20th December: 23 632 steps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,
Vicky! Xx

12th December: WHIP-MA-WHOP-MA-GATE

The WHIP-MA-WHOP-MA-GATE is the smallest street in York. It is just a length of raised pavement between St Crux church and a small road junction and intersects The Pavement and The Stonebow.

The origin of the name is quite unclear. Apparently it derives from a phrase “Whitnourwhatnourgate” which would mean “What a Street!”.
When I went to York on Wednesday, 26th October for the first time, I even got to see the street. At first I just took a picture of the street sign because of its name, but later on I found out the real meaning of this sign.

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WHIP-MA-WHOP-MA-GATE or “Whitnourwhatnourgate”, Yorks smallest street

Since the youngest of Andrews daughters studies at the University of York, we used the opportunity and went to visit her.
Because I’ve never been there before, they walked me through the York City Centre. Due to time limitations I wasn’t able to go inside some sights, but at least I’ve been there and were able to see the York Minster and a bit of the old historic city.

York is just like Lincoln a very historic city. The walled city is the county town of Yorkshire and is located in the north of the county.
In 71 AD it’s been found by the Romans as Eboracum. It became and still is the capital of the northern ecclesiastical province of the Church of England.

The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York is the largest Minster in Northern Europe. Not only is it the seat of the archbishop of York, but also the second highest office of the Church of England and the mother Church Diocese of York.
The name ‘Minster’ was attributed to describe the typical architecture of the Anglo-Saxon period and is still used as honorific title now.

From the minster we walked through some of the shopping streets of York. Some of the streets were proof of how old the city is, as the streets were narrow and the houses were old-looking and sometimes really small.

Funniest thing was a bible hung in the doorway of a shop. But most of all I enjoyed walking through the local Käthe Wohlfahrt shop, since it was a piece of home in the foreign country. It reminded me so much of the Christmas market at home. Even though it was quite funny to see what they think is typical german, it was so different from what it is really like. But the shop was really sweet and you definitely got a Christmassy feeling in the small shop with all its nooks and crannies full of Christmas decorations and ornaments.

Walking through the streets we passed another historic part of York: Bettys Café Tea Rooms. After the founder Frederick Belmont went on RMS Queen Mary’s maiden voyage in 1936, he was inspired by the ships layout and employed the designers to turn a dilapidated furniture store into an elegant Café. A few years later the Café on St Helen’s Square became even more famous. After World War II broke out ‘Bettys Bar’ in the basement of the Café became the favourite haunt of 1000s of airmen stationed around York, the ‘Bomber Boys’.
Inside the Café is ‘Bettys Mirror’ on display to tribute the airmen, who engraved their signatures with a diamond pen.

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Bettys Café Tea Rooms on St Helen’s Square in York

After we’ve seen most of the city Center we tried to find a place to eat, since Ruth had to be back at university quite early to visit a concert there.
When we found a place to eat at 6pm we all had a nice and big burger before we brought Ruth back and went on our way home.

Just a week later, on the 2nd Novemeber, we went back to York again. This time Hannah and Julie’s mum came with us, since Ruth had a university performance we went to see.
The music department of the University of York has regularly performances. One of these is the yearly practical project.

This years project was “A portrait of the Artist” to celebrate the centenary of the publication of James Joyce’s novel ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’.
With texts and songs of his work it celebrates Joyce’s life and also reflects the political tensions of the period of the Easter Rising of 1916.

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The shows flyer

The show started at 7.30pm at the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall. Since it was the opening night, they even had a live stream on YouTube, where you can still watch the show:

The show was a mixture of music and theatre and was very interesting to see. But I have to admit that for me it was quite hard to understand, since the acoustic wasn’t always the best and some students didn’t spoke clear enough or even tried to imitate the Irish accent.

Even though I didn’t understand everything, I still got what it was about and my trip to Ireland earlier this year helped a lot to understand things, as I had a basic knowledge of the Irish history. And I still was able to see what a great performance the music department put on and I really enjoyed to see it.

When the show was over, we waited for Ruth to come out and then went for a quick drink to a local pub to celebrate her debut on the university stage and to have a nice ending to a nice evening.
Since we left quite late that day to travel to York, I didn’t get to see much of York that time around. But that was no problem at all, since I’ve already been to York the week before.

When I’ve got the time I’ll definitely have to travel to York again and then take a good look inside the York Minster and maybe go and see some other of the historic places.

See you then, York!
Vicky! Xx

11th December: Lasting Memories – II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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London Bridge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking forward to see the next visitors,
Vicky! Xx

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

5th December: Welcome to my Palace

Being in London with the name Viktoria Elisabeth, there is just one place for me to visit: Buckingham Palace!

So Amelie and I went to see Buckingham Palace on the fine Sunday afternoon of the 18th September. Since the sister of my host mum came to visit with her family the day before, I stayed home until they left, so I can spend a bit more time with her daughters.
At 1pm they then left and I got ready so I could take the replacement bus, because they once again were working on the rail track.
Due to traffic it took 45 minutes to get to Archway, so I then could take the tube to Victoria Station at 2.15pm. At 2.40pm I arrived and met Amelie, who went to the city a few hours before me. Together we walked to the Buckingham Palace Ticket shop and bought tickets for the next available tour at 4pm.

Because we had to wait for a bit, we went to the front of the Palace and took our obligatory pictures from the Buckingham Palace and the Queen Victoria Memorial.
With more time to spare, we went through some of the souvenir shops close to Buckingham Palace until it was finally time to que up to enter the Palace.
But before we were finally able to go in, we had to go through a security check.

