So, I’m moving to Kenya

Africa

Well, not forever but I found out yesterday that I will be spending 3 months in the beautiful country!

Quick catch up; I’m in Spain at the moment, I’ll leave on 21st July to go to England then on 23rd September I’ll be travelling to Nanyuki in Kenya to complete 3 months of volunteering with VSO ICS. How exciting! (yeeeeees I plan on going somewhere else before September but maybe winning to lottery also has to be somewhere in my plans…)

I’ve only been told that I’ll be working on a programme called Secure Livelihoods; their main objective is to strengthen the ability of disadvantaged people to access sufficient food and income, and to have more control over how and when they access these essential lifelines. I’ll find out more about my exact roles and responsibilities very soon.

I’ve never been to Kenya before and don’t have many preconceptions as I don’t (knowingly) have any friends from there so it will all be brand new to me. The town of Nanyuki seems to be a market town with a lot of speeding motorbikes, hustle and a close community. It’s also on the equator which will be cool, I don’t know why but the equators always fascinated me!

In order to go on the volunteer placement I will have to raise £800 in the upcoming weeks. This is definitely going to be the toughest challenge pre-departure as I almost feel emotionally prepared for ‘African life’ already and things like vaccinations and packing lightly aren’t really an issue for me (I say confidently now ha). I have some fun ideas for fundraising and hope to do a variety of events and challenges to raise the money and not just rely on badgering people on social media for donations (although I’m sure I’ll manage to sneak some of that in too. yay sorrrrrry).

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I know a few asian countries were possible options to volunteer in but I’m grateful in a way that I was placed in Africa. Firstly, I doubt I’d ever go to Kenya alone (as in, not being looked after by an organisation) whereas I wouldn’t think twice about jumping on a plane to Asia so it’s a great chance to see Kenya more like a local. Secondly, I obviously love Africa! The people, culture, way of life, weather, everything! I also have seen the positive effects of great volunteering in Africa and would be stupid to turn down that opportunity again. The only downside at the moment is knowing how close (as in close in african terms, a few countries away) I’ll be to Namibia and Cape Town and not having the chance to go and visit my extended family. But apart from that I’m feeling so grateful to be placed in Kenya.

I will do a whole new post about fundraising very soon so will have more information about what I’m planning but it would be dumb not to link my JustGiving page here now – https://www.justgiving.com/Mary-Mandefield

If anyone reading this has been to Kenya before, maybe even volunteered there or has any advice, fundraising ideas or general words of encouragement then obviously it’s all super appreciated!

I’m feeling pretty lucky that I can combine my love for travel with my want of helping others and living more sustainably, I can’t wait to find out more about my placement 😀

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Mary x

I’m lovin’ it pt. 2

Murcia

It’s been a week of change. Here’s what I’ve been enjoying over the past 7ish days (that a lie, it’s been like 3 weeks).

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murcia, spain.

 


Places

My bedroom at home (UK) is one of my favourite places as it’s filled with all my useless junk. But my mum is the master of disguise and it always seems to be tidy when I come back home to visit. Nothing beats sleeping on a memory foam mattress, surrounded by disney cuddly toys with a backlog of magazines saved for me.


Listening

I’ve been loving chilled out, summer trap music recently and this song is one of my favourites right now

Mura Masa – Firefly

I can’t away from this song; our next door neighbours in Paris wanted to have a song battle the other day and this one ended it (I won). I just hope it doesn’t get too overplayed over summer. The video makes me wanna go to India and get my groove orrrrn.

Major Lazor & DJ Snake ft MO – Lean On

I go through phases with Flume but they’re getting me through long walks to work.

Flume – Holdin’ on

Nearly as fab as ‘treat me like fire’. The girl (Jillian) from Lion Babe has the best hair.

Lion Babe – wonder woman


Apping

Kloe got Bitstrips so I had to copy. Ha I know we’re so late to the party. It’s annoying that you can’t add highlights to your hair or random hair braids. Or birthmarks or beauty spots. Boo.

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Watching

This must be one of the most random facts I’ve heard in a while but did anyone else know that the producer Naughty Boy was on Deal or No Deal!!?!?!?!?! And he’s from Watford big up Hertfordshire ah yeah. I feel like everyone should watch this as a reminder; don’t brag about losing loads of weight on TV then proceed to put it all back on again?! And don’t steal Zayn from 1D! 

