I’m running 26.2 miles for ONE reason.

Africa, Europe, Sport, Uncategorized

Around a year ago I was well on my way to running 600 miles over 8(ish) weeks for VSO. I’d been running so much that a few gals suggested I may as well run a marathon. Let me stop you there. One does not simply run a marathon just cozzzz. But still, I signed up for the Isle of Man full marathon and ran the 26.2 miles on 9th August, my 21st birthday.

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look at me go, right at the front…

Not content with just the one marathon to my name, I signed up for the Lisbon marathon with my good pal (probably an over statement) Kate and we’re shimmying over to Portugal to take part on 2nd October this year. Soooo, we have less than 2 months to quit whining and get on with training for our second marathons (she ran the London Marathon in April).

Instead of raising money for a charity, I’ve decided to do things a little different and raise awareness for a cause quite close to my heart. (I say that, a lot of causes are close to my heart but stick with me here)

UK Youth Ambassadors

So, in return for me sweating my lil booty (and back, arms, legs, forehead, everywhere) off, I’d like my lovely friends and family to hear about and get involved with ONE campaign. I want to raise awareness for ONE and all the world changing, life saving work they do. See, ONE isn’t a charity. We (I’m a ONE member along with 7 million others) don’t dig wells, we scream n shout to get governments to change the law so a well has to be dug.

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I’ve been a ONE youth ambassador since March this year and their approach to ending poverty and  preventable disease is refreshing. It’s not always easy to get your local MP or media to care about your work with ONE but as a group of around 50 UK youth ambassadors we’ve managed to make a real impact resulting in meetings with MP’s, speaking in Parliament, creating university societies and visiting the OECD forum in Paris (yessss we ate all the croissants).

‘ONE’s 7 million members are critical to this work. They come from every walk of life and from across the political spectrum. They’re artists and activists, faith and business leaders, students and scientists. They take action day in, day out — organising, mobilising, educating, and advocating so that people will have the chance not just to survive, but to thrive.’

Fancy joining the 7 million people and making your voice heard?

What can you do?
First things first, get yourself onto their website – click here woo woo
Next, see what campaign we’re currently working on and choose what interests you the most and take action either by signing a letter or petiton.
Tell your local MP if they’re not doing enough about the issue and what they can change.
Write to your local newspaper about how you’ve put your name to something you truly care about.
Pass it on. Send this link to someone you know – let the movement spread
Let me know, a simple Facebook comment will let me know how many people stand with ONE just because they read this blog post.

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Why?
We’re one race. We live in the same world. Why should where you’re born determine your quality of life? I’m not asking for money, anyone can put their name forward to something they care about.

When?
Now would be fab. But any time before October 2nd would be perf.

What’s next?
I’ll be writing some more blog posts in the run up to the marathon. (Run. Get it…?!!?) with some more info on ONE’s work and what I’m personally doing as a youth ambassador. Sound iite?

OH and use the hashtag #MazRunsForONE when sharing – because errrrybody loves a hashtag

Thanks,
Maz

get involved.

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Just chillin’ with Mhairi Black at our launch

10 things I learnt at my first time at Glastonbury

Europe, Uncategorized

in bed, 6 am Monday morning. We left Glasto a few hours ago and I start work at 9. power through mary, power through.

My first time at Glastonbury was a beautiful one. I won’t get gushy but it’s hard to describe the magic of such a huge and diverse festival. Here a few things I learnt over the past 5 and a half days from the UKs biggest festival.

  1. Simply arriving on site is a bit of a mission. – we were doing fine until about a mile away where we hit queues at standstill for hours and hours. Some came from Bristol and what should have been a 45 minute journey became a 16 hour one.
  2. Mud. Mud is evil. – the heavy rains prior to the week had caused the worst mud Glastonbury had ever seen. It caused traffic problems, it made it take FOREVER to walk between the stages and it was in for embarrassing you when you took a fall.
  3. glastonbury is really big. – Yep, everyone will tell you how huge it is but it’s not until you’ve seen it from the top of the hill that you can see how massive it is. It’s not that the stalls or stages are particularly massive but there’s so many of them. Each area is like its own mini festival.
  4. its impossible to see it all. – I missed out on the greenpeace slide and didn’t get a picture by the sign but when it takes a few hours to walk to these places, you just don’t have time to do it all.
  5. but that’s ok. – you don’t need to be super organised and strict with your schedule because you’re on holiday in your weird bubble of jam packed chill
  6. hippies are cool. – I used to think hippies and rockers and everyone in between we’re so extreme and hardcore and separate from my own life. But after going to a few festivals this summer I’ve realised that people who identify with these extreme stereotypes (or just look like they do) are normal and nice and not so different to myself.
  7. performers and organisers are great at paying tribute to people we’ve lost. – we marched and sang for Jo Cox, there were secret tribute parties for Bowie, dance nights for Prince and Coldplay allowed Viola Beach to play on the pyramid stage.
  8. days are great but the nights are better than expected. – silent discos, cheesy pop, trance in a colourful tent outside, giant sculptures with bars in, interactive installations and art work which surrounded clubs. It was all going on.
  9. campaigning is a great way to experience it. – I was lucky enough to go to Glastonbury with Oxfam to campaign for our new effort to support the refugee crisis, Stand as One. Free ticket, showers, meal vouchers, meeting awesome people, getting to know more people from work, engaging with festival goers and other charity workers were just a few reasons why I’m glad I went as a campaigner. ALSO, we walked for miles and miles each day so saw most of the site before it was so busy.
  10. British musicians are just amazing. – I could talk alllll day about how great some acts were but I’ll try not to bore you. Watch the BBC coverage and make you own mind up but personally, I was impressed by Jess glynne, Coldplay, Disclosure, Bastille, Adele and Laura Mvula. Coldplay know how to put on a good show, we didn’t want to leave at the end of the night 😦

