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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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

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

Seeking new arrangements 

Au Pairing in Paris

Plans don’t always go as expected but that’s not to say you can’t still enjoy your night. We headed to champ de mars last night for wine and I did no less than 7 hair braids (a new record for little old me). It was nice to see some au pairs I haven’t seen since September(!?)    

Now I’m on the 8 hour coach from Paris to London to see mum, dad and auntie Marcia before my grandmas 80th birthday party tomorrow in Birmingham. Then I’ll be back on Monday after and have less than 5 full days in Paris before I leave! 

Reflective moment – So proud of my friends here who can adapt if plans change beyond their control! They’re 100 times more ambitious and creative than I could ever hope to be and now this is just an excuse to make the next event bigger and better than before. Woo girl powaaaaa 

 

Mary x

 

 

We run this – Paris Semi-Marathon 2015

Sport

Running was always my favourite sport in school; I can’t run fast but I like to think I can run pretty far. I loved cross country because you get mega muddy and we’d miss quite a lot of school for it.

Lucie convinced me to join her and her friend Kate for the Paris Semi-Marathon a few months back so I thought ‘mehhhh why not?’. Training came pretty easily as I go running anyway. I didn’t do anything drastically different to my normal routine but made an effort to do a few longer runs; 10, 12 and 15 miles.

The night before the run I didn’t get any sleep and was sick (excuses excuses) which definitely slowed me down. I think it was the hottest day of the year in Paris and the sun was in our faces most of the way. I also didn’t account for the weaving in and out of people. There were loads of people participating; I think the official number was 43,500 runners, thats a lot of weaving. The rush for water and slices of orange was brutal. Mum was there at the 17th km to cheer me on and shortly after that there was a killer hill which saw me slip from the 2 hour pace maker.

I loved running through the streets of Paris and pretty views definitely spurred me on. Even though it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, I felt a great sense of achievement at the finish line and had mixed feelings of one day completing a full marathon; the feeling was amazing and also disgustingly tiring at the same time. I will maybe wait a few months until I actually seriously consider it.

13.1 miles / 21.1km – 2 hours 8mins

Paris, March 2015

p.s. the photos are awful quality I know. But they made me laugh. Obviously loving life listening to Bey and Jay.

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Awky Maz – ‘get away from her!’

Awky Maz

Another embarrassing moment I just remembered that needs to be documented asap before I permanently block it out!

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 23.03.03We were on a weird wine induced night out with a big group of us girls in Paris. We’d been to a metro party that was basically a massive flop because the police were hot on our heels, ha. Everyone was still in high spirits though and we were deciding if it was worth abandoning the cramped metros and rude organisers (errrrr don’t drink all my alcohol svp) and heading to a club instead. As we were leaving the underground station I heard a girl we’d met that night scream at some guy to leave her alone. ‘Just get off me!’ etc etc. Obviously it wasn’t a pleasant situation and no one seemed to be reacting or helping her out. He was being persistent and wouldn’t back off and go home like she’d repeated over and over. So I stepped in, pushed him aside and reassured him that she was better off without his harassment. No one needs random guys trying to cling on all night so in my eyes I was doing what I hoped any of my friends would do for me.

He actually seemed quite genuine and wanted to make sure she was ok. I told him, ‘Hey randomer, leave us alone, we’re all good without you thank you very much. Go home like she asked, we’re trying to have a good night’. He eventually left. The end, happy days, right?

Nope! Turns out he was the girls boyfriend of like 2 years and they lived together. ERRRRRR FAIL MARY. Not only had I told her boyfriend to leave us alone but before I’d found out who he was I’d gone to girl and vented about what a creep and loser he was.

Until next awkward moment eh

Mary

x

Scammers in Paris

Au Pairing in Paris

Going to Paris soon? Weekend away, week long chill or moving there as an Au Pair? Whatever your reasons for going to the ‘City of love’ (lol don’t believe the hype, no one will propose to you under the Eiffel Tower, sorry) you should know about the dangers. Don’t get mugged, don’t give money to a woman offering you a gold ring she magically just found by your feet and please don’t go near women shoving a clipboard in your face asking if you speak English! Read more about gold ring women here. – They seem to be more popular in the summer months but clipboard gals are about all year round. 

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They approach you looking super sad with puppy dog eyes holding a cheap clipboard or even just a piece of cardboard with some paper on the top saying ‘help for the blind/deaf/needy’ etc on it. They’ll wave a pen in your face and ask you over and over if you can speak english. If you show any interest at all they’ll push themselves up against you, reach in your pocket or bag and take whatever they can. I’ve seen them actually reach into someones pocket and pick up this lady’s phone without her realising. I rushed over, pretty much slapped the woman’s hand away and told them to F off (putain!). While the person nearly being mugged didn’t even notice what was going on.

