Being away helps your mind so go!

As some of you probably know I’m currently in Germany having the most incredible time. I will be writing a post about my trip but for now this is about something else.

I’ll admit I have been struggling a lot recently with stress so I thought let’s run away from it. I ran away. I am so glad I did decide to come on my own because it’s given me lots of thinking time. At first I was terrified of my own thoughts, I envisioned me having a melt down but I actually feel so free. 

The problems I’ve been having in my shoulders and upper back have been liberated. The pain was so bad it made me cry and I had to go for a Indian Head Massage to help relieve the pain – it worked but there were still knots.

I won’t go into what this trip has helped me come to terms with but I am pretty confident I know what the right thing to do is. I almost feel like a new person which is daft because I’m still the same old curly haired glasses nerd but with a weight lifted.

My understanding of bad situations is get yourself out of them. Don’t think I need this or but it’s been like this – just do what you need to do. Don’t hold back, don’t live with regrets. The new year is coming so we know everyone will be saying ‘a new year,  a new me.’ Well may be I’ll be one of those people.

Let’s see.

Camping in Wales

Since I have known my two best friends Tiffany (blogs here) and Reanna we always try to plan a trip away whether that’s in Spain, Amsterdam or wet Wales. Why? To be honest I am not sure why but we have such an incredible time when we’re away because we’re hilarious.

So we booked a camping trip to Penybont in Wales at Spring Rock Fishery for two nights. I have visited this campsite before and was highly impressed the first time so I returned for a second. One of the reasons I love this campsite is for the peace and quiet. When you wake up, you are greeted with utter silence. As sad as it sounds the toilet block is my favourite toilet block I have ever been to! It has under floor heating – fancy or what. Plus the showers are so powerful which is a winner for me. You do have to pay 20p per minute for the use of the shower but I’m happy to pay when you have great service around.

We had pitched up, everything all organised neatly and the cider was open. The afternoon was great, we just chilled out and enjoyed our first evening until the night-time. What an absolute disaster going to bed was. It was official, Storm Brian had arrived and decided he was going to ruin our first night. The rain was intense, it just poured and poured and poured. I’ve seen how bad the rain gets in one of the Winnie the Pooh films but this was much worse, the noise was unbearable. That night I had a grand total of maybe one to one and a half hours worth of sleep, you can imagine how I felt on the Saturday.

We decided to eat out at the Severn Arms in Penybont. Again, this was my second visit and I thoroughly enjoyed it. As soon as you walk into the room on the left of the pub you feel like you’re at home. There’s a lovely little fire in a brick wall which is so cosy and it just smells country. The service is great, everyone is so friendly despite not being a local.

My food was absolutely beautiful. For my starter I had the garlic mushrooms – what an absolute delight these were. I didn’t read the description properly and expected breaded mushrooms but when they arrived the quality looked fantastic. I could still taste them after I had finished. For the main course I had a special from the board, the chicken supreme. Now when it arrived I was unsure by the look of it but once I got started, it was delicious. There were so many flavours within the dish and that is what I like about a meal.

The owners are great to talk to and make you feel like you’re at home. It feels like you’re welcome to do what you want there! We told a member of staff (I think the owner, I didn’t catch your name, sorry!) about how crazy we were to be camping during a storm. If things got too bad in the night, they told us to give them a call and they’d see what they could do for us. That’s a lovely gesture so thank you!

It carried on raining throughout the whole weekend. We had 50mph winds, a flooded tent on two occasions, wet bedding and four hours of sleep. Thankfully the site owner Andy was really helpful by lending us a mop and bucket to clean the flood up. Our tent collapsed at one point and Andy re-pegged it for us because one had snapped.

After all of this needless to say we were very eager to get home on Sunday and have made a decision to never go camping this late in the year again.

 

 

Tops tips for a trip in Amsterdam

When we were looking for flights and accommodation we decided to opt for Airbnb as we’d previously used this service on separate occasions. Flights were a bargain from Birmingham, I think we paid £96 for an early morning flight and a return at night so we benefited for the whole stay. It took us a while to find the right accommodation as I didn’t really want to spend a lot and most of the places available were in the city centre at a stupid price. Reanna came across an apartment just outside of the centre which had great reviews and looked really stylish, so we booked it!

When we arrived outside a building which we couldn’t make out if it was ours or not, we tried to unlock the key box but nope it wouldn’t budge. Ray called the owner, she came down and let us in but quickly dashed off. After climbing up three floors with narrow stairs and baggage we arrived. The initial response was wow, I love it until I sat on the bed and moved the pillows. I found BLACK HAIRS in the bed and on the pillows – horrified. Usually I don’t complain but when other people’s bits are in the bed, I kinda don’t fancy sleeping with that.

