Jet Set Woah woah Woah

I’m so sorry that I’m once again 3 days late, but this time I actually have a good excuse: my mum was here to visit me. I think spending time with her is more important than some blog. #sorrynotsorry
After the last post got a bit too long, I decided to keep this one a bit shorter. Here is my 15 days post:

ONLY 15 DAYS LEFT!

Since I lived with my new host family, I got to travel a bit. Not only in my private time, but also for my job.
Early in January my host mother asked me if I could come with them on their skiing holiday to Switzerland. That I never learned how to ski was no problem at all, as I went with them to work and look after the children and not for my own pleasure.

On Friday, 10th February, the family got ready to leave for Switzerland. They went by car and had to leave a day before me so we would arrive on the same day. As they are 5 people the car was full and I had to go there by plane and train. After the family left around 1.45pm, I started packing my own stuff and went shopping, because I still needed some gloves. Luckily my was able to send me a package with my snow gear and some warmer clothes.

After a short night I had to get up shortly past 4am and get ready as my taxi was organised to arrive for 5.30am. Luckily I was ready on time and even had to wait ten minutes for the cab. As I had to go to Heathrow Airport, which is rather close to where I live, it only took us 30 minutes to get their and I arrived at 6am at the Airport. Another 30 minutes later I had checked in, been through security and found the gate.

As the flight was delayed and we couldn’t take off at 7.40am, we therefore landed at 10.50am instead of 10.15am at the Euro Airport in Basel. Normally this wouldn’t have been a problem, but I had to catch my train in Basel. Because the airport is not close to the train station, I first had to take a shuttle bus. Of course I missed the original shuttle bus, but luckily there was another one just ten minutes later.

The 11.15am shuttle bus arrived at 11.30am at the Basel train station, just 3 minutes before my train was supposed to leave. It wouldn’t have been a problem if I would’ve missed it, as there would’ve been another in an hour later, but I didn’t want to wait at the train station so I hurried to the platform. I even run down the escalator with my heavy suitcase to make it on the train just in time.

At 1.40pm the Intercity arrived in Landquart where I then had 7 minutes to change to the Regio Express to Klosters.
Klosters is a popular ski location in the Swiss canton Graubünden. It’s probably best known as the favourite ski resort of Charles Prince of Wales.
At 2.47pm I arrived safely in Klosters and was greeted by ice and snow, but luckily it wasn’t snowing. However it was still hard enough to steer the suitcase through the ice and snow on my way to a café.

The host family was two hours behind and therefore I had to wait for them. I found a really nice Café where I sat down and called a friend to have a little chat.
Around 4pm the family finally arrived as well and picked me up from the café. Together we then drove to the rental apartment where we would stay during the week.

After we unloaded the car and got everything settled, we got the boys ready for the snow and went outside in the garden. Luckily this Garden had a slight hill and we soon started to sled down the hill. This evening in the snow was especially fascinating for L, as it was his first time ever in the snow.
In the evening, when the boys were in bed, the parents went out for drinks with their friends leaving me to babysit. But I didn’t mind at all, as there is german TV in Switzerland and I could finally catch up with german tv. Sadly it was still as bad as it was before I left for England, so I soon switched to the English tv program.

The next morning started rather relaxed, except for V, because he had ski school already. After he was settled and in school, we all got ready and drove to the cable car station. H, L, the parents and me then took the cable car up to the slopes. We arrived at 12pm, just in time for V’s lunch break and together we walked up a mountain to a restaurant called Madrisa Hof.
After a quick lunch my host father brought V back to his school and the rest of us went back to the main area with the beginner slopes.

One of the slopes in this area is more like a hill and on its side are some sledges provided. L and I borrowed some and sled down the hill over and over again, while my host father got H settled on the skis.
At the bottom of this hill was a bouncy castle and after the boys were too tired for sledging, we all went to the bouncy castle to take a break until V was finished with school.
Afterwards we all got ready to leave and squeezed together in one cable car. Back down we got on our way home.

The evening was rather relaxing and the parents went out again. I went to bed earlier that day, as we all would have an early morning the next day.
However it wasn’t just early, but also hectic! V is the one that needs to be out of the house first, but we all went together to drop him off and then went to the cable car station.
Back up in the mountains it was L’s first day on skis.

As L and V both were entertained in their ski schools, only H and me were left. In order for the parents to be able to ski as well, I stayed with H on the beginner slopes. The day before we borrowed a bigger sledge from our friends and therefore H was kept busy going up and down the slopes. Around lunch time the parents came back and L and V were picked up from their ski schools.
After lunch V went back to his ski school and L and H had some more sledging and bouncy castle time. When V was finished with his skiing lesson, we all got on our way back home.
Back home I had an hour or two, time for myself before we had dinner and the evening routine started.

Even though it was just our third day, we already got into a routine the next morning. V was dropped off first and then we all got to the cable car to go up. After L was brought to his school, with the hope of less tears and more learning that day, H was once again left with me and the parents went skiing.
Because H showed me really good listening the day before, I had no problem with letting him go up and down the slopes on his sledge on his own. I sat on the sidelines with a good book and read the time away. Of course I always kept an eye on H, but he was absolutely fine and I think he really enjoyed to have some freedom for once.

For lunch time V and L got picked up from school and we enjoyed a snack together, before V went back to his lesson and H finally started his first lesson. It took so long for him to be able to have a lesson, because this school only has one special needs teacher and Tuesday afternoon was the first lesson that was free.
Now it was L‘s turn to be entertained by me. But once again I got quite lucky and L was so tired that he just slept for a while and afterwards we went to the bouncy castle.
When V and H were finished with their lessons we all would get ready to go home.

This Tuesday routine quickly became the routine for the whole week and every other day would go the same, except for one or two changes from now and then.
But the main events were always the same:
1. V gets dropped off at the ski school for his lesson.
2. The parents, H, L and I went to the cable car to make our way up to the slopes.
3. L starts his skiing lesson, the parents use the free time to ski a bit themselves and H sleds down a hill while I sit next to the slope reading a book.
4. V and L finish their ski lessons and we all have lunch together.
5. V goes back to his skiing lesson, while H starts his and L spends some time with me.
6. When H and V are finished with their lessons we all get ready to go home.