BASICALLY. I had a wicked time in the mud and rain. Surrounded by friends, yummy veggie food, amazing music and a good vibe. Everyone should experience Glastonbury at least once in their life. Allllll the fun.image

Mary X

 

p.s. Shoutout to Monish and Samantha for organising everything for the campaign team. I’m not sure how you were still awake by Sunday evening but 10 points to you, woo. And new people I met, you’re all pretty cool. 5 gold stars for y’all.

What ya doing in Oxford..?

Europe, Uncategorized

Who knew over 80 of my Facebook friends gave a fudge that I was moving to Oxford?!

So yeah. On Sunday I moved to Oxford after 3 months in Welwyn (post Kenya.). I’m currently a very happy bunny because I somehow managed to land a 3 month job on the social media team with a pretty big UK charity. They work towards the issues that I’m most passionate about and operate on such a huge scale. It’s very easy to work out which charity it is but I won’t say it here cos I don’t need no drama.

It was a speedy transition from jobless, to application, to interview to starting out. Which means I had a day to rush around south Oxford viewing flats & houses that would take on little old me for just 3 months (this came after countless messages to landlords which is always super fun).

I decided on a cute house share in Cowley with 3 other guys. It’s in a residential area so not crazy lively but it’s spacious and clean and convenient so all round great. On Sunday Georgie, Chad and I went to Birmingham to see our cousins and family then drove to Oxford on the way back to drop me off.

I unpacked and prepared for the week ahead. I started the new job in Monday; the first days have been a bit of mix. Overwhelming at times, also pretty calm and chilled. I’ve sat in on a few exciting meetings (that sounds sarcastic but it’s actually not.), been given a few responsibilities and been up and down the 2 flights of stairs to my desk a million times. but yeah, so far, so good. The entry into the ‘world of work’ is a little different for me because I’ve spent so long either working to my own hours or just having such a relaxed schedule and tasks that very little could go wrong (African time is real). Now I’m on the opposite of the spectrum so woah, surprise surprise I’m not allowed to just jam outside with the kids, chill on the beach or wear shorts and t shirt because I’m profesh now hunnay.

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Yesterday Papa Mandefield happened to be working like 100 metres away from my office so we met in Costa and did a lil supermarket shop cos my fridge shelf was feeling empty and sad. I went for a run round Shotover Country Park because the weather was iiiite. I was surprised at how much open space there was, right next to the dual carriage way and there were so many monkjack deers!? Monkjacks are one of life’s greatest mysteries. They’re so bizzarre. Their faces are proper deer-like but the back half is like an overgrown rabbit.

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Tomorrow I’m going to play a casual game of Ultimate Frisbee with a bunch of people I’ve never met before (pray for me plz). I reckon I’ll come back to London on Friday night to see a certain Miss Gaynor but after that I’ll shimmy back to Cowley. SoooOooOOo0o if anyone fancies a day/weekend out HOLLA at me. I don’t have a working phone because I may or may not have smashed it on the morning of my first day… but message me on the old faceboookkksss.

That’s all for now chumps. Exciting shizz coming up next week (… did someone say speaking at parliament..?!)

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i wear work clothes cos i’m a proper office gal these days. 

Mary xoxox

34 hours in Vienna

Europe, Uncategorized

As of Tuesday I hadn’t been out of the country since December last year. Me. Mary Mandefield; travel addict had not used her battered, overused passport in nearly 3 months. Fiercely unacceptable.

My sister has been swanning around Germany for a few weeks on a Tina Turner tribute tour (that’s a lot of T’s) and Chloe and I had been looking at flights to go and see one of her shows in April with not much luck. Most of the venues were in small towns far from airports and trains to the various places seemed to cost more than the actual flight. Long. In the mean time, G suggested I head to Vienna to see the show there and in the same trip I could spend time with my cousins and aunty and uncle who happened to live there. Good shout G. What else do you do when you’re pretty much unemployed and cheap Easyjet flights are calling your name?? I booked flights the next evening.
A week later and I’m packing my bags to go. I changed my euros at the post office (how do thy always manage to get you buy more than you intended?!), sorted out my hair (currently rocking some very home made looking Senegalese twists), rummaged through wardrobes to track down tights and headscarves that G had asked for, shopped for chewing gum and porridge for Gs friends and managed to fit all this and my clothes into a tiny wheelie case.
Flying from Gatwick is my family’s pet hate. Whenever any of us are looking to leave the country dad is quick to bellow ‘as long as you don’t go from Gatwick!’. Yeah yeah it’s a pain to get to. We get it Kev! Because I was working Monday evening, had to be back for a training course on Thursday morning and Georgie was performing on Tuesday night, I didn’t have much wiggle room in terms of flights. So I booked a flight from Gatwick on Tuesday morning and sorted a train from St. Albans at 5am so no one had to drive me for more than 10 minutes. After 3 hours sleep I was up and dropped off at St. Albans station. With tickets in hand I turned towards the departures board. Cancelled. All of them. Literally every train was cancelled and 2 lucky ones that remained (not going to my destination mind you) were delayed by over an hour. Argh, dad had already left and was on his way to work in Oxford. I didn’t have another choice but to phone him and luckily he agreed to come pick me up and drive me to the airport. I couldn’t even ask him to drive me to London because all the trains from there were cancelled too. The drive was dull and rainy but I’m very lucky he could take me and only moan about me booking flights from Gatwick a couple of times… Thanks paps!

