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

A night in Alicante

Murcia

Kloe, Jess and I took the bus to Alicante on Saturday to see Alex, Antonia (and her brother Alex who was visiting) and Betty – fellow erasmuserrrrs. The sun clearly didn’t want to say hey and we had rain and no umbrellas, cue using beach towels to get to Alex’s to get ready for our night.

I let Kloe do my make up and had actual eyeshadow on my actual eyelids like an actual girl. Kloe’s a make up wizard so managed to make me look half decent, what a star. I got a bit of apartment envy as the places in Alicante are so much more modern than our granny flats in Ye Olde Murcia… And Alex’s living area is probably bigger than my whole flat, not fair. We headed back to Antonia and Betty’s to pre drink and meet some of their friends. We had cups the size of our faces and more people to pre drink than the room really permitted. A few hours later we headed to Marmarela, a cocktail bar basically on the sea. I blanked out as soon as we arrived like everyone else because those cups really were ridiculously big, so don’t remember much of what it looked like but I know it was preeeetty.

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The place felt like a mini festival, was free to get in and the music was actually banging. Me and Kloe head banged for way too long and now have sore necks still 3 days later which is pathetic. The DJ kept looking back at me, if I gave him a thumbs up he seemed satisfied and got back to playing music, weird.

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We were all having a really good night until Kloe told me the police were there and drama had begun. I won’t go into detail but things just esculated quickly; a few were covered in blood, I heard a lot of arguing with the police in Spanish and then the ambulance arrived. Drama drama drama. This random ordeal went on until about 7am, then we rejoined at KFC, I ate the batter from other peoples chicken because I’m such a good vegetarian..

Anyway, apart from the unnecessary police & ambulance drama we had a pretty good night. The Alicante girls are so lovely so I hope I get to see them again at some point in the UK.

People are starting to leave Spain now because the term is over which makes me emosh, basically, I wish everyone lived in Hertfordshire so I could pop by for pesto pasta and rubbish games of ring of fire.

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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Settling in and exciting news!

Murcia

I’ve been living in Murcia for a few weeks now (3ish I think) and am feeling pretty settled! I can’t say I’ve done anything particularly Spanish or weird since arriving but I’ve kept myself nice and busy and have really enjoyed it so far. I’ve been working for an English academy; tutoring adults and children. I think I prefer the kids because I get to just play around (whilst teaching obvs) for an hour and a half and get paid for it. Today I watched the boy I teach play Mario Kart whilst I excitedly narrated in English and he repeatedly told me to be quiet. Teaching this kid is kinda funny as the grandma speaks spanish and french and the kid only spanish. So we awkwardly greet each other in French, if there are any problems she’ll speak quickly in spanish then french whilst I try my hardest to translate in my head and reply. And the boy ignores my attempts to get him speaking English. The weather has been crazy good; great most of the time but sometimes we just moan about the heat. Just wish our air con worked and we had a paddling pool or something. It’s only going to get hotter so I’m prepared to reach optimum browness. Apart from working we’ve been eating, gyming, beaching and being really productive watching BGT and Louis Theroux documentaries.

Last week I went home for 2 days (timed it quite well with elections and voted for the first time wahoo); my flight there was so strange. I was seated by the emergency exit so they gave me a little talk about how to open the door in an emergency and kindly asked me to remove anything from under the seat in front of me. Then it came to landing in Luton, I had nothing with me; no books, no headphones, no food, the only thing I had was a thin cardigan. Literally taking up 10cm on my lap; the flight attendant made me move it! ‘Please put it on or place it in the overhead compartment’ lol seriously!?

I was back in England to attend an assessment day for ICS VSO – a 3 month, government funded, overseas voluntary placement. They send young people to some of the poorest places in the world to contribute to development projects. Obviously that’s a pretty vague and broad statement but they appear to do some great sustainable work. The assessment day was good but not quite what I expected in terms of the amount of information we were given about the possible placements. I left wishing I’d seen more visual information about where we could be going and more examples of the potential work. I did meet some lovely people though and enjoyed the ‘what would you do in their position’ problem solving.

