22nd December: Countdown to Christmas

As time was going by and Christmas just around the corner, I started getting ready for Christmas too. That would mean running through London to buy various presents. Since I knew that I would fly home for a weekend before Christmas, I tried to get everything beforehand so I could take it with me.

Therefore I travelled from Oakwood to Wood Green while I was still with the gap family, to buy the first Christmas presents at the Primark Store there. Two weeks later, when I was with my new family already, I took the bus to Marble Arch to walk down Oxford Street and buy even more presents.
The first stop was the Disney Store where I bought some Frozen Merchandise for my neighbour’s daughter. Next was a store called Paperchase.

I literally fell in love with this shop. Paperchase is a stationery store, which has his flagship store by Goodge Street and Tottenham Court Road. The flagship store is the biggest one in London and sells their assortment over four floors. Next to stationary things, like folders, notepads, pencils and erasers, they have a big range of cards, arts and craft supplies and a gift and home department. As it’s before Christmas, they have a big Christmas shop on their second floor.
Since I like to do a lot of arts and crafts I’m happy that I actually found a store where I can buy all the supplies I need in England. Another benefit of this flagship store is that they have workshops on the fourth floor where everyone can take part in.

That day I bought some London themed Christmas wrapping paper and some Christmas cards. On my way back to Oxford Street I went into Tiger’s to buy some special play dough. As I was finished on Oxford Street I took the tube to Knightsbridge to do some shopping at Harrods. When I first went to Harrods I saw a bauble (christmas tree ball) which was  designed with a Union Jack and had Harrods 2016 written on it. My plan was to buy one of those for my family’s Christmas tree. But I soon had to learn that these baubles had been sold out a few days later, so I had to look for an alternative idea.

Because I still had to work between the shopping I had to go out a few times to get everything. A day later I wanted to buy some hair dye for my sister’s Christmas present, but soon decided against it and had to rethink her present. Therefore I had to go back to Oxford Street. However I know she will be reading this before Christmas, I won´t tell you where I’ve bought it or what. 😉

After I ordered a contactless payment card I could take my shopping to a whole new level. So I planned another shopping trip to Oxford Street for the 14th December. Once again I went to Primark to buy pyjamas for my mum and some gloves. Because I love Paperchase so much I decided to go there again, even though I didn´t need anything. Last but not least I treated myself in Waterstones and bought the newest Harry Potter ‘Fantastic Beasts and where to find them’.

On Friday 16th December I went shopping in Fulham, my new neighbourhood. Here I bought mostly things to eat to take with me back home. I bought some porridge, as I learned to enjoy porridge for breakfast and because my mum sometimes prepares scones for breakfast I decided to buy some clotted cream too.

The next day I had to wait until my host father’s cousin arrived before I could finish my Christmas shopping. Shortly before 6pm I got on my way to Goodge Street to visit my favourite shop again. From there I walked all the way down to Leicester Square to visit an old traditional british sweets shop ‘Hardys’. After I’ve spend some money on sweets, I went to Trafalgar Square. I remembered that there are quite a few souvenir shops, where I was asked to buy a snow globe for someone in Germany.

Before I could go there I was distracted by Waterstones book shop where I bought myself the book ‘London by tube’ by Christopher Winn, which is a sightseeing book about London that is organised by tube stations.
At 8pm I took a bus from Trafalgar Square to Harrods where I bought the original English Breakfast Tea N° 14 for my mum’s best friend. As it only took me a few minutes I was able to take the next bus home without paying a second time. Thanks to the new mayor of London, who established the ‘Hopper fare’, you can get on a second bus within an hour without paying again.

Finally I got everything and could pack my things for my holidays at home.
Hopefully everyone loves their presents.

Love,
Vicky! Xx

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

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

14th December: On the move again

When you’ve read the ‘On the move’- Post, you should know what todays post is about.
The last post finished off, when I arrived in Lincolnshire. This time I’m going to tell you all about my journey back and all the moving around in London until I finally settled.

After I arrived in Lincolnshire on the 22nd October and spent 3 weeks there, it was time for me to leave again. On the 14th November I packed all my things and went on my trip back to London. Around 12.50pm it was time to say goodbye to Andrews family so he could bring me to the bus stop, where we arrived at 1.15pm, 15 minutes too early.

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Travelling back to London with “light” luggage

At 1.30pm it was time to say goodbye to Andrew too and get on the bus. It was weird to say goodbye to him, after I’ve lived with his family for such a long time, but it was time for me to go back to my life as an Au Pair.
Around 2.55pm we arrived at the East Midlands Parkway Station. Since I got a MegaBus+ ticket back to London, I once again had to take Bus and Train, but this time the other way around.

Because the bus wasn’t supposed to arrive until 3.20pm, we had to wait for quite a while and take the Train at 3.45pm. After waiting I was finally on the last leg of the journey – or not. When I arrived at the East Midlands Train Station in St. Pancras Station at 5.20pm, I had to walk to King’s Cross Station to take the Piccadilly Line up to Oakwood. On my way to the Tube Station I couldn’t help but take a picture from the place outside of the station. I’m finally back in London!