  
Checking in, boarding and the flight were all pretty standard and I reached Vienna at 11ish. I’ve done this a few times where I arrive at my destination and expect whoevers picking me up to be waiting at arrivals for me. Nahhh, Georgie and Marcia were nowhere to be seen. So I kinda shuffled to Macdonalds to get a sprite and saw a text from G to say they were on their way. I stepped outside to see where I could meet them and the cold hit me like an icy truck. And I’d left my gloves in the bottom of my suitcase. Cool.
After a while of Marcia driving around not having a clue where I was, we eventually found each other. Georgie explained how they’d gone shopping, showing me her new sunglasses from mango that now I really want. But have nowhere to wear.

  
We drove through town and stopped at Vapianos for lunch. Vapianos is one of my fave restaurants because if you’re super picky like me you can tailor make your meal and not have to worry about finding a rogue mushroom in your risotto that you really didn’t want. If you haven’t been before, basically you get given a card to which they charge your meal to and you pay off when you leave. They have little stations for pizza, pasta and salad and you watch the chefs making the food I front of you from scratch. I went for a salmon carbonara which was so yum but mega filling and Marcia and I ended up taking ours home in some fancy Vapiano Tupperware.   
We went for some quick cosmetic shopping before we went home. My cousin Li was there to greet us, we never used to see each other much but now we’re older we’re obviously quite happy to get a 2 hour flight for a quick visit. So the last time I’d seen her was last summer before I went to Kenya. G unpacked my case and put my stuff into hers because she wanted to swap suitcases. I took a nap on the sofa whilst watching Austrias version of ‘say yes to the dress’ which is so cheap and tacky. They make the brides balance on a teeny plastic stool to show off their dresses to their friends. I woke up to my other cousin Bo coming home from school. I don’t think he realised I was coming ‘Mary what are you doing here!?’. We had pasta for dinner and rushed out to the theatre across town to see the show Georgies performing in; Tina Turner the Rock Legend. The theatre was so much bigger than expected and the audience was a casual 2000 people!?  

 Our seats were great and the first half of the performance was really good. There was a live band, 2 narrators, 2 backing singers, 3 dancers and of course Tina. The cast were mainly German; one singer was a semi finalist on The Voice waheyyyy, the saxophonist was American and obviously Georgie and the other 2 dancers are from the UK.   
The second half was just as energetic and by the end the whole audience were on their feet singing along to ‘simply the best’ and subsequently that song is still stuck in my head 24 hours later. My favourite part was when it appeared on the screen behind them ‘lifss not about the journey. It’s about the desTINAtion’ looooool very punny. After the show you could meet the stars of the show and get autographs. 