Inside they offered us free audio guides, which we obviously took. We then finally could start our tour. Because we both had an audio guide to listen to, we didn’t really talk much, but rather enjoy the view. Sadly you’re not allowed to take pictures inside the palace.

Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of Kings and Queens of Great Britain since Queen Victoria was the first to move in, in July 1837.
It has 775 rooms, including 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices, 98 bathrooms and a chapel, postoffice and cinema.
After Queen Victoria moved in she built the 4th wing of the palace and thereby created the quadrangle. The forecourt, where the Changing of the Guard takes place, has been formed in 1911.

Amelie and I choose to visit the Palace on this certain date, because we also wanted to see a special exhibition which was held inside the palace from the 23rd July till the 2nd October 2016. Celebrating the Queen’s 90th Birthday, the Royal Collection Trust opened three exhibitions this year. Under the name of ‘Fashioning A Reign: 90 Years of Style from the Queen’s Wardrobe’ they showcased clothes, the Queen once had worn, in three different locations.

The exhibition was really impressive, because they presented clothes from every decade of her life. But the eye catcher surely were the Queen’s Wedding dress and her Coronation dress. One dress was more beautiful than the other. Both dresses had nice and very detailed beading and don’t get me started on the matching veils.

The only disadvantage of the exhibition was that we lost quite a lot time there. At 5.30pm they closed the exhibition and rushed us out of there, but told us that the Palace also will close in just 30 minutes time. So we then had to quickly walk trough the remaining rooms, which was quite sad because these were the State Rooms and therefore the most interesting ones, including the red themed Throne Room.

Luckily we finished our tour just at 6pm when the palace closed its doors. But we still could stay a bit in the Buckingham Palace Gardens and go through the Souvenir shop, where I purchased a nice bookmark.
To exit the Palace Grounds you have to walk through the Garden. On the way out you can get a stamp on your ticket, which you had to sign first. With this you ask them to treat your ticket purchase as a donation so they can claim Gift Aid tax relief on ones payment. In return they turn your ticket in a 1-year pass, which gives you 12 months’ complimentary admission to the Palace.

We then finally left the Palace Grounds and went to the Tube Station to drive home, where we arrived at 8.20pm. On our way there we went past The Bomber Command Memorial. It was unveiled by the Queen on 28th June in 2012.
The Bomber Command was formed in 1936 in played a critical role from the beginning of World War 2. All the 125.000 men were volunteers from all parts of the Commonwealth and Great Britain and nearly half of them lost their lives. Also the majority of them were still in their late teens.
“The fighters are our salvation but the bombers alone provide the means of victory.”
This quote by Winston Churchill is engraved on the left side wall of the Memorial. On the right side is the dedication of the Memorial inscripted:
“This Memorial is dedicated to the 55.373 airmen from the United Kingdom, British Commonwealth and Allied nations who served in RAF Bomber Command and lost their lives over the course of the Second World War.”
In the middle is the Sculpture of seven Statues representing the Bomber Command aircrew, consisting of the Navigator, Flight Engineer, Mid-Upper Gunner, Pilot, Bomb Aimer, Rear Gunner and Wireless Operator (from left to right).
Behind them, above the columns is the Message of reconciliation inscripted:
“This Memorial also commemorates those of all nations who lost their lives in the bombing of 1939-1945”

A few weeks and more friends later, I once again went out to do a bit of sightseeing. But first I went to Parsons Green, a part of Fulham, to visit a potentially new host family. They asked me to come by at 1pm for 30 minutes, but I then stayed a bit longer and only went back to the Station at 2.20pm. Even though I really liked the family, they turned me down two days later.
Not knowing any of that yet, I went motivated to Hyde Park to join my friends who had met a bit earlier. Together we went 30 minutes through the nice Hyde Park, past some nice art works, to the Peter Pan Statue. When we arrived there it started to drizzle and when we arrived at The Italian Gardens, it was full on raining, so we took shelter and waited for the rain to pass.

After we could finally move on, we went to a McDonald’s for a lunch break. Since we were close to the Paddington Station we decided to go there to see if we can find the Paddington Bear Statue.
Afterwards we went back to Hyde Park and walked all the way to Speakers Corner, the famous place where everyone can held a speech. There were even a few people holding a speach, but we didn’t listen to any of them.

Because it was already quite late, we left Hyde Park on this corner and went past the Marble Arch on Oxford Street.
Built in 1828 it was the main entrance to Buckingham Palace. Since it was too narrow for  the Queen’s coach, it had to be removed to its current location in 1851. It was then used as a police station until 1950.
Because it was once a Royal Gateway, it’s officially illegal to pass through the Marble Arch when you’re not part of the Royal Family or Royal Guards. But we did anyway.

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Marble Arch, the Royal Gateway

On Oxford Street we walked down to the other end and took the Tube at Tottenham Court Road Station so we all were back home at 7.45pm.

Hope you liked todays post and come back tomorrow for another part of the Christmas special.

Her Majesty
Queen Viktoria Elisabeth! Xx

3rd December: Life is better with Friends :)

Day three and the third post for my own little advent calendar.
Today’s post is for all those, who have been spending so much time with me here. Who would go sightseeing with me or just shopping. Who would spend their free time with me, so we would have company. In one word: my Friends!

The most important thing as an Au Pair is to make friends quite fast, otherwise you’ll be stuck alone and you won’t ever see someone else as your family. Even if you have the best family an Au Pair can wish for, we all need a bit of space and need to spend our free time with other people.