In all honesty I can’t give an unbiased opinion of any volunteering selection process because I’ve done it before. Anyway, I came back to Spain on possibly the worst flight of my life (I mean, I’m super grateful I caught my flight and it was all safe but it was a pretty horrendous experience nonetheless), the flight was full of classic LAAAADDDSSS all heading to Alicante and Benidorm for boozy holidays. Most people were drunk before take off and continued to drink, chant and be as rowdy as possible for the 2 and half hours. There were families with young kids who were probably a lot more annoyed than I was. The air stewards continually made announcements to ask people to sit down and calm down. Failing that the pilot repeatedly asked passengers to take note of the seatbelt lights and to stop shouting. A few persistent passengers still carried on and the stewards were losing patience, one air hostess was nearly in tears as she apologised to me for not being able to get the drink I’d ordered. LADs,why be a dick on a flight?! Why can’t people wait until we’ve landed then head straight to the bar!?

To make matters worse we had to be held on the flight for an extra 15 minutes because so many guys wouldn’t listen. This meant I missed my coach to Murcia and had to wait almost 2 hours (in the crazy heat) for the next one. I hate flying in summer!

Anyway, a few days ago, back in Murcia, I got the news that I’d been accepted for the VSO programme! I don’t have much information of what I’ll be doing because they have to clear my medical forms before choosing my placement. But yay! I’ll be volunteering with locals somewhere either in Africa or Asia for 3 months, probably departing around the end of August. I’ll have to raise £800 before departure so that’s another challenge to think about once I have more information.

That’s all for now

Mary x

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

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

First day at work & henna lols

Murcia
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lesson planning on my balcony

So I think my interview at the language academy went well the other day (as planned). They offered me around 5 different students with the potential for more and maybe even my own intensive class, woo!

The owners of the academy are literally the friendliest people ever and have even been helping me with other Spanish stuff, not work related. Which is super sweet of them.

This evening I had my first day (I mean hour.) of work teaching English with an older student, let’s call her Sue.

Sue is at elementary level and explained she can understand more than can she can speak, so we started off with the very basics before using shop role play and picture cues to practice describing other people, talking about her daily routines and buying clothes in a shop. I wasn’t really nervous but definitely apprehensive about my first lesson but luckily it went really well. We both relaxed and the hour flew by, Sue said she really enjoyed the lesson which was a massive sigh of relief for me.

I walked home, had a quick chat with mum (she’s in Mallorca with my dad and sister) and headed to Kloe and Jess’ for wine, milka, hair braids and henna tattoos. Let’s say we got a bit carried away with the temporary tattoos…


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plus more that I didn’t take pics of.

Mary x

Explain why you’re in Spain?!

Murcia

Holaaaa.

Next country – ¡España!

Paris update –  A lot of things mildly got me down in Paris; the prices, the weather, the day to day harassment, the difficulty of going out and getting home without waiting around hours and hours for a bus or the first metro. That’s not to say I didn’t love living there because I bloomin’ did. I can honestly say I’ve been lucky enough to live 8 amazing months in a vibrant city that most only dream of exploring as more than a tourist. I didn’t have a dull weekend, explored endlessly and feasted my senses to some of the best art, food and culture in the world. And that’s all before I even mention the friends I made. Without gushing on and on I just want to put it out there that since September I’ve made the best friends EVER. Seriously, where have these girls and guys been hiding my whole life?! We all shared this experience together and making friends for life is probably the best and most unexpected thing to come out of it. So thank you everyone who made me laugh, fall over in a club, smile, cringe or just relax and have fun in the past 8 months. Once in a lifetime trip.

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Anyway, after bidding au revoir to my pals I listened to Honda and changed the situation

Next step.

I’ve moved to Murcia in the South of Spain today to join Kloe (pal from Paris) and some of her friends for a few months. I’m renting a room in an apartment with a German girl and another girl from Bolivia. It’s not a huge apartment but there’s a large bathroom and living room as well as a balcony so I’m happy with it 🙂 And rent is flippin’ cheap. I’d choose chilling out here in the sun to paying 4 times the amount in a big city any day (I’m talking about you London).

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The job situation is very relaxed; I’ve been in contact with a few language academies to show my interest in teaching English, 2 seem keen so I’m heading to my first interview this afternoon to see if the loose opportunity they’ve offered me still stands! I’m feeling pretty positive about it so I have in my head that I’ll have some set hours by the time I leave the office.

My first 24 hours have been equally as chilled (mainly because the gals were mega hungover yesterday and I managed to catch up on about 2 weeks of interrupted sleeping). We ish watched Game of Thrones; yes I broke my GoT virginity, dunno how I feel about it yet – maybe too many nipples on show and not enough jokes and trips to the mall for my liking. My flatmates are super chilled and friendly and I’m loving having a balcony to people watch from. I went for a walk this morning to see my side of town (I’m over the river so a bit separated from what I saw last time) and did a little supermarket shop, no dramas as of yet. Kloe took me to the gym to sign up this morning so I have at least 3 months commitment to at least attempt to get fit again.

