Christmas and NYE travels 2014

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If you don’t follow me on twitter or we aren’t friends on facebook then you might not know I went for a little adventure over the Christmas holidays. I had a great time interailing and couchsurfing and met loads of lovely, funny people. I left Paris on 20th December; I got the train to Vienna in Austria. It was a long journey and I had a bit of trouble actually getting my first train. The thing with interailing is that some trains require a reservation as well as your standard ticket. Of course I didn’t realise this and faced having to buy a whole new ticket for that leg of the journey, a ticket costing around €200 for one way!!! I obviously was in no position to pay that so the woman at the desk said my last hope was to speak to the train manager who might be able to give me a last minute reservation. Luckily he was super friendly and gave me a reservation for €20 instead 🙂

I was in Vienna with mum, dad, G and my cousins Bo and Li and aunty and uncle. And their adorable dog Thomas 🙂 We had a lovely traditional Christmas and there were even real candles and sparklers on the tree. They’re not exactly safety conscious in Austria… We went to a Christmas market, baked cookies, played on the Wii, went out for a meal and did all the usual Christmassy stuff. My uncle Bernd took me for a ride on his motorbike (with heated seats, sat nav and a radio. very fancy) round the city and up the mountains.

I then went to Budapest, Hungary on Boxing Day. It’s such a beautiful city and I can’t wait to visit again when I have more time. I met up with 4 different couchsurfers and saw lots of the city. Next stop was Bratislava, Slovakia. There was heavy snow and lots of delayed trains and buses but my hosts apartment was so nice so I didn’t stress for long. We stayed in for a drink because we couldn’t face leaving the warmth. I learnt some Slovakian words and spent the day seeing the pretty buildings before giving up and going to the shopping centre because the light snow was literally turning into a blizzard. I then travelled to Amsterdam, The Netherlands. I’d planned to go to Prague or Krakow but I was running out of time. More train delays, cancellations and very nearly getting run over by a van before I reached Nina’s apartment. 4th country to see each other in less than a year; I’d say we’re pretty international buddies by now. I saw Georgie, her bf Chad, their friend Moniek and her bf Matthieu the next morning. We explored for a while; everything in Amsterdam is very in your face. The next day I saw Yasmin and 3 of her friends from uni. We had a long but fun day and welcomed in the new year. I’ll upload all of my photos from this trip so you can get more of an idea of what we got up to. 🙂

I made a little video of parts of my trip^^. Now planning my next trip (and also saving money as I am broke)

happy new year by the way!

Mary x

Moustache Party Photos – 11th October 2014

Europe

On Saturday I went to a moustache party (avec Judit et Yasmin) in Villejuif, Southern Paris, organised by organizus and I took some photos. I met some crazy and genuinely amazing people and had such a good night even if my fake moustache was too furry to keep on. Live reggae, a Michael Jackson impersonator, beer pong, table tennis and way too many dance battles; all right up my street so happy days. I hope you enjoy the photos! Bring on the next event.

Mary, bisous.

Thank gaaawd it’s Friday – 3rd October 2014

Au Pairing in Paris

Sleeping babies are the best kind.

For the first day this week I’ve actually had a pretty good day.

The kids were almost angels all day, the weather was amazing, we sang and danced the whole way home, we made chocolate cornflake cakes, played football in the garden then watched crap on the Disney channel.

The kids dad came home a few hours early from work and made me and the kids pizza whist we watched the best movie ever; Space Jam! It was getting late and the kids parents had gone out for dinner so I was in charge of getting everybody ready for bed. The twins wanted to be carried upstairs and were too tired to even brush their teeth. They were so snuggly and P drifted off straight away but J kept crying every time I left the room; for the first time he was calling out my name instead of ‘Mamaaaa’. He just wanted me to stay in the room so I had to pretend to fall asleep before he could settle. I read F a long, illustrated book about London and we had a little chat before she fell asleep.

Aaaaand that was my day. This week has been crazy long and more dramatic than I’d hoped and I’ve hardly had time to socialise or do Paris-y stuff. The kids drive me crazy but when their eyes are slowly closing and the crying (& pooping) stops they are so cute and I could just eat them!

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Mary

(bisous!)

‘I’m so sorry Marweee’ – 2nd October 2014

Au Pairing in Paris

Apparently these tales of tantrums and poop are making people laugh (is it bad that it’s at me and not with me…?) so here’s a quick overview of today.