I had to learn this the hard way, since I didn’t make a lot of friends during my first few weeks, I soon felt really lonely and got more and more frustrated. Especially when the first problems with my ex family started.
I was so happy that I then found Maja. Even though we haven’t seen each other since the 4th September, we still keep in contact and she offered me a place to stay for one night when I had to move out, too. I really miss her and now that I’m settled in we have to arrange to see each other again. But apart from not seeing each other, we still kept in contact. We’re not writing on a daily basis, but we would talk on the phone sometimes and when we write again, it’s just like we are continuing a conversation from the previous day.

But she’s not my only friend. When I came back from Ireland I got to know Amelie, because our families are friends with each other. She is the one I spent the most time with and she also was a really big help during my re-matching time. I owe her big time for keeping more than half of my stuff in her room and putting up with her host mum who was getting more annoyed by it day by day.
But not only for keeping my stuff, also for being there for me and listening and giving me advice whenever it was needed. And mostly for putting up with me, I know I can be a pain in the a** sometimes… ;D

On the 4th September Maja came to visit me and Amelie in North Finchley. After we showed her our not so impressing High Street, we took the bus 134 to Muswell Hill and arrived there after a 30 minutes drive. In Muswell Hill we were supposed to meet a girl named Jana, who I’ve got to know over Facebook even before I came to London. We tried to meet for quite while and never got the time to, so finally we could meet.
While I brought Amelie and Maja, she brought two girls who live next door to her. There was another girl who no one of us knew before, since she just arrived two days ago. While everyone else was from Germany, she was from Sweden. The last in the group was the only girl who’s not an Au Pair and lives in a different part of London.
After we all met at 3pm, we went to a café and just sat together, talking and trying to get to know each other. At 5pm we then decided that we should move again and went first to a nice second-hand shop and then to a pub called O’Neill’s, which belongs to an irish pub chain.
Around 5.45pm Amelie and I decided to head home. Maja had already left and the others wanted to stay a bit longer.
Even though all the girls are really nice, I just kept a bit of contact with Jana, which really is a shame, because they were all really nice!

After this nice meeting Amelie and I tried to make more friends and even went to an Au Pair meet up on Oxford Street. There is only the problem that all the other Au Pairs were from all over London and it can be quite hard to keep in contact with people who are not living close to you.

So we tried using an App called “Excuses to meet”, where you would give excuses why you should meet and then the app will show you people with the same excuses around you. This app has a big Au Pair community and is even promoted by our agency.
On Thursday, 22nd September, I made arrangements to meet another Au Pair in Finchley Central at 11.30am. I knew that two other Au Pairs are joining us, but it was a nice surprise to see Amelie there. Marieke, a dutch Au Pair, organised the whole thing and Anna, a polish Au Pair, was the fourth Au Pair joining us. We went to Costa and just chatted the time away. At 2pm Amelie and I then decided it’s time walk back home.
This meeting went a lot better and we actually stayed in contact. Sadly we haven’t seen Anna much after, because most of our get together are in Finchley or North Finchley and it’s too much of a hassle for her to get there.

On the 25th September we had a big welcome party for the Au Pairs in London. We even made more friends there and Amelie and Marieke made plans with them for after the event, while I already had other plans.
So I didn’t knew the girls when they invited me to come with them to the British Museum on the 1st October. Originally I didn’t want to go out that day, because I had to babysit from 5pm onward, but they convinced me and so I met them at Woodside Park Station the same day.
Amelie, Farina, Kathi and I took the tube from there and at Finchley Central Station Marieke joined us. While Farina lives closer to a different tube station, Kathi lived more or less a 5 minute walk away from my family.
When we arrived at Tottenham Court Road we walked to the Museum and got in quite fast. But inside were so many people, that we went around the Museum for a bit, but soon gave up and left in order to find a place to eat something. After a short snack, Amelie and I went back to the tube station and went back home. Because it was already 4.20pm when we went on the tube, I really had to hurry up to walk home from the station and arrived just 2 minutes too late.

The next day we made plans to see each other again. Since the other girls went to a party the night before and came home quite late we arranged to see each other at 2.30pm in front of the Sainsbury on the High Road. Sadly Farina stayed home, but we were joined by Lenka instead. After we bought a few things for a picnic, we went to Friary Park, close to my family’s house.
That day was the day I planned to tell my host family the two weeks notice and therefore I was quite nervous. So I enjoyed the picnic even more because it was a good distraction from what was to come later that day.
At 5.30pm we decided to get a move on and went back home. Amelie walked with me until we arrived at my house and had to say goodbye. By then I was a nervous wreck and I’m still very grateful for her trying to calm me down and to encourage me.
Even though it was a good idea, it didn’t help at all. But at one point I had to put an end to my perfect task of procrastination and finally talk to the family.
This meeting with my friends at the park helped me a lot to ease my mind that day and also reminded me that no matter what happens with the family, I have a bunch of good friends behind me who would always try their best to help me the best they can.

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Let’s have a picnic!

After I told the family I would leave, I tried to spent as much time as possible outside the house on the weekends. On the 8th October we then made plans to go to Brent Cross, a big shopping center in the North of London. We just asked in our, now very big, Whatsapp Group of Au Pairs around our area, who wants to join us.
In the end it was just Amelie, Kathi and I who took the bus at 1pm at Tally Ho Corner and went on our way there. Because of problems with an oyster card it took us a bit longer then usually and we finally arrived at 2.15pm. After we strolled around for a bit, we met with another Au Pair from the group we haven’t met yet; Ellinor.
We just went through all the shops we wanted to see and finally I was able to visit a Hollister shop and even bought my first piece of Hollister there.
Because I once again had to babysit, we went home at 4.30pm. But not without a small lunch snack from the Food Court of the Center. For the way home we used the tube, which was way easier and cost the same.

