Going to Oxford

As you probably read in my previous post I went to Oxfordshire last weekend. Thanks to my host parents I was able to go to Oxford on Saturday.
My host father and his brother-in-law drove me to Abingdon where I took a bus (X13 or X2) to Oxford, St. Aldates.

When I arrived in Oxford I just went up the Street to get into the city central. Because I’ve been never Oxford before I didn’t knew my way around. So one of the first things I did was buying me a city map.
With the map in my bag I still just went strolling around following some streets until I ended up in front of the Ashmolean Museum, the world’s first university museum. That means that the museum is owned by a university, usually to help teaching the students.

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Ashmolean Museum

After I stopping there for a picture I knew I had to actually use the map. So I studied the map went to the Broad Street where you can see the Trinity College. I also found the tourist information office on this road. After collecting lots of informations I went down the street further. At the corner to Catte Street I got to see the Sheldonian Theater.

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Sheldonian Theater side view from Catte Street

Turning the corner I passed the theater and also the Hertford Bridge, better known as the Bridge of sighs. The bridge got the second name, because of the similar looks to the actual Bridge of Sighs in Venice. Following the street I passed the Bodleian Library which is one of the oldest libraries of the world and the second oldest british library.

Further down the street, behind the Bodleian Library is the Radcliffe Camera. The building is another part of the Library and serves often as the reading room for the Bodleian.
The University Church of St Mary the Virgin is facing the Radcliffe camera on the one side and on the other side adjoins the High Street.

Entering the High Street I first turned left and followed the road, passing All Souls College, University College and Queen’s College. I stopped for a little stroll trough Hardys and turned back around at Magdalen College.

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A little Hardys snack

Because the weather was too good and I only brought long trousers with me I went shopping to buy me shorts which I then directly put on. After a little snack break at McDonald’s I explored the city further.
I discovered the covered market. The hall is really nice and has this traditional look. Some of the shops there are really small. You can buy fresh foods, clothes and souvenirs there, simply everything.

Exiting the covered market I went back down St.Aldates to Christ Church College and Cathedral.

Being quite tired after runing around the whole day I decided to go back to the bus stop and drive back to Abingdon.
Back at the bus stop Stratton Way in Abingdon my host father and his brother-in-law picked me up and we drove back home.

It was a very nice day in a very nice city. I really loved the cities charm. Not only all the awesome buildings, but also all the street musicians who welcomed me and all the other tourist in their wonderful city. I’d love to come back here to study some time.

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Street musicians on Cornmarket Street

But until then I can’t wait to come back another time maybe with a friend to see everything from the inside and not only from the outside and do some guided tours.

Oxford, I’ll be back!
See you!

Love
Vicky xx

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All the little things

It’s my third week being here in London as an au pair. You would think that by now I would be used to it, but I’m not!

With the boys still being on their summer holidays it’s quite hard to get into a routine because no week is like the one before and there a weeks where every day is something complete different. To add to that I have to find my way through the new household.

When you want to apply to become an au pair it’s always useful when you are used to do some household chores at home. But when you then arrive at your host families home you sometimes have to relearn all these things because they just have a different way of doing them.

While getting used to the new surroundings and the work and everything, you have to try to bond with the family.
I won’t lie, at this moment I still have my problems with that. During the day the boys are often gone to sports club and when they come back they want to relax for a bit and spend their time on their devices. When they finally want to go out into the garden, where I then could join them, I have to start preparing dinner.
It’s not that easy, at least it’s not for me. When I first started I was happy that the boys I have to look after are quite old already, but now I understand that they are at this age where they don’t really want to have an au pair because they fell like they’re too old for it, which makes it even harder for me to bond with them.
But I hope that we’ll work things out and connect in the right way when time goes on.

Apart from this I quite enjoy staying here. The boy’s age can be a good thing too. Because of their age I have quite a lot of free time I can spend as I like, except for doing the laundry.

