Au Pair – South Of France Style

So I guess you’re either reading this and thinking what on earth is an ‘Au Pair’? or you’re maybe thinking of becoming one of said ‘Au Pair’ and you are looking for some more information? Either way, if you continue reading I am going to enlighten you with my experience in the South of France.

So what is an Au Pair?

An Au Pair is a young girl or boy who lives with a host family and looks after their children. As an Au Pair you are essentially a part of the family for the duration of your stay and your main duty is to look after the children as well as helping the family with things around the house like cleaning, cooking and any other household tasks. In return you live rent free, you are fed, paid pocket money, have time off and get to experience a whole new culture while doing so.  It’s a pretty sweet deal if you ask me.

I applied to be an Au Pair through aupairworld.com and I would highly recommend it to anyone in the beginning stages of their search. At the start of the process I knew I wanted to live in a country that didn’t speak my language to get out of my comfort zone, and I was stuck between Spain or France… But as you can guess from the title I ended up going to La France. My decision was swayed towards France after a 2 hour Skype interview with my to be host mum, I was completely sold after having a light hearted conversation and meeting the kids. *ADVICE* your host family will make or break your stay, so make sure you are completely observant when you are Skyping. When I pictured myself staying in France I actually pictured myself in the romantic capital of Paris but here I was jetting off to some town called ‘Aix-En-Provence” Pffftt never heard of it, but it is in the beautiful South, which I guess has much nicer weather than the ville de l’amour.

So what would I say to a young girl or boy thinking about being an Au Pair?

DO IT! I grew so much as a person during my time in France; I learned basic things like how to defrost a car and cook a proper dinner, I also learned more complicated things like how to have an actual conversation in French with a native French speaker and teaching an 8 years old girl how to speak English properly… Not to mention it is what I would probably say my first real experience in the dating scene and I also became this incredibly outgoing and confident young woman… So yeah the full experience changed me for the better.  What made my time in France so amazing was how lovely and welcoming my host family were and also the social aspect, I made a lot of the Au Pair friends.

So what was my schedule like? I had a pretty sweet deal compared to some of my other Au Pair friends if I am honest… I worked for the family Monday to Friday and was allowed to head out at night time when the mum returned from her work, I then had the weekends to myself were I spent galavanting with my new found friends.

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Les Calanques, France (2016)

Now remember, every family is different and have different needs, but this is a rough schedule of what I experienced during Au Pair life:

Weekdays as an Au Pair

I would wake up early every morning to get the little one up and ready for school… She was quite the diva while choosing clothes so I would make sure I gave myself enough time to get her ready (She just loved to dress to impress). I would then make sure petit dejeuner was ready for the little one, she would usually have toast, Nutella and oragne juice (I’ve always found French breakfast some what bizarre). Once she had finished eating I would usually have to clean her face as there would be Nutella all over it and then I would tie her hair up in a simple pony tail to keep it out her face while at school. I would then drive her to school and take her right up to the gate where all the kids were let through the gate at exactly 9 am. This then led into free time right up until 4:30pm when I was needed to pick her up. With my free time I would work out, go to french classes, meet my friends for lunch, sleep or if I felt the house was a bit of a mess I would help the family out by doing some house work. When I picked up the little one, I would make sure to make her a snack… and shock she would usually have some more Nutella. After that I would make sure she got her homework done and then she was allowed T.V or tablet time while I cooked the dinner. The two older kids would occasionally help me with dinner and I would always help them practice their English or help with any English homework. Once dinner was over I would make sure the little one was showered and ready to bed… which was always a bit of nightmare because she NEVER wanted to shower. The mum would come home around 8pm and as soon as she was home I would tidy the kitchen and then that was me off duty.

So yeah that is basically an outline of what I got up to in a day of working… But of course somedays were different like Wednesday is a half day at school in France so I would drive the little one to her dance class etc, I would also drive the older two to their after school activities. Occasional nights I would head out for a little dinner date or drinks with the girls! As long as I was home in the morning to take the little one to school then the family had absolutely no problem with me going out.