 


Exercise

A whole lot of walking. What happens when you live outside of Paris and miss the last metro home? ‘Get a simple night bus or taxi!’ I hear you cry. Well apparently I was feeling pumped and ready for a 9 mile walk home the other night. Am I ok?!


Buying

I don’t have much money and not much work lined up (for now) but who can resist a floaty beach cover up for €5 from the local charity shop?! The answer is not me.

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Reading

Who’d of thought Easyjet magazine ‘Traveller’ would be any good?! It’s worth a read if you’re on a cheapo flight across Europe, the articles are cute and actually relevant to travelling, living, partying and working in the city. Plus you can take it away with you for free. Ah yeah flying economic all day day erryday.


Random – Hair

I dyed my hair again. It’s almost identical to the pink ombre but a bit darker and the box dye suggests more purple. But it lied and its hardly purple, must find brighter dye!

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Until next time kiddos,

Mary x

Mary’s Project – 2014

Africa, Au Pairing in Paris, Europe, TBT

Hey did you hear the news?! Its a whole new year! In no way is this post a brag or ‘oooh look how exciting my life is’ because that’s lame. I’ve posted quite a lot this year but there lots I’ve missed out. I love the idea of looking back on my blog when I’m old and boring and cringing at what I used to get up to. So here’s my (some of what was missed on the blog) year review. Happy new year to everyone 🙂 10 gold stars to you if you read the whole post…

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2014 was welcomed with my sister and her/our friends (yes we share friends cos we’re totes mature) in a crowded club in London, a group of creepy looking men told us the drinks were on them so we proceeded to the dancefloor, drinks in hand. Next thing we knew the bartender is snatching them off us and we’re laughing uncontrollably and not embarrassed like we should be. Don’t remember how I got home but I woke up on Zoe’s sofa feeling great. I went to Cambridge for Sara’s 21st birthday and had such a good time, apart from the vomit bit (not mine). The following days were spent cramming driving lessons with my instructor Geoff and practices with dad. Mum told me that if I didn’t pass my test I wasn’t allowed to go to Cape Town (already booked). So 5 days before I flew to SA I passed first time.

I packed a huge suitcase, left Mum, dad, G and Peachy and flew to Dubai then Cape Town all alone. Callum and I hadn’t actually arranged where we meeting at the airport but luckily he got there as I arrived. Dirk and his girlfriend Danielle drove us to Edgemead, our home for the next 4ish days. There was a swimming pool so I was happy. Our next home was Bothasig, like the ghetto version of Edgemead. I ate dairy milk top deck, fudge and fanta pineapple almost everyday and worked hard on my tan. I saw old friends at penthouse and generally had an amazing time. The hottest day of the year was spent at the reggae jam in Langa, 42 degrees C. I met Thami and Nomveliso and fell in love with the township. We saw Jeremy Loops and loads of reggae bands. I went back to volunteer at the kindergarten for a little bit, conditions were a lot different to what I had seen before but I loved teaching the little ones dances, nursery rhymes, colours and numbers. I got 2 jobs in the space of a week and worked in a photography studio and kept myself  busy as an entertainer at kids parties. Callum and I made the most of the self timer on my camera and saw the most beautiful beaches, parks and ice skated with the professionals…

I took a week out to see everyone at Otjikondo and it felt like I’d never left. But it was extremely strange not to have Fran by my side. After the few days I stopped in Windhoek, I drank cocktails on a roof bar and took a 24 hour coach back to Cape Town, sitting next to the same girl, Nina, I had sat with on my way. Back in the motherland Nina hired a car and we created new dramas everyday; locking the keys inside, breaking down in the middle of nowhere and getting stuck on the steepest hill in the world. I imagined that would be the place we’d die! We made friends with beach dogs and checked out surfers all day long. A trip to Cape Point was beautiful.

