20th December: 23 632 steps

Welcome back to post 20 of my 24 Days to Christmas! Only four days left, can you believe it? Todays post is an addition to yesterdays post.
As I said yesterday, I went on Sunday (20th November) and Monday to central London.
The decision to go on Monday was partly because my new host mother asked me if I could come and visit them before I would move in the week after.So I got on my way from Oakwood to Parsons Green to be at their home for 12pm. At 2.15pm I left again and decided to walk to Kensington.

I only had enough money to pay for one more Tube Journey, so I decided walk the 3.8km to Kensington. In South Kensington are three of London’s most famous museums: The Natural History Museum, The Science Museum and The Victoria and Albert Museum. Luckily nearly every museum has a free entry policy and you can just go and visit them.
I decided I would go to the Victoria & Albert Museum, as it has my name in it.

At 3pm I arrived at the Museum and started my tour through it.
The Victoria and Albert Museum, in short V&A, is the world’s largest Museum of decorative Arts & Design. It holds a collection of over 4.5 million objects, which cover 2000 years of art from all over the world.
The V&A was founded in 1852, a year after the Great Exhibition. The same year it was moved to its present location and was named South Kensington Museum.
In 1899 Queen Victoria set the foundation stone for the grand façade and the main entrance. It was really important to her and her husband, as they cherished the idea to make art available to all, the original reason why the museum was established.
Therefore they also changed the name to Victoria and Albert Museum.

The museum is really big and I haven’t had a plan where to go so I just went any way and would see where I end up. After 10 minutes I stumbled across the for me most mesmerising part of the museum: a plaster cast of Michelangelo’s David!
This cast from 1556, is one of many replicas and was a gift to the Queen Victoria from the Grand Duke Leopold II of Tuscany in 1857. While the original David was made from one block of marble arch, this one was made up of several hundred pieces and is reinforced with metal rods. Michelangelo’s David was built between 1501 to 1504 and is placed in the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, since 1873.

This cast is placed in the Cast Court on the ground level of the V&A. From there I went through the sections of European Sculptures from 1300-1600 and Medieval & Renaissance 1350-1600.
Next was the Britain from 1500-1760 exhibiton on Level 2. I mostly just walked through the exhibitions and just took pictures when something really interested me. It’s really nice that you not only get free entry to the museum, but you’re also allowed to take pictures everywhere. Except for the Jewellery exhibition on Level 3. The William & Judith Bollinger Gallery holds all kinds of jewellery, even some tiaras.

The Theatre & Performance exhibition is on the same level as the Jewellery one. For me it was the most interesting exhibition and I really liked learning something about all kinds of Theatres and seeing some of the costumes from musicals or musicians.

The last Exhibition I went to see, was the Silver exhibition, also on Level 3. As the Museum closes at 5.30pm the Whiteley Galleries were already closed when I came there, but a nice lady let me in for a quick look around.

When I had to leave I haven’t seen nearly half of the exhibitions and I would have to come back a few more times. But for the day I had to do something else.
As it was 5.30pm and the peak time of the underground had already started, I had to stay in central London until the peak time was over.
So I started google maps and went on my way to Piccadilly Circus. While I was walking I spotted Harrods and just decided to give it a go.

Harrods once opened as a small grocery store and is nowadays one of the largest department stores in the world. When Henry Charles Harrod established the store in 1849, he had only two employees. Hard to believe how far the store had come from then.
Harrods has a total of 330 departments on 7 floors and under their motto ‘Omnia, Omnibus, Ubique’ (Everyone, Everything, Everywhere) they promise they can sell anything you want.
Next to all the glorious things you can buy there, Harrods also impresses with its extravagant decorations and designs, like the Egyptian Hall.

Harrods is so big that you can actually get lost in there. Every time I’m in there I’m lost and don’t know where to go to find the things I’m looking for, or more dramatically my way back out. Last time the cashier asked me if I would need help to go somewhere else, but couldn’t tell me the way outside herself.
After I visited the Christmas department and one of the many clothes departments, I found my way back out at 6.20pm.

As it was still too early for the tube, I decided to walk again. My destination was still Piccadilly Circus, but as I came across Hyde Park I changed my plans once again.
From the 18th November 2016 till the 2nd January 2017 the Winter Wonderland, a festive theme park, is in Hyde Park. This year they’re celebrating their 10 year anniversary, as the first Wonderland started in 2007. Next to the main attractions it holds London’s largest German-style Christmas Market and over 100 spectacular festive rides and attractions.
The entry to the Wonderland is free, but you would have to buy tickets for the main attractions in advance. They consists of an ice rink, the magical (ice-) kingdom, nutcracker on ice, bar ice, Zippos Christmas circus, cirque Berserk, the scooty Christmas show and the giant observation wheel.
To celebrate the anniversary they even have the Munich Looping as an attraction. The Munich Looping is the world’s largest transportable roller coaster, which is also a part of Munich’s Oktoberfest.

I just walked through the Winter Wonderland to see what it’s about and to take some quick pictures. Hopefully I can go back there before it’s over.
After just 15 minutes I was on the other side and left the Theme Park. As it was finally after 7pm and the peak time was over I decided to take the Tube at Marble Arch Station and go home. At 8.15pm I was finally at home, after I’ve walked 23 632 steps and a total of 16.1km.

Even though I was quite tired after this long day, I was also happy that I managed to see so much! Especially in the V&A. It is so much better to visit the museums during the week, as they’re free of tourists.

Love,
Vicky! Xx

18th December: Little Germany

Sorry guys that I’m always posting so late the last few days, but as it’s getting closer to Christmas I’m quite busy and always on the way.
Todays post is about the weekend when the Christmas season really started. On Saturday the 26th November, a day before the first advent, I went to the Christmas Market of the German School here in London.

One of my family’s Christmas tradition is that we would go to the Christmas Market of the Waldorf Schule Trier. As it was on the same Saturday and I wasn’t able to go there, I went to the english alternative.
Even though the market was at the German School and not the London Steiner School (the Waldorf School in London), it was just like the one at home.

The German School London or in german Deutsche Schule London and in short DSL, was established in 1971 and is now one of the 140 German Schools abroad. The school has been founded by the Federal Republic of Germany and the local association to promote the German culture and language in foreign countries. Since 2010 the school has a bilingual system so the students can choose between the qualifications of the German Abitur and the International Baccalaureate.

Since the school is in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, I had to go on a long journey from Oakwood in North London to South-West London. As the market would start at 1pm, I got on my way around 11.45am. First I took the Piccadilly Line from Oakwood to Earl’s Court where I then changed to the District Line to Richmond, where I arrived around 1.20pm. For the last part of the journey I had to take the Bus 65 to the School, where I finally arrived at 1.45pm.

When I first entered the School I was a bit overwhelmed. It’s just weird to find a place in London where everybody around you speaks German. I often use german to get away from some flyer distributer in London, but that only works because it’s a foreign language here. Of course you then feel weird when suddenly everyone around you speaks german and the official language becomes a foreign language. But it was also quite refreshing to be able to go around and just talk german again.

While I was exploring the school grounds I stopped for a nice freshly made Nutella Crêpe. Walking around I also went upstairs to the first floor, but the corridors were locked as the whole thing took place on the ground floor and outside. Since it got later and I always have a bratwurst at the christmas market at home, I had one there too.

I got to know about the school through one of my ex teachers, as she once was a teacher at this school too. When I was looking at all the different booths, I even started a conversation with a mother. The funny thing is that she actually knows this teacher, because she was the class teacher of her son. We talked for a bit and she told me about the school and the life as a German in England. It was really interesting and informative.

At 4pm the Market was over and I got on my way back. As my friends were in central London I didn’t went all the way back to Oakwood just yet, but to Piccadilly Circus instead. Around 5pm I arrived there and then started a cat and mouse game with them. They would send me their location and shortly before I arrived there, they had already moved on and were at a new location. On Oxford Street I finally caught up with them. As most of the group had to leave it was only Amelie, her friend from Germany and I left.