Weekends as an Au Pair

Now weekends as an Au Pair were completely different from weekdays as an Au Pair. I would basically pack my bag on Friday and the family wouldn’t see me until Sunday night. Me and my friends planned loads of things we explored the Southern cities, hiked Les Calanques, beach days, drunken nights and multiple hilarious dating scenarios. I’ll admit I lived for the weekend, I had great friends and it was always fun to run riot in the streets of Marseille.

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EURO Fan Zone – Marseille, France (2016)

I absolutely loved my experience in the beautiful South of France with my lovely laid back host family, I couldn’t of been luckier with the family I decided to go with! This isn’t the last time I will post about my Au Pair experience, I just have so many stories and advice for anyone thinking of doing it… trust me this is only a little introduction to my au pair experience because I swear I could write a best selling book solely based on stories from my time as an Au Pair in the South of France.

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Capture Emotions

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My name is Amanda, I am a 23 year old Canadian/Jamaican living in Glasgow and I take photos of people. I first got into it in High School during a media class project. I was really into DSLRs and Photoshop during the beginnings of my journey but I knew something was missing. My art was too structured and edited so I bought a film camera on Craigslist. There is something emotional about photos taken on film. I feel they are more authentic to myself and the people I take photos of.

“I’ve always had a difficult time connecting with people on a real human to human level. A lot of people I meet have just lost their way from their true self.  Photography really helped me realize this. When we come together and express ourselves truthfully without judgement. That’s what matters. That is what society is missing. I see the turn out of my photos and I am always in awe of how you see who the person really is. I have met beautiful souls from this art form. I usually shoot friends because I already have that relationship where we are on the same vibe but I love to challenge my introverted self and message people on Instagram who I literally have never met before and just set up a shoot. It’s a really fun time we live in and I don’t think anything can beat just vibing with others through art.”

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“I really enjoy making people feel comfortable enough to show me who they are in their raw form. I don’t believe in fancy shoots with tons of equipment and lighting so with me, there is really nothing involved except for the human, my film camera and the world as we know it. Society is really confusing and self identity is not an easy thing to pinpoint with a lot of people my age. But when I take photos of these amazing people, it’s like everything makes sense.”

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If you are ever in Glasgow and would like to have a fun photoshoot get in contact with Amanda on instagram! It’s always nice to meet new people.

Checkout more work from Amanda:

Instagram: @7alien

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NEW MUSIC: The Strange and the Beautiful

Soundcloud seems to be our new hang these days, full of so many talented artists and undiscovered song writers. Our recent find is a band by the name of The Strange and The Beautiful.

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Written by the talented Lee Coatham, their new song release ‘Husk’ is a heart felt song the expresses raw emotion from a person that is describing themselves as an empty shell of a person, other wise known as a ‘husk’. With the powerful voice of the lead singer and strong guitar presence within the song, ‘Husk’ is definitely a must listen to when you’re in need of an emotional sing along… come on, we all do it!

Check out new song Husk by The Strange and the Beautiful. Written by Lee Coatham.

2018: Goal Setting

Fitness blogger, bikini competitor and founder of Frillsmusic.com, Morgan Bruce shares how she is staying on track with her 2018 goals:

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Here we are near the end of January, with time to reflect on the past year, I have now set out my goals for the year ahead…

Many of us, year upon year, make a promise to ourselves that we will stick to our new year resolutions, but how many of us last past February? I am such a stubborn person that if I tell someone of my plans I will make sure to see it through right to the end. Which is why I am hoping by having this blog I will hold myself accountable for the promises I make this year.

I don’t agree with making resolutions if A. It is too vague or B. You make too many. You need to be realistic with yourself; What steps do you need to take? How do you make it specific to your lifestyle? Are you taking on too much?

