#KeepTheSecret

This post is a special one for me, as it’s about one very special weekend. It’s been exactly 100 days since my mum came to visit me for the first time! But I didn’t choose today for this special post only because it’s been 100 days, but also because she’ll be back here for her second visit in 3 weeks time!
In addition to this countdown, there is also the countdown til I’m going home:

ONLY 35 DAYS LEFT!

My mum chose this weekend mostly because of one reason: MY BIRTHDAY!
With my birthday coming closer there was also the reality that I would spent it the first time in 21 years without my mother. Therefore we could easily decide on which weekend she should come to visit me.

My fun time with my mum started on Thursday, 9th March, when she arrived around 11am at the London City Airport. As my mum never learned to use the London Underground system, I went to pick her up from the airport.
Around 12.40pm we finally arrived at home and my mum had a bit time to get settled and have a rest.

After an hour we got on our way to South Kensington so I can show her a few of my favourite things of the Victoria & Albert Museum. When we arrived at 2pm I just had enough time to show her Michelangelo’s David, the 20th Century Design Collection and the Rapid Response Collecting. I sadly didn’t had time for more, as I had to go back to work. Leaving my mum with a Map of the V&A, instructions on how to get on a bus or to Harrods and went back home to pick up V.

While I was entertaining the boys, my mum first took a short break at the V&A Café and then went to explore the Museum a bit more. After an afternoon scone break she went on her way to Harrods, where she finished an hour later and got on the bus back to Fulham around 6.55pm. As the boys had dinner already and only H had to go to bath – the others had swimming and took a shower at the swimming pool already – my host mum told me that I can finish with work already and go to meet my mum.

At 7.15pm we met at Fulham Broadway to go groceries shopping and have dinner ourselves. Because it was our first day together again, we decided to treat ourselves to a doner kebab at a local ‘German’ kebab shop.
Around 9pm we were back home and got ready for the night, knowing that the next day is going to be rather exhausting.

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My first doner kebab in 2017!

On Friday morning I had to work my normal morning hours. But I also had to bring H to school, because my host mum had an appointment at L’s school and couldn’t bring him. It was already 9.20am when I came back and quickly set up the breakfast for my mum, so she could eat while I take a shower.

At 10.45am we finally got on our way to Buckingham Palace, where we arrived just 15 minutes before the Changing of the Guards should take place. While we tried to find a good position and then waited for the action to happen, we nearly missed it, because it was rather unspectacular. The Changing of the Guards at the Tower of London was way more impressive. However while we took some pictures at one of London’s most famous landmarks, a parade of guards on horses ridden past us.

From the Buckingham Palace we walked down The Mall and went through St James’s Park to the Tube Station of the same name. We then took the Tube to Bond Street, where we walked down the east side of Oxford Street. Stopping at a few shops we made our way towards Tottenham Court Road. On Tottenham Court Road towards Goodge Street Station is the big Paperchase flagshipstore, where I brought my mum next. I really love this shop and therefore I just had to show her the shop.

At 4.45pm we were finished there and took the Tube from Goodge Street to Covent Garden, where we had a tea and a hot chocolate at the ‘Whittard of Chelsea Covent Garden Tea Bar’.
This Tea Bar is ever since my go-to café in London city centre when I want to enjoy a nice british tea. The atmosphere and tea are just to die for and a must-do on your tourism to-do list.

Around 6.15pm we were too tired to do anything any more and took the Tube back to Fulham Broadway where we bought our dinner ingredients and then went back home to cook dinner and enjoy our evening.

On Saturday, 11th March, I woke up with just one thing on my mind: FINALLY 21!!!!
As it was my birthday we started the day slowly with a lie in and then a nice dragged out breakfast.
However, at 10.30am I couldn’t wait any longer and had to open my presents! Because my mum had to bring them all from Germany I didn’t had too many, but rather things I’ve asked for or things that I can ‘finish’ while I’m here.
Although the ‘biggest’ present was a 21 Charm for my Thomas Sabo Charm Club Bracelet, the biggest surprise was a self-made cake. As we didn’t knew if my mum could bake here at my host family, she prebaked my childhood birthday cake and brought it with her.
Thank you, Mummy, once again for going through the trouble of organising all this.

But I also want to thank my best friend once again, who got me one of the sweetest gifts and gave it to my mum to bring it to London for me. It wasn’t a big gift and nothing expensive, but it’s still priceless in its own way. The gift consisted of a few small things and these small things were symbols for something way bigger: OUR FRIENDSHIP. Each object is a reminder of memories we had together or just proof of how good we know each other.
This present was just the right thing, as it was a piece of her and our friendship and even though it made me miss her even more, it also brought her closer and made me miss her less. THANK YOU! xx

After opening all my presents and chatting with my best friend over the phone for over an hour – my mum was nearly falling asleep – it was already 12pm when we finally left the house and went for a walk to Fulham Palace.
Fulham Palace was built for the Bishops of London, who have held land here since Saxon days and used it as a summer residence from as long as the 11th/12th century. However the last Bishop to live in the palace left in 1973. The Old Deanery near St Paul’s Cathedral is the residence of the present Bishop of London.

