Weekend warriors

Au Pairing in Paris

I’ve had such a fun, busy week. I’m finally catching up with everyone after the Christmas break, spending too much money and eating (and maybe drinking) more than I should. Januarys not so blue!

IMG_0602 I’ve started to notice the crazy houses in our little suburban town. Theres so much dramatic architecture around Paris but even when I just take a 5 minute walk I see some crazy and beautiful houses. House envy on every corner.

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We (Judit, Bethany, Camilla, Yasmin & Susanna) went out on Thursday night to celebrate the end of exams (which I didn’t do because I don’t go to uni but I can’t miss out on the celebrations can I?!) to a club called Le Duplex, right by the Arc De Triomphe. We all had a pretty fun night; the music was mainly pop and house from what I can remember. I have a thing against the techno music that the french love so anywhere that plays music you can actually sing and dance along to is a winner for me. And I find it jokes when they throw in a random ‘Alors on danse’ or other french song and everyone goes crazy. Plus free entrance and not crazy overpriced drinks = happy gals!

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There was a creepy dancer who politely pushed me off his podium then wanted me to touch his abs. Which I wasn’t too excited by. Look at my face for proof.

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I managed to pick up a few copies of Charlie Hebdo as I arrived at Saint Lazare station at 6am as the newsagents were opening. There was already a queue, lots of pompous people giving their opinion of the magazine and a limit of only buying 5. I hope this and the fact that eBay have reportedly disallowed them to be sold stops people making obscene amounts of money from selling them on. I saw a copy go for £100,000!

On Friday night Judit, Bethany, Yasmin and I had a chilled out evening watching ‘In her Shoes’, a cheesy rom com with Cameron Diaz and some other randomers. It’s a decent film but way too emotional for my liking; like why are they trying to upset me, I just wanted to see an easy flick. Don’t get deep with us and kill off characters?!

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I was back in Olympiades again on Saturday morning to run with Judit (see my previous post!). We went shopping with the others in the afternoon in Chatelet. The forum des halles shopping centre is so much bigger than I realised, after only seeing one half of it the other times I’ve been. We probably spent more time trying to find each other than actually shopping. I somehow managed to buy a h&m jacket that I totally needed because you know, having 7 other jackets in Paris and more at home just isn’t enough is it…?

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diets are going well.

Saturday night was my chance to finally see Amrita and catch up. We drank gross wine at Le Perchoir, the cutest rooftop bar in Paris. You get an amazing view of the Sacre Coeur and theres fairy lights, comfy sofas and fires to help you forget that it’s actually like 2 degrees up there. Unluckily for us we had an overly PDA couple going for it on the sofa opposite to us.

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We did the horrible 10 minute walk to La Bellevilloise. We always meet some strange characters on this road and we’re always hating life because it’s the steepest hill in the world. 

Once we actually got there we had a wicked night. Even if we had to deal with even more awful PDA in there as well. When will people learn eh?

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On the metro in the morning I made friends with a guy with the cutest puppy ever! I managed to get a good 10 minutes of cuddles before the owner gave me a can of juice and his business card. Which I accidentally threw away. Ha oops, not the biggest loss.

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I’m now listening to Sia’s album ‘1000 forms of fear’, I’d forgotten how much I love it. And I also want a big cage like the one she uses for the elastic heart video, would be so cool for photos!

I’m excited for next week, I have nothing solid planned but maybe bowling and hopefully get a pizza in town. Praying the forecast of snow is a wrong because I don’t have the energy to deal with cold weather!

Mary x

10 things I don’t have time for in Paris

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Oh no is this a listacle? I think it may be. Oops soz

I’m jumping on a train on Saturday morning out of Paris. Here’s some stuff I won’t miss. (I do love it here by the way, just moaning)

1. paying €9 for a pint. Not OK in any way

2. people who run for a train that’s not leaving for 5 minutes!! You don’t need to run yet bbz!!!

3. chocolate bars sold in a pack of 2. Obviously I can happily eat 2 bars of milka at a time but would it really hurt to sell them individually?

4. music in clubs. Its not all bad but sometimes I feel like we’re stuck in 2009. (Oh ‘low’ by flo rida is playing again, fantastic)

5. the smell on the metro. It’s weird when you see friends and that’s the main topic of conversation.

6. it seems like everyone but you owns a designer bag.

7. ‘you’re an au pair? Oh so you’re a babysitter’ yes but I’m so much more I promise!

