Talk the talk…

So being the all around kind and giving person I am (just call me your fairy godmother), here are some useful Spanish words and phrases for all you wannabe au pairs…or for those of you that just want to brush up on your vocab…

¡Ven aqui! – Come here
¡Venga! – Come
¡Mira! – Look
¡Ten! – Take
¡Toma! – Take
¡A ver!- Lets’s see/Show me
Pero bueno – Said when the child does something cute but naughty, equivalent would be “Oi Cheeky”
¿Has hecho pis? – Have you done a wee?
¿Has Hecho caca? – Have you done a poo?
¡Para! – Stop
¡Come! – Eat
¡Bebe! – Drink
¡Traga! – Swallow
¡Mastica! – Chew
No me muerden – Don’t bite me
No golpeas a tu hermana – Don’t hit your sister
No tiras/No tira eso – Don’t throw/Don’t throw that
No tire el pelo – Don’t pull my hair
Deja eso – Put that down
No pase nada – Don’t worry
Pobresita – Poor little
Sucio – Dirty
Seco – Dry
Mojado – Wet
Travieso – Naughty
Tete/Chupete – Dummy
Biberón – Bottle
Babero – Bib
Pañal – Nappy
Cuna – Cot
Toalla – Towel
Bañador – Swimming costume
¿Está cansado? – Are you tired?
Estoy cansado – I’m tired
No me cuentas peliculas – Don’t tell me stories
¿Dónde le duele? – Where does it hurt
Con sueño – Sleepy
A dormir – To sleep
Suelta me – Let go of me
Quedarte aquí – Stay here
¡Oye! – Hey


And the most important…

¡Que no!

Practise makes perfect…

We no speak Americano…

According to the little girl I’ve been looking after, my English is terrible and I’m not from England.

Me and her dad had a good old chuckle about this.

In all seriousness though, if this trip has shown me anything, its how bloody awful my Spanish is.

I’d like to think I was one of the better ones in my Spanish class, having had a Spanish teacher at home when I was very little…I must at least be in the top 15 (guess how many there were in my class?).

I’ve also just gotten my IB ab initio Spanish results through and I got a respectable 6 (equivalent to an A), so you’d think I’d be able to stay somewhat afloat in a sea of foreign conversation, right?

Wrong!

When I first arrived, I couldn’t understand a single bloody word. The family wasn’t very impressed, I’m not exactly giving Brits abroad a very good rep…

It was so embarrassing, it kind of put me off speaking any Spanish in front of the family. Not that this was a problem, my job was explicitly to speak in English. I even got found out and told off when I went on a covert mission to speak in Spanish to the kids at the beach…

What’s even more embarrassing, however, is having to whip out the “I’m English”, blank stare excuse in front of the locals. Especially if they speak fluent English, Spanish and French…

So I was perpetually stuck in some “damned if I do, damned if I don’t” purgatory.

In the end I decided I would just listen a la sponge, and whip out my rudimentary Spanish only when absolutely necessary (ice cream, food, Vogue…) and when I was sure not to get caught at the beach.

Something along the line must have gone right…by the end I could understand, and somewhat reply to the 92 year old grandmother who didn’t speak a word of English! I could get the kids to do what I asked them to! And I could understand all of the plaques at a mini Roman exhibition I went to!

At the same time, the little girl had learnt “wind the bobbin up”, “1,2,3,4,5 once I caught a fish alive” and “twinkle twinkle” as well as many a cute, heartbreaking English words and phrases. I almost keeled over when she asked me “what is properly?”…the accent!

It seems I had found a happy Spanglish medium.

When I told her I was leaving, she said to me (in Spanish) “yey! Now I can speak Spanish with mummy and daddy, I don’t like speaking English because I’m Spanish”.

Glad to know my mother tongue made as great an impression on her as hers did on me…

P.S. I think that the unnatural speed and complete lack of intonation in their speech is a ploy by the Spanish especially to make foreigners look like complete idiots…I mean I could even understand a bit of what the French family next to me were saying and I haven’t done French since GCSE!

Dropping dolla bill$…

In case you didn’t know, that’s gangster rap talk for spending money.

And I’ve just dropped a lot of it…in fact, hang on, let me sit down a moment…I’m feeling a bit faint…

Why, oh why, are flights from Spain to London so bloody expensive? It cost me £70 quid to fly out here, including checked luggage, but it’s costing me more than double that to fly back. The flights only 2 hours long so that’s over £100 an hour! I could get…I don’t know…a full body spa treatment at Harrods for less than that!