I woke up in a positive frame of mind (basically praying for no major dramas) even though when my alarm went off I genuinely didn’t know where I was for a couple of minutes. I just stumbled around wondering where my mum was and why I’d woken up in this random bedroom. Anyways, I managed to realise what the dealio was and I did the usual get the kids ready for school shabang. After a quick nap I grabbed my running gear and headed for the Seine; almost 7km later I was shattered and sweaty so had a long bath. I tidied up the kids stuff then got on with my TEFL assignments and somehow managed to finish the grammar and language section with 90%. I’m pretty happy with that considering TEFL is so much harder than I first anticipated; the English language is confusing as heeeck. Only 3 more modules to go wahey.

I wish I could say I was super productive all day but unfortunately I was craving chocolate so made myself a mug cake (or 2) and girl crushed over Guillianna Rancic. Todays park session was going worringly too well and after an hour I’d yet to see tears or any poo, miracles can happen! Well, actually they can’t. As I was about to round up the troops it occurred to me that P had been sitting on the ground for over 15 mins, looking like she was digging a little hole in the woodchips. ‘P are you ok there?’ I asked, ‘Marwee I’m sorry I caca’ed’ THOSE DREAD WORDS ONCE AGAIN. Even though I’d taken her to the loo about 20 minutes earlier she thought it was best to poop in the middle of the park for the second time this week 😦 Also she had her legs wide open with a row of mummies opposite her, so, unlucky for them. The buggy to toilet sprint is now perfected so I got her cleaned up in a matter of minutes, new record!

I told F about my ordeal and she then told all of her friends who obviously found it hilarious. They danced and made up games whilst I chased P and J around trying to force them into the buggy. When we eventually left I had another scary moment as we crossed the road (why do roads exist, crossing with 3 kids is terrifying) P tripped on the curb, hung onto a pole and swung round into the road. She lay there laughing at herself whilst a stranger and I tried to drag her out of the road. Thankfully she was fine and it was totally an accident but oh boy my heart skipped a beat.

We played in the garden, sang Taylor Swift songs as I bathed them, played with dolls and then had the most random dinner that I’ve cooked since arriving. Ham and cheese crepes with rice and pureed pumpkin…

I dashed out of the house when I was free and skateboarded and metro’d my way to Bethany and Judit’s flat in Olympiades. We were all loving my great choice of snack; Speculoos with white chocolate fingers. So darn good. I’m so grateful for our girly evening because I was getting a bit tired of talking princesses and pirates with the kiddies.

I hope you enjoy taking pity on my life ruled by toddlers.

Mary (bisous)

‘I see blood!’ another fab Wednesday – 1st October 2014

Au Pairing in Paris

I’m sitting on the toilet writing this. With the seat down don’t worry, listening to P splashing around in the bath. She should of come out 10 minutes ago but she’s way too busy playing with a pink watering can and plastic cup to care about our evening schedule.

Fast forward a few hours and I’m on the sofa thinking about how dull my evening has been. I was asked to babysit tonight; usually I wouldn’t mind but Wednesdays are literally the day of the devil for me so it feels like the day has been dragging on for weeks/months/years/ I don’t even know anymore. I’m so exhausted!

This morning I helped get the kids ready again and then had 2 hours before I needed to pick them up from school (how pointless is that?! Going to school for just over 2 hours, crazyness). I fell asleep to an episode of Friends; at 10am my alarms went off and I had that mini panic attack of thinking it was first thing in the morning and I’d slept in. Thankfully that wasn’t the case.

I picked up all 3 munchkins and started the 10 minute mission of walking home without a fight or accident occurring. P wailed the whole way back because I didn’t bring a biscuit for her (lunch was on the table at home, i’m not starving her don’t worry guysies). I got some great awkward looks from snobby mothers who must think I’m torturing these kids from the way they cry so much. All was going well in the morning – I got F dressed and ready for ballet and put the twins to bed for their nap time. J said he couldn’t sleep on his own though so we had a long sleepy cuddle until he drifted off and I could tiptoe away.

When F returned from ballet we watched Bratz movie (what a classic) and then Life Size (Lohan and Tyra Banks at their finest) before waking up the little ones. Sleepy 3 years olds are my favourite kind because they’re too tired to scream, shout, kick or punch. As soon as they regained their energy though the house was filled with ‘NOOOOOOOOO, LEAVE ME ALONE’ & ‘ REALLY MARY YOU ARE NOT NICE, OUR LAST NANNY WAS A LOT NICER THAN YOU’- yay. I struggled with their out-of-no-where aggression and we ended up watching each other dance to One Direction songs. Somewhere this turned into a kicking match and I’m pretty sure F got kicked in the eye. The next thing I know, F is screaming ‘I see blood, Mary she’s bleeding!’ cool. P’s lip was bleeding (a tiny tiny dot of blood to be fair), I sent them all to their rooms and made their dinner and then dunked them all in the bath quickly and had the fun job of washing their hair.