The evenings normally are also quite similar. Except for two days, when first my host family went with their friends to dinner at a restaurant. I was left at the apartment, because I should have a break from the boys. I took the time to walk through Klosters for a bit and then go back to watching TV.
No wonder that I celebrated Valentines Day completely on my own. But hey, I was in Switzerland, at least I had first class hot chocolate and Toblerone.

The following evening I was left behind once again, because my host family was invited to their friends for dinner. I was actually quite upset that they didn’t ask me to come along, especially because their friend actually invited me to come along. However in the end I’m just the nanny and not part of the family.

All week we were really lucky and had warm and sunny weather every day until Friday. On our last day my sunburn finally got a break when the clouds made all the mountains disappear and everything was painted in white again. The only downside was that it was rather uncomfortable to stay outside.

Even though I quite enjoyed the holidays, I was more than glad when I could say goodbye to the family and got on my way back to London.
As my host family had to leave before me, my host father dropped me off around 10.30am at the same café where he also picked me up a week ago and I waited until it was time to get the Regio Express back.

Around 11.15am I left the café for one last round through Klosters. I took this time to take a picture of the mountains with the fresh snow from the day before.
At 11.33am I took the Regio Express to Landquart, where I arrived at 12.15pm. I then had to wait until 12.49pm to take the ICE to Basel.
2 hours later, I arrived at 2.53pm in Basel and once again I had to hurry to the Shuttlebus, but this time to go back to the Euro Airport.

When I arrived at the Airport at 3.15pm I soon had to learn that my flight was affected by the industrial action and instead of British Airways, Privilege Style would bring me back to London. Because this change needed a bit preparation and the airports schedules had to rearranged, we only started boarding at 5.45pm, 30 minutes after the original lift off time.

At 6pm I was finally on the plane and couldn’t wait to get home. With 45 minutes delay we finally landed at 6.45pm (GMT) at London Heathrow Airport.
As we didn’t took off at the original time, our landing time at Heathrow was already over and after going in circles over London, we had to land at the Heathrow Cargo Airport. Therefore it was already 7.20pm when I finally was through border control, had my luggage and left the Airport. Just 4 minutes later I took the Piccadilly Line towards Central London. At Earl’s Court I changed to the District Line and it was 8.30 when I finally was back home.

I first unpacked my suitcase in the kitchen to then directly wash my laundry, go groceries shopping and finally to bed. I enjoyed the quiet house until 1.45pm on Sunday, 19th February, when my host family came back.

Four month later I got ready to join my host family once again on one of their trips. This time it was a short weekend trip to Belgium.
On Friday, 25th June, I had to leave the house at 7am in order to be at the Victoria Coach station on time. Even though I arrived at the Coaches at 7.30am, I had to realize that I actually was 30 minutes late.
By now I had made some experience with travelling by coach from the Victoria Coach Station. But so far I only travelled through England and never to Europe. Normally you have to be at the station 20 minutes before departure, but when you leave the country, you are requested to be there at least one hour before departure.

Luckily I wasn’t too late and was served at the border control straight away. After they checked my passport and printed me my tickets, I boarded the coach as one of the first.
At 8am we left Victoria Coach Station just on time and started our long journey to Bruges.
Around 10.30am we passed the first border control (british) and at 11am we were past the second border control (french) and on our way on the train.
The Train is a special train which is wide enough for cars to get on, but also high enough for busses. Unlike to a ferry, where you have to leave your vehicle, you stay in your vehicle for the time of the journey. However you are allowed to get out of the car/bus during the journey as long as you don’t walk between the cars.

The train goes through the Euro Tunnel. This Tunnel is underneath the Channel and completely dark. But that’s hard to tell anyway, as the train doesn’t have many windows. I easily felt trapped inside the bus, which is in the train. Therefore I was quite glad that we at least could leave the bus. Otherwise you would’ve been trapped in a box which is trapped in a box, which is trapped in a box. For everyone with claustrophobia a rather big problem.
At 11.50am (english time)/12.50pm (european time) we arrived in France and started the last bit of our journey to Bruges.

When we arrived in Bruges at 2.47pm, I quickly bought a train ticket and then got on the Train to Knokke. The train arrived at 3.20pm at my station in Duienbergen and I got off. As I had a rather bad headache and generally felt too tired to walk to the Apartment, I waited at the train station for my host mum to pick me up. An hour after I arrived she finally came to pick me up and brought me to the apartment to take a rest, while the others went to the beach.

At 6.30pm I woke up again and made my way to the beach to meet the others. After a bit of playtime for the children, we went back to the apartment to get changed and then go back to the beach for dinner.
Next to the restaurant was a playground and while the parents chatted and reconnected with their friends, me and two other Au Pairs were on childwatch duty.
Around 9.30pm we went with the children to buy ice creams, which was a rather interesting part, because there were 21 children in total.At 10.30pm we were finally back and the kids were sent to bed straight away.

The next morning I got lucky and had time to have a lie in. There weren’t enough rooms in the Apartment so I got to share my room with one of the boys (in separate beds obviously!!). I got lucky and had H as my room mate. H is the one who stays in bed the longest. Therefore it was no surprise that it was already 10am when the both of us woke up. We quickly got dressed and then joined the others for breakfast.

After breakfast we went to an indoor playground, because the weather was too bad to do anything outdoors. Around 12pm we arrived at the playground and stayed for 1 1/2 hours. When the weather cleared up, we even had the chance to go outside and play a bit with the go carts.

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Finally driving again! Even though I’m not quite big, I was too big for these cars…

Around 2pm we joined the other families for lunch. Afterwards the family went to an indoor tennis court to play some tennis with their friends. As I had another headache, I was able to go back to the Apartment where I took a nap until the family was back. In the evening we went to the apartment of one of their friends and the children and Au Pairs had Pizza. Around 7pm the host parents said goodbye, as they would meet their friends for dinner and I brought the boys to bed until I relaxed for the rest of the evening.

The next morning H and I once again had a lie in and joined the others for breakfast shortly past 10am. After breakfast I took V to the beach until we were joined by my host father and the other two boys around 11am. My host father then sent me back to the apartment so I could pack my things. At 11.30am my host mum and I were finished with packing and joined the others on the beach again.

