France: Bordeaux – Bretagne

     I’m sat on a comfy sofa in an overwhelming country house in Bretagne, France. It’s early and everyone else is sleeping. Outside it’s raining, but somehow, it feels good.  (No, cycling in heavy rain to work was definitely not my favourite thing in the world).
     We left Bordeaux Saturday morning and few hours later, Bretagne welcomed us with breathtaking views, dream country houses and beautiful weather. We’re in St. Gildas de Rhuys, a quiet, yet charming village by the Atlantic and walking down its streets probably makes me look like I’m on something as I’m in continuous awe, grinning and giggling and dreaming.
8 am yesterday morning, we left to the Sunday market (happening every week in the village) and I didn’t want to leave the place. I got lost in the multitude of people buying fresh fruits and vegetables, bread, cheese, seafood, cakes, crepes, all local produce. Apart from the endless mouth watering food choice, which was the main ‘attraction’ of the market, one could also buy hippie jewelery, clothes, bags and all sorts of little things from cheap watches to the highly annoying loom bands.
Overlooking the market, a very busy coffee shop was hosting curious looks and warm smiles – locals, tourists, half asleep backpackers getting their daily drug dose to wake their eyes to the beauty around them. People on bikes with baskets overflowing of bread, cheese and flowers, super friendly (yet not annoying) local traders, lots of ‘Bonjour!’ and ‘Bonne journèe! ‘, all under the warmth of an ambitious sun trying to make its way through the clouds. After a relaxing week and a half in the Bordeaux region with my first ratatouille, sinful, delicious homemade wine, Dune do Pyla and Mami’s famous ‘soup’ (that actually gets you drunk), we ended the day by the ocean where the water was so calm. I stood there for a while and (beware! Cheesy, lame part coming) I felt truly happy. I forgot for a moment about everything else and just lost myself in the view. I’m living my dream and i’m extremely pleased that I get to see all these interesting places in the company of locals who would share funny childhood stories and tips and secrets about the food, the people or the best places to visit that haven’t been discovered yet by the many tourists. Learning so much about myself, trying to always escape my comfort zone (big girl here – went on adults rides in a water parc), I’m easily building the lifestyle that keeps me happy, with less worries, less drama, more smiling and being more grateful for everything I have.
Slight change of the subject, as a leaving present, my lovely GO family gave me a beautiful leather-bound notebook to write in about my adventures and because I haven’t got as much time to develop the millions of things in my head, the notebook is a massive list with pieces of my heart. In the same principle, my posts will sometimes include some random sentences at the end, stuff that I would like to write more about or just silly things I want to look back to in years time and make fun of my silly self.

The randoms

– Mami is 88 years old and one of the coolest grandmothers I have ever met. Also she dresses impeccably and makes the famous ‘soup’, aka the best cocktail ever. The recipe was a family secret.
– My new family is actually French. They moved to Switzerland a while ago and started their family and business there. Asked what they miss the most about France they replied: “Salted butter, pastry shops and markets”. No wonder they have a restaurant. It’s all about food with French people.
– I’m learning to knit. Friends and family, prepare yourselves!
– Tried learning to swim. Failed.
– Uncle Glen, (thanks for reading my blog) I saw two pretty campervans. None were as cool as the ‘Slug’.
– For those interested (English people in particular as I know house pricing in England is a bit of a joke, especially in the South), with £100k you can easily buy a 3 bed country house, decent garden, by the ocean. 😉
– It’s no myth: French people are very well dressed. Simple, yet very chic.
– I have started doing yoga and I love it. (Thank you, Bina!)
– I’m getting a little bit obsessed with herbal/fruity teas and oats.
– Nowadays, my name is ‘Aina’ or ‘iiiidhdbdbsbdhdgsbv’, as the little ones like to call me.
– I’m rocking the baby carrier. Dancing with a 5 month old has never been easier.

Hope you are as happy as I am!

Bisous!

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#swissdream

Or how I decided to go for what makes me happy. The last 2 months have been a beautiful chaos. There’s too much to say and little words to explain how pleased I am with how things turned out. My mum has finally visited me in England and witnessed receiving my Modern Languages degree, Larisa and I moved out and the biggest change of all is that I’m writing this post on my phone from a beautiful, small village in Switzerland where I decided to move to to be an au pair for a year. Without a doubt, it’s the most sudden, yet second best decision I have ever made. My feet have always screamed to step on new places and my heart is in a continuous party at the thought of it. I was going through a weird, comfortable phase in which I didn’t quite know where I’m heading to. The phase didn’t last long though and after getting tired of looking back in the past, waiting for people to make that extra effort and hoping that good things will just fall from sky, I decided to leave England. The process was (far too) quick, painless and exciting, to say the least. One evening after work, I decided I want to become an au pair for a while. The same evening I made a profile on one of the recruiting websites and the next morning I was reading applications from families in Norway, Austria, Sweden, France and Switzerland. I went for Switzerland (the French side) as I wanted to learn yet another Latin language and I was and still am very hyped at the idea of skiing, hiking, camping and (!!!!!!!!) doing via ferrata in the Alps. I couldn’t be happier with my choice. And the family I’m living with are making this experience 10 times better. After reading horrifying au pair stories online, I cannot stop but think again “What a lucky girl I am!”. I know it’s early to say this,  but have you ever met some people and you thought to yourself “Yes, I like these ones. They can definitely stay in my life.”?
   Today is the National day of Switzerland and last night the council organised this big overnight party for the whole community with plenty of food, drinks, music, a massive fire, balloons and fireworks, to top it all off. I was stood there in awe and I was enjoying every single minute of it with a silly happy grin on my face.
    It’s the 4th country I live in, after Romania, England and Portugal and I’m sure that, as with the rest, Switzerland will give me great memories, will help me grow up and will give me the life experience i’m looking for. The real expectation from my Swiss story is to learn, through good and bad, as many skills as possible, be it feeding a 5 month old baby while making sure his toddler sister doesn’t play with the plugs, speaking French, cooking better (have I mentioned the parents own a restaurant?) or doing via ferrata and ski.
    Looking back now, I wouldn’t want to change a thing. (Well, maybe that 3 hour delay on my London-Geneva flight)