8. ‘oh you’re english?I’ve heard all English girls binge drink???’ Why you judging maaaate

9. climbing 7 flights of stairs to get to your mates apartment. Because living on the ground floor is so mainstream…

10. pharmacies. They sell 100 brands of ear wax remover but 1 brand of deodorant or tampons. I need super drug and boots back in my life for realsies

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I’ve got a lot of time for unlimited shopping and cheap wine though..

Mary x

TBT – stopping strangers

Africa, TBT

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Throwback to May of this year. I was doing an intensive course at Cape Town School of Photography and this particular days task was to take photos using a border. I went off task, started chatting to some builders and a parking attendant and ended up with this photo.

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.

‘But what does it represent?!’ – La Nuit Blanche – 4th October 2014

Au Pairing in Paris, Europe

I’d promised myself that I would save money in October, meaning no clothes shopping, no online shopping and no McDonalds. Hey guess what? I was 4 days into the month and caved. I’d left the house to run errands (so grown up) and needed WiFi to find out who and where I was meeting people that night so thought I’d blag some internet and lunch at the same time. My tablet wouldn’t connect so that kinda defeated the point :/

I met Yasmin and Judit by Parc de Luxembourg and we had a little picnic by a statue of a naked child(?!) and were joined by Bethany and Aina. We saw too much PDA, too many awkward selfies and then we all kissed a girl witha drawn on beard who was on her hen do.  Yeah i don’t know what that was about either…Our plan was to go to La Nuit Blanche but like everyone else I’d spoken to, we had no idea where to go. We got some drinks and sat by the Seine (classic Parisian ‘no sure what we’re doing so let’s sit here’ thing to do) before heading to Montparnasse to meet the YEP group. As we got there it started to rain, it was super windy and we had no idea where we were meeting the group. Bethany and I stayed out in the rain with her ironic Little Miss Sunshine umbrella as the others waited inside. There were hundreds of people around, apparently La Nuit Blanche is a big deal in Paris?!

La Nuit Blanche – described by Time Out Paris

‘A free annual dusk ‘til dawn arts festival that holds the entire city in its thrall’

Basically it’s a 12 hour event where loads of museums and galleries are open all night and street performers make the most of all the generous tourists and the locals use it as a great excuse to get drunk.

We finally met up with about 25 other people from YEP and got the metro to Hotel De Ville, I watched hundreds of massive helium balloons being lit up and wave around. Matita met us and we watched the balloons, not really knowing what that was about…

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We abandoned a queue for some exhibition and wandered over to the Notre Dame. We came across a group of street performers/dancers that we’d seen twice before in Paris. They may or may not have a beautiful dancer from America in the group and someone in our group may or may not have asked if he had a girlfriend. It turns out he does soooooo that’s his loss I guess! We didn’t really know what art to go and see so we ended up in a bar in the Latin Quarter called The Latin Corner (ooop I see what you did there bar) on Rue De La Huchette. Read the reviews, they are hilarious. We saw more skin than we were expecting and saw some very awkward ‘performances’ from the bar staff.

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The girls headed home and Matita and I were the last ones standing; we met Matita’s friend Amrita and chose to see 1 more ‘arty thing’ before leaving. There was this big wooden structure thing by Pantheon; it wasn’t too exciting but hundreds of people were crowded around looking interested. It was cold and rainy but we decided to brave a queue to go into the Sainte-Geneviève library. Inside the beautiful building a huge pile of crumpled paper and crowds of people folding and screwing up big pieces of paper and adding to this weird pile thing going on. We joined in and heard a security man tell a couple that ‘this wasn’t a place to spend ages folding and to just throw the paper on the pile and leave’ – lol what, it was meant to be an evening to appreciate art, not just hurry along. We didn’t know what this installation was about but I read up on it and found this written by the artist, Iran Qureshi, “I was marked by suicide bombings in my country, says the artist, I wanted to show that we could all together, build something with the flowers of blood, which is also the symbol of life , hope, beauty are there anyway.” – which is fab but there was nothing around at the actual place telling you what it was about!

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My journey home was a bit unexpected; we’d checked that my metro was still running and it said that I’d be fine even after 2am. When I changed lines I found out my line was in fact not running 😦 I managed to get to St Lazare and thought I could always walk from there if there were no more trains running. As I walked through the station I saw a girl unconscious on the floor surrounded by confused looking train staff 😦 Luckily an ambulance arrived as I was leaving the station. I couldn’t find a train going my way so had a nosy at the bus stop. All buses had been replaced with coaches and I managed to be the last person to get on the only one at the station and it was going to my town, oh yeeeah! I got the last seat and got home in like 15 minutes (definitely beats walking for 45mins in the rain). Loving living in a place where you can get home at 2am with no need for taxis.