A message was sent to the host to explain the situation and she called straight away offering us a refund and to find somewhere else to stay but let’s be honest that is a silly suggestion as we wouldn’t find anywhere else at the price we paid. The blame was put on the cleaning company she hires but didn’t come up to check the bedding herself. Oh I forgot to mention that her flat was below ours, below!! So I found a washing machine and said we could wash them but we also discovered there was no spare bedding. We all stood there baffled. Any who to cut it short, I washed the bedding and the spare sheet I found had a stain on it so that was good. We didn’t get our bedding washed and dried until the next day and the host never asked us if we were okay or how we got on. Never heard anything off her again so she’s the worst host I’ve ever experienced.

Where to visit?

RED LIGHT DISTRICT + MUSEUM OF PROSTITUTION

This was my favourite experience of the whole trip. I was absolutely fascinated with the culture and the way of living in Amsterdam. Walking through the Red Light District and seeing how the women work (not literally) in the windows, the surroundings, the different locations for straight, lesbians and trans really had me hooked. The area is extremely busy as there are over 250 shop windows across the district. Definitely worth taking a walk there.

Now the Museum of Prostitution is 8€ and has a lot to offer. Everything is in English so that makes the experience even better as you can read all of the information on the walls. It mentions a murder of a prostitute which has never been solved and later on you will walk past a memorial of all those who have died whilst working as a prostitute. You will have a laugh in there as well, it is quite an interactive place and I’m glad we had the opportunity to visit.

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Me, Tiffany & Reanna

AMSTERDAM ICEBAR

This was my first time ever visiting an ice bar and I absolutely loved it. The introduction to the icebar is a little lame but you just go with it because you’re about to freeze your balls off and its a laugh. They give you a coat and some really crappy ass gloves – please take your own gloves. I didn’t really understand why they were giving me a coat when I was wearing one but I am so thankful they did! Guess the temperature? Nope you were wrong, it was a staggering -9.4 degrees. When you think about it, we paid 15€ to freeze and drink (3 drinks are included) but it was well worth it despite thinking my fingers were burning off. This is a must see, please do visit and try to take pictures without losing a hand!

ZUSHI

In the last few years I have been obsessed with sushi to the point where I want it every time I go out as Swadlincote doesn’t have this. We were greeted by a lovely host, he took our coats and told us he’d be at our service etc. The sushi came around on a conveyor belt just like Yo Sushi but the choices were different. I decided to try different things and I enjoyed everything I ate. The prices are great as well because I didn’t have much money left. We did experience one hiccup as our orders were cooked wrong, there was a misunderstanding and it became awkward. The front of house member of staff said we got our orders wrong and it wasn’t us. The chef apologised, we received our orders and I’m glad we got them because I didn’t think I could fall in love with seven vegetables! Yummy. If you like sushi maybe check this place out.

Other useful places / tips:

Sex Museum – 4€ and it is a great experience and a laugh!

Buy a waffle because my word they are incredible, I had Nutella.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not – 17€ it was okay and there are lots to see but I wouldn’t visit again.

Coco’s Outback restaurant – Half price food on Monday’s and it’s delicious plus the staff are really friendly. They also serve hot drinks, their hot chocolate was so good! I’m a burger fan so it was perfect for me.

Walk along the canals and see the bridges, it’s a nice walk around and you’ll see lots of different buildings with unusual architecture.

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Please make sure you have change because no one seems to have change!

PLACES TO AVOID

Do not waste your time and money visiting the Torture Museum. It was the worst 7.50€ we had ever spent, you walk through a dark hallway look at text on a wall, see a few items and boom 10 minutes has gone and its over. If we could get a refund we would definitely do that.

I hope this helps you on your trip to Amsterdam and I do think it is worth a visit and I’m glad I had the opportunity to go with my two best friends.

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HAPPY HALLOWEEN FROM THE THREE OF US X

The girl on the train – just thinking

Today I was sat on the train staring out of the window at other people’s houses. As we ventured through the different villages I saw people gardening, smiling and exploring. Looking out of the window has made me think about how much I don’t want to leave France.

Everyone is happy here including me, they are friendly when you need to ask a question and just make you feel like you’re in England. I love listening to the French conversations and making up in my head what they’re talking about. I get to hear Germans speaking so fast I can’t figure any word out whatsoever. There’s so much to see and so much I haven’t done in the time I’ve been here.

Life as an au pair is extremely exciting and it may seem like you’ll be a babysitter but you’re treated like one of the family. I don’t miss the arrogance of the English, the stress, the moaning of having a bad day at work or arguing. It’s so tranquil and my life has been so different since being here, I feel so alive and free. I guess it could sound daft but it makes you want to carry on and makes you plan whatever is next for your adventure.