Even though I made a lot more friends during my time here, Amelie, Marieke, Farina and Kathi are the ones I’ve spent most of my time with. But not only did they spent time with me, they also helped me a lot during my rematch time. Kathi lend me her hand luggage suitcase so I could leave it with my things at Amelie’s place and Farina always told me about families who are looking for an Au Pair.

You always need friends in your life, but even more so when you’re away from all your other friends and your family. The question is just how you can see who is your friend and who is just an acquaintance. For me it was clear when I had to change and they all tried to help me. I see myself quite lucky that I’ve found friends like these here! Hopefully we’ll be able to stay in contact, now that I’m living on the other side of central London.

Thank you guys! I don’t know what I would have done without you!

Vicky! Xx

 

1st December: Going back in time

This is the first post of my advent calendar and I’ll tell you a bit about what has been going on with my last family after we came back from Ireland and before I left them.
Because I’ll write about some things on other days I may skip a day or will tell you then that I’m writing more about it another time. I’ll especially skip the Sundays, since that were the days were I did the most and they’re worth their own post. 😉

As you may remember, the family took me to Ireland for a week and when we came back I had the Monday off, because of a bank holiday. On Tuesday I then had to get back to work.
This week was hopefully going to be a good one, seeing as the younger one was off devices for the week.
It all started with his request to bake later that day and also if I could show him a bit Origami. So we baked some Rocky Roads that day and I showed him how to fold the crane and we even folded the London Eye together. After dinner we went out to play a bit of table tennis, and the best day during the whole stay was over.

The next day I got a bit time off, since the older one started Rugby practice for school again and the mum took the younger one to the zoo. After I’ve received a letter from my best friend I took the time to answer her and then went to the post office to buy some stamps. On the way back I then posted the letter together with two postcards.

With the 1st September the start of school was coming closer, so I went with N. to the High Road to buy some things for school. We also went to the supermarket to buy some Marshmallows, because I promised him that we would try the chubby bunny challenge. After we’ve done that (I won with 4 Marshmallows, while he could only fit in 3), we once again did some Origami and later on played table tennis again.

On Friday, Amelie and I had planned a playdate for N. and her girl (Sa.). They both know each other from school, even though Sa. started at a new school after the break.
We took the kids to the Park, where they played a bit of tennis and went back home after 45 minutes. Because it was lunchtime soon, Amelie and I started to prepare lunch, while N. showed Sa. some Origami things he learned.
After pancakes with fruits and yoghurt for lunch, Amelie and Sa. had to leave again and N. and I draw some pictures.

For Saturday I didn’t want to do too much, since I had to babysit at 5pm. Therefore I met with Amelie and took her around North Finchley and to Finchley central. On the way there we passed my park, the Victoria Park!
Because the weather wasn’t too nice we went back to my place and drank some tea until I had to work and Amelie left.
I soon started to prepare dinner: self made PIZZA! And the boys then went to bed at 9.30pm, easy thing!

On Monday, the 5th, N. and I once again baked. This time we made brownies. But sadly it wasn’t as nice as the week before, because he was back on his devices and therefore didn’t like to do things with me.

Wednesday, 7th September, a day before school is back on. This day was a bit hectic because I had to drive back and forth. First I had to drop off N. at his Rugby training. At 11am I then had to bring S. to a birthday party. Around 2.30pm it was time to collect N. again and at 4.30pm I had to collect S. and bring him to his Tennis training straight away. Luckily I haven’t had to collect him, since his father brought him home.

The day, we’ve all been waiting for has arrived: the boys are back to school!
On Thursday, 8th September the boys had to go back to school, the summer break is over now. But not only the boys had to get up early now, me too.
After we had breakfast at 7am, we tried to leave the house around 7.30-7.40am. I was lucky that first day, because the mum drove us all to school, to show me some pick up places and also where I’d have to drop them off.
After we’ve been back home, she had to go into work and I went to see Amelie.
At around 3pm I had to pick the boys up again. While S. already had to do some homework, N. and started on a puzzle.
Because both parents had to work late, they asked me to babysit the boys, so I was finally free after S. went to bed around 9pm. N. was (hopefully) already asleep by then.

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The nice puzzle N. and I did – 08.-14.09.

Friday I had to bring only S. in the morning, since N. had to be at school earlier and the mum dropped him off.
Around 3pm the mum and I went to pick up N. and his friend and she showed me another parking lot on the school’s grounds. When we were back,she told me that I’m now free for the rest of the day and that they’re heading to out to eat at a friend’s place.

After a chilled Friday night I planned to do something on Saturday, so I met with Amelie and we went to Muswell Hill. We decided to stroll around some shops and just take in what they all have. But we also went into a Oxfam bookshop, which is a charity shop with only books in there. Because it’s second hand, you can find most of the books there for just £2-£3, depending on what book it is. After we decided we’ve seen everything, we took a bus to High Barnet. Once again we strolled around the shops there and next to all the charity shops we even found a really nice Candy shop with a lot of baking utensils next to the candy!
Originally we wanted to meet another Au Pair there, but sadly she hadn’t had time off until shortly passed 6pm, so I could just say hello and then had to take the bus home. Normally I would’ve stayed longer, but that night the Last Night of the Proms were on and I planned to watch them. So I prepared some Pizza once I was home and then chilled in front of the TV and watched the Concert live from the Royal Albert Hall.

