Friday, 31 May 2013

Day 11 - Dormir tard... (Sleeping late...)

At 5.45 this morning, I had to wake up to let Valerie out of the door and lock them behind her. She's going on a business trip for a day. I attribute this to why I ignored my 7am alarm and didn't wake up until David knocked on my bedroom door: "Beth, it's 8.20!" - I'd fucked up again. Zoe is supposed to be at the bus stop by 8... We both rushed around, not really saying anything to each other. Me, out of shame, David out of thinking I'm useless, I assume. In 25 minutes, we got her up, dressed, fed and I took her to school via scooter. It's weird, everyone here uses them. Not motor scooters might I add, but the mini-scooters that were cool for kids in 2001...
After I'd picked her up and we'd had lunch, I tried to get Zoe to read a story, but she had a bit of a strop. I didn't want to pander her to her needs, because that's how she'll know she can walk all over me. But she point blank refused to read with me, so we ended up playing 'memory,' and doing some drawing before her tutor came. 
Zoe drew me this lovely ballerina!
Afterwards, we played a maths game, which her tutor had given her to play. She really enjoyed it, so it's a good educational game that I can use to keep Zoe entertained.
We scooted to judo and I finished my letter writing by the lake while I waited for her.
She was shattered by the time we got home, meaning she was quite moody. Especially when she caught me preparing vegetables for dinner. ("I don't WANT vegetables." - It took a lot of patience for me to be calm with her...) It took her absolutely ages to eat dinner, and David kept saying what a "big dinner" she was eating - I felt like I'd been overfeeding her. I kept thinking that he was going to want to "have a word with me" about the lateness, but I think all is well. I'm just going to have to try a bit harder to get the parents to like me!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Day 10 - Oh merde... (Oh shit...)

Today started out promisingly, like it could be a sunny day. I’d planned to stay in the garden and sunbathe all afternoon! I’d been told to do the ironing, so I set up my laptop, watched loads of Lie to Me and ironed my little heart out. Unfortunately, I got into the ironing way too much. I realised at 12.17 what the time was… I'm supposed to pick Zoe up from the bus stop at 12.15. I ran as fast as I could through the house, unlocking and locking all the doors behind me which is a right pain in the arse! I got to the front gate and as I went to run, Zoe was stood right there. She’d rung the doorbell but it hasn't been working (which is why I got stranded outside for an hour and a half on Sunday). I said “Sorry,” over and over again, but Zoe kept saying it as fine; that it had happened with Isabel a few times. It was inexcusable though. The garden is enclosed by two big, heavy gates that allow access to the property. Both gates are locked at all time. The road outside of the house is also a busy, main road, so leaving Zoe to walk next to this alone is not OK. 
Her dad works from home and I could hear Zoe tell David what had happened. Uh-oh. When he came downstairs, I apologised profusely. He was less forgiving than Zoe, but understandably of course. I promised it won’t happen again.After Zoe had gone back to school, I took a walk to Lutry to pick up some postcards. I picked up a bunch of “Le Petit Prince” ones which are super cute! 
One sees clearly only with the heart.
The essential is invisible to the eye
A bit of a storm had started on the way there, but luckily it was just a bit of thunder and rain. So much for the sunbathing…
I was almost late for the bus on the way back from school too. Only by a tiny bit, so I ran to the bus stop. Zoe ran into my arms, so it looked more like a movie scene than me being a shit au-pair…
I made curry for the family - first time I've ever made curry from scratch and it was tasty! Apart from the fact that I used stewing steak, so the meat was tough. I blame the French packaging. When David asked “Oh…is this the stewing steak,” my heart sunk. Sometimes I feel like he’s quite patronising. Like I try hard, but it’s just not enough. This isn't the only instance, I'm not crying over a tough curry… It’s just sometimes the tone of his voice makes me feel so small, like he’s looking down on me. One thing that did make me smile: At the dinner table, we were talking about the cat, Plume. Zoe made a joke about her falling into the lake and having to get her out with a net. I said “Yeah, like fishing, but catting!”
Zoe: “Yes, catting! Or you could go dogging....” Not quite!
I sat downstairs with Zoe and Valerie while they watched a film, then when David came down, the parents started talking about grown-up stuff in hushed voices. Nothing about me or anything I shouldn't have been listening to - just mundane stuff about moving house. But as I wasn't involved, I felt uncomfortable so went upstairs. 

