghost of a time

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Point Cook Homestead

I went on a ghost hunt last night. A real one, with dowsing sticks and pendulums and infra red camera and little devices that detect electromagnetic fields. It was at Point Cook Homestead, and it was hosted by Australian Paranormal Investigations.

As many of you may know (but probably not), I have a thing for anything supernatural, paranormal, the occult, spiritual or anything otherworldy. I have since I was a small child. I remember being 8 or so, reading books about UFOs, the most haunted houses in Britain, poltergeists, the Bermuda Triangle, the Yeti, the Loch Ness Monster. Anything strange that happened, I was reading about it with utmost fascination. (But not things like vampires and werewolves, because, you know, that’s just silly).

I even had a favorite ghost and a favorite haunting place. Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry the VIII, beheaded for treason in the Tower of London. Her ghost has been seen wandering the landmark, sometimes with her head resting neatly on her shoulders, sometimes with her head resting neatly under her arm.

Tower of London

It was partially mainly only for this reason that I packed my bags and dragged two friends across the world to the UK, where I’d applied for a 2 year working visa. My whole life I’ve wanted to see a ghost so much- I mean really see, with my eyes, unexplainable by any other means- that I spent two years in the UK, with my predominant objective to “see a ghost”. My first stop? The Tower of London to visit my favourite ghost Anne.

Sadly, I did not see Anne that day, and although I did see where she was buried (exciting in itself) and where she was executed (thrilling, to say the least) I held on to the hope that one day I would see a ghost. I mean this was the UK, for goodness sakes. This was the birth place of ghosts (not really, but to me it seemed it) and old, haunted mansions and castles. I trekked my way around England, Ireland and Scotland, to castles and manors and lochs (yes, in case you are wondering, I did go to the Loch Ness, and I did witness a strange surge of water on a very still day, with no boats or anything out on the lake. As though something huge had moved beneath the surface), hoping to get a glimpse of…something.

Anne Boleyn

Also just as sad, I did not witness one single ghost the whole time I was over there, despite deliberately and successfully gaining employment in several supposedly haunted hotels (Leeming House in Lake District, Red Lion Inn in Hawkeshead), and despite ensuring some time alone at night to go ghost hunting.

Leeming House

So last night was another attempt for me to find that elusive something that proves that they are real, that they exist. The search for something I could see with my very own eyes.

Last night was fun. It was cold. It was long. But it was definitely fun. I was there, thanks to Emma Sutcliffe (thanks Emma) so I could write a story on the ghosts of the western suburbs of Melbourne. And I had my camera at the ready for anything freaky that may occur.

People had experiences, heard noises, felt things, but my stupid, logical, rational brain kept explaining them away. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a skeptic. I mean, I’m not a skeptic in *here* (points to heart) but I think I’m a skeptic up *here* (points to head). Despite hearing many stories over the years, I’ve never, ever, ever had a remotely haunting or ghostly experience (except for that strange, random surge of water at Loch Ness).

Unfortunately, last night was no different. But that’s not to say that the homestead at night isn’t a scary place, because I sure wouldn’t want to be holed up there on my own at night! Nevertheless, I will continue to believe and hope that one day I’ll have my experience. Hopefully I will be around others when it happens, because I’m not sure I’d be up to an experience alone.

But I’m glad I saw nothing last night, because having to return to an empty house (family gone away for the weekend) at 3am after a haunting experience would have been far too frightening. In fact, I think I would have been knocking on mum and dad’s door.

Have you ever had a ghostly experience?

Red Lion Inn

Time for change

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When hubby Skyped me at 10:30am telling me Julia Gillard was new PM I was absolutely thrilled. My body broke out in goosebumps and I felt a distinctive shift in energy. That feeling was exactly the same as the feeling I got when Barack Obama won the US election. Like a huge shift in energy. A paradigm shift.

The first female Prime Minister. Who’s in a defacto relationship, has no children and is Athiest. Breaks all the moulds doesn’t it? Also? She’s from Altona!! That’s 10 minutes up the road! As I tweeted today, the possibility of meeting the first female Prime Minister just became very real (as a major writer for the west’s only street magazine, Auzone.)

So. Exciting times. Kevin Rudd was just a stepping stone. Now we’re here. The world needs some big changes to prevent us from annihilating ourselves. First an African American is voted for Pres. Then a woman for PM. This shows that people have opened their minds and that the old ways of thought are dropping away.

Tradition gets us nowhere. Tradition is what we hold onto when we’re scared of change. Change is essential. And it’s time for that change.

Go Julia, you ROCK!!

And, on another note, I love how they were asking who they’d get to take over her ministerial portfolio. Apparently Julia was the only one who could be in charge of all the ones she was in charge of!! No one else can take on a job that big! What does that say about our new PM? That she ROCKS, that’s what.

An angsty adolescent poem

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A single star in the lonely sky;
All alone, I wonder why.
It’s just like me, so small and sad;
Dreaming of a life it never had.
Until others join it’s path
To come again and leave it’s mark,
Of hope and courage and all it’s worth,
That single star shining over the earth.