‘Mummy’s home!’ means I’m out of the picture and luckily I’m not responsible for injuries anymore. We sat and watched Krypto the Superdog and Baby Looney Tunes before their mum disappeared again and I was in charge of bed time. The twins bedroom looked like a bomb had hit it; I’m guessing it was the aftermath of being sent to their rooms… We played ‘put the clothes on the wolf’, a very strange magnetic board game and I read a princess story to F.  They all fell asleep pretty quickly and I was stuck in the house all evening (mega bored) because I was babysitting whilst most of my friends were out celebrating the end of another stressful Wednesday.

Until next dreaded Wednesday…

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Mary  (bisous)

Techno techno technoooo (+ some crazy french teenagers) – 13th September 2014

Au Pairing in Paris

IMG_3513On Saturday Judit, Alex and I ventured into the new world of techno. I’m not a massive fan but the Techno Parade is one of Paris’ biggest music events of the year so we decided to go along. We were (fashionably) late so rocked up at Nation metro station 2 and half hours after the parade had actually started; I trusted that we’d find some hyped up teenagers who knew where they were going so we could follow and find the floats. After a few french guys asking which direction to go we realised none of us really had a clue. Luckily, after a few minutes a crowd began to gather and everyone confidently walked in the same direction.

Thousands of us walked and eventually reached the parade; to say the majority of the crowd were excitable teenagers is a bit of an understatement. Unlike Notting Hill (which is the closest comparison I can think of), there were very few adults or even 20 somethings so we did feel a bit like the boring ones at the party.

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Also, french teenagers are crazy. Like full on swinging on lamp posts about 4 stories high with one arm. So casual. Some idiot decided to throw a bag of dry cement off the top of a building, filling the whole street with dust that meant you couldn’t see or breathe, cool.. IMG_3510

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Apart from the ridiculous crowds and drunk kids it was actually pretty cool. The music wasn’t too TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO and I’m never one to pass up the opportunity for a dance with some strangers.

IMG_3527We spent the rest of the day chilling by the river, eating crepes by the Notre Dame and cocktails and dancing with the girls.

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Mary x

First week in Paris – 8th September 2014

Au Pairing in Paris

I can’t believe I’ve only been in Paris for 8 days. I feel like I’ve settled in so quickly, met loads of lovely people and seen some cool stuff and can’t believe I’ve got pretty much a whole year to explore this amazing city.

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As I’ve mentioned before, Au Pairing is a completely different world and it’s been a bit strange to fit into my role but I’ve found meeting up with other Au Pairs has been really helpful. Last Sunday I went to my first ‘meet up event’ in Paris; a big picnic organised for international students and au pairs in Champ De Mars, a park directly in front of the Eiffel Tower. I didn’t know anyone there so just sat down with the first group I saw and discovered a few English girls. We all chatted for hours over baguette and some amazing (my new trademark!) Blanc Peche wine. It might be Paris’ version of Lambrini (cheap and sweet) but I don’t care as it’s so yummy. I was so happy I plucked up the courage to go as I met some awesome people who I’ve already seen a few times again since then.

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My actual ‘work’ has been enjoyable, I’m learning a lot about the children and they seem to be getting used to me as their new helper/playmate/friend.

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One of the biggest challenges here is managing my time and motivating myself to work. Some of you know that I’m studying a TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) course at the moment and I’ve completed the classroom courses so now the rest is online. It’s 120 hours split into about 7 different units; you learn each unit then have a review at the end to test your understanding. I’m in the early stages of it; it’s interesting but difficult to find the right time to do it. I’m also trying to re learn some french using the duolingo app and website, which are both fab. On top of these i’m supposed to be applying for french lessons at a language school for 1 day a week. I obviously want to learn more french whilst here but the cost of these language schools are a bit crazy so I’ll maybe do some more research before booking. So this is my ‘workload’ but there’s a ridiculous amount of other stuff I want to get done this year;

– I’d love to do some dance teaching as I hate coming completely out of the dance bubble

– I need to get my exercise on and stop being so lazy, the plan is to join a netball club

– More photography. I haven’t touched my DSLR in weeks (I always use my mini panasonic but actually setting up a photo is painful for me now) and that needs to change ASAP

– More diary writing as I love that feeling of reading back over great / average / crappy times, months or years later

– More fashion show, events, gigs, parties, meet ups etc!

– Less time worrying about not fitting it all in. And just doing it.

Mary 

x

today's view from lunch

today’s view from lunch

The Next Single Step – 14th August 2014

Europe
it's not all boring in England

it’s not all boring in England

It’s been a weird day. I woke up thinking about how it was exactly a year ago that Fran and I returned from Namibia. We walked through the airport with no shoes on, about a stone or 2 heavier than we are now, tear strewn faces, matted hair and we both were apparently very smelly.