The following week was nothing special at all. Only on Friday I had to babysit S. and his friend C. After I’ve picked them up from school I cooked some burgers for dinner and then let them play a bit on the PlayStation. During the check ups on them during the evening I’ve picked up that they wouldn’t even play together! Most times one of them was playing on the PlayStation, while the other one had headphones on and was watching something on YouTube on their phone. Weird… when I had a friend for a sleepover over, we actually played together…
At 10.30pm they finally went to bed and I could go to sleep, too.

Saturday night I had to babysit once again, so I didn’t really want to go out and instead just went to the High Street with Amelie. After a stroll through the Waterstones bookshop and a coffee I went back home, where A. and her family had already arrived. If you can’t remember, A. his my host mum’s sister who lives close to Oxford.
I was actually looking forward to babysit her girls that night. Once again we had pizza for dinner, so I soon started to prepare it and let the kids put all the things they want on top of it. Around 5.30pm we could finally eat and the parents went on their way to the city.
While the girls then had to get to bed soon after, the boys were allowed to stay up until 9.30pm again.

The next morning I went down around 10am and watched a bit Mr. Bean with the girls until we had breakfast. After breakfast I was asked by the girls if I can braid their hair again.
At 1pm they then left and went on their way back home. I got ready and left too, to go to central London to meet with Amelie and do a bit of sightseeing. But I’ll write about it another day.

On Monday the problems started… First the power went off in the kitchen, which wasn’t too bad. But on Tuesday I then had my first critical conversation with my host mum. This one was worse than all the ones we had before and left me pretty shaken up. So much that I still had problems concentrating the day after. But I tried to work a bit on the things she mentioned and went out with N. to the garden that night.
On Thursday I decided to get out a bit and met with Amelie and two new Au Pairs in Finchley central. In the evening I went out with N. again, when we came back I had another talk with my host mum again. She still said that I wasn’t doing enough with the boys, even though I just went out to the garden with N. the last two nights and played with him.
But she also told me that I’ll have the Friday off, since I’ve asked for it. Her only wish was that I’ll start fresh on Monday and try to do everything she asked of me.

After an eventful weekend (you’ll never believe how eventful…), I tried to start “fresh” that monday, but it wasn’t that easy. I still tried and baked a crumble for dessert that night.
Sadly the week wouldn’t be any better than the weeks before. N. still would be grumpy now and then and would get gross with me without any reason.
On Friday I then had suddenly the whole day off, without telling me any time sooner, which was quite sad, because it was on such a short notice that I couldn’t really made plans with anyone.

On Saturday I once again had to babysit. At first I didn’t plan to do anything, but just stay in my room and do some creative things. In the end Amelie could convince me to come with her and some other girls to the British Museum. It was really nice to go there, but sadly you can’t see everything because there are just too many tourists being in your way. Even though it’s a blessing that all the museums are for free, it can be a course too with all the tourists then visiting.
You may think that I’m a tourist too, so I shouldn’t complain. But the thing is that I’m living here now for so long (nearly 2 month is a very long time 😉 ) that I actually feel more like a Londoner than like a tourist. So I’m officially allowed to get annoyed with all these tourists being around and in your way of the perfect picture.
When I was back at 5pm I had to babysit already and make Pizza yet again. Luckily the boys went to bed at 9.30pm already and I also could go to bed.

All these things happening in the past few weeks really got on my nerves to this point where I was thinking about changing. On the Sunday before, I met someone from my agency and talked to them about it and they confirmed that I should think about it and then talk to the family. So this Sunday, the 2nd October, I finally made my decision and asked my host mum if we could chat, to tell her that I indeed want to change.
So on Monday, the first day of my 2 weeks notice started. But it was just another Monday. All these days were just like the days before. Sometimes things would happen that would just confirm my decision and made me rant the amount of days left in my head.

On Tuesday I decided I needed a break so I went with Amelie to Wood Green, where we went to Primark and other shops that are located there. We even saw a Deichmann.
I also had my first Skype call with a potentially new family, but I didn’t like it all so I had to keep looking.
Friday I got into contact with another family I really liked and even went to see on Sunday, but sadly they didn’t want me to be their new Au Pair.

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DEICHMANN! –  could be in Germany…

So I was back to searching on Monday and then also decided to sign up on aupairworld.com to get better chances on finding something new.
Even though I should’ve started packing I rather kept myself occupied with different things.
On Thursday S. came down with a cold and came home earlier. When I made him a hot water bottle after dinner, he was really grateful and it was the first time in all my time there that I felt like I’ve done something right.

The next morning S. still wasn’t feeling well enough for school so he stayed at home, but this affected my day not in a bit. Apart from the laundry I was off again that day.
In the evening I went out with some friends from the area to say “goodbye”, because it was my last friday in North Finchley.

Even though I planned to start packing on Sunday, I once again distracted myself with other things. So I then had to pack on Monday. I started with pulling everything out of the closet and chest of drawers. In the evening I then called my mum and she helped me get everything in the big package they’ve sent me over from germany. On Tuesday I then packed everything that’s left over in a hand luggage suitcase I borrowed of a friend and brought both the package and the suitcase to Amelie.
Later I then finished packing my suitcase that I would carry around with me until I’ve found a new family.

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definetely a lot of things – and that’s not even all I have…

On Wednesday morning I finished everything and cleaned my room up. At 9am my host mum brought me to the Tube station and said goodbye. Even though I had to work the day before, I haven’t had the chance to say goodbye to the boys. But I had the chance to say goodbye to the father and had one last chat with him, which made me really happy because I definitely liked him the most.

