I’m a Blogger Get Me Outta Here…

We’re surrounded by bugs.

No not the the sickness kind (for once can you believe haven’t gotten ill this whole holiday *touches all the wood* not that kind of wood you filthy beggars).

CREEPY CRAWLIES.

Now when you consider the occupational hazards of working in the South or France I bet you wouldn’t think twice about being terrorised by six legged creatures.

We sat down to have dinner with one of the families staying here and very soon the menu changed form a respectable barbecue to Croquets a la (giant fucking) Beetle, Burger aux Moths and Gnat Sausages. YUM.

Every time a beetle hit a plate or bowl it made a loud chinking sound.

*Shudders*

And at 2am, with empty bellies since lunch time and tipsy guests who didn’t much care about our bug companions, we had to dig in.

I still get flashbacks.

Where’s ant and dec?

This insect buffet was followed with a storm of flying ants that covered EVERYTHING with a thick coating.

Yes like the bible (but yo know…with ants).

No god was not trying to smite us.

We’re good girls.

I digress.

FLYING ANTS.

And no they were not all dead by morning like they were supposed to be, they decided to stick around for the weather. We tried hosing them off and away but for the following days their hatchlings kindly made an appearance too.

Such fun.

Not only did we have to deal with creatures of a six Keyes kind but also the winged kind.

BATS.

Where was the last time you saw a bat? Safe and sound behind a glass cage at tropical wings?

Have you ever had…say…100 of them flying at you?

Unbeknownst to us there was a little bat cave in the alcove of one of the cottages.

In order to get rid of them we had to light a barbecue and smoke them out.

(No bats were harmed in the making of this barbecue).

Well we expected one or two to fly off to safety. There was hundreds!

Duck and cover more like scream and run.

The group of us looked like the characters in the Sims when the house sets on fire, waving around panicking like twats without doing anything to help or moving out of the way.

This was followed by two separate pool cleaning incidents where we found mice in the pool filters.

Yes MICE.

Well I say we…Rachel found them. I ran away and refused to enter the danger zone.

Fuck THAT.

Thank god for science students.

*Dons full protective clothing like on a crime scene*.

Sunbathing anyone?

Tour de France…

On our Tuesday off we decided we would make like the French and go for a bike ride through the sunflower fields.

We’d have the wind in our hair and and a baguette in our baskets.

A soundtrack of French music would be playing softly in the background.

French boys would wave from their balconies and throw us roses.

Too far?

A girl can dream ok.

Suffice to say, it didn’t quite happen that way.

The first problem being my bike was far too big; the second that we had abso-fucking-lutely no idea where we were going.

Being 5’1″ it’s not always easy finding bikes that fit me comfortably.

This one happened to be at least two whole sizes too big.

I had to jump to get on it, and fall off to get off it. I was doubled over forwards trying to reach the handlebars and the bike seat was wedged WAY too far where the sun don’t shine.

Despite this I tried to suck it up and make do.

Mistake!

I have never been more uncomfortable in my whole life.

This combined with my sorely lacking fitness levels meant I came off feeling like I’d been put through a spin cycle.

EVERYTHING hurt.

And we had a very pronounced case of “the bit”

Oh yes the dreaded “bit”.

Where that very bony part of your undercarriage meets the bike seat…

…and hurts like a MOTHERFUCKER.

I was walking sideways for three days.

And not in a good way…if you know what I mean.

Not only was I performing some kind of advanced yoga move on top of a two wheeled death trap but MY GOD it was hotter than summer in July.

Well it was summer in July….but….you know.

It was fucking hot!

If you happened to be in a remote area in the south of France on Tuesday and saw a small blonde girl horizontal on a blue bike and absolutely drenched with sweat.

That would be me.

I really hoping google maps wasn’t taking pictures that day.

And you think after all this effort we reached our destination?

NOPE.

Having been given no less than THREE sets of different directions we ended up even more in the middle of fucking nowhere when we started.

Who’s idea was this again?

Rachel I’m looking at you.

*Lies down in the recovery position*.

Voyage-ing…

Since we arrived in the land of sunshine and cigarettes we (we being me and Rachel, my parter in crime for the duration of this working holiday) have been on a couple of trips into civilisation.

First came Cognac for the Blues Festival.

Well I say Blues Festival.

We didn’t actually have tickets.