  Obviously we had to get Georgie’s and some photos. Marcia and the fam left to go home whilst I waited around for Georgie to change and take off her make up. While I was sitting in the foyer there was a group still hanging around getting photos with Tina. One woman held her hand, looked straight into her eyes and passionately sang the whole chorus of ‘simply the best’ before trailing off and getting visibly emotional. ‘I am crying because I’m just so happy to be here with my idol’ she probably said next (my understanding of the German language is limited so you have to give me room to improvise) and she launched herself onto Tina hugging and kissing her. Calm down gal, she’s not the ACTUAL Tina Turner. 
Georgie lead us onto the tour bus (look at me. Hanging on a tour bus. Who am I) and we travelled to the hotel where the cast were staying that night. It was very fancy and I loaded up on sweets from reception (imagine Ross with the pine cones) and made use of the lush shower with giant shower head. Georgie headed to reception to get some water and a toothbrush for me but didn’t return for a solid 45 minutes. She came back apologising telling me about how the guy on reception was also a performer and was talking about working with Brian Friedman, Sisqo and whoever else. If you didn’t know already, dancers like to talk.   
We both had such a good nights sleep because hotel beds trump all other beds. In the morning we watched 2 Broke Girls in German and took a walk down the road to buy tissues and more water. Rock n roll. After a solid 3 course breakfast and nabbing some muesli and fruit for the road (G not me) I waved G off on the tour bus as she was off to her next destination and I waited in the foyer for my aunty Marcia to meet me. She works at the UN which happened to be a 2 minute walk away; I could’ve met her in there but security are scary and I’d undoubtedly get lost. 
‘Ive found a job for you!’ She’d text me. In the car on the way to the shopping centre she told me about a 3 month digital executive job a Oxfam I should apply for but the annoying thing was that the deadline was tonight. ‘Lets go shopping then you can apply when we get home’. Deal. We went to Burgerista for lunch and shared a lush bacon and cheese burger with chunky chips and drank very Pinterest worthy pink lemonade. A mooch around the supermarket, h&m, Zara, mango and kiko resulted in us having a fair few bags to take back to the car.       
Dickhead drivers seem to be out and about all over Europe this week (I feel like everyone I’ve shared the road with back home lately has serious commitment problems when it comes to driving like a normal person?!) and some old lady frantically weaves past us in the car park then a guy followed and sped straight through our car and the car in front. With 2 kids in the back looking frantic and angry at us because we physically couldn’t move to get out his way. Hey world, let’s take a moment from all the serious issues going on and focus on using our indicators, not cutting each other up and generally driving properly ugghhhh. Global development starts with the simplest changes!
Li was home when we got back and kindly let me use her laptop. An updated CV, cover letter, references, a skills questionnaire and more details filled in and I’d finally completed the application. Fingers crossed now eh.
Bo came home, Marcia bought the dog home and we sat on the floor chatting for a bit before we headed to their nearest train station. I bought a BaumKuchen (Baum = tree. kuchen = cake. The thing is it’s made on is wooden, geddit?!) from a little cart outside the train station. It’s basically dough twisted around a thick rolling pin and heated until golden brown and a bit crispy on the outside but still soft on the inside yum. Mine was then coated in melted chocolate (shokolade) and rolled in cinnamon (zimt). They put it in a little paper bag but obviously the outside is all chocolatey so it’s a bit of a mess to eat really. But really freaking delicious.   
My train to the airport was super speedy and the whole journey has been lovely and uneventful. Mainly because it’s a very quiet Wednesday evening. 
Oh I forgot, before I got to the my gate some salesman from a cosmetic shop in duty free called me over. I’d resisted buying make up and perfume so far and was feeling smug about it, so wasn’t intending on purchasing this random lotion he seemed to be waving in my face. But I was mega ahead of schedule and it was too awkward to now turn and walk away. ‘Hello gorgeous lady, ugh you are so beautiful. Argh yaaaas come and see what amazing product I have for you today!’ ‘Yeah I don’t have money to spend on cosmetics sorry hun’ ‘nooooo darrrling you don’t need to buy I just want to speak to you’ to be fair to him, it was so quiet in the airport that he probably did just want an excuse to speak to someone. ‘So tell me about your job in modelling world!’ ‘Yeah, I’m not a model’ ‘WHAT. Darling why? Is it because you’re too busy with your boyfriend?’ ‘I don’t have a boyfriend’ ‘UGHHH it might be because you’re not using this product’… Maybe he’s right on the money, he’s found out where millions have been going wrong. 
He slathered lotions onto my hand spread serums on my wrist all the while speaking at a million words a minute about how fab I was and how sexy my British accent was. And in the next sentence telling me about his beautiful girlfriend in Korea. ‘Maybe you could be girlfriend number 2?’ Maybe not. But you can’t knock a guy for trying. When I insisted I wasn’t buying this product he told me I could leave after I gave him 2 kisses. Nah thanks. ‘One kiss and a hug?’. Surprisingly no. ‘Ok, just a hug then’, stop chatting rubbish and get me some free samples. He excitedly ran off and bought out a box of Toffifee. I don’t want your confectionary babes, I gots to get a flight!
I went and settled at my gate, they soon started evacuating us because there was a minor bomb threat. Well they’d found an unattended suitcase, I think an old man eventually realised he’d just forgotten to wheel it along with him and we could go back to waiting for the flight. The flight was standard. Pretty empty so I have room to spread out and get told off by the flight attendant for not putting my phone on flight mode. Does it even need to go on flight mode if it doesn’t have a sim?! Is it radiating any kind of waves? Meh, dunno. 
I’ll land soon. Get a train home and hopefully be in bed by 1am. Sorry for the rambly post – basically, I had a very chilled 2 days in Vienna and enjoyed seeing G perform. Reading this I reckon some of you think I’m very un cultured and should’ve spent more time enjoying Austrias finest sights. Bear in mind I’ve been to Vienna about a trillion times; it’s beaut but the weather is miserable and I’d rather chill with my family than trudge around a museum I’ve been to before. 
Bye Austria, hiya UK. Tomorrow I’m heading into Central London to start my 2 days of training to be a ONE charity youth ambassador! As you all should know, I love me a bit of charity work and this seems to be a really interesting scheme so I’m buzzing to get started and meet everyone else. I think there’s a round 50 of us, training at the Groucho club and staying in a hotel near Kings Cross. A photographer from The Guardian will be there along with some great guest speakers so you’ll be sure to get an equally long blog post this weekend explaining how it all went. March is shaping up to be a good’un. 
Mary x 

  P.s. Vielen dank Marcia, Bernd, Bo and Li for hosting me, feeding me and carting me around! Ich liebe dich lots and lots 

  

Maz goes to Mallorca

Europe

This time last year I was visiting my sister, G, in France at the campsite/holiday home park where she was working; this year she’s upgraded to starring in a dance and variety show in Palma, Mallorca so I went to go and pay her a visit.