Around 12.25pm my host mum brought me back to the train station, because my train left around 12.40pm. Luckily I had more than enough time to buy me a ticket before the train arrived. At 1pm I arrived in Bruges and after I bought myself something to drink, I went outside to the bus stop where I had to wait for 25 minutes until the bus arrived.

At 1.45pm the bus departed in Bruges and we drove straight to France. Even though we arrived at the french border control at 3.45pm, we couldn’t leave before 4pm. This time they not only checked our ID’s, but also our luggage and one girl of my group got held back for further investigations.
The british border control was a lot easier, as we only had to show our ID’s. Although I took a bit longer, because I had a little chat with my controller. When he checked my passport, he not only noticed my rather british name (Viktoria Elisabeth), but also that I was born in Trier. As chance would have it wasn’t he just familiar with the city as a tourist, but he actually lived and studied there. He even remembered the street he lived all those 30 years ago!

Between 4-5pm we were in the tunnel again and I got to know the guy, who was sat behind me, a bit better. On the last bit of our journey I suddenly was the one everyone around us would ask when we are going to arrive. I luckily got to know London quite well by now and were able to keep track. At 6.40pm, 10 minutes late, we finally arrived at Victoria Coach Station. Because the guy from behind had to get another bus to Birmingham and it was his first time in London, I kindly offered him that I will show him to the Department Station.

Around 7.30pm I finally got on my own way home, where I arrived at 8pm.
But the evening wasn’t over yet. As I would be travelling home on Tuesday, I started to pack my suitcase with all the things I wanted to bring home already. By 9pm I was finally finished and went to bed.

On Tuesday, 27th June, one day after I came back from Belgium, I went on yet another trip. This time’s destination was Trier, Germany.
As my flight was due to depart at 11.35am from London City Airport, I took the tube at 9.20am and arrived at 10.30am. Just 15 minutes later I already had checked in and went through security control.

At 11.20am we started boarding and 15 minutes later we took off. The flight was easy-going and we even landed 15 minutes early. Therefore it was no surprise that I arrived at my mum’s car by the time we originally were supposed to land.
The rest of the day I mainly spent with my family, although they finally treated me to one of the babycakes by the ‘Törtchen Manufaktur’. This shop opened sometime this year while I was in London and my mum and sister have been annoying me with constant pictures of the cakes they bought there.

The next morning was an early one as we had to get up at 5am. The only reason why I went home for such a short visit was an interview at a uni. Because the uni is around an hour drive away from my home town we wanted to make sure we’re on time for my interview and left around 7.30am.

I got invited for an interview at the HBK Saar, an arts uni where I applied for arts for teaching. The interview was at 9.15am and lasted only 15 minutes. After the interview I was already finished at the Uni and we went to the city centre to go a bit shopping.
On our way home I finally was able to drive again. My mum was quite hesitant at the beginning and I had to use the same strategy as my host children (be angry, ignore her and just sulk) to get her to let me drive.

In the afternoon I joined my mum for her weekly english lesson, where her ‘classmates’ got to ask me any question they wanted and I got to take part in their lesson.
Afterwards I took the time to meet my best friend again. Mäthi and I haven’t seen each other since September, when he came to visit me. Therefore we had a lot to talk about, but I’m glad to see that nothing has changed, except that we both grew up a bit more and are now facing new challenges in life.

On Thursday morning it was time for me to leave again. Luckily it wasn’t too hard saying goodbye this time, because we know that I’m going to be back in less than a month.
Even though I was rather early, I had to wait a long time until I could check in, as they had check in for several flights at the same desks.
But at 9.45am I finally made it through check in and security and had to wait for 5 minutes for border control.

Afterwards I had to wait another 50 minutes until we finally started. It was already 11.25am when I finally got on the tube to go back home.
As my normal working schedule includes me picking up L at 1pm on a Thursday, I had to hurry home. Even though I made it home for 12.30pm, I didn’t need to pick him up, as my host mum offered to take over to give me a little break. I was rather glad that she took over, because the last couple of days have been really exhausting.

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A pigeon got lost on the tube

Luckily I didn’t went through all the hassle of flying to Germany for a 15 minutes interview for nothing. On Friday, 30th June, my mum sent me a message that there is a letter from the uni: I GOT ACCEPTED!

Now I only need to worry about getting accepted for english and I’m all set for my future life!
Hopefully I’ll still be able to travel, because all these trips, as exhausting as they can be, really made me realize how much I love travelling.

Love,
Vicky! Xx

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– bring forth May flowers.

As you may have noticed I’m three days late with my blog post, but this post has a lot information and it took me quite a while to write it all down. I hope you can forgive me and at least there is a new one in just three days time. But for now, time for a new countdown:

ONLY 20 DAYS LEFT!

In less than 3 weeks I’m going to be back home and finished with my year. It’s weird to think that I only have less than a month left.
Luckily I did a lot of sightseeing in May so I don’t need to fit all of it in this three weeks.
May started with a trip to visit friends outside of London, but I’m writing about the bigger trips in separate blog posts. However I’ll let you know when I skip a date to save it for another time.

On Saturday, 6th May, I met with Lea at 10am near Charing Cross Station. We then took the Tube to Lambeth North to visit the Garden Museum, but sadly it was still closed, even though the internet told us something different. Walking around Archbishop’s Park and past Lambeth Palace without finding the right entrance, we gave up and instead went to Southbank.
An announcement in Time Out London’s magazine really caught our eyes and we wanted to check it out:

Bosch’s Giant Dishwasher:
Stand under 2000 litres of recycled water and remain completely dry at Bosch’s giant dishwasher installation this weekend. It’s sure to cause serious envy for those who do the washing up by hand.’

It took us a bit of time until we found it, but it was quite funny. Like you can see in the pictures it was a box like installation. There was water falling from the ceiling and you could walk through. When you moved normally and not to hasty, the water would stop in that area you where walking. It’s quite a weird feeling to walk through as you don’t really expect it to stop but it does and you stay completely dry.