After a bit of time Amelie had to bring her friend to her meeting point, as she had to travel back to germany that night. I stayed on Oxford Street and went shopping for a while. Around 7.30pm Amelie was back and we went to Caffé Nero to sit down and chat a bit. She was invited to join some of her friends for a birthday party later that night and I was allowed to tag along.

When we met the first one of the girls, we went shopping for a bit and soon met the birthday girl and her sister. Together we went looking for a nice pub to celebrate a bit. Around 11.15pm Amelie, Selina and I went on our way home and the Birthday girl and her sister stayed a bit longer. I would have liked to stay too, but I had a long journey again and the Piccadilly Line wasn’t a Night Tube yet. At 12.15am I was finally at home and a few minutes later in bed.

It has been a long day, but I’m happy that I went all the way to the German School! It was nice being there and to discover this German community. During the time there you could easily forget that you’re in England and not in Germany.

Hopefully I’ll be able to visit them again,
Vicky! Xx

 

 

 

17th December: Surprise! Surprise!

There is nothing better than going back for a weekend to see your family once again.
So I started to plan a short weekend trip back home. After I’ve been away for nearly 4 1/2 months already, it was about time. You may wonder why I didn’t just go home over christmas, but rather just for a short weekend before. That’s because I never planned to go back home for Christmas. My plans just recently changed, as I don’t have a place to go over Christmas.

With Friday 9th December the day I’ve waited so impatiently for had finally arrived. The best thing about the plan was that just a few people knew about them and my mother and sister weren’t a part of them. Therefore I was even more excited and hoped that everything will work out and it will be a big surprise.

At 6.50pm my flight was leaving at Stansted Airport. Since the Airport is up in the northern outskirts of London and I’m living in South-West London by now, I had to go on a long journey through London. Luckily I only had to work in the morning and my host mum could give me the afternoon off, as her mum was there to visit. At 3.30pm I left the house and started at Parsons Green Tube Station. After I changed to the Victoria Line at Victoria Station, I arrived at the Stansted Express Station at Tottenham Hale Station just an hour later.

Just a few minutes later the Stansted Express arrived an I started the 40 minutes drive to Stansted Airport. At the beginning the Train was so full there was no place to sit, but after the first stopover a few people left and I could sit down.
When I arrived at the airport I went to the Back-Drop since I brought my suitcase with me to carry all the Christmas presents I’ve bought.

After I went through the Security Check I still had a bit time to spare and went to buy myself a dinner. The most expensive dinner in my life!
When it was 6pm I got on my way to the Gate which felt like it’s at the complete other end of the airport. At 6.25pm I was already in the airplane and we could depart right on time. I’m happy that everything went so smoothly.

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Boarding the Plane…

But that soon changed when we arrived at Luxembourg Airport at 9.05pm (GER- Time). After 15 long minutes I finally could leave the airplane. It took so long, because I was seated in the last row and had to wait until everyone else had left the airplane. Entering the airport I had to queue up behind everyone else who just arrived from London, since we had to go through border control. As Luxembourg Airport is a small airport they only have three counter and I had to wait for another 20 minutes.

At 9.45pm I finally could leave the airport and meet Max in the parking lot, who would bring me home.
Max had told my mum that he would come around later that night, because he had to bring her something. So when we got there we left my suitcase in the car to avoid unnecessary sounds who would give us away. Max went first and I waited at the lower level until he was inside the flat. After he announced a surprise I also entered the flat to be greeted with wide eyes full of surprise!

My mum and sister were so shocked, they needed a few seconds to comprehend what was going on and after that there was no stopping anymore. My sister wouldn’t stop crying and wouldn’t let go of my either. After a few minutes everything quieted down a bit and I could finally explain everything.

Max soon left again to give us a bit of time together and to let me settle in. Later that night, when everyone was in bed, my mum went back into my room. She wanted to check if I’m still there, because she was afraid that everything was just a dream.

The next day we all had breakfast together and got ready to go to the city. But before we could leave I went to my grandparents flat (the one beneath our flat) to say hello to them too. I’ve never seen my grandmother this speechless. She also had problems coming to term with the fact that I’m back in Trier for a weekend.

Around 11.30am we finally went to the city. When we arrived in the city with the Park and Ride Service, we first went to see the Christmas Market. Normally I don’t really like going over the christmas market, since it’s always too crowded and there are the same booths every year. But this year it was different.
Christmas Markets aren’t that popular in England and therefore you can’t really see one. So I wanted to go and see the one in Trier, because otherwise I would miss out on something that is just a Christmas tradition for me.

From the Christmas Market I dragged my family to the Porta Nigra where the Trier Christmas Tree is located and convinced them to take a nice family picture. I wanted to have a more recent picture for my room in London.

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My lovely family reunited 🙂

Afterwards we went to the shopping center where I visited a good friend of mine. Because she had to work we just had time for a quick chat.
Outside of the store I then met my best friend. I was really looking forward to seeing her again as I’ve missed her so much! Together we went to the store were I had worked two Christmases ago and I bought a nice little Birthday present for my host mum.

Around 3.30pm I had to say goodbye to Wanda and we went home. Because I was invited to a christmas party that night I had to get ready soon after we came home.
I hoped to surprise someone else that night at the christmas party, but when I arrived at 6pm he already knew that I was coming. I still would like to know how he knew I was coming, but he just won’t tell me.

Since we had such a good time, we stayed until 1.30am, when we were asked to leave. As the others got hungry again they wanted to go to a kebab house. I then tagged along as my neighbour was with them and I rather walk home with him later, than all on my own.
I made the right decision, because he decided to call us a taxi to get home.
At 2.30am I was finally at home and could go to sleep. Tomorrow is going to be a long day again.

On Sunday morning I slept a bit longer and started the day slowly.
Since it was my last day with my family and my mum already bought the Christmas Tree, I took the chance and we all decorated the tree together.
When we finished my grandparents came to visit us and my grandfather and I sorted out my flight tickets so I could come home over Christmas.

As I’ve mentioned above I originally didn’t plan on coming home, but rather stay in England to celebrate an English Christmas. But my host family is going to be in the Netherlands for Christmas and our family friends have no room, as all of their children are coming home.
Since I just got the news on Friday before I left, I talked with my family about my options. My grandfather then directly offered to fly me home, which was the best solution.

Around 5pm I went to my neighbour and played a bit with his daughters that I’d missed so much. After an hour I had to say goodbye and go back home, because dinner was ready and I still needed to pack my suitcase.
After a nice Raclette for dinner my mum helped me to pack everything – actually she packed everything and I just told her what has to go in the suitcase…
Thank you Mummy! ☺️
At 7.30pm Max came to get time, as he would be the one to bring me back to the airport.

An hour later I was already at the Gate waiting for boarding to start. Even though everything went smoothly and the pilot announced that we may leave earlier, we started at the original time at 9.50pm. This flight was really good, especially because I had a seat in the first row next to the window and therefore freedom of leg movement and a nice view!

It seems like the flight went by in a flash, as we arrived at 9.50pm (UK – Time) in London, instead of the estimated arrival time at 10.15pm. This time I was one of the first to leave the plane and the border control was also quicker, since it’s all technical there and they have so many counters. At 10.10pm I had my suitcase and 5 minutes later I was in the bus.
Sadly the Stansted Express wasn’t operating that Sunday and I had to take the Rail Replacement Bus instead. That would mean that the journey home will take even longer. But once again luck was on my side and we arrived at Liverpool Street Station at 11.15pm already.