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She’d told me how our friend Nev had booked a little last minute trip to see her and that we should surprise her – fab plan as I love a good surprise I do I doooo. The plan was to both go and pick Nev up from the airport the day after I arrived but G decided it was best I just went alone (we told Nev G would be there to meet her) just in case the flight was delayed as G had to go to work that evening. It’s a good thing she didn’t come because the flight was indeed delayed by over an hour. Nevs face was of pure confusion when I greeted her at arrivals. ‘huh what are you doing here? whaaaa?’

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Before this mini holiday I hadn’t seen G since around valentines and I think I last saw Nev in January and I probably won’t see her until Christmas time as she’s off travelling when I’ll be in the UK, so it of course was lovely to see them both as well as meeting G’s room mates Lottie and Claire.

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We all had a fab few days together but I’m guna let the photos do the talking. It was so good to have the three sisters / destiny’s child reunited for a short time 😀

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Palma is so much more beautiful than you’d think and because it wasn’t peak summer season quite yet it wasn’t swarming with tourists.

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Seeing G perform in the Son Amar show was an absolute highlight for me as I haven’t seen her in a show since early 2012! (bad sister). The whole production was so professional and had a great pace, we actually didn’t take many photos as we were too busy enjoying the show.There were songs from around Europe (did make us lol a little), a contortionist in a giant see through ball hanging above the audience, MJ dance numbers, lots of spinning in a German wheel, LED light dancing and an amazing quick change act. I also really enjoyed the Spanish dancers, especially the guys as they have stamina for days! And I honestly LOVE  a quick change act; how do they do it?! HOW?!

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On my last evening Nev and I headed to Magaluf as it’s only a short bus journey from G’s and you know, why not (G was at work, we weren’t just ditching her dw). It was a mixed night and I think 1 night was definitely enough!

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We got back at 7 am and after a few hours of sleep I got ready for my super quick flight back to mainland Spain and my house in Murcia. I had such a chilled few days and would love to go back again, you know, if I win the lottery because now I gotta save up for Kenya aye aye aye.

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Mallorca was so beaut that I almost wish I was there for a bit longer but then I again I love Murcia too, and I’m sure I’ll get another opportunity to go in the future, fingers crossed G wants to get a job again there so I can visit again because I could get used to all the ice cream, beaches and pretty buildings.

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n’awwww sisters ❤

Mary x

Love Locks are gone, love is still a thing…

Au Pairing in Paris, Europe

Let me just have a moan about the ‘love lock bridge’ and share some of my favourite photos from the massive tourist attraction from when I visited and lived in Paris


‘No, that was the most romantic place in the city of love!’

‘They should just leave the locks there, they symbolise undying love’

‘Why bother visiting Paris now the bridge of eternal love is ruined?!’

Um, no one in Paris is actually that bothered about almost a million rusty padlocks being cut off the Pont des Arts – known to as tourists as ‘The Love Lock bridge’; a place to visit with your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, whoever and fix a padlock with your names or initials scrawled on. You then would throw your key into the river (because this love is totes locked forever and ever) and get an obligatory selfie to remember the life changing moment… Or it was just a cute touristy thing to do and maybe come back to visit in a few years to see if you could still find you lock (probably not).

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I’m not a hater of the bridge or idea of it, I actually think it’s pretty cute and always an interesting bridge to walk across. You could people couple watch for hours if you could deal with the ‘can you possibly take our photo please?’ in a strong foreign accent every few minutes then you could have a fab afternoon in the area.

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But some people need to get over the romance is dead! notion. The bridge was crippling under the weight of 45 tons of chunky metal locks and anyone who’s walked across it will know how old and unsafe it felt. Yes, the Frenchies could of made a cool sculpture using the locks and almost continued the tradition, just on a piece of solid ground that didn’t look like it was going to give way any second. But how romantic your trip to Paris is shouldn’t be determined by your chance to put a €5 lock on a bridge and pay another euro to borrow a sharpie.

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Also, it’s not just now that they’ve decided to pull it all apart. They’ve been taking down sections for months, since October if I remember correctly. Some parts of the bridge were replaced with ugly boards of wood which obviously got covered in graffiti pretty quickly. So yeah rant over. Romance aint dead, go and do something more authentic in Paris. If putting a lock on a bridge was your only reason to visit the city then maybe it’s best you don’t go anway. The bridge would’ve fallen down at some point because science. Yes it’s an eyesore to see the naked bridge, go to Le Mur des je t’aime instead. It’s hardly tradition, it only started in 2008 lol. No Parisians ever went there anyway because it’s so not chic. The locals aren’t too fussed about it’s departure and you shouldn’t be either.

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The weight of all that love was clearly just too much..

Mary x

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Go gimme a ‘like’ on Facebook (Mary’s Project Year) if you want to keep up to date with posts, tips, photos and all that jazzz

Give up

Europe

I saw this shared on Facebook and unlike most posts I actually took the time to read it all.

