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

21st December: Starting all over

Today is all about my new family. I’ve mentioned them a few times now, but I never really wrote about them and my time with them.

As I was getting more and more desperate to find a new family, I decided to make an account on Aupairworld.com. Every one can sign up for free and can start to look for a host family or host families can look for an Au Pair.
I got in contact with several families, but never found the one I thought would be the right one for me. At the beginning of November I finally got into contact with a family I was quite sure could be a good match. On the 4th November I had the first chat with my future host mum and just a day later I talked to my future host father too. As we were all quite happy and confident that we’re a good match, we decided that I would be their new Au Pair.

But as good as the family was, there was also a problem. I wouldn’t be able to start with them until the end of November, which means another three weeks without a family. I was now for two weeks with Andrew and his family already and knew I couldn’t stay with them for another three weeks. Nonetheless I said yes and started looking for a gap family.
After another week I went back to London to stay with a gap family.

On the 21st November I went to see my new host mother for the first time. I arrived shortly after 12pm and had a nice little chat with her. A few minutes before 1pm we went to pick up the youngest from school. It was the first time I got to see one of the boys I would start looking after in just a weeks time.
Back at home we sat down with a little snack and  I tried to solve a Baymax Puzzle with him. At 2.15pm they had to go, so I left too.

A week later it was finally time to start all over again, by moving in with my new host family. As Is was supposed to be there at 11am, I left around 10am in Oakwood. When I arrived with bag and baggage, I was showed to my room before we sat down for a little snack. Again we had to pick up the youngest from school around 1pm. This time we walked to his school and went groceries shopping on our way back.
Later we went to pick up the middle boy.

Meeting him was so different to meeting the boys of my first host family. You can tell that he’s british as he introduced himself with a posh ‘Hello, my name is V.’. Then he came around to me and hugged me, looked up at me and said with a fond smile ‘You’re nice!’.
I was so amazed at how affectionate he was so already, especially because he just met me.
When we came back he showed me around the house and to his room.

Normally I don’t need to cook, however if my host mum is too late and needs me to cover for her, she would ask me to help out. As she had to bring the oldest one to an afternoon thing, she asked me to cook while she is dropping him off. When they both came back we all had dinner together. After dinner it was time for the boys bath and then bedtime.
Around 8pm I was finished for the day.

The next morning I started at 7am again. In the morning time I would prepare breakfast and make sure that all the boys had eaten before they would get dressed. At 8.30am the latest the mum would leave with them for drop off. That morning I went with her to get to know the boys schools, so I could help out with the school run if needed. At first we would drop off V. at his school and then would drive to H.’s (the oldest) school. Last but not least we went to L.’s (the youngest) school.

Back at home I had some free time until 3pm when L. and H. were both back from school. When the mum had to leave to pick up V., I was alone with them and at first a bit over challenged, but that feeling was soon gone and I knew what to do.
The next day was quite similar to the other two, except that V. and L. had swimming in the afternoon and my host mum showed me how that’s done.
Friday just changed a bit as I had to pick up L. on my own, so I know how it’s done and could do it the following weeks.

On Monday morning, after the school run, my host mum and I sat down together to talk about the week’s schedule. My normal working hours are every morning from 7-9am and then from 3.15-7.30pm again. Wednesday and Thursday are the only exceptions, as I would have to start working at 1pm already to pick up L. and spent some time with him.
But of course all these hours include some flexibility, which is normal, as no week is like the other.

My schedule for the week included to pick up V. from school at 4.30pm, but I had to take L. with me in the baggy. Although the Tuesday was just a normal one, the week changed on Wednesday as my host mum’s mother would arrive in London to stay for a few days. Because she wanted to spent some time with her grandchildren, I was free until 4pm and then just had to pick up V., while the grandma stayed with H.

On Thursday I was free until 3pm and then had to bring H. his backpack to his school, as he would spent the afternoon with his social worker. When I was back I was free again, while the mum and grandma went to the swimming pool with V. and L. for their swimming lessons. Around 5.45pm H. was back and we had some bonding time together until the others were back.
As the grown ups wanted to go out that night, I was asked to babysit. This includes reading a story to the boys and making sure that they had all their medications and then just being available if they wake up during the night.

Friday must have been the most relaxing day, as I only had to work during the morning hours and then was off for the rest of the day. Since I was traveling back to Germany for a weekend and my host mum had her mother there to help, she said it would be fine and I could take an earlier train to the airport.

The last week was quite hard. I was back in London at 12.30am in the night from sunday to monday and had to be back at work at 7am the next morning. Needless to say that I was quite tired and spent my free time in the morning catching up with sleep. The day was just a normal day, but I was asked to babysit in the evening. The same for Tuesday and Wednesday. For Tuesday I was also asked if I can start at 1pm again instead of 3.15pm.
On Wednesday I had to bring L. to school and then was off till 3.15pm, because I had the early start the day before. Originally I was asked to babysit that night again, but didn’t need to as my host father stayed home.

On Thursday everything changed again. As Christmas was just around the corner, the schools of the two youngest had already started their christmas break. Therefore it was only H. who needed to get ready for school in the morning. After a small break of two hours I was back at work at 11am. From 2-4pm I took the two younger ones to the park to power them out a bit and when we came back they had to get ready for swimming already. Again the mum would do the swimming and I would have to wait for H. to be brought home by his social worker.

Friday morning was quite similar to Thursday and H. was the only one who had to get ready for school again. As they would leave for their holiday directly after school was over, I was asked to work in the morning instead of the evening.
At 11.30am I once I again took the two younger ones to the park to tire them out a bit, so it would be easier to sit down in the car for a while. When we came back at 1.15pm I got them ready for the car and after H. was picked up and the last things loaded into the car, they left for their holiday.

After I’ve spent three weeks with the family I can say that so far it was the right decision. Thanks to my experience with the previous family it was easier to understand if the new family will work out or not. But as everything that I didn’t like with the old family was completely different with the new, I’m pretty sure that I’m with the right family now.

Lastly I can only say that, no matter how hard it was to get there, I’m not regretting anything because it’s part of my year and the experiences I had to make.
Now I can really enjoy my time in London!

Vicky! Xx

20th December: 23 632 steps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,
Vicky! Xx

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