-written by Melissa Wallace (nee Hart) during her seventeeth year of life.

Do you do date night?

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What do you do for date night?

When you’ve been in a relationship for eight very long and tiring lovely and romantic years there comes a point where a little more effort is required to keep things fresh. Especially when children are involved. It’s important and VITAL to the relationship to not fall into the habit of seeing each other as your children’s mother/father, because remember, we started out as much more than that!!

When I told kindly suggested to my husband that he should do more nice things for me, I nearly lost it when he said “I do!! I do the housework for you!” I’m sorry. The last time I wrote “housework” down as my hobbies and interests was…oh that’s right, NEVER!

Sometimes I have to remind him that I’m not just a wife and mum, that I have an actual personality. So, in lue of celebrating our personalityness I have announced Wednesday to be date night.

Date night is the one night of the week where we are not allowed on our computers*. We put the kids to bed and then snuggle up on the couch together to watch Spicks and Specks and Gruen Transfer. Then we go to bed early (rather than midnight, as is often my case). At least, this is my plan. Tonight is the first one, so we shall see how it pans out.

This suggestion of a date night was courtesy of my counsellor. Yes, I see a counsellor. So what. I believe that problems are better dealt with than suppressed by alcohol or drugs or antidepressants (that is my belief, and I respect other people’s choice of suppressing their problems. Each to their own.) And it took hearing it from someone other than his nagging wife to have my husband agree.

Do you have a date night? What do you do? How do you keep your relationship interesting?

*The issue of relationships suffering because of technology is a BIG one that warrants its own post. In the meantime, please share your experiences and I will tie it in to my post. If you dare!! 🙂

Travelling in Australia Mag @ ATE!

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So this is what we did at ATE (Australian Tourism Expo) for delegates to make good use of time in between appointments, and for a bit of a larf. The photo booth was courtesy of the lovely Susie and Cam of funky foto booths.

Around the 30 second mark you’ll see yours truly, with too big sunnies, pink feather boa, an orange tradie’s vest and a big cheesy grin.

How to not hire nuff nuffs

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Which type are you? I'm number 1...

It always amazes me to hear people complain when they can’t find an employee who will commit, who is good enough, a good writer, takes initiative or whatever else. And when I say it “amazes” me, what I really mean is it shits me. A lot.

I recently started writing for a new street magazine and met the editor for the first time last week. On asking him how many other writers for he had for the mag he sort of ummed and ahhhed and said that he’d had six writers for the last issue, but he wasn’t happy with any of them.

Apparently it’s hard to find good, committed writers, and he only has two writers that he really likes and wants to keep (yes, if you’re wondering, I am one of them *big grin*). This is strange, because I was under the impression that good writers are a dime a dozen, but apparently not. He gets people who email him once asking about submitting writing, then never following up, and the other type of person will email him about submissions, then ask him what they should write about rather than taking the initiative and putting forward suggestions.

Here I am thinking I’ve got a great job because I can write about whatever I want (as long as it’s relevant and interesting of course), which is exactly what I’ve wanted all along! And yet he finds it hard to find good writers! What the?

Then there was this post on Mia Freedman’s website last week about how she found it hard to find someone worth recruiting, and about how hard the recruitment process is. And increasingly I’m hearing, from various PR, writing and publishing people, about how many nuff nuffs there are out there who end up not being able to write well, don’t know their grammar and punctuation, or have outrageous demands.

This outrages me so much. Do you know why? Because I am one of those committed, hard working people dammit! I mean, I’m the type of person to fly to another state and help out, unpaid, just to prove my eagerness to learn about the industry and to meet my new editor! I go above and beyond for people, and am incredibly loyal (IF they deserve my loyalty). And I take a job not just as a job, but as a path to knowledge. In fact, I don’t do ANYTHING for the money, but because I love it. So, if you’ve received an application from me you should feel lucky.

But somehow, after over 50 job applications last year, I never received a single call. This tells me a couple of things. First, recruitment on the basis of a CV, especially in writing, editing and public relations is stupid. I know I must be doing something wrong in my CV because I’ve got a lot of experience and I’m good at what I do, but I’m clearly not putting that across. I know these industries are about communicating effectively, but a CV is just a piece of paper with dot points of what you’ve done. You have a set format, and there’s not much room for personality.

The three jobs (two writing, one PR) and one volunteer position (PR and editorial) I have at the moment were secured BEFORE they saw my CV. My CV was just an afterthought, a piece of paper which tells them my employment history, my experience, specialties and strengths. My CV was something they asked for AFTER I’d started working for them. But they were able to gauge, by my attitude and communication skills, that I am good at what I do and therefore worth keeping.

So, having had no luck whatsover with sending out job apps, yet having received three jobs on the basis of my personality confirms that the CV process just isn’t enough. And I put forward a proposal to change the recruitment process (in the communications/media/arts industries) to something like this:

1. Send a brief email explaining why they should consider you for an interview. This leaves room to inject personality while getting your point across in a succinct and effective manner. Much less time consuming for the recruiter, much better chances for the job-seeker: everyone’s a winner.