From the giant dishwasher we moved on and took the tube from Southwark to Tottenham Court Road to go to Primark for a short visit.
After we were finished at Primark and it was time for lunch, we searched for the closest Nando’s to enjoy a good lunch.
When we were finished with our lunch we were looking for something new to do and walked from Tottenham Court Road to Leicester Square and then to the National Portrait Gallery, which is around the corner of the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square.

Entering the National Portrait Gallery, we were greeted by a statue hanging from the ceiling which was quite familiar to me, as I just saw many more of the same statue as part of a big art installation on a beach the weekend before.
The first part of the Gallery were rather old portraits, but still quite interesting. However the further we went through the Gallery the newer the portraits got. Obviously there are also quite a few royal portraits and sculptures.

Within the modern portraits we found a portrait of British Olympic diver Tom Daley, HRH Prince Philipp Duke of Edinburgh, HM Queen Elizabeth II, Diana Princess of Wales, Dame Maggie Smith, HRH Catherine Duchess of Cambridge and Beatles’ Paul McCartney.

When we went back downstairs, we visited a separate exhibition room which shows the newest portrait the Gallery has: Ed Sheeran!
The portrait, which was made by Colin Davidson in 2016, is the first painted portrait of Ed Sheeran and shows him in a moment of quiet introspection. The artist commented on the drawing that ‘there is a youthful aspect to it but also something experienced beyond his years’.
I completely agree with Davidson and have to admit that this portrait is most likely my favourite in the whole Gallery.

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Ed Sheeran by Colin Davidson (2016)

After we were finished at the National Portrait Gallery, we went to the close by Covent Garden to enjoy a hot chocolate at the ‘Whittard of Chelsea Covent Garden Tea Bar’. This time I tried the Creme Brûlée hot Chocolate which was more than delicious.
Around 6.30pm I was back home to have a rest.

The next morning, 7th May, Lea and I met once again, but this time in South Kensington. This weekend was the summer festival of the Imperial College. They use it as a type of open house thing to inform people about what they do and also to give an insight in science.
Around 2pm we left the College and got on our way towards Kensington Palace. As it was no big detour we decided to walk past The Royal Albert Hall and The Albert Memorial.
When we arrived at Kensington Palace around 2.30pm we bought tickets and started our journey through the palace.

It started with the King’s staircase, which is quite pompous featuring an impressive painting on the ceiling. It was drawn by architect and artist William Kent in 1727 for King George I.
After the King’s staircase came the King’s Gallery and the Cupola Room. Both had interesting drawings and designs on the walls as well. King George II and Queen Caroline used Kensington rather for entertaining than for official business. The Cupola Room is the room where all the entertaining took place. The musician Händel often brought his troupe of Italian opera singers, who then sung operas at the Palace they just performed in London’s West End.

In the Queen’s Bedroom we learned how the House of Stuart came to an end. A year after Queen Anne’s son William had died, she had a stroke and died herself. She didn’t left an heir, which would’ve made James II’s son the new king, but the parliament prevented this by drawing up the Act of Succession after William’s death. This also made any other Catholic ineligible to claim the throne.
Parliament had to consider the claims of over fifty family members throughout Europe to finally choose Sophia, Electress of Hanover, and her heirs. With Sophia’s son King George I the time of the House of Stuart was over and the ‘Hanoverian’ dynasty began.

Kensington Palace was bought by King William and Queen Mary in the summer of 1689. The same year as they were crowned as joint monarchs, after arriving in England just the year before. They were invited by the Parliament in 1688 to take the throne in place of Catholic King James II, Mary’s father. William, ruler of Netherlands, and Mary arrived by sea at Torbay and were welcomed into the country. King James II and his family fled in the night to France. This event became known as the ‘Glorious Revolution’.
After this house in the green suburbs was bought, they command the royal architect Sir Christopher Wren to rebuild and extend it to the Palace we know today. The rooms upstairs were designed for Queen Mary to overlook her Gardens, which were designed in the Dutch style.

After we walked downstairs via the Queen’s Staircase, we queued up for the Diana exhibition. ‘Diana – Her Fashion Story’ shows various outfits Diana wore to track her evolution as a princess, trendsetter and humanitarian.
Diana, Princess of Wales combined the allure of royalty with the fascination of international celebrity and quickly learned how to craft her public image carefully.


“Whenever the Princess discussed her clothes with me, part of it was always, ‘What message will I be giving out if I wear this?’ For her, that became the real language of clothes.”
 – Jasper Conran, Fashion Designer

In the exhibition we could see a choice of clothes Diana once wore. Some designs on the wall proved that she often looked over the designs to make a comment on what to change or to let the designer know that she doesn’t like the design at all.

When we left Kensington Palace we also went for a walk through the Garden that was made for Queen Mary. This year the gardeners created a White Garden to mark 20 years since Diana’s death. Diana lived at Kensington Palace for 15 years and enjoyed the Garden, quite often she would even stop to talk to the gardeners.
After we spent the afternoon at Kensington Palace we got on our way back to South Kensington. Shortly past 5pm I got on my home after a long day out.

On Tuesday, 9th May, we were out again to visit Madame Tussaud’s. But I’m gonna write about this in an extra post.

The next time Lea and I met was on Sunday, 14th May. This time we met at Earl’s Court Station on the Westbound platform. The destination for the day was Richmond. When we arrived around 12.30pm we tried to find our way to Richmond Park. I said tried, because we got lost more than once on the way there and it took us around an hour to get there. But when we finally made it we were baffled. It’s truly an amazing place.
However the greatest thing about it is that’s so close to this big city. There is this big quiet place surrounded by a city full of live.  Even though I read about it, I was still quite surprised to see that the animals in the park are free to roam around and you can get so close to them.

After a lunch break and walking around the park for around 2 hours, we were so tired that we decided to head to Fulham to have a rest. Around 4pm we arrived in Fulham and I showed Lea the area where I live until Camilla was there to join us. Even though it was Camilla’s birthday, we just went for a drink at Caffé Nero, as she got her present on Tuesday already.
We had a fun time together and this afternoon really brought us closer.