Last weekend the family planned to drive to Oxfordshire to visit my host mother’s sister and her family and I was allowed to join them.
So we left the London home on Friday at around 2 pm and arrived at around 4 pm in Oxfordshire in the small village they live in.
The sister has two daughters, who are 5 and 8 years old. I enjoyed playing with them and doing their hair and let them do mine.

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My hair done by my host mothers niece. I especially love the nice bow.

On Saturday they gave me the opportunity to drive into Oxford. But I’ll write about it in an extra blog entry so you can have all the details.

On Sunday we packed everything to go back to London. But before we could leave Oxfordshire the family showed us the highest hills in Oxfordshire, called the Clumps.

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Climbing the first Clump.

We actually made it and mounted the first of the two Clumps.

Going round the first clump we were able to see the second clump. After descending the first one we climbed up the second one and took a look around there.

On the second clumb we found the poet tree as you can see in the pictures above.

This stone commemorates the 150th anniversary of the poem carved on the nearby beech tree by Joseph Tubb of Warborough Green in 1844-1845. The text above is from a tracing made in 1965 by Dr. Henry Osmasten. The Northmoor Trust gratefully acknowledges the support of the National Westminster Bank, celebrating 150 years of a bank on their site in Wallingford, and ARC Southern for providing the stone.

This text is the third paragraph written on the plate. The poem is also written down there in the first two paragraphs.

“As up the hill with labr’ing steps we treed
Where the twin Clumps their sheltering branches spread
The summit gain’d at ease reclining lay
And all around the wide spread scene survey
Point out each object and instructive tell
The various changes that the land befel.
Where the low bank the country wide surrounds
That ancient earthwork form’d old Murcias bounds.
In misty distance see the barrow heave
There lies, forgotten lonely Culchems grave.
Around this hill the ruthless Danes intrenched
And these fair plains with glory slaughter drench’d
While at our feet where stands that stately tower
In later days appeared monastic pride.
Within that field where lies the grazing herd
Huge walls were found, some coffins disinter’d
Such is the course of time, the wreck which fate
And awful doom award the earthly great.”

After this little lyric lesson we went back to the car, drove to a small café to have a little lunch before we finally made our way back home.

On Monday I’ve received a little surprise from home. My family had sent me a little packet with the last few things I couldn’t take with me on the plane.

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The small packet..

Okay, it’s not that small and it only weighed 26 kg…. But I was only allowed to take a 20kg luggage with me on the plane. The cleaning lady helped me carrying it upstairs to my room because it was just too heavy. But I can tell you how happy I am to finally have all the things I need!
Thank you Mama for packing everything up (you need to come to England in on years time to help me pack everything again to ship it back to Germany)! Thank you my favourite sister for adding the things I forget to tell you on time to pack them! Thank you grandfather for shipping it over to me and paying for it! I have the best family!

Because the boys were at cricket camp every morning this week, I was asked to bake something for the family while I’m at home alone so I would have some treats for the boys.
So I decided to bake some chocolate muffins with cherries inside!
When I came back down on Tuesday morning I found a small note attached to the container: “Delicious!!”

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My self-made muffins in the container with the attached note: “Delicious!!”

I thought it was quite a nice thing to see early in the morning and I felt thankful to receive the compliment and it also picked up my tired morning mood.

This week isn’t easy for me. I’ve been away from home a few times before. Even farther than just London. But I’ve always been away for two weeks and never more. So this week being my third, is the one week that makes the difference to all the other trips I’ve done before. So I got really homesick a few times this weeks.
And I am really thankful for the cleaning lady for giving me advice on how to deal with the situation and just listened and made me feel better. She is a Blessing! 😉

One of her very useful advises was that I need to have a social life for my free time. Because I had free all Thursday afternoon and night I made plans with another au pair to meet up. The only problem is that she lives on the other side of London. So I made my way all the way down to south London. I took the Northern line tube and drove down to Euston where I transferred to a Victorian line tube (yes, I’ve got my own tube line 😉 ) and drove further down to Brixton. Finally there I got to make my first contact with another aupair!

We first went to a market where we sat down in a small Pizzeria to drink a Lemonade and to share a Pizza. We had a great time together and hopefully will see each other lots of times again.