Things like “I want to lose weight”, it’s just too vague. Why not think about how you want to do this? Set a goal like:

  • I am going to workout 4 times per week
  • I will weigh x amount by July (as I said in my last blog setting a date helped me work towards my goal last year)
  • Download My Fitness Pal and track my eating habits (once you have observed your habits you can then alter them accordingly ie. don’t cut out junk food entirely but if you are having 2 for Tuesdays don’t over indulge at the weekend)

Likewise “I will be a happier person” but how? It is not as simple as clicking your fingers. Try these:

  • I am going to do ‘that hobby I have always wanted to do’ and do it for YOU (force yourself to not care what others think. If I had let people’s comments about my fitness hobby put me down I would be nowhere near as content as I am now)
  • I will take time out of each week to focus on, or write down, the positive things that have happened to me
  • I will attend events to meet like minded people. Such as a fitness expo, a music convention or even as simple as a committee meeting within your college or workplace. (as you get older it is harder to make circles of friends, it is proven you are happier when surrounded by good people, so why not make friends with similar values to your own)

My Goals:

Narrowing this down will be hard but I don’t want to be one of those people who set far too many goals for the time frame. So here are three that I aim to complete by the time the year is out…on top of 101 other things I hope to achieve…

1. Learn how to drive

If I pass is another question…kidding. This is one I have thought about for two years now, it wasn’t until recently I realised how much I need to be able to drive because A. almost every advertised journalism job requires you have a licence and B. to fulfil my needs of getting away to the fresh air outwith the city for an hour or so.

2. Take part in a bikini competition

Prep has begun and I am so excited for this one despite knowing how much of a challenge the run is going to be. I have set a date for the UKDFBA show in Musselburgh on 30th June with the possibility of attending other dates down south later in the year. I have had this goal in mind throughout my training last year with a lot of people backing my plan, so by posting this on my blog and on instagram there is absolutely no going back- I’ve got this!

3. Set aside spending money each month to control spending habits

I am notorious for getting money and blowing it, landing me in stressful situations more often than not. This year I have so many trips planned, London, Belfast and a huuuge exciting holiday for me and Josh later in the year. With these in mind I can’t afford to abuse my bank and land in an overdraft. The plan is, start working out what I have each month before digging into my wages. That way I hope to save more to put towards these trips, one week I managed to spend only £20 (ish) in Aldi on my weekly shop, so yeah I will try do that more regularly.


I hope this blog was able to help some of you reconsider your own goals and hold yourself accountable. Please let me know how you get on with setting your 2018 resolutions if you haven’t done so already.

Morgan Bruce

Follow Morgan’s work for some serious fitness inspo:

Website: Frillsmusic.com

Instagram: @moggsfit

So You Want To Quit Your Job?

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So I quit my graduate job the other day… *awkward silence*

Do I have a plan? I hear you ask… My answer to that would be nope, absolutely not. Nope, I do not have a plan, nope I do not have another flashy graduate job lined up and nope I have absolutely no idea what I am doing with my life. *awkward laugh breaks awkward silence*

It’s a bit of a shame really, I managed to land myself my first design and marketing job with a company that promised me so many perks and career opportunities with the job role and as an almost-grad I was super excited to get my career kick-started before I had even finished university! Now, I am not going to bluntly turn around and say the job turned out to be absolutely sh*t and I learned absolutely nothing and it was absolutely a waste of my time because that is definitely not the case. I actually quite enjoyed my job, I got to be creative and I learned SO much about the power of marketing and the opportunities that are available online. Although the job itself was good, there was two reasons that led me to the final outcome. The first being the nature of my boss and the second being the way it was starting to affect my health. Like I said, it’s a shame but when you’re getting spoken to like you’re an idiot everyday and you’re starting to feel so bad about yourself you don’t want to get up in the morning, yeah it’s time to leave. B-byeeee!

I had the vibe from day one I was going to have problems with my boss, all the other employees seemed to fear him and I soon came to find out that when I walked through that door at 9 am, I was walking on egg shells right up until I left at 5pm. It was horrible, I couldn’t ask a question without getting a growl for an answer, yet I told myself I need the experience (and I did) so I stuck it out for just under 6 months and it is now on my CV… And I am not going to lie, it looks pretty sweet on my job applications and for the first time ever I am getting so many interviews that I am literally fighting to find space in my week to schedule them in… ahhh that silver lining after having a hell of a 6 months.