Instead of seeing once-semi-famous-blues-bands “rock out” to some old tunes on stage we saw post middle age men in biker gear drinking beer and having impromptu “jam sessions” in bars.

Basically the same thing right?

Cognac itself was a quiet sleepy little town with not a lot to offer.

Well, except Cognac, but we didn’t drink any of that either.

Just as we were about to give up and sit down to eat our home made French baguettes (more like a soggy school lunch sandwich but you know, when in Rome….or…errr, France), we were surrounded by a marching band and serenaded with WHAM!’s ‘Careless Whisper’.

20 good looking French boys blowing their trumpets for us?

Don’t mind if we do.

Next came La Rochelle, a gorgeous port town where we behaved like sensible adults, dining in a French bistro, spending all of our weeks wages on clothes and jewellery (Rachel) and riding on a Ferris wheel.

Even though it tipped it down with rain when we decided to have a sit down by the river, we never wanted to leave.

Finally we had a trip to Saintes to celebrate Bastille Day on the 14th of July.

I treated myself to a candy floss bigger than the size of my whole upper body #health, and was banned by Rachel from going on the French themed merry-go-round because I was too old and it would be too embarrasing.

*Sulk*

I was very disappointed I didn’t get a ride on a giant cock.

Cock as in cockerel you filthy people.

The animal, not the….

My god.

*Tuts*.

Just before the fireworks started, we heeded warnings about the idiots with deck chairs who found themselves nice comfy spots an hour before the display only to find that their view was obstructed by trees.

We sat down all smug a few minutes early on a comfy little grass verge with beautiful views over the river and a clear view of the sky.

Well, so we thought.

Guess which twats couldn’t see the fireworks.

These ones.

Yes, we had to get up and run, and ended up in a giant crowd on tip toes trying to peer over some very tall persons shoulders.

Such fun.

Oops I did it again…

A week ago I (very literally) crash landed into La Rochelle airport (thanks Ryanair) to begin my working holiday in the South of France.

Yes, I really did do it again.

Whoops.

#I’mABloggerGetMeOutOfHere.

The baby poo and sleepless nights of Spain apparently just weren’t enough to deter this…err…serial…working-holiday-ist? from another summer in the sun.

Yes well done Laura excellent use of your English degree to create concise and grammatically correct sentences.

*Slow clap*

Not only have I decided to spend yet another summer hundreds of miles away from family and friends and the comforts of home, but once again I’ve managed to wind up in the middle of nowhere.

Did I miss the memo about the existence of cities?

I’m starting to think that dropping geography in year nine was a bit of a mistake.

The warning signs were early….first of all we weren’t allowed to disembark the plane because the airport was too small for two aircrafts. Then as we were driven along the long winding roads past open fields and countryside the familiarity with rural essex, the land of horse-related train delays and escapee cows, became all too obvious.

It’s so peaceful you can hear a pin drop.

I am currently ensconced in a little shared annex with a fellow student from Leeds university for the next nine weeks.

My job? A mix of cleaning work, general grounds maintenance, the odd bit of cooking, playing with the kids, and….err more cleaning work.

My foreseeable Saturdays involve deep cleaning seven houses before the new guests arrive at 4pm.

Manual labour for the win!

On the flip side the hosts are lovely, the grounds are beautiful and we have a little kitchenette to make cups of tea to wile away the time….lots of cups of tea…so much tea…

In fact I think I have to go for my 47th wee of the day.

Toodaloo!

P.S. Breaking news! I’ve just today decided to switch to Earl Grey after a dire shortage of PG tips and a brief and not-so-tasty fling with Ceylon tea (which I’m told is from Sri Lanka). Yes this is the most breaking of all the news this week. #CountryLiving.

They see me tempin’ they hatin’…

I’ve been up all night, tryna get that rich I’ve been work, work, work, work working on my shit.

So, as it turns out, not only was I able to secure a little part time job at uni, but I’ve also been offered a Christmas temp position back at home (say what?).

Such fun!

(Not)

I hate it.

I’d envisioned spending the entirety of my Christmas holiday watching movies, seeing my friends, reading and soaking in a bubble bath.

Now I have to get up at 6am to catch a bus to the city.

The other day I was so tired I didn’t realise my watch was an hour fast so I accidentally waltzed out of the shop early, only to realise the actual time and have to awkwardly (and very stealthily I might add, I wasn’t voted most likely to work for Mi5 for nothing you know) creep back in and finish.