From there I started the last leg of my Journey home. I took the Central Line to Notting Hill Gate, where I then got the last District Line of the day. I don’t want to think about what I would’ve done if I would’ve been too late. Everything worked out perfectly and I arrived at 12.15pm at home.
But I wasn’t finished yet. I had to carry my suitcase all the way up to the 2nd floor. Because that alone would have been too easy, I had to walk past the children and the parents without waking them up, as they were already asleep.
At 12.30pm I was finally in bed and could sleep, as I had to get up at 6.45am the next morning.

I want to thank Max for making this weekend possible for me! Not only did he drove me home and back to the airport, but he actually paid for everything!
Even though I’m soon back in Trier, this weekend was really nice and I’m grateful that you gave me the opportunity to do this.
And the biggest thank you for helping me to surprise my family like this!
I owe you! 💙

Love,
Vicky! Xx

13th December: Off the beaten track…

It’s been a month since I’ve been in Lincolnshire and so far I only told you about Lincoln and York, but these weren’t the only places they took me to see.
As they live in a small village in Lincolnshire, they’re surrounded by small villages and towns. And since they’re not as big as Lincoln or York, I just write about different locations in one post.

It started on Monday, 24th October, when Julie and Ruth brought me to Brigg, a small Market Town in North Lincolnshire, just a few minutes drive away. They wanted to show me the Steel Rooms, which is a Café, art Gallery and gift shop all in one. Since we were only there at 4.30pm the café was already closing and we went to Costa instead.
The town is so small that nearly every shop closes around 5pm.
Luckily the Costa Coffee Shop was opened way longer so we could sit and enjoy a coffee and a cake or cupcake.

 

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My nice Gingerbread Cupcake

After the coffee we went back home. But a week later I was back again. Because Hannah tidied her room at home, she decided to give away loads of things she doesn’t need anymore. On Wednesday morning, 2nd November, we went to the Oxfam Charity shops to drop the things off. I especially liked the Oxfam Bookshop, where I then bought a nice book.
When we finished dropping things off, we had to get some things we needed.
I even bought two birthday cards for a very good friend of mine and my cousin, which I then posted a few days later.
Around lunchtime, after we had a nice coffee break in the Steel Rooms, we went back home and that were the two times I went to Brigg already. Since it’s so small there is not that much to do.

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Two birthday cards – Happy Birthday!

On the 4th November Julie went with Hannah and me to Gainsborough. The town is located in the West Lindsey district of Lincolnshire and the next town to where they live.
Julie is a very good artist who just got into an exhibition a few days before and since Hannah couldn’t go and see the exhibition, she took us to her studio to show us the drawings that were going to be exhibited.

After admiring her work we went to Marshall’s Yard, which is a shopping complex of 32 Stores, a café and a health club in a 19th century ironworks setting.
The boiler manufacturer Marshall, Sons & Co. has been founded by William Marshall in 1848 and the manufacturing base was then located in Gainsborough. After the manufacture closed in the 1980s, they rebuild it into the shopping center, which then opened during Easter 2007. An old steam crane from the engineering works still reminds of that time and builds a nice entrance to the heritage.

In Marshall’s Yard we did what it was built for: shopping. But nothing special, just one or two birthday presents for some of their extended family and groceries and then drove back home.

Since it was Bonfire Night on the 5th November, Andrew took me to see a Bonfire and a Firework display in Scawby on Sunday, 6th November.
Bonfire Night, or also known as Guy Fawkes Night or Guy Fawkes Day is an annual commemoration of the failure of the Gunpowder Plot in Great Britain.
On the 5th November 1605 the Gunpowder Plot placed explosives beneath the House of Lords. Guy Fawkes was a member of the plot and has been arrested while guarding the explosives.
Since King James I survived the people celebrated by lighting bonfires around London. This tradition has changed and by the 20th century Guy Fawkes Day became a social commemoration, which lacks much of its original focus. Especially because nowadays it’s just large organised events, centred on a bonfire and extravagant firework displays.
Such as the Bonfire Night celebration we went to.

With the 11th November my last weekend in the countryside had started. And what better way to start it than with a nice walk with Julie and their dog Alfie trough the fields. It has been getting colder and colder with every day, but I never thought I would be without a family for so long, so I didn’t pack my winter coat. Therefore I had to freeze a little bit.
That night we went to a pub for the Pizza night. The pub has a pizza night from time to time and that night was one time.

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The perfect weather for a nice walk in the fields

After another short weekend with Andrews family, I then left on Monday to go back to the big City. I really enjoyed the time in the countryside, since it was like a nice vacation from all the trouble and busyness London is about. Even though I missed out on a few events in London, I needed the time there to get recharged and be ready for the big city again.

So, if you get the chance to spend a bit of time in the countryside, then just enjoy it!
Love,
Vicky! Xx

11th December: Lasting Memories – II

Welcome back to the second post of my crazy weekend. After I told you about the parts with Max in yesterdays post, I will tell you today about my time with Mäthi and Anne.
Since Max had an accident on Friday, I couldn’t meet Mäthi and Anne on Friday.

On Saturday, 24th September I went to see Max, but the visiting hours wouldn’t start until 2pm so I made plans with Mäthi and Anne instead.
Around 11.15am I took the Tube to London Bridge Station and walked from there to the Tower of London.

My way lead me over the London Bridge which is quite young, despite the fact that on this place the first ever bridge over the Thames was once built. This was replaced and later pulled down by a Danish prince in a battle in 1014. This historic event is kept in memory by the children rhyme ‘London Bridge is Falling Down’. In medieval times the fifth and most famous London Bridge was built. It lasted for 600 years and is the longest inhabited Bridge in Europe. In 1841 this Bridge had to be replaced and Rennie’s London Bridge was built. This Bridge was sold to an American in 1968 and rebuilt in Arizona, USA. On 17th March 1973 Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the 7th Bridge, which is still there today.

As I arrived at the Tower of London at 11.45am, I had to wait for a few minutes and took a look around the Tower. The complex of 21 Towers was built by William the Conqueror in 1078 as the new palace. Since 1100 it was used as a prison and is now a museum where the priceless Crown Jewels are displayed.

When Mäthi, Anne and I finally met I was so excited and first hugged them for a minute! After being separated for nearly 2 months, I was more than happy to finally have my best friend back!
We then went on our way to the Tower Bridge. Since they had a double booking on their tickets for the Tower Bridge they had a spare one which I could use. We first started in the North Tower and were brought up by a lift. From there we came to the Walkways where you walk from one Tower to the other. The Walkways are 42m above the river and 60m long. In 1910 the Walkways were closed to be reopened in 1982 for the Tower Bridge exhibition which you can still see.

From up there you have a wonderful view over London.While we walked down the western Walkway we could see 30 St. Mary Axe, which is also called The Gherkin, the Cheese Grater and the Walkie Talkie on the North side of the Thames. On the South side of the Thames we were able to spot the Shard, the tallest building in Western Europe, and the London City Hall, which is directly next to the South Tower of the Bridge. The City Hall is the working place of the Mayor of London and offers a nice view over London from its viewing platform on the top.

When we arrived at the South Tower we walked down the East Walkway. The most special thing about the Walkways is not the view to the side, but rather the one you get when you look down. Thanks to glass floor in the Walkways you are able to look down on the Bridge and see all the cars and red London buses crossing over the Bridge.

Back in the South Tower we walked through the exhibition on the top and lower level. In the exhibition they showed a film on how the bridge was built and all interesting facts about it. The Bridge is 244m long and constructions started in 1886. After eight years the Tower Bridge was finally finished and was opened on 30th June 1894. Back then it was the largest and most sophisticated bascule Bridge. In 1952 a double-decker bus was just crossing the Bridge when suddenly the north bascule started to rise. The bus then dropped the 6ft gab onto the south bascule, which was slower to lift.
From the lower level we took a lift down to the ground level again.