So basically, keep away from ’em. They hang around all the popular tourist spots and are ready to take your stuff.

Mary

x

Have I finally found my twin?!

Au Pairing in Paris

 

I’m happy to take a comparison to Rihanna any day but unluckily I rarely hear that and usually hear ‘hello lady gaga’ – yeah I don’t know why either. 

Over the weekend the metro stations seem to have been plastered with posters for ‘En route!’ (French title for Home) the new Dreamworks release. A few people have commented that I look similar to Rihanna’s character ‘Tip’. The skin colour and hair are where the similarities end as she has green eyes, no birthmark and is a cartoon character… 

But it’s nice to have a new twinny, especially as part of the movie is set in Paris. Woo France represent. 

Mary 

X

 

I’m lovin’ this.

Au Pairing in Paris

If you’re a bit of a peace and love hippie like me then you’ve probably stumbled across ‘The Secret’ at some point. Before I bore you with the details just go and read the book.

If you can see past the cheesy American ‘live your dreams’ tone of it and have an open mind, it can honestly change your life. Anyway, it asks you to start each day by stating what you’re thankful for. If you smush up 7 days worth of gratitude into 1 post then this would be it. (Obviously I’m thankful for family, health, food, water, a job etc but here I’m just stating the material stuff. Sorry not sorry.)

What I’m lovin’ this week.

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Watching

THIS Mcdonalds advert. I hate to admit I still can’t shake the very small Maccy D’s habit as I hate everything it stands for (but it’s so convenient god damn it!) but I’m lovin’ (get it?) their new Just Another Day ad campaign. Watch the video here.


Apping

Duolingo gets so many rave reviews and it’s totally worth the hype. I think most language learners have tried it before and I’ve recently rediscovered my love for it. It’s a free language learning app that teaches you the basics of French, German, Spanish plus loads more useful languages You can do it online on a desktop, on the mobile app or on a tablet. I personally prefer it on the tablet because you can interact with other users and track your progress easier. It’s a bit addictive if you’re into repetitiveness and earning points for achievements. Download Duolingo here


Listening 

Love this song; SBTRKT ft Sampha –  temporary view

This is added to ‘the DJ better play this tonight list’ along with 7/11 and All Day. Rihanna – Better have my money

My cousin Sheri cam to visit and we ended up singing the whole weekend. We’re both awful and get dirty looks on the metro but we don’t care. Now this is stuck in my head.

And lastly, Laura Mvula – She (MJ remix).


Dancing

Saturday nights in Paris can be a huge hit or miss, especially when you’re new here so I’m always pretty happy when we find a new decent place to go out. 1979 is surprisingly now one of my favourites. Free entrance before 1am, happy hour til 1 and RnB, hip hop and soul til 6am. No ones there to pick up girls, no ones throwing up in the corner, no ones crying in the toilets; everyones just going nuts dancing. I may have told the DJ I love and respect him (hahaha so deep) a few times before.

Find it on 49 Rue Berger, really close to Chatelet Les Halles metro. Make sure you sign up to the email invitation to get free entrance and grab a Mojito for €6 before happy hour ends, they’re pretty strong. Defo catch Paris A Le Groove if you’re into dancing all night and those genres of music.

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Exercise

Running is so much better when the weathers not miserable. I hope I can fit a few more long distance runs in before I leave because I love love love the parks here. Judit and I did nearly 4 miles last night but I think I spent more time on the sofa chatting to Bethany when we got back than actual running.

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Reading 

I’ve nearly finished ‘Not that Kind of girl’, Lena Dunham’s autobiography. It’s real funny but lemme chat about that next time

Not a book but this Buzzfeed article made me cry. Buzzfeed get a lot of stick for their publishing style but I think it’s credible that they can post the most pointless but relevant magazine style posts next to interviews with Barack Obama and this heartbreaking story of a MP living with HIV.

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Random – PINK

I re-dyed my faded pink back section and added more magenta to almost my whole head after seeing the Printemps 150ans decorations… See the pics here. It looks brighter in real life but I know how quickly it will fade. Oh and I made my blog pink. Obsessed right now.

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I like that I can hide it if I need to. Business when up, Party when down. Oh yeeeah


Phew, that’s everything I’m lovin’ this week.

What else should I be listening to, watching, reading, going to etc? Let me know in the comments.

Mary, x