I ended this day spending five minutes trying to push open a pull door.

In front of a colleague.

Professionalism?

Nailed it.

It does have its perks though…

…like the other day I had a very funny conversation with an exasperated old man who was fed up following his wife around Christmas shopping.

I asked him if he was at least carrying her bags for her…his reply?

“No she likes carrying them…its a thing with you women isn’t it…the more bags you’ve got on your arms the better you feel”.

She wasn’t too impressed when she found him slacking off talking to me haha.

And…

And…

Ok I’m out of positives.

I spend the majority of my days manning the fitting rooms, which are empty 80% of the time so I’m insanely bored.

In fact I’ve been working on a little something something in my spare time.

“How to get Fired from your Retail Job” a self help book by Laura.

With highlights such as “have sex in the changing rooms” and “walk out before your shift ends”.

I’ll follow it up with the sequel “The Bus” an anecdotal book by Laura.

What was that?

You wouldn’t read either of them?

Well shit.

I guess I better stick at it then.

*Skulks off to changing rooms”

“Yanks curtains closed”

I’m bored, I’m the chairman of the bored…

I had the most boring lecture in the history of all lectures today. The professor kept jumping from topic to topic and relapsing into her native language…DO I LOOK BILINGUAL TO YOU?

Oh why thank you.

(I’m not)

Does this face look bovvered about whether the Treason Act of 1351 which forbid imagining the death of the king, shagging his wife and counterfeiting the royal symbol, was breached by Sir Gawain in ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’ and thus allegorically demonstrated through the drawing and quartering of the hunted animals in the woods?

Err it does actually…

…quite a bit.

IT WAS THE DELIVERY, OKAY?

It was one of those classes that was so boring it makes you want to do something naughty and completely inappropriate to claim back the hours of your life you just wasted.

I may have considered pencil rolling down the isles, wearing my notebook as a hat, jumping out of a window, laughing really loudly, belting “My Heart Will Go On” with full Leo and Kate moves and willing someone to do a really loud fart.

Not necessarily in that order.

In fact I’m currently wearing my Spanish dictionary as a cheeky chapeau…has a little bit of je ne sais quoi to it don’t you think?

What’s that?

You don’t think I should be on the fashion show committee?

*Struts off with dictio-hat*

*Hat falls off head*

*Trips over hat*

*Falls into ditch*

I’ve realised that I’ve actually been more bored than usual since I’ve been at university, which lead me to the terrifying conclusion that it’s because I’ve been doing so much I’ve consequently become less lazy.

Hold on, I thought I just saw a pig flying past my window.

I used to be able to quite happily wile my days away watching YouTube and scrolling through Twitter and Facebook, now I actually have to do stuff to keep myself occupied.

This was especially apparent last night when, out of the sheer boredom of having finished all my work (say what?), I worked out how to turn my chair into a Ramba Zamba…

…which basically consists of straddling it backward and spinning round very fast.

In fact I’m off to have a go now.

Toodaloo motherfuckers!

P.S. “Dictio-hat” is a mashup (gold stars to anyone who gets that reference).

How To: Procrastinate

It turns out that the year above us said that they’d like more assessment in their yearly review…

…bastards.

Guess who already has a essay that counts towards their yearly grade?

Guess who has to submit that essay by 10am tomorrow morning?

Guess who’s writing this post to avoid finishing said essay?

I’ll give you a clue, the answer’s me.

If you asked me what is the one single thing I am best at in the world, my answer would be procrastination.

I honestly do have some kind of deep rooted fear of deadlines. I get so worked up and anxious that I feel sick and literally can’t do any work. I hate tests more than anything. Once the deadline has passed, I’m quite happy to tap away and finish the work…

In fact I’ve just started reading the Odyssey two weeks after it was set…it’s quite good actually…

…I told you I was nuts.

My fear of deadlines is so bad that I literally revised the night before every one of my GCSEs, AS levels and A levels…my English Lit A level I revised for on the day of the exam!

I think I may have found a solution to my predicament…LIE.

I need people to legitimately convince me that my deadlines are a week earlier than they actually are, so that after I’ve had a mild heart attack trying to finish the work 2 minutes before the deadline, I can heave a sigh of relief and finesse it over the next seven days…

I know, I know, I’m far to clever, I’d see straight through the lies.