The last stop of our trip to the Tower Bridge was the Engine Rooms. Because they are at the south bank of the Bridge, we had to leave the Tower and walk the short walk to the Engine Rooms. Inside was an exhibition about the Engines that lift the bascules every time a ship has to pass trough. The bascules are operated by hydraulic and when the Bridge was first constructed they used steam to power the pumping engines. This power is stored in six accumulators to be available at any time. Nowadays the bascules are still operated by hydraulic, but instead of steam they rather use oil and electricity.
Seeing the Engines was really impressive, because they’re so big.

At 1.30pm we finished our tour through the Tower Bridge and walked back to London Bridge were we then said goodbye until later.

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London Bridge

Read here what I’ve done in the time between then and later, when we met again.
After I was finished in Notting Hill, I took the Tube at Notting Hill Gate to get to King’s Cross/St. Pancras Station, where I would meet Mäthi and Anne again.
Since it took me quite a while, they already went to Pizza Express to start their dinner. When I arrived there at 10pm I just had a starter and we talked about our plans for the next day. We decided that we want to go on the London Eye together and booked the tickets there and then online.

At 11pm we went on our way home and while they just had to walk for a few minutes, I had a one hour journey again. When I arrived home at 12am, I was surprised to see a small package for me and obviously opened it immediately. The package was from my host fathers’ mother from Ireland. She remembered that I tried to get some Aran knitting patterns for my mum, but couldn’t find any, so she send me three patterns with a short note. I’m really thankful that she went out of her way to get the patterns for my mum and send them to me!

Because I had already other plans for Sunday morning and went back to the hospital to see Max, I only met Mäthi and Anne in the evening.
As we planned to visit the London Eye we agreed to meet at the Eye around 6.30pm. Since we had bought the tickets the night before we could just enter to watch the film about the London Eye, before we would go on the London Eye itself.

As we had the Flexi Fast Track Tickets, we were allowed to show up at any time during the day and when we were there, we could skip the main part of the queue. Thanks to this combo ticket we were able to enter the London Eye just 5 minutes after the sunset had started. It’s the perfect time to be on there, since you get to see everything while it’s still bright enough. But then you get all the nice colours of the sun setting and in the end London by night.

The London Eye is the tallest ferris or observation wheel in Europe and was originally built to celebrate the new Millennium and was formerly opened on 31st December 1999, by Prime Minister Tony Blair. It is 135m high and has 32 capsules, which each holds 25 people. The number of the capsules is no coincidence but is on purpose as they each represent one of London’s boroughs. When the wheel gets going it doesn’t stop for the people to get on (only for disabled or elderly people), since it’s only moving 26cm per second.

Each rotation takes 30 minutes and therefore we were finished with the nice experience around 7.25pm. Because we all were hungry and hadn’t had dinner yet, we decided to walk to Leicester Square to find somewhere to eat.
When we arrived at 8pm, we chose a nice pizzeria and enjoyed the last two hours together.
At 10pm we had to say goodbye, since they were flying back to Germany the next day.
We went to the Leicester Square Tube Station, where I then ended my weekend, which had started so dramatically at exactly the same spot.

Even though it was only a short weekend and I couldn’t do as much with them as I hoped I could, I still enjoyed my time with them.
But the most important thing is that they came to visit me and I got to see them again!
Thank you for visiting and I hope you had a great time!

Looking forward to see the next visitors,
Vicky! Xx

9th December: Uphill and Downhill

Lincoln is the county Town of Lincolnshire and a cathedral city. The first Iron Age settlement developed into the roman town of Lindum Colonia and from there to the city of today.

After I’ve arrived the day before, Andrew and I went to Lincoln on Sunday, 23th October, so he can show me the historic city.
There is a lot to see in Lincoln, including the English gothic Cathedral, the Bishop’s Palace and the Medieval Castle.

When we arrived at 11am, we first went to see the Lincoln Cathedral, otherwise also known as the “Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lincoln”.
The Cathedral first has been completed in 1092, but had to be rebuilt two times after a fire and then after an earthquake in 1185. With each rebuilding it had been enlarged to the East and after the last rebuilding the crossing tower was with his 160m the highest in the world for about 238 years (1311-1549). But the Central spire collapsed in 1549 and hasn’t been rebuilt.

With the Cathedral being the seat of the Anglican bishop, the diocese Lincoln is the largest in England.
In the late 12th Century the Bishop’s Palace has been built by Hugh of Lincoln and was used as the administrative Center.
The East Hall of the Palace ranged over a vaulted under-croft and is because of that the earliest surviving example of roofed domestic halls. The Chapel range and Entrance Tower were built by Bishop William of Alnwisk, when he modernised the place in the 1430s.
Sadly we couldn’t see as much of it anymore since it has been sacked by royalist troops in the civil war of 1648.

I still enjoyed walking through the ruins of the Palace. Andrew even bought an entrance ticket for me so I could actually see everything and learn about it from the audio guide. The best thing was the view over the downhill part of Lincoln from the Garden.
In the Palace’s Garden is a nice vineyard, which was a present of Lincolns twin town Neustadt an der Weinstraße in Germany. Since Neustadt is Germany’s largest wine-making municipality, it was obvius for them to give Lincoln 300 vine plants for the 900th anniversary of Lincoln Cathedral in 1972.

After we’ve seen everything of the Bishop’s Palace, Andrew showed me a narrow pedestrian street called Steep Hill. Because Lincoln is located in a gap in the Lincoln Cliff, it is unofficially divided into two zones: “Uphill” and “Downhill”. Uphill is the northern part of the city, which is on top of the cliff, 72.8 metres above sea level and consists of the historical quarter with the Cathedral, Castle and Bishop’s Place. Downhill is Lincolns city Center and lies in the gap. Steep hill is the street that connects both parts together and passes through an archway named “Stonebow”.

Because of the gradient of the Hill (14% at its steepest point), there are no cars allowed. Not only wouldn’t they be able to drive up, but the street is too narrow for them too.
The shops down steep hill are all local Shops and tea rooms who offer a break from the hard ascend.
When we came to the steepest bit of the street, we turned around and walked back to the Bail (the Cathedral Quarter). From there we went to see the Castle.

Built in the 11th century by William the Conqueror, the Norman Castle is quite an unusual castle with his two mattes, it is just one out of two in the whole country.
The Castle is still in use today. The 1845 built ivy-clad building at the eastern end of the Castle was built as the Assize Courts and is still used nowadays as Lincolns Crown Courts.

In 1847 a Victorian gaol was built and used until the inmates were transferred to the new gaol in the eastern outskirts of Lincoln in 1878 and then unused until the Lincolnshire archives were moved there. The gaol was a three storey stone building, which was connected to the 1787 built Governor’s House through a single storey prison Chapel. The Victorian gaol was designed for the “separate system”, just like the Kilmainhan Gaol in Dublin (see this post: Going to Jail)

Most of the Castle is open for the public as a Museum. It is even possible to walk around the immense Norman Walls, which offer a panoramic view over the Castle grounds and Lincoln. On the Castle Grounds is a board with a miniature version of the Castle and a timeline of the Castles history:

1068William the Conqueror builds a castle at Lincoln as part of his strategy to subdue the Region.
1141Battle of Lincoln, ‘The Joust’: King Stephen is taken prisoner here during the upheaval of civil war.
1215Magna Carta is publicly Road out at the Sheriff’s court at Lincoln Castle.
1217‘Battle of Lincoln Fair’: King Henry III’s army defeats the Rebel barons and their French allies.
1217King Henry III issues the Charter of the Forest and sends a copy to Lincoln Cathedral.
1644English Civil War: Parliamentarians capture the castle held by Royalists.
1788A new and improved Georgian gaol is built to imprison debtors and criminals in the castle.
1848-1878The Victorian Prison, designed for the ‘separate system’ of solitary confinement, functions for 30 years.
1884A new era: Lincoln Castle opens its gates to visitors to enjoy the grounds and the Castle.