The Fulham Palace’s architecture is a mixture of Tudor and Georgian architecture with a Victorian chapel. Even though you can visit the Palace for free, my mum and I weren’t able to go in because it was closed for a private event – most likely a wedding.
Therefore we just went for a stroll through the Palace grounds. Planted with new species of plants and trees, the Palaces gardens became rather famous as one of the world’s first and most significant botanical gardens during the 16th and 17th centuries. A portion of the Palace grounds have been hived off to make Bishop’s park, but the trees, a fine rose garden, a walled garden and a knot garden still are part of the Palace grounds.

We soon left the Palace grounds and instead walked through Bishop’s park a long the Thames. At the east end of Bishop’s park, next to Putney Bridge, is the All Saints Church. It’s a parish church worshipping in the catholic tradition.
The church you can see today has been designed by the architect Sir Arthur Blomfield and was built in 1880 after the old one was demolished because it was regularly flooded. However first written references to a church and parish priest date from the 13th century.
The new church was built of Kentish ragstone with Bath stone dressings, in the gothic perpendicular style. To avoid being flooded it was built 3 feet higher than the medieval church.

After a quick visit to the Church we got on our way back home to have a small lunch and get ready for our evening outing in London.
Because it was still too early for the evening program, we first went to the Somerset House to visit the Courtauld Gallery.
The world-famous art collection of the Courtauld Gallery stretches from the early Renaissance into the 20th century and is renowned especially for the collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, including masterpieces by Monet, Van Gogh, Gauguin and the largest collection of Cézannes in the UK.

The first room is on the ground level and shows objects from the 13th-15th Century and is called ‘Medieval and Renaissance’. Here you can see a few Triptych that are quite typical for that time.
On the Mezzanine is the ‘Drawings Gallery’. The exhibitions here change from time to time. While we visited we were able to see the exhibition ‘Reading Drawings’.

Next was the first floor, where it started to get interesting. But not only the pictures were more than impressive, the rooms they were shown in, were impressive as well.
In the first room it continues with ‘Renaissance Europe’ from the 16th century.
When we came to the second room, we didn’t knew where to look at, the paintings or the ceiling. This room was formerly the Royal Academy Council and Assembly Room and now houses the 17th Century ‘Rubens and the Baroque’ exhibition.

The next room had paintings from the 18th Century, the ‘Enlightenment’ exhibition. The joint Ante-Room of the Royal Society and the Society of Antiquaries is the first of the three 19th Century rooms and shows the ‘Early Impressionism’ with paintings from Pissarro, Degas and Renoir.
The ‘Impressionism and Post-Impressionism’ exhibition in the next room shows the first picture of Manet and Gauguin of the Gallery.

The last room of the first floor mainly contains paintings by Van Gogh as part of the ‘Post-Impressionism’ exhibition. This room shows off another impressive ceiling. It was formerly known as the Ante-Room and Library of the Royal Academy.
The first room of the second floor shows the ‘Impressionist Landscapes’ by Van Gogh, Monet and many more.
The last rooms showed paintings of the 20th Century, concentrating on ‘French Painting 1905-20’, ‘German Expressionists’, ‘British Painting’ and ‘Modernism’.

Around 4pm we were finished at the gallery and got on the way to Leicester Square to go to the St Martin’s Theatre. Our evening plans were going to watch Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mousetrap’ at the St Martin’s Theatre. But before we would enjoy the play we had dinner plans at 5pm with Kath and Beth, our friends from Leigh. Therefore we waited in the area at an Starbucks until it was time to meet. We decided to go to Prezzo, an italian restaurant which is between Trafalgar Square and the St Martin’s Theatre.

After a nice dinner and a stroll to Trafalgar Square, we got on our way to the Theatre, where we first took some pictures and selfies. Hannah, Andrews daughter and Kath’s niece is part of the play for the cast of 2016/2017. Therefore we all enjoyed taking pictures with her picture outside the Theatre.
At 7pm we made our way inside as the show would start at 7.30pm.

You may be used to me giving you all kind of information and I won’t stop with this now, but I CAN’T give you any information about the play. It is just part of the experience that you don’t know the end of the play when you see it and everyone who’s seen it has to promise to himself that they too will keep the secret! #KeepTheSecret

However I can tell you something about the history of the play. ‘The Mousetrap’ is not just any play, but it’s the longest running stage production in the world. After its first presentation on 25th November 1952 at the Ambassadors Theatre, it transferred on Monday 25th March 1974 to the larger St Martin’s Theatre next door without missing a performance.

On the 12th April 1958 ‘The Mousetrap’ became the world’s longest running production and sets a new world record with every performance. A board in the Theatre Foyer shows which performance you are attending. As the show has been on for 65 years now and been the longest running play for 58 years, it’s no surprise that the number of performances is now in excess of 26 500 performances.

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We saw the 26815th Performance on March 11 2017!

In 2002 they celebrated the Golden Anniversary and in 2012 the 60th Anniversary. For both Celebrations all surviving cast members came together to celebrate their success and to share their memories with each other. The cast of ‘The Mousetrap’ is changed every year and the eight new Cast members join ‘The Mousetrap Family’. With the eight current actors the total number of actors that have appeared at the London production of ‘The Mousetrap’ is brought up to 450 actors and 260 understudies.

This years cast is:
Kirsten Hazel Smith as Mollie Ralston
Tom Rooke as Giles Ralston
Simon Haines as Christopher Wren
Karen Archer as Mrs Boyle
Christopher Knott as Major Metcalf
Hannah Lee as Miss Casewell
Simon Roberts as Mr Paravicini
Jamie Hutchins as Detective-Sergeant Trotter

I can’t tell you more about ‘The Mousetrap’ other than to advise you to take the time and WATCH IT!