It’s even crazier that I’m stood at Mulhouse train station typing this into my phone so I can save it until later – no Internet. I could get on a train from here and visit endless places because I’m free from being bossed around and not appreciated. The time was definitely right for me to do this and to help me find myself a little, I’ve gained a bit more confidence when travelling alone via the train.

Oops I’m staring out of the window again on the way to Colmar and it has got me thinking again plus I’m listening to Coldplay and they make life complete. France has made me smile so much and for the little time I’ve spent here, I will always treasure it and the family that looked after me. 

As Lego would say, ‘Everything is awesome.’

The return to Sierentz, France

I arrived back into France on Wednesday evening and I have to say, I am so happy to be back. The children were waiting for me all day but I didn’t arrive until 10:30pm so they were asleep. Next morning the two girls ran at me and gave me the biggest hug, it was so sweet.

Tonight I will be going out with other au pairs from the local area for the first time, we’re attending a small ‘gig’ type talent night in Sierentz. I haven’t met these girls yet but it will be quite nice having other people to travel around with.

We are only two days in and already I don’t want to leave France but come October 23rd I will be making a 12 hour journey back to the UK on a coach. Unfortunately I cannot stay for longer as the family have found another au pair until Christmas – whoever they are, they have picked a great family.

If you lose your job, you are fed up with what you are doing or you are at university with the summer break to fill up, being an au pair is an experience I think you should consider. It is so rewarding (not money) but life experience, you get to be within other cultures, learn languages (well try), try new food, meet new people and the best of all TRAVEL. Yes this may have left me in the shit for when I run out of money but money cannot buy what I am doing right now. I am at my happiest and I can’t remember what being stressed and unappreciated feels like.

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Just remember you are your own person and only you can control what happens in your life. Paths may be good to follow but you need to think of yourself when taking another step forward. Life is short, make each day count and do not regret your decisions.

 

Back in the UK

On Wednesday I arrived back in the UK and it is nice to be back yet the weather is horrible over here due to the high levels of humidity. Yuk. Since being back, things have hit me a little and I feel like I will be stuck once again. Obviously money is a big worry for me because whilst I am in France I am only earning 70€ a week which covers my flights. I love what I am doing and I want to stay longer but it is expensive to fly over there plus I have things to pay for. Car, car insurance, MOT, road tax – ew.

Should I be worrying? At 23 I should not be stressing over money or what my future holds for me but I never know what I am doing. I feel that maybe I will have to sell lots of my belongings at a car boot sale, that’d really help as I am Queen of Clutter!!

What would you all do? Not care about what happens next and just enjoy yourself or stop being adventurous and get shit done…sorry get a job? By the way, I LOVE FRANCE.

Wandering through Mulhouse, France

Today I had the day off so I needed to find something to do. I was given a tour of Mulhouse on Monday so I thought I would give that a try.

The day did not start off so great, I managed to get myself to the train station okay but could not figure out how to use the ticket machine so after 25 minutes I gave up and walked home. A member of the Au Pair family came home and I spoke to her about what had happened and she took me to the train station to show me what to do. Then off to Mulhouse I went.

Firstly, a casual stroll around the centre, it was so busy and full of life. It is not as fascinating as other places but it was still an enjoyable afternoon. After wandering the streets and some of the shops, I came across a Subway (naughty but I missed junk food so I caved in and ate one) – by the way, a member of staff speaks very good English which really helped so hint hint, go there.

The museums I wanted to visit were actually closed today which sucked but the train to Mulhouse is only a 10 minute journey so it is not a problem to go again. By one of the shopping centres you will find a Tourist Information shop and yes they speak English in there. If you are not familiar with the area, definitely visit there because they can give you a tour guide brochure to make things a little easier – in English.

From having a quick look at the tour guide I was given, I saw a museum which was open today. Now normally textiles would not interest me, I mean the pretty patterns are great but have I ever paid attention to how cloths are made? No. Well today that certainly changed. I ended up in the Musee de l’Impression sur Etoffes de Mulhouse (costs 9 euros) and yes I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Some of the pictures I have included below are part of the exhibition which I should not really spoil but it was a great display. Désolé.

Now after reading through everything (those bits that were in English) I saw a room that looked unoccupied so I just had to have a nosey. That was a good thing, it turns out I had walked into a really historic room with a captivating story.

The exhibition you will see below is of a young girl called Marie-Emilie Ebstein, also known as Lily (1920 – 1943). Her story is heart breaking and I do not want to give much away but without the help of her family, this work featured below would not exist. Lily was from Mulhouse and the museum are extremely delighted to be able to showcase her work.

If you are ever visiting Mulhouse, please do take an hour out of your day to visit this wonderful museum. Reading how the women fought for equality and began in the Textile industry was quite interesting, it is very inspiring. Go for the dreams you believe in and do not let anyone stop you.