Not sure what I made of La Nuit Blanche; it was different and free so I guess I can’t really complain!

Mary

(bisous)

p.s. sorry for how poop my photos are, it was cold, wet and I didn’t have my DSLR on me

Le Week-end(ish) – 25th – 28th September 2014

Au Pairing in Paris, Europe

I wrote out a long post about last weekend and as I was about to hit publish my laptop froze. I lost everything I’d written soooooo here are some photos instead…

We went out in Bastille for Judit’s birthday, Lucinda, Libby and I went for a picnic then shopping in Le Marais, we went to the Musee D’orsay and saw lots of Monet and Degas paintings, I went for a run along the Seine, I went shopping at this huge market by my house and we had a night in on Saturday eating too much pizza and drinking wine. Fab times.

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Child’s play

Au Pairing in Paris

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A sofa is a fort, a puddle is an ocean, a blanket is a cloud and your legs are a climbing frame. One of the biggest parts of my job is to play; learn to let go and have fun with the kids. Bring on another week of using my imagination and being a kid again.

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

Walking tours, Walls and Wedding dresses – Berlin 12th – 14th June 2014

Europe

Nina couldn’t join me on my first full day in berlin as she had to do some work for uni but she gave me instructions on how to get Alexander Platz on the metro and recommended I do the ‘alternative’ walking tour. We had a group of around 15 of us; people were from India, America, Germany, France, England etc and our tour guide, Ryan, was scottish. Instead of the traditional sites Ryan showed us more of the graffiti of Berlin and explained the stories behind them. We saw the longest remaining stretch of the Berlin wall and took a walk around YAAM, a carribean and african beach bar. The guys working there were asking ‘hey my sister, when you be back again?’, probably thinking I was a lot more Jamaican than I am…

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I learnt loads from the tour and I didn’t lose interest even though it was 3 hours long, I definitely recommend it if you’re visiting Berlin, especially as it’s free! (You can obviously tip your tour guide if he did a good job). After the tour a few of us walked along the east side gallery, checking out the art work on the wall.
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That afternoon I was desperate to visit some shops so I headed to Postdamer Platz for some retail therapy; I was in need of a jacket as I only have a bright red sports jacket with me, but somehow left with a dress and pizza… I got the metro to Kotbusser Tor and stopped in some vintage store still looking for a jacket. One place looked more like a scene from ‘how clean is your house’ rather than a shop; piles of clothes almost reached the ceiling and you couldn’t walk from one wall to another without stepping on books, toys, shoes etc. I left there with a bright green jumper, still no jacket. This is what happens when I go shopping alone; I lose focus!
The next day Nina and I slowly made our to Frankfurter Tor, on the metro and tram stopping off at a coffee shop where every customer (excluding us) was on macbook, looking very unsociable. Humana is this huge 5 storey vintgage shop; we were there to meet Nina’s friend Phillip to buy a drag outfit for a parade. Before Phillip arrived Nina and I had a spare half an hour to kill so decided to try on some garish looking vintage wedding dresses. By time we were in them we had a bit of an audience waiting for us, an old man took photos of us while some woman were telling us that the dresses looked great and we should buy them. After the excitement of the horrible, itchy wedding dresses Phillip arrived so we started hunting for bright and shiny outfits for him. I finally found a jacket and Nina bought some amazing salmon coloured long shorts whilst Phillip bought 2 amazingly bright jackets. We stopped at a photobooth and stopped on the street after seeing 4 guys just staring at a puddle. The puddle was luminous green and we joined them to stare at it, trying to work out what it was and how it got there; aliens, spray paint, the liquid from a glow stick. We didn’t have a clue but it was cool to watch and we saw 3 more green puddles as walked on down the road, weird.IMG_1341
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We went to another cafe to eat paninis before heading home to sort out where we’d watch the Netherlands/Spain football match; Nina’s family home is in the Netherlands so it was essential that we saw the game. Watching it outside was ruled out as it was getting quite cold so we headed to her friend Thomas’ flat. Thomas is from Stevenage(-ish), about 10 mins from where I live and his friend Gordon visiting him is from St Albans, 10 mins in the other direction! Such a small world. We wanted Holland to win but we definitely didn’t expect it to be 5-1! German beer and a hilarious football match was enough to make Nina and I very happy.
Mary x