The Mousetrap

Mum, Beth, Kath and me (from left) at the St Martin’s Theatre!

After the show was over, we left the Theatre and went to the Stage Door to wait for Hannah to come out. While we waited for her, some of her colleagues left already and it was quite weird to see them so close after you’ve just seen them on stage.
When Hannah was finished we congratulated her on her good performance and went to have a drink together.

The day got better and better when Hannah took us to the private ‘The Ivy Club’. The Club is really fancy and quite expansive. I did feel a bit out of place, but I’m still super excited thinking that I had the chance to have a drink there. The utmost London experience.
We just chatted for a while and enjoyed the evening with our friends. It had been a long time since I’ve seen Hannah, Kath and Beth last autumn, but it’s been even longer for my mum as she hadn’t seen them for years.
However around 12am it was too late for any of us to stay up any longer and we got on our way home, where we arrived around 12.30am and went to bed straight away.

The next morning we stayed in bed longer than we’d normally do, but still managed to get out of the house at 10.30am to start Mum’s last day in London. The first stop was Camden Town where I just showed her around and my favourite spots there. But after just an hour we left again as it was too crowded for our liking and instead went to Covent Garden. Even though Covent Garden is normally quite crowded as well, it’s still better than Camden Town on a Sunday.

After our stroll around Leicester Square and Covent Garden, we once again went to Whittard for a tea and hot chocolate, but this time I also got a scone!
Around 4.30pm we got on our way back home. We were just too tired and we promised my host family that we would celebrate my birthday with them as well. When we came home my mum decorated my birthday cake and after a nice Happy Birthday song from everyone for me, I got my present from my host family and the boys got a little present from my mum.
When the cake was eaten and it was time for the boys to go up to bed, my mum and I also went up to my room to get ready for the night and pack her suitcase.

On Monday 13th March it was sadly time for my mum to go back home again. I was torn inside as I really missed my mum and was happy to have her here, but on the other hand I was more than happy to finally be able to sleep in my bed again and don’t have to share my room anymore. When you haven’t lived at home for more than 6 months and suddenly have to share your room with your mum is quite hard. However I’m already looking forward to having my mum here again and share my room with her once again.

After my normal morning hours we got ready to leave for the airport and left at 8.45am to be at the airport on time. Saying goodbye was hard, but at least I know it’s not a goodbye forever.

With this said…Mum, I’m looking forward to welcoming you here in London once again and to tire you out with a strict program to fit in as much as possible.
Looking back we didn’t do that much 😛

Love,
Vicky! Xx

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February – Chapter 2 of 12 – or in my case Chapter 7 of 12

Time is still flying and more days have passed. The countdown goes on:

ONLY 45 DAYS LEFT!

However are there not only just 45 Days left, but there are also just a few weekends left.
But these 45 Days are perfect to look back on what I’ve experienced so far and share all the adventures with you that I haven’t shared yet.

After January comes February and the February was just as eventful as the month before. It started with finishing my english School and taking my final exam just a few days later on the first Saturday of the month, the 4th February.
As the exam started rather early, I had to get out of the house early as well and started my journey to the exam school shortly past 8am.

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Learning and preparing for my Cambridge Advanced Exam

While my language school is in North London, the Exam was taking place in a language School in Wimbledon, which is 15 minutes on the Tube south to where I live. I got lucky to live in this area now, otherwise it would’ve taken me more than an hour to get there.
When I arrived at 8.30am I had to bring all my things in a different room and was only allowed to take something to write and to drink with me in the exam room. Our things were then locked in without access to it until after the written part of the Exam.

We first started with the ‘Use of English’ and ‘Reading’ part of the Exam. After the 1 1/2 hours, we had a little break where we could leave the Exam room for a little snack. After the 5-10 minute break we had to be back in and soon were able to start the ‘Writing’ part of the Exam. I didn’t like the options we had at all and tried my best to write something. However we are only allowed to write a certain amount of words and therefore I was finished rather early and had to wait another 20 minutes till the 1 1/2 hours we had for this task were over.

The last part of the written Exam was the ‘Listening’. This part is part of the written Exam because we have  to listen to a few recordings and then answer questions or fill in missing words on our question sheets. For this task you normally have around 45 minutes, but that really depends on the recording and how much time they give you to copy your answers from the sheet of notes to the question sheet.

When we finished this last part the written Exam was over and we had a longer break until the ‘Speaking’ Exam. While other people went to Wimbledon centre to buy some food, I came prepared and had some snacks with me and just waited at the other location for my exam time. Luckily I wasn’t the only one and soon found a nice guy who was also waiting there and we started to chat with each other. He was really nice and after I was finished with my Speaking Exam I waited for him to be finished to then take the Tube back home together.

Sadly I only had a few stations and therefore had to say goodbye rather early. After this rather stressful morning I thought I’ve owned myself a treat and made arrangements to meet with Charlotte to go to the Cinema to watch Sing! The Movie was great fun and we enjoyed singing along to all the good songs. When the movie was over it was still rather early and we decided to go for dinner to Nando’s.
After we finished our delicious dinner it was around 9pm, but we were both so tired that we decided to call it a night already.