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What now?

I keep getting asked what’s happening now that I’ve finished university and I have a degree in languages. The answer is: I’m living. And well. There are some plans after summer that I won’t talk about now as it’s too early, but for the moment I am taking it easy.
It’s been 4 long years which, in all honesty, I didn’t enjoy that much, beside my year abroad in Portugal. Long, tiring commuting, going to work straight after or before lectures, barely any new uni friends wasn’t necessarily what people have in mind when thinking of uni life. But it’s all gone and I have no regrets whatsoever. I’m fully aware society wants us to get a full time job and get stuck in an office just because “you know, you have a degree now, you spent so much money on it”. I went to uni for myself. If I never get to use my degree I’m not going to cry though I’m sure I will be able to put my collection of foreign languages in practice with what I have in mind for the future.
At the moment, I’m still enjoying my time at Go Outdoors, trying to save up as much as possible. Between working,  looking for other summer jobs and planning for what comes after summer, I’m just living my life well and happily. I finally get to see friends and go out. Larisa and I wake up really early and go for morning walks in the big park next to our house or for proper sunset fun (icecream, cider, board games etc.), we get to play tennis more often, go through that big list of films that we have to watch still and I finally cook more for her, which feels great. Soon enough I’ll go visit my baby cousin/goddaughter Sofia and her beautiful sister Chloe, hoping we can spend some quality time together and my mum is coming soon for my graduation which it will make this summer 3 times more awesome than any other summer.
And there’s so much more stuff I have planned for the months coming. List freak, here you go:
– read more;
– start doing yoga; (yeah, I laughed too when I decided this, but I will give everything a try)
– go camping
– go to Brighton pride. Eeeeek.
– go to the beach. One of the sandy ones around. Or Isle of Wight.
– make elderflower lemonade. My mum used to make this for me when I was younger and it’s literally the best thing ever. Beside the cherry vodka that she makes.
– go to Brighton Breeze, the VW campervan festival on Brighton pier and another classic car show anywhere in Hampshire.
– go for long walks in the woods (one thing I don’t like about the UK is that you can’t free camp in the woods, just like that, which in Scandinavia, for example, is very common. Naughty UK)
– go roller disco. 😀
– dance, dance, dance. Club, streets, my room in my knickers.
– go see Lucy Spraggan ♡
– hopefully go away for a weekend with Larisa to someplace new.
– write more nonsense on this blog.
– go to car boot sales and search for my beautiful old red suitcase.
– be happy and enjoy the most stupid little thing ever that makes me smile.

What are you doing this summer?

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The piano

She sits on the 30-year-old stool in front of the piano. Its 5.05 a.m. She thinks she’s crazy for a second. Then she realizes she actually is: she’s crazy in love with life at the moment. She smiles to herself: “There it is, getting senile at such young age!”

And she starts playing this beautiful old piano she found at a Sunday market. Best money she’s ever spent, she thought. Ludovico Einaudi – Una mattina, her obsession for the last few weeks. Then another song and another one and 20 minutes later she finds herself back to the bed she’s always wanted which is just a king-sized mattress on the floor, in the middle of the room. She wraps herself in the fresh white cotton sheets and the scent of the soul next to her. She kisses her shoulder softly, trying not to wake her up. “Morning person” was definitely not invented for her. 

They’ve been living together for 2 years now in a decent sized studio in Mona Vale and even though they’ve always thought they’d kill each other within a couple of days, things have turned out better than expected. The room is filled with stacks of books and home magazines, there’s 2 bikes hung on one of the walls, a huge dvd rack, a little table with a typing machine, a laptop and lots of wild flowers and lavender in a ceramic pot next to it. There are a couple of empty cans of beer next to the mattress and some popcorn left in a huge bowl, probably from the film, last night.

She wakes up again, this time too late for a Saturday, with the smell of fresh croissants and coffee and the image of a beautiful naked body under an oversized checked shirt, tip-toeing around the room, setting up the small table in the balcony over-looking the ocean.

-You’ve overslept. Again. You might need a jumper for this; it’s bloody windy out there. But you wanted breakfast on the balcony at least once a week, so you must suffer the consequences now.

Confused and sleepy, she covers herself in the white bed throw and goes on the balcony. A small table with elderflower lemonade, coffee, croissants and fruits were all waiting for her. They both sat down in quiet, not knowing what to start with. Sipping from the large mug of black coffee she stares at the two big brown eyes in front of her and without a word she tells her “I love you!”

-I know. Now tell me, what person in their right mind plays piano at 5 o’clock in the morning?