Another historical part of the Castle is the Magna Carta Libertatum, or “the great Charter of the Liberties”. Sealed by King John and the Barons at Rannymede in 1215, it was supposed to make peace between the unpopular King and the rebel Barons. But soon after it was annulled by Pope Innocent III, because both parties didn’t follow the rules.
These included protection of church rights, protection for Barons from illegal imprisonment and limitations on feudal payments to the crown.

Because the Lincoln Bishop Hugh of Wells was one of the signatories, the Magna Carta could survive for hundreds of years in the Lincoln Cathedral. With this original being only one out of four surviving, it is now displayed in the Castle Museum.
But we didn’t went inside the Castle, didn’t walked around the wall, nor did we went to see the Magna Carta. Instead we just walked through the castle grounds and then back to the car. Next stop was the groceries store and then we drove back home to a relaxing day in front of the TV.

The next Time I went to Lincoln, I went with Julie. Around 3pm on Friday, 28th October, we got on our way to Lincoln. When we arrived we sauntered down the Steep Hill, passed through the Stonebow until we were on the Lincoln shopping street at 4.30pm
After another 30 minutes we decided to separate for a bit and I went to Paperchase. Because I really like the store and try to see everything they have, it didn’t surprise me that I actually spent another 30 minutes in there.

When we met again at 5.30pm, we stopped at Starbucks for a quick coffee break and then walked all the way back. Which is easier said than done. Completely out of breath, we reached the top 15 minutes later.
After a short detour to the Cathedral to take in the view by night, we were back at the car at 6pm and finally got on our way home, thanks to the Steep Hill, it was an exhausting day.

The third and last time I went I Lincoln was also my last weekend in Lincolnshire.
On Saturday, 12th November, Andrew, Julie, Ruth (their youngest daughter) and I went to Lincoln, to buy Birthday presents for Ruth. When we arrived around 12.15pm Andrew parked the car further down, so we wouldn’t need to walk the Steep Hill up and down.

While the others were trying to get all the presents, I was able to walk around the shopping street on my own. After a stop at Paperchase and Waterstones, I went back to meet the others and accompanied Andrew in buying a secret birthday present.
After we accomplished this task we all met up again and went back to the car to then drive to the supermarket to go groceries shoppen.
Around 4pm we finally were back home and I started to bake a pre-birthday cake for Ruth, which then was the dessert for after dinner.

The nice thing about Lincoln is that it reminds me of my hometown quite a bit. With all the old buildings and narrow streets. It definitely has its charm and I look forward to going there again some day.

See you tomorrow for the 10th post of my 24 Days to Christmas Series!

Love,
Vicky! Xx

8th December: On the move 

When it was about time to leave my host family, I started a journey into the unknown. So far I hadn’t found a new family and I could only stay in London for a number of days. Even though I already found great friends who offered me their couch or spare bed, they too had to work (as an Aupair) or I was taking over their living room. But first things first.

After I packed all my things on Monday and Tuesday and brought most of my things to a friend’s house, I just had my suitcase and backpack left. On Wednesday I finished packing my last few items and cleaned my room one last time before my host mum was back at 9am and then brought me to the Tube Station.
From there I took the tube to Finchley Central, which is just a short 5 minutes journey and then walked from the Station to the language school. When I arrived at the school I had to carry my suitcase up to the office, where I could leave it until school finished.

Since my class was doing another mock exam I joined in, even though I already took on my break. After we all finished I went home with Benedetta. Because I still had to carry my suitcase with me it took us way longer than it normally would. When we finally arrived, she showed me her room and prepared lunch: nice, Italian pasta!
After lunch we had to collect the boy she’s looking after from school. Luckily he could have a friend over for a playdate and was therefore entertained and we could just sit next to them and chat for a bit.

Later that day, when the friend had left and his parents were back, Benedetta and I decided to head out for dinner. So we left the house around 8pm and walked along the High Road to see if we can find somewhere nice to eat. In the end we ended up all the way in North Finchley at Il Tocco D’Artista again.
Because we both weren’t that hungry, we decided to just share a Pizza. While we were eating Enrico showed up to join us. Since we knew we had to get up quite early the next morning, we soon headed home again and went to sleep at 11.30pm – finally.

Luckily Benedetta let me sleep for a little bit longer, while she got up to get the boy ready for school. I soon joined her downstairs and we then brought him to school together.

Around 10am we walked with my suitcase in tow to the High Road and went to a Café called Tintico, where we then stayed for over two hours. Next we went to the language school where Enrico just started his lunch break and went with him to Tesco. He then went back to the school to eat and Benedetta also decided to go home to eat. So I decided to start walking to North Finchley where I had to catch the bus to the next location. But I then met Emma in front of the language school and quickly decided to do the listening part of the mock exam from the day before.

At 2pm, I was finished and finally got on my way to North Finchley.
When I arrived I went to Aldi to buy myself something for lunch and then took the bus to Wood Green, where I then had to change to another bus to the area where Blessing lives.
Around 3.30pm I finally arrived at Blessings place and could relax for a bit. But I also played with her two still quite young children. Even though her daughter is quite shy around new people, she was already comfortable enough to be picked up by me the same evening.

After dinner I talked to a longtime friend of my german family called Andrew, to make plans for me to go stay with him and his family until I found something new. Since he doesn’t live in London, but in Lincolnshire I had to travel there either by bus or train. So I planned to book a ticket the next day, because it already was too late.

I was so tired that I went to bed quite early that day, just to be awake shortly after 8am the next morning. The good thing was that I didn’t need to do anything that day so I just stayed in bed the whole day or watched some television with her children. I even did a nap in the afternoon between 3.15-4.45pm.
At 5pm Blessing was back from work and we finally booked my bus ticket to Lincolnshire.
After Nando’s for dinner we all went to bed early again. Especially me, because I had to get up early the next morning in order for me to catch my bus.

The easiest and cheapest way for me to travel was to use a MegaBus+. This means that the first part of the journey is done by train (+) and the second part by bus (MegaBus).
My train was due to leave at 9.15am on Saturday morning, the 22th October, at St. Pancras Station.
So I had to get up at 7am to leave the house at 8am. Luckily there was a bus to Wood Green just arriving when I came to the bus stop. In Wood Green I took the Piccadilly Line to King’s Cross/St. Pancras, where I arrived at 8.45am at King’s Cross Station. From there I had to walk to the East Midlands Train Platform in St. Pancras Station and get my ticket from one of the staff members for East Midlands Train.

At 9am we were asked to board the train so we can leave at 9.15am on time.
When we arrived at East Midlands Parkway Station at 10.40am, we had 10 minutes to go outside of the Station to change for the MegaBus.
We again could leave on time and were on our way to Scunthorpe at 10.50am. Because everything went so smoothly, we arrived 3 minutes earlier in Scunthorpe, instead of the planned 12.20pm. After Andrew had picked me up, we drove directly to Sheffield, where one of his sisters would celebrate her Wedding anniversary.

When we arrived in Sheffield, we first went to pick up Hannah, his oldest daughter, from her MegaBus arriving point and then drove to his sisters place.
The party was really nice and I was happy to finally meet this sister and her family, since I got to meet his other sister back in 2011, when they both came to Trier to visit us.
I enjoyed to listen to all their stories, especially about my grandparents, who back in the days started this long friendship with Andrews parents.

But it all had to come to an end and we left around 7.30pm to bring Hannah back to the train station and then drove home ourselves. I was so happy to finally be able to rest a bit and sleep in “my own room” again. It obviously isn’t my own room, but I didn’t had to share it with anyone and it wasn’t the living room either. (Thank you Beccy for letting me sleep in your room!)

These few days were really stressful and I was quite happy to calm down and settle for at least a week. That’s what I thought. I never thought that I would actually stay there for nearly a month. Even though I’m very thankful and really glad that they took me in, I also feel quite sorry that I had to bother them for such a long time!

I can’t say thank you often enough, so here is another one: THANK YOU!