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Organic Lemonade at Franco Manca

Because this post is about all the little things I want to share one last thing that is kinda important to me this week. In Oxford I finally used one of the Postboxes to send my best friend a letter, which she gladly received already. We decided that we want to stay in contact not only by social media, but also by becoming pen pals. So I made the first the step and sent the first letter and I can’t wait to get a letter back.

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For my best friend!

That’s it for now. Next week I’ll be going to Ireland and I’ll tell you all about it when I come back.

Until then,
Love

Vicky xx

 

Exploring London

When you go to a new city, there’s always a point when you start exploring the area. For me it was on my first weekend here in London.

Normally I’d have the weekends of, but because it was my first weekend I prefered staying with the family so they could teach me some more important things about minding their kids and also show me around.

On Saturday my host father took me on a drive around town so I’d get more used to driving in London and also would get a better knowledge of the areas I need to drive the boys around.
After lunch my host mother drove with me to Muswell Hill, which is another part of London near North Finchley. While she went shopping on her own, I had the time to walk around and explore the shops there. I really have to get back there to visit ‘art for art’s sake’! And also Oliver Bonas, but I think I can find them all over London.
When we came back I really had some time for myself which I used to update my blog and diary and also started reading JK Rowlings new book ‘Harry Potter and the cursed child’ I just bought the very same day.
In the evening we took advantage of the good weather and had a barbecue.

But the best and also the most exhausting part of my weekend was the trip to London central on Sunday.

The Sunday morning started off with a very nice breakfast at Boyden’s Kitchen where we met friends of the family, because their boys slept over at my host families’ home.
From the restaurant you’ve got view on Prince Park Manor where all the stars are said to live.

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Boyden’s Kitchen

After Breakfast we drove to Arnos Grove and took the tube to Leicester Square.

As you can see we started at Leicester Square Underground station and went a round to the actual Leicester Square and from there we went to Trafalgar Square where you can see the Nelson’s Column and the National Gallery.

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The National Gallery

We then went down a street called White Hall where the Horse Guards Parade is placed at and where you can take a look at 10 Downing Street. But sadly you couldn’t really see the Door, because of course the area was protected by police and all the other tourists were standing there and wouldn’t allow you a glance.

At the other end of White Hall we came to stand in front of the Houses of Parliament and the Elizabeth Tower with the famous bell Big Ben inside.

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Me in front of the Big Ben

Next we went over the Westminster Bridge to cross the River Thames. We could already see the London Eye in front of us. And when we turned around we could see the completely Houses of Parliament.

At the other side of the river we followed the southbank walk down the river to East London. On the way we passed the London Eye and the Southbank Center where we had a small snack before continuing with the tour. Which  led us past the National Theater, the OXO Tower, the Blackfriars Bridge and the Tate Modern Museum to the Millennium Bridge, which is called the Wobbly Bridge in London.

Going over the Bridge was really windy, but the wind was very welcome because it was just too hot sometimes. The sun was shining all the time, so I got a little sunburn.
On the other side of the River Thames the bridge leads directly up to St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Finally back on the north side of the River Thames we walked down Fleet Street to go back in the direction of Leicester Square, but stopped in Covent Garden to eat a Pizza at Pizza Express.
When we were all stuffed we took the tube back home, after a long day of running around.

When we came back home I was quite tired. It really has been exhausting. Fascinating, but exhausting.
I’m really happy that my family lives here in London because I can go to central London every weekend if I’d like to. So I can really take my time to explore every small corner and not only the tourist sights.

See you soon,

Love

Vicky xx

New city, new life?

My first week is already over, but I still feel like I’ve just arrived..
The last few days I had time to get to know the family and getting used to living here.

My first day started at 8.15 am. While the boys were still asleep I had to learn to prepare their breakfast and lunchpaket, because they would attend a cricket camp from 10am till 3pm each day this week.
After we had brought the boys to their camp, I had to learn how to drive in the UK. Therefore I had to take driving lessons. Since Tuesday 11am the english streets are not safe anymore, so be careful if you ever find your way to London during my time here!