I’ve got some boring errands to run; getting a local sim card, sorting language lessons, paying the last bit of my deposit and finalising jobs but thats the fun of moving countries! I’m actually feeling pretty content with life in this moment (cringe cringe cringe); did I get ridiculously lucky or is it in my nature to make situations work to my favour? No exams, no debt, my biggest stress is that I can’t drink the tap water, everything’s in walking distance, my sisters a ferry ride away and the tequila is cheap.

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Bring on the next few months señoritas

Mary

besos

Todays mood – Florence and the Machine, Shake it Out.

The reality of living in Paris – Harassment

Au Pairing in Paris

Disclaimer;  I love Paris. It’s a magical place to live and I definitely recommend it to everyone and anyone. This is just one part of life here that I want to chat about. I wrote this months and months ago but never posted it because I didn’t want to freak out my family. But you can’t keep quiet about issues like this, especially if this could help someone out. 

It’s only just dawned on me how different Paris is to to anywhere else I’ve visited or lived. I Skype my friend almost every day and I’ve just realised most days I have a story to tell him about being harassed on the street. An incident on Saturday night was the worst so far and it’s made me want to say something. I don’t know if this is any use to young girls hoping to move to Paris as au pairs or on Erasmus years or anyone visiting the city.

Firstly, I’d consider myself to be pretty street smart, and secondly, I only make a fuss when I’ve been really pissed off. In Cape Town I couldn’t walk down my own street for 5 minutes without getting catcalled from a car or being directly approached by a man on the street asking where I lived or for my number. Bearing in mind this was in winter when I would be wearing jeans and a coat (not that it should make any difference). In England it’s not as bad but I think all girls can say they’ve been wolf-whistled at before and in most cases been harassed in some way.

1796896_10205916317126834_1262181279676042184_oBut Paris is just on another level. On my first night here I was leaving the metro in my suburban town and was approached by a man walking beside me telling me he loved me. Next thing I know I see another guy tell the first man to leave me alone because I was his. He looked like he was holding a gun. I just turned away and walked off as quickly as I could without making out I was shit scared (excuse my French). It could’ve been a fake gun but it could of quite easily been a real gun.

The other week I was walking through a busy area at about 9pm and a homeless man yelled at me and reached for my bag. I screamed and turned away and he carried on and chased me until I literally ran away. I was surrounded by people at not a single person even batted an eyelid.

On Saturday I got off my night bus in my town and had a 10 minute walk to get home; it was about 3am so it was very quiet. After walking for a few minutes I noticed a man that had been on my bus was following me. I’m so freaking naive so assumed he was lost and wanted to ask me for directions; he was about 35 years old, really tall and looked eastern european. After offering to help him he insisted he was fine and wanted to walk me home, still naive about the situation I told him I was fine but thanks for offering. After minutes of ‘no, honestly I’m fine’s’ I was getting a bit annoyed. I didn’t feel unsafe I was just bored and wanted to get home without him following me. He then turned to me and said he’d only leave if I kissed him. That’s when it got weird. I tried walking away, he’d follow. I told him I had a boyfriend waiting for me at home, he still followed. It wasn’t until I got my phone out and pretended to call the police that he ran off in the opposite direction.

I blanked it out for a few hours because I was almost in shock but then looking back it’s so messed up, what a huge creep. I should’ve punched him and actually called the police.

Thank God I left safely but what if he hadn’t left when I’d got my phone out and dialled for the police? What if he’d been armed? What if I hadn’t thought as quickly? Questions that aren’t worth thinking about. Should I be more careful when walking home at night? I never think twice about walking to or from a party on my own because I’ve been doing it since I was 14 and wouldn’t dream of paying for taxis for 10 minute journeys. I’ve been to some of the most dangerous areas in the world and found lovely people who want to help you out, so I see most places with extreme rose tinted glasses. But I’m also not dumb, I know there are dangerous people around and places to avoid. But then again if you tell me not to go somewhere it’s more likely than not that I’ll want to go. Just to prove a point.

I’m bored of being told I shouldn’t be walking the streets alone at night because I’m a woman. Maybe guys should be told not to follow young girls home and harass them.

Mary

x