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Finally back in busy London!

Sadly I arrived during the busiest hours in London and not only was the Tube too full, but I also had to pay the more expensive price for the tube, as I was travelling during the peak time. Luckily there was a nice guy in the tube who helped me with my suitcase and helped me get on the tube.

At the Oakwood Tube Station my temporary host parents came to collect me. As I couldn’t stay with my new host family before the 29th November, I looked for a ‘gap family’ for the time being. Luckily I was able to find a family who decided to host me until I could move to my new family. After they picked me up at 6pm, they brought me home and showed me a few things in the house and I got to know their little girl, I was helping to look after.

The time with the gap family was quite good, but I was happy that my new family was a different one, as I can’t imagine living there for a whole year. Nonetheless I’m grateful that they took me in and even paid me for looking after their daughter.

However on the 29th November it was time for me to say goodbye to them too and get on my way to my hopefully last stop. After I finished packing everything, my host father brought me to the Tube Station and at 10.01am I could start the 1 hour journey to my new family. First I had to take the Piccadilly line from Oakwood to Earl’s Court (47 minutes) and then change to the District Line to Wimbledon. Because I  was loaded with different bags and my suitcase, I had to take two different lifts to get to the right platform.

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On the way

The second part of the Journey was just a 5 minute ride and I then had to walk to my new family’s house, where I arrived at 11.15am. After my host mother showed me around, she gave me some time to get settled. Since I didn’t have all my stuff, I was soon finished and talked to her about the plans for the week so I know when I could visit Amelie to get all my things.

Just two days later, on the 1st December, I was able to go and visit Amelie. When I left here at 11am, I took my empty suitcase with me, so I could pack it later with a few of my things. At 12.05pm I arrived at the Woodside Park Tube Station and then had to walk another 15 minutes to Amelie’s place. When I was finally there I started to unpack the big box I’d stored there and repacked everything in my and Amelie’s suitcase that she lent me. Thank god I was able to get everything inside the two suitcases and my little backpack.

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My two best Buddys

At 1.45pm I was ready to go and Amelie walked with me to the Tube Station so everyone just had to carry one suitcase, but it still took us 30 minutes instead of the normal 15 minutes. When we arrived we had to say goodbye and I had to get on the Tube on my own with the two suitcases. The Journey home was quite interesting and exhausting. Both Embankment Station and my final Tube Station don’t have any lifts so I had to carry the suitcases from one platform to another and when I arrived at Parson’s Green Station I had to carry them down to the Stations exit. Luckily a man helped me at Embankment Station to get from one platform to another, but at Parson’s Green no one stopped in their rush to help me.

Fortunately my host mum was able to collect me from the Tube Station so I didn’t had to walk home, but sadly I still had to carry them up to my room, which wasn’t all too easy.
After I unpacked everything the following days, I had to bring Amelie her suitcase back and collect my box I left with her. So I once again got on my way back to North Finchley. On Wednesday, 7th December, I arrived at Woodside Park Station around 12.50pm. Since Amelie had language school that day, I waited for her at the Tube Station and we then walked together to her place. We quickly swapped suitcase for box and I went back to the Station again.

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Look who’s sitting next to me!

If you saw a girl walking over Oxford Street with a big empty box under her arm, chances are that you saw me. Because I had to buy one more Christmas present, I stopped at Tottenham Court Road and went on Oxford Street to buy everything I need and since I walked by a Lloyds bank, I went inside to change my accounts address. No matter where I went, people looked weirdly at me and especially the cashiers asked questions or just commented my nice box. But when I said that I’m moving in London they all just had a look of sympathy on their face.

Around 3pm I was finally finished and could take the Tube home.
That was all my moving around and hopefully I won’t have to do the whole ordeal once more. It has been quite exhausting and I’m happy that I now got all my things back.

The weird girl walking around London with suitcases and empty boxes! Xx

10th December: Lasting Memories – I

The last weekend in September has been the most adventurous here in London. On the weekend of the 23rd to 25th September three friends came all the way from Trier to visit me and have a nice weekend in London.
Because so much happened I’m going to write two posts about it. This one is about the time I’ve spent with Max and the other one is about the time with the other two, Mäthi and Anne.

As soon as I knew that they are going to come on the same weekend, I asked my host parents if I can get the Friday or at least half of it off. On Thursday evening my host mum finally said yes, that I can have the whole day off, I just need to go to my language school in the morning.

Since Max already arrived in London on Thursday night, he did some sightseeing on his own, while I was still in school. During that time Mäthi and Anne also arrived in London. We haven’t really planned anything, but wanted to try to meet for dinner or something in the evening.

After school finished I went home to get changed and get my handbag instead of the schoolbag and soon went on my way to central London. Max told me he is at Trafalgar Square and would come to Leicester Square Station, since that was the easiest one for me to get to and the closest to Max. When I arrived at 2.30pm there was no Max. After waiting for 5 minutes and constantly trying to reach him on his phone, I finally got a message from him.
In a quick phone call he told me to walk to Trafalgar Square and if I pass an Ambulance I should not walk past it but rather look inside and I’ll find him.