The following week was full of new things as well. On Monday I first got in contact with a Fidget Spinner, only to find out later on that they’re the new must have and there is a big hype going around the whole world. On Tuesday, 16th May, Lea, Camilla and I met at St Paul’s Cathedral to visit the Museum of London. This time we were joined by another german girl called Jara.
Jara and Lea met up a few times and she kept Lea company every time I couldn’t. We arrived at the museum shortly to 11am and started our way through it.

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Fidget Spinner!

The Museum shows the history of London from the glorious and grisly past to its modern life today. On the journey through the Museum we learned about how the romans built the first city in the river Thames and we even where able to see parts of the ancient city wall that was built by the Romans over 2000 years ago. Especially for Lea and me this really was a reminder of our own city that was built by romans.
We also learned how London had to suffer through the Great Fire and the Great Plague in 1666.

The Olympic Games in 2012 are also widely featured in the Museum of London. In their collectives exhibition are quite a few items showcased. These range from sports clothes to medals. But the biggest part regarding Olympia 2012 is the room about the Cauldron and the Ceremonies.
The London 2012 Cauldron is  a representation of the extraordinary togetherness that the Games symbolise and was revealed at midnight on 27th July 2012. It is made up of 204 individually crafted copper pieces, each representing one of the competing nations. The copper pieces were designed to be on stems which rose up fitting the pace and choreography to come together as one. Each stem carried a fragment of the Olympic flame, only burning as one when they finally and perfectly nestled together.
During the closing ceremonies the cauldron unfold and released its copper elements. All of them had been inscribed with the name of a competing nation and they got to take their own copper piece back home.

However it was also quite interesting to walk through the reconstructed street from a Victorian London. Another interesting part leading us through the Museum was a time line that featured all the important facts happening in the world and in London throughout the years.

Timeline 1650 – 2010
A few of the world events, London firsts and milestones that have shaped the capital’s life over the last 360 years.

1652 – The Manchu Dynasty rules most of China
1666‘The Great Fire of London’ – Fire breaks out in Pudding Lane and devastates four fifths of the City of London.
1675 – The Royal Observatory – The Royal Observatory was founded, home of Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian Line.
1988‘The Glorious Revolution’ – King James II is overthrown and William of Orange and his wife Mary ascend the throne.
1708 – St Paul’s Cathedral – Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, St Paul’s is finally rebuilt after its destruction in the Great Fire.
– By 1714 there are more than 500 coffee houses in London. –
1733‘Flying Shuttle’ – John Kay, the inventor of the ‘Flying Shuttle’, patents a shuttle used for weaving woolen and linen cloth.
1759 – The first accurate Chronometer – John Harrison’s watch H4 solves the ‘longitude problem’, allowing sailors to navigate accurately at sea.
  – British rule in India begins. –
1774 – The Royal Society of Arts building – Robert Adam designs a building for the society that encourages the arts, manufactures and commerce.
1780‘The Gordon Riots’ – Violent anti-Catholic riots erupt across London. Prisons and the Bank of England are attacked.
1784‘London balloon flight’ – Vincenzo Lunardi launches the first hot-air balloon, carrying passengers from Moorfields.
1789‘Equiano’s autobiography’ – Olaudah Equiano campaigns to end the slave trade in his bestselling book, published in London.
 – The slave trade abolished throughout the British Empire –
1831 – The electic dynamo – The physicist Michael Faraday invents the dynamo, the first electrical generator.
1837 – Euston railway station – London’s first mainline station opens, the terminus of the London and Birmingham Railway.
1840 – The Penny Black stamp – The world’s first postage stamp, invented by Rowland Hill, is issued by the Post Office.
1848‘Mass Chartist demonstrations’ – Working-class men gather on Kennington Common hoping to gain the vote and secure political reform.
1851‘The Great Exhibition opens’ – A vast temporary glass building in Hyde Park displays products from all nations.
 – Russia, Britain and France at war –
1858‘The ‘Great Stink’’ – Failing drainage turns the River Thames into a deadly, stinking sewer.
1863 – The world’s first underground railway – On its opening day the Metropolitan line carries 30 000 passengers between Paddington and Farringdon.
1868 – St Pancras railway station opens – The Midland Railway opens a grand London passenger terminus on the Euston Road.
1878 – London’s first electric street lamps – The Thames Embankment becomes London’s first public area to be lit by electric power.
1688‘The Jack the Ripper murders’ The murder of prostitutes in the East End focuses attention on one of London’s poorest areas.
– New Zealand gives women the vote –
1894 – Tower Bridge completed – After eight years of construction Tower Bridge opens, creating a new London landmark.
1898 – First London escalator installed – Harrods store installs London’s first escalator. Nervous shoppers are offered smelling salts.
– By the 1890s one third of Londoners lived in poverty. –
1901‘The Death of Queen Victoria’ – After a 63 year reign Queen Victoria dies, aged 81. She is succeeded by her son Edward VII.
1906 – The luxury Ritz Hotel opens – César Ritz, Parisian hotelier and former manager of The Savoy, opens a luxury hotel in Piccadilly.
1908‘London Olympic Games’ – More than 3000 competitors from 21 nations compete in London’s first Olympic Games.
– World War I breaks out in Europe –
1918‘Votes for women secured’ – Eight million women over the age of 30 are given the vote in parliamentary elections.
1919 – Hammersmith Palais opens – An American-style luxury dance hall opens for business at Hammersmith.
1922 – First London radio station – The British Broadcasting Company begins regular radio broadcasts from Marconi House in the Strand.
1923 ‘Wembley Stadium opens’ – Bolton Wanderers beat West Ham United in the first FA Cup final to be held at the new Wembley Stadium.
1928 – The ‘Talkies’ come to London – Londoners see their first films with sound, including ‘The Jazz Singer’ at the Piccadilly Theatre.
  – The Wall Street Crash shakes economies around the world –
1933 – First automatic traffic lights – The new traffic controls are installed at Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly, London’s busiest road junctions.
1943 – Battersea Power Station opens – The completion of London’s giant power station gives the capital a striking new landmark.
  – By 1939 one fifth of the British population lived in London. –
1940‘London devastated by the Blitz’ in the second year of World War II Londoners endure 11 weeks of intensive aerial bombing.
1944 – Flying bombs fall on London – V1 ‘Doodlebug’ bombs descend on the capital with an ominous, whirring sound.
1945 – The end of World War II – Celebrations across the capital as Londoners welcome peace after six years of war.
  – India and Pakistan become independent nations –
1948‘The Olympic Games’ – The first post-war Olympic Games are held in London. 59 nations compete for medals.
  – By the 1950s women outnumber men in London offices. –
1951 – Royal Festival Hall opened – The Royal Festival Hall opens on 3 May 1951 as part of the Festival of Britain.
1952 – Commercial travel by jet – The world’s first commercial passenger jet flight takes off from Heathrow, bound for Cape Town.
1952‘Smog stifles London’ – Thousands die from respiratory diseases caused by air pollution in the Great Smog of 1952.
1956 – The first Routemaster bus – A new type of London bus, ‘The Routemaster’, enters service on London’s streets.
  – Yuri Gagarin, a Russian, is the first man in space –
1965 – The Post Office Tower – At 159 metres, the Post Office Tower (now called the B.T. Tower) becomes London’s tallest building.
1971 – D-Day: Decimalisation day – On 15th February 1971 the whole of Britain switches to a decimal currency system.
1973‘More IRA bomb campaigns’ – The Irish Republican Army steps up its bombing campaign. Explosions rock central London.
1982 – The Thames Barrier completed – The Thames Barrier gives London a state-of-the-art flood defence system. The cost is £500 million.
1985 – Mobile phone systems launch – Launch of ‘Callnet’ and Vodafone, Britain’s first mobile phone services. Early phones are costly.
  – The 1987 hurricane is London’s worst storm since 1703. –
1994‘Direct trains to Paris’ – The Channel Tunnel, also known as the ‘Chunnel’, links London and Paris by rail.
  – First pages appear on the World Wide Web –
2012‘London strikes Olympic gold’ – London hosts the best Olympic and Paralympic Games ever. Londoners celebrate.