*Cough*

I also have a strong aversion to re-reading anything that I write. You’d literally have to handcuff me to a chair and put me in a headlock to force me to re-read this post before I publish it…or any of my essays…

Please don’t read too closely…there will be spelling mistakes.

As the sensai of procrastination, I thought I’d give you a few examples of how to procrastinate…

These are just what I’ve done today:

  • Buy strawberry laces, plait them then eat them.
  • Give yourself a strawberry laces mustache.
  • Practice speaking in an Australian and American accent.
  • Make tea.
  • Play The Sims Freeplay.
  • Watch New Girl or [insert any other humorous 20 minute American sitcom here].
  • Make oatmeal cookies.
  • Blog.
  • Snapchat your best friend.
  • Make tacos.
  • Eat tacos.
  • Spin around on chair.
  • Read books other than your set texts.

Well now you know what my day consisted of…what have you been up to?

Procrastination suggestions below please.

Oh and here’s my favourite YouTube video on procrastination, just to, you know fuck up your life even more…

Vintage danisnotonfire.

He he.

Cohabitation…

So to (sort of) round off all of my Spain posts (now I’ve said this there will probably be ten more for me to write in the future), here is perhaps the most important of them all…

To summarise: living with strangers sucks.

Now if you have a job, just take 30 seconds to imagine what it would be like to live with your boss. If you’re at school, make that your head teacher.

Are you suitably disturbed? 

Well this is essentially the job description of the au pair. To live in a confined space with the people who are paying you.

Add to this the fact that it may be your first time getting on a plane alone, going to another country alone and living without your family and you have the recipe for disaster.

You may think “isn’t it easier going to live with a family, wouldn’t that sort of break you in to the idea of moving out?”

The answer for me was a resounding no!

I honestly felt as though I was Alice and I had just fallen down the rabbit hole. I began to exist in this weird limbo state where my own life was suspended and I was very literally living in someone else’s life  for someone else. My contact with my family was completely severed (internet access was few and far between at the start and phone calls costed a bomb) and I had to somehow insert myself into the jigsaw puzzle that was the life someone I’d never met had created for themselves.

*Testing, testing, are you still with me?*

Now I don’t know if this was just my experience or my personality but I found slotting into someone else’s life to be extremely difficult. As there was often at least one of the parents and multiple family members at home while I was watching the kids (I think I met at least 15 other people, and yet wasn’t warned or properly introduced to any of them), I felt like an unnecessary addition, and felt at times that I just wanted to step back and give them time as a family when that wasn’t what I was being paid to do.

I constantly felt awkward and like I was walking on eggshells. Especially as the family talked to eachother in rapidfire Spanish over the dinner table, which for the life of me I couldn’t quite decipher, so I was left to sit in silence and wait for them to finish every night.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I didn’t feel entirely welcomed, or necessary. There were so many people buzzing around I felt like I was constantly being scrutinised, either for doing too much or too little.

As they provided all of my meals, I felt like I didn’t want to be even more of a burden on them and so when they offered to buy me extras I chose to decline and instead go out and by my own things. I think in this way my independence worked against me.

I also think that coming after a time when emotions and stress were already running high (A Levels) it was too much of a stark contrast, especially as there was literally nothing to do in the places I was staying. With a rigid routine in place for the kids, it became very slow and monotonous after a few weeks, and I really felt my depression and anxiety creep back in.

On a less philosophical note it was also very awkward to be walked in on in my underwear (old house…no locks…).

Would I do it again?

I wouldn’t write it off, I know that every experience is extremely different. I would, however, choose to be nearer a city or somewhere where there was much more going on. I would also ask the host family to help me make some connections with other au pairs in the area or people my own age…being with kids who can’t talk and foreign adults can be extremely isolating.

Well this post has turned out to be quite deep *puts on scuba diving mask*…maybe I should have taken philosophy at uni…

Please let me know if I have just gone absolutely nuts.

Right, I’m off to go watch some YouTube videos of cats…must regain equilibrium…

P.S. If your brain is all confuddled from this post I refer you to both confused.com to unconfuse you and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQbH3fyGerE&list=FLIbZHbmV9jfdJE_bJaiiSKA&index=18 for the lols…

Unpacked and over ‘ere…

And so finally my homecoming post arrives. It’s only two (okay three) weeks late…did I mention I was a horrific procrastinator?