Love,
Vicky! Xx

5th December: Welcome to my Palace

Being in London with the name Viktoria Elisabeth, there is just one place for me to visit: Buckingham Palace!

So Amelie and I went to see Buckingham Palace on the fine Sunday afternoon of the 18th September. Since the sister of my host mum came to visit with her family the day before, I stayed home until they left, so I can spend a bit more time with her daughters.
At 1pm they then left and I got ready so I could take the replacement bus, because they once again were working on the rail track.
Due to traffic it took 45 minutes to get to Archway, so I then could take the tube to Victoria Station at 2.15pm. At 2.40pm I arrived and met Amelie, who went to the city a few hours before me. Together we walked to the Buckingham Palace Ticket shop and bought tickets for the next available tour at 4pm.

Because we had to wait for a bit, we went to the front of the Palace and took our obligatory pictures from the Buckingham Palace and the Queen Victoria Memorial.
With more time to spare, we went through some of the souvenir shops close to Buckingham Palace until it was finally time to que up to enter the Palace.
But before we were finally able to go in, we had to go through a security check.

Inside they offered us free audio guides, which we obviously took. We then finally could start our tour. Because we both had an audio guide to listen to, we didn’t really talk much, but rather enjoy the view. Sadly you’re not allowed to take pictures inside the palace.

Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of Kings and Queens of Great Britain since Queen Victoria was the first to move in, in July 1837.
It has 775 rooms, including 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices, 98 bathrooms and a chapel, postoffice and cinema.
After Queen Victoria moved in she built the 4th wing of the palace and thereby created the quadrangle. The forecourt, where the Changing of the Guard takes place, has been formed in 1911.

Amelie and I choose to visit the Palace on this certain date, because we also wanted to see a special exhibition which was held inside the palace from the 23rd July till the 2nd October 2016. Celebrating the Queen’s 90th Birthday, the Royal Collection Trust opened three exhibitions this year. Under the name of ‘Fashioning A Reign: 90 Years of Style from the Queen’s Wardrobe’ they showcased clothes, the Queen once had worn, in three different locations.

The exhibition was really impressive, because they presented clothes from every decade of her life. But the eye catcher surely were the Queen’s Wedding dress and her Coronation dress. One dress was more beautiful than the other. Both dresses had nice and very detailed beading and don’t get me started on the matching veils.

The only disadvantage of the exhibition was that we lost quite a lot time there. At 5.30pm they closed the exhibition and rushed us out of there, but told us that the Palace also will close in just 30 minutes time. So we then had to quickly walk trough the remaining rooms, which was quite sad because these were the State Rooms and therefore the most interesting ones, including the red themed Throne Room.

Luckily we finished our tour just at 6pm when the palace closed its doors. But we still could stay a bit in the Buckingham Palace Gardens and go through the Souvenir shop, where I purchased a nice bookmark.
To exit the Palace Grounds you have to walk through the Garden. On the way out you can get a stamp on your ticket, which you had to sign first. With this you ask them to treat your ticket purchase as a donation so they can claim Gift Aid tax relief on ones payment. In return they turn your ticket in a 1-year pass, which gives you 12 months’ complimentary admission to the Palace.

We then finally left the Palace Grounds and went to the Tube Station to drive home, where we arrived at 8.20pm. On our way there we went past The Bomber Command Memorial. It was unveiled by the Queen on 28th June in 2012.
The Bomber Command was formed in 1936 in played a critical role from the beginning of World War 2. All the 125.000 men were volunteers from all parts of the Commonwealth and Great Britain and nearly half of them lost their lives. Also the majority of them were still in their late teens.
“The fighters are our salvation but the bombers alone provide the means of victory.”
This quote by Winston Churchill is engraved on the left side wall of the Memorial. On the right side is the dedication of the Memorial inscripted:
“This Memorial is dedicated to the 55.373 airmen from the United Kingdom, British Commonwealth and Allied nations who served in RAF Bomber Command and lost their lives over the course of the Second World War.”
In the middle is the Sculpture of seven Statues representing the Bomber Command aircrew, consisting of the Navigator, Flight Engineer, Mid-Upper Gunner, Pilot, Bomb Aimer, Rear Gunner and Wireless Operator (from left to right).
Behind them, above the columns is the Message of reconciliation inscripted:
“This Memorial also commemorates those of all nations who lost their lives in the bombing of 1939-1945”

A few weeks and more friends later, I once again went out to do a bit of sightseeing. But first I went to Parsons Green, a part of Fulham, to visit a potentially new host family. They asked me to come by at 1pm for 30 minutes, but I then stayed a bit longer and only went back to the Station at 2.20pm. Even though I really liked the family, they turned me down two days later.
Not knowing any of that yet, I went motivated to Hyde Park to join my friends who had met a bit earlier. Together we went 30 minutes through the nice Hyde Park, past some nice art works, to the Peter Pan Statue. When we arrived there it started to drizzle and when we arrived at The Italian Gardens, it was full on raining, so we took shelter and waited for the rain to pass.

After we could finally move on, we went to a McDonald’s for a lunch break. Since we were close to the Paddington Station we decided to go there to see if we can find the Paddington Bear Statue.
Afterwards we went back to Hyde Park and walked all the way to Speakers Corner, the famous place where everyone can held a speech. There were even a few people holding a speach, but we didn’t listen to any of them.

Because it was already quite late, we left Hyde Park on this corner and went past the Marble Arch on Oxford Street.
Built in 1828 it was the main entrance to Buckingham Palace. Since it was too narrow for  the Queen’s coach, it had to be removed to its current location in 1851. It was then used as a police station until 1950.
Because it was once a Royal Gateway, it’s officially illegal to pass through the Marble Arch when you’re not part of the Royal Family or Royal Guards. But we did anyway.

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Marble Arch, the Royal Gateway

On Oxford Street we walked down to the other end and took the Tube at Tottenham Court Road Station so we all were back home at 7.45pm.

Hope you liked todays post and come back tomorrow for another part of the Christmas special.

Her Majesty
Queen Viktoria Elisabeth! Xx

3rd December: Life is better with Friends :)

Day three and the third post for my own little advent calendar.
Today’s post is for all those, who have been spending so much time with me here. Who would go sightseeing with me or just shopping. Who would spend their free time with me, so we would have company. In one word: my Friends!

The most important thing as an Au Pair is to make friends quite fast, otherwise you’ll be stuck alone and you won’t ever see someone else as your family. Even if you have the best family an Au Pair can wish for, we all need a bit of space and need to spend our free time with other people.

I had to learn this the hard way, since I didn’t make a lot of friends during my first few weeks, I soon felt really lonely and got more and more frustrated. Especially when the first problems with my ex family started.
I was so happy that I then found Maja. Even though we haven’t seen each other since the 4th September, we still keep in contact and she offered me a place to stay for one night when I had to move out, too. I really miss her and now that I’m settled in we have to arrange to see each other again. But apart from not seeing each other, we still kept in contact. We’re not writing on a daily basis, but we would talk on the phone sometimes and when we write again, it’s just like we are continuing a conversation from the previous day.

But she’s not my only friend. When I came back from Ireland I got to know Amelie, because our families are friends with each other. She is the one I spent the most time with and she also was a really big help during my re-matching time. I owe her big time for keeping more than half of my stuff in her room and putting up with her host mum who was getting more annoyed by it day by day.
But not only for keeping my stuff, also for being there for me and listening and giving me advice whenever it was needed. And mostly for putting up with me, I know I can be a pain in the a** sometimes… ;D

On the 4th September Maja came to visit me and Amelie in North Finchley. After we showed her our not so impressing High Street, we took the bus 134 to Muswell Hill and arrived there after a 30 minutes drive. In Muswell Hill we were supposed to meet a girl named Jana, who I’ve got to know over Facebook even before I came to London. We tried to meet for quite while and never got the time to, so finally we could meet.
While I brought Amelie and Maja, she brought two girls who live next door to her. There was another girl who no one of us knew before, since she just arrived two days ago. While everyone else was from Germany, she was from Sweden. The last in the group was the only girl who’s not an Au Pair and lives in a different part of London.
After we all met at 3pm, we went to a café and just sat together, talking and trying to get to know each other. At 5pm we then decided that we should move again and went first to a nice second-hand shop and then to a pub called O’Neill’s, which belongs to an irish pub chain.
Around 5.45pm Amelie and I decided to head home. Maja had already left and the others wanted to stay a bit longer.
Even though all the girls are really nice, I just kept a bit of contact with Jana, which really is a shame, because they were all really nice!