I was the next one to hire a car. I don’t know how to sum up the stresses we had, but we survived and had some wicked days covered in monkeys and beaching it. I saw friends of friends and navigated my way through the madness of the city with no map, no GPS and very little experience and maybe a bit too much ambition. I had dinner with Gilly, Arnold and Oliver and was so happy to see part of my Otjikondo family so close to this new home in South Africa. I drove to the airport and Callum and I met his mum and step dad Bill. More beach days, numerous pizzas and countless tap waters with ice, a straw and no lemon. We showed mum and Bill around and they provided hours upon hours of laughter. We all went to improv classes with some great people and saw a few shows. I went to a helicopter session and enjoyed it more than I expected. Driving to Addo Elephant Park was so memorable; we stopped off at Knysna and saw wild dolphins just as we were standing on the beach. At the elephant park there were all the safari animals and every time we saw an elephant we were speechless. Reversing from a herd wasn’t the best idea (in hindsight) but thrilling in the moment. We made light photos by our little cabins and Callum fell sick and was unintentionally hilarious. Trish and I got hair braids; hers stayed in for a week or two, mine is still in my hair almost 8 months later. We bid mum and Bill farewell as they continued on to Asia.

I went to study a short course at Cape Town School of Photography. It reconfirmed a lot of what I already knew but I got my passion for photography back and met some lovely guys and gals. We spent our last day at the waterfront snapping away. On my way home from class one evening I tried on some outfits in the boutique near penthouse, the shop owners asked me to photograph their new line in exchange for some clothes, an offer I unfortunately never got to carry out. I was also invited to a fashion show at the Grand Daddy Hotel to photograph and chat to the models and designers. Although its not that big of a deal to most people I was pretty proud of myself; I went alone without knowing anyone and was shooting a new style. I spent 1 last night at penthouse and boarded another 24 hour coach to Namibia. The journey was disrupted and I had to make the decision to head to Europe. I had one of the worst days of my life in Windhoek, tirelessly googling solutions and making my way to a few high commissions and embassies.

The weekend before I flew was spent at Otjikondo again and I finally met Chelcie (and Ottilie for the second time). Goodbyes were hard but it was nice to have some proper closure. I met 2 swedish guys in Windhoek who were on the same flight as me, we were a bit slow to get to the airport and managed to be the last ones to board the plane, after our final Windhoek lager. As we flew over Nigeria I saw a  lightning storm and wanted to wake everyone up to show them. It is without a doubt one of the best sites I’ve ever witnessed.

I landed in Frankfurt to a heavy case of culture shock. I spent the next 2 days sulking and hungry because I couldn’t justify €10 for a Mcdonalds… The cheapest thing to keep me entertained was hair dye so I spent my last evening in Frankfurt going blonde. I chatted to Nina and thought the best decision was to go and see her in Berlin. I was the last one on the coach (bit of a ritual now) and didn’t even realise where Berlin was in relation to Frankfurt. Berlin was so cool and I was pretty happy to see nina so spontaneously. I then saw Georgie in South-ish France, I worked harder on my tan, played water volleyball, rescued a baby bird and cycled to the beach. I said bye to her tiny cabin house and got the train to Paris to see Callum. I can clearly remember this as another one of the worst days of my life. It was Sunday and the hotel Callum had booked was no where near paris. I had no phone or internet and everywhere was deserted and there were train strikes. After hours of sitting on the side of the road waiting for non existent buses I finally reached Chilly Mazarin, where we were staying for 1 night. We went out for mussels. The next day I was covered in huge red itchy lumps. I’d had an allergic reaction that got more itchy the hotter I was, unluckily it was one of the hottest weekends of the year. We went from chilly Mazarin to Noisy Le Sec, into a crazy open house that was run by a psycho Chinese guy who couldn’t speak English or french and had anger issues. His wife shouted at us down the phone before we gave up trying to be nice and fled the scene. The weekend was great, despite my constant need to stop and scratch and Callum had made me a video montage with goodbyes from everyone in South Africa which may have made me shed a tear or two..

A cramped coach journey home welcomed us to Victoria station where dad greeted me with open arms and questions over my bright blonde hair. Welwyn Garden City hadn’t changed and summer just seemed to resume as if I’d never been away. I found it hard to have proper conversations with random girls and guys at parties that started with ‘omg you went to Africa, was there monkeys everywhere?’.

I desperately wanted to get back on the road, just like everyone feels after travelling.