When Max was on his way from Trafalgar Square to Leicester Square Station, he had to walk through a traffic-reduced area. But apparently a driver didn’t thought he need to watch out and hit Max.
As soon as I knew where he was I ran to the ambulance and luckily they let me inside. In the ambulance I helped to translate, especially because he couldn’t concentrate very good due to big headache.

The paramedics wanted to make sure that everything is alright and brought us to the Guy’s and St. Thomas Hospital, which was closest to us. When we arrived there at 3pm, they brought us inside and sent us to the normal Emergency Room. I say normal because it’s the one where everyone would go to. After waiting for over two hours, I kindly asked a nurse when we could see a doctor, because Max headache was getting worse.

When a doctor finally came to see Max, he sent us to the Emergency Room for the more severe cases, since he thought that it’s more than just a small concussion. In the other ER they finally started to treat him by giving him some painkillers and doing various tests with him, including a CT.
After the CT, they knew that he had hurt his head pretty bad and they needed to do more tests. But first they once again moved him to another Emergency Room. This one is still a part of the second one, but it’s a more private area with fewer patients and therefore more quietly.

At 11.45pm I had to go to the Tube, because I needed to get home and the last Tube was due to leave between 12-1am. Since I had to be on the Tube for 1 hour and then had to walk home from the Tube Station, I arrived at home at 1am.

Mäthi and Anne could understand that Max needed me with him and therefore cancelled our plans for the night without second thoughts. Another great support was my host dad. After I send him a text to inform him that it’s going to be late and what happened, he called me and asked if I need any help and tried to comfort me.

Another sad thing was that it was my grandmas birthday that day and everyone except me was there to celebrate it with her. The good thing is that with all the technologies nowadays and free wi-fi in the hospital, I was able to Skype with my sister who showed me around the table and gave me the opportunity to talk to everyone.

The next morning was quite an early one. At 6.20am I woke up for the first time, but could go back to sleep for another hour. When I then woke up again, there was no going back to sleep. Instead I talked to Max’ brother, who told me that he’s planning to come to London that afternoon.

After I got ready I went to the Tube to go and see Max. I left in North Finchley around 9.40am and arrived at the Hospital at 10.30am. Because the visiting hours were only from 2-8pm and he was sleeping, they asked me to leave and come back later.
Because I was already in central London and didn’t knew what to do, I contacted Mäthi and Anne and then went to see them, but I’ll tell you about that in the second post.

At 2.30pm I was back at the hospital, but left again 30 minutes later to buy some souvenirs for Max to take home. In order for me to get the right ones I had to drive to the Tower of London to visit the souvenir shop there. At 3.30pm I got everything I needed and walked all the way from the Tower of London to the London Bridge Station, where Max’ brother was supposed to arrive.

London Bridge Station is parted into two parts. One is the actual Tube Station where I’ve been before and the other part is the National Rail Station where amongst others Trains from Gatwick Airport arrive. This National Rail Station is quite hard to find. I’ve been walking around the whole area and couldn’t find the right place. Even though I’ve been in the Station more than once, I was always in the wrong part. After walking around for over 30 minutes I finally found the arriving hall of the National Rail Station and could wait for Max’ brother.

At 5.15pm he finally arrived and we could get on our way to the Hospital, where we then stayed until 8pm. The next point on our agenda was to take the Tube to the Hotel in Notting Hill, where Max had checked in on Thursday night. His brother took over the room from him, since he’s got his room at the hospital. I just collected the few things Max brought for me from my family and then left.
Around 9pm I was back at the Tube Station and went to my evening programme with Mäthi and Anne (see this post – link follows tomorrow!)

On Sunday, 25th September I first had my big Au Pair Welcome Event (see this post) and then went to see Max straight afterwards. At 2.45pm I finally was at the hospital and then stayed with him until 6.30pm. Around 4pm his brother and I went to the scene of the accident and tried to get in contact with the police, but there was no one at the station, so we walked back to Max.

On Tuesday, 27th September I did the normal morning routine and after I brought the boys to school, I directly went to the Tube Station to visit Max one last time. I arrived at the hospital around 10.40am and after I explained that I can’t visit during the visiting hours, I was allowed to see him. Around 2.30pm I had to leave again, because I still had to do the laundry and prepare dinner for the boys before I had to pick them up. It was quite hard saying goodbye after everything that happened and without knowing when we’ll see each other again.

The same evening an ambulance from Trier arrived in London to bring Max back home the following day. At 10.30pm (german time) on Wednesday night, he arrived safely at the hospital in Trier. After 1 1/2 more weeks he finally was released from the hospital and is fully recovered by now.

Even though I’m quite happy that I got to see him again, we all thought that the weekend would turn out differently. In the end we’re all just happy that he got so lucky and doesn’t have any permanent disabilities.

This weekend will definitely be a lasting memory for me!

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

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