The youngest decided to just plunge himself into a pool of water when I wasn’t looking.
As I mentioned in my last blog, the kids are off on their very regularly vacations from school. This meant that in the second week I was going for my first trip away with my host family. We went to one of their favourite places, where they have been holidaying for years. Île de Ré is situated off the coast of France, whilst being its own island it is still connected to the mainland by a long bridge. We were originally meant to be staying at the house they had purchased and renovated, however it was not ready in time so we stayed at my host dad’s sisters house.
The journey there took over 7 hours between stopping for lunch etc. which surprisingly wasn’t that bad, as my host dad was already at the house working meaning I had a little more leg room at the front. On arrival I quickly realised that the host dad’s sister and her son were already staying there and would be for 5 out of the 7 days we were there. I think all au pairs know that it can be weird meeting the family as sometimes they can be a bit full on with the French and can be a little awkward around you despite you being technically part of the family. Luckily the sister was really nice and her son B was a godsend! He was 15, and although 6 years younger than me I was happy to have someone who wasn’t a child and wasn’t an adult either. Plus, he was basically the centre of all the boys torture for the 5 days which meant that I was often out of the fire line. This did not stop him from miming HELP across the room when the boys really wouldn’t leave him alone. At this point I would laugh and remind him to count his blessings as I had this everyday at home.
– Île de Ré
On the first day, I accompanied the boys to search for crabs at the beach with B. I wouldn’t say I am very fond of lifting crabs from rocky waters and putting them in a basket so I left B to take the lead whilst I simply enjoyed how absolutely amazing the beach was. It wasn’t a sandy beach, in fact it was ridiculously rocky but it was so beautiful and full of so many colours bouncing of each other! I love beaches, the sound of them, the smell of them and the idea of the deep water meeting the land always fascinates me. However, as an au pair you can’t really close your eyes and just enjoy it. I was reminded of this when the youngest decided to just plunge himself into a pool of water when I wasn’t looking. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the picture that I was able to hold onto even if I did return to my host parents with two soggy kids. My bad!
We rented out bikes one of the days, and went along the many bike-only paths that exist on the Island. That was one of my favourite things, the island consists of many little villages and between them all is nothing literally nothing. You need to have a car to travel to each one by road otherwise you take your bikes and cycle to other places. We spent most of our time cycling along the coast or in the middle of nowhere until we reached another village. There is nothing better than having a cool breeze blowing in your face and looking around and seeing nothing but beauty, not because it was grand but because there was nothing but trees and grass and everything natural. God’s gift that is often forgotten about by many of us!
I was very much out of my comfort zone
Not only was it my first holiday, I also had my first Halloween as an au pair. Halloween hasn’t always gone to plan for me in the past so I often made a point of working. It is a bit easier for kids though, throw some blood on their face and buy them a cheap cape and you have yourself a dead zombie and vampire. We started the Halloween day in search of some pumpkins (having flashbacks to the days I used to love carving at my step mums – I was very excited for this), however the village was holding a little festival for the kids at the market and I was soon reeled into standing for an hour and a half between a bunch of excited kids and French parents attempting to do Halloween paintings, cooking and quizzes. I was very much out of my comfort zone, I hate being between people I don’t know with so much going on around me, and the added noise of gibberish (aka French). My anxiety kicks in and even basic instructions have me lost (to my host mums annoyance). I was extremely happy to hear the words ‘let’s go’, although I was upset that this festival took over the pumpkin carving the kids seemed to enjoy it so I guess that was the whole point really.
That evening, we went back to the festival to begin a village trick or treat! This concept confused me but I soon learnt that this consisted of about 80 kids darting around all the shops in the village to get sweets handed out by the owners. I need to explain that this village wasn’t big, and these shops were very close to each other so essentially we had a very dangerous sprint to get to the shops first before they ran out and a lot of dodging to make sure we didn’t bang into anyone. This is very far from my memories off knocking excitedly on my surrounding neighbours doors and saying trick or treat kindly dressed as a witch. This method of trick or treat was more like an apocalypse!!
Despite it being a holiday I still had to do my share of work and looking after the boys which I guess is ok since they brought me along. So, all in all, my first holiday went pretty well! I enjoyed the quiet island, the simple lifestyle, the really good food, wine and the beautiful surroundings. I even managed to get through two thick books! I am going to miss that ridiculously blue sky but I am very excited to get back to school and like I said before, having a little more of my own freedom back.