If I ever become prime minister, or for that matter the worlds #1 villain and all around evil genius (a la Gru in Despicable Me, less the huge nose and Russian accent…don’t you just love the minions?), the first thing I’d do is price fix flights. Lets completely ignore the implications of this on the economy for just a moment, and float away into a dreamland where it costs £70 to fly to Spain and £70 to bloody fly back…look into my eyes, not around my eyes, in my eyes….and you’re drifting…

*Snaps fingers*

Wasn’t that lovely?

I’m going to go cry into my plane food…I guess I’ll avoid the freshman 15 if I can’t afford food at uni…

Siesta fiesta…

I came up with the idea for this post at three in the morning.

Why? You ask me…

It’s because I had a bloody siesta yesterday.

Siestas are much like the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang…they lure you in with the promise of two shiny hours sleep and then bam, you’re lying awake all night trapped in a cycle of self hatred…not worth it, no not worth it at all.

The children need a nap – that’s a given – otherwise they’re grouchy and tired all afternoon, but I just can’t justify myself (or every other fully grown Spanish adult for that matter) losing three perfectly good hours from the day. I mean how do they ever get anything done?

Maybe I’m just bitter because I can’t power nap and still get a full eight hours sleep at night…

The thing is, I never sleep in the day, unless I’m very sick, or by some other extenuating circumstances, absolutely exhausted. If you catch me nodding off at two in the afternoon, call a doctor, I may be dying…

I am also about as useful (and scary for that matter) as a dead zombie corpse when I haven’t slept…I wake up like a pissed off deep sea monster, rising out of the ocean…maybe I am the Loch Ness monster…I’ve sure been feeling like it lately…

I honestly need about 10 hours of solid, uninterrupted sleep in a pitch black room to wake up chirpy, and as you can imagine there ain’t much of that going around in this job…

This morning for example I was woken up, as usual, at six am with the girl screaming “no, no, suelta me, suelta me” (read: let me go, let me go) as the baby tugged gleefully on her hair and laughed.

She’d climbed into his cot *deadpan*. What did she expect.

They both then took it in turns to shout “mama” and “papa”, attack each other and throw various objects at me, including a dummy and a toy dinosaur. On three hours sleep I was not best pleased…

After a failed attempt at shushing them, and then trying to ignore them, and then hiding under the covers and pretending I wasn’t there (kids these days…they’re too smart…), I rose up from the dead and murderously stomped off, baby in tow to heat the milk for his bottle. By the time the second batch of toast had pinged up, I was halfway to consciousness – this is very important considering the fact I am technically living with my bosses. By the time we’d sat down, on the outside I was smiley and buoyant (oh shut up…I tried..) while on the inside contemplating rolling myself off the balcony. All of today I have felt like hell.

These are the times I regret not drinking caffeine.

No I’m not going to have another siesta…I bloody refuse!

P.S. Why does this only happen in Spain? Do they know something the rest of the world doesn’t or are they just a sleepy (lazy) people.

P.PS. If this post turns out to be incoherent, I apologise, I’m so tired I’m almost face-planting into my iPad…

And I would walk five hundred miles…

And I would walk five hundred more…*sings obnoxiously in hideously inaccurate Scottish accent*

If there was a memo, I’ve missed it. I don’t understand.

The practise seemed even more prevalent in Laredo…

Since I’ve been here I’ve noticed that its a “thing” for three quarters of the beach population to walk, nay stride, purposely up and down the length of the beach, back and forth, like ants carrying food to their nest under the watchful eye of their queen…ok where exactly do I think I’m going with this?

I don’t now if its just me, but it all seems a little bit strange… When I, for one, am on the beach, I…well…beach myself, like a whale…in the optimum “sunbathing position”…basting in Hawaiian Tropic. I refuse to move other than to lightly toast (read: burn) my other side or if I near mummify from dehydration (naughty, don’t actually do this).

I’m starting to think this is the reason why google didn’t bother mapping Lidls in Laredo, or any of the supermarkets for that matter (I’m totally over it….totally…), it would have been too hard to photoshop out all of the “ants” obscuring the view.

Out of pure curiosity, I decided to partake in this bizarre activity, and have concluded that it looks suspiciously like exercise…

Am I skinny yet?

P.S. Do you “walk the walk”? If so, why? It it just for the lols, the exercise *shudder* or is there a secret underground practise I don’t know about ‘coz I’m English?

P.P.S. My “research” walk along Benicassim beach was actually quite pleasant. I would have done it again but that’s my monthly exercise quota all used up…

Shits and giggles…

Well here I am again with another poo related post for you. “Matter” for those of you with a more sensitive stomach…

Don’t lie, you’ve been waiting for this all week.

Well there I was, going about my daily business, making sandcastles and building ‘mountains’ with the kids when all of a sudden, the baby freezes and pulls that face. The “yes I’m taking a shit, right here right now, am I cute or am I cute?” face.

