The Countdown starts…

Time really flies! And even more so now that I’m starting my final months here in London. The big Countdown starts today:

ONLY 50 DAYS LEFT!

I wanted to take this as an opportunity to start with my blog again. Because there is a lot of catching up to do, I want to try to upload one post every 5 Days to mark the Countdown until I come back to Germany. I’ll try to sort the posts into the last 5 months, but sometimes I’ll take a few days out to write about them more in detail.

In January the new year started rather relaxed, as the family and I have just been on holidays. All the saved up energy was then spent on school, because not only the boys had to get back to school, but me as well.
I didn’t start with lessons until later that month, but I went back to school on the 10th January in the morning to do a part of a mock exam and register for the Final Exam.

On Tuesday, 24th January I started my last two weeks of lessons before the exam. The following Thursdays and the Tuesday after I had to take part in the lessons. However I went back there for another day for a mock exam and stayed longer one day for a mock speaking exam.

Going to school took a lot of energy out of me as I had to go all the way from Southwest London to North London during traffic times. Therefore I had to leave the house around 8.15am to be at School around 9.30am. Luckily both the school and my host family helped me a lot and let me leave earlier or didn’t said anything when I’ve been a few minutes late.
Having to travel through London during the morning peak times really make you feel like a Londoner instead of a tourist.

 

But apart from starting with school again, I also had to start finding friends again. Living in the new area makes it quite impossible to keep in touch with my old friends here, especially because we just grew apart.
Luckily my host family could help me and my host mum set me up with the Au Pair of one of her friends.

Charlotte and I met for the first time on the 9th January for a nice coffee in the morning before we had to go back to work. Following that coffee meeting we decided to go to Harrod’s big January Sale on Sunday 16th January. Taking the bus there together, we met at 2pm and strolled around Harrods while chatting and getting to know each other.

Even though we planned to meet each other soon again, we didn’t managed to until later that month. Therefore I went back to the Victoria & Albert Museum on my own. I really wanted to see the Undressed exhibition about underwear and there was still so much of the Museum that I haven’t seen.
Early on Tuesday, 17th January, morning I got ready and left as soon as I was finished to be able to spent as much time as possible at the Museum.

This time I went to see the modern design departments, where I saw the Panton Chair, the Bookshelf by the Memphis Group and the Corbusier Lounger. I knew all three furniture designs back from school.
While being at the Museum I even had the chance to enjoy the architectural features of the building itself, especially the entrance.

The weekend after was the worst weekend so far. During the week H started to show the first signs of the flu and by Friday H, L, the parents and I all felt a bit sick as well. V was the only one of the boys who was still able to go to school. Luckily my host mum let me spent as much time in my bed as possible. But in the afternoon she had to leave to Holland for a get together weekend with her college friends and therefore left me and the boys alone until my host father was back from work.

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Struck by the flu!

As the boys all had a cold they were rather easy to handle, but my cold was getting worse as well and when I was finally finished for the day I had a little fever and went straight to bed. The next morning wasn’t any better and again I was quite lucky, because my host father let me stay in bed instead of asking for help. On Sunday I still wasn’t back to normal, but I could feel that I was getting better. On Monday my host mum gave me more hours off, as the boys stayed home as well and I needed to recover for my first day back at school on Tuesday.
Hopefully I can finish my year without another breakdown like this.

Not quite back to normal, but with the need to finally get out of the house again, I made plans with one of the male Au Pairs, Louis from my old agency. We both hadn’t seen Fantastic Beasts yet and decided to go see the movie together.
However the cinema didn’t start until 5pm, so we went to the Tate Modern before.

So Louis and I met around 12.30pm at Victoria Station and took the tube to Blackfriars together. From there we walked over the Millennium Bridge to the Tate Modern.
The Tate Modern Gallery houses a vast modern international collection from 1900 onwards. The house of the gallery was originally a power station and was built by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott after World War II. The building’s chimney is nearly 100 metres high and the Gallery has been extended by another building in form of a twisted pyramid designed by Herzog & de Meuron.

After visiting a few of the free exhibitions we went for a little lunch at Nando’s at London Bridge and then took the Tube to Leicester Square.
We made reservations to watch Fantastic Beasts and where to find them’ at the Odeon Studios. The Odeon Cinema on Leicester Square is the cinema where all the London movie premieres take place. But apart from the big cinema, they also have a few small studio rooms. These cinemas are really small and only fit around 20-30 people and the seats are all situated on the same level. But these studio rooms are still really good and give you a good cinematic experience.
When the movie was finished, we went for a small evening snack at Burger King and then both got on our ways home.