After this nice meeting Amelie and I tried to make more friends and even went to an Au Pair meet up on Oxford Street. There is only the problem that all the other Au Pairs were from all over London and it can be quite hard to keep in contact with people who are not living close to you.

So we tried using an App called “Excuses to meet”, where you would give excuses why you should meet and then the app will show you people with the same excuses around you. This app has a big Au Pair community and is even promoted by our agency.
On Thursday, 22nd September, I made arrangements to meet another Au Pair in Finchley Central at 11.30am. I knew that two other Au Pairs are joining us, but it was a nice surprise to see Amelie there. Marieke, a dutch Au Pair, organised the whole thing and Anna, a polish Au Pair, was the fourth Au Pair joining us. We went to Costa and just chatted the time away. At 2pm Amelie and I then decided it’s time walk back home.
This meeting went a lot better and we actually stayed in contact. Sadly we haven’t seen Anna much after, because most of our get together are in Finchley or North Finchley and it’s too much of a hassle for her to get there.

On the 25th September we had a big welcome party for the Au Pairs in London. We even made more friends there and Amelie and Marieke made plans with them for after the event, while I already had other plans.
So I didn’t knew the girls when they invited me to come with them to the British Museum on the 1st October. Originally I didn’t want to go out that day, because I had to babysit from 5pm onward, but they convinced me and so I met them at Woodside Park Station the same day.
Amelie, Farina, Kathi and I took the tube from there and at Finchley Central Station Marieke joined us. While Farina lives closer to a different tube station, Kathi lived more or less a 5 minute walk away from my family.
When we arrived at Tottenham Court Road we walked to the Museum and got in quite fast. But inside were so many people, that we went around the Museum for a bit, but soon gave up and left in order to find a place to eat something. After a short snack, Amelie and I went back to the tube station and went back home. Because it was already 4.20pm when we went on the tube, I really had to hurry up to walk home from the station and arrived just 2 minutes too late.

The next day we made plans to see each other again. Since the other girls went to a party the night before and came home quite late we arranged to see each other at 2.30pm in front of the Sainsbury on the High Road. Sadly Farina stayed home, but we were joined by Lenka instead. After we bought a few things for a picnic, we went to Friary Park, close to my family’s house.
That day was the day I planned to tell my host family the two weeks notice and therefore I was quite nervous. So I enjoyed the picnic even more because it was a good distraction from what was to come later that day.
At 5.30pm we decided to get a move on and went back home. Amelie walked with me until we arrived at my house and had to say goodbye. By then I was a nervous wreck and I’m still very grateful for her trying to calm me down and to encourage me.
Even though it was a good idea, it didn’t help at all. But at one point I had to put an end to my perfect task of procrastination and finally talk to the family.
This meeting with my friends at the park helped me a lot to ease my mind that day and also reminded me that no matter what happens with the family, I have a bunch of good friends behind me who would always try their best to help me the best they can.

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Let’s have a picnic!

After I told the family I would leave, I tried to spent as much time as possible outside the house on the weekends. On the 8th October we then made plans to go to Brent Cross, a big shopping center in the North of London. We just asked in our, now very big, Whatsapp Group of Au Pairs around our area, who wants to join us.
In the end it was just Amelie, Kathi and I who took the bus at 1pm at Tally Ho Corner and went on our way there. Because of problems with an oyster card it took us a bit longer then usually and we finally arrived at 2.15pm. After we strolled around for a bit, we met with another Au Pair from the group we haven’t met yet; Ellinor.
We just went through all the shops we wanted to see and finally I was able to visit a Hollister shop and even bought my first piece of Hollister there.
Because I once again had to babysit, we went home at 4.30pm. But not without a small lunch snack from the Food Court of the Center. For the way home we used the tube, which was way easier and cost the same.

Even though I made a lot more friends during my time here, Amelie, Marieke, Farina and Kathi are the ones I’ve spent most of my time with. But not only did they spent time with me, they also helped me a lot during my rematch time. Kathi lend me her hand luggage suitcase so I could leave it with my things at Amelie’s place and Farina always told me about families who are looking for an Au Pair.

You always need friends in your life, but even more so when you’re away from all your other friends and your family. The question is just how you can see who is your friend and who is just an acquaintance. For me it was clear when I had to change and they all tried to help me. I see myself quite lucky that I’ve found friends like these here! Hopefully we’ll be able to stay in contact, now that I’m living on the other side of central London.

Thank you guys! I don’t know what I would have done without you!

Vicky! Xx

 

1st December: Going back in time

This is the first post of my advent calendar and I’ll tell you a bit about what has been going on with my last family after we came back from Ireland and before I left them.
Because I’ll write about some things on other days I may skip a day or will tell you then that I’m writing more about it another time. I’ll especially skip the Sundays, since that were the days were I did the most and they’re worth their own post. 😉

As you may remember, the family took me to Ireland for a week and when we came back I had the Monday off, because of a bank holiday. On Tuesday I then had to get back to work.
This week was hopefully going to be a good one, seeing as the younger one was off devices for the week.
It all started with his request to bake later that day and also if I could show him a bit Origami. So we baked some Rocky Roads that day and I showed him how to fold the crane and we even folded the London Eye together. After dinner we went out to play a bit of table tennis, and the best day during the whole stay was over.

The next day I got a bit time off, since the older one started Rugby practice for school again and the mum took the younger one to the zoo. After I’ve received a letter from my best friend I took the time to answer her and then went to the post office to buy some stamps. On the way back I then posted the letter together with two postcards.

With the 1st September the start of school was coming closer, so I went with N. to the High Road to buy some things for school. We also went to the supermarket to buy some Marshmallows, because I promised him that we would try the chubby bunny challenge. After we’ve done that (I won with 4 Marshmallows, while he could only fit in 3), we once again did some Origami and later on played table tennis again.

On Friday, Amelie and I had planned a playdate for N. and her girl (Sa.). They both know each other from school, even though Sa. started at a new school after the break.
We took the kids to the Park, where they played a bit of tennis and went back home after 45 minutes. Because it was lunchtime soon, Amelie and I started to prepare lunch, while N. showed Sa. some Origami things he learned.
After pancakes with fruits and yoghurt for lunch, Amelie and Sa. had to leave again and N. and I draw some pictures.

For Saturday I didn’t want to do too much, since I had to babysit at 5pm. Therefore I met with Amelie and took her around North Finchley and to Finchley central. On the way there we passed my park, the Victoria Park!
Because the weather wasn’t too nice we went back to my place and drank some tea until I had to work and Amelie left.
I soon started to prepare dinner: self made PIZZA! And the boys then went to bed at 9.30pm, easy thing!

On Monday, the 5th, N. and I once again baked. This time we made brownies. But sadly it wasn’t as nice as the week before, because he was back on his devices and therefore didn’t like to do things with me.

Wednesday, 7th September, a day before school is back on. This day was a bit hectic because I had to drive back and forth. First I had to drop off N. at his Rugby training. At 11am I then had to bring S. to a birthday party. Around 2.30pm it was time to collect N. again and at 4.30pm I had to collect S. and bring him to his Tennis training straight away. Luckily I haven’t had to collect him, since his father brought him home.