It was pretty cool to be reunited with my friends again though. I still managed to really enjoy my summer; working, catching up with everyone I’d missed and enjoying the fact that my sisters wardrobe was now technically mine. Fran surprised me by coming down from Leeds. That was so so so good and sneaky of her and my mum! We saw a bloodied goat at the farm with Mollie and were temporarily traumatised. I took Fran into London where we shopped and went to a mini festival in Camden. I turned 20 and saw almost all of my favourite people and went out in London to celebrate. Camping, more birthdays, weddings, BBQs, seeing Laura Mvula at the BBC proms and a trip to Birmingham completed the summer.

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By August I’d got a job in Paris! Travel bug fed and working with kids, tick tick. I left Hertfordshire once again for a suburb just north of Paris, a new home, family and job. Au pairing was difficult at first, I don’t blame the kids for not warming to me straight away but I couldn’t really complain as my host family were so welcoming and made me feel at home pretty quickly. Gradually the kids have become a lot more cooperative and very friendly despite the occasional drama!  Everyone back home fretted that I’d have no friends and be mega lonely but it was the same situation to starting university (or what I imagine it to be). All au pairs, expats and erasmus students were in the same position. The first few weeks were so sociable and I must’ve met hundreds of girls and guys working, studying or just visiting Paris. I then got into a routine, something I hadn’t really had since Otjikondo. Tefl, work, drinks in central paris, picnics every weekend (always with peach wine), dinner parties and movie nights.

A weekend in Milan, 4 days in Zurich, a weekend home and a day in Brighton, a few days in Ireland and another weekend home including a quick trip to Nottingham all before Christmas holidays meant I wasn’t sat still for too long. I surprised Rhiana for her 21st birthday and it was the best thing ever to see her reaction to me turning up in Boots. I returned home very hungover and saw Charlie and her bump for her baby shower. We played pin the sperm on the egg and decorated baby grows, we’re all a little bit too excited for the little boy to arrive and to be aunties! And I’m so excited to see Charlie be a mummy.

Paris was lively before Christmas and there was lots to be done; a meeting for a zine project, visitors, lots of running, Christmas shopping and seeing a circus musical with Lucie the evening before I took the train to Vienna to see my family for Christmas. I then interailed and couchsurfed in Budapest, Bratislava and Amsterdam. The plan was to also go to Prague but time wasn’t on my side. I honestly had an unforgettable 2 weeks and would do it over and over if I could.

The year was mad and its flown by (doesn’t everyone say this every year? Where are we getting our concept of time from?!) and there was barely a boring day. There have been some major lows in the past 12 months; times when I’ve just wanted to click my fingers and land back in my own bed in welwyn and watch crap tv but when I put things into perspective I’ve been very lucky and the majority of it has been more than awesome. I’ve been in 11 different countries (12 if you include England) and spent hours upon hours in train stations and airports but I’m happy to be traveling as much as possible at the moment. Who has time to sit still!?Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 01.02.01

If you’ve been in my life at any point in the past year then thank you! I’ve met a lot of cool guys and gals and very few idiots (yay!). And my year would’ve been poop without you.

big uuuup, 2015

Mary x

Major FOMO – 7th October 2014

Europe

Surfers on Table View beach.

Surfers on Table View beach.

FOMO – fear of missing out.

I hate to say it but right now I have the worst case of FOMO. Or just plain travel envy. Everyone seems to be having a wicked time in either Cape Town or Namibia or wherever else in the world and I’m just feeling so sorry for myself and thinking how much my life sucks. Here, in Paris. Oh wait, it relly doesn’t suck. It only sucks because I focus on other people’s exciting plans when I’m feeling a bit crap after a long day of chasing 3 year olds and ironing desgner clothes that I’d never be able to afford and trying to run errands in the pouring rain. All the while it seems like the rest of the world is having a fabulous time in exotic locations eating amazing foods and having the best social life – I full on blame social media. It’s been said a million trillion times but you do only see the best 1% of peoples lives on social media; it’s very rarely a true reflection of their actual lives. So why am I still feeling down about missing out? I think part of it is because of the way I left Cape Town back in June. I never got to say goodbye to very close friends and places that I’d fallen in love with and maybe I just want to be there to get closure. Or maybe I wanna jam on the beach in 40°C weather and go to reggae concerts and drink Savannas in Langa…

So to get over my FOMO I’m trying to plan summer 2015. I don’t know what I’m doing tomorrow but I’m making actual plans for July onwards, lol my weird ways of thinking eh.