Around 1.45pm we said goodbye and got on our way back home. But on Friday we met once again, just this time without Camilla as she had to work.
We met around 10.45am at Warwick Avenue to then walk to an area called Little Venice. Sadly the weather wasn’t so nice and therefore the experience wasn’t as nice as it could’ve been, but I’m still happy I saw this amazing part of London. From there we walked through Paddington Station to Hyde Park.

We first went to see the Italian Gardens with the Italian fountains, from there we walked towards the Peter Pan statue and then to Kensington Gardens. It’s quite hard to say when you’re in Hyde Park and when in Kensington Gardens, as there is no division between the two of them. However our next stop was the Serpentine Gallery which is part of Kensington Gardens.

In a 1930s tea pavilion the Serpentine Gallery is housed. It seeks out avant-Garde artworks of today and each year assign a notable architect with the construction of a temporary pavilion. After summer is over the pavilion is dismantled and sold to cover the expenses. A 5-10 minutes walk from the Serpentine Gallery is the Serpentine-Sackler Gallery. Attached to the building of the Serpentine-Sackler Gallery is a restaurant called the Magazine. The building of the restaurant was designed by the world-famous architect Zaha Hadid.

From the Serpentine-Sackler Gallery we walked to the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain. Visitors of the Memorial Fountain are invited to sit on the side and paddle their hands and feet in the water, but a sign at the entrance kindly asks visitors to not walk on the Memorial or in the water.
As this is a Memorial and therefore a quiet place, the sign also remembers visitors to take their ball games and loud plays to different areas of the park.
The Memorial Fountain was constructed using Cornish Granite and expresses Diana’s spirit and love of children. ‘Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain opened by Her Majesty The Queen on 6th July 2004’ is the inscription on one side of the fountain.

As it was already quite late and we all had to get back to work, we walked from the Memorial Fountain to South Kensington Station, where we all got our separate ways home after a quick lunch at Starbucks.

On Saturday, 20th May, we all met once again to visit the Tate Britain. Therefore we took the tube to Pimlico where we met around 12.45pm.
As the pictures at Tate Britain are sorted into a time line, we tried to follow this time line from the beginning to the end. On the way to the beginning we walked past a few modern objects hanging in the big halls of Tate Britain.

However the Gallery not only leads through the time with their displayed pictures, but also with a time line of the Gallery’s history:

1600-1750 – Early collectors, usually noble families, concentrate on Old Masters or commission family portraits by European artists active in Britain such as Anthony van Dyck.
1768 – Collecting British art, to represent the emerging national school, takes off after the founding of the Royal Academy of Arts and the establishment of its annual exhibitions, which become fashionable events.
1780s – The 3rd Earl of Egremont, patron of JMW Turner and many other British artists, forms a private gallery at his country property of Petworth House, Sussex (now managed by The National Trust).
1790s – Sir John Leicester creates galleries at Tabley, Cheshire, and Hill Street, Mayfair, the latter open to the public from 1806, including Turner’s Shipwreck.
1808 – The Department of Prints and Drawings is founded at The British Museum. Home of the national collection of prints and drawings, today it has over 30 000 drawings and watercolours by British artists as well as over one million British prints.
1823 – Sir John Leicester (now Lord De Tabley) offers to sell his collection to the nation for a Gallery of British Art. The government refuses and the collection is sold.
Turner, who envisages a posthumous Turner Gallery to ‘keep my pictures together’ and meanwhile maintains his own collection, buys back his Shipwreck.
1824 – The government buys the collection of John Julius Angerstein to found a gallery. Mainly Old Masters, it includes David Wilkie’s Village Holiday. Angerstein’s house, 100 Pall Mall, houses the new National Gallery until a dedicated building is constructed.
1827 – Sir George Beaumont presents pictures to the nation, including works by Thomas Gainsborough, Richard Wilson and David Walkie. These join the National Gallery in Pall Mall.
1838 – The National Gallery opens in Trafalgar Square, with the Royal Academy adjacent to it until 1868. It will collect Old Master and British paintings.
1840 – The sculptor Sir Francis Chantrey bequeaths a fund to collect modern British art. Administered by the Royal Academy, the fund buys its first work in 1877. It will be the main purchase grant for the Tate Gallery when it is established in 1897.
1847 – Robert Vernon gives 157 British pictures to the nation, including the first Turner to go on public display. For lack of space, most other pictures remain at his Pall Mall house or are shown at Marlborough House and the South Kensington Museum (known as the Victoria and Albert Museum).
1852 – Turner’s Sun Rising through Vapour and Dido Building Carthage; or the Rise of the Carthaginian Empire are hung in the National Gallery with two paintings by Claude Lorrain in accordance with the wished of Turner, who had died in 1851.
1854 – The Turner Bequest, including nearly 300 paintings, is accepted by the nation. Selections are shown at the South Kensington Museum until 1876.
1857 – John Sheepshanks presents 236 British pictures to the South Kensington Museum.
1876 – The National Gallery is enlarged, allowing the display of more Turner and Vernon bequest pictures.
The National Gallery occasionally buys modern British pictures, such as Pegwell Bay, Kenta Recollection of October 5th 1858 by William Dyce, The Derby Day by William Powell Frith and Ecce Ancilla Domini! (The Annunciation) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, but remains mainly an Old Master collection. It is increasingly short of space.
1889 – Henry Tate offers 60 modern British pictures to the nation. These are rejected but he offers to fund a new gallery to house them, causing national debate.
1897 – 21st July The National Gallrey of British Art (already popularly dubbed the ‘Tate Gallery’) opens on Millbank, on the site of a former prison. The Tate’s pictures, including Ophelia by John Everett Millais are hung and some British pictures are lent by the National Gallery, which retains overall control. The Tate will be steered towards ‘British modern art’ (artists born after 1790 or 1800) while the National Gallery retains ‘supreme glories’ of 18th century painting.
The artist GF Watts donates 18 paintings to the newly established Tate Gallery, later adding further paintings and a sculpture.
1903 – The Art Fund is launched, becoming Britain’s leading charity for the purchase of art for the nation’s collections. The first work acquired by the Tate with its support is James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s Nocturne: Blue and GoldOld Battersea Bridge, purchased in 1905.
1906 – Unfinished studio works by Turner, newly restored, are shown for the first time.
1910 – A new Turner wing, funded by the art dealer Joseph Duveen, opens.
The Contemporary Art Society is founded to promote modern art in public museums and galleries.
1915 – A Director and dedicated Trustees are appointed at the Tate Gallery, independent of the National Gallery, charged to collect historic British and modern foreign art.
1918 – The Tate’s Director forms a consortium to buy works by William Blake for public collections in Britain and the Empire. 20 illustrations to Dante’s Divine Comedy come to the Tate.
1919 – More than 200 British pictures are transferred from the National Gallery to the Tate.
1920 – The Tate is designated ‘The National Gallery, Millbank’.
1926 – Galleries devoted to modern art, foreign art and Sargent (featuring family portraits by the artist given by the art dealer Asher Wertheimer) are funded by Sir Joseph Duveen.
1927 – Duveen presents Stanley Spencer’s Resurrection, Cookham and funds Rex Whistler’s murals, Pursuit of Rare Meats, in the refreshment room.
1928 – A Thames flood damages many works, including works on paper from the Turner Bequest.
1932 – The name ‘Tate Gallery’ becomes official for the first time.
1934 – The British Council is established with official responsibility ‘for cultural and social relations between the United Kingdom and people of other lands’. It forms its own collection now totalling over 8000 works of British art.
1939 – More previously unseen Turners, found stored at the National Gallery, are shown.
1939 – 45 – During the war, the Tate Gallery is closed and suffers extensive bomb damage. But acquisitions continue, including, in 1945, John Martin’s apocalyptic triptych The Last Judgement.
1946 – The Tate receives its own purchase grant of £2000 from the government.
The Arts Council Collection is formed collecting works by modern British artists and continues to acquire work by emerging British artists, with over 7500 works.
1949 – The National Gallery contributes 19th century British pictures to the new Tate displays but also reclaims Hogarth’s Marriage a la Mode.
1955 – The Tate and National Galleries are separated by law, leading to further, limited transfers of pictures. In the following decades the Tate extends its remit, building a comprehensive collection of British art from 1545 to the present while the National shows selected highlights.
1958 – The Friends of the Tate Gallery (now Tate Members) is founded to support purchases for the collection, the first being Henry Moore’s sculpture King and Queen, acquired in 1959.
1970 – Alistar McAlpine (later Lord McAlpine of West Green) presents to Tate 60 recent sculptures by contemporary British artists.
1974 – The Yale Center for British Art opens in New Haven, USA, displaying Paul Mellon’s important collection of British art, gifted to Yale University in 1966.
1975 – The Tate’s emerging modern print collection is enhanced by gifts from Rose and Chris Prater, founders of Kelpra Studio, who give the Tate a copy of every print they have produced, and from The Curwen Studio.
1980 – The Tate acquires a group of works by British and foreign artists from EJ Power, a former Trustee.
The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) is established. Major works acquired by the Tate with its support include John Constable’s The Opening of Waterloo Bridge (‘Whitehall Stairs, June 18th, 1817’).
1982 – The Patrons of New Art is established to support acquisitions of contemporary art by artists of international repute. The Patrons’ Special Purchase Fund acquires work by younger artists, many previously unrepresented in the Tate collection.
1986 – The Patrons of British Art is formed to acquire British art from the 16th century to the present. Among works presented are paintings by William Blake, Spencer Gore, Thomas Lawrence and CRW Nevinson, ad sculptures by Thomas Woolner.
1987 – The Clore Gallery opens, bringing together the majority of the paintings and all the original works on paper from the Turner Bequest. The building is funded by Sir Charles Clore and designed by James Stirling.
1992 – The Heritage Lottery Fund is formed to distribute funds to cultural causes. It has since supported many major acquisitions, from the Oppé Collection of watercolours to sculpture by Jacob Epstein and drawings by Francis Bacon.
1996 – Janet Wolfson de Botton presents 60 contemporary works to the Tate.
With the assistance of the National Lottery through the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Tate acquires the collection of Paul Oppé, consisting of over 3000 watercolours and drawings by British artists.
2000 – Tate Modern opens at Bankside displaying international art from 1900. The Tate Gallery returns to its original role as the national gallery of British art. Renamed ‘Tate Britain’ it displays British art from 1545 to the present day.
2008 – Simon Sainsbury bequeaths a number of British and international works.
Anthony d’Offay makes the gift of ARTIST ROOMS, a collection of British and international contemporary art.