“Did you know, you can quit your job, you can leave university? You aren’t legally required to have a degree, it’s a social pressure and expectation, not the law, and no one is holding a gun to your head. You can sell your house, you can give up your apartment, you can even sell your vehicle, and your things that are mostly unnecessary. You can see the world on a minimum wage salary, despite the persisting myth, you do not need a high paying job. You can leave your friends (if they’re true friends they’ll forgive you, and you’ll still be friends) and make new ones on the road. You can leave your family. You can depart from your hometown, your country, your culture, and everything you know. You can sacrifice. You can give up your $5.00 a cup morning coffee, you can give up air conditioning, frequent consumption of new products. You can give up eating out at restaurants and prepare affordable meals at home, and eat the leftovers too, instead of throwing them away. You can give up cable TV, Internet even. This list is endless. You can sacrifice climbing up in the hierarchy of careers. You can buck tradition and others’ expectations of you. You can triumph over your fears, by conquering your mind. You can take risks. And most of all, you can travel. You just don’t want it enough. You want a degree or a well-paying job or to stay in your comfort zone more. This is fine, if it’s what your heart desires most, but please don’t envy me and tell me you can’t travel. You’re not in a famine, in a desert, in a third world country, with five malnourished children to feed. You probably live in a first world country. You have a roof over your head, and food on your plate. You probably own luxuries like a cellphone and a computer. You can afford the $3.00 a night guest houses of India, the $0.10 fresh baked breakfasts of Morocco, because if you can afford to live in a first world country, you can certainly afford to travel in third world countries, you can probably even afford to travel in a first world country. So please say to me, “I want to travel, but other things are more important to me and I’m putting them first”, not, “I’m dying to travel, but I can’t”, because I have yet to have someone say they can’t, who truly can’t. You can, however, only live once, and for me, the enrichment of the soul that comes from seeing the world is worth more than a degree that could bring me in a bigger paycheck, or material wealth, or pleasing society. Of course, you must choose for yourself, follow your heart’s truest desires, but know that you can travel, you’re only making excuses for why you can’t. And if it makes any difference, I have never met anyone who has quit their job, left school, given up their life at home, to see the world, and regretted it. None. Only people who have grown old and regretted never traveling, who have regretted focusing too much on money and superficial success, who have realized too late that there is so much more to living than this.”

Congrats if you made it to the end! I totally agree with most of it despite the cheesy live-the-life-you-want tone. If it’s something you want to do, do it. Stop saying how lucky certain people are to be able to travel because obviously they’ve sacrificed something else to be able to do that.

BUT at the same time ‘TRAVEL’ isn’t this major hurdle that everyone must do at some point. Like I totally get it if you’re not keen or just can’t be bothered. For example, I’m not keen on earning loads of money but that’s probably because I’m too lazy. I don’t like how travel seems to be this sign of success, because it’s not. Nothing is. You can only do what you wanna, don’t live someone else’s dream!

Ha, preaching over

Tomorrow is a new week and month and I ca’t wait to see what I can achieve and where I can explore during June (Majorca for sure and maybe Barcelona yay).

P.s. how amazing was Matisse the dog on Britains got talent!? That tightrope walking almost had us in tears. Lol what a hero

Mary x

Hiking in Librilla

Europe, Murcia, Sport

I’m sure most erasmus students in Murcia have visited the tiny and deserted town of Librilla already but as always I’ve gotta be late to the party (plus I only arrived a month ago). But no ones bothered by the old town church or endless orange and lemon trees, everyone comes for the hike up the hills to see this amazing view of the lagoon. Then to go down to swim in the blue water.

Hiking in Librilla, Spain

Courtney, Nina and I got the 20 minute train to the town of Librilla yesterday; Courtney kept telling us empty this place was, but she was so wrong on this occasion. People filled the streets, cars beeped us out of the way and everyone and their daughter was out and about dressed in their best church wear. We headed towards the mountains, maybe getting a little bit lost on the way but we were pretty chilled. Eventually we reached the path that we knew was going where we wanted. We passed endless lemon trees; seriously Spain loves their lemons. I picked a few oranges from a tree and they were almost definitely the best oranges I’ve ever tasted, a watch dog barked us away and we carried on up the hill.

Hiking in Librilla, Spain

Hiking in Librilla, Spain

Detouring again, expecting to see water and just ending up with views of the town and a whole lot of rocks, we backtracked and finally ended up with a beautiful view. And a load of guys in trucks maybe a hundred meters away shouting ‘guapas’ at us. The descend to the water was definitely a lot more difficult than our ascend for the beaut view (and mini picnic of pizza crackers).

Hiking in Librilla, Spain

Hiking in Librilla, Spain

Hiking in Librilla, Spain

Hiking in Librilla, Spain

Jumping through long grass and avoiding massive dry bushes was easy in comparison to sliding a few feet onto our bums because of loose rocks. I landed weirdly on my ankle too and imagined dying there, with one yank and one South African in the middle of a quiet town in Spain, how tragic. But I was actually fine (dramatic thoughts). Somehow we made it down, all alive, to the water. I blew up my rubber ring (always totally at one with nature…), we stripped off and swam in the water crazy blue water. The ground is pure clay so it feels gross to go in at first but you get used to it. As it was time to get out I covered myself in clay because I’m all about that baby soft skin.

Hiking in Librilla, Spain

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Getting out of our little lagoon area was actually pretty tough and the best way to do it was to just go go go without stopping even though the hill was mega steep. We were literally grabbing vines and prickly flowers to stop us from sliding all the way down.

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I may or may not have braved the barking dog to ‘borrow’ some oranges and lemons on our way back into town. Cue fresh lemonade when we got home. Nina and I were absolutely knackered when we got in and our plans of a late night out were replaced with moaning about our aching muscles and bitching about wacky Eurovision entrants. Over 8 hours of walking and swimming had caught up with us.