The next day it was the Chinese New Year. This was quite the opportunity for me and Charlotte to meet again. Therefore I headed to central london for around 3pm on Sunday, 29th January.
Together we walked through Soho and entered China Town, which was full of the typical chinese lanterns and other decorations.
Sadly the weather wasn’t on our side and the crowd was a bit too much, so we decided to go to the cinema instead.
This time we went to the Vue cinema on Leicester Square. As we both desperately wanted to see ‘La La Land’, we quickly decided on that movie and enjoyed the nice experience.

As soon as January has started it was finished again and February was there. But that’s another story, for another day.

Hope everyone had a nice January themselves and more snow than we had.

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

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

 

2nd December: Finally back to School!!

Hey guys, sorry it’s already this late, but I haven’t had the chance to post any time sooner today.
In this post I’m going to tell you all about my time at a local language school. Starting with my enrollment to some of the lessons. Not only wanted my host family for me to go to a language school, but I also wanted to go to one to get the Cambridge Language Certificate in the end.

On the 3rd August, just on my third day here, my host mum brought me to a Language school in Finchley Central, which is just two Tube Stations or a 25-30 minutes walk from where I lived. Since the school was still on summer break, I just could do my interview so they can estimate my level and tell me in what class I could take part in.
For the interview I had to do a small test where I just had to choose between four words which one is the right to but in a gap in a text. After the gap text I had to write a 50 word story about either London or my hometown (I obviously choose Trier) and then I had a little chat with one of the teachers there. Apparently I was really good and just got one word wrong. They said that I would need to attend the Advanced Level classes, but I would need to come in September to start and then I could also do my trial lesson first.

When September finally came around, Amelie and I went to Language School on Monday morning, but they sent me back because the Advanced Class wouldn’t start until Wednesday so I would need to come back two days later.
So on Wednesday, 14th September, we went back to the Language school and did our free trial lesson. Because school just started, they haven’t figured out who would teach the class yet so we had a substitute teacher named Thomas. He was a really fun guy and we had a good lesson.
Amelie had to go to another class so she wasn’t part of my class, but there were three other girls. Giulia and Benedetta, both italians and Au Pairs too, who were already a definite part of the class and Rosa, a brazilian who also was there for her trial lesson.
After the lesson I decided that I want to enroll in this school, but because I wasn’t sure on how many weeks I would have to do they offered me a mock exam for Friday.

On Friday I then went back to the college and did my mock exam. Because I want to try to get at least the Level C1 Certificate, I had to do the CAE (Cambridge Advanced Exam). The Exam is subdivided in four different parts: 1. Reading and Use of English; 2. Writing; 3. Listening; 4. Speaking.
The first part is again subdivided into 8 different parts, where you would have to fill in some words, find a different version of a word or just answer questions to a text. One of the hardest ist the gapped text, where a text is divided into paragraphs and some paragraphs have been taken out of the text and you have to fit them back in, in the right order. But the hardest really is to finish all the tasks in just 90 minutes!
The second part consists of two different texts you have to write. The first is compulsory and mostly just an essay. For the second text you can choose between three different writing tasks. This could be a proposal, a report, a letter or a review. Again you have to finish the task within 90 minutes and make sure you don’t have more or less than 220-260 words.
The third part is the listening. Here you have to listen to conversations and choose the right answer, complete sentences and multiple matching, where you have to complete two tasks at one. For this task you’ve got 40 minutes but that isn’t a problem, since this part is led by a CD. The problem here is more the listening part itself.
Luckily I haven’t had to do the fourth part, but even if I would’ve done it, it wouldn’t have been a problem at all.

Before I could do the mock exam I had to enroll at the school, so they could make sure that I’m actually staying with them, before they put all the work in. The enrollment fee is £25 and I’ve paid a £5 deposition. I couldn’t pay for the whole course already, because it depends on how many weeks you’re doing.