I spent part of my morning chatting to a lovely girl, Kirsty on Skype. We’ve never met and have only chatted a few times on Facebook; the factor that connects us is the fact that she’ll soon (2 weeks I think!) be travelling to Otjikondo in Namibia doing the same year with Project Trust that I did! She was so friendly and seems way more prepared than I was at this stage 2 years ago. I dug out my old diaries and had a few hours of reminiscing and feeling sorry for myself because I don’t know when I can next go to Namibia. Which is a horrible feeling.

Fran came to London, had such a good time

Fran came to London, had such a good time

Anyway, I’ve been a busy bee since last posting. I’m in the process of backing up my laptop so I can clear through my photos, organise my files and upload some of the photos I took whilst in Paris with Callum which was way back when in June!?! After returning from Paris I have shot a wedding, had numerous part time jobs, been to a festival of colours, been to a few mini festivals, visited family in Birmingham, had an amazing surprise visit from Fran, went to the farm, caught up with countless friends in London and Hertfordshire, turned 20, went camping, driven more miles than necessary, danced in a flashmob, spoken at schools about Project Trust, spent time with family and got a job in PARIS!

Willows farm with Mollie and some Guinea Pigs

Willows farm with Mollie and some Guinea Pigs

With Chloe on my birthday

With Chloe on my birthday

So the past 2 months have kind of gone full circle, from visiting Paris as a tourist to applying for a job as an au pair, many interviews and being selected for the job 😀 I’ll be leaving on 30th August and will be there for a year. I’m planning to write a new post tomorrow about the job and what I’m expecting from the job so I won’t go into it too much now. But I am saying I’m SOOOOO EXCITED!

‘Hello little chocolate Mary banana!’ – 25th-27th February 2014

Africa
Hello!
The aftermath of receiving presents from sponsors always means the joyous task of getting handwritten replies from the children. With 150 presents being given out Annika and I got straight on with supervising the writing of the letters. You’d think these kids would find it easy enough to write a simple letter as we’d printed a template for them to copy and they only had to fill in their names and what their favourite gifts were but apparently we were wrong. I basically spent my morning nagging them about using capital letters at the start of sentences and dotting their ‘i’s’ (apparently it’s WAY too much effort to just do it without being reminded). 
 
Helping out in kindergarten was a welcome break, there are a few new faces, a girl called Banta (amaaaaazing name by the way, well done parents) was silent all morning until I put on some music to teach dance and she completely changed. Lauda’s son Armando is a new hilarious addition to kindergarten, the children all call him Himba (which translates to ‘poor’) and he loves to just spontaneously say ‘chocolate’, ‘banana’ and ‘let’s go’, as well as ‘Hello little chocolate Mary banana!’.
 
The day brought so much rain which I’m really not used to because when I was here as a volunteer we had almost no rain for the whole year, I think it was the worst drought for 60 years. Now every time I hear the rain (which is a lot by the way!) I’m a little bit shocked and I’m not enjoying avoiding deep puddles everywhere I walk. The afternoon involved dancing in the grass hut, painting shapes for the Grade 2 classroom and chatting to some of the girls I was closest to. We sat in the grass hut for almost an hour while it rained outside, chatting about England, family and school life until Izaura burst into tears asking why I had to leave again next week. Such a horrible feeling. In the evening Annika and I visited the little girls in Weavers Nest hostel to read the girls ‘Goldilocks and the 3 Bears’, they all sat listening attentively even though I’m pretty sure most didn’t understand 90% of what I was reading. 
 
Today I woke up with a banging headache and the usual Thursday empty fridge didn’t help my mood. We ate cake in the staffroom to celebrate Mrs !Unes’ last day of covering for Mrs Brenda. I was then whisked away to cover kindergarten, we coloured in, read stories (Spot the dog, what a classic), sang ’10 green bottles’, had races, ate porridge and played in the playground. Helena cried because she fell over. Olivia cried because she was scared of being at the top of the climbing frame. Paulet cried because she thought I was ignoring her. Armando cried because he didn’t like the see-saw. Banta didn’t cry because I don’t think she knew what was going on.
 
For the rest of the morning and some of the afternoon Tabs and I went to Gilly’s house to put every sponsor letter in their corresponding envelopes, a long job but it had to be done. I then made more friendship bracelets with Lavinia, Grace and a few of the grade 1 girls. Before the children went to supper we all played duck duck goose outside of the art room and a few games of ‘Mr Lion what is the time?’ which they LOVED. The empty fridge meant I made bacon and melted cheese for dinner, the diets going well…
 
Lots of love,
Mary x