I will be TEFL qualified so hoping to start a new job in September (fingers crossed for the perfect job in Rio De Janeiro) but want to fill my summer with some memories from Africa if I can. Or should I just forget Africa for a while and go some place new? Or heaven forbid, do I go to England for the summer?!!?

Feel free to help me figure out my life. Or should I just chill out about future plans and enjoy my time in Paris..? Yeah I should probs do that.

My bad. Ignore my ramblings.

Mary

(bisous)

I’m currently 3 floors high in an apartment in Berlin listening to the noisy street below and preparing for a day of sightseeing. The past 2 weeks have been crazy and I’ve worked out that I’ve slept in 6 different beds (alone, don’t worry!) in 3 different countries, in 2 different continents, in 6 different towns/ cities/ villages and gone from seeing donkey carts, bakkies and women carrying bags of rice on their heads to bicycles, Mercedes and businessmen in suits having meetings on the metro.

Back in Namibia –
I joined Paul and his son Matty for the 5am drive to Otjiwarongo; we saw a bat-eared fox, kudu and we nearly ran over a skunk, not your average drive to school. I then hitch-hiked to Windhoek in a 5 seater car and 7 people. I sat with a 9 year old girl on my lap for the next 3 hours, not my favourite car journey I have to be honest. I made my way to the Cardboard Box hostel, dumped my bags there, emailed people to tell them I was alive then headed to Katatura; the not so nice part of town. I had to travel to the Baileys Reo Liner ‘head office’ (basically a poorly constructed, messy concrete box), I’d booked a return coach ticket back to Cape Town that I could no longer use, I’d hoped to get my full $600 back until I noticed the ticket said NON REFUNDABLE.. oops. I found the manager and explained the situation, he told me there was no way he could give me any money back. I used my skills from GCSE drama and started crying and giving my best ‘lost, confused teenager’ look. I think he saw right through my acting but agreed to give me half of my money back. I then jumped in a taxi back into Windhoek and was laughed at a lot by everyone when they all tried to speak Afrikaans to me and I could give no response. My last few hours in Africa were spent trying to book hostels, travel and attempt to check in online (it wouldn’t let me, I panicked and then the women at the hostel convinced me it would be fine).
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I travelled to the airport with my new Swedish friends Martin and Emille, we enjoyed our last Windhoek lagers and Savanna ciders with pizza and chocolate before messing around in the (tiny) airport. We somehow lost track of time and ended up being the last ones to board the plane, about 3 minutes before take off! I kissed the ground outside of the plane, hugged one of the air hostesses and settled into my window seat, ready for the long flight. Luckily the plane was almost half empty so I could spread out over 2 seats, some people had 4 seats to themselves?! I watched most of ‘The Book Thief’ and avoided both of the sad looking plane meals. The most exciting part of the flight was waking up at around 3am to see we were flying over Nigeria; Martin, Emille and I noticed there were flashes of light in the sky below us every couple of seconds. We were watching a thunder and lightning storm happen from above, such an amazing sight.IMG_1049

We decided to start a clap when we landed in Frankfurt (you know, as people sometimes do at the end of a flight…), no one joined in an we had a really awkward 30 seconds as we stayed committed to the clapping (and the occasional ‘woooo go Germany!’) and everyone on the plane turned around and glared at us. Just glared. A tiny bit awkward.IMGA0056

Somehow I was the last person off the plane too! I said my goodbyes to the Swedish guys and they gave me one of the bank notes folded into a shirt shape for remembrance. I was now in Frankfurt with a few euros and my hostel name written down with no idea how to get there. I was directed by a really nice woman at information to take the shuttle bus to the train station and then take the train to the nearest station (I can’t even remember where I got off, oops) and then the hostel was a 20 minute walk away. So off I went, the morning before I was in the African bush seeing crazy wildlife and watching the sunrise and now I was sitting on a stuffy train with miserable looking businessmen. No one was talking to each other, no one even looked up from their phones. Such a contrast to life in Namibia and Cape Town. I just missed the noises and the atmosphere of ‘Africa’.