Hiking in Librilla, Spain

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Anyhow, such an amazing and surprisingly tiring day.

Mary x

p.s. see all the photos on my flickr hereeeee

Hiking in Librilla, Spain

Non-tourist tips for living in Paris

Au Pairing in Paris, Europe

I spent 8 months in France’s capital city –  the most visited city in Europe. Seeing the City of Light as a ‘local’ instead of a tourist is an important part of settling in and enjoying a new city. Here are some of my tips for when you arrive in Paris; my favourite spots to visit (& drink and dance lol), best steps to take in your first few days and where to avoid like the French plague… I’ve added cickable links to most points to make life a million times easier for you. wooo

Go to at least 3 picnics. They’re awkward at first and organisers can seem totally creepy but I would’ve had ZERO friends if I hadn’t of forced myself to a fair few in my first weeks. Check out Youth Events in Paris for organised picnics, take a thick scarf or blanket, go to Carrefour for screw top wine and snacks. Add people on Facebook afterwards; if you really want to be the glue that holds the group together take photos and tag everyone.

Don’t be surprised if you’re joined by a few rats if you go to Champ de Mars.

Avoid Cafe Oz (internationals galore) and head to Le Perchoir. It’s pricey but pre drink and then share one glass of wine between four of you; super savin’.

visit The Local for english news, jobs and advice from Europe

Go to a metro party if you’re not claustrophobic and don’t mind a few runs from the police

Get a local sim and not just an English sim with the ability to make calls from France. Makes life easier for everyone else

Try out the bars in Bastille but don’t end up here every weekend. Theres more to Paris than Bastille!

Get to know some dance songs as that’s what you’ll be dancing along to in the cheesy europop bars. The French love their electro; I made a short soundcloud playlist to get you started. 

Go to 1979 on a Saturday if you like hip hop and RnB, the DJs are fab

Check out Shakespeare and Company for English books

Grab a few metro maps and download the RATP app. Learn your line and the lines your friends live on, work out how far it is to walk to certain places. Find out what time the first and last trains to where you live are to avoid unpleasant surprises at the end of the night. Learn the night bus route and don’t be afraid to just get it! I avoided countless pricey taxis because I just faced up to the ‘night bus fear’ straight away.

Buy at least one jar of Speculoos and thank me later.

Like the Seventy Fifth Facebook page and follow the blog to keep up to date with the cool shizz happening about town (it’s for english speakers, yay)

Accept the price and inconvience of location and visit the Foundation Louis Vuitton

Head to Couchsurfing parties for pool, beer pong and sumo fights

Wander round a flea market on a Sunday but don’t expect to find anything too exciting. They’re a bit overrated in my opinion but theres a nice atmosphere if you’re into that

Go for a walk down canal St Martin in the day and return in the evening

Square du Vert-Galante by Pont Neuf for picnics

Download Tinder to meet some weirdos. Dating in the ‘city of love’ is as actually about as unromantic as it gets so you might as well admit defeat and get some free meals & bizarre conversations out of it.

Go to Place de Republique on a Sunday and join a demonstration if you want to express your opinion

Go to the Kilo Store in Le Marais, don’t expect any bargains but have a browse

Marks and Spencer’s is pretty much cheap here so cheer yourself up with Percy pigs

Visit Galeries La Fayette to appreciate the ceiling and then head to the roof for a pretty cool view

Buy your homeware from Tati and feel like you’re floating in a Poundland-crossed-with-Wilkinson-cheapo heaven

Don’t upset any homeless people. You might not live to tell the tale (I have huge amounts of compassion for homeless people and their living situations but remember wine is cheaper than water in Paris. Be careful gals)

Get to know when your local post office is and expect to spend a long time in there as everyone is so slow!

Bear in mind that McDonalds have different stuff on the menu. The chips are never salty enough.

If you need anything for a Sunday either be prepared and get it on Saturday, go early Sunday morning or head to the Jewish area.

Go for a run, walk or picnic in Parc Buttes Chaumont, it’s real pretty.

Vending machines aren’t all that reliable.

Stand up on the metro if it’s busy and you’re on a foldable seat.

Go to Le Comptoir General; it’s an amazing place the bar tenders know how to make the strongest drinks.

If you’re stuck in an uncompromising situation there are 31 street condom vending machines in Paris. You’re welcome.

AAAAAAnd that’s all. There’s no reason to ever be bored in Paris; the gender based harassment and general cringe-ness of the lovey dovey couples walking too slowly down the street might get you down but there’s definitely worse places to live in.

Oh and drink all the peach wine.

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Mary x

How to get a job overseas

Africa, Au Pairing in Paris, Europe, Murcia

Maaaaate, I’m no expert at this. Not really sure why I’m even writing this but lately a few people have been asking me how I get jobs abroad. Whether it’s just for a few weeks or a full year; I don’t know much about getting a proper grown up graduate/professional job but I know a bit about finding casual & part time work in different countries. I guess some advice is better than none, but if you want more in-depth and helpful advice then please GOOGLE IT 🙂

Be open minded

Carl Sagan quote.

Carl Sagan quote.