Now, if you find yourself reading this post and thinking “Damnnn, I want to quit my job too” then fear not! I have kindly taken some time and wrote down five important things to consider before you actually say “BYEEE FELICIA” to that soul sucking box you call an office… Yes, I am putting my unemployed self to good use… you are welcome!

General advice and things to consider before ditching your crappy job:

  1. Is it fundable to quit right now? – You need to be very honest with yourself and say can I actually afford to give up my job and live comfortably before finding another. My answer to that was, yes I can; I am a recent graduate who is still living in the comfort of her parents home,  I am a smart cookie who has a fair amount of savings, It is easy for me to pick up sports coaching hours for a little £££ and my only real money responsibility is making sure my mum’s car is full of petrol and paying my monthly gym membership. But for you other adults that have your sh*t more together than me and have fled the birds nest it could be a lot more complicated. Grown up things like mortgage, rent, car insurance, child care, phone bill, washing machine breakdown, the Spotify subscription you refuse to give up and that couple holiday you’ve booked for you and your partner in June… yeah you’re gonna need some spending money for that and unless you have been very clever over the years and have a big bag full of savings then maybe hold off quitting your job until you’re finically stable or have another one lined up.
  2. How to find another job? – As much as I’d love to be a lady of leisure, needs must and I will be back working full time soon with plenty of interviews lined up. Luckily for us, this day and age it is actually quite easy to find jobs in your area with the remarkable help of the internet. I am based within the U.K so websites like Indeed.co.uk, reed.co.uk, totaljobs.com and even Gumtree (a lot of sneaky job opportunities on there) are very useful websites to find your next step… of course these websites will differ depending on what country you’re in – shout out to international readers, woo! Once you have found a few jobs that sound interesting, before applying, I STRONGLY recommend that you update your CV. I took time to re-write, re-design, spell check and add some quirky personality traits to my CV and VIOLA! I am all of a sudden an employable graduate in demand compared to my last CV where I was just straight up unemployable. My three key words of advice for your job application is to make sure it is relevant, make sure it is in proper english (or whatever language you’re applying in) and make sure it reflects the best you.
  3. Change of career or change of company? – So what is it you hate so much about your job? Are you like me where it was just the full situation and not the actual job role or do you genuinely hate the career path you have taken? Of course it is more ideal to walk into another job similar to your already existing role but I guess if you’ve just completely lost interest in what you are doing then there’s no point in getting another ‘same job’ with another company cause damn it Sharon, you’re gonna end up back at square one in a few months time. It is January, 2018… There is people making millions off posting videos online of them reviewing a bath bomb they spontaneously bought last week, anything is possible! A common career change I hear of is becoming a personal trainer and if fitness is your thing, it definitely is a shout. A girl at my uni graduated and opened up her own cake decorating business… absolutely nothing to do with what we studied but hey it’s her passion and people love cake! But like I said, it’s the 21st century you can pretty much make a career out of anything, you do you.
  4. Realistically how much longer can you go? – I had got to the point where I was crying about my work, I took it home with me every night, my boss wouldn’t let me forget about my responsibilities on the weekend with frequent texts reminding me, I was losing sleep, not eating and I felt physically sick at the thought of having another full working week of getting my hard work crumbled up and thrown back at me. Are you at my level? I couldn’t go any longer, I was one “you need to smarten up” from a nervous breakdown. I didn’t want to quit my job but I had been pushed so far that I needed to and if you are hating on your job but you can still find a little light in it, don’t quit just actively look for a new role. Get one more pay check, line up a second job and get yourself out of there… unless you are at my level then I would highly recommend running fast and far.
  5. Always leave on a good note – Although in the end I couldn’t of hated the place more if I tried, I still made sure that I left on a good note. I said goodbye to all the staff I wished them well and they wished me well… they also didn’t blame me for leaving. I wrote a polite leaving letter thanking my boss for the experience and I wished him and the rest of the team all the best for the future… but I will not be part of that future. I would never voice my true feelings about my work while working there because 1: I would of been fired and 2: They would have an excuse to bad mouth me. Once you have left your dreaded work, PLEASE I beg of you do NOT turn to social media to rant and bad mouth the named company and everyone in it… that will only back fire and make you look like one of these middle aged people who have nothing better to do with their life than complain on Facebook. Yes, I am writing online about my bad experience at my first big girl job, but for all you know my boss could of been Harry Styles and my offices were located in the suave side of London where all the Soho regulars hang. You will never know.