Monday, 27 May 2013

Day 9 - Journée ensoleillée! (Sunny day!)

Zoe had an “accident” this morning; I’d been forewarned by Isabel about this, but until now I’d been lucky. I don’t feel like a big enough deal is being made considering her age (she’s 7). After some googling, I've concluded it’s not uncommon, but I feel like it should be the parents that deal with it and not me, just because I have only just come into Zoe’s life. Again, I think it may just be an issue that I've never had to address before because I've never looked after someone her age. There’s not a lot I can do about it really, other than avoid giving her drinks before bed…Zoe eats lunch at school on Mondays, so I have the whole day to myself. The weather was absolutely stunning today, so I took full advantage and finally took my planned walk to Lausanne.I’d briefly gone past a place called Ouchy (I love that when British people read this, they’ll read it as “Ouch-y,” it’s pronounced “Oosh-y.”) on Saturday which was along the lake and looked really pretty. I didn't really plan the route,  just walked along the lake. It was SUCH a beautiful walk, I had a smile on my face the whole time, saying “bonjour” to everyone I passed.
How I felt on my walk
That’s another thing I love about here. If you were to say “Hello,” to a stranger in the street in the U.K. people would think you were weird. When I arrived in Ouchy after nearly two hours, I didn't really have time to explore the town. I wasn't that bothered as the aim had been the walk there. I sat and ate my packed lunch by the lake, then caught a train back to Lutry in time to pick Zoe up from the bus stop. If I do the walk again, I think I’ll do it in reverse (Train it there and walk back) as the best views of the mountains were behind me the whole time.
I struggled to get Zoe to tidy her room, but she got fed up of me nagging and eventually relented. We had dinner and did some crafts with an old birthday presents, making some pretty fabulous outfits for dolls…
I'm sat in the garden at the moment, and it’s starting to cool down as the sun sets. Really hope the weather stays like this now! 

Day 8

When I woke up in André's apartment, I checked my bag and realised I had lost my key to the house here and my iPod. David has said before that because it's a master key for all of the doors/gates to the house, it's difficult to replace, so I wasn't looking forward to telling the family. And my iPod I'm devastated about. It holds more sentimental value than anything; about 150 phone numbers were backed onto it, it had on it notes that my friends had written me years ago and of course I have nothing to listen to music on now!
André gave me directions to the bar that we went to last night, to see if anything had been handed in. Aurore and Jonathan walked me to the metro station and I went in hunt for the bar. Due to the state I was in last night, I couldn't remember what the bar looked like, so I wandered around Riponne for about 45 minutes, before asking in another bar for directions. But the effort was fruitless as nothing had been found - it was wishful thinking really. I'm convinced someone took it from my bag as I don’t usually take my bag off when I go out, no matter how drunk I am. As it was a rucksack and the key and iPod were in the front pocket, it would have been quite easy for someone to take it out.
I caught the train to Lutry and walked to the house. Although I’d texted Valerie about an hour earlier, she hadn't replied. When I got to the house and rung the doorbell, no one answered so I sat by the vineyards for about an hour and a half, waiting for them to return from wherever they were. I even phoned everyone in my phonebook at home (which is about 6 people because I have a temporary phone) in the hope that they could access my emails to get David’s number… But when my mum eventually answered and got the number for me, David didn't even pick up the phone.
Eventually I climbed over the gate and the front door was open - they’d been home the whole time! I explained to Valerie that the key had been taken from my bag and apologised profusely. I stayed in my room for a while after that, then when I came down for some food, the parents kind of cornered me. They asked me exactly what was in my bag that may give away where we live, told me to change all of my passwords so they couldn't get the address from anything off my iPod, inspected my bag to look at whether it could have fallen out. Even told me it was a bit silly of me to have just the key with no keyring attached. (I resented that a bit. The key had been given to me with no keyring - I don’t just carry keyrings around with me?!) I felt a bit on the spot really. Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm completely useless when it comes to my belongings. On average, I lose about 3 phones a year at least… So I've lost plenty of keys in my time and thought nothing of it. But of course, I completely understand why they were concerned.
Zoe drew me a picture to cheer me up after losing my iPod!
I didn't do much for the rest of the day after that, I wasn't really in the mood. I Skyped my friends at home briefly which cheered me up a bit, then went to bed early. Back to early mornings again tomorrow!