No, it’s really not that bad. A lot of drivers that are used to driving on the right side of the road are afraid of driving in a left-sided traffic system, but it’s not that hard when you’re driving a left-sided car, because everything is turned left. Of course it will take its time to getting used to it. But what makes it more complicated are some rules that are quite different to germany. Driving in roundabouts wouldn’t be that hard, if they would have the same rules. I also came across something I never even heard about: yellow boxes.
But I think I will explain all that later on…
In the end it worked out fine for me and I was able to drive the familys car during my second driving lesson and during my third the instructor even removed the ‘L’-learner signs on the car so they wouldn’t treat me any different.

When the boys were back from cricket camp. S. helped me bake some brownies on Tuesday afternoon. Normally they would just play on their devices until they get bored and go out in the garden for a bit. While they are playing I would prepare their dinner. On Tuesday my host mother thaught me to prepare one of the boys favourite meal: Toad in the hole.
It’s just a few sausages baked in a pancake-like dough.

Wednesday morning was kinda the same. But in the afternoon I went to a local language school to have an interview. I want to take some english classes as soon as the boys are back in school.
In the evening I drove to Finchley Central to meet family friends. My family is friends with an English family for so many years and now that I’m in England I’m finally able to meet all the family members. So on Wednesday night I met Rebecca, who lives in London, too. And Hannah her older sister, who came to visit. We went to a pub called ‘Catcher in the Rye’ and just enjoyed a drink and talked for a while.
At around 8.30 pm I catched the tube and drove two stations to Woodside Park where my host father fetched me.

On Thursday morning my host mother went back to work the first time since I arrived here. Also the boys were allowed to skip cricket camp so we were on our owns the whole day. After my last driving lesson we had a small lunch and then went to Torrington Park which is a five minute walk from the place we live.


The boys played around for a bit and enjoyed an ice cream.
When we came back I ironed their clothes and prepared dinner for them.

On Friday they were back at cricket camp again and I had an appointment at Lloyds Bank to get my own bank account.
In the afternoon my host mother dropped me off on the High street and I strolled around exploring the area and the local shops for a bit before returning home.

After being here for the last week I can really say that one of prejudices are not true: it’s not always raining!


You can see it’s really sunny here. We’ve had no rain for 4 days now and it’s been really warm, too.

On Friday night N. even took his shower outside underneath the garden hose.

It was so hilarious! He kept jumping around and screamed because the water was too cold.
I must say I’m really happy with my family. Not only the kids, but also the parents are lovely and very obliging.

I look forward to the next 360 days here in London! I’ll kepp you updated!

Love,

Vicky xx

 


Saying Goodbye can be hard, but there’s always a new hello!

Today’s the day. The day I’ve been looking forward to, but nevertheless been dreading so much.

Today I’ve had to say goodbye to my family and I can tell you, it was a really sad goodbye.

My day started bright an early because I had to get ready and pack the last things. After saying goodbye to my grandparents, my family and I hit the road to Luxembourg airport.

After I checked in I had to say goodbye to my family without knowing when we will see each other again (sometime during the year?).

The flight took off at 12.55 am and I arrived at the London City Airport at 1.02 pm. 

Sadly my host family couldn’t pick me up from the airport so I had to take a black cab home. After an one hour drive I finally arrived in North Finchley. I was greeted by my host mother and both boys.

After a little chat and a short break we went on a little walk and they showed me how to get to the main road and took me to a really nice café. After that we went to buy the boys a new football goal which we put together when we got back home and putting it to use by scoring a few goals.

Later we had a nice dinner with the boys favourite topic: football. I am happy that I at least know two German football teams, but when they asked about the British, I was completely lost. 

At around 8 pm I called it a day and were allowed to go upstairs in my private area. I even got my own bathroom.

Tomorrow I have my first driving lesson here. I am excited and also nervous, because it’s really weird to drive on the other side of the road, even as a co-driver.

I am so happy that I am finally here and that I’ve got so lucky with my family.

Love

Vicky xx