2. If your email was interesting enough then you are called in for an interview, where the recruiter gets a real feel for who you are and what you can do, as well as whether your personality will fit the workplace (because let’s face it, I know you can’t disciminate on personality, but it has a LOT to do with creating a good work atmosphere. What’s the point of having the best person for the job when they can’t get along with the rest of the team?).

3. Bring your CV to the interview. If the interview went well the recruiter can decide whether they want to spend the extra time learning about your employment history. If the interview doesn’t go well the recruiter doesn’t even have too look at it. If you haven’t been able to communicate the most relevant experiences you’ve had in the email and in the interview then you’re not good enough for the job, and the recruiter won’t be missing out on anything by not reading the CV.

So there you have it, the new recruitment process. I guarantee that if employee used this process they’d get far better results. It may be a little more time consuming than the current process, but if it saves you having to go through the process more than once then really it’s actually a time saver.

One of the jobs I applied for was with a very small media/publishing/publicity company that I won’t name. I read the website from start to finish and then pointed out in my cover letter all the spelling/grammar mistakes in the website and how, with me working for them they’d never have to worry about that. I didn’t get the job (I didn’t even get a call) but last time I checked their website they’d corrected all the mistakes I pointed out. Maybe it was a bit bold of me to do that, but I figured if they couldn’t deal with me pointing out how it needed improving then they wouldn’t appreciate what I had to offer them in the first place.

The other thing is that I’ve heard some awful stories from HR people about how sometimes they won’t look at a CV JUST because they don’t like the font or the layout!! If this is true then it serves all those people right for ending up with nuff nuffs. But is it true? What about you? Are you a potential recruiter? What do you think of the new process? Is it realistic? Have you ever judged someone on the layout of their CV? Have you ever hired someone you thought they’d be brilliant who ended up being nuff nuffs?

Where in the world?

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Sunrise over Pacific

On Tuesday I  went to Adelaide to attend the Australian Tourism Expo (ATE) with my editor (OMG I love saying “my editor”), Susan Tyrrell of Travelling in Australia Magazine. I didn’t have to go, but I wanted to, because I’d not yet met Susan, and I wanted to get a real feel for the travel and tourism industry, since, you know, that’s what I write about.

I really loved Adelaide. It felt like a mini Melbourne, with all the lovely old buildings, the friendly people and the sort of calm yet sophisticated atmosphere that I just don’t get from, say, Sydney. Too much going on in a city makes me feel alienated. Like comparing Manchester to London. There was just too much going on in London. Too much whinging, too much traffic, too many grumpy people. Manchester was more laid back, had more of an arty/alternative scene (hello punk rock).

The hotel I stayed in was a major let down. I’d got the impression from the website that it was quite nice, but simple. In the room I stayed, the ceiling was higher than the room was wide, giving the impression that I was in some sort of chute. There was only one power point, which sucks in today’s day of phone chargers and laptops while watching tv and having the fridge on. The television was so old that it required an aerial, and the picture was black and white. And the heater didn’t work. The only redeeming feature was that the bed was so comfortable that I actually had a good, unbroken sleep. A rare occurrence.

Anyway.

I had lots of fun and met so many great people from all around Australia who were there to promote their tour, their resort, or their outback adventure. And it made me think about the amazing things there are to do in Australia, and how beautiful and rugged and colourful and changing our landscape is. And it also made me ask why, why are we in such a rush to visit other countries when we have such a beautiful one right under our very noses?

Is it because we are constantly seeking for something else? What is that something else anyway? Is it because we just take it for granted that we live here so we will always be able to travel here? Is it because we are in search for alien cultures, to step out of our comfort zones to really feel alive?

Whatever the reason, my list of things to do in Australia has increased tenfold. I’ve yet to visit Tasmania, most of Western Australia, and well, pretty much most of the top quarter of the country. I want to see the Great Barrier Reef before it’s ruined. I’m feeling this sudden urge to hurry up and see it all before it disappears (although where I think it’s going to disappear to I’m not entirely sure).

Did you know that while the US has 57 National Parks and Canada has 41, Australia has an astounding 600+? No, neither did I before this week. Did you know you can go glamping (glamour camping) with all the fun bits of camping, combined with the comforts of being at home?

If there was one thing I learned this week at ATE it’s that we live in SUCH a beautiful country with such beautiful, friendly people. It’s no wonder so many look at Australia as a land of beauty and opportunity.

Of course, apart from Australia, there are many countries around the world I’m hanging to visit. I want to do a spiritual journey to India, Nepal and Tibet. I want to go to festivals in South America, trek the Inca Trail, eat delicious food, and dance to latin music playing in the streets. I’d love to go to the Burning Man Festival in the Nevada desert (this sounds like an AMAZING experience- stay tuned for a post dedicated to this). And, as I’ve mentioned a million times, I plan on taking my family on a 12 month house-sitting adventure around the world before my oldest son starts VCE.

So tell me, where in the world do you want to visit and why?