The next day I planned on going to the big Au Pair meeting by the Facebook group Oh!Pairs. They were founded by ex-Au Pairs and their local friends years ago and take in every Au Pair, no matter if they have an agency or not. Together they organise meet ups in London and day trips to some other places. The meet-up started at 2pm and officially ended at 6pm and I left at 6.30pm because I was still too tired and still felt the leftovers of my cold from the weekend from three weeks ago.

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The big Oh!Pairs meeting in London’s Zoo Bar at Leicester Square

On Tuesday after my big exam I decided to go back to the language school for one last time to tell my teachers about the exam and to get my schools certificate that I indeed attended language school and graduated on a CPE Level. I really liked this school and the teachers there, so I decided I can’t come empty-handed and surprised them with a little chocolate treat as a goodbye gift.

After a small break I was back just in time to see the last two days of London Fashion Week. As the tickets for one of the shows are obviously too expensive, I was more than happy to learn that there is actually an open showhouse at Somerset House for free. The International Fashion Showcase 2017 presented by Mercedes-Benz was set under the theme Global / Local and showcased designs from all over the world. The exhibited designers weren’t world-famous ones, but it was still interesting to get a feeling for fashion from all over the world. However, I sometimes really had to ask myself who in the world would wear this!

At the end of February Max came to visit me again. Good thing is that this time nothing happened and we actually had the chance to enjoy our time together for the whole time of his stay. Although I had to work on one of the days, we still managed to do a lot.
Because I had to babysit on Saturday night he decided to take a flight to London on Saturday evening and we met directly on Sunday morning, 26th February. As we were a bit planless, we spontaneously decided to go to Camden Town. After walking around Camden for a little bit and giving Max a feeling of this particular part of London, we went back to central London and went for a shopping Spree on Oxford Street.

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Camden Market Hall

Later that day we went to his hotel for a little break and decided to eat dinner at the hotels pub as we were too lazy to go somewhere else. Around 10pm I took the Tube back home and went to bed straight away. But not without setting an alarm for 1.15am to be wide awake when the Oscars start. I woke up without any problems and managed to watch all of the Oscars with giving my eyes a little rest in every commercial break. As soon as the little mistake was discovered and the Oscar for the best movie was handed to the right cast, I went back to sleep for the last 2 hours that were left of my night.

Funnily I got out of bed better than I ever did. I actually felt full of energy and ready to start the day. After helping getting the boys ready, Max and I met again to originally visit the Tower of London, but then had to change the schedule, because the weather was too horrible. The alternative was then to visit the Science Museum which is also worth a visit. I especially liked that there are so many ‘hands on’ parts where you can really explore and learn. But also the ‘Flight’ and ‘Making the Modern World’ exhibitions interested me.

However the ‘Winton Gallery’ was my highlight of the whole visit. It was designed by the late architect Zaha Hadid and is part of the Mathematics exhibition which examines the fundamental role mathematicians have played in building the world we live in. Sadly it wasn’t the exhibition itself that got me so excited but just the plain Gallery.

After our visit to the Museum it was time for me to head home again, because I had to work and help collecting the boys. However on our way back home from L’s playdate it started to hail and we were caught in the middle of this horrible weather. I was more than glad to finally be back home and being able to change out of my wet clothes.
After we had dinner and the boys were on their way to bed I said goodbye and got on my way to meet Max in Fulham, where we then went to Nando’s for our last dinner together.

I’m gonna write a different time about Max’s last day here in London, as we went to see the Tower of London. But we had a great time together and I was glad when I said goodbye that afternoon that nothing happened this time and I for once could let him go back home without any ‘damages’…

The rest of the month was rather eventless. Although I’ve spent a lot of my time doing fun stuff with the boys that month. One Friday I’ve baked a cake with L. which was a lot of fun. And on another day H. and I built his marble run down the steps. This was so funny and brought them so much joy that we had to move it from the main stairs to the ones leading up to my room, as I’m the only one using them. However this marble run stayed for a whole week and I had to take a video of it to be able to fix it or better, built it all over again one day.

Even though the February is the shortest month we have, I still managed to put a lot of fun and activities in it.
See you in 5 days for the next countdown.

Love,
Vicky! Xx

P.S.: I’m heartbroken that I once again feel the need to put a small message at the end of one of my posts. But I’m even more heartbroken about the recent events here in London. Luckily I was nowhere close to London Bridge when the horrific event happened.
All my love goes out to the victims, their friends and family and everyone suffering from the aftermath of Saturday nights events.
I’m still shocked about what happened and hope that the end of this horrible time is near. STAY SAFE!
#LondonBridge #BoroughMarket #WeStandTogether

How to get in…

Just one year ago I signed my Au Pair contract with my first Host Family. Because I feel like this is a special day for my year, I decided to write a post just for this day.
What topic would be more perfect than telling you how to become an Au Pair.

I know that a lot of my readers are Family and Friends. But there also quite a few curious people visiting my blog and hopefully this post can help someone to become an Au Pair as well.

The first question you have to ask yourself is, if you want to find a host family with the help and support of an agency, or if you’re alright on your one.
I wanted to be on the safe side and decided to get the help of an agency.

As it can be quite hard to find a verified agency (I wouldn’t recommend an unverified one!) I think it’s best to use an agency-finder on official websites.
For Germany I can recommend Guetegemeinschaft Au Pair as an agency-finder and rausvonzuhaus for general information. If you are from a different Country the International Au Pair Association may be helpful for you.