So what? You ask. Take off his nappy and throw it away…

He wasn’t wearing a nappy.

Or swimming trunks.

He pooed directly onto the sand.

We had to scoop it up in a spare plastic bag. It was like we’d suddenly acquired a chihuahua. I bloody hate dogs.

When I went to pick him up to carry him home, he started weeing.

Excuse me while I go lay down in a dark room….

What is life?

P.S. I now have a full and hearty appreciation for the invention of the pooper scooper.

P.P.S. He found this absolutely hilarious, and has now learnt to say “caca”. In fact, he said it this morning while holding his stomach and smiling knowingly. I had a nice present to deal with then too…

What not to do at the beach…

Aside from the aforementioned perils associated with beach-going (invest in a good pair of sunglasses, the dark tinted ones obscure the jiggle a little), there are a number of things about the beach that just down right piss me off. Want me to share? Well I’m going to anyway…

Would it be absolute sacrilege to say that at times, I wish I didn’t have to go to the beach every day? Yes? *Runs (haha jk, fast walks)…away…quickly…*

Here is my list of what not to do at the beach…

1) Invade someone’s personal space…

With 2 miles of gorgeous, sandy beach, why do people feel they have to set up camp directly next to you? This happened to me today and I spent the whole time not reading my book and instead doing the whole I’m-looking-at-you-looking-at-me-isn’t-this-awkward thing. Such fun!

2) Bring kids…

See aforementioned post ‘Shits and giggles…’. Add to this the fact that they dig holes for you, unawares, to fall in to, run past you kicking sand onto your towel (cardinal sin), scream, shout, fight, throw frisbees and balls at your head (four times in one day!), throw tantrums and splash you with freezing cold water. As an Au Pair I am guilty of this. I am deeply sorry.

3) Inadvertently or purposely put sand on someone else’s towel…or your own for that matter…

I know I mentioned this above but I think it warrants it’s own bullet point, don’t you? Sand on towel generally means getting sand in places sand should never be…you know what I’m talking about…. It also seems to disappear until a completely inappropriate moment, five months post holiday, when a weeks worth of debris (or in my case 3 months worth) materialises out of nowhere… I think my suitcase was already two parts sand before I even started packing for this trip.

4) Strike up a conversation with a stranger…

Ok so this one doesn’t always apply but since I got out here, I am constantly being approached by dubious members of the elderly population who are intent on cooing over the kids. One guy just sat and shouted things at us. It’s creepy. At first my Spanish was so rusty I couldn’t even understand what they were saying…if you’re ever in this situation, smile and wave boys, smile and wave…

I would hedge bets  that you’re much safer on this front in England…

5) Throw litter/otherwise pollute…

It’s just gross, and dirty. And don’t you just hate it when the person who has just placed their towel inappropriately close to yours, pulls out a cigarette and starts smoking. Is it just me?

6) Be ridiculously hot / exit the water like Ursula Andress…

If you’re female, it’s just not fair, especially as I haven’t shaved my legs and my hair has inflated to mane like proportions (thanks 83% humidity). If you’re male, you are distracting me from broadening my knowledge base through the art of reading (lol jk I’m actually reading Cosmo…I totally read all of the requisite books for GCSE English…from start to finish….)

Well there you go. Have I missed anything? Is there anything you’d add to my list?

As an added little bonus, here is “Dear beach, 10 things I hate about you…”

Sand in bits, pits and tits

Sand on towel

Sand in handbag

Sand in kindle

Sand in ice cream

Sand in between toes

Sand in…(oh who am I kidding, sand full stop…nasty bugger)

Having to do things other than lying beached like a whale (occupational hazard, don’t become an Au Pair)

Overheating (the worst!)

Getting burnt

Having to pack everything up to go to the loo/buy drink/ buy ice cream as you die from the heat, then having to unpack to resume sunbathing

Well, I hope that was rant-y enough for you..

P.S. If you didn’t get the Madagascar reference, what are you doing with your life? Ditto the Miranda reference if you’re in the UK.

Pits, tits and wobbly bits…

The European beach…

Long stretches of fine, golden sand and clear, azure water; cloudless skies painted with a watercolour sunset, swaying palms…

Well….that and a few added extras…of the wobbly kind…

We British are prudes. Whether we like to admit it or not.

If you head down to say….Southend beach, you’ll see people hiding a multitude of sins beneath wraps, sarongs, shorts, tshirts, beach dresses, and in some cases, Jeans! Actually in quite a lot of cases, on the hottest day in August you’ll still see some nutter walking down the street in a leather jacket (probably a testament and a middle finger up to the fact we’re lucky to get five days of good weather…) We are so hung up about our bodies, we have pioneered new ways of artfully tying our towels (Ooooh look! No hands *shimmies to demonstrate the non-falling-down-ness of said towel….runway walk…and pose….and pose*).