The day, we’ve all been waiting for has arrived: the boys are back to school!
On Thursday, 8th September the boys had to go back to school, the summer break is over now. But not only the boys had to get up early now, me too.
After we had breakfast at 7am, we tried to leave the house around 7.30-7.40am. I was lucky that first day, because the mum drove us all to school, to show me some pick up places and also where I’d have to drop them off.
After we’ve been back home, she had to go into work and I went to see Amelie.
At around 3pm I had to pick the boys up again. While S. already had to do some homework, N. and started on a puzzle.
Because both parents had to work late, they asked me to babysit the boys, so I was finally free after S. went to bed around 9pm. N. was (hopefully) already asleep by then.

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The nice puzzle N. and I did – 08.-14.09.

Friday I had to bring only S. in the morning, since N. had to be at school earlier and the mum dropped him off.
Around 3pm the mum and I went to pick up N. and his friend and she showed me another parking lot on the school’s grounds. When we were back,she told me that I’m now free for the rest of the day and that they’re heading to out to eat at a friend’s place.

After a chilled Friday night I planned to do something on Saturday, so I met with Amelie and we went to Muswell Hill. We decided to stroll around some shops and just take in what they all have. But we also went into a Oxfam bookshop, which is a charity shop with only books in there. Because it’s second hand, you can find most of the books there for just £2-£3, depending on what book it is. After we decided we’ve seen everything, we took a bus to High Barnet. Once again we strolled around the shops there and next to all the charity shops we even found a really nice Candy shop with a lot of baking utensils next to the candy!
Originally we wanted to meet another Au Pair there, but sadly she hadn’t had time off until shortly passed 6pm, so I could just say hello and then had to take the bus home. Normally I would’ve stayed longer, but that night the Last Night of the Proms were on and I planned to watch them. So I prepared some Pizza once I was home and then chilled in front of the TV and watched the Concert live from the Royal Albert Hall.

The following week was nothing special at all. Only on Friday I had to babysit S. and his friend C. After I’ve picked them up from school I cooked some burgers for dinner and then let them play a bit on the PlayStation. During the check ups on them during the evening I’ve picked up that they wouldn’t even play together! Most times one of them was playing on the PlayStation, while the other one had headphones on and was watching something on YouTube on their phone. Weird… when I had a friend for a sleepover over, we actually played together…
At 10.30pm they finally went to bed and I could go to sleep, too.

Saturday night I had to babysit once again, so I didn’t really want to go out and instead just went to the High Street with Amelie. After a stroll through the Waterstones bookshop and a coffee I went back home, where A. and her family had already arrived. If you can’t remember, A. his my host mum’s sister who lives close to Oxford.
I was actually looking forward to babysit her girls that night. Once again we had pizza for dinner, so I soon started to prepare it and let the kids put all the things they want on top of it. Around 5.30pm we could finally eat and the parents went on their way to the city.
While the girls then had to get to bed soon after, the boys were allowed to stay up until 9.30pm again.

The next morning I went down around 10am and watched a bit Mr. Bean with the girls until we had breakfast. After breakfast I was asked by the girls if I can braid their hair again.
At 1pm they then left and went on their way back home. I got ready and left too, to go to central London to meet with Amelie and do a bit of sightseeing. But I’ll write about it another day.

On Monday the problems started… First the power went off in the kitchen, which wasn’t too bad. But on Tuesday I then had my first critical conversation with my host mum. This one was worse than all the ones we had before and left me pretty shaken up. So much that I still had problems concentrating the day after. But I tried to work a bit on the things she mentioned and went out with N. to the garden that night.
On Thursday I decided to get out a bit and met with Amelie and two new Au Pairs in Finchley central. In the evening I went out with N. again, when we came back I had another talk with my host mum again. She still said that I wasn’t doing enough with the boys, even though I just went out to the garden with N. the last two nights and played with him.
But she also told me that I’ll have the Friday off, since I’ve asked for it. Her only wish was that I’ll start fresh on Monday and try to do everything she asked of me.

After an eventful weekend (you’ll never believe how eventful…), I tried to start “fresh” that monday, but it wasn’t that easy. I still tried and baked a crumble for dessert that night.
Sadly the week wouldn’t be any better than the weeks before. N. still would be grumpy now and then and would get gross with me without any reason.
On Friday I then had suddenly the whole day off, without telling me any time sooner, which was quite sad, because it was on such a short notice that I couldn’t really made plans with anyone.

On Saturday I once again had to babysit. At first I didn’t plan to do anything, but just stay in my room and do some creative things. In the end Amelie could convince me to come with her and some other girls to the British Museum. It was really nice to go there, but sadly you can’t see everything because there are just too many tourists being in your way. Even though it’s a blessing that all the museums are for free, it can be a course too with all the tourists then visiting.
You may think that I’m a tourist too, so I shouldn’t complain. But the thing is that I’m living here now for so long (nearly 2 month is a very long time 😉 ) that I actually feel more like a Londoner than like a tourist. So I’m officially allowed to get annoyed with all these tourists being around and in your way of the perfect picture.
When I was back at 5pm I had to babysit already and make Pizza yet again. Luckily the boys went to bed at 9.30pm already and I also could go to bed.

All these things happening in the past few weeks really got on my nerves to this point where I was thinking about changing. On the Sunday before, I met someone from my agency and talked to them about it and they confirmed that I should think about it and then talk to the family. So this Sunday, the 2nd October, I finally made my decision and asked my host mum if we could chat, to tell her that I indeed want to change.
So on Monday, the first day of my 2 weeks notice started. But it was just another Monday. All these days were just like the days before. Sometimes things would happen that would just confirm my decision and made me rant the amount of days left in my head.

On Tuesday I decided I needed a break so I went with Amelie to Wood Green, where we went to Primark and other shops that are located there. We even saw a Deichmann.
I also had my first Skype call with a potentially new family, but I didn’t like it all so I had to keep looking.
Friday I got into contact with another family I really liked and even went to see on Sunday, but sadly they didn’t want me to be their new Au Pair.

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DEICHMANN! –  could be in Germany…

So I was back to searching on Monday and then also decided to sign up on aupairworld.com to get better chances on finding something new.
Even though I should’ve started packing I rather kept myself occupied with different things.
On Thursday S. came down with a cold and came home earlier. When I made him a hot water bottle after dinner, he was really grateful and it was the first time in all my time there that I felt like I’ve done something right.

The next morning S. still wasn’t feeling well enough for school so he stayed at home, but this affected my day not in a bit. Apart from the laundry I was off again that day.
In the evening I went out with some friends from the area to say “goodbye”, because it was my last friday in North Finchley.

Even though I planned to start packing on Sunday, I once again distracted myself with other things. So I then had to pack on Monday. I started with pulling everything out of the closet and chest of drawers. In the evening I then called my mum and she helped me get everything in the big package they’ve sent me over from germany. On Tuesday I then packed everything that’s left over in a hand luggage suitcase I borrowed of a friend and brought both the package and the suitcase to Amelie.
Later I then finished packing my suitcase that I would carry around with me until I’ve found a new family.

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definetely a lot of things – and that’s not even all I have…

On Wednesday morning I finished everything and cleaned my room up. At 9am my host mum brought me to the Tube station and said goodbye. Even though I had to work the day before, I haven’t had the chance to say goodbye to the boys. But I had the chance to say goodbye to the father and had one last chat with him, which made me really happy because I definitely liked him the most.

That’s it. My time with this family is over and what you just read were the last few weeks with them.
I didn’t expect them to take me out for a goodbye dinner or anything, but I at least would have thought that they would give the boys and me the chance to say goodbye properly instead of me just leaving without a word. But on the other side, I never really got this connection with the boys where it would have been necessary to give us this chance.

With all this being said and written down, I can finally leave this all behind me and can focus on the new.

I wish you all the best and a very merry christmas season!
See you tomorrow, when you can open the 2nd door 😉

Vicky! Xx