Firstly, if you want to work overseas you have to go into whatever situation with a bit of an open mind. You’ll probably end up working in a different field to what you expected or are used to but that’s usually a great thing. I’ve always loved photography but found it hard to gain studio experience in the UK (it’s a densely populated profession around London) and it’s all a bit overwhelming when you don’t know what you’re doing. But in South Africa I found a job as a photographers assistant really easily and learnt a lot (I actually think I knew more about what was going on than the head of the company) through watching and asking questions.

If an unusual job comes your way, see it as a unique experience, not a scary new line of work you know nothing about.

Figure out where you want to go and what type of job you’d like

Well, kinda. I’d say choose your place, then your job. Do your research on casual work, pay and working conditions so that it’s not a total shock when you arrive.

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This Scottish dude was tour guiding in Berlin.

Prepare to be underpaid and undervalued

Some places love foreign workers and treat them like kings (hellooooo teaching in Taiwan) and others accuse you of taking jobs from locals and assume you’re a lazy teen just avoiding ‘real work’. So if you prepare for the worst, maybe anything is a pleasant surprise? I’ve worked in jobs where what I’ve been paid is peanuts when converted into pounds but is more than enough to live off in that particular country.

Don’t expect to land your dream job

Be realistic. Unless people highly value you as an English speaker or you have mad skilllzzzz, you’re basically at the bottom of the food chain. In my experience, the best way to charm potential employers is to express your love for their country (at the end of the day, you chose to move there!), mention any relevant experience and show your commitment to the job (don’t give them reason to think you’ll slack off at any time to head to the beach).. If you’re only in the new country for a matter of weeks or months you’re unlikely to land the job you’ve always wanted.

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perks of the job; days off. Cape Point – South Africa

Respect locals need for jobs

This speaks for itself. Do your research and try not to be a white saviour about the process.

Don’t slack just because you know you won’t be around forever

Basically, don’t be a dick about it. There’s a reason you’ve been hired so don’t try and mug off your boss just because you know you’ll be onto the next country in a few weeks. I was working as a party assistant in Cape Town and would often get paid a bit extra than my salary and the other employees because my boss could see the extra efforts I was going to; hard work can pay off!

Always keep a look out for job opportunities

2 nights ago my mates were laughing at the fact that I was chatting to an old Irish guy when we’d gone out for drinks. It turned out he had a daughter who needed a part time babysitter. This morning I had an interview with said woman and now I’ve got 6 hours a week extra work, and I can learn some Spanish from her children! Don’t shut your eyes to opportunities just because you’re not in ‘job hunt mode’.

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I managed to get some paid photography work in Cape Town through word of mouth

Keep your visas & papers in order

I know GOV.UK has a lot of information for UK citizens regarding visa requirements abroad. It’s well boring looking into all this but kinda necessary. Sorry.

Know the correct etiquette for interviews

Not a massive deal when it comes to casual jobs abroad but it helps to get it right. It might be 40 degrees outside but don’t turn up to any interview in a crop top and hot pants (unless you’re going for an interview to be a hot pants model?! I dunnnnno). Most countries in mainland Europe will go for a kiss on each cheek, others use the standard handshake, some will go straight in for a hug. Do your research before you have the awkward experience of going in for a kiss and walking into their handshake.

Google, google, google

I feel like some of our generation still don’t get that every answer you could ever need is lurking somewhere on the internet! There are hundreds, if not thousands, of websites dedicated to helping you find a job overseas. I personally love Gumtree! I’ve actually found 4 decent paying and really enjoyable jobs through the site 🙂 I’ve heard most Au Pairs use Au Pair World or Facebook groups (au pair in Paris, au pair in Milan etc etc). Just make sure you meet your potential employer in a public place and maybe arrange a Skype interview beforehand. Don’t get Taken, Liam Neeson’s daughter styleeee. Doubt that’s much fun.

Stalk blogs

Man I love Turner from Around the world in 80 jobs – you should definitely check out his blog for advice a million times better than mine. Also I read Left Bank Manc before heading to Paris to be an au pair; people tend to tell it how it is on personal blogs and it’s a great indication to what the job or place will actually be like.

Get a TEFL certificate!

This is your passport to countless teaching jobs overseas. I did mine through tefl.org (140 hours) and found parts really difficult to complete but the hard work paid off as now I’m teaching English in sunny Spain. It can take you to loads of exotic places all over the world, so if you’re into teaching then I definitely recommend it.

Lastly, have ALL the lolz

I loved looking after kids in Paris!

I loved looking after kids in Paris!

Working abroad is friggin amazing! The work is usually chilled, the people are generally friendly, you can pick and choose where you want to be, I doubt you’ll be stuck in an office for 12 hours a day, you can avoid the commute if you get out of a main city, if you’re really lucky you can work outside in the sun and get tanned whilst getting paid.

If you’re passionate about a certain cause and have the funds to support it please consider volunteering! It’s still my favourite ‘job’ overseas.

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playing ‘what’s the time mr wolf’ with the kids in Otjikondo, Namibia

Whether you end up picking strawberries in Australia, handing out flyers in Rome, teaching english in Thailand, being a lifeguard in Dubai, au pairing in Paris, taking tours in South Africa or working in a bar in New York you can fund more travels and live a pretty jammy life working overseas. Go for it kiddos.

Mary x