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Day 7 - Trop bourrée (Too drunk)

A day off meant sleeping late and I didn't get out of bed until 1.30, it was great! I realised that the reason my new room was so bloody draughty is because I'd left the window open, so I have a bit of a cold now, eugh.
At first, I didn't know what to do with my day. Valerie was having a small get-together for her birthday, but I didn't think the invitation extended to me... The other plan that I had in mind was to walk to Lausanne, which is about 7km away. I'd also received an invitation on Couchsurfing last night to go to dinner at a guy called André's house, with his house mate and a French girl. Not one to pass up on friends, I had accepted his invite and told him to text me.
I caught up with David who was back from his business trip in California. When the family are all together, I never know how to behave on my days off. While they were having lunch, I kind of awkwardly sat in the living room and read. They invited me to eat with them, but I declined just because I thought more food would have to be made. When I went to make a cup of tea, Valerie told me I didn't have to escape from them and I should sit with them in the kitchen, so I did! The reason I'm so weird about it is because weekends are their time as a family. It's the same as the other families I've worked for. I'm their employee and I worry that I'm a spare part. When I au-paired in Germany, I had the same dilemma. When the children had gone to bed, I stayed in my room, or went to the pub alone; it got past the point where I could join the parents in the evenings and I regretted it after. So I don't want to do the same here, especially because I really like Valerie and David. But at the same time I don't want to get in their way during family time. They both work a lot so it's rare for them. But it was really sweet of them to invite me over. I sat with them and chatted until Valerie started setting up for the evening. At this point, I got a text off André and decided to leave the family to their party.
The weather had gone crazy - in the space of about 15 minutes, it went from cool and quite calm to thunderstorm, hailstorm and back to cloudy! I set off on my walk to Lausanne, but as I passed Villette train station, I checked to see the times. I only had to wait 10 minutes so I decided the train would be a better option... And it was, as it started pissing down with rain again soon after.
I took the metro from Lausanne to Grancy and found André's house without a problem. I'd given myself loads of time to walk/get lost, but the journey only took me half an hour so I was really early. Maybe I'm finally gaining the sense of direction I've been lacking for the last 22 years...
I was greeted at the door by Aurore, a fiery redhead who is completely crazy, obsessed with sex and an absolute star! I then met André and his house mate Jonathan. At first, it was pretty uncomfortable. A lot of French was being spoken, so I didn't really know what to do with myself other than try to understand and smile awkwardly when everyone laughed at a joke. I've hosted people from Couchsurfing a few times, and met up with people for drinks in other countries, but being in someone's house was new to me. It soon picked up though. We sat and talked, drank wine, listened to music and had Swiss cheese fondue, which was delicious! We drank two bottles of wine and then the gold Smirnoff came out and we played "I have never" - dangerous. By 9pm I was completely plastered. I don't really remember much of the rest of the night.
We went to a bar in Riponne called the Great Escape. I remember it being completely rammed, we danced... and that's all I recall. I hadn't intended on staying over night, but André and Jonathan said it wasn't a problem. I vaguely remember the taxi ride home, and the next thing I know, it's 10am the next morning! It was a fun night for my debut in the (Couch)surfing world!

*(No photos were taken unfortunately! The camera I have been lending off Zoe was being used tonight!)

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Day 6 - Gâteau! (Cake!)

After dropping Zoe off at the bus stop this morning, I walked to Cully again, in search of those elusive tickets. I had had a sneaking suspicion the night before that I knew where Le Kiosque was. And my suspicions were right! I’d actually been in there before looking for stamps. I’d noticed it yesterday, but there’s no sign above the door and it had been closed. I rewarded myself by sitting near the lake and writing a letter to my friend Anna. It got chilly quite soon, so I went home. Now Isabel has left, I have to move into the official au-pair bedroom. It actually feels like a downgrade! The bed is smaller and I loved the balcony in the previous room. Unfortunately, the room I was occupying was the study, so I've been banished to the attic.
Zoe and I had a super healthy lunch and after I dropped her off again, I set off to Lutry. Last time I visited, I only went in 2 shops, but I had a proper look around this time. Most of the shops are all nouvelle and arty and cool! I got myself some earrings, a notebook and a fancy pen. I need to stop spending though, it’s far from cheap here. Afterwards, I sat on the wall by the harbour and finished Anna’s letter. Needless to say, the view that I had was stunning.