In Europe, however, the rule is: if you’ve got it, flaunt it; if you don’t got it, fuck it, flaunt it anyway.

For the duration of my stay, my views of the ocean have been partially obscured by wayward exposed tits, arses and spare tyres, cellulite and sagging skin.

It’s bloody fantastic.

Never have I ever felt so at ease showing some skin in a public place. Not that I’ve actually shown any more skin than normal…no really…stop it , I’m serious….you have such dirty minds…

I’ve gone back and forth on the “to tatas or not to tatas” debate (I’m sure it’s what Shakespeare actually wanted to write about…it just wasn’t era appropriate) and have, until now, settled on no tatas (No Sex Please, We’re British….oooh and just think of the sunburn. Don’t even get me started on the hazards of g string bikinis…did you read that story in the mail a few years ago?)

For me, this liberation is reminiscent of my holiday a few years back to Tenerife, where there was more German schnitzel than, well….German schnitzel… Back then, I was horrified. Now, I appreciate the charm…

Young or old, fat or thin, pale or tanned…here it just hunkey-dorey to let it all hang out.

Maybe it’s the heat that’s getting to me…I’m sounding decidedly un-British.

Excuse me while I go wear an actual bikini, sans cover-up (shock, horror!) to the beach…

*Does bikini strut…falls into hole that some tearaway has dug in the sand*

P.S. No, I am not just about to run off and join a nudist society, I said I was wearing a bikini…a bikini…oh I give up…

P.P.S. I’m not saying the view was always a particularly nice one…trust me, I’ve seen some things I can never un-see…on the other hand, that group of French boys….ooh la la indeed…

P.P.P.S. Legs or hotdogs ;P

WUWH…

This first month and a half has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster.

I’m not going to lie, there has been many a time when I have wanted to call home and throw a full blown tantrum, either demanding I come home or making my family come to me. God knows I’ve had enough instruction on how to throw a good ‘un, courtesy of beeble one and beeble two…

But when my mum emailed me to say a travel zoo holiday to Valencia had come up, and they could come and visit me I had mixed feelings…

On the one hand I was desperate for hugs and a good old chat (the language barrier, misunderstanding of my sense of humour and the fact that we essentially have an employer and employee relationship has prevented this with the family). On the other I stubbornly feel like I want to do this on my own. To assert my own independence. I am a walking cliché…

The deal was snapped up to fast to book it, so I am taking this as a sign.

My secondary school, an all girls grammar, in the last two years of me being there introduced a “learner profile”, listing the qualities that they hoped to foster in us students. The head’s favourite word was resiliance. It was pretentious and therefore it became absolutely necessary for the whole school to take the piss out of it.

Teachers would ironically slip “resilience” into their assemblies (my cynical English teacher was particularly hilarious in lessons), and we would band it about between us to the point that the head clocked, and upper school assemblies became a pantomime. She’d steer conversation towards the profile, pause, and all 400 of us would shout back “resilience”.

Whatever it is, I think it’s catching…

…goddamnit.

Don’t tell FIBs…

I missed it.

It being FIB, Festival Internacional de Benicassim.

I was originally told by the family that we’d be going to Laredo for a week “sometime in July” but this turned into two weeks smack bang over festival time (it’s very true that the Spanish, famed for the phrase “mañana, mañana”, have a lax sense of time, this two weeks soon bled into three…).

I hadn’t exactly planned to go, I didn’t have a ticket, but a small part of me was hoping that I’d have one glamorous little thing about my trip that I could go back and tell people about.

Today, however, almost made up for it (EDIT: not today, did you read the post: Hello Internet…?). In a haze of post Gastroenteritis I-need-to-get-out-of-this-house-and-into-the-fresh-air,I went for a walk into the town (yes it did hurt my stomach a bit but sacrifices, eh?) and stumbled upon a mini rock festival.

Well not really a festival, but there was a stage set up in the town square for the main act, a smaller gazebo for the warm up, and, of course, a San Miguel tent.

It was great, and something a bit different to break up the weeks looking after the kids, reading and writing.

The first act was a group of local family and friends that had a jam session to some well known rock songs. The second was a electro rock duo that arrived topless wearing bright red skinny jeans and blue ray bans. One, long haired and skinny had “KILL ALL HUMANS” painted on his chest in red paint, and played the keyboard and synthesiser. The other, resembling Zach Galifianakis’s character Alan Garner in the Hangover, wore a tie and a muffin top, and played the drums. Together they made up THEFREETANGAS.

The rain held, the music was great and I had a chance to get some pretty holiday snaps when the sun popped out to say hello.

It would have been weird to go to a festival on my own any way wouldn’t it…

…and it saved me £90.