We got to see so many drawings of so many talented artists, but there were two paintings that really stood out to me. While the one picture was an amazing drawing of a fascinating landscape by John Martin (‘The Plains of Heaven’ 1851-1853), the other one, a drawing by John Singer Sargent, shows no other than Impressionist Claude Monet drawing one of his Masterpieces himself (‘Claude Monet Painting by the Edge of a wood’ 1885).
Before we left, we took the chance to see an arts in movement performance. 8 artists ‘painted’ a picture by making movements and noises and bringing everything together one after another until they reached a big final.
It was quite interesting and definitely a type of art for me.

After this performance we were finished at Tate Britain and went back to the Tube Station. As the day was far from over we quickly had to decide what we could do next. Our new destination was Regent’s Park. Neither of us had been here before and we all thought it might be worth to take a look.
We had good weather and the sun would make an appearance from time to time which made the experience even better. The Park is full of green areas and flowerbeds with some fountains in between. Inside this already beautiful park is the Inner Circle and within this gated part of the Park are the Queen Mary’s Gardens.

The Queen Mary’s Gardens are by far the most beautiful free Gardens I’ve seen so far. This big Garden is separated into many different parts. We first went to the Rose Gardens. Here you can see many different kinds of roses and each kind has their one special name like ‘Remember Me’ or ‘Keep Smiling’. In the middle of the Rose Gardens is a big circular area with a flowerbed in the middle and different ones around it. In the outer circle are many benches were you can sit down and enjoy this natural beauty.

We decided to have a seat ourselves and indulge in our lunch snack. But clearly we didn’t thought about the animals and soon were attacked by a squirrel! Yes squirrel. These Rat like animals that everyone thinks so highly of because of their sweet and fluffy tail. You can tell that I was the one who had been attacked as I got over my adoration for those animals.

After our lunch has been so rudely interrupted, we moved on and soon came to a bridge to cross over a small pond that sits in the middle of the garden. We then followed the way along the pond and came to the Japanese Garden in Regent’s Park. This Garden had some similar features to the one I saw with Camilla, like the Waterfall or  a Japanese stone lantern. But the best part of this area is the small island that lies within the pond and is accessible from one side. By now Lea had unpacked her big camera and we started taking pictures for fun, but I’ve got to say, I quite like them!

After our photo session we tried to find our way back out of the Queen Mary’s Gardens and then also back out of Regent’s Park. We exited the Park close to Baker Street. As Sherlock Holmes supposedly used to live here, we decided to go by his old address and visited the Museums shop.

Following our trip to Tate Britain on Saturday, Lea and I met on Monday, 22nd May to visit Tate Modern. Even though I’ve been here before, I wanted to come back to take another look and especially because there were a few new artworks.

I once again fawned over Claude Monet’s Water-Lilies and a few of Marc Rothko’s works of art. An interesting new artwork is ‘Monochrome Till Receipt’ from 1999 by Ceal Floyer. When you first look at it you start thinking why a till receipt is exhibited in an art gallery. But after reading the information for it and taking another look, I finally understood what it is really about. This receipt is not just any receipt, but the artist draw a picture by buying only white things.

I was quite surprised though to see a work of art of one of my favourite artists in the world: Niki de Saint Phalle. Sadly it wasn’t one of her world-famous sculptures called ‘Nana’, but one of her older pieces. ‘Shooting Picture’ (1961) is one of her ‘tirages’. These pictures were prepared by filling polythene bags with paint and enclosing them within layers of plaster against a blackboard. To draw the picture she then shot at the painting and the picture started ‘bleeding’ with paint. This Shooting Picture in particular was not shot by Niki herself, but by the artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns.
Of course I also got to enjoy some of Andy Warhol’s pictures as well and also the radio Tower ‘Babel’ by Cildo Meireles.

Behind the Tate Modern power station Building is the Switch House building. In this building are a few more exhibition rooms. One of these rooms features art with the topic city and a big rubber ‘carpet’ lies in the middle of the room. But this ‘carpet’ isn’t just a carpet, it’s a precisely detailed map of Beirut embossed into rubber made by Marwan Rechmaoui. Visitors are permitted to walk over the map and engage with the artist’s representation.

In another part of the building various sculptures and artworks are shown. One of those is ‘Spider’ (1994) by Louise Bourgeois. This large-scale bronze spider represents the spider as the strong mother: a protector, creator and repairer. This idea comes mainly from a poem the artist wrote for her mother in which she compares the mother to a spider. In a smaller room adjoin to this one, is another one of Louise Bourgeoise spiders. ‘Spider I’ (1995) is smaller than the first one and belongs to a series of spider sculptures.

The last thing we went to see was the London Skyline. In Switch House you can take a lift up to the 10th Floor. The 10th Floor is mostly open and you can walk around the house to take a look from every side on London’s beautiful Skyline.
However that was not the last I’ve done in May, on the last weekend we did two sightseeing days were we went from one attraction to the next and this post is already quite long so I’m going to spare that for a different time.

Thank you for reading and now that you got an idea on how much we’ve done in May, you might understand why it took me so long to write it (6180 words!).
Hope you enjoyed reading about our adventures, especially because there are sooo many more to come.

Love,
Vicky! Xx

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.

Photo 03-02-2017, 10 42 13

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.

16473627_1400340696664897_5717763235080741319_n

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

The Countdown starts…

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

ONLY 50 DAYS LEFT!

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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Struck by the flu!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,
Vicky! Xx

 

22nd December: Countdown to Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,
Vicky! Xx

18th December: Little Germany

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

17th December: Surprise! Surprise!

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

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

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

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

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

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Boarding the Plane…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My lovely family reunited 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,
Vicky! Xx

13th December: Off the beaten track…

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

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

 

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My nice Gingerbread Cupcake

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

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Two birthday cards – Happy Birthday!

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

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

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

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

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

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The perfect weather for a nice walk in the fields

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

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

9th December: Uphill and Downhill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,
Vicky! Xx

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