So yeah… I guess quitting your job is a pretty big deal, but the way I see it is everything happens for a reason and if that job wasn’t for you then it simply wasn’t for you, your happiness is FAR MORE important than your career, trust me. I feel very confident in my skills and I am very confident I will find a new job better suited to me! If anything my eyes are opened wider and I aim to go down the freelancing and online side of things. You see I now have this image of someone emailing me “Hey, can you design this project for my company?” Yes of course, let me get that started for you – as I place my laptop on my legs while lying on a sun lounger in one of the sand beaches in the south of Portugal. Ahhhh the power of the internet, it’s amazing. Remember, it’s January, 2018… The world is your oyster!

An Italian Winter

I read an article once that told me to never go near Venice in the winter. It said that it lost its charm and was empty and not as exciting as summer months. However, I completely disagree with this and if you’re in need of a winter get away to pick you up after all your festivities, Venice has definitely got you covered.

I went to Venice just before Christmas and it was absolutely magical. The streets aren’t all decorated but this makes the ones that are more impressive and the decorations aren’t garish, so you get a nice Christmassy feeling without the overbearing selling points. Italian Christmases have something understated and magical about them and their food only gets better with the seasons. The Christmas market at Campo Santo Stefano is extremely cute as it sells local produce and holds performances on some nights, as well as selling really good, proper Italian food. Go crazy because it is as Italian as it gets.

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The streets were quieter but I found this to be a bonus. I walked straight into Basilica de San Marco with no queue and it was peaceful inside, which made it a more spiritual experience. The Piazza’s are quieter as well which means that you can take your time to explore them and the streets off of them. There’s lots of art shops where the window displays are sight enough, you just have to wander until you find them because there are so many. The Venetian Ghetto which was the Jewish quarter, the Gallerie dell’Accademia and the Doge’s Palace are all exceptional and worth visiting. A lot of museums in Italy charge for entry but you can sometimes get discounts if you are willing to go at off-peak times, check the websites first.

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The bridges were less crowded which meant it was super easy to get pictures of the Grand Canal, Rialto Bridge and the Bridge of Sighs, I recommend seeing all three. But the best thing I did in Venice was shut off from technology and take in everything on offer. I had Google maps for any emergencies but I just wandered between islands, hopping over as many bridges as I came across and venturing down all the alleyways that I could. It was such a nice time to be there, when you could move around freely without too many tourists or feeling like you were annoying the locals.



I was there on my own; a single female travelling through. I never once felt threatened, which is something I was warned about and in actual fact I found the locals to be super hospitable. One restaurant owner took a shine to me in particular and brought me the Wi-Fi code to, “Phone your Mama, tell her Marco is making sure you eat well”, as well as sending me on my way with a free bottle of water and extra bread. I learned an extremely basic level of Italian and trust me, a little goes a long way with them so at least attempt a Ciao or a Grazie.

Burano and Murano are really interesting places to visit and Burano is especially Instagramable if that’s what you’re looking for. Burano’s colourful buildings and Murano’s glass history should put both of these places on your to do list, just to see the beauty in them.

