Signs of the financial recession are still very much part of life here; in the past couple of months two high street chain stores have announced their closure and the last reported vacancy at the local newspaper received over 200 applications.
The UK was the last major economy to emerge from the recession and during that time, according to the Office for National Statistics; unemployment rose by 877,000 from April 2008 to hit 2.49m in the three months to October 2009, and continued to rise. At the end of December 2012 the number of people out of work fell by 14,000 to 2.5 million and in January this year 1.54 million people were still actively claiming job-seekers allowance.
I'm really struggling with not working. However, there are benefits to being a lady of job-seeking leisure. For example it's given me plenty of time to recover from the jetlag of a 29 hour journey.
Flying halfway around the world is without doubt the ultimate test for the gift of patience. There is nothing like long-distance travel to make people a little ornery and if you can negotiate the entire journey without wanting to have stern words with those around you, I think you can pretty safely say you are a patient person.
I, however, failed this test 4 hours into my trip as I was queuing in Melbourne airport. The man behind me decided he would rather concentrate on his iPad than on where he was going. This resulted in the iPad being rammed between my shoulder blades every time we took a step forward and his giant, wheeled hand luggage sporadically catching my heels. It was only the knowledge that a fight in an airport would greatly hinder my dream of a travel-reliant career, which prevented me from behaving in an unladylike manner.
So much free time has also allowed me to do some in depth research into my next step. I've emailed Universities and newspapers, prowled the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) website, ordered a book on teaching myself shorthand and filled my twitter feed with almost every Africa-based reporter, journalist and photographer I could find. So if you like retweets of African news, random nature facts and the odd update of my day to day life thrown in for good measure, you can follow me @peachesandrain.
However, this has allowed me to follow interesting news items like the Oscar Pistorius trial live tweet by tweet. I've also come to terms with the fact that, despite everyone telling me that my two and half years of experience on New Zealand will mean employers will snap me up, I still have a long way to go, namely learning to write 100 words per minute shorthand and completing my NCJT exams. But in all honesty I find that quite exciting; more opportunity for adventures.
I've also been able to spend a lot of time with my family which has been the biggest joy of all.
My brother, who I could tuck under my chin when I left, is now a deep-voiced 16 year old giant and my sister is currently looking at teaching jobs as she comes to the end of her University degree. Together we have walked the dogs in what feels like minus degree temperatures, braved the merciless journey to Yorkshire via the M62 in order to visit our Grandparents, attended a pub quiz and a barn dance and generally been able to get to know each other again.
I guess what I've learnt from all of this is that a) I possibly should not be left alone at airports, b) dreams are a continuous progression rather than a destination, and c) there's no folks like home folks.
"All life demands struggle. Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish, and insensitive to the real values of life. The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person we are today." Pope Paul VI
Gemma Margerison is an aspiring author from the North of England. Gemma worked in Auckland New Zealand in Christian journalism for almost three years and has returned home to the UK.
Gemma Margerison's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/gemma-margerison.html