Soon I found the agency MultiKultur e.K. International Exchange Programs, which sparked my interest by the amount of different programs to go abroad. As my focus was mainly the Au Pair program, I checked what they could offer me. I really liked that you can choose between just the placement with a family through the agency and the option to keep them as a back-up and support throughout the year. Of course it is more expensive to keep them as a back-up then just being placed through the agency, but it will help you when you need to change families during the year.

The next step is to fill in an application form. When you apply at Multikultur you can choose how you want to do it. Next to the old-fashioned way of applying by post, you can apply on their online portal as well. The good thing with the online application is that you can do it step by step and don’t need to do it all in one day.

Next to a normal application form they also ask you for pictures – preferably nice pictures of you, your family and maybe with children you took care of – a letter for the host family to introduce yourself and most importantly references. Because they promise you only verified families, they also want to offer the families only verified Au Pairs. Apart from at least two childcare references, they also ask for a reference  of  character. With all these information they just want to make sure that you are suitable for the job of being an Au Pair.

After you’ve been accepted by the agency they bring you in contact with one of their english partner agencies. For me this partner agency was the british Au Pair agency smartaupairs.
Before they’ll set up your profile they ask for a chat with someone of their team to have the chance to talk to you and get a feeling for who you are and how good your english is. The 15 minutes chat will be scheduled in advance and takes place on Skype.
When they’ve got all the information they need, your profile will be set up and the search for a family can begin.

Smartaupairs works with “Family Matches”, which basically means that they match your main criteria with the families and then suggest you this family in your family matches section on your profile. You can then read through the Family’s letter for the Au Pair, see their pictures and compare their profiles. Just like you get a family suggestion, the same family get you suggested in their Au Pair suggestions.
As there is contact information provided, it’s up to you if you want to make the first step and send the family an email and show your interest.

It is always  good to make the first step, but there is no shame in waiting for the family to get in contact first. So after I had my first family suggestions I sent out a few emails to try to get into contact with the families and schedule a Skype chat with them.

The next few weeks were filled with Skype chats with potential host families. Some were during the day, some were in the evening. With some families I knew from the beginning that I wouldn’t be the right fit for them, with other families I would’ve liked to go further. In the end it was the 18th May last year, when I first talked to the woman who later on became my first host mother.

They seemed to like me and told me during our first chat that I’m currently on top of their list. This information was precious to me, as they were on top of mine as well and I was really hoping that I could start my journey with them. At the end of the chat we decided to have a second chat – which is always a good sign – so I could meet her husband and the boys.
The following Saturday we had our second chat where I met the boys for a few questions and also the host father. After it were just the both of us again we more or less decided that I’m going to start as their Au Pair for the 1st August 2016.

After this chat I was really excited! I finally found my family!
I sometimes felt really down, because it seems like there is no right family for me, they were already taken or even worse, would turn me down after a second call.
All in all it took me less than two weeks to find my family, which was mostly due to the timing. Most host families look for a new Au Pair in May/June/July, so they have enough time to organise everything before the Au Pair comes over.

Through my search I’ve been in constant contact with both agencies, who were always asking how my search was going, would contact a family for me if they didn’t respond and cleared out the families from my matches I wasn’t interested in.

When we settled on me being their Au Pair, we had to wait till Monday, 23rd May to tell the agency. After they’ve sent the contract to my host parents and they’d filled everything in, I got the contract myself and filled in my part and signed everything. With my host mother’s signature, my signature and the signature of someone of my german agency the contract was valid .
Once my flight was booked, we signed a travel contract that stated when I arrive and where and that the family will pick me up.

Last thing on my agenda before I could leave was the right insurance! Luckily the agency could help with that as well. They don’t have insurances, but they can tell you a good one: DR.WALTER
They are specialised in Au Pair and visits abroad in general, but especially for long-term visits.
Finally my year could start!

After the first few days the agency was already in contact with me to make sure I’m fine and everything is alright. These check ups happened regularly during my stay with the host family.
But the agency wasn’t just helping with the family, they also provided different ways of getting to know other Au Pairs and finding friends. Next to the Au Pair meet ups organised by the agency, we also had a facebook group to organise smaller Au Pair meetings and got a list with all the Au Pairs and where they live in London to help to find Au Pairs in your region.

Being an Au Pair can be quite risky! Since I’m here, I’ve heard really bad stories about how families treated their Au Pairs. Luckily I wasn’t treated too badly, but with the time I just noticed that this family wasn’t as fitting as I once thought.
If I wouldn’t have had my agency and with that the safety and help, I may would’ve never considered leaving my host family and start looking for a new one.

But as you may know I’ve decided to leave my first host family after 2 months. Because I was quite uncertain how this whole changing process works I took the chance at a big Au Pair meet up and spoke to a member of my english agency. Not only did they understood my situation, but they also helped by giving me advice on how to go on with the family.

They would start looking for a new family for me as soon as I ask them to, but before they start the search I had to give my host family a two weeks notice and tell them that I want to leave their family. However I would still have to stay with them for another two weeks to give them the chance to find a new Au Pair and to give me the chance to find a new host family.

As I gave my host mother the two weeks notice on a sunday, I called the agency straight away on Monday morning and asked them to start my search again. Part of this ‘quitting’ process was that they had a chat with me and with my host mother about my reasons for leaving, so they can decide if they want to find a new Au Pair for the family or a new family for me. After they decided that there was no problem with either one of us in general but we just didn’t work out together, they updated my profile and put it back online.