That’s it. My time with this family is over and what you just read were the last few weeks with them.
I didn’t expect them to take me out for a goodbye dinner or anything, but I at least would have thought that they would give the boys and me the chance to say goodbye properly instead of me just leaving without a word. But on the other side, I never really got this connection with the boys where it would have been necessary to give us this chance.

With all this being said and written down, I can finally leave this all behind me and can focus on the new.

I wish you all the best and a very merry christmas season!
See you tomorrow, when you can open the 2nd door 😉

Vicky! Xx

Where has the time gone…?

Hey guys, I’m finally back with a normal Blog post. The last five Blog posts were all about my time in Ireland. But since we’ve been to Ireland from the 20th to 27th of August, I’ve been back here in London for three weeks now and it’s been nearly two month since I started my year. I can tell you, time flies!

But first of all I want to try to catch up with all that has happened the last few weeks.

You already know that we came back on Saturday, 27th August. On Sunday, 28th August I had my usual day off and since I’ve missed out on a whole week here in London I made plans to meet Maja again, the one Au Pair I went to see in Brixton the Thursday before we left for Ireland.

At 2.45pm I took the Tube to Warren Street, where I then met Maja. Together we walked down Tottenham Court Road until we came upon Oxford Street. We then just strolled around Oxford Street and went in a few shops, but never actually bought something. Until we came across a new pop up store, where we were able to buy clothes of good quality to a bargain price.

Later that day we sat down in a small Caffé Nero and started to plan the next day. At 6.45pm we said goodbye for the day, knowing that we’re going to see each other again the following day, and went home.

Since Monday, 29th August was a bank holiday here in England, I had another day off. At 11am I went to catch the tube, because Maja and I wanted to visit the Notting Hill Carnival.
At my tube station I first met Amelie. She is an Au Pair, too and lives on the other side of the Tube station, thus in the same part of London. Since our host families know each other, our host moms made us come in contact. Maja and I asked her to accompany us, so she would get to know some Au Pairs here.

At 11.30am Amelie and I left Woodside Park and drove to Euston, where we met Maja and took the tube to Notting Hill Gate. When we left the Tube station we were already in the middle of the Carnival, but decided to go further into Notting Hill. After we bought us each a flower crown we found ourselves a spot on the sidewalk of Westbourne Grove, where we watched two parts of the Notting Hill Carnival Parade.
The Parade reminds of the original Carnival in Rio. There is lots of music, colourful and fancy dresses and everyone is dancing.

After we saw the short part of the Parade we went to get something to eat and then went on. The food at the Carnival is really good. There are lots of booths which offer grilled corn cobs and lots of different grilled meats. Other booths offer a big variety of cocktails, fruit punches and other drinks.
Even though the alcohol consumption reminded me of a german carnival, we stayed completely sober.

We walked down the complete Portobello Road and went back to where we bought our lunch earlier that day. After we were stuck in the big crowds more than one time we decided to go back to the Tube station via a side street.

The Notting Hill Carnival is not that bad, there is lots of music and the people there are all in such a good mood. But the only thing is that there are just too many people. If anything would happen, there would be no chance for the police to keep control of the situation.
After I went there I have to say that it’s nice to go there to have seen it once, but I wouldn’t go there a second time.

The next few days were really nice. Since N. has been off devices, we actually had the chance to bond. Not only could I show him how to do Origami, but he also started drawing a lot and we baked some Rocky Roads together.

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N. and my Rocky Road masterpieces!

On Wednesday I received the first letter of my pen pal from Trier. It was really nice to read those few lines from home. Because I had some free hours that day I decided to answer her directly and send a birthday postcard to my mum’s best friend (Happy belated Birthday! 🎉).

Since Amelie’s Au pair girl and N. had been in the same class up until this year, because S. changed the school, we organised a playdate for Friday. We met at 11am and went to the park near our home, where the kids played a bit tennis. When we were back at the house at 12.30pm, Amelie and I started to prepare lunch: Pancakes, or rather Crêpes, while S. and N. tried to do some Origami.
After Lunch Amelie and S. went back home and N. and I drew a bit for the rest of the day.

Normally I’m off work on the weekends, but my host parents asked me to babysit on saturday night, so I had only half the day off. Therefore I just spent some time with Amelie on the High Road of North Finchley and we went down to Finchley Central.
On our way to Finchley Central we visited the Victoria Park, which is a really nice park.
When I was back home the boys and I had a nice self made Pizza for dinner.

On Sunday Maja came to North Finchley to see where Amelie and I live. After we showed her our rather small High Road, we took the bus and drove to Muswell Hill. We arranged to meet other Au Pairs here, since Muswell Hill is in the middle between North Finchley and Crouch End, where the other girls live.
It all started with a small group, but in the end we were eight girls. Because of this rather large group we decided to just sit down in a Café and talk a bit to get to know each other. Even though we were seven german girls we had to speak english so the one swedish girl was able to understand us.
At 5.30pm Amelie and I went back home and left the other girls to mingle for a bit longer.

The next week started with a rather relaxed monday, because both boys could stay at home the whole day. But on Tuesday the chaos began. N. had to be at Rugby practice for 9.45am till 3pm, while S. was free until he had to go to a school event at 4pm.
Wednesday got even more confusing, not for N. but for S. It started with a birthday party at 11am, from there he went to school for training and I had collect him there at 5pm and bring him directly to his tennis practice. N.’s plan for the day was quite easy since he had Rugby from 9.45am to 3pm again. But mixing them both together was very interesting and gave me a preview on how it’s going to be as soon as the boys start school again.