You might have read my blog post “Dropping Dollar Bill$” when I talked about booking my ticket home, well I actually arrived back in the UK on the 9th of August.

A little part of me did hope for a “Love Actually” style airport reunion. I’d run off the plane to some uplifting, inspirational music (don’t you think that life in general would be much better if we had our own life soundtrack…just think of riding the school bus to Pirates of the Caribbean..da da dum dum da da dum dum da da dum dum da da do do… No? Just me then…), then I’d gracefully leap into my mum’s arms and she would proceed to swing me around, sob and rejoice at my return.

Actually make that quite a big part of me…

As per usual, the reality did not live up to the creative expanses of my mind. We landed on time at Gatwick airport, only to be told that one of the steps were broken and that we’d have to remain on the plane until they could ferry another set over. Cue bitching about the general quality of EasyJet airlines, and the air stewardesses trying to both placate and defend. I did not partake. I flew with Ryanair on the way out and it was relief enough not to hear the *we’ve arrived on time* horns at twelve o’clock at night.

An hour later when we were released from custody, I picked up my bags from the bag drop and had to face the reality of carrying my 17 kilo suitcase and 10 kilo hand luggage round the bloody airport by myself (it should be illegal for airports to have stairs, surely). Once I’d made it out of the maze of passport control desks and travelators, I met my mum and her boyfriend at the lobby where she gave me a big hug, then we walked to the car and I ate a cheese and tomato sandwich.

Well that was riveting…

Anyway here is the exciting part, where we find out whether my blog really does live up to its namesake…

I packed….

26 Tops (assorted)
8 Dresses
8 Pairs of shorts
2 Skirts
5 Pairs of leggings
3 Pairs of trousers
1 Pair of joggers
3 Jumpers
2 Cardigans
1 Swimming costume
1 Tankini
4 Bikinis
1 Pair of swim shorts
2 Beach coverups
2 Towels
8 Pairs of socks
8 Bras
27 Pairs of knickers
1 Pair of running shoes
1 Pair of tennis shoes
1 Pair of flip flops
1 Pair of pumps
2 Pairs of sandals
1  Leather jacket
1 Sunhat
2 Pairs of sunglasses
Toiletries and makeup

I think the answer is yes…

Though I did fit it all into a 15 kilo luggage allowance (10 kilo hand luggage) *pats self on back*.

P.S. I think its quite clear now where I over-did it *cough* tops *cough*, I swear it didn’t seem like that much while I was actually packing…

Walk the walk…

As a companion to my “Talk the talk..” post, I thought I’d give you some handy tips about what you should ask the people you’re going to be staying with pre-departure.

I obviously failed miserably at this, I was met at the airport to find the family had a third son I had completely no idea about!

Oh, Laura…

  1. How many children will I be looking after, what are their ages?
  2. What are the children’s personalities like? What do they like to do for fun? Are there any problem areas e.g. fussy eaters, allergies?
  3. What is the children’s daily routine?
  4. What exactly are my duties and responsibilities?
  5. What time am I expected to start and finish work?
  6. What can I do in my spare time? What do you do as a family in your spare time?
  7. Are we going to be eating together? If so, what time? If not, what is available to me?
  8. What language do you wish me to speak in? How much English do you and the kids speak?
  9. Where will I be staying? Am I expected to share a room with the kids?
  10. What do you do for work? What is your daily routine?
  11. Have you had an au pair before? If so, what was your experience?
  12. Are there any religious/cultural norms or rules I should be aware of?
  13. Do you travel a lot? If so, will I be travelling with you and am I expected to pay for my share of the transport fees?
  14. How do you see an au pair fitting into your family?
  15. Tell me about the area you live in. What commodities are there?
  16. Will I be expected to cook and clean? If so, to what extent?
  17. Do you need me to be able to drive? If so, do you have a car I can use?
  18. Why are you choosing to have an au pair rather than a nanny or daycare?
  19. Do you have internet or computer access?
  20. Do I need to pay for my own flight?
  21. What happens if I feel unwell? Is there a doctors close by? Will you give me time off?
  22. How will I be paid, in euros or pounds, weekly or monthly?
  23. What kind of clothes should I pack, is there anything in particular I will need?
  24. How should I behave if the children will not listen or are rude?
  25. Do you have any pets?

Well I hope that just about covers it, my brain is refusing to come up with any more!