The task of finding a new family had begun. Depending on the time you want to change, it can be quite hard to find a new family. It seems like I didn’t choose the right time. Even though I still had quite a few family matches, there was no right fit for me.
After one week had passed I was positive that I was settled, however the family then decided to not choose me but a different Au Pair.
Therefore I kinda had to start my search all over again. As I had only one week left and time was running out, my german agency expanded the search and involved all of their other partner agencies here in England.

But there is one more option: AuPairWorld.
AuPairWorld is a webpage that connects Au Pairs and host families without an agency. It is free of charge for Au Pairs and families have to pay a rather small amount in order to get all access.

After filling in all of your information and writing a bit about yourself in your profile, you’re ready to start looking. Because there is no agency behind it and it’s as good as free, there are no checks on the families either. Therefore you can find all kind of families on there and you have to be a bit more careful on who you choose to get in contact with.
Another problem is that a lot of the families won’t respond quickly. I think I still have over 10 unread and unanswered messages to families in my AuPairWorld inbox.

You would think that you’ll find a new family quite soon when there are three or four agencies searching for you and you have a profile on the worlds biggest Au Pair platform. However I was still without a new family when I had to leave my old host family.
Luckily I had a place to stay and therefore I could keep looking while still in England. Other Au Pairs are not as lucky and have to go back to their country until they’ve found a new family.

While staying with friends I kept on talking to families from the agencies and from AuPairWorld. At the beginning of November, nearly a whole month since I’ve left the family, I finally found a new host family on AuPairWorld. The risks for the rest of my Au Pair year are going to be that there is no agency that could help me if there will ever be a problem. Knowing this risk I still decided to stay with this family, because I didn’t know when the agencies would find a ‘better’ family or if there’s even something better.

The main downside to he family not being an agency family is that I’m now no longer part of an agency either. While the english agency dropped me completely, I can still call the german agency for advice – which they will gladly give – and I could even ask them to find me another new family, if I would consider changing again (don’t worry, it won’t happen). However they can only give me a certificate of the time I’ve been with one of their host families and therefore just for the first 2 1/2 months of my year,

As I still had three weeks till I could start with my new family, I tried to find somewhere else to stay for the time being. I only needed a short-term host family, or how I like to call it a gap family. Finding a host family only for a short time like two weeks is quite hard and neither agencies nor AuPairWorld were really of help.
However there is a third way of finding a host family. When you’ve already been an Au Pair, you’re already part of all kinds of Facebook groups for Au Pairs. Most of these groups are not only for Au Pairs, but often for host families as well and some of them are just for finding a host family/Au Pair.

I posted in two different groups that I’m looking for a gap host family for just two weeks and no interest of staying longer, as I’ve already found my new family and just have to wait until I can start there.
I was really lucky to have found a family that was up for it. Even though I only got paid half as much as they should have paid me, I was just glad to get a bit of money again while staying for free in London.

It was a hard journey and looking back I sometimes have to ask myself if I always made the right choices. But I learned a lot through it all and no one can take these experiences ever away from me.

If you want to be an Au Pair you just have to decide for yourself if you want to be on the safe side, but my example is the best one to show you that there’s really no safe side. However I would always choose Multikultur again and probably wouldn’t use AuPairWorld again.

I hope this was of any help for someone who’s not quite sure how to approach this whole thing. If there are any questions, feel free to ask! I’m more than happy to share all my experiences with you and give you advice, as long as you want them.

Love,
Vicky Xx

Helpful links:
Guetegemeinschaft Au Pair (Verified Au PAir Agencies)
rausvonzuhaus (Programmes for visits abroad)
International Au Pair Association (International Verified Au Pair Agencies)
MultiKultur e.K. International Exchange Programs (Au Pair and Travel Agency)
smartaupairs (Au Pair Agency for UK and Australia)
DR.WALTER (Insurance Company especially for Au Pairs and long-term visits abroad)
AuPairWorld (Free Au Pair and Host Family platform)

On a last note: I really want to send all my love to Manchester today. I’ve been to the city just recently and it left me quite shocked to hear what happened. I feel sick thinking how someone could willingly do this and even more so when children are involved! I hope everyone recovers well and the missing children will find their way back home!
#PrayForManchester #MissingInManchester

 

New Year – New Friends?

I’m finally back! I never planned to once again take a break and especially not for over three month. However this year started rather soon and with it a lot of new things came along.
I met new friends, I finished my school and I started to do a bit more sightseeing. But first things first: my start in the new year.

Even though I went home to Germany for Christmas, I decided to celebrate New Years Eve in London. Therefore I had a flight booked to go back to London on 30th December 2016.
When I arrived at the Airport and went to the Check-In desk, I already noticed that there were quite a few people – definitely more than the usual 70 people or so that fit in the small Luxair airplanes to London City Airport. When it was finally my turn I learned why: Because of too much fog in London they had to shut down the London City Airport for the day. Luckily they didn’t cancelled my flight, but rather diverted it to another airport: Stansted Airport.

At the security check I met Trude, an old friend of my mum, who was travelling with the same plane to London to celebrate New Years Eve there. As we haven’t seen each other in a year or two, we used the chance and catched up while we were waiting at the gate for boarding.
After waiting for a long time, because the flight was delayed, I was finally inside the plane at 11.20am. When we started at 11.30am (German Time) we were already 50 minutes behind time. Then pilot told us that we were flying to Luton Airport instead of Stansted. The Flight itself was quite good, but it took ages until we were finally able to land, so it was already 11.50am (British Time).