By the harbour in Lutry
The walk to/from Lutry is a pleasant one and I got back in time to pick Zoe up. Valerie was home by the time we got back. I think she’d come to work from home in anticipation of David’s arrival, however there’s been problems in Heathrow and he’s stuck in London until tomorrow afternoon.I offered to cook Valerie dinner along with mine and Zoe’s, she was so grateful! She works really hard, and I can tell that she’s burnt out half the time, so I guess it was nice to have someone cook for her. She’s having a belated birthday party tomorrow and I’d planned to make her a cake, so Zoe and I set about making a marble cake. There was a lot of mess, some spoon licking and I managed to leave the cake in the oven for 50 minutes without turning it on, but it was tasty when it had finally cooked (even though it hadn't risen - baking in a foreign country is impossible.)

Zoe played on her own after dinner, while me and Valerie shared a bottle of wine and chatted. It was really nice, as I haven’t had a chance to to that until now. We finished the evening watching The Princess and the Frog by the fire. What a crazy Friday night!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Day 5 - Larmes & étant perdu (Waterworks & getting lost)

The sun came out but it was still quite cold.
Waking Zoe up on my own this morning went without a hitch. I’d gone to sleep late the night before, so after dropping Zoe off, I went home and chilled. We had pasta for lunch and I managed to get Zoe to eat peas - no mean feat, so I have every right to be proud! When Zoe had gone back to school, I walked to Cully in search of tickets for her school play. Valerie was worried she wasn't going to have time to get them, so I offered. She (vaguely) told me where to go and gave me the money and the school letter stating where they were being sold. Apparently it’s too easy to sell them at the school… I went on the hunt for either L’epicerie Le Petit Panier (the grocers) or Le Kiosque Le Minaret… I wandered around for a while before spotting a grocery store; and it had the poster advertising the show in the window! Alas, it was the wrong grocery store, so between her broken English and my lack of French, the shopkeeper tried to point me in the direction of the other grocers. I thanked her and confidently walked off, before realising I still didn't have a clue where I was going. I circled the village and came upon a building that looked like a ticket office and in the window were posters for the school play. (I later these posters are EVERYWHERE) As soon as I asked, it dawned on me that I was in entirely the wrong place again. The people in there pointed me in the direction of the ‘kiosque,’ but again after 20 minutes of fruitless searching, I gave up. Instead, I headed to my favourite spot in Cully: A park that sits right on the lake. I’d already planned in advance to sit here and have a sneaky cigarette. The family despise smoking, and I was willing to stop while I was here, but I have some with me and I hate waste… It was, without a doubt, the best cigarette I've ever smoked, looking across the lake where the clouds had cleared and the snowy Alps were in full view. I sat there for a long while, writing and staring at the scenery. I also dipped my feet into the lake for the first time, but it was so cold, I wouldn't describe it as pleasant.

Soon it was time for me to leave; I bought stamps from the post office (expect some post back at home!) and tried again to find somewhere that sells the tickets for the play. It didn't take long for me to think “fuck it,” and I went to pick up Zoe.
She was really tired after school, so I agreed that we could watch a film (Madagascar 3 - great film!) Halfway through, I made dinner. I walked out of the room at one point, and when I came back, I caught Zoe stood on the kitchen counter. She’d tried to get down before I saw, but it was too late. I didn't shout, but I raised my voice - “Zoe, that’s not allowed.” I gently chastised her, saying how she knew it wasn't allowed, otherwise she wouldn't have tried to hide what she was doing. She sat at the kitchen table and hid her face with her hair. I didn't realise straight away, but she was crying. Now, despite my experience with children through years of work and au-pairing, I still don’t actually deal well with crying children. Especially when it’s my fault. I apologised for making her upset, but explained that what she had done was naughty and unsafe as she could've fallen. Turns out she had hurt herself in her haste to get down, so she understood. I gave her a hug and all was well. When we returned to the film, she snuggled up to me, so I guess I was forgiven. Even though I was in the right, I still worry when kids cry. I feel like I’ll get in trouble with the parents - no one wants to make someone else’s children cry…
Valerie had told me she was going to be late from work, so I had to put Zoe to bed. I cuddled up with her in bed and read a couple of stories before leaving her to sleep. It all went pretty well!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Day 4 - Au revoir Isabel!