With Thursday the day has finally arrived. The boys are back to school. To make it easier for me, my host mother stayed home from work the first two mornings to show me everything.

I have to be downstairs around 6.45-6.50am every morning to prepare breakfast. At 7.40am we would leave the house and I drop off the boys at their now different schools, because S. starts senior school this year. I then drive back home and have free time until I have collect the boys again. Although I should do my part of the house work during these few hours so I can concentrate on the boys when they’re back from school.

Not only  did the boys had their first school day on Thursday but I had to mind them in the evening, too. The good thing is that they’re quite old already so I just have to sent them to bed and watch that they turn off their lights and that’s it. The only downside is that they are allowed to stay up later now, so I get to bed later, too.

In return for working late on Thursday night I got more free time on friday and the complete afternoon and evening off. I just had to bring S. to school, since N. had to be there an hour earlier. When I came back I ironed quickly and were off till 3.30pm when I had to collect N. and his friend. But again my host mum drove to show me a few things around the school. Back at home I was free and could do what I want.

On Saturday I met Amelie again and after she spent a bit of time at my home we catched a bus to Muswell Hill again. Since we didn’t really had the time to explore the shops there last Sunday we wanted to come back. I showed her my two favourite shops there: Art for Art’s Sake and Oliver Bonas. We then went to a Oxfam Bookstore, where we were able to buy some really good books for a few pounds only. After a small lunch break we took another bus to drive to High Barnet.

Normally High Barnet is just two more stops with the Northern Line from our Tube Station, but the Northern Line didn’t work between High Barnet and Archway on Saturday and Sunday.
In High Barnet we went along the High Road and visited a lot of Secondhand shops. They are really great to get books for less money. The last shop we went into was a sweets store which had a big range of baking supplies.

At 6.20pm I took the bus back home, while Amelie met another Au Pair. I would have liked to stay with them, but at 7pm that night the Last Night of the Proms started at the Royal Albert Hall and I wanted to watch the live TV coverage. With 15 minutes to show begin I was even able to cook a pizza for the perfect TV night. The live TV broadcast in Germany only covered the second part of the Proms. But I then called my mum and we commented the Proms watching it from two different countries.

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Watching the Last Night of the Proms

On Sunday, 11th September, we had a small Au Pair meet up from the smartaupairs agency. It started at 11.30am in the Starbucks on Oxford Street. At 11.20am we were already 29 people and there were more and more coming. In the end we must have been over 40 people and we blocked nearly the whole second floor. After everyone introduced himself we got together into smaller groups where we tried to get to know each other a bit better. My group consisted of four german girls (me included) and one from Netherlands and Sweden each. We went down Oxford Street to Bond Station from there we separated and everyone went their own way, but before we exchanged numbers so we could stay in contact and meet again.

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I feel quite happy that I got to meet those really nice girls!

I went back to Starbucks, because Amelie was still there with a group of german girls. We stayed there for a bit more and talked about the places we come from in Germany and it turned out that one of the girls just lives in the neighbour city of Trier. At 3pm we went on Oxford Street and visited several stores. Afterwards we went to McDonald’s for a small dinner and at 7.45pm I was back home.
It was really nice to meet so many Au Pairs and get the chance to exchange numbers to stay in contact. Hopefully we can see each other again.

I’ll tell you about the following week in my next post.
Thank you for reading and following my blog so far.

See you next time

Vicky xx

There are only two kinds of people in the world, the Irish and those who wish they were! 🍀

Okay folks, let’s face it…After my week in Ireland I got to know the Irish people a bit and I wish I could be a bit Irish. No matter what, they always seem to have their fun and are so friendly, welcoming people.

But before we went back to London we had another stop planned. So we left Tralee at 10am on Friday morning to drive to Kilkenny. After we had arrived we went for a small lunch and then my family and I went separate ways until 5.30pm. They went to visit part of their family, while I got free time to once again explore the city as every tourist would.

So at 2.20pm I started my way and tried to find the Tourist Information Office first so I would get access to a city map. The Kilkenny Tourist Information Office is really nice, not only do they provide a lot of free information about Kilkenny, but also about Ireland in general.
After I found two really good Guide Maps about Kilkenny, I sat down and planned a route through the city so I could see as much as possible in the short time.

The Tourist Information Office is inside the Shee Alms House on Rose Inn Street. It was founded in 1582 by Sir Richard Shee and is one of the few remaining Tudor Alms houses in Ireland. Their purpose was to take care of the poor providing bed and board of work. Since 1978 it is in possession of the Kilkenny Corporation.

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The Tourist Information Office inside Shee Alms House

From the Rose Inn Street I turned on the High Street, where I went to see the Bookcentre, the Sweater shop and the Market Cross Shopping Centre. Opposite the Shopping centre is the Tholsel Town Hall. After its construction in 1761 it served as custom house, guildhall, courthouse and is now the seat of the local government and tax collection. Its name comes from the old English words ‘toll‘ (tax) and ‘sael‘ (hall). Especially busking musicians and street art exhibitor favor this place.

I then turned onto Jame’s Street to visit St Mary’s Cathedral, which was built between 1843 and 1857 by William Deane Butler based on the design of Gloucester Cathedral. The 186-feet cut-limestone structure has not only a massive Gothic façade, but also an Italian marble high altar, relics of St Cosmos and St Damien and Benzoni’s statue of Our Lady to show off.