The following Wednesday Amelie and I went back to language school. She also took a test on Friday and was able to move a class up and was now part of my class. We now also had a teacher from this school: Emma. She also was the one who interviewed me in August and organised the whole mock exam thing for me.
After class she told me my test results: 70%! You need 60% to pass the test and because I’m also taking lessons, Emma told me that I can even try to get the higher Level C2. For this I would have to take the CPE (Cambridge-Proficiency-Exam), but she thinks that I could actually manage it. On my request on how many weeks I should do, she said that 2 days a week for 6 weeks in total would be absolutely fine.
Luckily my grandfather said he would help me pay for it, because Language schools in England are really expensive and I would never be able to pay for it with the money I earn by working as an Au Pair.

So from then on, Amelie and I walked all the way from North Finchley to the Language school every Wednesday and Friday morning from 9.30am to 12.45pm. After around two weeks Giulia left London to go back to Italy and therefore also left the class. But before she could leave Enrico, also from Italy, joined our class.

I really loved going to language school. Not only did we learn a lot there, but I also found good friends there. Even Emma, our teacher became in a way a friend of us. She would always listen to the problems we were facing at the moment and would try to give us an advice. Because of that it sometimes felt like a support-group for Au Pairs, but we still would connect it to learning english. Talking about our problems helps us to get more fluently and confident in talking and she would always correct us, so we still would learn something.

This class, which really was more like a group of friends, helped me a lot in deciding if I change the family or not. They wouldn’t tell me what to do, but their reactions to the things I’ve told them, made it clear for me that it definitely is not a normal behaviour.
But they not only helped me in making the decision, but one girl especially (apart from Amelie, because we are friends even outside of the classroom) helped me out after I left my family and had nowhere to go. Even though she was an Au Pair herself, she offered me to stay with her for one night.

Sometimes the school has a test day. That means that every class has to write a test, so they can see if we’re improving and for the lower classes if someone can even move up a class. Before I left I we had one of those test days and it was just annoying. In a way the test was nothing more than a mock exam. But we didn’t really want to write a test so we could convince Emma to at least do the writing part in the next lesson.

In my last week with the family, Amelie and I’s friend Kathi joined our class at the language school. This time it wasn’t Emma who was teaching us, but a guy named Tony. Because he looks a bit like Voldemort, we gave him Voldemort as a nickname, but never told him so. He thinks his nickname could be Dumbledore, because he is the head of the teachers and sometimes is referred to being the headmaster. Tony is actually a really funny guy and his lessons are also really good. But his lessons are a lot different to Emma’s. Even though he jokes with us, his whole demeanour is more serious and in a way he is more challenging than Emma is.

During his lesson he would dictate us some phrases and we had to write them down as we heard them or what we thought he said. This was funny, annoying and frustrating at the same time. Annoying and frustrating mostly because we just wouldn’t get it right. But it was all the same so funny, because of the things some of us understood. One time Tony dictated the phrase “I don’t find them easy” and Enrico understood “I don’t find a museum”, which was so funny at that moment.

After this lesson I signed up for a few weeks break. Not only because I was between families, but also because my exam would be in December the earliest. Right at the beginning I decided I would do 4 weeks of language school now and then would do the last 2 weeks just before my exam, so I’m well prepared.

When I first took the break I planned to be back in the last two weeks of November to do the CPE (C2) on the 1st December, but I now decided that I’ll wait until January and do the CAE (C1) then instead.

I decided to do the CAE (C1) instead of the CPE (C2), because you automatically get the C2 Certificate when you get 80% or more in the CAE.
On the Wednesday I had to leave my family I went to the language school to meet Benedetta there and we all did another mock exam where I got 80% without the speaking part, so I would definitely get the C2 Certificate. But even when if it will go wrong during the final exam, I would still have the C1 Certificate, while I would have nothing if I wouldn’t pass the CPE.

So now I’m on break until January, but I want to go back to the language school one or two times to do another round of mock exams and maybe finally even do the speaking part of the exam.

However I have to say that this school is really good and the staff tries his best to help you as much as they can. They even helped me during the time where I had’t found my family yet and are cooperative with whatever problem you have.
Sadly my working hours never allowed me to take part in any of their programs, but just so you know, the school has regularly events scheduled. If it’s a sightseeing trip on a boat, a Halloween party or just ice skating at Alexander Palace. They really try to form a community and to bring their students into contact.

I’ve really missed going to school while I was away and I still do! It’s not only learning. It really is coming together for a few hours of fun and leaving with a better knowledge of the language we have to speak on a daily basis now.

At the end I just want to include a thank you to Emma and the Nacel English School London!maxresdefault

nacel English School London

See you tomorrow (or for most of you later today)

Love,
Vicky! Xx