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So try Venice in winter and hopefully, like me, you won’t be disappointed. My main recommendations for Venice are:

  • Travel into Venice by train if you can. Bus is fine but seeing the Adriatic Sea from the train was absolutely breath-taking. Trust me on this one. All Italian transport is exceptionally punctual and well managed, just make sure you buy a ticket prior to boarding for trains and buses.
  • Try and get accommodation as close to the train station/road in as possible. There’s a lot of bridges and stairs and trailing luggage over these is not fun, I learned this the hard way.
  • Try and avoid the tourist restaurants. This is my advice for everywhere you go, follow the locals and see where they eat and I guarantee the food will be more authentic.
  • Go to Rialto Bridge as early as you can. This is a main tourist point and it is beautiful but it won’t take long to see, go early and you can spend the rest of the day in more exciting places.
  • Don’t be afraid of getting lost. It’s completely worth it in Venice and you won’t be lost forever, there’s only over a hundred islands!

Sarah McNeill

Check out Sarah’s travel on instagram: @saraahmcneill

Caterina – The Jill of All Trades

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Meet 27 years old Italian photographer/make up artist Caterina Romano. The Jill of all trades we would call her being able to jump from make up artistry, to photography and to photoshoot styling, you go girl! Caterina moved over to the U.K after graduating from her native country of Italy, at the Istituto Italiano id Fotografia in Milan. Settling in the small city of Dundee in the East coast of Scotland we couldn’t help but ask her what the major difference was between fashion and make up between us brits and Italians:

“People in the U.K are more free to express who they are without thinking about others judgement. In Italy I would say we are more conscious, so people are always scared to express their own personality. I have noticed that people here go heavy on the foundation though, make up is a lot more natural in Italy.” 

We can agree with that statement, crazy fashion is fun and maybe some of us do need to go get our shade of foundation re-checked again… We know we were guilty of this when we were teenagers!

We went on to ask Caterina about her work and what really inspires her to pursue her passion.

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When did you first notice your creativity and that you wanted to pursue a career within the creative industries?:

“I have always been attracted by the world of beauty, make up & fashion. So I decided to  attend art high school in my home town and there I learned that art was my real passion, my soul is art itself. I’m a very creative and moody person and I think this defines me as an artist. I think I like what my eyes see and my eyes see most art as beautiful.”

What inspired you to become a make up artist?:

“When I first studied photography I understood that behind a single picture there is an entire world of creativity. You can create what you have in your mind and I decided to self-teach myself make up artistry (or at least try) to produce the exact image in my mind.”

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How would you describe your style?:

“As an artist, I would describe myself as artistic with that creative beauty touch.”

Where do you find your inspiration for your work and make up looks?:

“My favourite photographer and biggest inspiration is David La Chapelle. I think his extreme way to create an image is what I like most, it’s not ordinary but extraordinary.”

Do you have a design process?:

“I usually create the image in my mind, then I start to look for all the objects, decoration, make up that I need… Don’t really do anything before the actual photoshoot. I like to improvise and always challenge myself.  So far, it has always worked ahaha!”

Which celebrities make up would you most love to do?:

“Well I think I would love to shoot and maybe try to do the make up for any of the characters that Tim Burton creates… especially if it is for Johnny Depp’s face (ahahah)”

What or who is your biggest inspiration for all your work?:

“Probably my mum and dad. They love my artwork, they always let me travel around the world because they think this is the only way to keep an open mind. They are quite artistic too… my dad is a fantastic writer and travel blogger, my mom is a fantastic travel photographer – what a team!”

What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about make up if any?:

“I think that people still think that the more is better…but in make up I think it’s quality over quantity, if you have nice skin then why cover it? You still have to be able to recognise yourself when you remove it!”

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Do you think make up is dependent on the season or the holiday?:

“Yes make up is, but depends of the person also, personally, I love burgundy lipstick even during a summer night in Italy!! But of course red and glitter for Christmas is a must!”

Do you have any advice for someone thinking of pursuing a career as a make up artist or other jobs in the creative industries?:

“hmm STUDY PLASTIC SURGERY INSTEAD?? ahaha no just joking.. I think it is a very hard world but never give up because if makes you happy then you can’t go wrong!”

Check out more work from Caterina on Behance: romanocaterina