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My hostel was huge and looked really clean and safe but the next day I was proved wrong when I was covered in bed bug bites… I made friends with one portuguese guy who was travelling back from 6 months in South East Asia; basically, he looked exhausted. My explorations in Franfurt included trying to find a shop that sold a travel adapter, it took over 6 hours and cost €10 😮 I know in Bags Etc they used to be around £2.50?! I visited the Skyline Plaza shopping centre and spent way too much time in shops like H&M, Mango and Zara. I couldn’t believe how expensive everything was; I was converting money in my head from €’s, then to £’s and then to South African Rand and standing in shock at almost everything. A day in Frankfurt was enough and a message from my friend Nina made me book a coach ticket to Berlin for the next morning.

9 hours on a coach is like a breeze for me; soon enough we arrived in Berlin to some cloudy skies. I hadn’t actually arranged where or when I was meeting Nina so hunted for a cafe with internet so I could check my Facebook. The only place I could find was a chinese restaurant with awkward waitresses pressuring me to order more than a glass of water. I gave in a got some disgusting tuna, rice roll things. At least I managed to find Nina and meet her friends Emma and Daniel. We waved Daniel off as he was getting a bus back home then we went to get ice cream, yay!

Nina and I met more than 3 months ago on a coach from Namibia, we then were on the same coach back to Cape Town by coincidence and did lots of driving around and beach hopping before she moved to Berlin. So to see her in Germany and stay with her for a few days is strange but awesome!

Mary x

Africa, Europe

Borrowed Parents

Africa

Whenever someone I know is in Cape Town I jump at the chance of seeing them, having a piece of ‘family’ around when you’re away is the best cure for homesickness. It’s a good thing Callum’s mum and stepdad are so much fun as Mum (Trisha) and Bill as I like to call them have just started their sabbatical; they’re travelling around the world for 7 months and have begun in Cape Town! Callum and I did the very grown up duty of driving to meet them at the airport last Sunday. They hired a little car and we all drove to their rented house in Mowbray, it’s so lovely and peaceful and they have the perfect laundry basket (no one will understand the struggles of finding the perfect laundry basket in Cape Town!). 

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They’ve done some really cool stuff since they arrived and have managed to fit loads into such a short space of time. Trish works with Theatre in Education and is continuing to work whilst away, setting up meetings with theatre companies and watching and assisting with plays. They have a list of their own goals and things they want to do in each country as well as a quick list of challenges set by Callum and myself;
 1.  Have a pizza at table view St Elmos
  1. Stand on top of a mountain with a giraffe
  2. Have a picnic in Kirstenbosch 
  3. Ride in the back of a bakkie with a giraffe 
  4. Have wraps with Callum and Mary 
  5. Take a Selfie with an Elephant 
  6. Have a Braii
  7. Toast Marshmallows on a fire 
  8. Go to a karaoke night
  9. Shout Lakker Okes! on penthouse roof
  10. Learn the Ooo Kill’em dance 
  11. Sit on an ostrich 
  12.  Race Go-karts at canal walk 
  13.  Try some malva pudding 
  14. Use an outdoor Gym
  15. Star jump on Robben Island 
  16. Get a hair braid
  17. Tell a joke to a beggar 
  18. Compliment a baboon 
  19. Say “ Sweet Board Dude” to a surfer 
 
Our challenges are pretty basic, I think anyone who visits Cape Town should do all of these as standard… 
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Mum and Bill have been so good to us already and I’ve definitely been treated as part of the family. We’ve been to the beach to play tennis, had numerous pizzas on the beach or in town, been to an improv show (amazing and hilarious), been to a poetry reading (Bill performed, it was fab and bizarre. Maybe this night needs a dedicated blog post?!), discovered Trish is unable to jump but is improving by (attempting) to jump 15 times a day, watched a one man educational play in front an audience of ‘varied’ children, visited a muffin shop (highlight of my life), eaten cake (made by myself, it was actually quite good, my mum should be proud), invented ridiculous games and had endless absurd conversations in the car. Basically we’ve had an awesome time and I can’t wait for us all to go on safari in a few days!
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I’m also realising that my boyfriend is so similar to the both of them but maybe not quite so crazy.
 
Mary x
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