At Luton Airport Trude and I got together again and tried to find a way to Central London. I was told that we have to organise the transport ourselves and can send in the receipt and ticket to the airline to get our money back.
But at the airport someone said that there will be an organised transport back to Central London, which got us quite confused. Through this confusion and the constant running around at the airport to solve the problem, we met H., a guy who was on the same plane and facing the same problems.

In the end we just bought a ticket for the ThamesLink train and took the bus from the Airport to the train station. When we arrived at the train station we were running around once again, until we found the right platform. On our way there we picked up Adrian and Daniel, who also were passengers on our flight. From there on we stayed together until the end of our journey to central London.

When we arrived at King’s Cross/St. Pancras Station around 1.50pm, we had to split up as everyone stayed in a different part of London. After I topped up my Oyster and helped H. to buy a ticket, I could finally move on and took the Tube at 2.20pm to Green Park. As there were construction works on my part of the Tube I had to get off there and finish my journey with the Bus 14. At 3.20pm I finally arrived back home after a long day and a long journey.

After this hassle I was so tired that I first lied down and relaxed for a bit, before I unpacked a few important things. On our way to Central London we all exchanged our phone numbers and organised a whatsapp group so we can organise meetings. Daniel, Adrian and I used this the same day to organise a meeting at the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, as we all wanted to do something more useful that day than just travelling.

Around 7.20pm we met near a Bavarian village in Winter Wonderland and then walked around to explore the area. Because it was really cold we only took a short break and sat down for a drink, but soon had to move again. Nearby was an open fire, where we tried to warm up, which didn’t really worked out. Therefore we decided to go back home shortly before 10pm already.

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Walking around Winter Wonderland

Back home I went directly to bed and enjoyed to sleep in the next morning. When I was finally awake I unpacked my luggage, did some laundry and just relaxed. As I never really had plans for New Years Eve, I was quite happy when Trude invited me for dinner. We arranged to meet each other around 7pm at Trafalgar Square. From there we went to find some place to eat and ended up at Il Padrino close to Leicester Square.

After dinner we went back to Trafalgar Square, as we decided to spent the beginning of the new year there. Even though it was only 10pm when we found our spot, there were already a lot of people trying to find the best spot. Just 30 minutes later the boys came too and we all waited together. At 11pm we celebrated the German New Year with hugs and best wishes, especially to our loved ones back home in Germany.

The closer the new year, all the more people arrived and it got really crowded. At one point it was nearly impossible to move. At 12am we once again wished everyone a Happy New Year and then enjoyed the Fireworks. We soon had to realise that we indeed hadn’t found the best spot, as the fireworks were fired behind a big building. Therefore we were only able to see the high ones and only half of it, but at least better than nothing. After just 15 minutes the fireworks were already finished and we decided to find our way to Piccadilly Circus in hope to find a place to celebrate a bit more.

At Piccadilly Circus we took a few pictures, but soon decided that there is not much to do and tried to find our way home. As we weren’t the only ones who wanted to go home, a lot of the Stations were closed or with special queueing systems prepared for the big crowds heading for the stations. The Piccadilly Circus Station was one of the closed ones, so we walked to Leicester Square where we had to que up until we were finally inside.
Around 2am we were finally back home and could go back to sleep.

For New Year it’s the same as for Christmas: every family has their own Traditions. For my family this means Raclette for dinner on New Years Eve and “Dinner for One” and “Ein Herz und eine Seele – Silvesterpunsch” (One Heart and one Soul – New Year’s Punch) on TV. But we also have a tradition for the New Year: “The New Year’s Concert” by the Vienna Philharmonic. Obviously I didn’t have Raclette for dinner, but at least I was able to follow the other traditions and therefore spent the morning of 1st January 2017 watching the New Year’s Concert.

Later that day I got ready to meet the others a last time before they had to go back home. At 1.30pm we met at Charing Cross to watch the London New Year’s Parade. Sadly we had misjudged the time and the Parade was already halfway through when we arrived. Because we had missed half of it anyway and it started to rain really badly, we quickly decided to change our plans and went to Covent Garden instead.

Completely drenched we arrived at Covent Garden and tried to dry a bit while walking around the Piazza. Around 2.30pm we decided to find a place to eat as we were all getting quite hungry. Our search brought us to Leicester Square where we stopped at a pub called “Moon Under Water”. Even though the pub was really crowded we were able to get a table and eat some really good burgers. I definitely liked the pub, as the food was really good and it’s not at all expensive. The only downside is that it’s always really crowded and it takes a lot of luck to find a free table.
When we were finished the boys and I decided to go back home, while Trude went on her way again exploring this big city.

The next morning started rather early for me, because my host family arrived back home at 9.15am. After a nice breakfast I helped a bit by occupying the children so the parents could unload the car. Later that day the family left to meet some friends and I decided to stroll around Parsons Green and Fulham for a bit. But I forgot that 2nd January was a substitute holiday for the 1st, as the New Year’s day was a Sunday this year. Therefore most of the shops were closed and I soon went back home again.
After helping my host parents to bath the boys and bring them to bed I went to bed too. This was the last day of my holidays. The next morning I had to start my normal work again, which was quite odd after two weeks off.

