Zurich, you were fab.

Europe

If you have low expectations for a place then you will almost certainly be impressed when you arrive. This was pretty much the case when coming to Zurich. Actually, I didn’t have any expectations before I came. I just booked it because it was kinda between Milan and Paris and I’d never been. Great travel planning maz.

After 4 days here I can proudly say I LOVE ZURICH! Seriously, I love it.
Reasons why everyone should go to Zurich (you don’t have to, I ain’t forcing anyone)
1. Its not as cliche as Paris, Rome, London etc. (Ooh I’m so indie) but in all honesty its not as tourist heavy. Less selfie sticks floating around = happy Mary
2. The people are friendly! – says everyone who ever went anywhere. But they are, I promise
3. The girls are gorgeous. And really fashionable. And don’t do that horrible looking you up and down glare that they do in the UK.
4. Nearly every guy is H to the O double T, IE. They all seem to be in that nice transition stage between skier and surfer. And they dress really well. Yeah.
5. Almost everyone can speak English, wahey.
6. Fancy architecture
7. A pretty lake that goes into a pretty river. And it looks blue not murky grey/brown. Ahem Thames.
8. You can see actual snow topped mountains.
9. After admiring the mountains you can go into a huge Zara that has 6 floors or something crazy like that.
10. Steep hills means toned calves
11. Men aren’t creepy and abusive! (Double yay)
12. You can buy fancy bread in plaits. Shweee. And pretzels
13. Trams. Trams rock.
14. Swiss beer is pretty good
15. There’s a Lindt chocolate factory. Must I continue?

Mary x
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P.s. thank you Franziska and Laurina for being the best hosts ever and not waking me up in the middle of the night brushing my hair! You da bestest

I’ve survived a whole month – 30th September 2014

Au Pairing in Paris

What a pooey day. literally.

If you don’t like stories about poo then please don’t read on.

Today marks my 1 month anniversary in Paris, wahoo! So, like most days there was bound to be some drama. I woke up at around 7:30, helped feed and dress the kids before waving them off for school. The housekeeper arrived and we said our awkward hello’s because she doesn’t speak any english but also refuses to hear me speak french… I left her with a spare key (I explained that I was going out, she seemed confused and spoke really quickly and confused me and then herself) and got the train and then metro to Bercy to see Steph Bottin (friend from school, well not really school but you get me) as she’s moving to the centre of France and was passing through Paris 🙂 We had such a nice little catch up and had loads to talk about as we’ve both been travelling since we last saw each other. Hopefully I’ll see her for a weekend or holiday sooooon!

Earlier in the day I’d had a call from the kids mum telling me the union who run the after school clubs had gone on strike so my day would be cut short for almost 2 hours as I had to pick the 3 kids up from school early. The twins were pretty chilled when I got them and munched on chocolate biscuits as we waited for F. Soon I was the last ‘parent’ waiting at the school gates. Where was my kid?! Eventually I spoke to a few teachers and located F; she was hysterically crying. Fantastic.

It turns out F’s after school club was still running but no one had told me so I had to deal with her stressing out for what felt like a lifetime. She finally settled on going to the park across the road to relieve her unnecessary anger. The park is truly mental and dealing with 3 crazy children there is always a nightmare, but it’s gotta be done. Today I did my best at keeping an eye on everyone at all times even though they’d conveniently spread themselves apart. I chose to be a nice Au Pair today and let them play for almost 3 hours (I know, I’m a saint)!!! When I was about to give my 10 minute call I noticed P was hobbling around looking awkward; at first I thought she was hurt. And then she just squatted. She full on squatted in the middle of the park and pooped her pants. If I hadn’t of gone over to her I’m almost certain she would of just stayed crouched on the floor, not a care in the world.

‘Mary, I caca-ed…’, I scooped her up, told F to watch J, ran to the buggy on the other side of the park to get baby wipes, sprinted to the toilets and did the dreaded reveal. Poor P suffers from diarrhoea and today she’d left me a lovely present. It was a messy ordeal and resulted in me ditching her knickers and leggings so she was just running around in a dangerously loose skirt. I encouraged the others to say bye to their mates so we could leave but they weren’t having any of it. P was jamming on the floor awkwardly flashing half of the park so I kept reminding her to ‘close the shop’. With a bit of bribing and a few threats we finally left the park and headed home, thank the lordy! J thought it would be fun to run away a few times on the way back and I had that great heart stopping moment of him running into the road. If you have kids or are ever responsible for kids you’ll know how terrifying that moment is.

Bath time and dinner went quite well (I cooked grean beans, potatoes, carrots and chicken and the kids immediately told me it looked ‘yucky yucky’. cool) then by 8:30 ish I was free!!! I went for a run at about midnight as I didn’t get a chance this morning. My day has felt so long but it really has been pretty normal and most days are filled with similar events. Being an Au Pair aint easy but somehow a month has already flown by, it’s hard to fully get my head around it. Here’s to the next 10 months and fingers crossed for less pooping in the park.

Mary (bisous)

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!

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