The view from my window
First off, happy birthday to my mum!
I was up bright and early to get Zoe ready - you can tell she’d stayed up late last night as she was a bit groggy this morning. After we dropped her off, Isabel finished off the last of her packing and made a goodbye cake. On Wednesdays, Zoe finishes school for the day at lunch time. I made sure that we had enough time to walk Isabel to the train station so that we could say a final goodbye. And it was a sad goodbye too. She handed me her house keys and gave Zoe and I a big hug.
Saying "goodbye" at the train station
I haven’t know her long at all, but she’s a very lovely person and she’s really helped me get my bearings here. Zoe had a little cry and was very quiet on the walk home. Luckily, as children are so fickle, she perked when we got home and tucked into the cake that Isabel had made!
It was strange being the one in charge. Even making lunch I felt lost. All I did was heat up yesterday’s leftovers, but as Zoe hadn't eaten with us last night, I panicked. What if she doesn't like it?! I only know of her aversion to peas… What does she like? I have no idea.  She fussed about the meal, but thankfully, the art of persuasion and the promise of Nutella topped apple cake saw that she ate (nearly) all of her lunch.
Zoe’s tutor arrived not long after - a really lovely Irish lady called Ita! She taught Zoe her times tables and hyped her up! When she left, Zoe and I played Lego - sorry, Playmobil. I keep getting told off about that - and she showed off her unicorns to my friends on Skype.
At half 5, we walked to Cully (much to the disdain of Zoe who wanted to ride her bike - I had no idea where I was going and didn't want to be the poor, lost au-pair trailing behind) for her Judo lesson. While she was there, I took a walk around the village. Everything was closed again, apart from Co-Op which is small, overpriced and uninteresting (and I'm normally quite the fan of supermarkets…) I wandered to the lake and watched a guy slackline between some trees
I was early picking up Zoe, so sat and watched the judo. She was paired with a boy that was about 4 inches shorter, but a belt higher than her. Every time he got her to the floor, she’d jump up and smile at me. I’d smile and wink back, but in my head I was screaming “GET THE FUCKER DOWN!” Judo might have to be on  my list of things to do here, the instructor was rather nice to look at!
I made dinner when we got home and realised that giving Zoe a choice of what to eat isn't the right way to go about it, which Valerie later confirmed. I quite like the challenge of making healthy food appeal to her, I just have to have tasty treats to hand as rewards!

Red sky at night - fingers crossed for sun tomorrow,
the weather has been rubbish!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Day 3 - Le début des travaux (Starting work)

This morning, I woke up at 7am ready to be Isabel’s shadow. She got Zoe up, showered and dressed - apparently it takes a while… After we’d taken Zoe to the bus stop I had to resist the urge to nap for 4 hours before picking her back up at lunch time.  After lunch, I decided to take a walk, Isabel recommended going the opposite way to which I’d gone yesterday, to Lutry. I took a path off the road and walked along the lake. Although it was public, it felt really secluded. The lake was choppy and I kept getting splashed, but it was so pretty!
At one point, I came upon a small park and I sat on the swing looking at the stunning view in front of me. It compelled me to draw - now anyone who knows me, knows art isn't exactly my for
 - I can’t draw for shit!  But I just sat there, lost for about 45 minutes. Every so often I’d look down and there’d be sparrows everywhere - they’re far more ballsy here than in the UK. There’d be about 8 -12 of them at a time, circling my feet, jumping on my bag and chirping incessantly. It was really calming  sat there, and I think I may have found my favourite place for now…
I need to get a camera...
I walked onto Lutry which (as far as I saw) was pretty small, but with a few shops - far more than Cully anyway. I was on the hunt for a notebook, so went into a children’s shop which was full of the most beautiful arts and crafts. Switzerland is just so expensive though, it’s hard to make the most of it when on a budget! I visited a book shop too; no plain notebooks, but I did buy a cute postcard!
I walked home and met Isabel ready to pick up Zoe from the bus stop. She asked me how much I was being paid, and it turn out I'm on a lot about 3 times more that her. I figured this is partly due to the fact that they’re not paying for my health insurance or French classes, but Isabel is on a lot less generally, especially as I mentioned earlier, the cost of living here is so expensive. It also turns out that Isabel did some babysitting for the family, (which we’re told we get paid extra for), but when she confronted Valerie yesterday, they claimed they had paid her a mere sum of 6FR an hour (babysitters are normally paid 15FR p/h minimum.) When the family are evidently so rich, it all seems a bit odd.
When we got back to the house, Zoe tidied her room under my watch, and made Isabel a thank you card as she's leaving tomorrow afternoon. Zoe’s such a sweet child, and her message made Isabel cry! I also did some reading with Zoe, which was a really nice bonding experience. She’s not the strongest reader, but then again, I haven’t dealt much with her age range, so I'm not really sure what to expect…
When Valerie arrived home from work, we had a couple of glasses of wine (which made my Welsh accent come out…) and a nice dinner, to say goodbye to Isabel. It’s such a shame she’s leaving as we got on so well today. Soon, I’ll be on my own and the real work will begin!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Day 2 - Jour de congé (Day off)