When I decided to go back to London for the New Year I never imagined I would celebrate it with people I met randomly on my way back to London. But that is fate and I have to say that it is quite an interesting story to tell. And who knows how 2017 would’ve started if we wouldn’t have met…?

I hope you guys had not only a good start, but also some nice month in the year 2017.
A BELATED HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

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

13th December: Off the beaten track…

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

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

 

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My nice Gingerbread Cupcake

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

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Two birthday cards – Happy Birthday!

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

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

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

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

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

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The perfect weather for a nice walk in the fields

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

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

11th December: Lasting Memories – II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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London Bridge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking forward to see the next visitors,
Vicky! Xx

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

7th December: Enjoy every moment!

Before I left my ex host family, I tried to spent as much time as possible out of the house, especially on the weekends. The last weekend with them wasn’t an exception.
Since I were moving out on Wednesday 19th October, the 14th was my last Friday in North Finchley. I hadn’t found my new family yet and therefore decided to just go out with my friends one last time to say ‘goodbye’, because I didn’t know if I’ll be coming back to the north of London.

So Amelie and I made a reservation for a table in a nice italian restaurant in North Finchley called Il Tocco D’Artista, where we then met at 8pm.
Because I always order a pizza, I decided to for once order pasta instead. It was really delicious with scampis on top, even though there could’ve been more scampis.

In my eyes a lot of the charm of the restaurant is due to one person: Giovanni. He’s an italian guy, who also lived in Germany for a while and now lives here in England. He is really funny and outgoing and just knows how to charme his customers. Since he lived in Germany, he can speak a bit of german. We obviously took advantage of that and talked a bit german with him, but sooner rather than later changed back to english, because his german is a bit rusty.

We were all in a really good mood and even started singing quite loudly, to the annoyance of other people in the restaurant, but it was fine. We were soon joined by Benedetta and Enrico from our language school. Since it got quite late and the people from D’Artista wanted to close, we decided to go to a local pub for a drink, before we all head home. When we then arrived in front of the pub, we were reminded that a lot of pubs in England still close quite early, because they wouldn’t let us in anymore.

By then it was already after midnight and we all were quite tired so we decided to all go home. We all were home around 1am, time to sleep.

The next morning I stayed in bed until 12pm and then got up and ready to leave the house at 1pm. Farina, Amelie, Marieke and I decided to spend the Saturday afternoon in Camden Town to visit the Camden Market. We arrived at 1.30pm and walked from the Tube Station to the Market itself.

When we were at the market we just went inside and looked around. There are really nice things to see and a lot handcrafted or vintage things. It’s really charming in there, but obviously a tourist trap. Sometimes you would actually get a good deal and sometimes you just have to accept the tourism prices and pay a bit more than necessary.

It’s really hard to say where at the market you’re at, because it’s full of nooks and you see something and go there to explore it further and suddenly you’re in a new part of the market. Luckily Farina knew her way around Camden Market and could lead us to all the good places.
After we went through the Stables Market, we bought dutch pancakes as a lunch snack at one of the overpriced snack trolleys.

Next stop was a store called Cyberdog, which is a weird but fancy store. Everything in there is neon and clothes that are not neon have lightning effects. But you can buy everything shrill and dazzling in there. All in all its a store who sells futuristic fashion, clubwear, rave and urban fashion and all the accessories you need.

After Cyberdog we went to the Camden Food Market. One food stall is next to the other and you can try food from all around the world. There are so many different things that we had a really hard time to decide where to buy something. Especially for “Hipsta-eater”, people who try all the new weird food things coming up, this is the place to be. But also people like me, who prefer things they already know, have a lot to choose from.

Since Marieke had to go back home, it was just Amelie, Farina and I, who had to find something to eat. After 30 minutes we finally managed to all find something and even find a place to sit (very rare at Camden Market). When everything was eaten up, we took a last stroll around Camden Market, but this time preferably in a  covered part of the Market since it started to rain.

With it getting later and later and the rain getting worse, we finally decided to head home after a long day. Around 7.20pm I was finally back home and just relaxed for the rest of the night.

I still hadn’t started packing my things on Sunday. While the other girls went to an Au Pair meeting, I said I would stay home, because I have to pack. But I’m a master of procrastination so I always found better things to do. Instead of packing I then went out to the High Street to meet a potentially new host mum. She invited me to a Cafe Latte and a croissant to Caffè Nero where we talked a bit to get to know each other.

Even though she and her daughter sounded lovely, I was quite hesitant to say yes. She then offered me a trial week, which means I would move in with her on Wednesday and stay for the week, work for her and see how it goes, but still be allowed to talk to other families. If I like it and she likes me, we would then just agree to me staying permanently. I was really motivated when I got home, because I finally knew that I most likely have a place to stay after Wednesday. Needless to say that it didn’t turned out like this. Sadly she changed her mind on Monday, but I can understand that it wouldn’t have been good for the daughter to get used to someone who might leave again.

Anyway, when I was back home I put my procrastination skills to use again and did everything else instead of packing. Seems like I have to do that on Monday and Tuesday then.
I actually managed to pack all my stuff just in the two days time, even though I had to work and it really was a pain, but my mum helped me on the phone and I’m still thankful for that!

Tomorrow I’ll tell you how I managed to move around London until I had a proper place to stay.
Have a good day!

Love,
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