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St Mary’s Cathedral

The next stop should have been the Black Abbey, but I get lost on my way there. When I ended up on the Dean Street I had to walk back over a small bridge to come to The Black Abbey. It features a tower and some magnificent windows dating back from its original structure. In 1225 Sir William Marshall (Earl of Pembroke) founded the Abbey for the Dominican Friars, in the mid 19th century it became a place of public worship.

Following the small Abbey Street I came to stand in front of the Black Freren Gate (also known as Black Friar’s Gate) and it is the sole existing relic of the entrance gates to the medieval city’s Hightown.

After I’ve seen the Gate and the Abbey I went back the same way on to Dean Street again. On Dean Street are two small ways leading to St. Canice’s Cathedral and the Round Tower. The 9th century tower can be climbed and offers the best view of the city. The Cathedral was built in the 13th century on a christian worship site of the 6th century led by St Canice.

Being at the northern end of the town I went on Parliament Street, which leads back into the town centre. On Parliament Street is the Rothe House, a 17th century merchant’s townhouse. Built in 1594 by John Rothe it consists of three houses with courtyards.

Getting back to the town centre Parliament Street splits into two Streets: the High Street and St.Kieran Street. As I’ve been on the High Street already I choose St. Kieran Street, but went back on to High Street through the dark and narrow walkway ‘Butter Slip‘. With its arched entry and stone steps it is the most picturesque of Kilkenny’s narrow medieval corridors. Built in 1616 it once was a market location for the butter vendor stalls.

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The Butter Slip

At the end of the High Street I turned back onto Rose Inn Street, went over the John’s Bridge and followed Patrick Street to St. John’s Priory. The ruin was built in the 13th century by the Augustinians. Under the rule of Henry VIII in the mid 15th century it was handed over to the state and the Augustinians, who remained there until then, had to leave.

By then we had already 4pm and I had only 1,5 hours left, so I decided to go back to the other side of the River Nore and finally visit Kilkenny Castle. At the end of John’s Bridge I turned onto Kilkenny Way, which leads onto the Canal walk and to steps up to the Castle Grounds. The Kilkenny Castle Grounds are quite big and with the big patches of grass it is the perfect relaxing and picnic area in Kilkenny. Especially on a warm and sunny day you can find a lot of people sitting there and enjoying the nature and sun.

Walking around the Castle I came to the Castle Garden in front of the Castle. The Garden looks really nice and neat and gives the Castle the Castle-flare. The Kilkenny Castle itself was built in the 12th century for William Marshall and remodeled in Victorian times. It was the principal seat of the Butler family, Marquesses and Dukes of Ormond.

Across the Street of the Main Entrance to Kilkenny Castle is the Kilkenny Castle Yard and the National Craft Gallery. Being the stables of the castle, the unique complex of stone buildings in a courtyard setting was built in 1790. Since 1960’s it houses a centre of creativity and design. Ireland’s leading centre for contemporary craft and design is also placed in the buildings of Kilkenny Castle Yard. It’s the National Craft Gallery, which was established in 2000 by the Crafts Council of Ireland.

As it was already 5.15pm the family picked me up outside of Kilkenny Castle and we then went to an airbnb between New Cross and Rosslare for the last night in Ireland. The airbnb was actually a nice cottage which had a lot of rooms so everyone got their own room.
On our way there we tried to find a restaurant or something were we could pick up some food in New Ross. The only thing we found was a Lidl so we just bought some frozen Pizza we could bake at the cottage.
Knowing that we have to get up quite early the next morning I decided not to go to bed too late.

The next morning we tried to leave at 7am, because we had to be in Rosslare for the ferry at 8am and the ferry would leave at 9am. This time it left on time. While we were on the ferry we first ate breakfast and after that just relaxed for a bit.

At 11.30am I just needed to take a walk. I knew that I would be sitting in the car again soon enough, so better walk around as long as you can. So I went outside on the top deck where they actually have a walking route ‘Take The Salt Air‘. You just need to follow the directional arrows around the deck. 4 of those laps are 1 km and 6 laps are 1 mile. At first I wanted to just walk 1 km, but as I finished the 4 laps I just decided to do more and soon I walked one mile around the deck in 15 minutes. For some laps I chose to walk quite fast, other times I just walked quite slowly and breathed in the sea air.

After I finished the sixth lap I decided to walk one more really slowly and enjoy the fresh air and the nice few. I then stopped at a good viewing point, face held into the sun, just standing there for another 15 minutes until I went back to the others.

At 12.30 we had arrived at Fishguard Port in Wales. When we were off the ferry we finally made our way back home to London. We stopped once for a small toilet and lunch break and then went off again, so we arrived London at 6pm. After we emptied the car and put everything away I was finally off for the rest of the weekend.

Ireland was really nice and I definitely want to go back there, but I was also quite happy to be back in London where I have my room again. I was also looking forward to having a break of the family. They are really nice and I’m really thankful that they invited me to come with them, but after spending one week cramped together we all needed some space.

Thanks to writing the blog I could relive all the nice things I was able to do in Ireland.  But hopefully I can go back there one day. Even though I was able to fit in a lot of sightseeing stuff in the small time I’ve only been there, I missed out on a lot of things.

Sadly, Ireland is over. I had lots of fun being in Ireland and later on writing about it. But We’ve been back for 3 weeks now and lots of stuff had happened during that time, too. I’ll tell you all about it next time.

Goodbye Ireland! 😢🍀

Vicky xx

Für alle Trierer, ich habe die irische Variante der Bimmelbahn in Kilkenny gefunden!!!

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The irish version of Triers Bimmelbahn