I didn't want to give the wrong impression by waking up late this morning, but as it was my day off, I don’t think Valerie cared/minded. David had left in the early hours of the morning and Valerie and Zoe were getting ready to go to the cinema by the time I sat down to breakfast.
After they’d left, I set off for a walk to the next village. On the side of the road that the house is on, there are grand buildings; ranging from vast, old, wooden buildings, to ultra-modern, glass boxes - all with incredible views of the lake. You must have to  be pretty rich to live here…
I reached the next village of Cully, but as it was a bank holiday, everything was closed. Not that there was much there, it’s such a quiet area. Hopefully it’ll be a bit more lively tomorrow.
On the way home, I walked up a small hill and found myself on the other side of the train tracks, walking through the vine yards. There are hundreds and thousands of grapevines, as far as the eye can see, with footpaths in between. The higher up you get, the more astounding the view is of the mountains across the lake. It wasn't difficult to find my way home either!
By the time I had got home, the sun was out. I sat in the garden and Skyped my friend Fran from Aberystwyth. The weather took a turn after a while and since then its been cloudy and chilly.
I've been looking online for people to meet in the area - on and Facebook groups for au-pairs in Switzerland. Isabel said that it’s important I meet people while I'm here, I think it could get quite lonely otherwise.So far, I haven’t had the chance to interact much with Zoe (although she did draw me this lovely picture!) I think it’ll be better once we've got into a routine - I'm looking forward to starting work properly tomorrow!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Day 1 - Arrivée

Waking up, still drunk, at 7am this morning probably wasn't the best start to the day. I'm still trying to work out what else I've forgotten other than my camera, a diary and adaptors: the travel essentials… Luckily the plane was quiet, so I managed to spread out and get some sleep (Until I got woken up to be told to put my seatbelt on due to turbulence, which resulted in a horrific dream involving a terrible pilot; a plane crash; and being stranded in Scotland…)
After painlessly getting the train to Lausanne, I waited an hour and a half, with an overpriced jam doughnut for company, for the train to take me on the last leg of my journey.
Mum (Valerie), Dad (David) and Zoe met me off the train in Villette - a tiny village without a single shop, overlooking Lake Geneva. As soon as I stepped off the train, the view was breathtaking.
The family walked me to their home - and what a stunning house it is. Zoe gave me a tour. The open plan downstairs is mum and dad’s - living room, shower, bath, bedroom and sauna. On the ground floor, the living room and kitchen has windows for walls, which looks over the swimming pool and garden, leading directly onto the one of the largest lakes in Western Europe.
It's a rubbish picture, but this is the view of France from the living room
My temporary room is on the second floor, where the balcony is the perfect place to see the whole lake and the French Alps across it.

The reason my room is temporary is that upstairs, in the attic room, lives Isabel, the current au-pair. We've conversed little, but she seems lovely! She’s been here since September and will be leaving on Wednesday to do a PHD elsewhere in Switzerland.
Zoe taught me how to play Uno (I lost…twice) before sitting down to a delicious curry. I got asked a lot of questions at dinner; about home, work, family, friends etc. I found out about the Mann family too; Valerie works for a holiday rental company and David works for the compensation department at Ebay. He travels a lot with his job and is heading to California tomorrow for a week. As it’s bank holiday, I have the day off to get my bearings. I'm looking forward to exploring!